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What Life-Long Marriage Really Looks Like
Societal Programming states that if you get married and never get divorced, you are “successful.” Today, instead of talking about divorce, we’re going to talk about that smaller percentage of people who are “successful” (notice the quotes) by getting monogamously married and never getting divorced.
-By Caleb Jones
1. At least 60% of long-term married couples are “unhappy in the relationship." This is a historic high. [*][*] Societally Programmed researchers say this is a “head-scratcher.” (Is it? Really?)
2. This is worse than it sounds, since “not unhappy” doesn’t mean “happy.” It usually means “neutral.” Only 17% of marriages past the three-year mark involve couples who are actually happy. [*] Here's an interesting quote from the researcher that demonstrates exactly how most modern-day people react to these stats:
Fifty percent of marriages end, and of marriages that stay together, I think a third is happy, a third is happy enough, and a third is unhappy. If I could be in the 17% that’s happy, I’d like to get married. Otherwise I’m really happy living alone and being an uncle.
The problem, as I’ve stated before, is how do you know on your wedding day what category you’ll be in? The answer is: you don’t have any idea, no matter how amazing she is or you are. You just roll the dice with your life, finances, happiness, and future children, and wait to find out whether or not you lose them all in either a divorce or a never-ending, soul-killing marriage.
Does that sound like a smart plan?
But let’s continue.
3. 30% of long-term married people have considered divorce or separation, 25% of married people are no longer in love with their partner, 20% of married people would divorce their partner immediately if financial security was guaranteed, 15% wish they had married someone else.[*] Let's also not forget the study I've referred to before, showing that if married women could do it all over again, a staggering 56% of them wouldn't marry their husbands again or "aren't sure" if they would (which is woman language for "I wouldn't").[*]
In other words, just because someone never gets divorced doesn’t mean they don’t want to. Moreover, all of these studies are not longitudinal, meaning they're simply a snapshot in time, right now, today. What percentage of people in the above studies who are currently satisfied with their marriage will be dissatisfied at some point in the future, like five or ten years from now?
The answer is: most.
It's the same reason why when people say “the divorce rate is 50%,” they're quoting something misleadingly low. That only applies to people getting divorced this year. It doesn’t apply to the millions of others who are married and happy now but who will be divorcing down the road, later. This inflates the divorce numbers. A lot.
Does any of this sound familiar?
The Part You Leave Out
Because I know someone will bring this up in the comments, it’s true that occasionally you see studies like this one where researchers proudly announce that “most” married couples are happy. The first problem is the one I just described. Those are people happy right now. Statically speaking, most of those people will be unhappy later. The second and larger problem is these polls never account for one crucial aspect: the first three years.
During the first three years of a marriage, NRE waxes greatest. The engagement, the wedding, the honeymoon, moving in together, that first baby, these are all huge happiness-creating events. Thus, if you did a poll of married people and didn’t pay any attention to how long they’ve been married, the happiness results would skew upwards because of all the temporarily-happy near-newlyweds included in the poll. You’ll notice that many of these polls skew heavily with people in their 20s, often mid to early 20s. Well, yeah, those are newlyweds in the ecstasy of temporary NRE. Of course they’re happy!
These marriage happiness polls can only be valid if you’re only evaluating people who have been married well past three years, when the happy, NRE honeymoon phase is over, and excluding anyone married for three years or less. But hey, even when surveys don’t do this and include the temporarily happy NREers, you can see demonstrated above how dismal the numbers are. Imagine how much worse they would be if we removed all the younger respondents who had been married for three years or less!
I’ve encountered this dynamic for many years when talking about this. Whenever I talk about long-term monogamy not working and/or not being a path to long-term happiness, generally speaking (and yes they are always unusual exceptions), single guys overwhelmingly agree with me. Guys who have been married a long time also overwhelmingly agree with me. Yet men in newer, under-three-year mono girlfriend relationships or marriages go crazy and call me a bunch of names.
You simply can’t rationally and objectively analyze these concepts if you’re in the middle of a relatively new (“relatively new” meaning under three years) monogamous relationship (or marriage). Wait a few more years, then come back and tell me if I'm still wrong about long-term monogamy. (You won’t. After your divorce, affair, or when the wife shuts off the sex, you’ll instead send me an email about how you “should have listened to me.” I get these emails all the time.)
I conducted an experiment on this blog last year regarding the concept of longevity vs. happiness, and how people tend to choose one over the other. You can read all about it here. The point today is that not only is longevity of a relationship and happiness two completely different things, but if we’re talking about something absolutely sexually monogamous and enforced by law (in other words, marriage) then longevity and long-term, consistent happens are mutually exclusive.
Do you want to be long-term consistently happy? Or do you want a consistent, 50+ relationship with the same woman where you’re never allowed to fuck anyone else and must obey at least most of her rules? Choose ONE, because you can’t have both. (And that assumes you never get divorced, and the odds are overwhelming you will, but we’re talking today about people who don’t get divorced.) I’m going to say something that I now know with 100% conviction. My decision to get divorced almost a decade ago was one of the top three best, long-term happiness-creating decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life.
That’s saying something, because I’ve made a lot of very good and big decisions in my life. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had remained a beta and was in that same marriage to this day. Seriously, I get chills at the thought, and not good ones. And this has nothing to do with the woman I married. She was and is a good person. It has to do with what long-term monogamy does to people in the modern era. Just like having a corporate job for 40+ years, having a long-term monogamous marriage slowly sucks out your soul, freedom, testosterone, and happiness until you’re just a shell of what you once were (and again yes, there are very rare exceptions to every rule; the exceptions prove the rule). (If you’re curious as to my other two best happiness-creating life decisions, those were to start my own business and to not go to college.)
Of course getting divorced is bad too. Divorce and marriage should be avoided if you truly want to be long-term consistently happy as a man. And for the millionth time, you can have kids under this model. If I had to do it all over again knowing what I now know, I would have simply moved in with that woman, not gotten legally married, not been monogamous (live-in OLTR instead), had my same two kids, and eventually we would have broken up amicably, she would have moved out, I would pay child support (but not alimony), there would have been no hard feelings, and everything would have been fine.
