In a new book called Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting The Rules, author Pamela Haag argues that there are five types of “modern marriages” and most of them suck. They suck, she says, because in this age it isn’t so much love and compatibility that keep spouses together as much as it is security and children. You know your marriage sucks, or is only “semihappy,” as she calls it, if you “wake up worried about divorce. Or if one minute you can’t imagine staying in your marriage, and the next minute you can’t imagine leaving.”
And if you’re wondering: yes, Haag is married, and yes, she includes her marriage as one that isn’t exactly thriving.
“‘I have a nice marriage, a lovely husband, but you never know. [Some] days and [some] moments I think that this could very well be the last year of our marriage,” she writes in the book.
Naturally, since Haag isn’t terribly happy in her marriage, she knows that every other marriage in the world is the same. Well, maybe not exactly the same. There are, after all, five kinds of sucky, or “semihappy” marriages out there she has discovered. (To be fair, she did use more than her own marriage as a study; she also researched 2,000 other not-so-happy couples.) After the jump, read her description of the five types of modern marriages and see if yours fits any of them.
The Five Modern Marriages
THE SEMIHAPPY MARRIAGE
According to Marriage Confidential: ‘Mostly you live with genuine ambivalence and indeterminacy: One minute, you feel that your marriage is a good, solid thing; the next, you resent it and you think, how can I live with this person anymore?’
THE PARENTING MARRIAGE
Ms. Haag writes: ‘Children are at the center of a family now. Go back to the Fifties and husbands and wives had many different roles… Today, parenting is the sole priority… It crowds out other functions.’
Where a wife works a corporate job that she doesn’t necessarily like in order to fund the pro-golfer or musician dreams of her ‘Tom Sawyer’ husband.
ED MCMAHON SYNDROME
Named after the Eighties actor and comedian whose catchphrase was, ‘You are correct, sir!’, M.s Haag is referring to a spouse who is so eager not to rock the ‘semihappy’ boat he or she will agree with just about anything.
An uncomfortable limbo between marriage and divorce that emerged during the recent recession. It defines couple that might want to divorce but can’t afford to do so, or a separated couple that are still cohabiting.
So, there you go! Five types of modern marriages and not a one of them sounds healthy or very happy. I would argue that Haag’s description of modern marriages doesn’t sound anything like mine at all, but she’d probably tell me to give it ten years and a coupla kids. So, what about you who already have ten (or so) years and a coupla kids? Does your marriage sound like any of Haag’s five descriptions?
[via Daily Mail]
Coughla June 7, 2011, 12:10 pm
Well that’s nice and depressing. I guess misery really does love company.
Amy June 7, 2011, 12:18 pm
Mine was the workhorse wife marriage, and before that probably it was the semi-happy marriage and maybe before that the Ed McMahone Syndrome marriage (all to the same husband) – and perhaps before that it was somewhat happy – perhaps… And now I’m quite happily divorced.
And No Wendy – If you both have your marriage and each other as a priority – it is very unlikely that you will find yourself in one of these marriages 10 years and 2 kids down the road… but both people have to put effort into keeping the marriage and relationship a positive experience in your life. I imagine that you and Drew will be even closer 10 years and 2 kids down the road than you are right now.
Landy June 7, 2011, 12:20 pm
Sorry, but what a waste of perfectly good trees.
Hana June 7, 2011, 12:42 pm
Totally. Just no. I feel bad for people who are unhappy in marriages then buy and read this crap! It was your relationship, not how all marriages are…
Elizabeth June 7, 2011, 12:21 pm
Don’t we all sometimes think “omg! why!?” when our SigFig leaves their dirty laundry all over the floor or a cereal bowl with dried-on Cheerios on the coffee table? Doesn’t automatically make the relationship “semi-happy.”
SpaceySteph June 7, 2011, 12:34 pm
Yup because there’s the sixth marriage type: “Perfect.” If either of you is not perfect and makes a single mistake during the length of the relationship, you obviously are only semi-happy. Two imperfect people can never possibly be happy.
Sorry, this book sounds ridiculous. I would believe it if she listed at least one type of happy marriage, but to suppose that all marriages are unhappy ignores actual happy married couples I know of (who have been married 20+ years and have kids).
_jsw_ June 7, 2011, 12:38 pm
Agreed – and there are a lot of other bad marriage types, and a lot of mostly happy ones.
Not only do I think she’s written about too small of a subset, but I think she’s grouped things in an odd way. For example, “workhorse wives” is surely a tiny subset, smaller than “workhorse husbands”. But she includes it, while leaving out “cheating spouses”.
