Okay, let's all have a big eye roll together. "Work" on my marriage, you say? You're working at WORK, you're working on your budget, your exercise regimen, having balance, your retirement plan, being a great parent (because let's be real, parenting is wonderful and fulfilling, but it's also work). I don't want to work on my marriage! That's why I married my soul mate, Melissa!
I don't want to work on my marriage! That's why I married my soul mate, Melissa!
I get that! I hear you; calling it work just sounds, well, hard. And maybe you're thinking if I married the right person, it shouldn't be so much work anyway! But here's the thing, what we water....grows, and I think the way we talk about marriage and coupling leaves us feeling like it's one more thing in the long list of work to be done.
So let's break this down a bit. The work of marriage really is about growing. That's kind of it. As humans we grow and change and have new needs and experiences, it's called human development. In fact, it's called LIFESPAN human development because it never really stops! Oh she's getting psycho babbley! Don't let me lose you now!
Just like kids...some phases are lovely and some, yeah not as much...
So think about all the changes that a couple faces in the span of a relationship: pets, cars, moves, homes, kids, more pets, jobs, aging parents, aging you...You get the picture. It's a lot of change no matter what combination of life experiences make up your unique life. And through those transitions, you're each changing and so is your relationship. Some phases are easier than others. Just like with kids...some phases are lovely and some, yeah not as much (middle school teachers deserve a raise), but we would never allow a kiddo to say, "You know, I'm going to hang out and be 10 forever..." We know they will face good years and awkward phases, and some experiences where we need to call in support (friends, family, counselor, mentor). We expect this as children grow! It's no different in marriage; it grows and changes and managing THAT is the "marriage is work" part. As my favorite professor always said, "Marriage is a people growing machine." It's not only about getting a ring, a house, and having children...or not even if those are not your goals, but it is always about personal and relational growth.
"Marriage is a people growing machine."
And so really, that's all the "work of marriage" means...growing and navigating the changes that come with life. During those more difficult times, it may require more deliberate effort about how to grow and change, which is all very normal. See, that's not so daunting, is it?
Working with couples is my passion and expertise. If you feel like you need a little outside help to get unstuck, to grow more together, to have your best marriage, give me a holler!
About the author: Melissa Hudson, PhD(c) is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Plano, Texas specializing in couples counseling, anxiety disorders, and depression. She also works with adults and families on a variety of concerns. Have questions? Reach out! firstname.lastname@example.org | 214-235-8175 | www.counselingsolutionstexas.com