It saddens me to say it, but never getting divorced is rarely a success story in today’s era. In eras past when long-term monogamy served a real purpose, it made sense to do so. Forever monogamous marriage was a pretty good idea for that rural farmer back in 1825. But today, in a free, abundant, high-tech world where men and women have constant, unlimited options for happiness, getting married and never getting divorced is a slow death sentence for most people...when it happens, which is rare.
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Troubadour 2015-11-16 05:44:29
Having to deal with hair clogging the drain and blood soaked panties in the laundry where "she started at work" and 500 million random products using all the space in the bathroom. Not really happy making. Having to figure out what to do with a screaming red thing that shits itself, so you don't accidentally kill it. Not really happy making. (Men enjoy children. Newborns are things. Delicate, noisy, smelly things.) There really isn't any NRE in the first three years. It's been too long since you were married, and you've forgotten how much it sucked.
Sanguine Sophrosyne 2015-11-16 06:59:29
It really simply is pick one or the other. I'm at the one year mark with a great woman who cleans and cooks and is very low drama, I'm pretty solidly Alpha 2.0, and there is no way we could "Make It Work ™". I'll enjoy it while I can but there is no delusions here of permanence.
Lovergirl 2015-11-16 07:10:28
I wonder what "she refuses to improve herself" means? That the guy is nagging after her and she doesn't want to change herself in some way? I thought men were supposed to want women to stay the same and not change. Has anyone ever met a long term happily married couple? I'm not sure that I have. I've met some that appear happy and ones that plaster their "happiness" all over facebook but usually those are the ones with major cheating issues going on. It's weird but I have noticed that most of the couples I know that appear super duper happy online, are ones where one or the other is cheating and they have had issues where their marriage almost broke up. I guess they try to appear really happy to deter more of the cheating. My dad's parents were married until my grandfather died at 89. They HATED each other, lol. It was horrible to be in the same room with them because of how mean they were and sarcastic towards one another. My grandfather also cheated left and right and had 3 houses with other women in them, but that didn't make them happy. So I'm not so sure the OLTR idea makes things any better. Maybe men and women just can't get along....
CrabRangoon 2015-11-16 08:14:11
Very timely BD! I've recently had many a conversation about this lately. I've been asking, where are the long term happy couple if this long term monogamy thing is so great??? It's the same story with all my friends in LTR's, including myself after being in one for almost 6 years. Since ending that relationship and going more open, I've never had more fun with women. I became angry during that time and I can see why so many guys in the same situations are hating on women. I don't recommend mating in captivity either. Not to say I wouldn't try it again but we'd have to have some staggered schedules so I get my solitude when needed. Everyone is really miserable "working on their relationships" because you know the cliche, relationships are SUPPOSED to be hard work. I have a full time job already, I don't need to come home to a second one.
Kristine 2015-11-16 09:56:28
As a recently divorced woman, I agree with you. I don't care for the inherent misogyny in your writing (are you conscious of it?), however, in essence, long-term marriage is not a realistic expectation for any man or woman in 2015 and beyond. People tend to conflate a "relationship" with the legal status of marriage, which are two different entities entirely.What needs to change are the draconian divorce laws that dictate the family court system in almost every state. I did lose more than 50% of my assets, the house, almost everything in my divorce in order to gain my liberty. It was worth it to me. In my particular situation, my earnings were substantially higher than my former spouse throughout the duration of our 12-year marriage. This resulted in me providing a substantial "hand out" to my lackadaisically employed ex in our settlement. I fail to understand why in a marriage with two college educated, white collar professionals, I had to hand over 50% of my 401k and IRAs. Huh? What year is this? And to boot "at fault" divorce is still on the books in this state. My attorney was able to get me out of (by the skin of my teeth) paying child support. In lieu of paying child support, I had to hand over the house. I honestly was not thinking "pre nup" in my early 30's and I have learned my lesson. No more legal status of marriage for me in this lifetime. I have two children, one of whom is special needs, that will need my assets more than another spouse. The only wrench in your argument is if "common law" exists in your state. That can impact child support, inheritance, property division, etc. And, I've been reading how judges have been throwing out prenups in some states as well. I intend on always maintaining a separate legal address for myself and my children to protect my assets (or what are left of them at this point). Cheers.
Elkay Mann 2015-11-16 10:21:39
@Lovergirl: "My grandfather also cheated left and right and had 3 houses with other women in them, but that didn’t make them happy. So I’m not so sure the OLTR idea makes things any better. Maybe men and women just can’t get along…." Cheating <=> Monogamy. OLTR => You can't cheat cause you never promised exclusivity. "I wonder what “she refuses to improve herself” means?" I guess (makes sense to me) that once she gets married and after some months/years, she starts getting bitchy, fat, boring, etc., instead of becoming a better human being.
Blackdragon 2015-11-16 10:56:05
There really isn’t any NRE in the first three years. It’s been too long since you were married, and you’ve forgotten how much it sucked.You're reporting your personal experience. I'm reporting the experiences of most men. There is massive NRE for most men when first getting married.
Has anyone ever met a long term happily married couple? I’m not sure that I have.I have, but "happily married" couples are almost always under the three-year mark. Have I met any truly happily married couples way past the three year mark? Yes, but we're talking 2 or 3 married couples out of the hundreds I've known. (Exceptions to the rule, and they're often low sex drive boring people as I've discussed before.)
I have noticed that most of the couples I know that appear super duper happy online, are ones where one or the other is cheating and they have had issues where their marriage almost broke up.Wow, interesting, YES. I have seen the exact same thing. It's almost as if the married couples you see bragging about their marriages on Facebook have worse marriages than those couples who don't talk about it.
I have a full time job already, I don’t need to come home to a second one.Yeah, that's my attitude. I already work for a living.
I don’t care for the inherent misogyny in your writing (are you conscious of it?),And are you aware you can't provide a specific example of it? Doesn't that tell you something?
In my particular situation, my earnings were substantially higher than my former spouse throughout the duration of our 12-year marriage. This resulted in me providing a substantial “hand out” to my lackadaisically employed ex in our settlement.Yup. You should have signed an enforceable prenup. But like most people who get married, you thought "That won't happen to me; I know what I'm doing."
The only wrench in your argument is if “common law” exists in your state. That can impact child support, inheritance, property division, etc.Not if you consult an attorney and address cohabitation agreements and parenting plans before you move in together. I've already addressed common law prevention in detail. Read this, this, and this.
