How I Overcame My Fear of a Boring Marriage

Happy couple


I wasn’t afraid of marriage when I was single; I was thrilled for it.


I was, however, absolutely petrified of getting bored in my marriage and watching it fall off of one of the four “cliffs” on the path of matrimony:


1. The Cliff of Regret (6 months)


I was afraid of six months into marriage, after the novelty of being a newlywed wears off, the bills start mounting, and the realization that you are “stuck” forever sets in like quicksand.


2. The Cliff of Boredom (1 year)


I was afraid to hit a year, when I begin to be totally bored with the monotony of seeing and living with the same person every day.


3. The Cliff of Exhaustion (kids)


I was afraid of having kids, when my spouse gets so stressed with kids that she stops being fun, and I start to look for ways and reasons to get out of the house.


4. The Cliff of Growing Apart (empty nesters)


I was afraid that after the kids all started going to school I would be left with a total stranger to call my spouse.



While I was single (check out Dating Never Works . . . Until It Does: 100 Lessons from 1,000 Dates for more on that topic), married people would often encourage me to get married the same way they might have tried to persuade me to eat caviar: they would tell me it was an expensive, acquired taste and hint that they didn’t want to be the only suckers who had tried it.


There was always a smack of, “Oh man, I miss the chocolate cake of being single. Live it up while you can…”


Conversations like these always left me unsure what to expect of marriage.


Should I choose to stay single and avoid the regret and bitterness or should I choose to get married and join the band of married men stealing from their rich past to give memories to their poor present?


Then I met my soon-to-be wife and the choice seemed obvious—neither.


After I met Annie, I started noticing a different perspective on marriage that I had missed before. You see, aside from the many who freely offered up dating advice emphasizing the nightmares of marriage, there are those who quietly lived out happy lives.


They have adventures with each other, they plan fun activities with their kids, they still laugh at each other’s jokes, they truly enjoy spending time together, they disagree with respect…they have what I realized is real love.


So I decided to move forward and ask my wife to marry me.


When I hit my 13-month mark in my own marriage, I rolled over in bed one morning and it hit me: I was still happy.


I looked at my wife and I suddenly realized that just as we had a choice to avoid the first two cliffs, we could avoid the last two cliffs by continuing to make the choice to stay in love.


Just as we have the choice to be positive about dating, we also have the choice to be positive about marriage and starting a family.


It is a choice to be boring.

It is a choice to think kids ruin adventure.

It is a choice to pray together every day and pray for each other out loud.

It is a choice to have family night.

It is a choice to read the scriptures together.

It is a choice to do the dishes when you’re tired from work.

It is a choice to not say that critical comment.

It is a choice to find the positive in marriage and not let the fears leave our relationship on the cliffhanger of a bright future.


And while we don’t always make the right choices–the key is always knowing that it is our choice.


Our adopted grandma and dear friend gave us marriage advice when we got engaged, “You make a choice to marry someone and then choose every day to make it the right choice.”


I’m grateful for the choice we have to avoid the “cliffs” of marriage and I hope and pray that we can each make those choices daily to stay positive about finding a spouse and/or stay grateful for having one.


This article was originally published with some minor edits on


This Weekly 30-Min Conversation Could Change Your Relationship Forever- Single or Married

Relationship Conversation


I’ve been married for 10,000 hours, which makes me an expert.




Ten thousand hours is a little over a year.


That’s about how long it takes to get good at Angry Birds—not marriage.


But while I might not know much about marriage, over the last 10 years I have asked hundreds of people the same question:


What is your advice about marriage?


From those in the twilight of their lives to empty nesters, newlyweds, divorced, and single people (*gasp* yes…they do have great advice about marriage), I’ve taken their answers and adapted them into one simple conversation you can have on a weekly basis.


My wife and I have done this every Sunday since we’ve been engaged, and it is the only piece of marriage advice I feel qualified to give because much of the happiness in my marriage so far I attribute to this one weekly 30-min conversation.



The Relationship Inventory is a 5-step 30-min weekly conversation includes the following topics: finances, plans, appreciation, improvement, and goals.


1. FINANCES—5 minutes


Take a few minutes to talk about where you are at with money, debt, savings, net worth, vacation fund, etc.


If you have a budget, review how you are doing in the month as far as staying under or on par with what you’ve decided together.


My wife and I like to use the Mint budgeting app, but there are lots of other tools you can use together—even just opening bank statements is a step in the right direction.



One of the hardest things for me when I got married was sharing my calendar with someone.


