Those of you married 20 + years, what were the hardest years of marriage for you?

I have been told that marriage gets the most difficult after the birth of the second child and when the kids are young, it’s rough.

I have also heard that it gets tough again when raising teens.

Which stage was the hardest in your marriage?

For me, by far, the hardest years have so far been when my youngest child was born until he turned 3, so years 3-6.

For us it was definately the time when our youngest was a toddler (so about 6 or 7 years in). However, it had to do more with the fact that my husband was ill, and then changed careers which meant a few years of working and studing at the same time.

I got excellent advice from an older, wiser wife who told me never to start into the “can you belive what my husband did!” conversations where women get together and tear down their husbands. I never have since then and it has made a world of difference!

me too. I have also stopped doing that, including on CAF. You guys havent’ heard a peep about my marriage woes in years :slight_smile: I mean what’st the point? No one is perfect and we all make mistakes and if you badmouth your husband, everyone will remember it and will think less of you and your husband.

That’s where I am right now. In some ways I’m really relieved to read this. We have a few extenuating circumstances, but I’m also glad to know that “it’s not just me.” :o

I’m looking forward to reading this thread.

I’ve not been married for quite a year yet, but I think this is especially important. I don’t think we’re in the honeymoon stage still; we have plenty of disagreements, and there have been hurt feelings on both sides from time to time, but neither of us get involved in this sort of discussion with people outside the marriage.

What I have found helpful is to occasionally–key word occasionally–when I genuinely don’t know what to do or what is right in a situation, to go to my best friend, who has a) been married a lot longer than I have, b) is a strong Catholic, and c) will not tear my husband down, but will offer constructive advice and perspective about a situation if I need it. She knows that if she sees that I am in the wrong on something and says so gently but honestly, I’ll be grateful to her for it, and she can make suggestions of ways to handle certain situations that I might not have thought of, while I know that if I were to go to her and describe behavior that put my husband in a bad light, she wouldn’t let that change the way she thought of him or treated him because, well, we can all be jerks once in a while. :stuck_out_tongue:

Saying “I do” lol

carry on

I’m not sure who is telling you these “words of wisdom” because they are all baloney. I’ve been married 26+ years and I would say probably the hardest would have been the first year and there wasn’t any children around. I have teenagers and we haven’t found them to be any harder than the toddler years or after the 2nd one etc. (we have 3 kids). Each marriage is different. Usually after you have your first child, the other that follow are easier because you have already adjusted with the first. I wouldn’t worry about the teenage years, take one year at a time with your family and God will see you through the rest.

Each year of marriage brings different challenges and are hard in different ways. Would I trade any of it? Nope.

Personally, any of our difficulties didn’t have to do with how long we’d been married, or how old our children were.

I feel the same, my husband and I have been married for 3 years and we have 2 kids and one more on the way and don’t have a lot of money. We are always tired and stressed out and have just started doing “happy hour” where we sit down at the table for about 45 mins to an hour and just pretend like we’re on a date and talk about our days and lay out what we need to do for the week and whatnot and it has been helping tremendously. We do it about 3-4 times a week and make sure to pray together at night and just hope it gets a little easier when we’re making a little more money or when they kids get a little older…by then we’ll probably have more little ones though, lol. O well.

Been married forty years. For my husband and me,I would say the first five years were really tough,we fought constantly,had a family right a way as well as buying first home and starting our own business.

I think there is a difference in the relationship between my wife and I and the “work” we are doing together.

Things can be falling apart around us, and the work is hard, but if we are connected and close in our marriage, the hardness of the task doesn’t really matter. The times that are bad is when the the work is hard and we drift apart, doing our tasks and not taking the time to reconnect over coffee or whatever.

I think most people are posting about the hardness of the work. For us, the little kids were the hardest. Teens are easier, until they go college - then the money pressures can come into play.

But, seriously, if you are together, operating as a team, you can get through anything.

We have found the teen years to be the most trying. The combination of raging hormones, peer pressure, increased self awareness, the pull towards adulthood in a toxic social and cultural environment is a challenge even for the best reared children. Our children made it through with a deepened Catholic faith and a heightened sense of family values. Still, there were a lot of rough spots and speed bumps but we all survived. A good foundation of lived core values in childhood is very important and, I fear, will become even more so. A tip: my wife and I ended each day in our forty plus years of marriage with a glass of wine and each other no matter how stressed or tired we were in our two career marriage.

Whenever there wasn’t enough money, which includes now, and I’m 71 and never thought I’d be in this position. It’s very unnerving and a confidence-wrecker.


The single hardest year was the year just before our oldest child was born. This was the only time I seriously thought of leaving. However, we are almost empty nesters and I see some signs that that will be a rough time too.

Every single year!! lol And still hard! :smiley:

I’m often hearing the first 5 years and when kids are little, it’s tough. Interesting.

My son had colic for 5 months, was a very difficult baby and toddler. He didnt’ become “human” until age 3 lol. That tore my marriage apart. Things are a lot better now, but it’s still hard b/c we have no family help and my husband spends a lot of his time working on our house.

Perhaps our toughest years are behind us already…that would be nice.

Married 34 years, and dated for six years before we got married. We’re 56, so we’ve been together most of our lives.

I agree with robwar about the children and teenagers. If you think about it, if it’s really true that the hardest years are “while the children are young” and “while the children are teenagers,” and you have several children–you will have a hard time for much of your marriage! Yucko! That’s no way to live!

