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"Why is it so difficult to make marriage work?"

Dr. Steven Mintz wrote a post over at Psychology Today entitled "Why Marriages Are So Difficult To Sustain."

In this post, he describes four sources of tension that contribute to the difficulty in sustaining marriage and marital commitment. I will summarize those points here. A link to the full article is provided above.

1) Marriage emphasizes commitment and commonality between partners, while at the same time, there is the desire for each partner to seek personal self-fulfillment.

2) Intimacy--whether physical, sexual, emotional-- is integral to marriage, and it also has social and economic functions that have the potential to strain a marriage.

3) Marriage is a psychologically intense relationship wherein conflicts take place over significant issues. What can follow is a clash between partners over who has the power, authority, and makes the decisions.

4) Expectations of marriage have increased, while the social supports for marriage have decreased.

Dr. Mintz concludes that the ultimate source of marital stress does not come from any one individual. Rather, the stress comes from the structural, embedded stresses and circumstances of everyday life.

A lesson to take away from this post is that marriage--like all relationships--requires work and effort. There's no way around it. Simply doing nothing with the hope that everything will somehow get better won't make marriage any easier.

Now that you know what these tensions are, ask yourself what tensions you see in your own relationship and have a conversation with your partner about what you can do about it.