POB 2015-11-16 10:59:47
There's also the issue of single guys being "demonized" by their own families and society if they don't get married after a certain age (I'd guess 35 is the turning point, but my data is very limited). You're labeled: immature, egocentric, childish, womanizer, shallow, unhappy, child hater, cynical, social misfit...and the list goes on. Not that I care, but you can feel it in your skin every time you go out to social gatherings with married folks. The real irony is most of the time those same people are ugly, fat or out of shape, have huge black bags under their eyes and lots of stress related wrinkles, while I am always looking young, relaxed and enjoying myself. Also the same dudes who love to brag about their "perfect marriage" constantly send me pictures and videos of hot escorts and random half-naked chicks on our common social media groups. I know they do not have the kind of money or game to fuck those, even so they like to show me how awesome their lives are. I'm 100% positive they are not getting any pussy at all. At the same time I'm constantly fucking 3-4 extremely hot women from my rotation, having lots of fun with all of them, traveling and enjoying my life and freedom. Hummm.
Ashley 2015-11-16 11:02:46
I'm glad someone finally has the stones to bring this up. I have wondered about nearly all the points you have brought up. I know a lot of married couples who seem happy but when they have a few to drink, the truth comes out. I have encountered enough women who want out but don't want to be labeled as divorced, and married men who have tried to leave their wives to the point where I wonder exactly what percentage of people who are married are actually happy. Somehow I regularly come into discussions with more traditionally minded people who are all about marriage, and one of their main arguments is that it's overall better for the children. I'd also like to take a closer look at that as well. If married parents aren't happy together, it will likely show, and kids can easily pick up on that. When parents aren't happy, that has to affect the children.
John Smith 2015-11-16 11:33:47
<blockquote> Has anyone ever met a long term happily married couple? </blockquote> My parents are happy and going on 41 years of marriage. However...one set of grandparents stuck it for 50+ years and hated each other (grandpa cheated) and on my other set grandpa died young and grandma got married and divorced about 4 times after that. My sister is in the 8 year range I believe, and they're both getting the life sucked out of them by two little kids, two jobs and a mortgage. I got divorced about six years ago. I tried to follow my dad's example for a successful marriage, but unfortunately my ex-wife had other plans that involved a boyfriend. :-/ So yeah, I know a long term happy couple, but the only reason I know they're happy is because of the abundance of unhappy/failed marriages that I can use for comparison.
Kurt 2015-11-16 11:44:29
@Ashley Yes, you are right to wonder how bad marriages affect children. As a child of one I can tell you the very best thing any couple can do to ensure their kids are raised well is to make sure they are truly happy and fulfilled in their lives, including separating if that is the way to achieve it. The first ones to see through the facade will be the children, and it is a very frightening and dark experience to know that mommy and daddy aren't happy and you don't know why and you can't do anything about it. I've stated in comments here before that the worst part of my parents' divorce was the 6 or so years leading up to it when I knew it was coming but my parents hadn't figured it out yet.
Duke 2015-11-16 11:57:37
The reason most people get married is in large part due to conformity ie. everyone else is doing it so I don't want to be weird and not get invited to social events where there will be couples that are married; or worse yet be invited and feel stupid for being single; or even worse yet, appear happy and get hated on for it. The "for the kids excuse" is also tiring. Why would you sacrifice your happiness for some one else who in all likelihood does not even acknowledge this sacrifice because you are in effect living a lie. This lie then gets perpetuated for future generations because the children with parents who are still together tell themselves "I want what my parents have." I don't get why people think it's such a bad idea for a woman to raise the kid during the week, then the dad could get kid on the weekends. Oh yeah that's right because then the woman wouldn't be able to get her "better life" subsidized by her husband, who if given the chance would rather not deal with a fat nagging harridan of wife. Of course there are exceptions like Kristen that commented above, but not many (women don't usually marry guys that make less than them in the first place). Not to mention men's argument that their children need to be legitimate, lest they be shamed for having bastard children. I've also talked to men who say they want to see their children every day. Well that's admirable, but is it really worth dealing with being a hostage in your own home?
Lovergirl 2015-11-16 13:01:51
@Elkay- I'm pretty sure that was condoned cheating- she obviously knew about it and stayed with him anyway. She had a great paying full time job herself so its not like she was dependent on him either. They stayed together, as my dad says "for the kids" and he always resented it and says he wished they would have gotten divorced instead.
CrabRangoon 2015-11-16 13:09:36
@POB and @Duke "There’s also the issue of single guys being “demonized” by their own families and society if they don’t get married after a certain age (I’d guess 35 is the turning point, but my data is very limited)." "The reason most people get married is in large part due to conformity ie. everyone else is doing it so I don’t want to be weird and not get invited to social events where there will be couples that are married; or worse yet be invited and feel stupid for being single; or even worse yet, appear happy and get hated on for it." I agree with you 100% this is the reason for many marriages. Societal programming can be a bitch get get very heavy handed the older you get. I'm 38 and never married and hear it all the time. The same people up my ass will complain about their own married life in the next breath too-love the irony which I enjoy pointing out to them. Honestly it's also about validating their own choices in life. If I'm on a different path and seem to be enjoying life, they will question their own path. Groupthink is responsible for many shitty choices in life. Chart your own course gentlemen. Whoever wants to come along for the ride is welcome but don't let them take the wheel and drive you over a cliff.
Lovergirl 2015-11-16 13:12:15
You know, I was married for 13 years and I do think divorce was probably bad for the children. Not because the parents became less happy, I am am happy, I have have no idea if my ex is or not. No, the reason I say it was bad for them is because us being married FORCED him to participate more in his children's lives. We were right there and he couldn't get away from it. Once we divorced, he did like many other men and dropped off his contact with the children, becoming a deadbeat. I did not see that coming, though maybe I should have. For the children that is definitely a bad thing, but in families where a man actually has a sense of responsibility and makes a full effort to be involved, it would be (hopefully) different. Thing is a lot of men seem to see it as their chance to get off the hook and put all the weight of raising the children on the mom. The same thing happens with a lot of men who don't get married to their baby mama. You see them taking little interest in their child's life because they have never had to live with them and be directly involved on a day to day basis. They don't bond, or lose their bond with the child. I mean, just look at Traubadour's comment above. Can you imagine a man who wasn't living with a woman or married when this child was born, with that attitude? He'd just run away and never get involved. He isn't suddenly going to become dad of the year when the kid turns 10 because he's never bothered to bond with him. So marriage DOES force men to take part in their children's lives. Without it, many WON'T do their part, which is sad, but true.
