I am probably late on the ball game as I am sure most of you have read the post that went live in April titled, “5 Reasons Marriage Just Doesn’t Work Anymore.” You’ll have to forgive me if you’ve seen it a hundred times or have read comments on it a thousand times. I was home with a newborn and toddler and had no idea what was making its rounds on social media. Recently someone shared this article on my news feed and my heart broke to pieces when I read it. It’s been on my heart to write a post to counter, but I’ve just been avoiding it. Friday is my anniversary, and alas I think it’s time to stop avoiding this post because I want someone to hear the truth. So here it goes…
Marriage CAN work. I know I have only been married five years, but that’s five solid years that give proof that marriage CAN work. We have faced a lot of change in our five years of marriage. We’ve had ups and downs. It’s amazing how quickly your life can change in just five short years. AND it’s amazing how much your marriage and relationship grows and changes with everything else as well.
I would have to argue that marriage isn’t such an easy concept, I think that’s where we start off wrong. Marriage is complex. Marriage is about bringing two people together and becoming one. Marriage is about two people who can be completely opposite (my husband and I happen to be polar opposites) coming together and having to get along enough to do life together no matter all the little annoying habits and differences that separate them. Marriage is hard. Marriage takes a lot of work. But a marriage worth having is one worth working for.
Anything in life worth having is going to be met with opposition, but what you do with that opposition determines how you succeed. We can argue that these five things tear marriages apart, or we can see what being intentional about our marriage does to counteract these distractions.
1. No matter what season of life you are in, or what distractions may present themselves make sex a priority simply because it’s important.
Now I am just going to lay it all out there, this isn’t something I usually talk about on the blog because, well, it’s personal. But there have been plenty of ups and downs in my marriage in the area of sex. Who hasn’t had their own obstacles that they’ve needed to face? I had a very distorted view of sex when I got married because I have seen it abused in so many relationships. It took a lot of healing, and a lot of help from my husband to overcome that. Then you throw in college, and then a child, and then another child and anything can come and set it out of whack. You can use all those things as an excuse to live in a marriage with a non-existent sex life OR you can do the things necessary to make it existent. I don’t care if it’s marking on your calendar that every Friday night no matter how tired you are, how late you get the kids to bed, how stressful work was that day, this day is saved for intimacy. Sure it’s not spontaneous, but it shows your spouse that it is just as important to you as it is to them. Sex only becomes non-existent if you allow it.
2. Work together financially.
Money. You love it, you hate it. Rarely have my husband and I ever been in a place where we have had an abundance of finances. In reality, we have only ever had just enough. And just enough is really hard when extra comes in such as, dentist bills, unforeseen car issues, hospital bills, and high bills. Just enough gets really scary when you’re getting ready to have a kid. But we have always had the same attitude and that is getting through it together. I tend to worry and stress out a lot more than my husband does. He is the one that comes back in and calms me down reminding me that we have always made it, and we always will. We will work together to push through the financial burdens we have refusing to allow them to cripple us. We have paid off loans together, we have paid off medical bills, and we continue to do so. We aren’t going to allow something so silly, yet extremely important to cripple a relationship that is even more important. Stress can bring people together and it can bring people apart, you have to be intentional about which direction you want to go.
3. Use the tools at your fingertips to bring you closer, but don’t forget the importance of face to face interaction.
Guys, seriously this is a no brainer. Did you forget to go to the flower shop and have flowers sent to your wife for your anniversary? Or did you forget to make reservations for dinner? I am sure there is an app for that. I guarantee your wife isn’t going to care if you made dinner reservations through an app on your phone, she’s going to be too busy thinking about what to wear and how happy she is you thought to make dinner reservations. How special it is that you took time in planning that out. Wives, you may not be able to call your husband at work, but you can send him a text telling him how much you appreciate his hard work for your family. Or how much you’re thinking about him and can’t wait to see him when he gets home. How convenient society has made it for us to share our love with the people we care about most.
Society is changing and our marriages are changing with it. Our grandparents had television introduced and they had to learn to navigate that. I am sure there were times they had to learn to shut the television off and spend time talking to their spouse. Every day I intentionally turn the television off so I am not distracted and am encouraged to clean my house or get some work done. It also encourages my toddler to play rather than stare at a screen all day. Why wouldn’t I do the same thing when it comes to my marriage? Use the tools at your fingertips, but also make sure to intentionally put them away and spend time talking to your spouse. If you love them, you’ll do it. It really isn’t that complicated.
4. At some point you have to realize who matters and who doesn’t.
I think I have to argue with the author of the above article here, we do all want attention and desire whatever attention we can get, but I strongly believe the underlying reason why we want attention is because we want to be loved. We want someone who loves us for our flaws and imperfections as much as they love us for the beautiful. We mess up and we aren’t perfect, and we want someone who loves us through all of it.
Every single person is going to have to come to a place where they realize who’s voice matters in their life and who’s doesn’t. If I am too worried about what the person at work who will never talk to me thinks about me, that I am ignoring the friend I’ve known for years then I am losing out on someone who really cares for me. Just as in friendship, I have to look at my marriage and realize what my husband thinks about me is more important than what the strangers on the street think. I want his attention because deep down inside I want his love. My desire for attention comes from my desire to be loved, and when I see that there is this man standing beside me who vowed to love me through the good and the bad, through sickness and health, I’ll realize I have all the attention I could ever want right here. I don’t even have to do anything to earn it! In fact, I probably do A LOT to lose it, but he loves me despite that. That in my book is better than attention from a man on the street or a thousand likes on a photo.
5. Set Boundaries.
The most important part of any relationship is the boundaries you set. You have boundaries with your parents, you have boundaries with your friends, you have boundaries with your kids, and you should have boundaries in your marriage. Boundaries aren’t bad, they’re important. Boundaries are what protect your marriage from things that could come and harm them. Every marriage is different, and every marriage needs different boundaries based on the two people in that marriage. You need to work together as a couple to determine what you don’t want to allow in your marriage, what you want kept between the two of you, and what you can share with close friends. You have to protect your marriage just as you would protect your children or your best friend. You put boundaries around the things you love the most to protect them, marriage shouldn’t be any different.
It doesn’t matter if you were married in 1950 or 2015, this world is going to present a hundred opportunities for a marriage to fail. But only you can present a hundred opportunities for a marraige to succeed. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. In marriage you have to identify those things that can tear you apart and purpose to not allow them to do so, and you do that by setting boundaries. You do that by making things priority in life. You do that not because it’s a chore, but because you love your spouse. You stood before people on your wedding day and vowed to spend the rest of your life with this person, learning through the good and the bad simply because you loved them. You loved them on their good days and their bad days and you promised to choose to love them for even more of those good days and bad days.
Marriage CAN work in this generation, you just have to be intentional. You have to work at it. You can’t expect it to all fall into place in this crazy busy world we live in. BUT if it is important to you, and you love your spouse, it CAN work…you’ll make it work.