Happily Married Doesn't Mean Perfect

I am happily married. I love my husband ridiculously. Given the choice, I cannot imagine a single person with whom I’d rather do anything. We date every week. I doodle his name in hearts on our family calendar. For goodness sake, we have a love book—a journal for writing love letters back and forth.

Because the above things are true, we sometimes make our friends gag. In fact, far more often than I’d like, my friends write off any marital advice I might offer or insight I might have with the phrase: “But you and Justin are different.”

I understand what they mean. Justin and I grew up together. We know each other in a very unique way. But I also know that we’re not nearly as different as people assume.

Justin Gerhardt is a normal guy. He has problems, flaws, and weaknesses that exhaust me. I am a normal woman. I am proud, obstinate, forgetful, and impossible to reason with. We are a very normal pair. We disagree. We disappoint one another in huge ways. We get on each other’s nerves and make each other cry.

Our marriage isn’t good because we’re good, and it’s not good because we’ve never experienced conflict.

To those who’re struggling in their marriages, I have this word of advice: Do not write off the people you know with healthy marriages. It’s tempting to think there’s something special about them, that they’ve been given a gift you weren’t. But thinking that way is bad for you. It’s not going to help you make what you have better. It’s only going to give you a license to settle.

Marriages are made up of normal, flawed people who will inevitably disagree, argue, and disappoint. Healthy marriages are composed of people who disagree well, argue well, and forgive well.

There is no magic marriage dust for some and not others. Marriage is always hard. Always.

So while it’s hard to listen to the people who’re happy—especially when we’re sad—it’s really the only choice we have. Because when we listen only to our unhappy peers, well, you know about the blind leading the blind.

Recently I read a blog post from a guy bemoaning the reality that almost everybody offering “affair-proof your marriage” advice has had an affair. He admitted that those people had great insight to offer, but wondered if perhaps the best people to turn to for that advice might be the people who’ve never had affairs.

I think maybe he’s right. But I wonder if anyone would listen.

Today’s post isn’t to say why some marriages are working and others aren’t—we’ll look at that later although I don’t plan on making any sweeping assertions. It is rather to convince those in broken marriages to listen to those in high-functioning ones without cynicism or excuse. Because, after all, there’s a reason (other than magic marriage dust) why they’re working so well.

 We’ll talk about some of those reasons later this week…