FAQ: Why Is Marriage So Hard?

TWhy Is Marriage So Hard?oday we’re answering one of the most frequently asked questions: “Why Is Marriage So Hard?”

If you think marriage is easy, you may not be doing it right.

Falling in love.

Committing to a lifetime together.

Sex.  Kids.  Bills.  Vacations.  Yard work.  Sickness.  Inlaws.  Outlaws.  

It’s all part of this thing we call marriage.

Day by day we build complicated lives: intermingling finances, assets and DNA to create our family structures.  

We live together in confined spaces navigating through different personality traits and annoying pet peeves with each of us carrying our own vast assortment of insecurities, fears and past woundings.  

What could possibly go wrong in marriage?!

Trust me on this: plenty goes wrong. And with annoying frequency.  

It usually looks like a blending of blaming, criticizing, bullying, intimidation, obsessing, worrying, fear, anxiety, depression, addiction, avoidance, people pleasing, anger, controlling, resentment and lying just to name a few.    

This is why it amazes me when someone says marriage shouldn’t be hard. How in the world can it NOT be hard?  

Why is marriage so hard? Because it is work.  

The work is learning how to merge together, while softening each of your edges.  

It is being together enough to work as a team in harmony, yet separate enough to maintain your individuality.  

The work of marriage is a deep, soul changing work on each person individually.  

Not to change your partner but to learn to adapt to your partner.  

It’s about changing YOU because in that adapting, you learn about yourself and how you show up in the world.  

Marriage is a great vehicle to doing the hard work of growing yourself up emotionally.  

Marriage is work, because it is a constant introspection into your behaviors, thoughts and emotions to see where you are off relationally.  

Otherwise, you and your spouse are simply reacting to one another instead of intentionally moving toward each other.

We always say at The Marriage Place that intimacy is “into me you see”.  Intimacy is about revealing the truth about who you are, what you feel, how you think, and doing it in respectful ways. (That’s the key, here.)

Why do we hide?

Most of us hide so much of ourselves for fear of being judged or being found somehow less worthy.  But when we do this we don’t allow our partner the chance to grow themselves or to grow closer to us.

All of us long for mature love that accepts us without judgment.

But very few of us know how to get or give that kind of love.  

So we engage in behaviors to try and ensure we get what we so desperately seek.  

There are several behaviors which often cause the problems I see in marriage counseling each week.

Why is marriage so hard? 5 behaviors that hurt our marriages.

Oftentimes without realizing, we engage in disruptive behaviors to get what we want from our spouse.

This may look like any one of these behaviors:

1. Clinging

Anytime we try and get more from someone then they are willing or able to give we are clinging.  This includes more time, more money, more praise and more affection.

2.  Controlling

We are controlling people when we try and modify their behavior by using guilt, anger, intimidation, and emotional withdrawal.

3. Lying

We lie when we hide or diminish our mistakes, flaws and fears to avoid people withdrawing their approval.  

We lie by accentuating our positive qualities so other people will like us.  

We lie when we give false praise or we do not accept responsibility for our mistakes.  

4. Running

An effective way to diminish pain is simply to withdraw from it.  

We are running when we physically or emotionally leave or avoid difficult situations or relationships.  

Avoiding behaviors can be drinking, drugs, outside relationships, the silent treatment, working too much, hobbies, even time spent with our kids.  

Whatever allows us to avoid the relationship that needs our attention.

5. Acting like a victim

When we blame others for our unhappiness, we are taking the victim role.  

We may not like the choices we have when someone behaves badly, but ultimately we are responsible for our actions whether we stay and put up with it or we leave it.  

Getting mad at our partner for forcing us to make the choice is blaming them and keeps us stuck.  

Grudgingly going along in your life as if there is no solution to your problems is taking the victim role.

Learning how to step out of this role is often the most liberating, empowering, life changing move a person can make.

If you are doing any of these behaviors, you have some emotional growing up to do.  Your marriage is going to be hard until you do the work.  

I know someone who is very entrenched in controlling behaviors.  He thinks his marriage is easy because he gets his way a lot.  But his spouse thinks the marriage is hard.  Very hard.

What can I do about a difficult marriage?

If you want a good marriage, don’t worry about changing your partner.  

Focus on changing YOU.  

That is your work for a better relationship with anyone else.  

Once you change you, your spouse has to change as a result.  

It’s like doing a dance.  

You are both fox trotting through life and then one of you starts to waltz.  

Your partner may stumble a bit.  

He or she may feel confused or even angry but they cannot continue the fox trot.  

Waiting for your partner to change is why people feel hopeless about their marriages getting better.  

Stop waiting.  Start doing the work of growing yourself up.  

At The Marriage Place we can help you do that.  Whether you live locally in the Dallas area or in another country, we have coaches and counselors who can work with you face-to-face or over the phone or Skype.  

A better marriage begins with a better you.

Contact us today online or on the phone at (972) 441-4432

Not Having Sex? 6 Possible Reasons for a Sexless Marriage

You Are Not Having Sex.

At least that is what the statistics report.

Married couples are simply not having sex.

A marriage is considered sexless if the couple is only having sex on average once a month or less. By some reports, 15% to 20% of marriages are sexless.

It isn’t just the women who are saying no, either. There seem to be plenty of men who are avoiding physical intimacy with their wives. 20 to 30 percent of men and 30 to 50 percent of women say they have little or no sex drive. — USA Today

6 reasons you're not having sex

The “low sex” category is even greater.

This means having sex once or twice a month.

While there is no specific guideline on how much sex is the right amount, couples who have it on average of once a week seem to report the greatest levels of satisfaction in their marriages.

