I read a blog on the Huffington Post the other day that really ticked me off. The article was titled Ben Affleck And The Experts Are Wrong: Marriage Is Not Hard Work by Ronna Benjamin.
In her essay, Ms. Benjamin asserts that marriage should NOT be hard work.
Because why should marriage be a lot of work? With synonyms like labor, toil, slog, drudgery, exertion, effort … why would anyone want to spend decades doing that? Shouldn’t it just kind of flow instead?
I believe the author’s first mistake is in her assumption that work is inherently bad. On the contrary, Merriam-Webster defines work as
sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result
I love my jobs – all of them. Is blogging hard work? Yes. Is accounting hard work? Definitely yes. Is being a wife and mom hard work? Of course it is. Does that mean I hate it? Absolutely not.
Don’t get me wrong. Of course, loving one’s spouse is important. To me, loving someone means I will clean up their barf in the middle of the night. Does that mean I enjoy cleaning it up? No. It’s hard work. But I do it because I love that person.
Secondly, Ms. Benjamin presumes that work is the individual undertaking of each individual in a relationship, rather than a team effort.
But Dictionary.com defines teamwork as:
When Art and I opened our golf shop, it required teamwork. Parenting requires teamwork. Heck, sometimes even deciding what to have for dinner on a work night requires teamwork. Many have called marriage a partnership, which means people working together in a joint venture, usually sharing its profits and risks. That sounds like my marriage. Doesn’t it sound like yours?
My last problem is with the overused phrase “Shouldn’t it just flow?” Yes, there are times when everything will seem perfect. You will finish each other’s sentences. You will have the exact same plan for your future and agree on who to vote for for president. But other times will be tough. You will misunderstand each other. You will want to go in opposite directions and disagree on political candidates. You will come smack up against unemployment, job loss, death or illness of a family member. Or one of you will suffer from depression or other mental illness. In times like these (sometimes as a team; sometimes individually), you will need to do the real work of a marriage. The work of loving and compromising and just being together, even though it may be (dare I say it?) hard work.
So yes, Ronna Benjamin, marriage is hard work. Some days it may be the hardest work we’ll ever do. But it is also worth it. The rewards we reap from sacrificing for each other far outweigh the struggle. After all, we’re in this together.