Back when I was in college, I would often look forward to the idea of marriage and having a companion for life. Sure we'd squabble and have our disagreements, but overall marriage would be "the good life."
To my surprise though, I found this "good life" to be difficult. Really difficult. Sure the first year was great, but as my wife and I got to know each other more, we would fight more too. And unlike our dating relationship, we wouldn't fully resolve our issues; instead we'd simply agree to disagree. This would add up and create a culture of bitterness and apathy in our marriage.
It came to a point where I'd sometimes look at my wife and think to myself, "I made a big mistake."
No One Talks About This
If my thoughts surprise you, try talking to more married couples. Actually, maybe not. Married couples don't talk about this stuff. Especially if they're Asian - and especially if they're Christians. For some reason dating couples tend to be very open about their relational struggles - but once they get hitched, nobody really knows how they're doing. Everyone just presumes they're happily married.
But this just isn't true. I'm sure there are some couples that never have serious issues. However you'd be surprised how many married couples struggle. Sure they're still together - but it's a loveless marriage that just feels dead. Even the "holy, God-fearing" couples can have messed up marriages. But nobody knows about it is because they don't like to talk about it.
Perhaps this happens more frequently in my context because as Asians, we don't like airing our "dirty laundry." Or perhaps this happens because as Christians, marriage is often publicized as being this awesome life-stage that made your abstinence all worth it. Or perhaps the idea of being known as someone with a "tough marriage" is too big of a blow to the image we want to project. So most married couples just stay quiet.
The Problem With Staying Silent
There are problems though when married couples stay quiet. First, it reinforces an unrealistic picture of marriage to younger folks. I truly believe more than career or money, the idol of all idols in a young adult's life is marriage. From my observation, singles treat their young adult life as a purgatory- waiting period that leads to a heavenly bliss called marriage. But if that's how they see it, they will be disappointed. Our silence does nothing to challenge this notion.
Second, it leads to dead marriages. Again you think every Christian married couple is doing great. That's what I thought too when I was young. But man, when you start talking to married couples - and I mean real talk - you begin see how messed up some of these marriages really are. I believe this happens because, again, married couples don't like to talk about it, which again leads to an accumulation of bitterness and apathy.
Lastly, it makes struggling married couples feel alone. I remember when my wife and I were really struggling in our marriage, we thought something was wrong with us. "No one else is like this"; "Why are we fighting so much?" "This isn't what marriage was supposed to be like." Those thoughts compounded our problems & made us feel hopeless.
To our surprise though, we met some married couples who not only went through similar struggles but were willing to talk about it. Those same couples also proposed the idea of seeing a marriage counselor. Like most people, we thought, "Whoa...c'mon now. It's not thaaat bad - we're not one of those couples."
However after what felt like the 20th fight in 10 days, we decided to see one. And after that, everything was different. It wasn't just the counseling though. This post is not meant to promote the idea that marriage counseling is the solution to all broken marriages. However it definitely helped & I felt God used the whole process to save our marriage.
Next week I'll talk about how that happened.