Same Argument, Different Dayby Mark Gungor on November 2nd, 2009
I am convinced one of the greatest problems that couples face in marriage, whether you have been together two years, 20 years or 40 years, is the fact that we have to deal with issues over and over and over… People get so frustrated when they keep circling around and coming back to the same arguments continuously and they never get resolved. Husbands and wives become convinced that there is something wrong with their marriage (or at least the other person!) and it can lead to great discouragement.
The truth is you may have to deal with some of these issues until the day one of you dies. Many couples think that once they’ve hashed something out, it will never come back and cause trouble again. But it’s not the reality of it. I’ve seen interviews with couples married a long time—like 65 or 75 years!—and when they are asked about how and when they resolved their differences, the answer is: they haven’t! They wrestled over the same things all these years later.
That’s life! It’s just the way it is. There will be some things that you continuously have to revisit. It can become exhausting and people can grow very weary. And the longer you have been married, the more tiring and discouraging it can be. The danger comes in when one spouse starts to think or say, “I can’t do this anymore.” It implies that you are giving up, that you won’t try and that you won’t fight for your marriage anymore. That must never be an option. We must always be willing to revisit and clean up the mess… no matter how often it appears.
It’s like being a dairy farmer cleaning up after his cows. Now farming can be very profitable and a person can get great gains from it, but the farmer also has to contend with all the mess! What if he or she went out to the barn one time, took care of all of the poop, then expected it to never come back? That would make no sense at all. It’s exactly the same in marriage where we have to keep cleaning the barn… even if it’s the same mess over and over. Because we are fallible human beings, living in a fallen world, we can mess up repeatedly and we just have to be willing to deal with it.
People live under the delusion that because they have talked about something or tackled it once, that it should be done, but it’s not true. Often problems arise from differences in temperament or just ingrained habits. But honestly, so much of what couples are faced with in marriage has a lot to do with pure selfishness on our parts. And because dying to self is a life long process, so is dealing with all the stuff that happens in our relationship in the meantime.
Wouldn’t it be great if just one discussion with your spouse early in your marriage took care of all the problems, issues, and garbage that could possibly come along? But that’s not how it works. Even the Apostle Paul wrote in that “he who marries will have trouble in this life.” Paul knew that being married was fraught with trials. We expect there to be problems in other areas, like in our jobs, in the church, with our kids, but some how in marriage we think that there should be a “one-time-fix-all” solution.
Parents will show, explain, teach, and discuss many times something they want their child to learn. They generally have the perseverance that it takes to stick with raising their kids and dealing with issues repeatedly. Parents who don’t, raise hellions! But that’s a whole other problem. You need to apply that same perseverance to your marriage and keep at it. You don’t clean your house one time and then think that it’s supposed to stay clean and perfect. Same is true for your marital relationship—you have to continuously take out the trash, deal with the stuff and junk and then you get a bit of a respite. But realize that the garbage will keep on coming and you will have to revisit it again.
Don’t grow weary; don’t give up. Readjust your expectations and know that it’s ok. Maybe you “can’t do this anymore” today, but regroup. Take a deep breath, face the issue yet again and remember that it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with your marriage because you are arguing about the same thing for the 547th time. Be like the dairy farmer and just clean up the mess and enjoy the “in the meantime” until you have to face it again.