Marriage is Hard: 4 Tips Preschoolers Know That Can Make it Better!


marriage dmbSomeone recently suggested that we stop calling marriage hard and, instead, use the word “challenging” because, “two people building a new life together shouldn’t be hard…”

Excuse me?

Taking two different people with different family backgrounds with their own hang-ups and baggage and then meshing them together into a well-functioning couple is just plain hard.  Long math problems are challenging. Jamming all the stuff we need for our family of six to go on vacation into our minivan is challenging.

Marriage. Yes, it’s hard.

Sure, there are easy days of marriage…seasons where you are in sync and life is beautiful.  But, then there are “I-don’t-even-like-you-enough-to-be-in-the-same-room-with-you-right-now” hard days…weeks…periods of time where you question your decision and wonder if this is really how it’s supposed to be.  And, that’s normal.  That’s ok.

We had the perfect marriage (for like three hours).

At least I’ve learned that’s ok.

I wasn’t always good with marriage being hard. I wanted my marriage to be perfect.  I thought struggle meant that there was something wrong.

People had told me marriage would be hard. But, as a single woman, I didn’t understand the kind of hard they meant.

I had it all worked out.  We would never fight over how to squeeze the toothpaste (separate tubes – Duh!).  I’d load the dishwasher however he preferred.  Fighting over sex seemed outrageous.  Money? As long as we had some …no problem, either. I coupon...

Having carefully planned how to avert all of the most common marriage issues, there was no possibility for so much as a thunderstorm in our marriage forecast.

But, it didnt work out that way.  Storms were the norm.  Some days I wasn’t sure if wed survive them.

As if marriage wasn’t tough enough, we decided that maybe throwing four babies into the mix would make it more interesting.

Having four children in about 5 years has greatly enriched our lives, though.  We love what they add to our union. But, beyond that, having children has allowed us to learn a lot about ourselves.  Children teach you sacrifice, how to put others first, patience, and other things that are really good for your marriage too.  If you can apply them…DSC01063

The other interesting thing that seems to happen when you are in the throes of parenting is you find yourself learning the lessons that you want your children to learn.

For example, one day as I was {not nicely} screaming at my children to “be nice” while simultaneously yelling at them to “stop yelling.”    Instant conviction and feelings of, “Wow, maybe I need to take my own advice so I’m not a complete hypocrite with my children” overwhelmed me.

I thought of other times when this happens.  Like when I tell them one dessert is enough and then I sneak back for another brownie.  Or, when I tell them not to say a certain that they only know because they heard ME say it.  Yikes!

Yet, in general I figured out if I could only heed the advice I was doling out to my kiddos everyday, my own marriage might be a little better.  Here are some examples.

1.  Share!  1,375 times a day I tell someone to share.  I {unrealistically} expect them to be thrilled about it and happily hand over the object of their affection to their sibling without complaint.  Yet, I think one of the hardest adjustments early in our marriage was the lesson of sharing.  In some cases possessions were involved, but it was mostly the sharing of our time and our energy. Adjusting our priorities to build a new life together required a level of sacrifice and giving that singleness certainly didn’t.  Working out systems to divide housework and other responsibilities is a key to both short term and long term happiness.  Aint nobody happy when they are doing all the work…be it laundry, kiddo duties, etc… They call it “give and take” but really, it’s just sharing.

2.  Use Your Words!  I’m probably the only woman out there that’s ever used silence to punish my husband, right?  Answering the, “What’s wrong dear?” question with a look-of-death and complete-and-utterly-cold quiet is my default.  And {yet} just like when I yell, “Use your words” to my three-year-old while he cries, screams, and thrashes around on the floor, someone probably should remind me of this when I’m facing frustration with my beloved.  Truth is, most of the time, he really doesnt know what’s bothering me and would be happy to rationally talk through it if he could just figure out why I was upset.  Dragging out the conflict by staying mute has never solved one of our marriage problems.Back Camera

3. Be NICE!  When you do use your words, I recommend, {as I prescribe for my five-year-old}, “choosing nice words.”  We all have this filter that we know how to put on our mouths when we are at work or at playgroup or dealing with total strangers.  Yet, when dealing with our spouses we think its alright (or even helpful) to leave it off.  You’d never call your boss a jerk (to his face), but we think it’s helpful to getting our points across to say that to our husbands.  I want my children to speak to me respectfully…to not demand and complain.  My marriage is better off when I remember to speak to my husband in the same manner.  It’s not just avoiding mean words. Sometimes a, “please” or “thank you,” or “Wow, that was really great” sentiment of encouragement can go a long way.

4.  Eat your vegetables! It’s Bedtime! Thats enough {insert activity here} for today  Moms figure out pretty quickly that the key to a happy little child lies mainly in good nutrition, solid sleep, and a healthy balance of activities. Overstimulated, hungry, and way-sleep-deprived kiddos are no fun to be around.  Yet, how many of us rely on peanut butter and jelly crusts, Starbucks, and 4 hours of lousy sleep to get us through a day packed with activities, obligations, dinner, and laundry?  Im a lousy wife when Im tired, hungry, stressed, and overwhelmed.  I just am.  And, just like I limit my preschooler’s TV time, there are nights when I need to shut down Facebook and go to bed early.  There are days when I need to say no to the extra invites and rest.  Eating well, sleeping enough, and keeping the quantity of our activities in balance is not just good advice for the under 6 set, it’s great advice for any married mom, too.

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Maybe preschoolers know the secret to making marriage just a little bit easier!

 I’m not suggesting that these tips will be all it takes to transform your marriage.  But, I do know that marriage can, and does, get better when we can honestly analyze our part in it.

What do you think?



  1. AMEN, AMEN, AMEN! Being on the backside of four children these are lessons we should have learned before they were out of the house. God forgive us but we didn’t learn them until they were already gone.


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