marriage is work. and work is worship.

Last fall, I attended the Influence Conference. I heard Emily Freeman speak, and one of the things she said that stuck with me was, “Write about what makes you cry. Because your tears are tiny messengers from God.”

Gah. So true.

So throughout the months since then, when something has made me cry, I think of it a little differently.

On Sunday night, Ben Affleck won an Academy Award for Best Picture for Argo.

In his acceptance speech, he said, “I want to thank my wife who I don’t usually associate with Iran. I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It’s good. It is work but it’s the best kind of work and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”

I noticed on social media that some thought this meant that the Affleck-Garner marriage was in trouble.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck have been married since 2005 and have three children together. I think to acknowledge that marriage is work, and that they choose to work at it means the exact opposite of trouble.

Because marriage is work. And going into it without knowing that it’s work, will leave you disappointed and wondering what happened to the fairy tale you were expecting.

Why did it make me cry?

Because I thought of my own life. And the things we work on every single day.

We work through budget conversations. We work around busy schedules. We work on giving things up for the other person.

I love to blog, but there are days when I only get two or three hours of awake time with my husband. If blogging means that I can’t spend any time with Todd that day, then I don’t blog that day.

Many of our conversations involve trying to convince our three-year-old to stop talking so Mommy and Daddy can finish talking to each other. And sometimes we may not finish our own conversation until we’re lying in bed. And other times we never finish the conversation at all.

Many of our mornings begin with a small child walking into our bedroom and asking to climb in bed with us to watch cartoons.

We work through adjusting as we live with Todd’s grandmother and recognizing that marrying each other also means being committed to the other person’s family. It is love. It is work. It is worship.

These are not the events of a fairy tale. These are the events of a marriage. And it’s a marriage that we work on every single day. When we realize that our calendars have gotten the best of us and not enough time alone has taken away some of our focus on each other, we work to do something to change that.

Our marriage isn’t perfect. It is work.

But, to me, work is worship. I love my husband and I love our marriage. I love our family and what each member of our family means in our marriage. And without work, we’d be a mess.

We were meant to experience struggles. God promised us that we would struggle. Without those struggles, we’d forget our desperate need for Him.

There is mutual responsibility in marriage, and we have to work each day to live up to that responsibility. And that is when love flows freely. From respect and selflessness and patience and forgiveness.

All the really, really difficult things.

1 Corinthians 13:5

(Love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,Β it is not easily angered,Β it keeps no record of wrongs.

So, that’s my big thank you to Ben Affleck for showing us, in a world of happily ever afters and immediate gratification, that it is normal to sacrifice things and a certain lifestyle for marriage. It is worth it to give up so many of our comforts for the sake of our marriage and for our children.

It’s what God calls us to do, and our obedience is worship.


There’s a big announcement over on the Influence blog today about the Influence Conference 2013!

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  1. Lauren A says

    I loved what he said, too. Ben and Jennifer seem like such a “real” couple, and its nice to see a celebrity saying what so many others in Hollywood probably don’t understand. I’m convinced that most of the people saying that his words meant his marriage was in trouble either have not been married, or have bought into the myth of “fairy tale endings.” Marriage IS work, but it’s the BEST WORK, especially if you and your spouse are both making the effort. I’ve always been a fan of their little family, but now I’m even more impressed.

    And I’m glad I’m not the only one that has to try to convince my 3 year old to stop talking so that I can finish a conversation with my husband! I may have even bribed him with candy a few times…

  2. says

    This is so true. I also loved his acceptance speech and appreciated the fact that he thanked his wife in such a real and honest way. Makes me like both Ben and Jennifer more than I already did! Beautifully written.

  3. says

    Yes, yes, yes, hallelujah, praise be, YES.

    Personally, I think those who sniff at the idea that marriage is work are the ones who may be in trouble. ANY relationship is work & the fairy tale is only 5% of the entire life. Calendars & feelings & office & children & making supper…it’s all work.

    Gorgeous work that is the rhythm of worship, but still work.

    Before Doug & I married, the best advice we received was from my aunt. She said to wake up every morning & decide to love each other, decide to make the marriage work. Because the day we didn’t make that decision, we were in trouble.

    There are some days I want to clobber him over the head. There are some days I think I will never stop kisisng him. There are days where I wonder what the hell I did when I married him almost seven years ago & there are days when I KNOW that I was better at picking a spouse because poor thing, he’s stuck with messy me.

    I loved this post & I love Ben & Jen & I love being married, even when it’s hard.

  4. Shannon says

    Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing. It’s so something that I need to remind myself of every day. I loved this so much!

  5. says

    Erin, I have been reading your blog for years and have not commented much but I wanted to tell you this post is beautiful. It is so true and spot on. My husband is in medical school and on a tough rotation right now, and we are balancing opposite schedules, work, family, and making time for one another.

