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At last count there were 5.  All were in trouble.  All are about my age.  We call it midlife but it’s highly unlikely we’ll live to 110 so you decide the designation.  Recently 5 different friends shared with me struggles in their most significant realtionship–their marriage.  Each situation was unique but it was like a checklist of potential pitfalls. 

30 years of marriage, taking each other for granted–check.

working too hard at work and not working hard enough on the marriage–check.

kids gone, empty nest makes for an empty life–check. 

bored–check

distracted–check. 

illness (physical/emotional/mental) all taking its toll on the marriage–check. 

Adding to the stress was the uniqueness that all were functioning clergy members which isn’t supposed to make a difference, but trust me makes a difference.  Clergy people don’t stand up on Sunday morning as if it were another episode of Jerry Springer.  Clergy people don’t have access to Dr. Phil’s personal number.  Clergy people can’t go to their boss and say “I need some stress leave”.  (Well, maybe they can.  Perhaps they just need to tell their congregation that God has given them 90 days of stress leave…see you in September).   But clergy people do have marriage stresses. 

Thinking it through I think we clergy people are sometimes part of the root of our own problems.  We talk about stress free marriages, and happy marriages, and romantic marriages.  The thought of bliss is conceivable, and it sells books and dominates headlines of supermarket check out magazines, but is it realistic?  Are we engaging in the mythical pursuit of ecstasy/nirvana/valhalla/perfection to the point of neglecting reality? 

I have a friend who has a goal to write a book on marriage entitled “The Pretty Good Marriage, With Some Good Days and Some Bad Days Experience”.   He may write it, and he even may get it published but it may not go viral.  Reality just isn’t that popular.  Even reality TV shows aren’t real (you mean they aren’t? Nope. They are scripted too). 

So, here’s some reality–

1.  all marriages struggle. Good ones struggle, bad ones struggle.  Good ones can have big waves, bad ones can sometimes have no waves, but all marriages struggle.

2.  you get back what you put in in life.  Invest much, greater reward, invest little, less reward.   How much are you investing in your marriage? 

3.  marriage is work.  If you work at it, you’d be surprised at the outcome.  Sometimes work means making a to-do list and then getting it done. 

4.  marriage is hard.  Life is hard for that matter.  Once you acknowledge that you have a half chance at making gain in it. 

5.  marriage has benefits.  Seriously, there are a ton of benefits to being married and the longer you go, the more blue chip the benefits are.  Like blue chip stocks, they don’t always give flashy returns but they do give steady returns. 

Hang in there.