February 4, 2011

Marriage Musings

I (Nathan) have intended to post on the blog for quite a while but either could not decide on a topic or simply never get around to it. However, I chose to start by writing my thoughts about a blog post Amanda came across a few days ago expressing how hard marriage is.

Granted we've all heard this and I do understand that marriage has its challenges but neither of us feel it has really been that difficult. We were surprised to see so many comments wholeheartedly agreeing with the post. I have never had second thoughts or doubts about my marriage, and in fact have had many reassurances simply through things Amanda has done or said that make me love her even more. We sincerely enjoy being together and spending time with each other and haven't had any real fights. I don't know that there's any magic formula or secret key that we can point to, but it seems to me that in today's society so many couples spend most of their time preparing for the wedding rather than preparing for the marriage.

Sometimes people just don't know each other well enough or long enough before committing. I think the focus shouldn't be so much on an arbitrary amount of time passing but instead on whether you've experienced a variety of life circumstances together. Almost anyone can be happy and pleasant when times are good, but how does your partner react when times are rough? For us there were many trials and stress including college, unemployment, moving, miserable job, extreme financial hardship, and death of grandparents. These situations ultimately strengthened our love and commitment to each other. You also need to ensure you are on the same page about various viewpoints and aspects of life as well as any expectations (assumed or real). It would be very difficult to be in a close relationship with someone who does not feel the same way about issues as you do. This of course requires communication and time.

Despite the stereotypes we are constantly bombarded with, everyone is different. Not too long before my wedding a close family friend mentioned "you don't need to learn about women, you only need to learn about Amanda." This advice has stuck with me and illustrates the point that you must learn what is (and is not) important to your spouse. One way to do so is to read (and discuss) books together. Regarding this specific topic, I recommend The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman which explains how to express love in the particular way that is meaningful to your partner, and The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women by Gary and Barbara Rosberg which explores several love needs and also provides a list of twenty needs to rank in importance to you.

Additionally, I believe there is some wrong by both partners (though not necessarily equal) in almost every relationship fight or problem (even including affairs). We are so quick to point fingers, but most of us neglect to look at ourselves first. Using the example of the fight about trash given in the post, the husband is wrong for not recognizing and fulfilling his wife's need and the wife is wrong for blowing it out of proportion and for how she addressed the issue. There are always two sides to every situation. A tip I read in a book once which I have never forgotten is "seek to understand before being understood." This is such a simple yet profound and challenging concept. When you get in a disagreement or fight, is your motive to truly understand your spouse and thus improve your relationship or is it really to push your own desires and defend your viewpoint? I have always held that the definition of true love is self-sacrifice. Are you going to make your spouse your top priority and put their needs above your own? Are you willing to put aside the TV or computer or whatever it may be in order to give your spouse your undivided attention and address their concern(s)? This is a hard goal as we all are by nature selfish, but one I continually strive for.

Just to be clear, my point in writing this post is not to brag but simply to provide a different perspective by sharing my observations and possibly help others who are currently in relationships.


  1. I would have to agree. Granted, I'm not quite to the stage you both are yet... But I shall be there shortly.

    We have received "wisdom" from others about how to resolve conflict - "Sometimes you just need to leave the room for a while to cool off before dealing with it." A and I both figured out early on that if we walk away from it, it will never get resolved. Both of us "turtle shell" - we bottle it up, and it will either become bitterness, resentment, or eventually it will blow up. Since we figured this out, we've made it a priority to sit and get it dealt with before we part ways. This has been a huge blessing to our relationship.

    Thanks for posting a "non-norm" post. As A and I head into marriage, it's rather tiresome to always hear from people about how hard marriage is... and so few rejoicing in it. I appreciate hearing the "other side."


  2. Go Nathan!!

    What a blessing you both are to us.

    Love you bunches.

  3. All I have to add is that the author of the post referenced was married 2 weeks before we were, so we really are comparing apples to apples here. We realize that after 7 months, we haven't seen it all, but the original poster says they started fighting after a mere 4 months.

  4. I have to say this comes across as advice on running a marathon from someone who has only ever run 5K's. I mean, I get what you are trying to say but please don't overlook that fact that marriage is hard and takes a lot of work. Short of raising children it is probably the hardest thing you will ever do. It is obvious to me that you and Amanda have made a commitment to put in the required work which can be seen from the items and books you referenced. All I'm saying is don't take your marriage for granted and don't think for a second that it is easy or requires no/little effort from you because that is when it will all fall apart.

    You should revisit this post in 20 years just to see how things have changed.

  5. Jeff, I fully agree that we are by no means qualified to give advice on marriage. I don't think Nathan's intent was to say that marriage is not difficult but rather that the common phrase "The first year of marriage is the hardest" is not necessarily true to every marriage. I can see how that may not have been conveyed clearly. We were expecting our first year of marriage to be a horrible experience filled with fights, and all we're saying is that it hasn't been as bad as we expected. If we're in the midst of our hardest year, then marriage must be really easy!

    But we still have almost 5 months left of the dreaded first year, so who knows. Maybe tonight Nathan will tell me he doesn't like the dinner I cooked and I'll punch him in the face.

  6. Oh, I get it. Yeah, the first year of marriage is easy compared to what's to come. Statistically speaking it's actually around 5-7 years when most marriages break up. Anyway, I get what he was trying to say now and I would agree that those people who say the first year of marriage is the hardest are delusional.

    And feel free to punch him in the face anytime whether he likes your dinner or not.


Let me know your thoughts on this. I love reading all my comments!