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Is Marriage Always “Hard”?

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In covering the breakup of Hollywood superstars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, USA TODAY used the headline: “If 2 Happily Married Celebs Can’t Make It, Can Any of Us?” The accompanying article baldly declared: “Marriage is hard – and Hollywood marriages are harder.” This echoes the common pop culture theme that it’s daunting, against-the-odds work to build a loving, lasting family – a message that discourages young people from marriage.

Actually, research by leading psychologists (including my wife) shows that long-term married couples attribute their success to relaxed communication, a sense of humor, forgiveness and fun, more than gritty, punishing toil.  As for Douglas and Zeta-Jones, they faced more challenges than most couples – including a 25-year age difference and his troubled history of clinically diagnosed sex-addiction. It makes no sense to use their sad example for another bout of marriage bashing.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Mike Kailing  •  Sep 13, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    First of all, I am not a married man; never have been and probably will never be at age 67. I am not a homosexual. Now we have men wanting to marry men, and women wanting to marry women. Does anyone see the real spiritual attack upon marriage and the biblical definition: one man married to one woman. Even Old Covenant men didn’t get that concept, ie, David, Solomon, others are examples of not understanding marriage.

    I myself have always valued “friendships” over marriage personally and have had lifetime friendships since high school days. I can look back nearly 50 years and say that not one of them ever became my enemy, adversary, or ex-……. Sadly, I see little change for enduring long term marriages in our current society. I place no blame upon the rich, the poor, or any other social status group. Men and women increasingly are at odds with each other, only intensified in marital wedlock. That is just the way it is today. So, seeing the perpetual conflicts of these marriages, I also choose to remain single; happy, stress free, with many friends who truly value and appreciate each other. That’s just the way I see it. Much Aloha from Hawaii !~

  2. Josh  •  Sep 14, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Couldn’t agree more. I’m sick of marriage constantly getting a bad rap. I’m 31, have been married 8 years, and can honestly say I’m much happier now than I ever was before I was married.

  3. Pam Shumway  •  Sep 14, 2013 at 7:51 am

    I always tell people, “Marriage is great. I recommend it highly.” I’m an active (in every way) 71-year-old wife of 48 years. My husband and I have 4 children & 14 grandchildren. God & a sense of humor overcome pride & self-centeredness. If a spouse gives up, he or she will NEVER experience the joy & contentment that commitment brings. Quitting a journey shows that 1. you’re weak or 2. you picked the wrong person to build a life with. When you “build,” you don’t stand around watching the other person doing all the carrying & lifting.

  4. Marshall  •  Sep 14, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Spoiled wealthy Hollywood people. I simply have not the interest to worry over these individuals let alone allow the suggestion that somehow they should be role models for the rest of us.

  5. Mark Robinson  •  Sep 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I can’t get over the irony that the gay and lesbian activists are advocating “marriage” when the rest of our modern culture seems to be preaching against it.

  6. Bruce Dawson  •  Sep 14, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I was married and divorced twice before I grew up, put away chilish things and became a man. But I have been married to my wife for nearly thirty years at this point and I have become ONE with my wife. It is a joyful and mostly peaceful relationship I think, because my wife and I have learned to overlook our differences. We genuinely love and trust each. This has not always easy but iss definitely worth the effort.

  7. Hard Lesson  •  Sep 16, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    I always believed that marriage was supposed to be for life, and I do applaud all those here who have made it, or are committed to working things out.
    But after a few decades of marriage now coming to a painful end, I realize that I was completely naïve about one thing: Not all people are capable of being reasonable. I’ve heard that Catherine Zeta-Jones is bipolar, and that certainly would present extra challenges – just like the sex-addiction of Michael Douglas.
    In the case of my own marriage – the issue is probably even more severe: Borderline Personality Disorder. A Borderline starts relationships very well, but due to black-and-white thinking – eventually each relationship ‘flips’ and you are likely to be seen as an enemy – regardless of your guilt or innocence. There’s typically verbal abuse & incredible rage directed at you – but accompanied by cognitive distortions that allow the Borderline to twist everything you say in your defense back against you. Then it’s an unending cycle. They are an emotional black hole that can never be filled despite your best attempts. Even after nearly a decade of counseling – only minimal progress has been made in our case, and it’s not enough to stop the tearing apart of our family.
    There’s much more I could say, but my point in this forum is simply to encourage those considering marriage – or any similar relationship – to learn a little about some of the most common mental health disorders, especially those that require some education to spot – like personality disorders. Hopefully other can see the warning signs – and proceed with caution where appropriate – or encourage those with personality disorders to seek proper treatment.
    Personality disorders are somewhat common and are so insidious because those suffering from them can look so normal & charming from the outside – but will almost certainly cause eventual relationship failure and unimaginable pain for all parties involved. There is help, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy, but the Borderline must want it in order for it to stick. They’re masters of ‘faking it’ and being convincing through their use of intense emotions. Actually, in a sense they even con themselves because for them, their feelings create or change the facts.
    So if you feel any little red flags – please don’t sweep them under the carpet. One of those red flags is their lack of long term, truly close friendships- especially when accompanied by the super-idealization of newer relationships. Educate yourself first before proceeding. I only wish I had known.

    • Bewildered  •  Sep 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      Wow – reading your description of BPD was WAY too familiar and way too much like my marriage. I couldn’t have summed up my own experience more accurately. Thanks for enlightening me about BPD and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which I had not heard of. It helps categorize the variety of behaviors I’ve observed in my spouse, who is currently perhaps a mild case, but nonetheless intractable and unfortunately getting worse.

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