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18+: Why The Hardest Thing About Marriage is Staying Married

Marriage calls for hard work, give and take, and a fair amount of plain old-fashioned luck!

Getting married is the easiest thing in the world to do, especially if you take the trouble to customise your wedding vows. But maintaining the equilibrium in a partnership of two calls for hard work, give and take, and a fair amount of plain old-fashioned luck.

Marriage is one of those things in life where you’re either all out or all in

There should be no half way, no half measures.

That’s easier said than done, because in the last few years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of my Facebook friends relocating to Splitsville. I’ve often found myself pondering: Is this simply to be expected because we’ve reached that point in our lives, or is it because marriage is actually harder than any of us expected?

I know I can’t speak for anyone who’s been through a divorce, because I’ve never been there myself. But I have been at the brink of divorce (at least that’s how it felt) until the realisation that the only way out was in fact through (thanks, Alanis) and that divorce wasn’t going to make my life any better, safer or easier.

Plus, I’d made some pretty important promises, and was I really keeping my word if I quit because it got difficult and everything felt overwhelming? Was I really able to say I’d tried absolutely everything in my power to make it work, and there was no other alternative?

No. Quitting on marriage would not be keeping my word. While I didn’t promise to honour or obey my husband (I came across the video from our low-key Home Affairs ceremony and watched it very carefully) I did definitely promise to stick by his side in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.

Commitment is a choice that you have to make every single day of your life

I can’t talk about the specifics, but I can say that commitment is a choice that you have to make every single day of your life. It’s not about choosing to love the same person as long as they stay that same person you fell in love with, it’s about choosing to love that person even when they’re no longer the same due to circumstances beyond their control. Choosing to fall back in love with that one person, day after day, no matter what.

I can also say that marriage is not 50-50 nor an equal partnership. It’s about taking turns being strong for one another and picking up the other person’s slack when they’re not able to pull their weight.

I’m not saying I’ve been any good at any of these things, but I’m pretty sure that it counts in my favour that I haven’t given up trying. We haven’t had the easiest of times together, given that we’d only been dating for two months when I discovered I was pregnant.

Yet here we are, 11 years later with two sons (ages 10 and five) and married for almost five years now. While I haven’t always been as understanding or as empathetic as I could with my other half, I am trying harder all the time.

When people hear the story of how we met, nearly 12 years ago in a dodgy nightclub, they’re always quick to compliment us on how we’re doing such a great job of keeping it together for our kids, but that has nothing to do with it.
Kids make marriage a hundred times harder

You see, kids make marriage a hundred times harder. It’s so easy to get resentful with one another. Get caught up in keeping score with nappy changes and night feeds and ‘I did X so you must do Y’, that you forget that you’re supposed to be doing all of these things that you’re resentful about for your kids because you’re a parent, not for your partner because you’re married.

Kids make marriage hard, but I’m not hanging in for them. This is something I decided to do for myself, and for my husband. But mostly for myself. I used to think it was because I was raised in a single father household and never knew what it was like to have both parents at the same time, but I’ve recently acknowledged it’s more than that.

Marriage is something I plan to do only once, and I was fortunate enough to discover (the fortunate part being that I made this discovery before it was too late) that I happened to have done this thing with a really great man.

Marriage is hard. Perhaps the hardest thing ever, but you know what they say about hard work, right? It never killed anyone, and most days that’s a good thing.

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