The Jagged Journey of Markets and Marriage.

The Stock Market is not for the faint of heart, because it’s not a smooth ride. It’s a jagged journey of ups and downs. Likewise, marriage is not for the faint of heart, because it also is a jagged journey of ups and downs.

We all want our marriage to continually and consistently get better and better. If it were a a graph, we all want a nice, straight line that keeps going up and up. But marriage is not like that. It’s a little more like the stock market. It can be doing well one minute, and then there’s a change or some new information that rocks the boat and causes some jagged dips in the line. In fact, if you took even the best of marriages and plotted their satisfaction and happiness on a graph, the line would be jagged with many ups and downs.

Like the stock market, the key to a strong and growing marriage is not eliminating all the jaggedness so there’s one straight incline of growth. The key to a strong marriage is making sure that, in spite of the ups and downs, the general direction of the marriage is up. It’s not so much about the immediate ups and downs, but about the general trend over a long period of time.

Still, the jagged journey of marriage can easily spook and discourage us. So what can you do when you’re experiencing the jagged journey of marriage?

Focus more on where you’re going than where you are. The important things about stocks is not where they are, but where they’re headed. A stock may be in a bit of a down turn, but if the stock is generally going in the right direction, that’s what you need to focus on.

The same is true in marriage. Sometimes couples can be more focused on their current problems than their overall direction. Marriage can and will be rough and full of dips at times. Don’t focus on making everything right, but rather on making sure the general direction is good.

Despite the jagged journey of marriage…focus on the goal.

Keep doing the right thing, despite the difficulties. Sometimes, when people see the stock market becoming erratic, or starting to dip, they pull their money out and move it somewhere else. Then, if wherever they put their money starts to have the same ups and downs, they pull their money from there and put it somewhere else. Consequently, there is a lot of lateral movement, but they never experience the growth that comes with long term commitment.

So many people in marriage wind up doing the same thing. When their marriage is shaken and they start experiencing some down turns, they pull out too quickly, because they’re not experiencing the immediate returns they feel they should. They assume that the down-turns are the sign of a marriage that’s bad or wrong, rather than a marriage that’s normal. Strong marriages are born out of long term commitment.

Despite the jagged journey of marriage…stay the course.

Don’t let a desire for quick gains keep you from appreciating steady improvement. When the Stock Market dips on its jagged journey, people focus on the size of their current losses, rather than the size of their over all gains. The Stock Market is more about long term growth than overnight success.

The same is true in marriage. When our marriage takes a dip along its jagged journey, we start focusing more on what we feel we’re losing, than on all we’ve gained. We focus more on what our spouse still needs to change, than all the changes they’ve made. What we perceive as wrong in our marriage starts to override what is strong and good in our marriage. In short, our desire for quick gains in marriage causes us to minimize the slow and steady improvements in marriage.

Despite the jagged journey of marriage…appreciate the improvements.

As I said before, marriage is like the stock market. It’s not for the faint of heart. They both can follow a jagged journey. But it’s normal, so don’t let that spook you. In marriage, keep your eyes on the destination, keep investing, and don’t lose sight of the progress you’re making. These things will help you find joy in the midst of a jagged journey.

Is your marriage experiencing a season of jaggedness? If so, on which of the above do you most need to focus? Perhaps you could take your spouse out for a burger and see what they think about all of this. Here’s to hoping you find joy in the midst of your jagged journey. 

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