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October 9, 2015

The Mountain of Marriage

Hal photo outside Feb2012“Some men storm imaginary Alps all their lives, and die in the foothills cursing difficulties that do not exist.” (Ed Howe, U.S. journalist)

Marriage is difficult. No newsflash there. But very rare is the spouse who accurately points out the exact nature of the difficulty. In public we all usually cite the general challenges of communication, of finding enough quality time together, of balancing the finances. In private, we usually credit the unique challenges of being connected to our specific spouse—her work schedule, his parents, her preoccupation with the kids, his preoccupation with sex.

But while each of those “issues” can be points of contention, and thus feel like real difficulties, none of them actually pinpoints the real truth of why “marriage is difficult.” The real difficulty of marriage is embedded within the very nature of marriage itself: it demands maturity. Yes, it’s maddening, but marriage is difficult because it demands that you take full personal responsibility for all your actions (even if your spouse doesn’t). Like how you spend your time, regardless of how your spouse does. Like how you address your spouse’s spending habits, even though you’re nervous about her response. Like how you represent your preferences in the bedroom, even though you hear your mother’s disapproval in your head, and you fear your husband’s rejection, ridicule, or disinterest.

This level of maturity, of authentic self-representation, can be a mountain of difficulty. But it’s definitely a mountain worth climbing.

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