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12 July 2016


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Christy P.

A wise woman once said to me that most of the divorces she had seen were the result of roommate-type conflicts which escalated because of lack of attention.


I believe that. It doesn't appear to be the kind of thing that drove the family breakups that surrounded me when I was being formed, but I believe it's not uncommon.


I think the different meanings of "marriage is hard work" is partly due to this: In today's society, marriage and family are not as closely related as they should be. So "Having kids is hard work" means what you refer to above, while "marriage is hard work" refers *only* to the two-adult part of the family. Also, I think for many families, the lack of support from spouse can make the basic-level laundry-educator-peacekeeper "hard work" exponentially harder, because it's not just the work itself (or you're carrying your 100% plus whatever else you can pick up, because a spouse is overworked, or has health issues, or travels a lot or...).


Even with just two adults, though, the permanence of marriage means you are each signing up to do all the work of carrying both of you, in the event that one becomes unable to do that work.


This is a great post! Thank you for drawing attention to this "beautiful thing" as you have tagged it.

Through past ages, a marriage was an economic unit, and the hard work of providing for the household and the children was understood. In the modern age in the West marriage is thought of more as a romantic relationship between two autonomous parties and ideally self-sufficient parties, and it's hard to stay "in love" if that is your goal -- the real God-given work of family life seems to pull you away from having those dates and pretending that you are Forever 21.


This is an excellent post, I wish I'd read it before I married! I didn't meet my husband until we were in our late 30s and have only been married 2.5 years. In that time, our "work" has been far less about handling stress, making big decisions, or personal conflict. It has been all about laundry, dishes and home chores.

Emily J

We also were warned by well-wishers before we were married that marriage is "hard work." We thought this was really funny for several years because marriage was so much fun. Then eventually we experienced both kinds of hard work you are talking about, but neither one is something I'd point out to someone on the eve of their wedding. It didn't seem like the curmudgeons who said it were really trying to teach a lesson in how to be married, but rather to offer a warning that marriage isn't as wonderful as we think it might be - like telling someone on a beautiful day not to enjoy it too much because it might rain tomorrow. We joke now about "going to work" when we need to have a difficult conversation about some thorny issue, because the metaphor still doesn't seem quite apt for those "interpersonal conflict" moments.


Mandamum's point above is well taken. The assumption is less and less that "marriage" and "family" necessarily have anything to do with each other. I also find it interesting that in the West, smaller family size came in just as many labor saving devices came in as well. I wonder if the "marriage is work" mantra had its root in a time when society *knew* that life *was* a lot of work, and yet, with the advent of washing machines and dishwashers and smaller family sizes as well, they were somewhat surprised to discover that marriage wasn't magically easier or better as well.

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I think I read something somewhere about this

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