I spent so many years being single, only trying to coordinate my time with a list of first dates, that I frequently forgot to let my wife know when I had places I needed to be or deadlines that I needed to meet.


Taking a few moments to share what the week holds for each of you, reviewing who has the plans for family night, scheduling date night, and, in the case of my wife and me, scheduling when we’re going to work on our side-businesses is critical to setting expectations for that week.


It also makes sure that you have time for the most important things and helps avert feelings of neglect or frustration.


3. APPRECIATION—5 minutes


It is easy to assume that your spouse feels your love and appreciation, especially as life gets chaotic.


But don’t.


As Thomas S Monson has said, “We should not let [the stresses of life] get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, ‘They do not love that do not show their love.’ We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown” (“Finding Joy in the Journey,” general conference, Oct 2008; William Shakespeare, Two Gentleman of Verona, act 1, scene 2, line 31).


Start this part of the conversation with something like, “One thing I appreciated about you this week was…” and get specific.


For example, tell your wife that you appreciated the way she kept the house clean that week or tell your husband you were grateful he did the dishes.


4. IMPROVEMENT—10 minutes


Ask, “What can I do to improve?”


That’s right; it must be a question. We must ask for ways to improve…and be willing to hear an honest response.


The wonderful days are when you are able to hear the response, ‘I think you’re doing great! Just keep it up.’



Take their observations in stride, apologize for any misunderstandings, and don’t get defensive. Don’t fire back with things that they need to improve on, but instead, wait until they have completed their thought and you’ve recognized their pain or frustration before responding. Make plans to rectify the situation.


Then, when they ask what they can do to improve, never say “never” or “always,” because you’ll always be sure to be wrong. Instead, make sure you phrase your answer kindly and constructively: “When you do ABC, I feel XYZ.”


“When you don’t do the dishes, it makes me feel like you don’t appreciate me” instead of, “You never do the dishes!”


If you remember to ask sincerely, listen, apologize, and respond to their asking with kindness and a genuine desire to help you both improve, this can be the most productive moments for your marriage each week.



You and your partner can be a great team. Support each other and ask for support.


By sharing sincere goals and asking for accountability, this simple topic can make you feel more open to suggestions throughout the week and keeps you both focused on a common purpose and gives you one more opportunity to support each other.


FINAL THOUGHT: More than Marriage


Please keep in mind that while this conversation is tailored for a relationship, I’ve used it with roommates and friends at times when it was needed. It is for any type of relationship and probably sounds familiar to any returned missionary who has participated in companionship inventory.


There is no silver bullet for a great marriage (at least none that I’ve learned in the last 10,000 hours), but by taking just 30 minutes each week to go over these topics, it will be like a breath of fresh air that will strengthen your relationship and dispel unrealistic expectations.


At the very least, it’s better than playing Angry Birds by yourself.



A different version of this article originally published on


A 3 Question Tool that Removed 99% of My Worry in Life



I have self-prescribed ADD (I haven’t been diagnosed because I can never finish the tests). Like many of you, I have a very hyper-active mind which leads me to take in a lot of data and try to draw instant conclusions about the world around me.


It can be exhausting.


The problem is that I’ve always had an issue sorting through what to be concerned about about and what will be fine.


Often in my snap judgements, I have found myself on the wrong side of the worry tracks, which just leads to a whole train of supplemental self-inflicted problems.


So I came up with a tool to help me quickly and accurately sift through the situations of life.


This is a tool that can help you in business, daily happenings and especially relationships.


A lot of people say ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff,’ and this tool will help you determine if it can indeed be categorized as “small stuff.”


It’s a quick three-question survey that I ask myself anytime I feel the need to worry so that I can easily determine if it is worth worrying about:


  1. Can it be solved with time?
  2. Can it be solved with money?
  3. Can it be solved with effort?


If the answer is yes to any of those then it isn’t that big of a deal.


If it can’t be solved with time, money or effort, then there isn’t anything I can do to make it better, so why worry about it anyway?


So far, I have found that about 99% of problems can be solved with time, money or effort.


If a problem is going to take time, seek for patience.

If a problem is going to take money, seek for perspective.

If a problem is going to take effort…just get it done.


Now, let me be the first to admit that I’m not perfect at this and some days just straight up I’m bad at this.


I get frustrated when I’m driving in traffic and someone cuts me off. Well that cost me an additional 2 seconds of my time. Not a big deal.


I was upset when United charged me an additional $174.79 for a flight I already purchased. Well that cost me 2 hours on the phone arguing and a little bit of a lighter bank account. Irritating? Yes. A big deal? No.


