Everyone warns you that parenting is hard.
When you’re pregnant, people see that swollen belly as an invitation to give you unsolicited tips and warnings about how hard your life is about to become. Parents of older children see you with your little ones and prophesize about how challenging your life will be in 2, 10, 20 years.
What I'm saying is, you go into this whole spawning children thing with your eyes wide open. And what you weren’t prepared for, people warn you about along the way.
That's not so true with marriage.
It's strange and, in hindsight, oddly discomforting to realize that when engagements are announced the main response from people is that they want to see the ring. Advice upon an engagement almost entirely surrounds venue options and caterers that come highly recommended. True, you get the occasional "always remember to listen to your spouse" and "communication is so important to a happy marriage," but no one really tells you the ugly truth: Marriage is the hardest thing you will ever do.
In chatting with some of my girlfriends recently this topic came up, and the unanimous agreement was that, yes, marriage is way harder than parenting. Here are two reasons why.
1. Struggling as a parent seems to be more socially acceptable.
Moms vent to other moms, ask for tips and easily admit when they are feeling like they are in over their heads. There is great comfort in sharing a struggle and discovering that you are not alone. You feel normal, you hear success stories and get tips from people who have been there.
Sadly, it seems like sharing that you are struggling in your marriage is basically admitting that you are separating, getting a divorce or doomed to live the rest of your life unhappy. While everyone has challenging times in their marriage, a lot of people shy away from sharing these struggles with a professional or even just close friends, which leaves them feeling alone and often hopeless.
2. Love sometimes comes easier with your kids.
There is no thought to "Why do I love you?" with your children. You just do because you do. Even when your kids get older and are naughty or talk back or do unspeakable things as adults, the love you have for them is innate, and almost nothing in the world could remove that.
The love for your spouse sometimes feels more like a choice. It came easily when you first met and there are times when it still feels effortless, but there may be days, weeks, even years when you hardly like your spouse, let alone love them. Having seasons of easy love and seasons of choosing to love are normal and a part of every marriage. At the end of the day, loving your partner is a choice—and sometimes it’s a hard one.
At the end of the day, parenting and marriage are two of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. Both require a huge amount of patience, love and commitment. And both are a heck of a lot easier with support from your friends.