Happy Marriages are Not Carefree

This statement published by Judith Wallerstein, PhD, and Sandra Blakeslee gave me pause: Happy marriages are not carefree. That sounds wrong when you are single or newlyweds. We tend to believe if we find the right partner, life will be carefree. Why get married if life is not going to be fun and carefree? But Dr. Wallerstein, who is an internationally recognized authority on marriage, and writer Blakeslee, go on to clarify in Creating a Marriage You’ll Love:

“There are good times and bad times, and certainly partners may face serious crises together or separately. Happily married husbands and wives get depressed, fight, lose jobs, struggle with the demands of the workplace and the crises of infants and teenagers, and confront sexual problems. They cry and yell and get frustrated. They come from sad, abusive, neglectful backgrounds as well as from more stable families; all marriages are haunted by ghosts from the past.”

I was struck by the accuracy of that description of what any marriage might go through. Then again, you might get lucky and have more carefree days than not. We must be constantly adapting to each other and to our situation. Even the economic climate can impact our marriage. Parents or children become ill. Spouses get promoted or fired. So much happens every year of our marriages.

They go on to explain that if newlyweds began their marriage with an understanding of its complexity, they would greatly improve their chances of success. This complexity includes our upbringing and past, our present and our dreams for the future. By understanding “how the past connects with the present, (couples) can build a mutual understanding and love based on true intimacy.” In addition, they should understand how every aspect of marriage affects every other aspect, in particular their sexual relationship and its central importance on the marriage.

“A happy, lasting marriage is challenged and rebuilt every day,” they conclude. It may not be carefree, but with effort, marriage can still be satisfying and happy.

5 responses to “Happy Marriages are Not Carefree

  1. Hi Lori,
    How true this is. I often thing people think my happy marriage was happenstance. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think if more couples had a heads up about this, marriages would last longer these days.
    Hope all is well!

  2. What immediately came to mind when I read the title of your post was that “Happy Marriages are not Carefree” they are care-ful. Pardon the play on words, but I completely agree with you that marriage is complex and challenging. A good marriage requires sober diligence and constant careful attention. That’s not to say at all that you should get spun up over every little thing, but you can definitely remain watchful without being paranoid.

  3. I like the last quote. I can totally see where my marriage has been challenged and rebuilt. I actually appreciate the challenges, because it lets me see where the foundation may be week so we can strengthen it and build on it now. Rather do it now before we add kids, etc to the mix.

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  5. Dear Lori,

    I came to your blog for a little inspiration. I’ve read and posted before and while this might not be the forum for this type of letter, I couldn’t find an e-mail address to write you personally. A little background, I’m getting married-but I’ve been married for what seems like 10 years already. We’ve been together for almost a decade, lived together for nine and shared the same bank accounts for equally as long. We wanted to make sure we got through our higher education before making it official and as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to marry this man. We are great together but lately the annoances have been magnified (probably due to the engagement) and it’s worrying me. I feel like an engagement should be a time of total bliss and love but at the same time, I feel most couples experience this mostly because they are usually in the second year (on average) of being together. How am I suppose to feel if I’m having the 8 year itch, when I’m engaged? This man and I have proven to be great partners when it comes to life’s challenges and while we can laugh together and work together, there are some stubborn imperfections that are worrying me to death. I’m in my late twenties and feel that I have matured as a woman and that we have matured together. We’ve been throw financial strife, car accidents, loss of family members, hell…even being down-right poor college students. Drunken bickerments and some knock-down drag out fights about life and our different personalities. But we always work it out and we’ve never taken a break from our relationship. Lately I just feel like w have been fighting a lot either due to stress or irritation. I just want to be “in love” again, kind again. Is there a way to turn that back? I want to feel like we WANT to get married, not that we are doing it because it makes complete sense or we’ve been together for so long. I realize you are not my therapist, but if I could plant a little seed in regards to my unique situation, it might be helpful if your future posts had to do with this topic 🙂 Thanks for your blog! It always keeps me inspired and hopeful!


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