I had some ‘sticker shock’ when I got on the scale a month after my honeymoon to find it having gone in the wrong direction 10 pounds. Well…that just takes a little effort and time. (Still waiting to solve this issue with money by buying a magic pill that turns Captain Crunch into raw broccoli.)



So while I still need to work at my initial reaction, these questions have been invaluable in helping me move on from these perceived “problems” much faster and minimize the post-situation worry time.


One thing I learned from studying Buddhism is being present. So much of worry lies in the chosen fear leading up to a single moment, or dragging the pain of that single moment on well past the initial infliction as some kind of a badge of twisted honor. The problem and issue usually only lasts a moment, it is us who expands that moment to fill our lives with worry by focusing on things that have not yet happened or dwelling on that which is past.


Now don’t get me wrong…there are some really really hard problems that can’t just be justified away–the death of a loved one, an unfaithful spouse, a breakup–but even those, when given time, can lead to healing and even strength. I’m not saying you should ignore it and hope it goes away; but face those issues while giving yourself time.


After pondering on the formation of these questions for many hours and continuing my study on Buddhism, I found out I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had just read this quote by the Dalai Lama XIV (but hey, that’s not something worth worrying about),If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.


So I challenge you to take a step back and when you find that bubbling from somewhere deep when a problem arises, take a step back and ask yourself: Can it be solved with time, money or effort?


99% of worries will melt away like Texas snow and the rest…well, that’s the reason man invented working out.


Zack Oates Book Dating

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BEFORE YOU GET MARRIED, Know There’s Someone Better

alone thinking


So you’re thinking about getting married.


Well before you do, there’s something you should know: there’s someone better for you out there.


That’s right. This little bundle of perfection you are personifying as your spouse is not the best match for you. There is someone who aligns with your dreams, your goals, your political persuasion better. There is someone more attractive, funnier, smarter. There is someone with a better family, with cooler friends. There is someone wealthier, more ambitious, more spiritual.


Here’s the catch: You can’t find all that in one person.


As my boy Leo Tolstoy has said, “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content” (Anna Karenina #TheRealRussianNuke).


Sure, find someone who has a better family, but maybe they’ll be a total slob and smell bad. Meet someone that is funnier, but maybe they aren’t as kind. Chat with someone who passionately aligns to your political views, but maybe you don’t want a debate partner for a spouse. Connect with someone who is a model, but maybe then you can’t eat hamburgers and fries.


And even if all those “but maybe’s” are true, good luck at them being interested in you.


Yes, you found someone that meets the 5 most important criteria (after you made your list) and they exist. They are there and they are real. And no, that’s not settling–that’s falling in love with a human.


Now don’t get me wrong. Marriage is not a cavalier choice that you can make after two months of knowing someone when one of those months is long distance; it is an important decision to be weighed out and prayed about over time. (But then again, you might get lucky.)


Because once that decision is made to take it to the next step, don’t worry about any lists you’ve made in dating.


What I’ve admired about the best marriages I’ve seen is that the spouse becomes the other person’s “list.” It is no longer a ‘I wish you had this’ or ‘If only you didn’t have that,’ but rather a beautiful appreciation of the person for who they are that leads to a love and commitment that last forever.


Plus, regardless of who they are and who you are now, you’ll never stay married to the same person. You’ll change and they’ll change. The key is changing together.


You do that by setting your long-term goals as the same destination. If you both are constantly working towards that singular goal, you become less of single individuals and one whole.


So stop looking for the one. There are ones all around you. They key is to choose your love and then love your choice


As an author at The Blaze commented after hearing the devastating news that Nicolas Sparks and his wife separated, “I didn’t marry The One, I married this one, and the two of us became one.”



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I Never Knew How Much a Person Could Hide Until I Married My Wife



I never knew how much a person could hide until I married my wife.


It was about six months after we had been married and I turned over in bed to see a stranger laying there next to me.


Granted, I proposed after exactly two months of knowing her and we were on different continents for one of those months.


And granted, we got married exactly four months after I proposed and were in different states for three of those months.


…but still.


I mean, who was she?


I thought I had it all figured out when I was dating. Before we met, I created my “must have” list for a spouse. It consisted of 5 things:

  1. Beautiful
  2. Positive
  3. Kind
  4. Leader
  5. Who put God first


From the day we met until the day we married and even until this point, she had shown her colors as truly exemplifying all of those traits.


But still…something wasn’t adding up.