She’s going for publicity – which we’re giving her – by playing to what works. I have to give her credit for that, and I doubt she’ll do any real harm and will make a fortune in the process.
SpaceySteph June 7, 2011, 1:18 pm
Well you can’t write a book about workhorse husbands, thats been going on for 100 years and describes probably half of the relationships out there. Including my parents, who I would classify as a happy couple.
They raised 3 kids, the last of which is now in college. Dad worked long hours, mom raised us. And now they have successfully made the transition to empty nesters without freaking out, getting cosmetic surgery/muscle cars, or divorcing. Sounds like success to me!
Chasity June 7, 2011, 12:23 pm
I have been married 19 years next month. We have two kids ages 17 and 14. NONE of those even come close to my marriage. We are very happy with our marriage, we are together all the time, we live together, work together and play together. Not only do I love my husband I actually LIKE him too! I think you don’t see many “likes” in marriage today. But it’s not always easy, sometimes it can be very hard. Honesty and communication is the key! And never both fall outta love at the same time 😉
_jsw_ June 7, 2011, 12:23 pm
Hmm. Mine only fits two of the five. I guess things are better than I thought!
kdog June 7, 2011, 12:24 pm
I do honestly believe that a lot of marriages are pretty unhappy and it’s not a bad thing to look at that, but dear lord she can’t really be saying that these are the only options available?
_jsw_ June 7, 2011, 12:26 pm
Of course not… but if you can’t come up with something “new” and easily described, no one will notice your “controversial” book!
Renee June 7, 2011, 12:37 pm
My marriage is happy. We know there are many things we can’t control, our youngest for example finally sleeps through the night after three years and our parents are getting old, then the economy. My marriage doesn’t suck, my marriage is the remedy when things suck.
Nikki June 7, 2011, 4:46 pm
“My marriage doesn’t suck, my marriage is the remedy when things suck.”
Love it! That’s what a marriage should be like.
Bethany June 7, 2011, 12:42 pm
A long time ago in a conversation about my marraige my mom told me that there were years she’d wished she wasn’t married, and that things were hard, but her love for my dad and her family carried her through to the good times. My parents have been married for 38 years, and while I’m not privy to all the details of their relationship, I would never classify them as any of those 5. Sure, there were hard times, but I think in a healthy, loving relationship the hard times don’t define the relationship.
I think it’s impossible to classify ANY relationship (love, friendship, parent/child) as one of 5 options.
Jessika June 7, 2011, 12:56 pm
I’ve always hated when someone decides they’re an expert on something, not to mention generalizations (the author is miserable so she decides everyone is).
I’ve been married nearly 4 years, lived together 3 years before that, we have a 3 and a half year old and a 6 week old.
Sure, there have been not so nice moments, but the good always outweighs the bad, and of course couples have to work through problems, both within the couple and external issues (in the last couple of years I’ve had a breast cancer scare, my MIL died of cancer last year, my 2nd pregnancy started off rough, I was 2 months on bedrest, etc so it hasn;t been the easiest of times! but we’ve made it so far, and I truly think that we as a couple are stronger than ever!
Do I wish my husband would do some things differently? Sure! (would it kill him to pick up his clothes or rinse the sink after shaving? eew)
Does he wish I’d do soe things differently? I guess so, as well (I’m a bit more laissez-faire than he’d like about housework), but everything is worth it when I see him and my heart still skips a beat like the 1st time I saw him, or the special times with our 2 princesses. :o)
WatersEdge June 7, 2011, 1:05 pm
1) People expect WAY too much from marriage. What the hell is wrong with people where they feel like their marriage (or relationship) should always be mutually beneficial and completely happy, otherwise it’s a worthless farce? I hate to rag on Americans, but we definitely have this expectation that we are all supposed to be happy 100% of the time, and anything less is failure. Moods ebb and flow for everyone. There are good days and bad for everyone. If people approached their careers like they did their relationships, we’d all be unemployed. Think about what we expect from marriage, compared to what we expect from our friendships, our hobbies, our livelihoods, our children. In every other domain, we expect some give-and-take. For example, I go running. Some days, it sucks. Some days, it’s exhilarating. Some days, I twist my ankle. That’s how EVERYTHING is.
