I’ve seen some posts online lately about people talking about whether or not marriage should or shouldn’t be “work”. What I’ve realized is that your opinion on this subject really boils down to how you choose to define the word “work”, and what emotion you attach to the word.
I believe that we all can acknowledge that being married requires certain things. Showing compassion. Being considerate. Sharing. Occasionally putting the other person first. Picking the damn pop can up that your husband has left sitting on the living room floor for the entire week.**
Y’know…stuff like that.
Some of us call that work. Call me a selfish jerk, but I honestly don’t always feel like being compassionate and understanding toward my husband. Some days I don’t really want to share or be generous in any way. Like that last scoop of ice cream in the freezer? Hells no, of course I don’t want to share that when I’m PMS-ing hardcore and need a chocolate fix. Doing these things – some days – (hell, who am I kidding – some weeks) requires a little bit more effort than usual. For me, this is work.
For other people, it still requires effort to do all of these things in a marriage, but for them, “work” = drudgery. Clenched-teeth obligation. But let’s face it – we all do things every day that we don’t necessarily want to, because that’s just what we do. Things like pooper-scooping up after our dogs, washing the dishes after dinner, or wiping our baby’s butt. We don’t necessarily always want to do it, there is effort required in doing it, but you do it — because this is what is required. You can’t very well stop doing the dishes forever because you don’t want to. Well…you can, but eventually the pile of dirty dishes will fall over and crush you. But I digress.
I’m not one of those people who see work as a negative thing. I think that most things in life require work, whether you call it work or not. Having pets. Owning a home. Having children. Knitting a sweater. Having life goals. All of these things require effort. The effort doesn’t make them any less meaningful or valuable or special — in fact, the effort involved makes them even more wonderful. Many of the most satisfying things in life are things that you’ve worked hard at and achieved.
For me, working on a marriage means striving — together — to make it better. To learn how to be strong when your partner needs to be, and to lean on them when you need the extra support. To face the challenges life throws your way and figure out how to not only conquer them, but how to be better and stronger together because of them. To learn how to be a little bit more compassionate and understanding even when you really, really don’t want to. Some days the effort is easy. Others…not so much. But it’s what you do because you love your spouse, even if some days you love them just a tiny bit less. Not that I’m saying marriage is like a dirty diaper but guess what? I might not be cleaning up my husband’s literal crap, but some days I’m all over helping to clean up his figurative crap like…well…like stink.
Because in the end…it’s absolutely, 100%, without a question, worth it.
Even if you do have to share the last scoop of ice cream when you really just want the whole thing to yourself.**
**May or may not be taken from a true story.