donnie demarco 2015-11-16 13:16:55
I once worked with a woman who was in "the perfect marriage". She was an amazing girl; gorgeous, sexy, intelligent, a great sense of humor and about as laid back as a woman can get. She was married to her college sweetheart who was also considered quite the catch; tall, very good-looking, and financially successful. We would often have long, interesting conversations over lunch about what it takes to make a long-term monogamous marriage work, using her marriage as a blueprint. Can you guess what happened? After about a year of being work buddies (and almost exactly 4 years into their marriage), she and I started having sex. Sex then lead to emotional love, and we ended up having an affair that lasted for years. What's ironic is that I still consider her marriage as the holy grail of LTRs. Most married couples are boring as fuck, but they had an amazing dynamic together and had a very active sex life even after years of dating + marriage. Yet despite all of this, their shield of monogamy was ultimately useless against the power of side cock. Humans are not monogamous creatures.
Mih 2015-11-16 16:45:15
"and again yes, there are very rare exceptions to every rule; the exceptions prove the rule" I am happy to prove your rule BD. Though i am in a monogamous LTR and not in a marriage. I think that the concept of marriage is a scham - i love this girl so what if i get into this contract with her, where if we want to break up it's very difficult - why would anyone do that. I don't want there to be any restrictions if either party wants to leave. What would it say about me if she would want to leave me and i thought "good thing we are married or i would lose her!". I also don't want children. I don't understand the BD way of thinking - "men who have children experience decreased happiness levels" + "being happy is essential to me" = "having children is an option".
Greg 2015-11-16 19:11:47
So I ended up having an affair with a married women who has 2 kids. She has told me that she loves him but not in love with him.(In womens language what does that mean exactly) Anyways, the husband found out about our affair. We got caught 4 times.lol It's obvious she really isn't happy in the marriage. Shit, I'm only 27, she's 37 and her husband makes way more money than me and wines and dines her and I never took her out at all and she's told me that she would rather be with me instead. That shit trips me out. But still the husband wants to stay with her and she still decides to stay with him. Since your're the expert, what is the deeper reason of why a women who is obviously not 100% happy with her marriage still stay even after getting caught and why would the man still want to stay. I'm guessing its societal programming of the girl not wanting to look like a slut to the family and staying in the marriage makes it as if they are successful. And I'm curious how does she still stay wanting to have sex with her husband? Thanks and oh yea your blog opened my eyes to the truth of marriage.
Blackdragon 2015-11-16 19:15:02
If you have a mother and father who A) don't hate each other too much and B) are both committed to raising children, it doesn't matter much if they're married or divorced. When you have one parent who doesn't give a shit about the kids, or when one or both parents hate each other, then the kids will suffer regardless of the married or divorced status of their parents. In LG's example, if the dad just doesn't give a shit about his kids but is "forced" to spend time with them because he's a beta following orders from the wife, the kids will feel this, and end up with problems later in life. I know a few married guys like this; they love their kids of course, but they really don't give a shit about them. They only reason they had them was to satisfy the wife's demands/desires. My kids are and were better off with me divorced from their mother. Their parents have been divorced for almost a decade and my kids are both superstars. But I really cared about them. Like I said, many dad's don't really care.
Blackdragon 2015-11-16 19:17:20
I am happy to prove your rule BD.You haven't proved the rule. Short-term monogamy is easy. I'm talking about long-term monogamy. When you get to 25 years of being consistently monogamous with one woman, with no cheating whatsoever by either partner, and you're both still really happy, then you can come back and tell me you were one of the exceptions. I won't be holding my breath.
Oh Yes 2015-11-16 19:21:09
@Kristine. Yeah those alimony laws really suck don't they. And they will not be changing until a lot more women like you end up getting shafted in divorce court. When that happens, you will hear the howls of women stuck paying out to a deadbeat ex husband. Only then will you start seeing more media attention given to how unfair these antiquated divorce settlement laws are. And only then will we find lawmakers thinking about changing them.
Blackdragon 2015-11-16 19:21:31
her husband makes way more money than me and wines and dines her and I never took her out at all and she’s told me that she would rather be with me instead. That shit trips me out.Of course she's more attracted to you. He's an extreme beta. Beta behaviors reduce attraction.
Since your’re the expert, what is the deeper reason of why a women who is obviously not 100% happy with her marriage still stay even after getting caught and why would the man still want to stay.In order of importance: 1. She likes free money and a guy paying her bills for free. 2. She needs an ever-present father for her kids, and fears this may be jeopardized in a divorce (read LG's comment above). 3. She doesn't want to look bad to her family and friends. She's got a beta who showers her with money and doesn't leave her when she fucks other guys, and she has you (the Alpha figure) to provider her with sex and make her feel like a woman. She's got the perfect female scenario; of course she's not going to divorce this guy.
Doubter 2015-11-16 20:03:14
Wow......this pretty much sums up why marriage sucks. I'm just 18 months past my separation and I cannot even imagine how I did it......living in a sexless relationship with a scatterbrained, self-centered, control freak. Very difficult to tell which was the child and which the mother sometimes. Amazing how fresh a relationship can be when you don't live together. I have women I see once a week and the sex is still getting better, and happens EVERY time. The thought of banging the same pussy for more than temporarily sounds like drudgery now. PS.....I feel terrible for the woman above complaining about divorce rape.......not. Also, she sounded like a joy to live with /s
POB 2015-11-17 03:20:29
Honestly it’s also about validating their own choices in life. If I’m on a different path and seem to be enjoying life, they will question their own path.@Crab Exactly the way I see it man!!! One of the things I've stopped doing is telling my married friends (or distant relatives) about all the cool shit I do with my life in general (and women). I just got burned all the time because it validates all their fears and SP. It's like "How come this guy can choose that path and still be so happy about it?". The real irony is every time I tell my married friends about my sex life they think I'm either lying or exaggerating a lot LOL. Little they know what they would find if they got rid of all the BS and started to be honest once and for all.
Oliver 2015-11-17 05:45:41
If you don’t know what you want in life, you will always be a slave to what society offers you. And even if you know what you want you still need the guts to go for it. When it come to marriage, you are a fool if you follow what society tells you about it. It may be the right choice for you, but only if it fulfilles your true needs and life-ambitions.