2) I have no tolerance for this self-absorbed self-actualization-is-the-most-important-part-of-existence bullshit. People should be happy that someone loves them enough to pay half the mortgage and take care of them when they’re sick, and worry less about if that person says “yes” too often or occasionally contemplates divorce. Your permanent happiness is NOT the most important thing in the world. Go volunteer at a battered women’s shelter or a homeless shelter and remember what true hardship is. Life is sad and lonely enough without picking apart your spouse or your marriage for being less than perfect. Go appreciate the love in your life. And if you feel like there’s not enough love in your marriage, the answer is not always to demand more or walk away. Sometimes if you give more love, you get more love.
Amy June 7, 2011, 1:51 pm
Sometimes if you give more love, you get more love. And sometimes not. The women I know that are unhappy in their marriages or are divorced aren’t flighty and don’t seem to have unreasonable expectations. Sometimes you can give and give and give love and if you don’t get any back – the love runs out. If both people keep the marriage and each other as a priority – the petty frustrations of dirty laundry on the floor etc. still can cause frustration. But these aren’t the people that are thinking of leaving or that think their marriage is unhappy – these are the people that are happy with their relationships and are human and get annoyed some days.
It seems to me that many happily married people think that unhappily married people, or divorcing couoples just don’t deal with the minor day to day frustrations very well. I wish they’d remember that you never really know what goes on in someone’s home – and perhaps be a little less judgemental. Most people are pretty good at putting on a good front in public, even if they are just miserable at home.
WatersEdge June 7, 2011, 2:13 pm
Well, I didn’t say that WOMEN should give more love while MEN sit idly by. Both parties need to work at a marriage, and if one person won’t work at it, there’s not much that the other can do. Why did you jump right to women in unhappy marriages who need to give more love? I didn’t specify gender.
I didn’t say that divorcing couples are all lazy in their marriages, or that they don’t work hard. Some people are a terrible fit and shouldn’t stay partnered. My rant wasn’t anti-divorce. I was critiquing the modern and popular notion that marriage is supposed to be an endless source of fulfillment and joy, and anything less is an unsuccessful marriage. People have enormous expectations of their marriage, and I think that when times get tough in life, people expect their marriage to buoy them from sadness like it did during the untouchable high of the courtship phase. That’s not realistic. Marriage is only one part of a married person’s life, but I think it gets held up to the ideal and falls short much more frequently than other types of relationships. I’m simply advocating for moderate expectations, and seeking fulfillment outside of your marriage as well as within it.
WatersEdge June 7, 2011, 2:20 pm
For example, when’s the last time you heard someone say “My best friend doesn’t call me every day, even though I tell her I want her to. She’s not meeting my emotional needs. And I like to go shopping, but she always wants to watch football. I’m gonna dump her and go find a new best friend”, or “My kid’s manners aren’t nearly as good as your kids’ manners. And my kid doesn’t sleep well, and she may have some learning issues. I’m going to give her up for adoption and start over”, or “Sometimes I really love my career, but other days I’m just not sure it’s for me. I’m just not in love with it like I used to be. It’s stable and comfortable, but it’s not exciting, y’know? I’m gonna quit and go on unemployment”.
We take the good with the bad in other aspects of our lives, but marriages are supposed to be perfect OR ELSE YOU ARE A DRONE WHO HAS SUCCUMBED TO THE ANTIQUATED CHAINS OF MARRIAGE WHO IS MISSING OUT ON A CHANCE TO GO TO INDIA AND SOUL-SEARCH AND THAT WOULD BE THE SADDEST THING EVER.
mcminnem June 7, 2011, 3:04 pm
So much love for this. We all kind of need to get over ourselves some days.
Maracuya June 7, 2011, 3:14 pm
Love this comment. The last paragraph made me laugh out loud, too.
kerrycontrary June 7, 2011, 4:28 pm
I agree with everything you said! And to add to it, when has marriage become the end-all-be-all-people-are-only-happy-in-life-because-of-their-marriage. Get some hobbies! Hang out with your friends! and stop making marriage the sole source of happiness.
Amy June 7, 2011, 3:52 pm
Oh I didn’t jump right in to women in unhappy marriages that need to give more love – I know women that are divorced, not men – so that’s who I referred to. And perhaps you didn’t say ALL divorcing couples are lazy – but you come across pretty judgmental. And really – are there SERIOUSLY that many people that buy into the “marriages are supposed to be perfect OR ELSE YOU ARE A DRONE WHO HAS SUCCUMBED TO THE ANTIQUATED CHAINS OF MARRIAGE WHO IS MISSING OUT ON A CHANCE TO GO TO INDIA AND SOUL-SEARCH AND THAT WOULD BE THE SADDEST THING EVER.” attitude??? No way – I’m not buying it.
