My life with my husband has been far from easy. We’ve gone through a lot: raising five children, a health crisis, our personality differences, and the challenge to continue to keep our family financially afloat.
I’ve been tempted to just accept the struggle—chalk it up to the conventional wisdom that “marriage is hard.” But some friends have helped me to see there is another way, and that maybe, just maybe, marriage doesn’t need to be that hard.
Allow me to explain…
My husband and I recently had dinner with friends we hadn’t seen for nearly ten years. Facebook had allowed us to stay in touch and up-to-date with each other’s lives, but sitting down face-to-face allowed our conversations to go much deeper.
As we were chatting about work and family, I asked our friends if they still lived in the same house. The husband answered, no. They had moved to a quieter neighborhood. He went on to explain that they moved because of how difficult the last several years of their marriage had been for them.
They shared the toll his demanding job took on their family, how the wife didn’t feel safe when the husband was traveling out of town for work, the challenges of raising a special needs child and how, ultimately, they felt like they were drowning and something in their lives had to change.
My husband and I nodded. We’ve so been there, we said as we shared some of our own difficulties from the past few years. Our friends listened with sympathetic ears, and I could feel a powerful connection develop between the four of us.
“So, how did you know moving was going to help you with those difficulties?” I asked our friends.
They shared with us how another couple had brought the idea of moving to their attention. They told us how this couple walked alongside them, listened, and made suggestions our friends probably wouldn’t have come to on their own given everything going on around them.
“They were invaluable to us,” our friends explained. “When we were unable to see a path forward, they helped us take small steps toward a better marriage and life for our family.”
As I sat there listening, I realized that my husband and I did not have a married couple like the one our friends described in our lives—and haven’t for a very long time. I thought back to our difficult early days of marriage, days of terrible financial decisions, intense arguments, and even thoughts of separation. My husband and I are both independent people; it makes us proud to be able to ‘fix’ things ourselves. Now I wonder if things would have gone differently had we sought out another couple for support.
Even though we survived those difficult times, suffering through them alone probably made things that much harder. That’s something my friends’ experience showed me. It’s true that sometimes marriage is hard. But I don’t believe we are meant to suffer through difficult times alone, and that includes difficult times in marriage.