Mar 082016 4 Responses

The Easy Road to a Bad Marriage

Bad marriages share one thing in common–an individual or couple consistently chooses to do whatever feels easiest in the moment. When struggling to decide between two courses of action, ease always wins and with it comes an unhealthy relationship.

It’s guaranteed. What’s easiest in the moment is rarely best in the long-term. If a spouse has a pattern of always doing what is easiest, the relationship has little chance of experiencing success. (See: 10 Misguided Pieces of Marriage Advice)

The Easy Road

Conflict. The hard work is to figure out how to properly navigate the conflict in a way that causes both partners to feel heard, understood, and a part of the negotiated resolution. The easy work is to either avoid the conflict all together or to lash out in such a way that your spouse backs down.

Sex. The difficult work is to nourish a healthy sexual relationship throughout every season of marriage. It requires openness, trust, sacrifice, and a willingness to freely communicate. The easy work is to make sex all about you and to use your spouse for your own sexual pleasure.

Friendship. It requires time, energy, and effort to maintain a healthy friendship in the midst of a busy life. Intention is required and forethought is demanded. It’s easier to simply hope that a close friendship will just happen without any effort on our part.

Within a relationship, spouses are continually facing the choice between doing what is easy in the moment or choosing something which immediately offers more difficulty. In nearly every case, the harder road is the better road.

Why to Avoid the Easy Road

Common sense tells us to avoid difficulty and navigate toward ease. Why would anyone forgo an easier route for something which is guaranteed to be more difficult?

The reason is not because of how each road begins, but because of the direction to which they lead.

What is easy now, becomes difficult later.

What is difficult now, becomes easy later.

It’s easier in the short-term to avoid tension and keep a pseudo-peace. However, if a couple consistently pushes disagreements aside, those issues will add up. Eventually the collective frustration will cause an explosion. What’s easy now is hard later. (See: The Warning Sign of a Bad Marriage You Might Miss)

But if a couple will do the difficult work of dealing with a tension when it first arises, the circumstance will be handled before it grows. A tough conversation today can lead to peace tomorrow.

Healthy couples consistently choose the hard road today because they know the long-term payoff will be to their benefit. They would rather endure small amounts of struggle today in order to experience freedom tomorrow rather than continually pushing off tough issues to the future. Their ability to delay gratification creates success.

The Easy Road Will Kill You

The most visible circumstance in which this choice between the hard road and the easy road is made apparent is in times of great trouble.

A couple is in my office. Tears are flowing. The relationship seems over. Mistakes have been made. Tensions are high. The future is unknown.

I tell them:

“You have two choices. There is a way that looks easy. You can run. End the relationship. Never have to figure out what went wrong or how you can make it right. Or there is a hard way. It will be grueling. You’ll call a counselor. You’ll have to put everything you have into making this marriage work. It will be personal, difficult, and emotionally taxing. It will feel like a roller coaster. But know this–what starts out hard will get easier. You’ll learn how to relate to each other. You will figure out how to have a good marriage. If both of you do the work, you will discover a marriage far better than you could have ever imagined and you will never regret having done the work.”

Most people choose the easy way. Because they can’t see the destination of where each road leads, they choose what is easiest in the moment and unknowingly go the way that leads to greater unhappiness. Thankfully, a few have the faith to do what is difficult in the moment but most successful in the end.

The Hard Road

It never seems like the most appealing route, but choosing the hard road is always worth it.

It’s never easy to:

  • Admit you are wrong
  • Ask for forgiveness
  • Confront an issue
  • Learn a new skill
  • Confess a struggle
  • Get counseling
  • Have a tense conversation

But it is always worth it.

Those who can do the hard things today are much more likely to face an easier tomorrow. Those who choose the easy things today are destined to experience difficulty tomorrow.

The easy road leads to a bad marriage.

Jesus said,

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7.13-14

4 Responses to The Easy Road to a Bad Marriage
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