I have plenty of friend that are really happy in their marriages – they get annoyed about little things – but laugh it off as they joke about it with their friends. The women who are unhappy that I know (and I happen to spend much more time talking about relationships with women than men – so I’m going to say women without trying to start a gender studies analysis – it just simply represents the dynamics of my social circle) – are unhappy about pretty big things. And it truly comes down to lack of commitment and priority in the marriage on at least one person’s part.
I used to be a “Smug Married” myself – I’ve been on both sides of this one – and I think the smug attitude that is so easy to have when you are happily married – is perhaps a bit naive. Or perhaps I’m naive and there really are just tons of jerks out there that are so flippant about being married. How many of these flippant people does everyone know??? I can think of one woman that I know casually… but one person out of however many people that I know well enough to come to one opinion or another is pretty low statistically speaking.
Amy June 7, 2011, 3:55 pm
But I absolutely agree that people shouldn’t be flippant about marriage or have unreasonable expectations. I think that unhappy marriages are much more likely to be caused about the flippant – “I couldn’t care less attitude” of one or other spouse than unreasonable expectations that the institution is supposed to elevate one to a higher place or yada yada yada yada…
WatersEdge June 7, 2011, 7:22 pm
Well it sounds like maybe I hit a nerve with you. To clarify, I’m not talking about you specifically or any of your close personal friends. I’m making general observations.
I’d like to put a hypothesis out there… I believe that a lot of the big issues in marriages don’t start out as big issues. Assuming everyone went into the marriage with good intentions, they start out as small issues. Small disagreements. Taking things personally that aren’t personal, they are just how the other person functions. Feeling unappreciated. Making the other person feel unappreciated. This builds resentment. Have you ever heard of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? You can predict divorce with a high level of certainty if the couple are expressing defensiveness, contempt, criticism, and/or stonewalling. Once couples start exhibiting those traits on a consistent basis, larger issues come into play. People stop being reliable or holding up their end of the bargain. They shut down. They cheat. They burden their partner with most of the work. They spend all the money. Normal people don’t go from blissfully in love to completely broken down overnight in a marriage. It takes time to erode the bond. Marriage requires constant vigilance against the Four Horsemen. It’s people who think marriage will be easy and fun and light, and who then bail when it gets difficult, that I have a problem with. I don’t know anything about your marriage or your divorce so I have no idea if you fall in that category.
And I don’t think that saying “Don’t expect your marriage to complete you, you should expect that it will take work” is what a Smug Married would say. A Smug Married would say “My husband is my world. Don’t worry, you’ll meet someone someday!”
Skyblossom June 8, 2011, 9:56 am
I thing I’ve learned to do is to reach out to my husband with a hug, a pat or a stroke on the arm when we are grumping at each other. It takes away the tension and it was hard for me to learn to do. My husband was always much better at this than I was and set a good example for me about reaching out. Now I pat him or hug him frequently when walking past him, just a simple wordless I love you. It goes a long way toward letting someone know that you value them.
Amy June 8, 2011, 10:30 am
Very well said.
Jess June 7, 2011, 2:42 pm
this is great
Theresa June 8, 2011, 2:36 am
I agree with WatersEdge that many people have unrealistic expectations of marriage. It is not possible for a marriage to be blissful all the time. Inevitably a husband and wife will experience conflict and other problems with their jobs, children and extended family. If a person has poor coping skills, he or she may blame their spouse for their unhappiness and decide to leave the marriage. This happened to my cousin.
I found the dogmatic comments and simplistic solutions of WatersEdge very irritating. When people are unhappy in their marriage, admonishing them that they should be grateful their spouse is helping to pay the bills is unhelpful. Volunteering in a shelter to see how other people have worse problems also does not necessarily lead to the development of better coping skills.
WatersEdge June 8, 2011, 11:31 am
I think so many people see a call to gratitude as an admonishment– “You should be GRATEFUL!” I’m talking about gratitude on a more universal level. As in, find the good in your life and don’t let it out of your sight. Focus on the positive instead of the negative.
spaceboy761 June 7, 2011, 1:26 pm
Public Pearl June 7, 2011, 1:26 pm
Oh, gee, I thought after 14 years my husband and I were happy as ever, but someone who doesn’t even know us has decided we’re deluding ourselves for the sake of security. Well, I should go tell him it’s been fun. Or not, I guess. Thank God there aren’t any kids involved!
El June 7, 2011, 1:28 pm
“They suck, she says, because in this age it isn’t so much love and compatibility that keep spouses together as much as it is security and children.”
