Luke 20:34  – Jesus said to them, “People who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage.

Gratitude Day 717

It was a cold Saturday morning and I had just finished teaching a class at one of the churches I served at the time. While in the car, I listened to a therapist talk about marriage. Hubby Rick and I had been married a couple of years. By then, we had discovered that marriage required work. Regularly. As much as we were committed to our relationship, there were certain things where we did not agree. It was easy to question if our marriage was normal. We were a little older when we were married. This meant we are sometimes less flexible. We had chosen to get married because we felt God had brought us together and were committed to making it work.

The therapist on the radio mentioned an interesting statistic. He said that 80% of the issues a couple disagrees upon are never fully resolvable. At first, I felt a sense of relief. We are just like other couples! Our list of unresolvable issues sometimes felt overwhelming because they were never fully resolved. The good news? Other couples struggle with this as well. But then I realized that we would spend our entire marriage dealing with these issues over and over and over.


But, as least our marriage was normal.

Honestly, Hubby Rick and I have had very few big arguments in our marriage. I’m not sure that I can recall the last one. Do we have areas where we disagree? Don’t see eye-to-eye? Struggle through? OF COURSE! The difference is we have chosen to not let these topics define our marriage. We know there are certain things that will never be fixed. Yes, these areas bring us heartache and stress. But we have also agreed that they are not going to be a reason to end our marriage. Period.

Maybe I just needed to hear that our struggles are similar to other couple’s struggles. They are normal.

So, what does a normal marriage look like? Every relationship is different. Your normal will only be normal for you and your partner because each person brings a different set of experiences, feelings and personality traits into their marriage. What is normal for one relationship will not be the same as the next. Some people are more willing to change but most people are leery of changing who they are for someone else.

Are there areas where couples tend to struggle? YES. Today, I’m sharing seven areas where I think couples offer differ. If you struggle in these areas with someone, it’s OK. This is normal.

  • You Enjoy Spending Time Alone

For many years of our marriage, Hubby Rick and I did not see each other every day of our marriage. It’s just the way it was. Because of our work schedules and our choices to help care for our parents, it was not feasible to physically see each other every day. Only in the last few years have we usually had a meal together every day of the week. We have never felt our relationship was threatened because of the amount of time we spent apart.

Both independent people before we got married, we were used to time alone. This did not change after we were married. Yes, we LOVE to spend time together. We plan joint things to do together. Nonetheless, we are more than comfortable doing our own thing. Or doing things with our own friends. Now that Hubby Rick is retired and home a lot more, we still have parts of our days where I do my thing and he does his thing. We consider this a normal part of our relationship.

  • One person overseas more of the finances than the other

While both people in a relationship have a vested interest in the couple’s assets, there is usually one person who handles the day-to-day finances. This is just how it is. It’s normal.

Ideally, yes, both people would sit down and pay bills and review finances together. Truthfully, we are not good at this. I’ll share the big picture with Rick and discuss anything that would be different than our regular expenses. But he is OK with not being involved regularly. Sometimes, I wish he would take more interest. I have things written down if he needs access without me. We meet with a financial planner regularly which provides an opportunity for us to review our status together.

Sometimes, one person will be more of a spender and the other more of a saver. Partners need to reach an agreement on what is acceptable in terms of spending and what isn’t. Rick and I have always made sure we each had a little bit of spending money for ourselves to do with as we wish. This has provided a way for us to take care of our differences without affecting the other person.

  • You Like Different Things

Hubby Rick and I have a lot of similar interests. Our faith and worshiping together is at the top of the list. Exercise and taking care of our bodies. Doing things with our grandkids. Watching a UW-Madison Badger sporting event. But we also have our own interests. Yes, I will go for a motorcycle ride with him about once a week, but I have no interest in going EVERY SINGLE DAY when the weather is nice. It really is more relaxing for him if he does this alone. Rick golfs with a couple buddies whereas I prefer having lunch with a friend. Rarely do we exercise together because we choose different activities.

I like that we have different interests. It gives us something to talk about and share later on. We also have an understanding that if it is really important for the other person to join in on something that is important to you, be clear in sharing this before the event. We learned this the hard way and now avoid it.

  • You Have Different Schedules

We lived this one for decades. Literally. Rick worked nights for our entire marriage. Now that he is retired, his body still likes his previous schedule.

This means I try not to schedule lots of online meetings in the morning or invite people over before noon. We both stay up later but I get up earlier. We accepted early in our marriage that we would not be a couple that goes to bed together and get up at the same time. And it is OK.

  • You Have Different Styles of Discipline/Parenting/Reacting to Others

It’s no secret: Rick is the “fun” grandpa. I love that he is the fun grandparent. The kids also know that I am the one who has drinks and treats and gum with me. Rather than get frustrated with our different styles, we highlight them and build off of them. Rick lets them try things that I think are a little over the edge. They come to me when they want to do something that is more studious or involves the computer. Neither grandparent is better than the other. We’re just different. This is normal.  

  • You Find It Difficult to Talk About the Really Big Stuff

There are times when it is absolutely necessary to discuss big stuff going on in our lives. Other times, it’s really hard. When there is a lot going on in the moment, we also know these difficult topics cannot be the only things we talk about. There has to be some fun things to chat about as well!

We have discovered that we can talk about a challenging topic for only so long … and then, we need a break. These topics cannot be the first thing we talk about in the morning. We also try to discuss these things not at the end of the day when one of us is tired. One day, one of us more is willing to chat about hard things and the other person feels distracted. We have come to respect that we work through our thoughts easier when we are both able to commit to the conversation.

General communication styles between men and women are different. Women process information while they are speaking aloud and sharing it. Contrast this with men who mull it over internally and only share their conclusion with no back story. Women find it difficult to follow a guy’s thought process because we want the logic that helped determine the final result.

Dealing with challenging topics takes time, energy and effort. Being on the same page about these things needs space. Give your partner time to work through these things together.

  • Your Needs Have Changed

What was most important to you early in your relationship may not be what is most important today. This is normal. And it’s OK. New things have come into your lives. Other things have left. What makes your heart race today is probably not the same as it was earlier on.

While we may understand that our needs have changed, our partner may be aware of this but not sure what your needs are. Share your shifting needs with your partner. Help them understand that they haven’t changed; you have. Doing this can help alleviate a lot of frustration and both partners will feel like they are giving and receiving more to their liking.

While I do believe our marriage is very normal, there are two aspects of our relationship that sets the precedence for everything else. First, we keep faith as the foundation of our relationship. Whether we participate in a joint faith-based activity each day or not, we KNOW this is what holds us together. And we do not take this for granted. Secondly, we are committed to our marriage vows. When we said, “For better or for worse,” we meant it. Period.

Too often, we look at someone else’s marriage and have relationship envy. Please guard your heart against this. Honestly, other relationships have more challenges than you realize. Everyone has some kind of baggage going on in their life, whether they share this or not. Respect a person’s choice about sharing their junk.

Hubby Rick and I believe we were brought together as a couple. Our relationship is far from perfect. We deal with junk regularly. But I also know my husband loves me. Cares for me. Respects me. I want these things in my normal marriage. And I am fortunate they are there.

For the assurance that normal relationships aren’t perfect, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – thank you for bringing my partner into my life. I celebrate his differences from mine, and I pray that I will see these as bonuses to our relationship. May I appreciate the person he is because You created and designed him. I pray we can be OK with a normal relationship that is rooted in You.


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