Pluff Mud 2015-11-17 05:58:31
How "happy" is anyone with anything after 25, 40, 50 years? I've owned the same house for 20 years. Bought it brand new. Am I as ecstatically happy with it as I was the first years? Of course not. It needs an expensive new roof, it's not as up to date as my friend's new homes, it's not in a trendy area and it's just too ...familiar. I look into buying new homes from time to time. Why don't I? Because the home I have now is much bigger, gracious, has character and fabulous mountain views I would have to give up for a much more expensive, smaller, crowded, less personal home. Not to mention the new home happiness would wear off much quicker, and need to be repeated far more frequently to keep up the waning ecstasy. My brother once got out of a bad home buying decision when the former owner came begging him to sell it back to him - he missed his old home and wanted to die there. As a friend once told me, "The happiest day I ever had with my Porsche was the night BEFORE I picked it up". My father told me that "love waxes and wanes", and in my 40 years of marriage I have found that to be true. The amazing love at first sight romance, the wedding, the new house, the new babies, the new jobs...yeah. Such heady, exciting times. Then came the grinding years. Kids not doing well in school, teenagers hating us, job loses, financial reversals, legal problems, in-law friction. Bad, bad times. Times I wished to escape. Thoughts of how much better my life would be if I was free to be me. Then came an early heart attack for my husband. Only 49 years old. My mother in law threatened to abandon her husband when he had a stroke after open heart surgery. She didn't want to be "saddled" with a crippled man. We "guilted" her out of acting on it. All those years later I was now in her position and determined not to be an asshole like she had been, so I put on the Noble Wife mantle and acted the part. Wild ride to the hospital, great panic. Frantic changing clothes, tubes and hook ups, needles and smells, finding ourselves abandoned in a large waiting room being eyed by a half dozen terror eyed men and women, waiting for testings, pokings and proddings...my husband the only person there with a partner, a hand to hold, someone just as terrified for him as he was. Everyone else entirely alone, facing their fears on their own. Nurses telling me I had to leave, visiting hours were over - then leaving me in peace to sleep overnight in a hard chair, my head resting on the bed beside him, with him, that boy I had so loved, almost dying in the middle of the night, still holding my hand. That was a game changer for us. Like Hansel and Gretel, we really were alone in the deep dark forest. That could have been me just as easily as it was him. He's annoying, he farts, he drinks too much and complains I'm putting us in the poor house if I buy new underwear, but that being said - he's my best friend. He always has come first above all others, and always will. You mess with him, you mess with me. Most people I'm around are in life long marriages and are great companions. We're old. It's not an act. There's nothing to be gained by putting on a false front - that shit no longer matters. Birds of a feather, I guess. Like attracts like. My parents were married til my father died. My husband's parents the same. My kids are all married to spouses whose parents were life long married. Their close friend's parents the same. They've said friends from broken homes are just...different. The attitude is "different", the loyalty...just isn't there. Not the kid's fault, but it's undeniable. You can say it's just because everyone else did it, but the same can be said for those who don't ascribe to long term marriage. I find nothing appealing in that lifestyle, and I know plenty of people aren't "really, really happy" with their single lifestyle as well. Just my personal observation, not trying to sway anyone's opinion one way or the other.
Elkay Mann 2015-11-17 07:01:03
@Pluff Mud Beautiful story. It could've been an Open Marriage story too. You don't need to be "shackled" to someone to love him/her. Loyalty is awesome, and very valuable, but what's the point of sacrificing your freedom, part of what you are, your happiness, for "loyalty"? I believe loyalty should serve happiness, not the other way around. Letting your happiness go down because of some rigid agreement is not being loyal *to yourself*. I had a 4 and a half years monogamous relationship, never cheated. The first year and so was good, nice, she treated me lovingly, although we had harsh discussions, we used to have sex. The rest got worse and worse as time went on. In 2011 we had sex only once a month, she was always busy with something else instead of truly enjoying our time together and the last year she almost always had an excuse for not having sex. Apart from being a sad beta, I was in a deep emotional pit regarding my life, didn't have much motivation at all. I've been single and nonmonogamous for almost 18 months already and I've never felt more motivated or sexually excited as I tend to feel nowadays. I've been having open relationships, and what I feel is I can go on with my life AND enjoy spending time, life, caressing and having sex with women I like, with no useless obligations to them and vice versa. This doesn't mean I don't care for them, on the contrary: The fact that I do not need them nor do I care or want to put rules upon them makes me feel better, and let's me enjoy their happiness, even if it means eventually letting them go... when it happens, it makes me a little sad, but as Zan Perrion says "All beautiful things must end. Otherwise they are not beautiful. A simple truth, suspected by most, acknowledged by few". Heck, life is one of the most beautiful things we get to know in this world and it "ends". If she is happier without me, and staying doesn't make me as happy as I wanted to, what's the point? I wish I could find a woman who could be as sentimentally and emotionally stable to remain loyal to what she feels for me, and to keep the attraction alive. I say loyal but not exclusive, I don't care what she does when she's not with me as long as she doesn't give me drama and we are both happy seeing each other/dating. And if someday she just doesn't want me anymore, there's billions of women out there. I'll just keep myself open to new experiences (while satisfiying my women desires, obviously 😉 )
Sundance 2015-11-17 10:53:57
I have what I (and many of my married/single friends) consider to be the ideal situation. Mom and I had a child out of wedlock unexpectedly. Our relationship was deteriorating beforehand and we both knew it. We separated shortly after she was born but both remained actively involved in our child's life. I could not imagine how unhappy we'd both be if we tried to trudge along together in order to meet societal expectations. Our arrangement has worked so well WE HAD ANOTHER CHILD years later out of wedlock, not together, all actively involved in our children's lives. The kids have never experienced the instability and trauma of a hostile breakup. Since we've split amicably Mom and I can have dinners together, vacation together and do family things together. If we put ourselves through the meat grinder of family court/lawyers etc I am certain there'd be lasting damage making friendship and continuity impossible. THE ONLY reason this type of arrangement isn't commonplace is due to societal expectations and juvenile bitterness centered around an outdated marriage/monogamy model which has an entire legal industry built upon it. If more people had the maturity and foresight to put emotions behind them, accept human nature and NOT throw their children to the wolves of family court there'd be a lot more happy, modern, in tact families in our country.
