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We have all been there. We have all lamented “This isn’t what I thought it would be!” We feel we have been lied to, defrauded, rooked, and that if we had known what our husbands/wives were really like we would never have gotten married! Of course that’s true. Who would voluntarily sign up for pain and suffering? Our first tendency is to get away from pain and to run from suffering. We attempt to put a good face on it by saying that we “should not have to settle, and that this is some form of abuse, and that we are actually strong for leaving an undesirable situation”. (Please understand I am not referring to a truly abusive and dangerous situation.) Life, in its infinite wisdom knows this about us. And so, in a way it does trick us into getting married. We stand up in front of our family and friends and promise to love, honor, and cherish one another for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. Of course, we have no idea what “worse” actually means! As I said before, if we knew, we wouldn’t do it!

So, I do understand. I hear your despair and your sorrow. This is not what you thought it would be. Marriage should have solved your problems, and made life easier and more fulfilling. Instead, life has become unbelievably difficult. It is sad. It is hard. It is not fair.

However, it is what it is. And I have lived long enough to know that there isn’t a husband or wife who is not seriously “defective” in some way.  Marriage presents us with seemingly insurmountable difficulties.

And life has done that on purpose. We don’t become strong by doing easy things. We don’t become compassionate by avoiding suffering, and spending all our time having fun at Disneyworld. We don’t become who we are supposed to become without hard struggle. The process of growing a beautiful soul is very often downright ugly. I’m sorry if this isn’t what you needed to hear, but hey, I didn’t make the rules. If I had, we’d all be having fun. I would have left suffering out of the equation.

When life is excruciating, we are going through an important process. It’s a time to find out what we really believe. Can we still walk in love when it seems love has abandoned us? Can we still be kind when we are mistreated? Can we still live in hope when our dreams are smashed and lying in pieces all around us? Can we still do the right thing when everything wrong in the world is overwhelming us?

This is part of becoming ourselves. Just as a personal trainer pushes us past our limits, and helps us get to a point we could never get to if we just went to the gym and exercised until we got tired, our marriages push us to the edge. Staying is not “settling”. Staying is pushing up against your edge until your edge changes.