I mean, before we were married she would make jokes, but I wouldn’t consider her very funny.

She would occasionally cook, but it all was quite bad–burnt, bland or soggy.

She would watch me clean my room on Skype, but revealed a scene behind her that looked like a candidate for Hoarders.


But you see, I didn’t marry her because she was funny or a good cook or could clean. I married her because I loved who she was and was willing to work with those things that were in my “nice to have” list. Not in any way feeling like I was settling, but realizing that some things in life need to be de-prioritized.


Sure, I love laughing, food is my second religion and messiness is something I cannot function in–but with funny friends, eating out and my self-satisfaction in cleaning, I figured we would be fine.


But, six months in, I found out that I was so wrong about her.


She was funny. At least once a week I was crying laughing because of her jokes.

She was an incredible cook. Her dinners became the daily culmination of a culinary crescendo–no matter how expensive my expensed lunch was.

She was cleeeeeean! Her cleaning habits made me look at the budget to see if she had hired help.


Yes I married her not even know how amazing she was.  


Truly, I fell in love with a sandbagger.


Turns out we just weren’t around each other enough in person for me to really get her humor. The few meals she made all happened to be without a some key ingredients. And the room she was temporarily living in until we got married was really a family storage room.


Now don’t get me wrong, I discovered some new weaknesses too. Like how she isn’t good at opening bags of chips (she hulk-rips them “every” time sending cereal cascading down the hall) and can’t find a way to snap and sing at the same time; but my manly thumbs and amerature beatboxing solved both of those.


And while she has had some surprises from me too, I’ll leave that for her to talk about.


So six months into marriage what did I learn? As you get to know people, allow them to build themselves on the foundation of their strengths. Let them pleasantly surprise you.


For marriage isn’t so much a matter of being grateful that you found the one as working together to become one as we help fill the weaknesses and discover the strengths together.


Seek for the good and you will find it.


Everyone is incredibly loved–find out why (especially with those closest to you).



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Dating Never Works Zack Oates



A 3-Step Spiritual Guide to Successful Dating & Marriage

A loving young couple spending time together at home


I had just received the news through some not-so-subtle hints.

She wasn’t interested.


(Insert disappointed sigh here.)


Not that I was counting on it working out, per se, it’s just that . . . well, I was really hoping it might have. Yeah, it was just a crush; yeah, we might have only gone on a couple of dates; yeah, I wasn’t super emotionally invested . . . but I was at that point in life where it seemed that nothing was working out. (You know what I mean.) I was frustrated because whenever I liked a great girl, they weren’t interested; and when a great girl liked me, it didn’t seem right.


I was standing on a packed train when I had a prompting to open up to Doctrine & Covenants Section 90. I was not sure exactly what was there, but when I came across verse 24, I realized that God had put in a formula so that my relationships—in my dating life and in my future marriage—would really work! He packaged it up in three simple steps that could help me keep perspective. It filled my heart with hope—and it can fill your heart too.



To read those 3 steps, continue to



Stand Together; but Not Too Close

old couple


A month ago, my wife and I were at a beautiful beach wedding in the Dominican Republic. The groom’s father stood up to give a toast, and instead of a speech, he simply read from the works of a turn of the century poet and philosopher, Kahlil Gibran.


The essence of the poem is found in the last stanza,


be pilars“Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart”

(“On Marriage,” The Prophet)


I was honestly bugged by that poem.


I mean, shouldn’t you stand by your spouse no matter what and be their everything and have them be your everything? Isn’t that the point of marriage for two to become one? A complete trust in giving your heart?


The poem and my confused frustration stuck with me until we found ourselves at another wedding sitting across from Lanor. She was a fast-talking, energetic, divorced New Yorker who had been a “shrink” for over 40 years focusing on family and marriage.


I asked her for advice. (…I mean, how could I not?!)


“Don’t make each other your sole source of happiness.”


That’s when it clicked.


It isn’t that we can’t spend a lot of time together and give of our hearts completely one to another, but that at the end of the day, we must realize that we are both human.

We both make mistakes.

We fall short.


As pillars holding up the short roof of the temple, we must remember that togetherness is at times apartness—for when one feels weak, the other can give more.


If our happiness is completely based on our significant other, then we’ll only be happy when we are feeling 100% and they are feeling 100%. Which happens far less behind closed doors than any are willing to admit.


Basically, we can’t rejoice in each other, but not rely on each other for joy.


Isn’t the scriptures even clear on this subject about not trusting in the arm of flesh?