Sundance 2015-11-17 11:11:00
@Puff "my husband the only person there with a partner, a hand to hold, someone just as terrified for him as he was. Everyone else entirely alone, facing their fears on their own." No offense but your ad-hoc assessment of other people's situation is way too self serving of your narrative. You're attempting to paint unmarried people as being alone with no one else to care for them. It's an version of the tired canard; "get married so you won't die alone". Approximately half of all adults in America are married so it's unrealistic that you would have encountered a waiting room full of single people, notwithstanding no one else to comfort them - no family, no friends, no romantic interests - nobody. It's a ridiculous notion. Ask anyone who works at a hospital - family friends, GF's BF's, children, neighbors, etc are well represented in hospital waiting rooms. Are we to believe that you knew the personal circumstances of the people you saw in the waiting room and furthermore knew that these people had no other people who cared for them all because they were not married!!?? Gee, how many hours did those interviews take? We get it, you and your husband are there for each other. Congrats, but it is by virtue of your inherent human kindness, not some enforceable legal cohabitation arrangement that causes you to care and show kindness for someone else.
Blackdragon 2015-11-17 11:41:20
Amazing how fresh a relationship can be when you don’t live together.Yep. Moving in together, particularly if you're monogamous, murders attraction. Eventually.
I have women I see once a week and the sex is still getting better, and happens EVERY time.Yep. Me too.
Then came the grinding years. Kids not doing well in school, teenagers hating us, job loses, financial reversals, legal problems, in-law friction. Bad, bad times. Times I wished to escape. Thoughts of how much better my life would be if I was free to be me.Yep. This is the exact opposite of "long-term consistent happiness." Sometimes you're happy, but other times you're miserable. No thank you. The goal of marriage isn't happiness. It's something else.
I have what I (and many of my married/single friends) consider to be the ideal situation. Mom and I had a child out of wedlock unexpectedly. Our relationship was deteriorating beforehand and we both knew it. We separated shortly after she was born but both remained actively involved in our child’s life. I could not imagine how unhappy we’d both be if we tried to trudge along together in order to meet societal expectations. Our arrangement has worked so well WE HAD ANOTHER CHILD years later out of wedlock, not together, all actively involved in our children’s lives.Now you're talking. That's exactly what I should have done with my kid's mom. Absolute sexual monogamy isn't required to raise happy, functional children. (Oh it's so hard for people to hear that!)
Ingio 2015-11-17 12:06:40
LT happy marriage is very possible and actually rewarding IF society has safeguards in place. Pre-1970s there was enough societal/religious pressure to keep most people together. Many of the older gents and women who are finally having their partners die off from 40-50 years of marriage don't celebrate their partner's passing. The generations before truly loved and cared for each other. Without feminist poisoning or eskimo intervention. Yes, humans can be monogynous for life. There are way, way too many examples before us to say otherwise. Is it hard? Yes, but so is everything worthwhile.
Blackdragon 2015-11-17 13:01:23
LT happy marriage is very possible and actually rewarding IF society has safeguards in place. Pre-1970s there was enough societal/religious pressure to keep most people together.It only "worked" in that people didn't get divorced. They still had shitty marriages, they still cheated like crazy, etc. The entire point of the above article is "not getting divorced" <> "it worked."
The generations before truly loved and cared for each other.Disney and not completely accurate.
Yes, humans can be monogynous for life.No they can't (barring the rare exceptions). If they don't get divorced they will still cheat.
There are way, way too many examples before us to say otherwise.Examples of not getting divorced, yes. Examples of only having sex with one person for the entire rest of your life, no.
Mih 2015-11-17 13:37:01
You haven’t proved the rule. Short-term monogamy is easy. I’m talking about long-term monogamy. When you get to 25 years of being consistently monogamous with one woman, with no cheating whatsoever by either partner, and you’re both still really happy, then you can come back and tell me you were one of the exceptions. I won’t be holding my breath.Until now - 18 years and 5 months of consistently monogamous with one woman + no cheating whatsoever by either partner + really happy... 7 years is a lot of time to hold your breath, but i think that the odds are in my favor. PS - Or she is an extraordinary liar.
BH 2015-11-17 14:54:37
I'm very happy for all the people posting about how their marriage worked and is awesome. I'm also happy for people that win the lottery...but I'm not going to base my retirement plan on that...
Duke 2015-11-17 16:48:38
Sundance's example is exactly how people should raise kids. Good for you for withstanding the pressure and not falling for the trap of marriage. Not a conspiracy theorist, but I sometimes wonder if marriage is some kind of thing that was invented to control people. I mean if your not worrying about getting a job to get married to support a family and make your wife happy, you have lots of time to think and most times will end up with the conclusion that most people on this site have. The thought of having a populace that is actually happy would be a nightmare for any government or corporation. Everybody would be doing what they want, not serving their powerful overlords buying useless crap, paying ridiculous taxes and using a worthless fiat currency. But no, everyone is asleep in their comfortable dream living a mediocre life that could be much better if they dared to challenge the status quo.
Blackdragon 2015-11-17 19:44:43
18 years and 5 months of consistently monogamous with one woman + no cheating whatsoever by either partner + really happyThat's wonderful (though if I could only fuck one woman for 18 years I'd kill myself, but that's me). Check back with me in 7 years and we'll see if you made it. You're coming up on another "divorce spike" at 21 years. And I didn't answer this earlier:
I don’t understand the BD way of thinking – “men who have children experience decreased happiness levels” + “being happy is essential to me” = “having children is an option”.Read my book and read the two chapters on raising kids under an Alpha Male 2.0 framework. I'd be happy to have kids under that system, and only that system, if a woman agreed to it. But not under the traditional system.
I’m very happy for all the people posting about how their marriage worked and is awesome. I’m also happy for people that win the lottery…but I’m not going to base my retirement plan on that…Precisely. The bigger problem is that these people are successful because of either: 1. Personality type (that you can't control), things like sex drive, need for variety, need for thrill / stimulation, etc. and 2. Luck (that you can't emulate).
