Have you ever met one of those people who were madly in love with their spouses, and their happiness made you a bit sad about your own marriage? Not someone who had only been married a year or two, but someone who had been married for 10, 20, or even 30 years? If comparing their marital bliss to your marriage made your heart sink, if it made you wonder, “Where did I go wrong?” it doesn’t necessarily reflect on you, or mean that you’re hopelessly flawed.
In this article, we’re going to be frank about marriage, brutally honest about what we’ve observed with countless marriages. But don’t take it the wrong way. We are not saying that we lost faith in romance or the institution of marriage. Years of experience has just shifted our view about relationships in general and we thought we’d share it with our readers. We sincerely hope that what we have to say will bring you some peace of mind and some hope that true love is not dead, nor is it a fantasy.
The Honeymoon Phase is Over
If you’re like most people, when you first got engaged and married, things were pretty great. The idea of your fiancé excited you. You loved being around him or her and you couldn’t keep them off your mind. You couldn’t keep your hands off them either.
Maybe you hadn’t accumulated too much debt and you were both in great shape. But somewhere along the line, you started to face challenges as a couple and things started to go downhill. Things started to change.
Common challenges faced by married couples:
- Mental illness,
- Domestic violence,
- Significant weight gain,
- Lost interest in sex,
- Constant criticism,
- Loss of a child,
- Having a child with autism,
- Out of control spending,
- Lack of motivation,
- Disagreements over disciplining children,
- Problems with a spouse’s ex or children from a first marriage,
- A wife puts the children first and it upsets her husband,
- A dependent spouse becomes independent and this angers their husband or wife, and
- As the spouses age, they want different things out of life.
Just about every married couple deals with at least one, if not several of the issues listed above eventually, and you know what? It’s NOT easy. Maintaining a successful marriage takes a lot of patience, love, and understanding. Marriage is WORK, especially if a couple has to deal with unforeseen challenges like being broke, losing their house, infidelity, mental illness, addiction, or emotional abuse, etc.
We Buy into the Fairytale
It’s not uncommon for people to buy into the idealistic fairytale of marriage, especially if they are not children of divorce. They’ve seen classic TV shows like The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, Happy Days, and Family Ties, and they imagine that one day they’ll meet Mr. or Ms. Right and they’ll ride off into the sunset together on a white horse.
But in reality, most marriages struggle with something, whether it’s substance abuse, cheating, financial problems, lying, depression, disrespectful stepchildren, bothersome discrepancies in income, blooming careers, etc. And this is where the challenges lie – in how the spouses deal with their issues.
Let’s take unemployment for an example. Suppose a husband loses his job. Does he go out and find a new one promptly? Or, does he let years and years slip by and he still has no job? If he blames the kids, his wife, or the economy, then it’s understandable why his wife would get very frustrated with him and lose faith in the marriage.
Or, suppose a woman has three children and one day she slips into a deep depression. She spends all day in bed and can’t drive the children to school, cook dinner, or clean the house. Not only has she gained 50 pounds since the wedding, but she has no interest in having sex with her husband and when he gets home from work, he has to do all the housework, cook dinner, and put the couple’s children to bed.
On year two of this, and the husband starts having an affair with an attractive single mom at his office. His wife finds out about the affair and sinks even further into her depression. Even though she seeks professional help for her mental illness, she can’t forgive her husband and the marriage is beyond repair.
Another common problem is addiction, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, gambling, or sex. Usually, the innocent spouse loves their addict spouse, but eventually one day, the addiction becomes too much to bear. They’ve tried everything to help their husband or wife, but when their spouse refuses to get better, they finally throw in the towel on the marriage – it becomes about self-preservation and doing what’s best for the children.
Is Your Love Lost?
Everyone deals with their own life challenges. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, or how successful or unsuccessful you are, you will encounter your own share of challenges too. No one is immune. A multi-millionaire for example, may seem like he has everything going for him, but perhaps his wife has a cocaine problem or she cheats on him relentlessly when he’s away on business, or perhaps he’s facing federal charges – he has stresses.
Essentially, when going into marriage, newly married couples don’t know what challenges they’ll face in the future, nor do they know how they’ll react to them. Some couples simply buckle when they’re under pressure, even if they have the best intentions.
So, is there such thing as happily ever after? Absolutely, but sometimes we don’t find true love until we’ve made a few mistakes and truly learn from life’s many lessons. If your love is lost, don’t fret. There are plenty of fish in the sea.