Do we need any more bad news about marriage?
I have never met anyone who met someone who made them so miserable they decided to sign up for a lifetime of grief through marriage.
But I have met plenty of people who love the idea of a blissful-happily-ever-after so much that when they met the right person, they promptly signed up for a lifetime dose, via marriage.
But there’s a bad side to being married that we don’t talk about often.
And I want to be the bearer of the bad news today as I explain what matrimony actually means.
You can call it a decent evaluation of what we lose when we get married.
Scripture tells us about the importance of evaluating the cost of a task before committing to it.
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he (Jesus) turned and said to them,…For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Luke 14:25,28 -30 ESV (Brackets added)
In the text, Jesus is explaining to the crowds the cost of being His disciple: He asks them to count the cost ahead of time.
While Jesus is talking about discipleship here, we can learn a lot about marriage and how to assess the cost of being married, ahead time.
Just as the crowds followed Jesus because they saw or heard of His miracles and wonders and great teaching, we too commit to relationships for the perks.
But being a follower of Jesus is a lot more than friendly estimates.
There’s a ruggedness, a death of our will and passions, a holy devotedness that speaks destruction to our view of the happy disciple of God.
There’s a rugged and hard side to it.Being married comes with a whole lot more than loads of sex, companionship, pleasant feelings, and happy stomachs. There’s a rugged and hard side to it. Here is the bad news about marriage
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, talked about this side of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7: 7,8 when he said “I wish that all were as I myself am (single)” and “those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that”
In context, Paul is also addressing the value of singlehood – how both marriage and singlehood are gifts from God. But he makes a point include the troubles and quirkiness of marriage.
Now, if I am painting a grim, dismal picture of marriage, you are welcome.
That’s where I want to take you today.
Marriage is bad news to the side of us that wants to be cleaved but free, fastened to another but without care.
Whether we admit it or not, we all have this side of us that wants to celebrate the benefits of marriage but downplay and ignore the costs.
So today’s post is a PSA for the marrieds and yet-to-be-marrieds.
(For less grimy news, check out other posts!)
In dissecting the bad news, we’ll use the analogy of climbing a mountain.
It’s an excellent illustration because it relays the rigors of coupling. I also have a friend who’s an avid outdoors-person, and her adventures inspired this post.
Why marriage is bad news for us
1. It wrecks us
We love beautiful things. Sweeping mountain views, fresh streams snaking between valley floors, towering trees, magnificent sunsets and moonlight skies.
We love the idea of being married. Of having this one person who “gets” us, comforts us, has sex with us. With whom we can make babies, build a family, and grow old together.
Mind-blowing to think about it.
There’s a bridge, linking the dream we have and where we currently stand.
Things we have to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to creating these experiences and a life with the person we call our spouse.
Marriage is bad news to your side of family who now have to come second after your spouse.
It’s terrible news to your career, to friends, hobbies, and lifestyle. Even your relationship with God? It’s bad news because now you need more of Him to help you figure things out.
The reason the relationship is distressing news is because you really don’t want to do these good-for-my-marriage things.
The sweeping views, insta-worthy pictures, and swooning stories? You are in. The raw, unfiltered, unregenerate parts of the process? You out.
We hate dying.
That’s #1 of the bad news about marriage: It presents a sweet dream to aspire to. Then knocks us over with the details.
2. Maybe you are not even a mountain climber
You don’t even like taking walks, let alone donning gear and crawling up an incline. You much rather have a couch and a TV remote.
Maritally speaking, we like the couch and remote. We resent the exertion of growth, aka leaving our familiar shores. Thinking about someone else above ourselves all the time? Aargh.
When Paul talked about the “worldly trials” married people face, (1 Corinthians 7) he had the reluctant mountain-climber in mind.
Leaving our couches, our comfortable (in the sense of familiar) singular existence, and starting a journey to a new experience that is higher than anything we thought.
3. It demands considerations
The bad news about marriage is that it demands walking at your partner’s pace.
Okay, so maybe some of us are avid outdoorsmen and women and somehow we found other outdoorsy people to hang out with (marry.)
Most people tend to marry their opposites, though. Even when they find one of their herd, the person is still not a replica or clone.
Men and women are different.
That is why we disagree, have conflict, and have to figure out communication, so we don’t start wildfires every inch of our climb up merry mountain.
There’s nothing wrong with seeing things differently (that is a blessing oftentimes.) It’s how we resolve them; that’s often the problem.
Trudging up hills of matrimony, most spouses like to keep their own speed. Not their partner’s. They insist on similarity, that their spouse be like them, so the marriage can be happy.
But the sophisticated person will want their partner to thrive too (as opposed to being devoured by exhaustion or dying from desertion.)
To put it another way, the avid sure-footed outdoorsy person stays considerate of the slower I-can’t-believer-Iam-climbing-this-mountain-with-you spouse (See #2)
Similarly, the outdoorsy-hater stays considerate of their crazy-for-outdoors spouse.
By now, you know we are talking about preferring your spouse, as much as (and sometimes over) yourself.
