Marriage Ain’t Easy!

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In case you haven’t noticed, most of our posts are about our family, Crystal, me, and our three girls. That’s partly because, of course we know more about our family than any other. It’s also because marriage and marriage issues are tough for many people to talk about. Marriage is a dynamic relationship with many moving parts. A cup is thrown in one direction followed by a frying pan in the other (kidding…I hope). But seriously, most people don’t want to talk about their marriage. Some will complain about their spouse, or one of their annoying habits, or something stupid their spouse did. You can’t get those people to stop talking about their marriage. Also, a lot of divorced people can’t talk enough about their ex. I never hold divorce against anyone though. Most divorcees that I know are very good people. However, they, maybe better than anyone, understand the theme of today’s discussion. Marriage ain’t easy.

I know there is a lot of information available about why marriages don’t work or why they fail. However, while Crystal and I will readily admit it’s not easy, not everything that’s worthwhile is easy. The purpose of this web site is to provide positive reinforcement for marriage and related topics. Crystal and I both agree that we are an increasingly scarce success story. Both sets of our parents were success stories (after marriages lasting more than fifty years). Trust me, that doesn’t mean their lives were easy.

Again, it’s easier to talk about our marriage. When I first married Crystal we went on an eight day honeymoon in Arizona. It was great! We both thought, wow this marriage thing is easy. Then we returned home, and life ensued. Jobs, schedules, family and friend’s expectations made us realize something. We weren’t as ready as we had thought. There was so much one or both of us had taken for granted. We were two different people: (I am a logical scientist practical type of person while Crystal is a creative, artistic and visual type of person). We went about things differently. We also discovered that we were both a little stubborn and didn’t like to lose a fight.

I was against going to counseling. After all, I had been alive and making “great decisions” for almost twenty-four years. Besides I was smart. Crystal just needed to stop being so stubborn. Besides, what could a total stranger tell me that I didn’t already know?

Early in our marriage Crystal called a Christian counselor and met with him by herself. After she told me some of the things the counselor said, I decided to go with her. After all I needed to tell my side of the story. I soon found out it wasn’t like that. I know many of you might find this hard to believe, but I/we actually learned a few things. We learned to take turns and actually listen to each other and consider the other person’s point of view. No profanity made sense. O.K., well I had never considered rules to conflict resolution. Yes, late night arguments never led to any good decisions and the following day was rough in my sleep deprived state.

The one rule that I think helped more than anything was so simple yet useful that we had never considered it. We didn’t have to agree on everything. If, after going through a reasonable effort to resolve our problem, we just couldn’t agree, we could agree to disagree. Instead of winning or loses on an issue, we could just agree to a compromise. Also the counselor had us take a test that led to a chart of who we were.  My line on the chart was very different from Crystal’s line on the chart, but our two lines met at our values.  Also, the counselor realized immediately that we loved and liked each other tremendously. He explained that our different talents, abilities and points of view complemented each other.  We needed to use this to our advantage as a couple.  This helped us very much to work as a team.  I am more orderly, organized and logical while Crystal is more detail oriented, creative and optimistic.  Together we are stronger in problem solving and getting things accomplished.  It took a while (years) for us to truly understand and use this information.

O.K., all of that was marriage 101. Any couples who have been married for any period of time have either figured much of that stuff out or are doomed to failure (divorce, unhappy marriage, murder/suicide). You have to realize early that you are both, while individuals with individual needs, on the same team. The old expression, “there is no I in team”, definitely comes into play.

You just can’t keep score. (The apostle Paul said Love doesn’t keep a list of wrongs.) Marriage isn’t about winning and losing. If that is your belief, the best you can possibly expect is, forgive the pun, win the battle, but lose the war. Marriage is one of the rare and unnatural examples in life where the only two real outcomes are either win-win or lose-lose.

Life itself, married or single, provides enough challenges. The theory behind a good marriage is that two can handle it better than one. Unless you can find a way to work together toward common goals, the stresses of everyday life will inevitably pick you apart. We have used counselors, books, tapes, church programs, Bible study, and more opportunities to strengthen our marriage. We recommend using all the help you can get to keep your marriage balanced and happy. We also pray for help from God and we pray for each other.  God has always been in the center of our marriage and, without Him, we don’t think our marriage would have survived all the challenges in life that came our way.

The good news is simply that, at least with us, some thirty-six years in, things do smooth out. God, who knows both of us very well, got it right, after all. What once drove us nuts, we can now, in many cases laugh about. There are still sore subjects. But we both see, with great clarity that we were meant to be together. Life has been easier, more fulfilling and meaningful because of our commitment.

So, bottom line, marriage ain’t easy. It’s work. But, if two people are well suited and determined enough, it can be really, really worth the effort.

Honeymoon 001


Crystal and I on our honeymoon at the Grand Canyon. I know what you’re thinking. They haven’t changed a bit. O.K. maybe a bit.

Category: Make Marriage Last

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