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Is Marriage Hard?

a couple at an outdoor table, looking at each other an smiling. Is marriage hard?
Maintaining a loving, fruitful marriage does require work. But in my experience, it’s joyful work.

Not long ago, someone asked me if it was fair to assume that marriage is hard. She had heard a Christian speaker talk about how his first year of marriage was challenging even though he and his wife had been friends for three years prior. The daily rub of living with each other provided many opportunities for sanctification and sacrifice. Testimonials like this one can give the impression that marriage is a difficult and drab undertaking.

Before I was married, I had similar questions. While the “user satisfaction” seemed to vary from marriage to marriage, I definitely observed some relationships that looked a lot like hard labor. In addition, married people seemed fond of telling me how much work marriage could be. At one point, I remember asking a married friend if she had a positive opinion of her spouse or if she was more aware of his flaws. I was mildly surprised when she revealed that she had deep fondness and great respect for him.

My peers also expressed a lot of fear about marriage. Many in the Millennial and Gen Z generations are children of divorce, and this firsthand experience with loveless marriages is a major reason these groups avoid tying the knot. An article in Business Insider names fear as one of the primary reasons marriage numbers are declining:

“Millennials tend to fear getting divorced and are financially burdened, so they’re marrying later in life as they take time to get to know their partner, accumulate assets, and become financially successful.”

Gen Z is also not marriage-inclined for similar reasons. Given the fact that so many marriages fail, my friend’s perception of matrimony as difficult is not unwarranted. Relationships in general are challenging — especially those that are supposed to last a lifetime. A person is wise to consider that marriage will require work, compromise and sacrifice. However, marriages vary as much as the individuals in them. I once heard a mentor say, “There are hard marriages and there are easy marriages; both can glorify God.”

The value of marriage

Three years before I met my husband, Kevin, I wrote these words in the article “Giving Marriage a Chance“:

“While many singles desire marriage and continue to hope in its ideal, they receive little positive reinforcement of its desirability. In order to reclaim the value of marriage, you must ask yourself: “Do I believe God meant what He said about marriage?” Scripture elevates marriage as a relationship ordained by God at creation and one that is deeply satisfying.”

Our world has veered so far from God’s perspective of and design for marriage. Genesis tells us that God created a woman for Adam to ease his loneliness. He gives Adam the gift of Eve, not to make his life hard, but to make it easier. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” I don’t think that’s a passage we ponder enough in modern times. A wife is a good thing. A husband is a good thing. Marriage models God’s character and was never intended to be drudgery.

I have had sanctifying seasons both as a single and in my marriage. Each had their own ups and downs. Maintaining a loving, fruitful marriage does require work. But in my experience, it’s joyful work.

The blessing of marriage

In my over 13 years of marriage, my husband and I have experienced hard moments — some very hard. But marriage overall has not been hard. It has been rewarding, enjoyable, precious and fun! My natural compatibility with Kevin has made him my favorite adventure buddy, my biggest confidant and my best friend.

This past year has been one of the most challenging of our relationship. If I had seen the struggles and heartache we would encounter, I would have gone to the altar with my knees knocking. I’m thankful that I couldn’t see the future and that our good God invites us to trust Him for daily bread in every area of life. As we have submitted ourselves to Him in commitment to each other, He has fortified our marriage and used it for His glory in ways we never anticipated.

Marriage is one of many life events that can sanctify us. It’s also one of several life events that can bring deeper connection, fruitfulness and joy. It’s all in how you look at it. The beautiful thing is that God promises to be with us both in marriage and in singleness. So when someone asks me if marriage is hard, I say, “Yeah. Sometimes. But it’s also awesome. And totally worth the effort.”

Copyright 2023 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved. 

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About the Author

Suzanne Gosselin
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor. She graduated from Multnomah University with a degree in journalism and biblical theology. She lives in California with her husband, Kevin, and her four young children: Josiah, Sadie, Amelia and Jackson. When she’s not hanging out with her kids, Suzanne loves a good cup of coffee, conversation with friends, musical theater and a trip to the beautiful California coast.

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