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To think most people are unhappily married?

(310 Posts)
Seline Thu 28-Feb-19 00:59:23

Something I've been thinking of. How widely accepted men's jokes about a weekend with the lads/night out etc to get away from "the misses", how people describe marriage as a ball and chain, jokes like "single women are skinny because they see what's in the fridge and go to bed, married women see what's in the bed and go to the fridge,".

I've never understood why you'd marry someone you don't enjoy spending time with and I've started to think most people perhaps don't actually like their husbands or wives...

MrsTerryPratcett Thu 28-Feb-19 01:07:16

I know a lot of people in unhappy marriages. In many cases the men are horrible arses so the women are unhappy. The women withdraw all affection so the men are unhappy.

DH jokes that when he goes out with his male friends he listens to them moaning then says, "I still get laid but then I do some housework". He makes me very happy.

Lovingbenidorm Thu 28-Feb-19 01:09:11

Ooh you sound very bitter
You really can’t judge other people’s relationships on the basis of tired old cliches and shitty jokes and sayings.
My marriage is very wonderful, thank you very much for asking.
I certainly didn’t marry someone I don’t enjoy spending time with.
Just had a thought
Is this a DF?
Shall await others

Seline Thu 28-Feb-19 01:10:29

I sound bitter? I'm happily married. I'm talking about comments I notice others making which I can't understand because I love my husband.

NorthEndGal Thu 28-Feb-19 01:12:31

I think maybe it's the people you know?
I can only speak with certainty for myself, I know I am very happy in my marriage.
All of my family and friends pretty much are married, I am sure some of them have unhappy times within their marriages, but they don't bitch or joke about being unhappy, they go out of their way to spend time together, and really do seem to enjoy each other.

Lovingbenidorm Thu 28-Feb-19 01:15:59

Obviously misconstrued the point of your post, sorry
I really don’t know anyone who feels like that, all my friends are very happy in their relationships

AnneLovesGilbert Thu 28-Feb-19 01:44:08

The marriages and long term relationships around me are a mixed bag. Some of them wouldn’t work for me but seem to work for the people in them and we’re all different. We live and work together, have a blended family and are very happy, loads of people would hate it but it’s right for us.

Having had a horrible first marriage but put such a brave face on it that most people were shocked when I left, I’m also aware that things often aren’t as they seem. But I don’t, thankfully, know anyone who makes comments like you describe.

The ones that baffle me are the posts on here - there were a couple in the last week - claiming people who say they don’t scream, shout or verbally abuse each other are lying or think they’re “perfect”. It’s horrifying and sad how low some peoples’ standards are. It’s the flip side to casual cries to LTB, to suggest that everyone’s actually bloody miserable and hates their spouse/partner and it’s normal. But it’s hard to argue with defensive.

Monty27 Thu 28-Feb-19 01:58:34

As offensive some may find it, I cannot stand that it's acceptable because it's just banter
Just not funny banter. Ugh
Each to their own though, you don't need to join in.

Theknacktoflying Thu 28-Feb-19 01:59:53

I sometimes read it as a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ ....

I do not understand what makes relationships tick, but I think very often relationships are a reaction to what we saw our parents do ...

There is also the old cliche that men marry woman thinking they won’t change and women marry men thinking they can change them ...

Girlzroolz Thu 28-Feb-19 02:23:56

Well, the world has changed mightily in the last 2 generations.

We can’t really look to our parent’s marriages for tips (even if they were good). Work has changed, home ownership has changed, child-rearing has changed, personal freedoms have changed.

And that little thing about living soooo much longer these days. How happy you are when you marry isn’t a good predictor of whether the partnership will stand the test of time and massive social change.

How can you promise someone a lifetime together, when you have so little knowledge or control over so many aspects of your life to come?

