Busted Halo

Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.

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July 12th, 2011

Hey, Hollywood, Marriage Isn’t All Puppies and Rainbows


marriage-rainbows-puppies-flashI confess. I love celebrity gossip. I love all those magazines that crowd the checkout aisle at the grocery store. I love the fashion. I love the makeup. I love the gossip. But with kids, our budget made me decide between diapers and Us Weekly. Assuming that the girls wouldn’t enjoy their bums being swaddled in pictures of Alicia Silverstone’s new baby, I choose to go with diapers.

But this past weekend we took a mini-vacation and visited my parents in Houston. So I splurged and bought the juiciest looking mag I could find.

As I flipped through the pages I was not disappointed. Beautiful dresses and gorgeous handbags. The newest trends in shoes. I was almost giddy. But then I started reading about couples that have separated or divorced. While this isn’t new — celebrities not having long-lasting relationships — I read about some couples I thought were going to be together forever. Courtney Cox and David Arquette? When the heck did that happen? I thought they were rock solid. I had to run to the computer and look up Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. just to make sure they were still together so I could feel a little better about the state of marriage in the celebrity world.

I kept reading and found an interview with Blake Shelton about his recent marriage to Miranda Lambert. Ok, this has to be a happy; they just got married. But then they asked him how he had dealt with a previous marriage and divorce. He responded, “Life isn’t perfect so you find what makes you happy and you do it.” That’s it. I threw the magazine across the room.

I hate that. I hate it when people say, “You’ve got to do what makes you happy.” There’s no commitment in that statement. There’s no maturity. There’s no room for another. It’s just plain selfish. Now I know there are situations that come up that are grave enough to warrant separation or divorce as the right course of action. But what I am taking issue with is this idea that marriage is worthwhile only as long as the happiness lasts.

Being married is not about being happy all the time. Actually it means that you will probably have to do lots of stuff that doesn’t make you happy but you love the other person and you do it. Marriage is about binding yourself to another person for the rest of your life and always striving to put your spouse before yourself. Of course this doesn’t mean that you lose yourself, but it’s always a balancing game.

Our marriage has been filled with lots of ups and lots of downs. Some of the ups last a long time and some of the downs last even longer but we believe it is our vocation and we chose it. We made the commitment. Brandon and I have barely started to scratch the surface of what it means to sacrifice for one another. There have been moments in our marriage where I’ve been so mad I could have socked him in the nose. There have even been a couple nights that I’ve cried myself to sleep. And we’ve been married less than three years. I cannot imagine what challenges life holds for us in the years to come.

The key is that marriage takes constant work. We can’t just put our relationship on cruise control. I may not have the same butterflies-in-my-stomach, giggly love that I had for him when we started dating but I love him dearly. But it doesn’t just happen. Both of us have to work to stay in love. It really is a daily decision.

Once during confession I told the priest that I had been particularly uncharitable and resentful toward my husband. The priest gave me the shortest piece of advice I’ve ever heard — change. Don’t be uncharitable. Don’t just complain about it. Do something to change it. Sometimes it only takes a conversation to fix things. And sometimes it takes months of very slow and purposeful change to get back to a good place. But the need to effect change is still the same. If there are problems in our marriage, we need to do something about it.

A recent NYTimes column talks about how recent college grads are constantly told that they need to do what makes them happy. But making ourselves happy rarely changes history. When our only goal is to do what makes us happy, we don’t even begin to understand how much happiness we are truly capable of.

I don’t want to make marriage sound miserable because it’s not. It is really wonderful and really, really hard. But all good things are hard and if people think that marriage is just a bunch of puppies and rainbows and good feelings 24/7 then are they in for a rude awakening.

[As a related aside: I forgot the magazine at my parents’ house but I really wanted to use the Blake Shelton quote. So, for a second, I want you to picture my dad—stoic, strong, not very chatty, Mexican man—picking up the Us Weekly, flipping through it to find the article and then proceeding to read aloud the entire interview to me over the phone, including all the gushy stuff that Shelton said about his new bride. My dad, what a good sport.]

The Author : Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft
Vanessa, a Notre Dame grad, loves the Catholic Worker Movement, Catholic education, and overbearing Mexican mothers, which she may or may not be. She lives in Austin with her husband and five daughters and is a freelance writer. You can find Vanessa at v.kraft.im or follow Vanessa on Twitter @laluped.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Teresa A. Cooper

    I really agree with this article. What I hate the most is when people say that their friendship is more important than their marriage when The friendship is the marriage and the marriage is the friendship and that both are one and the same. I have seen and heard of celebrities say this. It doesn’t make any sense. Celebrities only understanding is the attention they get from the public to sell their image and their talents like singing and dancing. But as far as deep personal understanding of other people and what really truly makes them joyful people I find that they are very shallow. The public is giving them attention by buying the gossip magazines and giving them attention that they crave!!

  • Lindsay

    I read in a book recommended years ago here on BustedHalo that happiness comes and goes, but joy ought to be lasting. All people seek happiness, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but maybe celebrities in particular forget to search for a source of that underlying joy. I’m not always happy, but when I lose my sense of joy, my ability to return to contentedness about life in general, then I know there’s a problem.

  • Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft

    Laura – What a beautiful example of love and sacrifice. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • laura

    thank you so much for writing this piece. my parents have been married for 36 years, and in those 36 years, my mother has suffered with schizoaffective disorder. until recently, it was debilitating. my father “lost” his wife roughly a decade after he married her.

    talk about life not being happy.

    when she was admitted into a state hospital two hours from our home–and lived there for a year–my father drove to see her several times a week. four hours round-trip. because he made a commitment in the eyes of God. in sickness and in health.

    and that was only one of the many times she lived in a hospital, psych ward, or transitional care home instead of OUR home.

    my father knows what marriage is. (and, for the record, my mom is doing REALLY well and has been for the past couple of years–a total miracle!) and as a result, i am determined to take that commitment in the eyes of God just as seriously as my father has.

    it’s not puppies and rainbows. sometimes, it’s decades of psych hospitals, medication, and sacrifice. but true, deep love is just that.


  • ck

    Most movies end (walking into the sunset) when in fact the real living of life has just started. Nice piece of writing. Enjoyed it!

  • AnitaH

    I love that this was not just about marriage but the “happiness culture” in general that has become prevalent the last few years. What unhappiness this movement has caused! I recently was watching the movie “Metropolitan” and one of the characters had this line “The last way to be happy is to make it your objective in life”. How true! Right now I settle for just a little bit of peace and quiet and the strength to get through each day the best way I can.

  • Mandy

    Vanessa, I love your pieces! You have a way of being honest and compassionate at the same time. Keep up the great work and may God continue to bless your marriage.

  • Mary Ann

    What a great article! Thank you Vanessa for writing this.
    And your dad loves you a lot.

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