marriage is what you make it

Marriage is what you make it

People don’t discuss marriage in the same terms today as they used to.  In fact, a lot of people don’t even view marriage the same way, let alone talk about it.  

At the same time, there are also people who view marriage as the true rite of passage into adulthood – a milestone that legitimizes them taking up space on earth.

The way I see it, there are two camps that people fall into with their views about marriage: the marriage nay-sayers, and the marriage happily-ever-after-ers.

Let’s start with the latter.

The Marriage Happily-Ever-After-ers

These are the people that place marriage on the highest pedestal of life. They feel sad for anyone who’s gone through their life without having gotten married (either by choice or by chance).  In my experience, these people come off as a little self-righteous: “I’m doing something right in my life because I’m married,”.  It’s like they view themselves as characters in a Nicholas Sparks novel where love prevails over everything.

Let’s be real with ourselves. A lot of us thought, when we were kids or teens that marriage would be some fairy tale -that it’s nothing but happiness, even though its not really what we witnessed in real life. 

So why make it sound so easy, when very few people have that kind of experience?  Some people carry on with the idea in their heads that everything turns out perfectly as long as they make their life appear like a movie.  To folks on the outside, they have a perfect relationship. But so often it turns out to be the exact opposite.  

Why is that?  You’d think that starting with a good attitude would make all the difference.   

Not necessarily.  Believing in happily-ever-after is not a bad attitude, but you need to make sure to mix in a healthy dose of reality. You can be ultimately happy in your marriage. (I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t believe that).  But you have to put in the work is over the day after you’ve said, “I do.” More on this later.

The Marriage Nay-Sayers

At the other end of the spectrum, others view marriage as an unnecessary life event that is little more than a legal contract, binding you to someone else’s debt for life.  They’re not totally wrong, but the crazy thing is: many of these people are married.

Today I read a comment someone made online that said, “Marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”  This perspective is exactly the thing that makes relationships and commitment hard for people.

This comment triggered me, I guess.  I was immediately irritated that someone would say this (on a marriage advice forum, no less).  What is marriage cracked up to be anyway? Did someone tell this person it would be all cakes and candy all the time?

Probably not. But chances are this view stems from a romanticized, unrealized fantasy version of marriage that we all seem to think exists with zero effort. So when the “Nay-sayers” get married and do not put effort into their relationship, they become crushingly disappointed and decide that it’s not what is cracked up to be.

The Marriage “Game”

I think of marriage as a strategy in the game of life, so to speak.  We all want to win at this game – and it’s not an easy game.  Marriage is just one step people while they’re trying to win at life.

Here’s where we get to the problem: people often fall in one of those two camps.  They’re either a happily-ever-after-er, or a nay-sayer.  Neither of these are productive or realistic.

Marriage is what you make it.  Marriage is what your partner makes it. If you are a happily-ever-after-er and your partner is a nay-sayer, things are going to be hard.  Hell, even if both of you fall in the same camp, things are still going to be hard, because neither of those ideas are rooted in reality.

A healthy marriage is one where both partners stick together, knowing that there will be good times and bad times. A healthy marriage is when you dive into your struggles together, even if it was one of you that caused it to happen in the first place. It takes work and consistent effort all the time. The does not end when the wedding is over.

The Marriage Mindset

Marriage – if you do it right – is teamwork. If the teammates are not playing like they’re on the same team, then things are going to be really hard; it’s going to be hard to win the “marriage game”. But, if both you and your partner get into a mindset where you are on the same team, and committed to the partnership, things can be really, really awesome.

Marriage is about lifting each other up. If you have the attitude that your spouse is just bringing you down because you married their debt, or their illness, then things will probably be hard. But if both of you are focused on making each other’s lives better, then yes, marriage is much more than it is cracked up to be.  It’s what you make it.

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