If we first become content with ourselves and in our own individual happiness, then we can supplement that happiness with a companion and be more optimistic about life.


Because as with a mission so too with marriage—no matter how good life is, if the relationship is rough, everything is rough; and conversely, no matter how rough life is, if the relationship is good, everything is good (or at least we know it will be).


So as we stand in holy places under the temple marriage roof, truly, we must remember to stand together, but not too close.



Dating Never Works Zack Oates
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6 Reasons Marriage Will Never Make You Happy

marriage is hard


“Zack, you just can’t understand the happiness I feel—because you’re single.”


My friend had been married for almost a year and was telling me about the void he felt in his life before he was married. Marriage filled that void.


At the time, I was single and just couldn’t understand the ‘happiness that would forever evade me if I stayed in my pathetic lonesome state.’


He spoke as if happiness was this great ocean before me and I was stuck on dry ground.


It bothered me.


And it really bothered me that he was one of too many people who had told me the same exact thing: ‘Happiness is on the other side of singledom.’


I always knew that if I was doing the right thing, I would be happy; and in my opinion, trying to get married was the right thing regardless if I made it yet or not!


See, I really liked my single life.
I loved my friends, the dance parties, the trips, the hot tubing and meeting new people.
I felt close to God and genuinely happy.


I never understood what void I was missing.


Now that I’m married I can say I really like my married life.
I loved my friends, the dance parties, the trips, the hot tubing and meeting new people.
I feel close to God and genuinely happy.


Marriage doesn’t make you any happier than winning the lottery; you may have more money, but studies have shown that happiness is all relative.
Marriage doesn’t make you any happier than going to church; you can be in the building and walk out empty hearted.
Marriage doesn’t make you any happier than you already are.


Yes, indeed, it isn’t marriage that makes you happy—it is your choice to be happy regardless of circumstance.


Marriage doesn’t change you, but it reveals yourself to yourself…and scarily enough…to another.


And no, marriage isn’t the same as being single, but it is as great as your attitude will allow it to be.


Charles Swindoll (author educator and pastor) said, “Attitude, to me, is more important than … the past, … than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” (Daniel H. Johnston, Lessons for Living (2001), 29.)


Sure you can’t swim on the sand, but you also can’t build sand castles in the water. Both are great, if your attitude looks for the greatness.


But too often, we only see the sands of time slipping away our best years single while waiting to be happy when we’re married.


But waiting to be happy is like waiting for Godot.
Waiting to be happy is like starving to death waiting for a food truck while sitting on a loaf of bread.
Waiting to be happy is like searching the world for acres of diamonds that are hidden beneath your own home (that link is worth the read).


happy woman in marriage

But it isn’t like these married people are all lying. They genuinely (and erroneously) think that it is marriage that makes them happy.


So what is it then that all these married people are really talking about? If not marriage, then why are they happier than when they are single? It’s because…


Marriage gives you more opportunities to do the things that make you happy.


Let’s go through these six examples:


1. Giving genuine service makes you happy.
If you are seeking to always make someone’s day better, then you will be happy. You can do that single, but marriage puts you in fairly close proximity to one person every day whom you can serve.


2. Being loved makes you happy.
Whether or not you are single, there are people who love you, but it can be hard to see sometimes. Being married allows you to look down at your left hand and see that someone said, ‘Even you, Zack, are worth being loved.’


3. Best friends make you happy.
This ties very closely to being loved, but it is amazing knowing that I have a best friend who has my back. Marriage isn’t the only way to get this, though.


4. Purpose makes you happy.
We can have purpose whether we are single or married. Some people need a spouse to give them that purpose; others can have a spouse add to their purpose.


5. Having kids makes you happy.
Now I don’t know anything about this and quite frankly have heard mixed reviews about kids…but what I have heard in the end is that it is a sacrifice and service that goes beyond what I can now understand. I look forward to it and know that now that I’m married I’m one step closer to it—but whether or not you’re married, simply preparing for this step brings happiness. For are we not all mothers/fathers?


6. Coming closer to God makes you happy.
Yes, making promises with God and my wife brings happiness, but married people don’t have a monopoly on God’s love. As Jeffrey R Holland said, “The gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed” (“Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You,” General Conference April 2016, original emphasis). If you are honestly trying to get married, that is enough.


So, to my dear friend who said that I couldn’t understand happiness, I thought you were wrong on the shores of singledom, and I still think you’re wrong in the ocean of matrimony.