I respectfully disagree. Marriage has ALWAYS been about security and children. The idea of marrying solely for love is a modern concept. Marriages only seem more “semihappy” these days because it’s no longer taboo (in most societies) to publicly discuss things like divorce/separation/unhappiness in one’s marriage.
SpyGlassez June 7, 2011, 2:27 pm
I can tell you right off the bat that my grandparents got married for those reasons (he was a widower with a son, she was a widow who had not been able to have kids) and they were together for something like 40 years before Grandpa died of cancer. Had three kids. And that was half a century ago. My great grandmother was part of an arranged marriage because she was an “old maid” and her parents were worried she wouldn’t have kids otherwise. They had 8 kids before my great grandfather died during the Depression. It’s the bullshite that marriage always has to be about our romantic idea of True Love that leads to sucky marriages. People become unhappy when what they thought was love only lasts for the first year, and people are more likely to leave marriages now BECAUSE a woman doesn’t need a man to be secure any longer. And you know what? My grandmother described the arranged marriage of her mother as a happy one, and I would describe my grandparents’ marriage – at least the later years, when he was retired from the military – as happy.
Jess June 7, 2011, 2:43 pm
thats what i was thinking! in what days were marriages all about love??? lol
SpaceySteph June 7, 2011, 3:18 pm
Nobody expected to be “happy” (the way we would define it) in their marriages years ago, or “in love” with their husband. They were just in it for security and children. As they say in Fiddler on the Roof “Even a bad husband, God forbid, is better than no husband, GOD FORBID!”
Now that most marriages are for love (or something like it) then its easy for us to think a marriage owes us more than it does. We EXPECT to be happy in a marriage, and then are disappointed when live becomes about the kids, making ends meet, surviving the day to day- instead of being about the excitement and happiness that the relationship started out being about (before the kids, before the wedding, before life set in).
The people on this site who claim to have happy marriages readily admit that every day isn’t perfect, and the memory of and hope for good times carries you through the bad. I suspect that Pamela and others in these “sucky” relationships are expecting something that no relationship can provide. They expect it to make them feel complete and fulfilled and happy with themselves, and in that they are going about it all wrong.
ncp June 8, 2011, 5:26 pm
Wait… Since when does “being about the kids, making ends meet, surviving the day to day” preclude happiness? Making ends meet, helping your kids grow and thrive, and being able to look at each other at the end of the day and say “that was a pretty good day” (or even “today sucked, we’ll do better tomorrow”) — THAT is what makes a happy marriage.
redessa June 7, 2011, 1:52 pm
I’ve been married 16 years with 5 kids ages 6-13. Are we blissfully happy all the time? No. Are there periods where it feels like all we talk about are the kids? Yes. Does that mean my marriage sucks? HELL NO!
We have a beautiful, functioning family (which a lot more than a whole bunch of people can say). We respect each other, we are commited to each other and we actually like each other! (oh the shock!) Sometimes it takes more work than at other times but that’s how life is. We don’t start looking for ways out when things are rough. And I’m not sitting around thinking things are great one minute and wondering how I can live with him the next – that’s psychotic. I’d go nuts if I were that ambivilant about my life partner.
I’m sorry this lady is in such a bad marriage. Maybe she should do something to make it better rather than trying to drag down everyone else.
DramaQueen224 June 7, 2011, 2:09 pm
Ugh. I have to say, relationships 2-4 all seem like normal phases in a marriage to me. Sometimes you have to focus on the kids more than your partnership. Sometimes one of you (man or woman) needs to financially support the other one. Sometimes you hit a rough patch and one of you needs to just suck it up and agree for the sake of the relationship. Maybe it’s not always 100% perfect, but I’d much rather be married to someone who is willing to do these things than someone who isn’t.
SpaceySteph June 7, 2011, 3:23 pm
Maybe the problem is exactly that. Nobody told these people that these things were necessary- that your relationship couldn’t be like that year you first got married until the end of time. And so the spouse who has to work harder to support the other or drive a few too many carpools instead of get weekly pedicures suddenly feels like their marriage sucks and that they are being used.
I’m willing to bet all marriage sucks occasionally. Accepting that and moving on is how you keep it from sucking permanently.
Sonia June 7, 2011, 2:23 pm
I think its short sighted too because in all relationships at one point you will fit one of these categories. Someone who’s insecure in their relationship will latch onto one of these descriptions and allow potentially minor and/or fixable issues to become larger than they are or – owrse still – concentrate on those issues over the substance of their relationship. Nothing and no one is perfect. And it goes to the idea that someone else can’t make you happy. If you are happy in yourself. then you need to share that happiness instead of expect it from someone else.If the author is semi happy, then she neds to reevaluate her self and see why that is and why she is blaming her marriage for it.
MissD June 7, 2011, 2:40 pm
“The women I know that are unhappy in their marriages or are divorced aren’t flighty and don’t seem to have unreasonable expectations. Sometimes you can give and give and give love and if you don’t get any back – the love runs out.” I agree this happens, but shouldn’t end a marriage automatically, and doesn’t necessarily make the marriage doomed or permanently bad-if both partners are both committed to and working on the marriage. In my marriage, I was the one giving and giving…and when I felt like the love was running out, I TRIED HARDER. That’s what is supposed to happen; like the old saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Unfortunately, it didn’t matter that I was willing to stick it out…because my husband wasn’t interested. He found a long-term girlfriend before we’d reached our first year anniversary, and our divorce will be final right after our second. The problem is, when one spouse is not committed to making the marriage work…it wont’ work. So, if you find yourself in one of the five categories of marriage listed by the author (or phases, which I think fits better, as every marriage hits rough patches), that’s when you work on it and grow together-ideally.
I have to say, I’m surprised at the number of people who feel the author represents only a small portion of society. Though I believe marriage can be happy, I only know of two marriages that are actually good, stable, and have a good chance of lasting. My parents divorced because my dad was a drug addict who refused to get help-after my mom had tried for years to “make it work.” My best friend’s husband is having an affair (I can’t prove this, but I’d bet money on it), out of work for six months, while she works two jobs…and is pregnant. They have no health insurance because her employers don’t offer it, and she’s not sure how they’ll keep a roof over her head. Another friend’s husband had an affair when she was pregnant with their first child…and has also hit on my sister. My ex’s parents have a terrible marriage; he is a cheater and she’s afraid to be alone. None of the unfortunate spouses getting the short end of the stick in these marriages are crazy, irresponsible, or lack a work ethic professionally or personally. And these are only some of the stories I could tell. So I think that saying that a lot of modern marriages aren’t that great isn’t too far off the mark, at least in my experience. I still hope to find a good partner and have a happy marriage one day, but that doesn’t happen for many, many people, and it isn’t always their fault.
callmehobo June 7, 2011, 2:42 pm
I feel so much better reading these comments! I hear so much about unhappy marriages, and I’ve started to worry about wether or not a marriage can even be happy!
Whew. I’m glad to know that it’s not the norm….
MissD June 7, 2011, 3:26 pm
Me too! It gives me hope that I will find a loving, supportive, committed marriage partner one day. I truly want to be married, and believe it can work. I’m glad to have it affirmed by so many other people!
Dave Jay June 7, 2011, 3:30 pm
More psycho-babble poppy-cock trash from (yet another) unsatisfied person who wants to blame their entire miserable existence on someone, but already too dead inside to see her reflection in the mirror. (Is that too subtle?)
-Genuinely Happily Married Workhorse Husband, year 22-
Janice June 7, 2011, 3:42 pm
Well, I have actually read this book and from the comments above it is clear that most of you have not. Wendy, she doesn’t say anyone’s marriage sucks, in fact she is remarkablely non-judgemental, compassionate, and open-minded about the real feelings and difficulties we all face — unlike the nasty judgement I see on this page. She acknowleges upfront that there are happy marriages out there, but what about those of us who aren’t in a perfect marriage? Are we supposed to feel bad about that? Or embarassed? Are we supposed to give up and get divorced? I, for one, am sick of the world telling me that if my marriage isn’t perfect that somehow I suck. I work at my marriage and I know my husband does, too, and it works in a lot of ways, especially for the kids, but it isn’t perfect. To the contrary of what is mostly on this page, I find it reassuring and liberating to learn that I am not alone, and that it’s ok to have an ok marriage.
The rest of you should really take a little time and get informed before you go hurling your judgement around like that.
Dave Jay June 7, 2011, 5:25 pm
Well, my comments were based solely on the snippet provided, as (I assume) were everyone elses. My brash comments reflect that excerpt only… not the entire book.
There IS no “perfect marriage” outside your own expectations. You work and work and work and work on it like a granite sculpture until it looks like what you want, and you learn to accept that it has a few extra chinks in it and some rough spots that will never be completely polished and shiny… but it is, in the end, something you build together. There are times where you might be sculpting an angel on your side while he’s sculpting a race car on his… but that is what marriage is. It’s an eternal work-in-progress between two entangled souls, both chipping away at life with the mutual understanding that no one is allowed to shatter the foundation.
