When I think about my marriage, I am filled with a wide array of emotions. I absolutely love being married, and I also think it is one of the most challenging things I have ever experienced. Marriage is certainly not for the faint at heart, but I really do believe that with the love of God and a good set of tools in your belt, anyone can have a lasting and successful marriage. With that said, I think it’s important to seek quality marriage advice- emphasis on quality.
Before I go on to share the best marriage advice with you, I want to elaborate on that last statement. It is so important to get quality marriage advice. But where the heck do you find that? Here are some tips. Think of the couples that inspire you and leave you wondering how they got to where they are. Think of the couples that are outrageously in love after twenty years. And then think of the couples that are newer in their marriage, but are navigating it with abundant grace. The couples that are real and don’t hide their issues, but are always honoring and kind are also great couples to think of. Once you think of all of those couples, go to them and ask them for their best advice.
It is important to get advice from people who are positive and uplifting, but who are also honest, raw, and real. The couples who have walked through HARD stuff and made it to the other side are the ones that most likely have powerful nuggets of wisdom. And if they can share it with you in humility and for your benefit, that speaks highly of their character. So find those people. Learn from them, learn with them, and praise God for the opportunity.
The advice I want to share today came from a couple just like that. During my last trip to California, I was lucky to have some time with an amazing couple that my husband and I both adore. They have walked through many things with us, including the most difficult challenges in our marriage. Naturally, I was updating them and letting them know how we were doing. (My husband was not with me on this particular trip). As I was updating them, I confessed that I had an idea that marriage would get easier and easier over time. I was honestly expecting them to be like, “oh, yea, it does, but you just aren’t there yet.” Nope. They didn’t say that. They just laughed.
The husband smiled and said, “I can honestly tell you that in thirty something years of marriage it has not gotten easier. I just have more tools for the hard stuff.” His wife affirmed that statement, saying, “it never gets easier, and that’s okay!”
I was shocked. I think as newlyweds we can go through so many phases in our thought process regarding marriage. First we think we are so blissfully in love that we won’t have the same problems everyone else has. (INSERT LAUGHTER). Then, we realize what an adjustment marriage is and wonder what the heck we were thinking. And then we calm down a little bit and think if we just press in a little harder it will get easier.
To hear an older, much wiser couple say that it doesn’t get easier, but rather it just changes and evolves… That was actually very freeing for me. It was the best marriage advice that no one had ever given us. I felt a deep sense of relief knowing that we weren’t doing something wrong, but rather, each time we learn something new, we are actually doing something right.
I think my husband and I both can get frustrated when we walk through something challenging and feel like we have learned so much, but then encounter another equally challenging situation. It’s like we think that one hard time should be enough for us to learn how to love perfectly, and it just isn’t.
Because here’s the thing… we are constantly changing, growing, evolving humans. As soon as we learn one set of skills, we obtain a new set of problems. Whether it’s a problem that is directly related to our marriage, or a problem with outside circumstances, it all has an effect on us. But just as we are growing, changing, and evolving, so are the circumstances around us. So even though we have new tools in our belts, we have to learn how to use them in new ways. And while a tool itself might be the right tool for a problem, we still need to know how to use it the right way.
So we are always learning and growing, and situations and circumstances are always changing. Life will always be throwing us curve balls or tossing us lemons. And that’s okay. Those situations may not feel easier. Or who knows, maybe from time to time they will. The ups and downs of life and of marriage are totally normal.
The takeaway for me, and hopefully for you, is that it’s okay if marriage feels difficult. It’s okay if it doesn’t always feel like a piece of cake. We are humans, and we are complex, and we are intricate by design. Our hearts are not meant to be simple. The reason I am with my spouse, and the reason you are with yours is because they love us so much that they are willing to navigate the maze of our hearts, and do it with patience and grace. And we are willing to do the same.
We often buy into a lie (from the pit of hell) that if our marriage isn’t getting easier, we are doing something wrong. But here’s the truth: a difficult marriage doesn’t equal a bad marriage. We simply cannot go there. Marriage is difficult because it is the most intimate relationship we will ever experience this side of Heaven. It is difficult because it is real. It is difficult because two hearts are exposed in the most vulnerable way.
Marriage itself doesn’t get easier, and that’s okay.
But the more tools we get in our belts, and the more we learn how to use them properly, the easier it gets to handle the difficult situations.
And that, my friends, is the best marriage advice anyone ever gave me.
Have a tool in your belt that you think others could benefit from? Share it in the comments below!