What Makes Marriage So Hard?

[box] My friend, Kathryn Jackson, shares her words here with us today. Be ready to be blessed.[/box]


(Photo courtesy of BobbiJo Brooks Photography)

I’m sitting on a balcony, listening to waves crash against the sand, and I breathe in gratefulness. My husband of 17 years is beside me. We left one kid at camp and the other two with grandparents. Alone. We are finally alone at the beach.

17 years ago we were naive best friends starting a new life together. Life was simple. Now we are battle-worn best friends struggling to raise our little family. We’re weary, but we’re together.

Marriage. Who knew it could be so hard?

It got harder when our daughter was almost killed in a car accident. And marriage remains hard as we deal with the strain of caring for a daughter with a traumatic brain injury.

But yesterday, I almost ruined this trip. This trip that we’ve been looking forward to for months. This trip that took three spreadsheets to outline the caretaking schedule for our disabled daughter. We so need this trip.

What did I almost do? I almost let my anger force me to start a fight with my husband that would have taken days to recover from. But thankfully, God intervened.

It all started when my husband made a simple comment at lunch in which he defended an old family friend. I’m ashamed to say that I struggle to show kindness to this person. In many ways, I’m jealous of her seemingly easier life. My husband’s words picked at a sinful scab in my heart. Jealousy, covetousness, ungraciousness. Those are my ugly sins.

Instead of shining the light on my dark heart, I turned my critical spotlight on my husband. It’s easy to make up lies in your head when you don’t want to face your own sin. “How could he defend her?” I thought. “He should defend me! He just doesn’t understand how hard my life is compared to hers.” Ugly. My heart can be so ugly.

I retreated to my room and felt the anger well up through my stomach past my hard heart and clench its fists around my throat. I had turned fiercely angry.

“Oh God,” I prayed. “Please don’t let me ruin this trip. Please don’t let me lash out and hurt my husband. Please make the anger GO AWAY.” I tried to carry on as if nothing was wrong, but the anger only intensified and threatened to come out in a wave of poisoned words.

I retreated again. “Oh God. Please, please, please take this anger away. Please God. Please.” And I crumpled helpless to my knees and waited. And the change began.

God graciously, with such tenderness and compassion, opened my eyes to my jealous heart. The problem was me. Not my husband.

God’s tender conviction led me to my deep need for grace. “Oh God – please change me. Help me to be gracious toward this woman whom I envy. Give me your love for her. She’s just a mom – trying her best – just like me.”

Just like me. She’s just like me. A mom, struggling with sin – but trying her best – just like me.

And waves of forgiveness washed my anger away. I was free. His Grace had filled the crevices that just minutes ago were simmering with anger.

My husband came to me later, embracing me and whispering how he was sorry for being insensitive. God had worked in him too – separately – apart from me. God didn’t need me to change him. God is big enough for the both of us.

God saved our trip. Just as He’s saved our marriage over and over again as we fight to stay connected since our daughter’s accident.

He works in us in spite of our tragedy, in spite of our weariness. He makes us more humble, more dependent, more in love with Himself and with each other.

Who knew marriage could be so hard? And painful? And beautiful.


(Photo courtesy of BobbiJo Brooks Photography)

Written by Kathryn Jackson

8 replies
  1. Bear Malcolm
    Bear Malcolm says:

    Thanks so much for the reminder to pause, and seek the one who saves–not only from condemnation, but also from bad decisions, and ourselves.

  2. Heather
    Heather says:

    I too am a mother of a disabled child. She developed encephalitis at 18 months and my life since then (7 years), like yours has been very very hard. The exhaustion of caring for a disabled child is crippling. It is very hard not to be overcome by bitterness and anger. I find myself getting angry for such little reasons and this anger often creates a huge wound in my marriage. My husband and I both want so much for her to be well again that it eats away at us and us at each other. It is so hard to find peace in this “new normal.” I pray that God might help me find a way to allow small frustrations not to tidal wave into the untapped mountain of anger and stress that resides in our lives. Your post is beautiful, and I am right there with you.

  3. Susan
    Susan says:

    I read this article and cried. My son who is in college now, was not the best player on his high school team. In fact, he struggled, barely played and was not given the best opportunities to show what he could do. But as I read this letter, it was if I had written it myself. He showed so much integrity during those years, never giving up, working harder than anyone to be a better player. He learned so many life lessons. I sent this letter to him because I now know he will recognize what a better person he is because it “did not come easy” and the wasn’t the star player. He now understands that it is not about winning or losing. He is doing very well in college, playing club baseball and playing in the worship band for the campus church. Thank you so much for writing this letter and putting into words what I could not over the years. The only difference is mine started out “Dear Taylor….”

  4. Susan
    Susan says:

    Sorry, I just sent a post and it was on the wrong article. Meant to post it on your letter to your boys about baseball. Disregard and I will try to post on the CORRECT article. :-/

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