Is Marriage Hard Work?

Marriage is hard work!  If I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase. Yes, marriage takes considerable effort and work, but anything rewarding will require effort.  We should re-frame the narrative by saying marriage is an investment.  Maintaining a healthy marriage is an investment in your spouse, your children, your future, your community and even yourself.  Oftentimes we view the work of marriage in an obscure manner without any clarity on what we are working for in marriage.  When we have clarity on what we are working toward and the continuous victories or rewards of marriage, it gives us motivation to put in the work.  Focusing on the bigger picture gives us motivation for the harder seasons in marriage. We don’t balk at the work needed for college because we clearly understand the rewards of investing in your education.  So let me remind us all – whether married or single – of the wonderful rewards that stem from investing in your marriage.  Side note: Sometimes the hardest work you put into your marriage is working on yourself – your character, patience, etc.  Now that’s a whole different blog, but let us examine some of the amazing rewards and promises of investing in a healthy marriage:

  • Better physical health.  Hey guys, those pleasant reminders from your wife to go see the doctor may pay off in great dividends for your physical health.  Research indicates that men are more likely to go to the doctor when they are married and tend to have better overall health in comparison to single men.  For example, the CDC conducted a study with 24,000 men in 2011-2012, and found that men are more likely to see the doctor for checkups when they live with a wife in comparison to living with a girlfriend.
  • Better mental health. Having a life partner who supports and encourages you makes a difference for your mental health.  Sometimes it’s as simple as talking to your spouse about what may be troubling you at the moment.
  • Higher lifetime income and savings.  You may say this is an easy one to figure out.  Two average incomes will always be greater than one average income. However, we see that continuous marriage seems to have a special “it factor” because research indicates that continuously married couples have a higher accumulation of wealth in comparison to their counterparts – unmarried and remarried individuals (Zissimopoulos, Karney & Rauer, 2015). 
  • A positive model of marriage for your children.  Our children are truly watching us, and they know the possibilities for marriage by the examples that are set before them.  One of the best things you can do for your children is love your spouse well.

That’s on the research front, but on the practical side, the work you put into marriage changes you as a person.  It’s the process of investing in your marriage that results in a healthier version of yourself.  Because a marriage involves two people, and in working on the only person you have full agency over, yourself, you will find the quality of your marriage enhanced and enriched.  So what are the mental motivations that will help you invest in your marriage?  Beyond what the research says, what are the specific rewards of marriage that you would like to invest your time and effort.  The truth about investments is that you may not immediately feel the rewards of doing what it takes today to create your desired future.  The beauty about the current investment is that we understand the specific ways in which our investment is defining our future.  So the next time your marriage feels like hard work, remember the specific rewards that will be revealed through your investments and time.  Marriage is an investment with an extremely high rate of return– make all of your efforts count!March 13, 2019

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