Paul, in his letter to the church in Philippi, put it this way
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:2-8 ESV
The bad news of marriage is that “you” stop being the center of your universe, and “us” takes center stage.
The person who wants always to have the last word and the one who doesn’t want to speak at all have to be considerate of what is good for “us” not just for “me.”
The one who wants to hurry conversations along and the one with the shut cave doors?
The one who spreads plenty of picnics midway the mountain and the one who wants to get to the top faster?
The people lover and the introvert?
The pessimist and the optimist?
They both have to move from their default to “us”.
4. And you have to share those mountain top views
Which is a lovely thing in theory, but in practice, it means accepting that you did not get this far by yourself. Someone else contributed to your success.
We love to overvalue our abilities and underplay our lack thereof.
But it’s a lonely, next to impossible endeavor, to climb a mountain with a singular mindset while in reality you are married.
In other words, every conversation shared, every stop made, every look, every pat on the back, every rebuke, every rough patch is a shared experience. Thus every party contributes to the person at the top of the mountain.
They didn’t have to physically put you on their shoulders and carry you up the mountain, to deserve honorable mentions. Their presence contributed.
Marriage is terrible news to an exaggerated view of self. It’s bad news to our opinions, ego, and successes.
When we hog the limelight and downplay our spouse’s contribution to our lives, we lie to ourselves.Marriage is terrible news to an exaggerated view of self. It’s bad news to our opinions and ego. When we hog the limelight and downplay our spouse’s contribution to our lives, we lie to ourselves.
We are not great spouses by ourselves. We are great because we have a spouse.
5. Marriage is bad news to the husband or wife who wants to keep their options open
The point of matrimony is exclusivity.
According to the online oxford dictionary, exclusivity means “The practice of excluding or not admitting other things” or “Restriction to a particular person, group, or area.”
If we go by the definition of exclusivity (and we should), we are not just talking about a one-time choice we made to devote our bodies, minds, and priorities to this one person.
We are talking about an on-going choice.
It’s “Excluding,” “Admitting,” “Restriction.” On-going efforts.
Once you start up the mountain, you don’t jump off midpoint (or whatever point) and start on another. You commit and stay dedicated.
Climbing a mountain is not a decision that is to be entered into lightly or willy-nilly. Likewise, sustaining the journey is not trial-and-error.
It’s intentional, calculated, fierce, almost fanatical – to those who are not mountain climbers, anyway – commitment to your goal.
Your relationship is disastrous news to independence and the right to do “whatever I want with whomever I want whenever I want.”
6. It ruins humor
I was typing up this post when my husband, who was working from the dining table, behind me, started laughing.
“What’s funny?” I asked.
The laughter stopped and his voice dropped, “Marriage is just bad.”
I whirled around.
He explained the laughter and it’s death.
That he’d thought of springing a scare on me but stopped short because he knew I’d get upset.
So he was laughing because he played out the entire practical joke in his head and it was funny (mostly my fright) but he was bummed out because he couldn’t carry it out.
My scared-by-everything personality is a constant source of re-defined humor at our home.
And we’ve found plenty of happy mediums.
But marriage resurfaces your defaults and forces fresh accommodations.
On both ends. It was a good one. I hugged his sweet considerate heart.
7. There’s more gravity
Marriage is bad news for the one who wants to climb only one mountain.
Because we get to the top of one mountain and realize we actually signed up for several more.
The journey is a continuing season, and we never really arrive. It is made up of exciting mountain top experiences, not-so-amazing valley lows, and many many ordinary mid-point days.
The thing about it, though, is that we can begin to look at this journey, our relationship as an adventure.
Where we appreciate the privilege of doing life with someone else, as opposed to doing it alone (and nothing wrong with singleness. Both are gifts from God and fulfilling.)
Marriage is, in fact, a part of life: holding your breath for the mountain tops and hating the in-betweens is a sad way to live.
A happy marriage is mostly a mindset thing, not just about what we experience externally. Obviously, the external is crucial.
But how you see things (more than how those things are) is more crucial because ultimately, how you think determines the quality of your life and relationship.
The bad news of marriage is that it changes you.
Whether you like it or not.
1. It wrecks you. Turns you upside down and right side up and doesn’t stop.
2. It seizes power, making climbers out of couchers.
3. It messes with your preferences.
4. It requires you to put someone else alongside and above yourself (so hard)
5. It forces you to share.
6. It ruins humor
7. It beats your muscles, making a saint out of you.
And those are the seven ways that marriage is bad news for couples.
I hope I’ve given you something to chew on today, but let’s talk! What other bad news about marriage can you think of? What did I leave out? Let me hear in Comments!
If you found this post interesting (even if you didn’t haha), please share it with friends, family? Social media? It will make me so happy!
One final thing
My friend who inspired this post, her name is Barb Raveling. Alongside climbing hilly heights and being a wonderful person, she is also an author of several books, a podcaster, and blogger at BarbRaveling.com, where she teaches us all how to become better, self self-controlled, God-empowered human beings. Her latest book is titled “Freedom From Procrastination” and you can find it here.