Marriage is Simply Hard

How one piece of advice can change any relationship

Monday is a big day. It’s a day of significant personal importance—my 12,775th  wedding anniversary. For those of you who count in years that would be 35 years. There is something of immense importance in measuring the marriage race in days?

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Leading up to our wedding, we both had just turned 23 and were fresh out of college. I was living in Southern California and Kristi was still living in our home state of Washington. We would get married on June 26, drive to California and launch into this race of marriage.

One of the Pastor’s who would be performing the ceremony was the father of one of Kristi’s best friends. We sat down with Sam leading up to the wedding for a brief counseling session. As we were wrapping up our meeting, I asked Pastor Sam what the key was to a long and successful marriage.

The Key To A Successful Marriage

Without hesitation he said, “One day at a time. Recommit yourself to your marriage every day and keep counting them up.”

Clique? Simplistic? It is easy to miss the genius of simple because simple is difficult. Simple is also hard to explain away. You can’t hide in the light of simple because it illuminates responsibility without casting any shadow of doubt.

How Do You Rank

A few years ago, I conducted a survey asking men how they would prioritize their key life roles. They were asked to think about eight life roles; brother, career, Christian, community, leader, father, friend, husband and son. Then they were asked to prioritize these roles in order of their priority and importance in their lives.

Overall, six of the eight roles made it to the top of someone’s rankings as being most important. But it was the husbands and their rankings that really caught my attention.

If they were married, they only ranked their role as a husband as one of their top two roles in less than half of the responses. There were some who only ranked their role as a husband ahead of being a community leader.

Looking over the survey results, one by one, I saw races full of hurt, confusion and indecision. One respondent wrote, “I think my priorities are out of order.” Another said, “I never really thought about how I prioritized my roles. I need to think about this more.” Yet another wrote, “It really hurts to look at this.”

When we lose track of our days, it is easy to lose sight of what is important and valuable.

Even Half Makes a Whole

Our friends Hal and Lally have been married over 60 years. Hal’s health has waned. His memory is shorter, his balance more wobbly, and his mobility greatly limited. All to say his dependence upon Lally grows every day.

They have made a lot of deposits and withdrawals into each other’s lives over the course of 22,000 days. Lally put an exclamation point on the value, importance and meaning of finishing strong when she said, “We can only do half of what we used to do. But together we are still whole.”

I can’t imagine my life without my wife Kristi. Sam was right—years are a collection of days. I think if I would have tried to gather our marriage in years, we might not have collected 12,775 days.

Not To Know Grace But Experience It

So, here I am 12,775 days later.

The blessing of another day again paved with God’s grace. Armed with the gift of His grace, I will fight for Kristi another day.

Today is another opportunity for me to love, honor and cherish her. I think we have tossed away many of the traditional vows (for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health until death do we part) because they were too simple.

Indeed, simple is hard. But the light of simple illuminates why the race of marriage is worth fighting for—when we wobble we’ll have someone to hold us up.

Thank you Sam!


Recommended Reading

The Unfair Advantage, by Dr. Harold Arnold. It’s compelling, powerful and engaging! Dr. Harold Arnold has woven prayerful inspiration and direction into a powerful recipe for reaping the richness and joy God intended for marriage. Blending wonderful story telling and vivid imagery, Dr. Arnold shows us how to put on the full armor of God in our marriages.

You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis & Lisa Chan. Uniquely written from both the perspective of both Francis and Lisa it is an insightful and candid look at how to grow and live our your responsibilities as husbands and wives.

The Power of a Praying Husband by Stormie Omartian. Husbands that pray for their wives fight for their wives! If you don’t know where to start this is a great book.

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8 thoughts on “Marriage is Simply Hard

  1. The Sacrament of Marriage is a gift. Thank God for your spouse daily, lift them up in prayer and write a note in a journal you keep by your bed. Jot down one thing you appreciate about your spouse daily. I started going this and Val started writing notes back to me. Years later it is fun to go back and read what we have appreciated over the years.

  2. Express appreciation to each other daily. Even for the little things. Thank you never goes out of style.

  3. Pick your battles (in other words, grace aleays). We tend to bring up tiny items with each other, but in the end they really don’t matter. Thanks for the book references – the one by the Chan’s is on my list now.