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More choices make marriage more difficult

June 2nd, 2005 · 3 Comments

Via tiffany at blackfeminism.org I discovered Ms. Magazine’s article on Housewife Wars featuring quotes from author Stephanie Coontz:

“Marriage is harder today,” Coontz adds, “because it’s more optional. There are more choices. The very things that make it better also make it more difficult, and vice versa. It’s precisely because marriage can be more fulfilling today that it’s more of a struggle.”

We do have more choices. We don’t have to get married. We don’t have to stay home. Marriage isn’t the automatic assumption it once was.

I think also that we in general have better understanding of what makes a good marriage, and what makes a good marriage better. Marriage has always been difficult. Put two people together and see how well they survive, especially as life turns on the pressure. But now we have more dialogue and discussion about our relationships. We have expectations. We want it to be good – and we have a better idea what good is.


A few days have passed since I wrote the above paragraphs. In the meantime, I’ve been reading a book on marriage. A good friend from years ago recommended it and I had hoped it would help me sort through some struggles I’ve been experiencing inside myself. Instead of helping me, the book gave me a headache, as I sorted through what I believed and didn’t believe. I discovered I disagreed with the author’s opinion, despite her years of experience. Then I began to wonder why I disagreed, what had changed in me through time and whether this was good or bad. I was disappointed.

However, if I’ve learned anything through the years, especially in recent trials, I should know now not to let anyone else determine for me what marriage means. Each couple is unique. No one else has been married to Ted. No one else knows what our relationship is like, our history, strength, weaknesses, convictions and challenges. I do want to be open to advice and experience from others. I want to learn. Yet as I read this book I am realizing that I need to work out what marriage means between God, Ted and me and not rely on someone else to tell me.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lucy // Jun 2, 2005 at 2:54 pm

    It seems some people have very complicated ideas of marriage. For us it comes down to one thing — always assume the best about your spouse.

    When he picks up the only WRONG flavor of ice-cream on earth, its because he made a mistake. Not because he’s trying to punish me. When I’m late to pick him up, its because of traffic. Not because I ignored him in favor of talking to Sam on the phone for two hours. (And he should be thanking God I didn’t die in a wreck).

    When we were dating, it boggled his mind that I was ready with a potential explanation for any given situation that did NOT involve blaming him and making him “pay for it” for the next several days. No wonder our friends used to say it was like we were married, even though we had only been dating a few months!

  • 2 Julie // Jun 3, 2005 at 1:08 am

    Thanks, Lucy. Always thinking the best of one’s spouse is crucial to survival. 😉

  • 3 Victoria // Jun 8, 2005 at 2:43 pm

    I need to remember that. Thank you.

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