It’s very hard to navigate modern life, and the cult of the individual, while holding a healthy marriage together. Don’t assume it’s for lack of trying or goodwill (or choosing the wrong person). And while some people might fall back into lazy 1950’s language of ‘ball n chain’ or my favourite ‘the wife and three veg’ it doesn’t mean they’ve got 1950’s problems. They could arrive at that destination from very different Women have always had their lazy language options too, describing husbands as hapless, doltish or impotent.

Check out Esther Perel (YouTube, TED, etc). She has a lot of research about modern marriage worth hearing.

Hundredacrewoods Thu 28-Feb-19 02:30:40

I really don’t know anyone who feels like that, all my friends are very happy in their relationships

I think that's statistically unlikely tbh, more likely they appear happy to outsiders

PregnantSea Thu 28-Feb-19 02:36:01

I never thought this until I joined Mumsnet. Then I read so many threads from people who are divorced, or clearly in unhappy marriages, and it did change my perspective a bit.

You have to take this things in full context though - people are much more likely to complain about something bothering them than brag about something great. You'll hear more about people's problems than their good times. It's just human nature I think.

Just like they're much more likely to make a Mumsnet thread when they're having marital troubles. No one is going to start a thread saying "my husband and I are so happy together. We have almost no problems. Isn't that great?" What would be the point?

Topseyt Thu 28-Feb-19 02:36:25

I've certainly seen a lot around me that supports what OP is saying. In fact, I think I can say that divorce has been more common than staying together amongst my group of neighbours and siblings etc.

DH and I are almost an exception in still being together and having largely stood the test of time (through ups and downs).

MillenialMum89 Thu 28-Feb-19 02:45:25

I've been with my man for 6 years and have a family now. Selection is key. And hard work and selflessness.

Bumbalaya Thu 28-Feb-19 02:58:31

Because relationships are nuanced, complicated and messy at times.
Things aren't black and white.
I am happily married definitely.

Butteredghost Thu 28-Feb-19 03:43:50

Exactly, things aren't black and white OP.

You can marry someone you love but still get annoyed about day to day things. Surely that's inevitable when you live with anyone including house mates, parents or children.

You can love someone and enjoy their company but have disagreements that you never really solve.

Some people like making jokes/banter but aren't exactly comedians so they fall back on the cliched jokes you mentioned.

Some people are unhappy in their relationship but stay because they'd be more unhappy single.

Some people want a family and don't mind who it's with.

Some people enjoy the drama of an up and down relationship. Or they enjoy whinging - they are only happy when they are unhappy.

And a bit more existential but what is happiness anyway?

Myfoolishboatisleaning Thu 28-Feb-19 03:57:44

I tend to think those that make a huge deal about how much they love their husbands are over compensating, it never really seems truly genuine. British people are so self deprecating, it is easier to make a joke than be over effusive in praise.

StevieHuckle Thu 28-Feb-19 04:07:13

Marriage isn't meant to be fun! Its meant to be what you do to make a partnership and form stability in which to raise children.

There's far to many ideas of marriage being this selfish fun fairy-tale.

Marriage is about responsibility, sacrifice and is hard work. Thankfully the benefits if done properly and having made the right choices and good decisions are a life long partner to share the burdens of life with physically, emotionally and financially, and out of it will come a stable family and well rounded children.

MrsTerryPratcett Thu 28-Feb-19 04:14:43

Marriage isn't meant to be fun!

I've been doing it wrong for ten years then. Oops.

QueenoftheFarts Thu 28-Feb-19 04:19:16

The people I know who have had disappointing marriages have a common denominator, and that is that they expected to live happily ever after.

My best friend and I have both been married for decades and we regularly grumble to each other about what total arses our husbands are. But we are still both happily married and expect to be so for the rest of our lives.

We just expected to work hard at our marriage ever after rather than just live magically happily ever after.

Life, and marriage is not all unicorns and rainbows, and people who say things like "oh the spark died" after 2 years piss me off a little bit. Of course the spark dies. Its not an everlasting sodding flame, you have to fan it now and then, feed it a bit.

Sometimes its just a damp fart that you put up with. Love my husband to bits. Wouldn't change him. Still want to smother him with his own pillow sometimes.... Like now... its 4am and the fucker has been snoring like a train for three solid hours.

I have also observed that people who DO claim to have fabulous marriages are sometimes accused of being goady or over compensating (although I have a deep suspicion of people who never argue - what's that about?)

But it does seem to be a badge of honour to be able to complain about the insufferable arse you have to live with, and you are a smug bastard if you say, "mines ok actually".

We are all difficult and annoying, and float along the spectrum of how unbearable we might be at any given time in marriage or friendship.

I do think that the standards of "happiness" in marriage are a bit ridiculous. Sometimes I think I have the best husband in the world simply because he came home from the supermarket like a triumphant hunter having claimed a bargain in the reduced chiller fridge and other times I get all stabby because he's left his empty yoghurt pots lying around and the dog got to them....

We should spend less time looking at everyone else's marriages or relationships like nosey neighbours and more time putting the hard graft in....

I also think forums are not necessarily the best place to gauge, as oft times people are here to vent, get support through a genuinely terrible situation, or ask if they AIBU....

Decormad38 Thu 28-Feb-19 04:21:04

I must take my marriage more seriously next time 😆

HicDraconis Thu 28-Feb-19 05:09:08

I suspect it’s a bell curve much like any other set of data points. You’ll get the vast majority trundling along in the middle, happily content in their lives and relationships. You’ll get the extremes at both ends - bitter unhappiness at one end, whether due to abuse/violence/not being compatible/whatever, and total bliss at the other extreme.

It will also change throughout the course of a relationship as people change and their life circumstances change.

I would have said I was at the happy end of the bell curve in my first marriage. But life circumstances changed, I grew up (he was older and had done his growing up already) and I had the choice of growing up into who I wanted to be or who he wanted as a wife. I chose the corner, we got divorced.

I’m now happily with DH2, have been for 14 years through all manner of shit that life has thrown at us, but we just seem to have a knack of communicating, sorting it out, leaning on each other and getting on with it. At least for the last 14 years it’s been more fun than hard work smile I don’t see that changing but it may - and we will talk, but, and get through it. We’re true partners rather than being in some sort of competition (“I’ve worked harder than you” “I’m more tired / sick than you”) which seems to be a major problem in many relationships.

MarshaBradyo Thu 28-Feb-19 05:18:36

There is a mix but what you’re hearing eg ‘the misses’ etc is more likely an indication of your social circle.

That is a particular way to talk about marriage, happy or not.

Tennesseewhiskey Thu 28-Feb-19 05:18:39

Why are you picking those cliches?

Theres loads of cliches about Marriage. Making marriage sound shit about both parties.

And FWIW, in my circle the women go away far more often than the men.

SweetheartNeckline Thu 28-Feb-19 05:19:56

DH and I are really quite "plod-along" people. I love him to bits and we still have sex, we laugh together every day and I love it when he comes home from work. I think it is possible to take a partner for granted (as in, assume they'll be on your side, be a decent human etc) which is always painted as such a negative thing, but really life isn't exciting all the time, there will always be things that irritate you about your partner and it's really important to have people outside of the marriage to blow off steam with - which I think is where the "jokes" in OP stem from.

On the other hand there is very little stigma to divorce now in many social circles so I'm not sure many people would stay in a unhappy marriage (appreciate it is possible to become trapped by finances or caring responsibilities). Working through a not happy period is different from being in an unhappy marriage.

All that said, I do wish society would change its perception of a healthy, "successful" marriage or romantic partnership. We don't expect any other relationship to be lifelong and acknowledge a successful friendship or business partnership as being one that fulfils a purpose, allows those within it to reach their potential and ends fairly amicably. Now that we tend to live for 50 years after the average age of marrying, it doesn't seem terribly fair to hold marriage (which is really, in a secular society, just a legal formalisation of a sexual friendship) up to the lifelong romantic ideals that we do.

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