Marriage is hard. I know that everyone always says that but, I mean really, it is hard work. You may be wondering how I know this since I am not married, well let me tell you. I have a Master’s in marriage and family therapy, and at one point I was counseling married couples to fulfill a requirement of my degree. Can you imagine a non-married, at the time 20 something year old women, counseling married people about their problems?
Well I did, and I like to think that I was very good at it. Because I was not married I was able to look at each couples problems with an objective eye. And I am so thankful for the time that I got to counsel married couples because that is when I realized that it was hard work and it was not something to be taken lightly.
Many couples that I saw, within a year or two they were ready to get a divorced. Which is crazy right! Since they had just gotten married. But what I discovered is that when you are dating you can:
- Leave anytime you want or break up any time you want without it being too difficult.
- When dating so many people are doing just that, dating and having fun. They are not discussing the important issues such as if they want kids, how they are going to handle their money together, or spending habits.
- When people are dating they put on a façade. Meaning that they want to put on the most perfect form of themselves to their partner. Or better yet, they pretend to be someone else altogether.
But marriage is not like that.
You cannot just up and leave. Well you can, but it is a lot harder. Leaving that person means a divorce, spitting assets, coming up with a custody agreement, child support, or alimony. Lawyers are involved and the process can drag out for a long time, years even.
When married you still have fun, but if you fail to discuss the important thing during your dating phase once you’re married it will come out in the wash. If the wife has an excessive spending habit that always keeps the bank account in the negative; that will come out. If the husband has an
addiction to porn and chooses to watch it all day; that will come out. If one of the people has bad credit which prevents them from buying a home; that will come out. If one person has $100,000 of student loans that has to be paid that will come out. AND if one person wants to have kids and the other does not; that is a BIG deal and it will come out. When are single these issues only effects one person, but when you get married ALL of these issues effect your spouse as well. You can no longer pretend to be little Miss or Mr. Perfect in front you’re your partner. The real you will come out.
But where most people fail is their unwillingness to compromise. As a single person you can stay out all night, go on a trip, do what you want, and go where you want without having to ask permission for anyone. As a married person it is not like that. You spouse is an extension of you and so you must treat them as an extension of you, and this is where most people have a problem. The main issues that I have seen in counseling with married couples are:
Money. I have seen one person save up a lot of money and unwilling to spend their savings even if it is needed for the marriage. In a marriage many people will still have the tendency to say “This is MY money, I earned it.” When in reality, it is the household’s money. It does not matter who earned it, both people need to make the proper decision regarding money and this needs to be an open and honest conversation about how the money should be spent as a couple. If there are separate accounts, then an honest conversation needs to be had about it. There should be no hiding money and if the family is in need of money one person should not be going and blowing the money on something crazy neglecting the needs of the home.
Selfishness. Some married couples do not get the “whole joining together” part. They want everything to be about what they want, what they don’t have, and what they want to do. If each person in the marriage is always thinking about themselves then that means they are not thinking about the other person and that is a recipe of disaster. When you are married you have to come to terms with the fact that you are not the most important person in your life anymore. You spouse is and when you have kids, your kids will be as well. If you are unwilling to do that, then you do not need to be married.
Being Fake. I will never forget that as I was counseling a married couple they were both really unhappy with one another. Both of them stated that the person they married was not who they thought they were. Further down the counseling session they both admitted pretending to be what they thought their partner wanted because they each wanted to get married. I cannot emphasize this enough. Be yourself! You want to marry someone who likes you for you not a person that you pretended to be. That person is not real. So unless you want to pretend to be that person for the rest of your marriage (which is not going to happen) you will be unhappy.
And even if you follow all of the above advice, your marriage will still be hard. If you are in a hard marriage, I recommend you reflect on what you can do to change yourself. At the end of the day the only person that you can control is yourself, you cannot make the other person change. You can only work on yourself and do your part to make sure the marriage runs smoothly. For those who are single and who want to be married. Do not be in a rush to get married. Because this will lead to you just marrying anyone. And I have seen the effects of people just getting together because they are lonely. Marriage is not the cure to your loneliness, depression, anxiety, or the fact that you just do not want to be single anymore. Marrying the wrong person will only intensify these shortcomings.