    • Holly says

      Mary, as someone on the other side of medical school/residency, I want to encourage you to hang in there because it will get better! I remember weekends being the worst because I was the only one of my friends whose husband worked weekends. It was a very lonely feeling! Just wanted to let you know it gets better…still work…but better;)

  6. Nicole says

    Hi Erin,

    I have been a long-time reader of your blog and I am so inspired by your honest take on marriage, kids and just life in general! I too cried when Ben gave his touching acceptance speech and was deeply moved by his honesty. My husband and I are only 3 years into this crazy ride known as marriage, and we truly value when other couples give us an honest portrayal of a real marriage truly is. Thank you for doing that each day with your words.

    Wishing you all the best!

  7. says

    I love this, Erin! Thank you for once again sharing your heart. I remember as a child hearing “if it’s easy, it’s probably not worth doing.” Marriage is hard work but it is worth every second of effort we are willing to put into it. …and I do love the Ben & Jennifer union-so sweet. πŸ™‚

  8. Erin says

    Beautifully written and I couldn’t agree with you more. We’ve been married for 7 years (and just celebrated our tenth Christmas together) and I can say that it is diligent work. But so very much joy. These two things definitely go hand-in-hand. A realistic version of “happily ever after”.

  9. TUWABVB says

    I remember before my dad passed away, he called me in a panic one day. He thought the end was near and he had to speak to me to pass along some important advice….he was worried because I was in the first year of my marriage and I was working around the clock – he explained that my career was important, but that marriage was also work and I couldn’t neglect it either (even though I didn’t receive a paycheck). He said it was the “hardest, but most rewarding, job that I’d ever have.” He also said I had to be in attendance every day without fail.

    I’ve thought about his advice every day since then and I hope that I honor it appropriately. Loved this post! And I too though Ben was providing an extraordinary compliment to his wife.

  10. Jeannie K says

    This is a great post! I wish more people, especially those in the spotlight, would realize what Ben Affleck has realized – that marriage is worth the work and worth fighting for. We need more people to speak up for marriage!

  11. says

    Thank you for this post, Erin! It’s beautiful! As a newlywed who jumped in with both feet forward and gained not only a wonderful husband, but also two little boys, I appreciate you honesty and the advice you’ve shared. Life is so, so busy, but it’s important to remember that the priority and focus we put on our marriage pays off greatly.

  12. says

    Thank you for such a beautiful post. I’ve gone back and forth to my draft of something very similar, but alas there have been more important things to do besides blog and sit in front of the computer!

    Marriage is work, but work with every second!

  13. says

    Oh I am just sitting here nodding my head over and over. Thank you for this post! I’m going to have to share it. Every word is truth. You taught me something in your words. Marriage is work and work is worship. I was wondering where you were going with the work is worship and then at the end you just tied it up in a bow for me and you’re so right!! Working on our marriage is obedience to God and our obedience is worship. I love that. It all comes back to Him.

    It’s posts like these that make me wish we lived closer, so I could have conversations like this with you. I mean it when I say you’re beautiful inside and out. You’re obviously a beautiful woman, I mean, look in the mirror, but your heart for Jesus just shines. That heart of yours is beautiful.

    Love you, friend!

  14. says

    I LOVE this post! There is so much truth in what you have written. Marriage isn’t a fairy tale, where every day ends with a happily ever after. It’s work. It’s completely and totally 100% worth it, but it is work.
    And I totally agree with you that Ben Affleck’s sweet speech to his wife showed the exact opposite of a marriage being in trouble.
    PS – I’m new to your blog. In fact this is the first post I’ve read. What a great one to start on. πŸ™‚

  15. says

    I love this. Thank you so much for this! So SO SO true! It is work. But it is SO worth the work. I like this a lot. Good food for thought today! Thank you!

  16. says

    I LOVE this post and it’s so true. It’s funny that you just posted this because on my into work today i heard that Alan Jackson song on the radio “remember when” and I cried through that entire song on my way to work because every word of that song is true. Yet as hard as marriage can be working on our marriage is one of the most important ways we honor God. A good marriage is perhaps the most important foundation we give our children besides faith in God.

  17. says

    I completely agree. Communicating with someone day in and day out through life’s stresses is difficult., and hard work- especially when you add in romance and children and shared finances. Thank you for this well thought out and beautiful written post.

    Question- I thought you got married the year before me? I did not realized that you have been married since 2005- typo or I am totally wrong?

    • says

      Sorry- Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have been married since 2005 and have three kids. I worded that sentence funny and it sounded like I was saying that I have been married since 2005 and have three kids. I changed it to make more sense. πŸ™‚ That’s what I get for writing in haste.

  18. says

    I so agree with the thoughts and words spoken here. And I totally commend Ben Affleck for his tribute to his wife, Jennifer on such a grand and public occasion. And hats off to Ben too for even being aware of what his words expressed.

    Great post and commend you for picking up on it and writing about it so well.



