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Why is Marriage So Hard?

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From the letters I receive, I think it’s safe to say that none of us expected marriage to be so hard. Most of us thought we were marrying our best friend and lover and looked forward to being with them forever.

But it doesn’t take long for the marital bliss to wear off. Couples write me saying that the trouble started as soon as they got back from their honeymoon…or even during their honeymoon!

If we marry, we will have trouble.

It turns out that the Bible warned us that if we married, we would have trouble (1 Corinthians 7:28 NIV)!

The Bible is not an antiquated book filled with rules to make us miserable. God’s commands are designed to help us, not to harm us. So when the apostle Paul warns us that if we marry, we will have trouble, he is just giving us a heads up on what to expect. Paul points out that marriage itself brings distractions -- as opposed to celibacy. These distractions that come to the married create distress and troubles for the marriage.

How we handle conflict is key.

Nothing kills the feeling of love like conflict…whether it’s overt conflict or simmering, below-the-surface conflict.

Conflict in itself is not bad. In fact, it’s essential and unavoidable in good relationships. But it’s how we handle the conflict that can be deadly to a marriage.

The quicker couples can accept a degree of conflict, the better off they will be.

Again, God has allowed these marital stresses. Obviously, I am not saying that all conflict is designed by God, but I encourage couples not to freak out and claim they've made a mistake because they have tension in their marriage. They are in the center of God's will, not outside of His will!

You don’t need to stay stuck in a cycle of conflict.

This is not to say that God wants us to stay stuck in conflict! The good news is this cycle can be broken. We call it the Crazy Cycle, and we made some discoveries that can help you get out of this cycle and begin to enjoy your marriage again.

What did we discover?

Research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts when feeling disrespected and a wife reacts when feeling unloved.

Though we all need love and respect equally, the felt need differs during conflict. For example, if a woman feels unloved during conflict, her natural reaction is to respond disrespectfully. And when a husband feels disrespected during conflict, his reaction is to respond unlovingly. This is when the Crazy Cycle starts to spin: “Without love a wife reacts without respect, and without respect a husband reacts without love.”

Both need love and respect  but there's a different emphasis. The best way to respect a wife is to love her based on her need for love. The best way to love a husband is to respect him based on his need for respect.

Make your marriage easier!

Are you ready to break the cycle of conflict and move towards more peace in your marriage?

Try a new approach. The next time the Crazy Cycle spins out of control, ask yourself:

Does my wife need reassurance of my love even though we are in conflict?

Does my husband need to know I respect him even though I don't agree with him on this issue?

Remember, some conflict is healthy. It’s how you deal with that conflict that can make or break a marriage.

Try more love and respect and see if your marriage gets a little easier.


Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider