Marriage: The Best Kind of Work

By Susie Hawkins

At the 2013 Oscars ceremony, winner Ben Affleck (of the film “Argo”) caused quite a stir with his acceptance speech. He expressed his love and appreciation for his spouse’s support and love, as most winners do. But it was his following comment to her (Jennifer Garner), blurted out in a moment of surprising transparency that caused eyebrows to be raised.

I want to thank you for working on our marriage for ten 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.

The Hollywood press was shocked by this blunt admission regarding their marriage. Rumors instantly began to swirl about the Afflecks’ marital state and exactly what Ben’s comments meant.

Anyone who has been married over twenty four hours or has one degree of common sense knows exactly what he was saying. Perhaps he said what he meant, rather than what he meant to say. Either way, he nailed the most important factor in building a successful union – work. It’s not sexy, mystical or formulaic, it’s just plain old hard work. Healthy relationships don’t just happen. They require an investment of time, energy and daily cultivation. Certainly crises can cause marital strain, but usually it’s the quotidian duties and stresses of life that slowly eat away at a relationship.

Marriage can be the hardest work of all, no matter what season it is in. Life has a way of changing us along the way and a marriage must continually adapt to those changes to remain robust and strong.

What kind of work was Ben referring to? Maybe this…

  • Working out small conflicts before they become large ones
  • Catching yourself before slamming the door in anger
  • Agreeing to disagree and not being mad about it
  • Finding time for one another, no matter how inconvenient
  • Making small sacrifices for the good of the other

For believers, marriage is a gospel issue as it is a picture of Christ and His church. Marriage is not only the union of a man and woman, but a union bound by an unconditional commitment to each other and a vow before God. The sacrificial love needed does not come naturally, as we are bent to seek our own fulfillment, not another’s. However, when we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and obedient to His promptings, this kind of supernatural love can show up and empower us to give far beyond our own ability.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… Galatians 5:22-23

These fruits are our tools for this work, Spirit given virtues that enable us to persevere and love well, ”for as long as we both shall live.

Yes, marriage is work. But it’s the best kind of work, as the reward is a solid and satisfying marital relationship.

Ben was right.

How have you seen your hard work in marriage pay off?

Published February 13, 2015

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Susie Hawkins

Susie lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband OS Hawkins. She is the author of From One Ministry Wife to Another: Honest Conversations on Connections in Ministry. She has 2 daughters and 6 grandchildren, keeping her life full of craziness and joy.