  19. says

    What a fabulous post, E! Thanks for this. Remembering to accept ALL aspects of your spouse is something we all need to hear… And we need to remember that our spouse has to accept ALL aspects of us (even the crazy) so it evens out! πŸ˜‰ xo

    (PS Not sure what happened, but I just realized that your blog had fallen out of my Reader for some reason so I’ve been missing weeks’ worth of posts! Catching up now!)

  20. says

    I am so excited to meet you and get to know you at Influence this year! Hopefully we’ll have a chance to “meet” before then, too!!


  21. says

    This is a great post, Erin. It’s nice to see Hollywood couples with the same problems as everyday married couples. It truly is work. Even for celebrities.

  22. says

    I didn’t watch the Oscars so I couldn’t cry hearing this comment but boy did it make me tear up reading it! And I can only imagine the press is having a field day with “what this must mean”. Oy. Three years in and I cannot agree more – marriage is tough work! It doesn’t just “do” itself. But it is so worth the sweat and tears!

  23. Margot says

    So beautiful and true, Erin! Thank you for sharing your heart. I agree with you completely. Marriage is precious work, not always out of a fairy tale but worth every bit of effort put in to help it grow. We’ve been through more in our 3 1/2 years of marriage than I ever imagined, but love remains the constant calm in any storm. I am very thankful that we have grown stronger and closer during each trial instead of growing apart. It is abundantly clear that you and your husband have a wonderful marriage full of love, respect, and admiration. Thank you for sharing!

  24. says

    This is a beautiful post, Erin. I’m so thankful, as a single woman, that you and so many others are open and transparent about how your marriages take work, but that that’s what makes them worth it. I see posts like these as preparation for my own marriage!

  25. says

    This is so good! You are SO right about it being work. It’s definitely not a fairytale. I am happy and my husband is happy, but it’s work and we don’t always agree or always have fantastic days. Work, hard work, is the only way it works.

  26. says

    Yes! I totally loved Ben’s speech and it sparked a great conversation between Jim and I about marriage. I love when something like an awards acceptance speech makes me think about bigger things. Loved reading about your thoughts on this!

  27. says

    This is a very well written post. I’ve never really thought about how work is worship but it’s so true. I’ve only been married a year but we’ve been together for 6 years. Relationships take work and commitment. Luckily, my husband and I have our parents for good examples. Both married for over 20 years and never giving on on each other. We’ve definitely witnessed them continually work on their marriage and we intend to do the same!

  28. says

    I was a little confused when people started speculating on Ben Affleck’s marriage after he said that marriage is work. The people who were speculating couldn’t be married. It IS work. And really hard work at that. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t happy work.

    I think Hollywood expects to not sacrifice anything for their wants and needs in marriage and in life. When the truth of the matter is….it isn’t about us. It is about our significant other and children.

  29. says

    Only in Hollywood would an accurate assessment of marriage be questioned!!! I actually teared up during his acceptance speech, especially when he honestly admitted that he’s had to learn to not hold a grudge, and that people have been kind and generous to him with no hope of getting anything out of it. Those are amazing things to say to a room full of people generally notorious for being narcissistic! Yeah, he and Jennifer Garner and those 3 beautiful children are pretty much the best thing out there. Every picture I see of them they’re doing normal things, like farmer’s market or karate class, and they’re always holding hands with their kids or kissing their heads. It’s very special.

  30. says

    What a true post!! My husband and I talk all the time about our marriage and that we will do everything it takes to stay together and show our kids what marriage is truly about. We made a vow, until death do us part. Sure, some days I wan to kill him and some days, he hung the moon; but every single day I thank God for bringing him to me.

  31. says

    I definitely agree with this whole post, ERin. You have a great way of putting into words what I am often thinking!

    Marriage is definitely work. If it wasn’t- we wouldn’t take VOWS to each other!

  32. says

    i just found your blog and i’m so glad i did! i really loved this post. it’s so real. sometimes i feel like bloggers don’t admit that things (marriage for sure) is hard at times. but it’s staying with that love of your life and seeing through the tough times…to get to the amazing ones. thanks for posting this!

  33. says

    You have such a way with words friend and always speak to my heart! We’ve been married 12 years and are still “working”.

  34. Lacey says

    Erin, thank you..thank you…thank you… My heart needed this reminder today πŸ™‚ Marriage is amazing, hard, and glorious…

  35. Erin G. says

    Hi Erin,

    I want so badly to agree with all of the commentors that this was a beautiful post! While I do wholeheartedly agree with your notion that all relationships, including marriage require work, I’m not sure I understand the connection to worship. In no way do I think it’s appropriate to worship a marriage, and hopefully that is not what you were implying.
    I thought 95% of the post was beautifully written, I just don’t understand the connection that working hard on a marriage equates to worship.

  36. says

    Hey Erin,
    The worship part is not about worshipping our marriage. By obeying the Father’s commands and using His Word as a blueprint for marriage, we are worshipping Him. Work is obedience, and obedience is worship. πŸ™‚ Hopefully that explains where I was coming from.


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