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.