Gluteus_Maximus 2015-11-18 01:33:57
Once, I agreed to take care of a dog for awhile, and from then on, I knew, the chances of me having children by the time I reach 45 dropped to 2-10%. LOL somewhat arbitrary percentages, but not really. You get my point. A lot of people have siblings, or have had roommates. Learning that long-term living with ANYBODY eventually becomes disastrous, if not extremely stressful on whatever the relationship is, "ought to be a no brainer." Especially since most people actually have gone to college, having lived in dorms, it being a strong societally pressured life-decision, like marriage. It's like a preview. Just like with the dog to child thing. Having roommates/housemates SUCK. I don't even want to imagine being married. If there's one thing I regret, it's not dropping out of school sooner. But I most definitely agree 999999%. For me, it was my numbah uno decisiones. If I didn't go to college, just by that alone, I'd be LIGHTYEARS ahead from where I'm at now. Not to mention not going through high school (I think that's Richard Branson status, and/or Magnus Walker). Although I'm more than glad how things have turned out, I still like to imagine these alternate realities as being solid in parallel dimensions. Makes me make sure I don't make dumbass life decisions like that again.
POB 2015-11-18 04:31:15
I guess people should develop more self-accountability about their life changing decisions. Those events should never be taken over by emotions or decided in the heat of the moment. For that matter, I won't ever say married people are wrong. But facts (yes, facts, not guessing) point out that most of them made the wrong decision to get together using that system. And that's when things get interesting. They defend tooth and nails the aforementioned "system" even when it's clearly damaging their own happiness. If you stop for a moment and think about it, it's completely irrational behavior. Why the hell would you do that? I wonder what's wrong with shooting for long-term consistent happiness as a core life achievement? Why do you think you need to "suffer", "endure", have "up's and downs" or "suppress your own desires" to be a fully functional and healthy grown-up? Are "singles" incapable of establishing healthy meaningful lasting relationships and making people close to them happy as well? Not my intention to make folks second-guess their decisions, but there's a whole new world out there if you decide that your happiness trumps society/friends/family expectations.
CrabRangoon 2015-11-18 08:33:09
@POB The cliches about enduring, suffering, "ups and downs", etc... is just another way for people to justify their miserable existence. They think "it's just the way things are" and it's totally normal to go through all this BS. While no lifestyle is completely free of drama and occasional bullshit, you can mitigate that quite a bit by bucking some of these societal programmed paths. Let the sheep suffer and look upon your life with great envy. When they try to drag you into the quicksand, just shrug your shoulders and and give them a shit eating grin...then proceed to enjoy your own life.
Mih 2015-11-18 13:00:28
That’s wonderful (though if I could only fuck one woman for 18 years I’d kill myself, but that’s me). Check back with me in 7 years and we’ll see if you made it. You’re coming up on another “divorce spike” at 21 years.WTF another divorce spike? I thought it was smooth sailing after adjusting from NRE ending and the "i can't believe i'm gonna fuck only you for the rest of my life" crysis...
I’d be happy to have kids under that system, and only that system, if a woman agreed to it. But not under the traditional system.Thanks for clearing that up for me. I always wondered how those ideas worked about you having children.
The bigger problem is that these people are successful because of either: 1. Personality type (that you can’t control), things like sex drive, need for variety, need for thrill / stimulation, etc. and 2. Luck (that you can’t emulate).EXACTLY. I think that you are right and monogamy doesn't work. It just works for me and this particular girl (maybe). I don't recommend it to anybody else. If me and my GF would break up, i don't think that i would try monogamy ever again. Although it's pretty hard for me to make a representation for myself about what love and intimacy would feel like in an open relationship. Now i feel happiness just by looking at her face while she sleeps. If i were in a OLTR i would just wonder if she sucked some dude off and got cummed on today...
zelezny 2015-11-18 13:49:48
There are marriages all over the world where both parties stay monogamous. These marriages have strict societal pressures to do so. As with most islamic, hindu, strict christians do. There's no solid proof to state that people can stay together but will have to cheat. It might happen more often in the west, but that doesn't mean it's the defacto.
Duke 2015-11-18 16:10:01
"There's no solid proof to state that people can stay together but will have to cheat" But will they be happy? I think the number is about 17 percent where they are both happy and don't cheat. If you like those numbers then have at it.
Blackdragon 2015-11-18 17:21:16
They defend tooth and nails the aforementioned “system” even when it’s clearly damaging their own happiness.Because happiness is not their priority.
There are marriages all over the world where both parties stay monogamous. These marriages have strict societal pressures to do so. As with most islamic, hindu, strict christians do. There’s no solid proof to state that people can stay together but will have to cheat. It might happen more often in the west, but that doesn’t mean it’s the defacto.What an amazing comment; probably one of the most blind I've ever seen here. You just stated the proof. People are only monogamous long-term when there are strict external pressures forcing them to do so. Why would you need these pressures if long-term monogamy was the "de facto"? Because it isn't the de facto. Never has been. Humans aren't designed that way. And by the way, strict Christian men often cheat like crazy in long-term marriages, and Muslims in Muslim countries can have multiple wives. How is this monogamy? (Incredible.)
John Ahcafr 2015-11-18 23:03:16
The way human beings act is: "everyone wants whatever they can't get" So if something is easy to achieve and is no longer a challenge, a person will not be too excited about it. That is why many marriages fail or become "dry" after a while.
Kryptokate 2015-11-18 23:08:09
Yep, I'm with you on all points BD. In fact I think 17% seems too high. The only people I see happy in long-term marriages are those with VERY agreeable personalities, and this is one of the "big 5" core personality traits that doesn't change much. So agreeable people, who are generally cheerful and content to go with the flow and laid back, can have happy marriages, but those same people would probably be happy no matter what they did, married or not. For most other people, so long as they have enough money to support themselves, and are attractive enough to find sexual partners, they will be much happier unmarried. I've watched SOOOOOO many marriages of friends and family that start off full of energy and delight and loving looks and strokes and happiness....and 5 or 10 years later, they've degraded into indifference and boredom at best, or open hostility and contempt at worse. It's all social pressure and the complete BS fantasy spun by advertisers to get you to buy their jewelry, their movie tickets, their wedding gowns, their anniversary gifts, and on and on. The romantic story always ends when the couple gets together because the rest of the story is so goddamn boring. Despite the slight social pressure and comments about why I'm single, the most common reaction I get, especially from women, is envy. They all fantasize about being free to do what they want again. Of course, I think all this about having kids too.... Now THAT'S a thankless, never-ending, frustrating, infuriating endeavor with significant risks of ending up a complete disaster. And the briefest blips of enjoyment, which usually seem to occur when the kid is sleeping. Yet almost everyone signs up to become a parent too. And in fact it's usually the arrival of the first kid that shifts the marriage so dramatically from a mostly happy one to one characterized by exhausted, sexless, resentful parents making constant jabs and swipes at each other. You can so clearly see that progression with most couples.
