[Note: When writing this post, I was thinking of reasonably healthy, balanced, safe marriages. I was considering the arguments, strife, and stress that might face a typical marriage. I do not in any way condone abusive relationships, nor would I ever suggest someone should "stick it out" in such a situation. Please know that I'm just sharing what was in my heart about more mundane and non-violent issues and struggles.]
“Why don’t you have your girlfriend do it?” she teased. She was laughing about a conversation she had had with her husband regarding the never-ending mountain of laundry he was generating.
Another mom giggled back, and then grew more somber. “Hard to joke about those things now, though– a friend of mine is going through that right now. I’d be so ashamed…”
“I’d beat the tar out of him,” I interjected, laughing as I said it. “And he’d let me. Because he’d know he deserved it.”
They chuckled a bit, and then the second one went on, “The thing is, I’ve told him before. If you decide you don’t want to be with me, you just have to tell me. We can end it civilly and, of course, I’d still keep him super involved with the kids. He has every right to fall out of love with me, but there’s no reason to wreck my life.”
The first woman nodded.
I furrowed my brow, “I guess I just…” I began.
“Yeah, we know– you’d kill him!” They both laughed.
I smiled, “No, but it’s just… I guess it’s that I think about all the work and energy that has to go into an affair. Think of all the planning and effort it must take to pull that off. Can you imagine? I can’t help but think that if he’d put even HALF that much time and energy back in to the marriage, he wouldn’t ever feel the need to look outside of it.”
They grew quiet.
So did I.
Gratefully, the three of us are all happily married to our first husbands and, to the best of our knowledge, there has been no infidelity on the part of anyone.
But I think that conversation definitely made us all think a bit about how we spend our own time and energy.
It’s easier– and sometimes more fun– to look outside the marriage when there are problems. It’s easier to fuss to a girlfriend than to talk it out. It’s easier to moan about his shortcomings than to invest in his esteem. And perhaps it’s easier to find someone who will please and entertain you without demanding as much as a spouse will…
But easy things aren’t always better things. They’re almost never the most rewarding things.
Our marriages deserve our time and energy. They deserve the work and the planning. And, if we’re willing to make the effort and to do the nurturing, we will typically plant and cultivate joyful unions. It means that we direct all of that hard work inward instead of outward. Because, at the end of the day…
When the going gets tough? The tough stays put.