The Work of Marriage

Is something wrong if your marriage is hard work?

I’m not a great knitter, but I do enjoy knitting. I find it calming (well, mostly), and it is deeply satisfying to complete a project, having transformed yarn into something else altogether.

I’ve written before about the process of working backward to fix a mistake. At times, the mistake is obvious and it’s just a matter of unknitting back to where I was and redoing it. Other times, I need to revisit the knitting pattern and reconfigure my approach to something. Either way, it can be discouraging at times.

At times, knitting is mind-calmingly easy. At other times, it makes me want to tear my hair out.

When I complete a project, I always think not only about all the time I’ve spent knitting, but also about the time I’ve spent unknitting. The finished product often looks simple and easy, but it is the result of time and effort. In both the easy stretches and the frustrating ones, my heart has gone into the knitting.

Last week, I finished a bag I’d been working on for a while. I gave it away, knowing that I was handing over a product that contained time and effort—and love.

I spent last weekend at a retreat with the Core Team of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association to share, dream, plan, and worship. Big Guy and I drove to North Carolina to the cabin of Tom and Debi Walter from The Romantic Vineyard. (Thank you so much, Tom and Debi, for your wonderful hospitality and your kindness in sharing your cabin and your hearts with us.)

We gathered around the campfire on our last evening together. I looked around and saw marriages that are solid and loving. From the outside looking in, these marriages looked easy—yet our conversation delved into the effort and intentionality necessary in marriage.

We talked about the work of building a marriage. Sometimes, the work is hard. Marriage shows us where our sin issues are. It highlights the places in our hearts that need the work of healing. At times, the work leaves us physically or mentally sore, or we need to be patient while waiting for a spouse to do some work. Around the campfire, we shared pieces of our own stories and the work required to grow.

Marriage requires us to adapt to another person and to changing seasons in life. Sometimes we work hard to make a change or to build something in our marriage only to find out that we missed something and need to go back and rework it. Other times require us to go back to basics and reconfigure our approach to something.

At times marriage is easy and calming. At other times, it can be frustrating or painful.

We see the time, effort, and love that has gone into our own marriages. When we look at other marriages, however, what we see appears easy.

Sometimes people look at other marriages and think, Wow, they have a good marriage. It looks so easy. What are we doing wrong that it is such hard work and we still don’t have it all together?

I used to see couples in church and think how amazing it was that they agreed on everything and that they always got along. Other times, I’ve had other women admit that they are worried about their own marriages when they see Big Guy and me together.

You may have times when you find that you are having to work on your marriage, whether it involves working backwards to get to a spot where you can rebuild or going back to basics to completely reconfigure your approach.

Challenging work is not a sign that your marriage is bad or that you are doing anything wrong. It is a sign that you care about your marriage.

As I listened to the couples at our retreat, I heard the bond that comes from having done the work together.

The very process of doing the work builds the intimacy in your marriage and connects you and your husband together.

Although a marriage is never a finished product, a good one might look simple and easy to others—but it is the result of time and effort, with a lot of heart and love behind it.

The hard work of transforming two individuals into a one-flesh marriage is part of what makes a marriage so beautiful and deeply satisfying.

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2 Comments on “The Work of Marriage”

  1. Thanks so much for your statement “Challenging work is not a sign that your marriage is bad or that you are doing anything wrong. It is a sign you care about your marriage.”
    Those are encouraging words. It’s so easy to think other marriages are great when we only see couples on Sunday or other limited times.

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