POB 2015-11-19 06:09:25
When they try to drag you into the quicksand, just shrug your shoulders and and give them a shit eating grin…then proceed to enjoy your own life.Too much trouble! I let my own smile take care of that 😉 Funny thing is most of these shitty couples are wonderful individuals if you take them on a different context. Even funnier is once they split, it seems like they discover who they really are all over again (been through this myself)! I've a childhood friend who's going exactly through that. She's amazing, her husband is awesome, but their 10+ year marriage sucks big time! I know for sure that if they decided to split and became good friends, oh my, what a joy it would be in their lives. But I guess they won't do that any time soon (religion, small kid, family pressure). Just a shame.
NKNK 2015-11-19 08:01:58
I don't get why people seem to think life will be 'boring' once they are married. People seem to give up on exciting activities and become slobs. Whats with this attitude? If you and your spouse want to continue having fullfilling experiences then they don't need to stop because they are married. Kids don't even need to stop this either. Trick is to find a partner who sees life like this also. I also don't know why people would see marriage as the route of all happiness. look for happiness outside of marriage.
Blackdragon 2015-11-19 09:54:49
I don’t get why people seem to think life will be ‘boring’ once they are married.Life won't be boring, but the marriage will, after the first three years or so.
People seem to give up on exciting activities and become slobs. Whats with this attitude?It's called "biology."
If you and your spouse want to continue having fullfilling experiences then they don’t need to stop because they are married. Kids don’t even need to stop this either. Trick is to find a partner who sees life like this also.No, the trick is to never get legally, monogamously married if your objective is long-term consistent happiness. If you don't mind being bored or pissed off later, then go ahead.
I also don’t know why people would see marriage as the route of all happiness.As I said above, most people don't see marriage this way. Most people who get married, particularly those who get married and then defend it, don't have happiness as their primary objective. Instead, their primary objective is one or more of the Six Societal Values: conformity, social validation, perceived security, not being alone, emotional validation, and control over others. Marriage won't make you long-term happy; that's not it's function. But it will provide a semblance of some of those things...for a while anyway.
Tom 2015-11-19 20:41:02
Hey BD, i know it is a little bit off topic. But would you please make your next post about Charlie Sheen? I am really curious on your thought about him, like how he really contracted the virus, how his lifestyle in the past had really impacting his chances of getting contracted, etc Thanks
Greg 2015-11-20 23:35:10
Hey BD, thanks for a responding to my last message. Anyways, I'm curious from my experience having sex with some married women. I've noticed some of them have good sex with their husbands everyday, some are are freaks. They're husbands can make them feel good in bed. I feel some women don't get bored of sex but why do they still cheat? How can these married women still put up with sex while still not being attracted to their husband. Cuz I hear it multiple times, these women tell me the phrase, "I love him but not in love him" What does that mean exactly in women terms? Anyways, just curious. I discovered your blog and I'm so intrigued by the psychology behind all this craziness lol Thanks.
Lovergirl 2015-11-21 05:52:40
"I love him but I'm not in love with him" means there is no more excitement, no more NRE, she doesn't swoon over him, but she cares about him as a human being, loves him like a family member. She doesn't want to hurt him but she's more turned on by other guys.
Greg 2015-12-04 13:27:39
Hey BD, I just want your thoughts and perspective I got from this text message I got from a girl I was having an affair with. The husband is my brothers friend. Anyways, we got caught already but we still continued having an affair. Anyways, she met up with me at my work just last week. But today I sent a message for her to stay at home while her husband went to work. And this is what she text me. What does this text message mean to you and where is she coming from? Text message: I can't. Things r good right now and I don't really want to change it. Lets just leave what we had as it is and always have the memories. I'm so busy with school, blog, and fam...and I'm real focused right now and feeling positive about whats to come in the near future. I just wanna be "friends". Please respect me by not trying to be/do more than that anymore. K? I want things between u and me and u and Bj (my brothers friend) to go back to the way they were. We'll always have our travels together in india. *Note* the last sentence, doesnt make sense cuz we've talked about traveling to india together in the future and make love but at the same in the message, it seems she wants to stop. Since ur the expert with these situations. What do you think is the best reply to this message? Thanks BD
Blackdragon 2015-12-05 10:46:53
I just want your thoughts and perspective I got from this text message I got from a girl I was having an affair with.Mistake number one.
The husband is my brothers friend.Mistake number two.
we got caught alreadyMistake number three.
but we still continued having an affairMistake number four. Jesus, pal. You must either really be desperate or really love drama. Which is it?
What do you think is the best reply to this message?Next. And stop with these insane, high-drama relationships.
Elkay Mann 2015-12-05 11:19:25
I fucking manly love this guy xD
pharma bro 2017-01-20 13:56:44
Hey BD, I read the sources you referenced, and the first source actually says that 60% of people are happy in their marriages, not unhappy. "In 2014, just shy of 60 percent of people reported being very happy in their coupledoms" Not that it makes that much of a difference, but I thought I'd add that.
Blackdragon 2017-01-20 14:00:25
That's the second linked article. The first linked article says 6 out of 10 are unhappy, which is 60%. The second article you quoted is stating that the number of happy married couples keeps dropping (down from 65% two years ago to 60% now). As usual, every study will show slightly different numbers.
Sasha 2017-03-12 12:14:11
In my opinion people are often getting stuck in relationships not because they are attracted to each other, but because they formed a dependency. It is easier to stay this way rather than to look for a solution.
RM 2019-06-27 21:25:16
My marriage is all but done after 20 years. She's a great women but her mom destroyed it. No sex, no fun, nothing but her bitching about her mom. I am already thinking about how to end it and am really fearfull for what is to ensue. I want to get back to being an alfa and not a lame beta. Any advise would be appreciated. To me marriage really sucks and it sucks the life right out of you, seriously. Thank go I am still in decent shape and have all my hair. I always look and feel exhausted but still have shit loads of energy and my sex drive is still crazy strong. I need a miracle guys.