I work with couples every week, and I’m amazed at how many of them are going months and years without sex. Years!

I just don’t think we are talking enough about this problem.

These types of marriages can go on this way until the partner who wants to have sex has had enough, and gives the ultimatum that the relationship is over unless the problem is dealt with. That’s usually what it takes to get the lower desire partner in my office.

There are many reasons why a couple is not having sex.

A low sex drive can certainly have a physical and biochemical component. Hormones play a huge part in how much you want sex. Some women have problems with painful sex as well. But honestly, physical reasons are rarely the cause for the sexless marriages I see in my office.

Sometimes it is an undisclosed affair or emotional infatuation with someone else. But most often, it is something going wrong in the relationship dynamics of daily living. Here I’ve listed the ones I come across most often.

6 reasons youre not having sex - ewl

Six Possible Reasons Why You Are Not Having Sex

Number One: You’re too busy and too tired

Sex comes from abundance. When you are depleted, there is nothing left to give. Some spouses are parents, students, volunteers and employees. There simply isn’t enough energy for sex and that is a problem. If this is your situation, you may have to be strict in protecting your time and resources and become a master at saying “no.”

I’m the worst at self-care so I get it, but I also know when I don’t leave enough margin in my life for relaxation, I usually hit a wall that forces me to slow down. So these days, I’m forcing myself to have down time.

Number Two: There is resentment in the marriage

I see this one a lot. If your spouse isn’t wanting sex, ask yourself this question: “What has my spouse been wanting or needing from me that I am not giving?”

Does your wife want you to help more around the house?

Does your husband want you to curb your spending?

Resentment can start with the little things, and if they aren’t dealt with openly, the resentment will eat away at passion. Trust me on this one.

Just because it isn’t a big deal for you, doesn’t mean your spouse isn’t upset.

I just met with a client who now wants a divorce because he doesn’t feel in love with his wife. She really hurt his feelings 10 years ago, and he never worked it out with her. He never even told her his feelings were hurt. He built up so much resentment he shut her out emotionally. Resentment kills relationships! Don’t let it happen to yours.

Avoid resentment with two simple techniques:

1. Talk about it.

Do not expect your spouse to read your mind, pick up on cues, or just know what you are needing or feeling.

Relationships are about constant negotiation.

If something isn’t working for you, re-negotiate!

2. Put action behind requests.

If your spouse isn’t willing to meet you in the middle, stop settling for less and getting angry about your position. Learn how to set limits without being controlling that will actually protect the relationship.

Number 3: Criticism and Complaints

I see a lot of critical spouses.

When women are critical of men, it almost always kills the men’s sex drives.

Men have so much performance anxiety anyway. If a man feels heavily criticized by his mate, he will shut down. Besides, who wants to take their clothes off around someone who is never satisfied?

If you are in a sexless marriage, pay attention to how much complaining or criticizing you are doing.

Don’t approach your partner from a position of complaint which focuses on what they are doing wrong or not doing well. Instead, focus on what you like and ask for more of that.

For example, if your spouse is coming home late without a heads up, instead of saying “You never let me know when you are coming home!” Instead say “When you call me and let me know you are running late, it tells me you value my time, and that makes me feel loved by you.”

Number Four: Bad technique

I’ve said this a hundred times and I’ll say it again:

For a man to have good sex, he just requires a woman who looks and acts like she is enjoying it.

For women to have good sex, she requires good technique.

Great books on sex to explore:

Number Five: Porn Addiction

Porn is often linked with lower sex drives. The irony here is that it is often used by couple to enhance their sex lives, and in the beginning it sure seems to do just that. But this is a danger zone. Marriage doesn’t solve pornography use, but pornography can destroy a marriage.

Curious to know what happens when you look at porn? Click here to learn more about the studies being done on Your Brain On Porn.

Number Six: A Needy Partner

When a partner is emotionally needy, it drains the relationship quickly.

If you are depending on your partner to bolster your self-esteem, to frequently reassure you that you are ok, or to help you manage your own emotions on a regular basis, you are too needy.

It is very likely that you and your partner are co-dependent and that is a big problem. Co-dependence creates addictive relationships that can become toxic. I recommend Pia Mellody’s Facing Codependence.

Are you in a sexless marriage? Time to make a change.

Sex is important.

If you or your partner feels you aren’t getting enough of it, something needs to be done.

I’ve never yet met a couple where the high desire spouse wasn’t feeling resentful and angry about all the sex he or she wasn’t getting.

The low desire spouse has all the control, and it doesn’t feel good to be constantly rejected.

Then all non-sexual physical touch also goes away.

The low desire spouse is afraid to cuddle because they don’t want it to lead to sex. They are afraid a back rub will “lead to something else,” so you wind up in a marriage without any physical affection!

I’ve seen many couples where one of them really doesn’t care to ever have sex again. If this is your partner, it may be time to give them an ultimatum.

Do it before you don’t care anymore.

I’ve seen too many times when the rejected spouse put up with it, until they finally decided they wanted out and nothing could persuade them to try again.

There simply was too much hurt and rejection.

And the irony is the lower desire spouse almost always says, “I didn’t know it was that painful for you. If you had told me years ago, I would have changed something”.

If you are in a sexless marriage, and you are unhappy about it, raise the alarm and do it LOUDLY!

Contact us and let us work with you to help you build a healthy sexual relationship. If you aren’t local, our coaches can work with you over the phone – which some clients prefer because it feels more anonymous to them.
Just stop ignoring the fact you are not having sex!