My wife and I have friends and family members who have admitted to being jealous of our marriage… like we just fell into it. Truth is, there were 8-10 REALLY TRYING years mixed in there, but we (eventually) used each setback as an opportunity to build strength. And humor. LOTS AND LOTS OF HUMOR!!! (oh yeah, and Jack Daniels)
You’re not always going to be happy in ANYTHING you do… and I think it is that false expection of (a)I deserve to be happy and (b)it’s your fault if I’m not is what dooms relationships (and careers). If you want to be happy in your marriage, pursue the things that make you happy. As I always say, “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t NOBODY Happy”. Hence, I have a deeply vested (and quite selfish) interest in making sure she is able to find personal success and satisfaction within the “confines” of this marriage. In so doing, I find my own happiness. That’s about as close to a “recipe for happy marriage” as I am willing to suggest.
PFG-SCR June 7, 2011, 5:43 pm
Wow…I think I agree with you, Dave Jay. But, I’ve been outside in mid-90 degree temperatures all day, so my brain is fried…so, I can’t say that with 100% confidence. (j/k)
Dave Jay June 7, 2011, 5:53 pm
Agree? with Me? Whoa… that ain’t right. In that case, feel free to misinterpret something and then slam me for it. That’s the expectation. Try this: Did you know if you just look at every 17th letter in my reply, it spells out “SHUT UP AND OBEY YOUR MAN!”.
PFG-SCR June 7, 2011, 6:05 pm
LOL I actually started to read it on my phone, and I had to scroll back up and double-check that it was really a comment of yours! 😉
I really liked these two points:
– “There IS no “perfect marriage” outside your own expectations.”
– “And humor. LOTS AND LOTS OF HUMOR!!!”
But, I wasn’t joking that my brain is really fried right now, so I’d like to reserve the right to change my mind later, if I so choose.
WatersEdge June 7, 2011, 7:27 pm
I agree with you too, Dave Jay. I was trying to say the same thing, basically. Only I got angry and it came out as a rant.
Janice- I think what I said aligns with what you’re talking about, too. Basically that there’s room in this world for the okay marriage. A marriage doesn’t have to be epic to be successful.
Janice June 8, 2011, 10:40 am
Hi WatersEdge and everyone, thanks for your replys. WatersEdge, what you say *does* align with what I’m talking about (and I appreciate your words!) and the irony is that what you are saying aligns with what Haag says, too. The title of the article here is so misleading and contrary to what Haag is talking about that it has set this whole string off on the wrong course — we’re slamming her when in reality most of us agree with her. I guess I feel strongly about this because she’s being very brave in her honesty about her feelings and her marriage and is observing how people are making things work despite their problems and shorcomings to get *more* out of marriage than the “traditional script” allows. I think that’s great and brave and should be commended. While I might *think* it sometimes, I certainly don’t have the guts to publicly ask “is this all there is?” (Although, I guess I just did. 🙂 )
Skyblossom June 7, 2011, 3:51 pm
I’ll have been married 24 years in August and I’d say we have a happy marriage. We’ve had ups and downs like all marriages but that doesn’t mean we’ve had a miserable marriage. I think it takes mutual respect, mutual commitment and mutual love to work through the down times but when you do it’s wonderful to again hit the good times. You have to learn to speak up in a manner that isn’t insulting or confrontational but that works through issues in a more harmonious way. You have to respect opinions that aren’t the same as yours and not try to change your partner. You have to not get stuck on the irrelevant, like which way the toilet paper roll is turned or exactly where a dish gets put in the dishwasher or the cabinet. You need to save time in the day to just chat and be together so that you keep in touch with each others day to day life. You have to maintain both your friendship and your romance while meeting the day to day demands of life. I think we all settle into routines where we know who will do each chore on each day and we have to be flexible enough to come to a new routine when we have a major life change like a new home, new baby, new job or major illness. We have to be willing to jump in and pick up the slack when needed. We have to realize that when we are no longer happy with the way things are going we have to make changes. Sometimes you realize your marriage is drifting on autopilot and you have to give it a higher priority. Marriage is a mutual work in progress and as long as it remains mutual it can remain happy. It’s up to the husband and wife to make their marriage happy.
bittergaymark June 7, 2011, 8:14 pm
As the outsider looking in… I must say I am often left thinking that most marriages are unhappy. I can’t tell you how many times I am out to dinner or at somebody’s house where the hostility between the two spouses is beyond unnerving. And all I can think is — YIKES! If they are this bad when I am here as a guest, God knows what is said when they are alone…
Seriously, I used to fret that I was alone and blah, blah, blah, but more and more lately, after more and more dinner invitations, I am left thinking that being alone is such a relief.