While marriage provides a wonderful venue to practice these 6 (and many more) activities that creates happiness in one’s life; it never will make anyone happy. (After all, have you ever heard of “unhappy marriages?” About half of my married friends certainly have.)


Now, when people ask me if I’m happier married than when I was single, I’d say yes—but not because of marriage. I’m happier now because I am able to do those things more frequently that bring me happiness.


Don’t look to marriage tomorrow for happiness.

Do the things that truly make you happy today.



Marriage Isn’t As Big a Deal As You May Think

help my marriage


It was late, and my wife and I were getting ready to go to sleep. I rolled over and looked at her.


“What?” she asked, smiling at me.


I asked her a simple question: “How do you know that I love you?”


Certainly, I thought, it is going to be the surprise cruise honeymoon that cost thousands. Or maybe the book of 100 reasons why I love her that took over 10 hours to make. Or maybe the rose petals I saved from our proposal and pressed for Valentine’s Day. Surely, one of those things is how she knows I love her.


Her response left me speechless.


“Because you brought me my water bottle.” I had completely forgotten that I had grabbed her water bottle on the way to bed and handed it to her. She usually keeps it on her nightstand, but it happened to be in the kitchen, so I just brought it in.


“And because you did the dishes.” But she had cooked . . . isn’t that normal if she cooks and I clean?


“And because you text me during work.” Doesn’t everyone?


“And because you give me kisses.” Isn’t that for me too?


To be honest, I was a little bugged at first. She had mentioned so many little things that I hadn’t even thought about that I felt like my grand gestures hadn’t been appreciated. But then I remembered something I had read when we were engaged: “Marriage isn’t any big thing, it’s a lot of little things. Acts of kindness every day create a happy marriage” (John Bytheway, What We Wish We’d Known When We Were Newlyweds).


It wasn’t until my wife answered her own simple question that the quote made sense. That’s when I stopped looking for one really big way to yell “I LOVE YOU!” and instead made a goal to find lots of little ways to say the same three words.


But this advice isn’t just about marriage—it’s about all relationships, even those in our business and personal lives. Studies have shown that…



To read the rest of this post visit (source of picture as well).



“How Did You Overcome Thoughts of Divorce?”

Mormon wedding


Whenever I have the chance and the situation is right, I’ll ask people who have been married a few years a question that is met first with surprise, then with confusion, then with deep contemplation and finally with wisdom.


The question is simple–but oh, so complex.


“How did you overcome thoughts of divorce?”


I’ve asked this question over a hundred times, and while it seems really probing, it is surprising how much people will tell you if you just ask. 


There are three categories of responses:


1) A handful said, ‘It honestly never crossed my mind.’

2) A few said, ‘I divorced them the first time, but as for this marriage…’

3) But most just say, ‘Phew–tough question…’


In the end though, they all tell me that marriage is “hard.”


Five months into marriage, I can say that the only hard thing is staying humble as I beat my wife in Rummikub over and over and over or making sure I don’t overcook the burgers on our Saturday bbq’s or finding a baby to hold during church.


Now I know that most of you married folks are thinking, ‘Ha…just wait.


And I know that things will get hard, but for now we are just enjoying our single married life (all the benefits of being single AND married).


But I know that there will come moments when playing games will seem like a distant memory, bbq’s will be a great time for me to get out of the house and we are going to be looking for some young naive couple to hold our kids during church.


And it is those hard times that yield solid that hopefully, when they come, we are not surprised, but we are ready.


So down to it–the advice.


The advice that I’ve been given most of the time as a result of this question is just as simple yet just as complex:


Just keep going.


Lift your head up from the thorns and see the beauty that is the garden.  


Yes there are hard times, but if you keep perspective that everything will work out, it does.


Now I’ve met a lot of people where ‘working out’ means divorce and I’ve seem many situations that require divorce. Those are not the situations that people are talking about. Nor are they the situations that Dr. Alan J Hawkins, a man who has devoted his life to studying marriages was talking about when he said, “a large majority of individuals in unhappy marriages who hang in there and avoid divorce end up reporting their marriages are very happy a few years later.” (“Should I keep Trying to Work it Out”)


Or, in the words of Jeffrey R Holland, “Don’t give up…Don’t you quit….You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead–a lot of it…You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come” (“An High Priest of Good things to Come,” Oct 1999 General conference) 
I’m grateful for the wisdom of religious leaders, social scientists and the 100+ people who have helped me to see that building up enough momentum during the fun downhill parts of marriage will give you enough inertia and desire to get you through the hard uphill parts as well.