Why is marriage so hard?

“Why is marriage so hard?” she asked. 

This sweet, young college student had lived long enough to realize that even long-term, committed relationships have their challenges. Male/female differences, varying personalities, and different communication styles are all valid reasons why marriage is challenging. 

“Why didn’t God just create us with the ability to relate to each other easily and deeply? Why does it have to be so hard?” she continued. 

Why indeed. 

Deep questions from a young mind causes me to ponder my answer well. This one simmers in my subconscious all night. When the answer comes, it's startling, almost laughable in its simplicity. 

“Why do you think deep relationships between men and women are so challenging?” I asked my walking partner this morning. “Why didn’t God make it easy for us?” 

“I’ll counter that question,” she said, “with a question of my own. If race relations are so difficult, why didn’t God just create one race? It would be so much easier.” 

“Well,” I countered, “he did. But sin messed it up.” 

And that, young friend, is also the answer to your question. God designed us to live in perfect harmony and love with each other and himself. This was his original plan. I believe that just like Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in a perfect relationship in the Garden, so they did with each other. 

But sin messed it up. 

God designed our differences as part of his perfect plan for mankind. If sin hadn’t entered the world, these differences would enhance our relationships, not make them more challenging. 

Think of the conflicts people have with their spouses. Isn’t sin at the root of most of them? We argue over free time, because he wants to watch a football game, and we want him to work in the yard. We argue over money, because he wants to buy a new television, and we want new curtains. We argue over sex because . . . well, you get the picture. 

God designed it perfectly. Mankind messed it up. Knowing this then, that all our relationships are tainted with the difficulties of sin, why should we even try to have deep, rich relationships? 

First, having to work at our relationship helps us value it. As Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” God knows if we have to build and grow communication and relationship, we will treasure it more. “If it’s worth having,” my grandmother used to say, “It’s worth working for.” 

Discovering each other’s likes, dislikes, passions, fears, hopes, and dreams takes time and effort. The stack of relationship books David and I have read over the course of our 29-year-old marriage is tall, and the list of classes we’ve taken is long. We invest this time and effort because a good understanding of each is valuable and precious. We don’t take our relationship lightly, because we’ve worked so hard to learn each other. We’d never casually throw it away. We’ve invested too much. 

Second, if relationships were easy, we wouldn’t need God. And ultimately, what does God desire more than anything else? For us to come to him for everything, rely deeply on his wisdom and insight, and seek his power and will. If relationships were easy, we wouldn’t need him. “If any of you lack wisdom,” God invites, “let him ask of (me) who gives to all men liberally, without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). 

As I’ve prayed for and about my relationship with my husband, God has given me wisdom, strength, insight, and power. As I’ve sought him for patience, kindness, love, self-control, gentleness, and courage, he’s made me a better person. And he’s grown my husband and my marriage. I pray our relationship reflects to the world what faithful, committed love looks like. Marriage, like our relationship with the Lord, is a lifetime love challenge, but it’s well worth the effort. 

Someday, sweet friend, you’ll meet the man who wants to spend the rest of his life learning to love you. You’ll feel the same way about him, and God will smile. 

Faithful, committed, unconditional married love is the closest we’ll experience this side of Heaven to the love God has for his bride. 

And that, dear friend, is pretty special.

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  1. I have to confess, being raw after a breakup that was a marriage that had lasted over half my life, it's hard to read about how special marriage is. But those of us going through it, know how special it is, and that's why we have a such a strong sense of loss. Swimming through all those heartache questions like: "why didn't he love me?" or "could anybody love me again?" are close to the heart of our own insecurity. While I think the blog is a good one, I'd like to place on your heart to maybe address in a future blog the seed of hope. The day I met my boss she told me that "divorce isn't a death sentence" but I assure you, it feels like it is when you're going through it. So for the stricken, and heartbroken, give a special entry that tells us there's still some hope. Blessings, Laurie

    1. Laurie,
      I am prayerfully, tremblingly approaching your transparent, gut-wrenching comment. While I haven't experienced the heartbreaking death of a marriage, I have experienced loss that caused me to question everything I believed. I've cried myself to sleep, cried myself awake, and cried myself through.

      In an effort to redeem my own loss and help those facing similar sadness, I've written about hope. Without hope, we die, either physically, emotionally, or spiritually. This is why, I believe, God calls himself "the God of hope."

      Please visit this post, "When Your Soul is Drowning," and also click on the Vlog "Here's Hope," in the sidebar.

      And on October 28, I'll be posting "How to Handle the Worse News of Your LIfe." It's about as transparent as I've ever been about heartbreak and loss.

      And know that my prayers are with you. Lord, wrap your big, strong arms around Laurie. Help her feel your presence and know, deep in her soul, that you love her, are with her, and will provide for her every need. Help her see, today, evidences of your work in her life. Draw her to your word, and when she reads, help it come alive with truth to counteract the lies that Satan loves to throw at her. Give her promises to claim and the faith to believe them. Give her guidance to walk a path she's never walked before. Bring believers around her to pray for her, support her, encourage her, and yes, cry with her. Heal her heart and give her a faith story that you will one day use to help someone else. And Lord, remind her that you love her in a real and tangible way today. In the strong name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

  2. Every time we get through with a counseling session (or almost every day outside of that) I think "Marriage is hard!" Marriage is harder now that mine has been restored than when my husband and I were living for years in the wilderness.

  3. wow, I have been praying about my marriage a lot recently, and well what should pop up on my screen? Thank you Lord. My husband isn't a Christian and he was not happy when I became one. So things are a little different for us, I do love him deeply though even if he doesn't understand my love for Christ. I pray one day not only will he understand it he will come to know it for himself.

  4. Thank you for the hope you give to marriages. I really appreciate that. I have a wonderful husband but for some reason it is often hard too. I liked what you shared here especially ways that you needed to change. I have thought that for a long time.

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