So even though I wouldn’t call it “baloney,” as robwar did, I agree that these aren’t necessarily the hardest years.

We loved all the years that our children were at home with us, and we love it now that they are on their own. We really loved the teenage years. That’s when much of the good parenting that we did while our girls were young paid off hugely! And yes, I know that this sounds like bragging–guilty as charged! We did a durn fine job of bringing up our daughters! A lot of decisions that we made about child-rearing before the girls were even conceived turned out to be GOOD decisions that made our years with our children very happy years.

Yes, I am aware, and so should you be, that sometimes, even if you do a durn good job with your young children, your teenagers STILL rebel and turn your family upside down and inside out. It’s not your fault. It just happens. Don’t ever blame yourself for your teenagers’ sins.

(In case anyone is wondering, we decided to use Dr. James Dobson’s child rearing principles, and they worked just the way he said they would work, and we loved using his techniques, and loved the results, and both our daughters say that they will use the same techniques on any children of their own.)

While they were teens, our girls were involved in all kinds of interesting and fun activities, including music, theater, and of course, figure skating. The teen years were the years of being part of an internationally-ranked elite synchronized skating team in the nearby Big City, which meant a 65-mile (one way) commute into the Big City several times a week. This made life very busy, but also lots of fun.

My mother (RIP) used to say that our girls lived more life in their first 16 years than most people live in a lifetime.

Those years were also the years that both sets of grandparents were not only alive, but fairly healthy (although my poor mother was invalid with arthritis). Also, the great grandparents were still alive, but they started dying while the girls were young teens–we were always so grateful that we made the decision to move back to Northern Illinois so that the girls would actually KNOW their great-grandparents.

And these were the years of boyfriends and proms and dates and dances, and we enjoyed all those lovely years! My younger daughter started dating a young man when she was just 14, and they stuck together all through their teen years and into their early 20s, and finally got married five years ago, and they’re still happy and in love. We knew way back then, when they were so young (and a lot of people were saying, “They have no business dating when they’re so young!”) that these two were a good match. We’re glad we didn’t try to break them up and make them wait to fall in love.

So don’t dread the teen years. They’re fun!

The hard years for us have been any of the years that my husband’s clinical depression rears its ugly head. But our vows were “in sickness and in health.” We just hunker down and do whatever is necessary to get through the hard times while waiting for a good counselling routine and med regimen (anti-depressants) to take effect and help him get back to “normal” again.

And I agree with the poster above who said that anytime money is tight, things get hard. Again, you just hunker down and work your way through it. That’s what ramen noodles are for, although someone needs to invent Ramen Noodles for the Elderly, which are low-salt, low-sugar (difficult because the pasta is all sugar!), low-calorie, and high fiber, high anti-oxidant, and high energy!

We recommend that all married couples expunge the word “divorce” from their vocabulary. It should become as unthinkable as murder. For us, divorce was never, ever, EVER an option, just as killing each other wasn’t an option. (I do realize that in the cases of the three As–abuse, addiction, and adultery–divorce is sometimes, tragically, the only option for a spouse who wishes to remain alive).

My husband and I are both dread our elderly years. We have lost both of my parents, and that makes us very sad and lost-feeling. We will probably lose my husband’s parents in the next 5-10 years, and that’s so sad to think about. We hate losing that whole generation of people who raised us. Neither of us wants to become old and feeble, although both of us are slowing down, stiff, and weary and that scares us. The idea of smelling funny, wearing Depends, using a walker, and saying, “Eh? Speak up, please!” scares us. And we don’t want to become hoarders with a house full of precious “junk” that we can’t bear to part with, but that puts us in danger of being crushed when it tumbles onto us. And of course, we don’t want to be diagnosed with some awful disease that will eventually kill us.

SO if any older couples have any words of encouragement to reassure us, we would greatly appreciate it! :slight_smile:

I hope this is encouraging to married couples. Remember, marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. Run a wise race and pace yourselves.

It changes depending on circumstances.
The first 5 were very hard. No kids, we both worked.
After 24 years it is better in some ways, worse in others.
Bad health (physical or mental) can cause much havoc.

We’ve been married about 20 years. We have teens and toddlers now, as well as a child in college. And a few kids in between. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I think that our hardest time was when we were expecting number 7 and building a house. When I really think about it, the reason why the marriage was difficult at that point was that we had no time to spend together. Maybe that is the reason why people are saying it is tough when their kids are very young. We have tremendous stresses right now, 4 kids still below the age of reason and a few teens (below the age of reason :slight_smile: ) We have a job loss looming, and are wondering what major changes we’ll have to decide on to hold it all together, and we’re in the red every month as it is.

Do we fight? Yup. It’s inevitable with all that is going on. But we’re smart now, after 20 years of marriage. At the end of the night we curl into each other to fall asleep. Every night. It’s enough. We don’t need to talk everything out all night long. But we do need to have contact - it says I love you, this is tough - but we’re going to pull through it together.

If you are in your early years, try it. Don’t worry about reconciling first, just make sure you have that hug. You were probably just fighting because you are tired anyway :wink: The not talking part can be important too - save the serious talking for during the day.

I just read about Dr. James Dobson. I agree with all of his principals. I think parents have moved away from this style of parenting and are doing their children no favors.

Thanks for sharing.

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