I read an article today about marriage that caught my attention. At first I thought it was mocking the institution, but soon realized it was standing up against those who believe marriage is an outdated idea.
One of the central themes of the article was that marriage requires work. We have been tricked in our modern world about this idea of romance that when it's true love everything falls into place with no work required. We are continuously told by this love-perversion ideal that when things aren't perfect without effort, then something must be wrong.
To make this point, the article talked about how every day would be a struggle. Perhaps it would be small or perhaps magnanimous, but every day would present a challenge. I really like the examples given, especially the small things - because I think this is where most of us fail. When something huge happens, we recognize it, muster up and cope. It's the small day-to-day challenges that grind us down, where we start to justify our self-entitlement for something better.
One example of "work" in a marriage was just being cheery and pleasant to your spouse, even without that first cup of coffee. It sounds silly and oafishly simple, but those partnered up know it is anything but easy. While the behavior can become a habit and therefore eventually not difficult, being nice begins as work.
But this got me thinking about habits of niceness - and not just towards my wife. Being a courteous person towards others requires work too. Just as there are times we have to resist the urge to say something nasty to our spouse, so it is with coworkers, associates and even other drivers on the road. Being nice is work!
Just as there is a payoff for practicing good behavior and for keeping proper manners in a marriage, the same is true in society. But we don't often see it that way. We tend to think like the false-love story that when things get hard, something must be wrong. Maybe not. Perhaps life, like a marriage, requires work to be successful.