The REAL irony is that for almost every awkward, make bittegaymark cringe moment — the evening would have been just fine if just one of the people in the relationship would simply just shut the fuck up. Seriously, that is my mantra to those who want happy marriages. Sometimes, you know what? Just, seriously, shut the fuck up. I am often left simply astounded by what one spouse will sometimes say to another. And in my presence, too.
_jsw_ June 7, 2011, 8:57 pm
I think the more likely possibility is that you are such a beacon of raw sexual desirability that both spouses are resentful of the other one cock-blocking them.
PFG-SCR June 7, 2011, 9:01 pm
“I am often left simply astounded by what one spouse will sometimes say to another. And in my presence, too.”
Mutual respect for one another is very important to any healthy relationship, including a marriage. It sounds like your friends don’t have that for one another.
Dave Jay June 7, 2011, 9:09 pm
That’s just a little skit that we married people practice so you won’t come back again and we can go back to having sex every night as usual. 🙂
PFG-SCR June 7, 2011, 9:14 pm
Be honest, Dave Jay – that’s foreplay for those who’ve been married for more than a few years!
Dave Jay June 7, 2011, 11:27 pm
Shhhh! Don’t give away all the secrets of a happy marriage!
Bethany June 7, 2011, 9:14 pm
Ha! Love it!
I’m sure my fiance wishes that were the case!
MissD June 7, 2011, 9:01 pm
I am with you. In an era where non-stop self-gratification and self-exposure are the norm, it’s become appalling what people will say in public. I vowed never to be the kind of wife who denigrated her spouse to others, and can say that at least in that regard, I was successful in my marriage. I also agree that people generally expect too much out of marriage-i.e., marriage will make me happy all the time, and if it doesn’t, on to the next one. There is no way for a marriage to survive if it is based on a selfish premis such as that. I think people would experience marriage much differently if they had a different, more reasonable, and less selfish set of expectations going in. Marriage requires selflessness, and going in with a selfish attitude is setting yourself up for failure.
RoyalEagle0408 June 7, 2011, 9:20 pm
As has already been said, controversy sells. Talking about the happy marriage that most people want (but not everyone has) isn’t going to make any money.
Dave Jay June 7, 2011, 11:47 pm
You’re right. As they say in the media, “If it bleeds, it leads”.
I think “happiness” in general is all about expectations. I used to have great expectations about my future and how successful I could be and how big a house, or how nice a car I could have someday. I used to see the Rolex watches in the display case at the mall and be confident that some day, “it will be mine”. Fifteen years later… I don’t even recognize that guy. If you gave me a Rolex today, I’d sell it tomorrow and take my wife on a cruise or maybe send my parents on a cruise for all of their hard work. I’m just grateful for the blessings in my life, starting with my wife, my daughter, my parent’s health, our “crappy” home, my 1994 Jeep that miraculously still runs, and my mind-numbing job with a great boss that allows me to pay for it all and still have enough left over for the occasional low-key vacation. Success, be it in one’s career or their marriage, isn’t about acquiring more or “keeping up with the Joneses”. It’s about being happy with what you have.
Every year my wife and I vacation for a week in a rickety lakeside cabin where there is no TV, radio, Wifi, or cell phone service. Just us and the art of conversation. It is the best week of the year. Sometimes you just have to go back to the basics.
Janice June 8, 2011, 11:52 am
I *totally* hear what you’re saying, Dave Jay, and I try to get my mind going that way a lot of the time, too. But when you’re doing that, don’t you sometimes feel like you’re settling for something less than than you could otherwise achive? (And I’m not necessarily talking about marriage, I mean in life in general.) What happened to the ambitions we had when we were younger? I mean, maybe you shouldn’t have said “no” to the Stones when they asked you to come play bass for them.
Elle June 8, 2011, 12:16 am
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina. If Tolstoy is right, the author is off by a few billion.
And some useless piece of trivia – Tolstoy’s marriage was unhappy.
Janice June 8, 2011, 10:42 am
Maybe it was semi-happy. 😉
lk June 8, 2011, 10:53 am
A wise woman gave me some good advice recently:
“A relationship should never be 50-50. Both people have to give 100%”
Budjer June 8, 2011, 10:54 am
Wait….so she polled a bunch of unhappy couples and deduced all marriages suck….sounds like cherry picking data to me….rubbish.
Janice June 8, 2011, 11:23 am
Uh, actually, no. “Pearls of Wisdom” says the Washington Post…