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Marriage behind closed doors

(40 Posts)
tawse57 Mon 13-May-13 11:26:36

I was a bit surprise this weekend to hear of a couple I know being discussed, and whom I had assumed were blissfully happy, about how they apparently "absolutely hate each other" and have only stayed together because they cannot afford to live separately in the area that they now live.

In other words they are staying together for the house and the lifestyle. One of them, I forget which one, apparently knew within 12 months of getting married that they had made a mistake.

OK, I am not naive and I know that none of us know what goes on behind closed doors in a marriage, but when I expressed shock at the above revelation about the couple I was then swamped with stories of numerous other couples who are outwardly happily married but who privately do not like each other. Children or house often being the only thing that is keeping them together.

It has given me pause for thought and left me wondering just how many marriages are like this? How many couples portray an outward appearance of lovingness and happiness but who privately loathe one another?

Very sad.

badinage Mon 13-May-13 11:33:22

I'm surprised that couples like that are able to fool anyone because in my experience, it's pretty obvious. People's body language always gives them away, even if the words coming out of their mouths tell a different story.

Ragwort Mon 13-May-13 11:41:00

Actually I think the opposite to badinage grin - I think there are lots of couples like that ....perhaps not exactly hating each other but staying married for practical rather than romantic reasons. I am often amazed by people who would appear to have the most horrendous relationship but are still together after many, many years.

Some time ago I discussed some marital problems we were having and the number of people that then told me they too had problems, were undergoing counselling, had a trial separation etc etc was quite surprising but it was almost as though until one person admitted they were not entirely happy, everyone else felt the need to put on a brave face.

noisytoys Mon 13-May-13 11:41:26

That was me and DH for about 5 years of our 7 year marriage. I don't know what happened or what changed but we are completely happy and completely in live with each other now. I don't think we fooled anyone before though

scaevola Mon 13-May-13 11:49:54

You can rub along for a very long time in something that's not what you'd hoped for. But unless there is a crisis, and if both parties are kind to each other, it does seem to work. And sometimes it becomes he sort of deep friendship which blossoms later (especially as the children grow and the parents have time to rediscover themselves and each other, and discover they rather liked each other all along). And I suspect a lot of coupes go through times like that, so to an extent I agree with you that it's common to stick it out because of the logistics of life.

But if they "hate each other", then it's not that sort of scenario. And if it really has reached the point of loathing or indifference, then it is probably not healthy to stay together.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 13-May-13 11:50:59

I think quite a lot of people are suffering in silence, keeping up appearances and putting on a big act for their friends. The ones that seem to go the distance are the ones where they have a good natured bitch about each other to their mates. The ones I'm always suspicious are the types that start conversations with phrases like 'of course we never have a cross word'..... because that just makes me think one of them is probably seething with resentment but unable to articulate it.

IceNoSlice Mon 13-May-13 11:56:20

Very sad. I'm sure it does happen. But I think there are also a lot of very happy couples too. Those who just quietly get on with being happy (not being smug or shouting about it). Not a brag - I mean this to try to sound a note of optimism here - but I've been married nearly 7 years and not regretted it once.

Gilberte Mon 13-May-13 11:57:07

My mum always said of all the married couples she knew, only one were truly happy, the rest were compromising in some way.

My own relationship has become little more than a friendship. We don't hate each other but if we diodn't have children together we would have gone our separate ways.

A lot of couples split up once the children move out- always used to surprise me- doesn't now.

badinage Mon 13-May-13 11:57:27

I was sticking to the terms of reference in the OP. I've never known a couple who 'hated' eachother to be able to fool anyone and I've certainly met a few in my time. I've never met a couple like that who were able to fool anyone that they were 'blissfully happy'.....least of all their kids.

bollockstoit Mon 13-May-13 12:04:58

I only know of 2 couples that are actually happy. The rest are compromising and putting-up, and generally having very low expectations. It's shit. I'm ok though <single smile>

Ragwort Mon 13-May-13 12:16:11

Agree with bollock - I used to play a 'game' with my friend of guessing how many couples were really, blissfully happy - obviously not a scientific survey but we could rarely think of any that weren't based on some sort of compromising - including our own - is that sad or just being realistic confused - I genuinely don't know. I do know that I would never, ever get married again if I was single now grin.

DontmindifIdo Mon 13-May-13 12:25:20

I've known couples who are just together because it's easier - there's two couples in my family who to the outside world are perfectly normal and happy but are only really together because it's easier, I'm sure amongst my friendship group there are others - working long hours and not really spending much time together when they aren't being "mum and dad" masking it.

Alot of people fall out of love, but it often takes a 'push' to leave - as much as people on here think it's best to say "this isn't working" and end a marriage before embarking on an affair, in my experience, people who are unhappy but haven't met someone else who would make them happy tend to just bumble along - not liking your partner when you have DCs, a mortgage, not enough money to have anywhere near as good a lifestyle if that same pot of money has to cover two houses, making the DCs not spend much time with one or the other parent, seems too much of a sacrifice for no good reason. (Men particularly seem to do this - it's often dismissed as "being like a monkey - not wanting to let go of one branch until they've got another to hold on to" but often it's practical - they know they are unlikely to be the resident parent, they are the ones who'll take the biggest lifestyle hit and spend a lot less time with their DCs, it would take a lot to make the decision to end a marriage under those circumstances).

bordellosboheme Mon 13-May-13 13:05:09

Do you think you can sense atmospheres in houses where couples are unhappy as opposed to blissful? I always try to gauge an atmosphere when I go to others houses. shock I wonder if people do the same when they come to our house?! Just interested

Sariah Mon 13-May-13 13:07:27

I am not sure that couples are meant to be blissfully happy. Marriage is hard work and can be very difficult at times. Is marriage not about compromise? Surely living with anyone involves a degree of compromise. I dont pretend to be blissfully happy in my relationship but I do work hard at it and make compromises as does my husband. I love him and we have a good sex life but we annoy the shit out of each other also.

Dahlen Mon 13-May-13 13:16:59

I think a lot depends on the temperaments and personalities of the two people concerned. If both parties are non-confrontational types who place a high value on respect when dealing with people, it's quite possible to rub along for years in a dead marriage while keeping up appearances.

However, if you're both more passionate in nature, it will nearly always result in blazing rows behind doors, or if one of is non-confrontational and the other isn't, a low level of constant sniping, bickering and atmosphere (probably the worst result IMO).

All of which are far from ideal if children are involved.

OrangeLily Mon 13-May-13 13:22:59

Wow that's a bit depressing.

I don't think couples are blissfully happy ever. What I do know is that I'm happy in my marriage. It's recent but the relationship is long term. It depends what you mean by 'blissful' though. My relationship is solid but we are dealing with things outside that just now so it can't always be priorities - one tricky family situation and the recent death of a friend means that we haven't been happy but at least we are supported by each other.

I know a few couples who have problems communicating by love each other all the same.

rumbelina Mon 13-May-13 13:41:55

I'm happy in my marriage but we do bicker here and there, particularly at times of stress/tiredness. It's more irritability than arguing about anything fundamental.

We went away for a weekend without DS and had a great time, I remarked to a friend that 'we didn't bicker once' and even though she knows what a mardy arse I can be me well she was shocked as she thought we were 100% blissful.

I guess we are just well behaved in public!

rumbelina Mon 13-May-13 13:44:43

I've just remembered someone from work telling me drunkenly that she should never have married her husband and once her DD is old enough she will leave him.

It's very depressing and sad to think of her riding out an unhappy marriage for the sake of her DD - and potentially not emotionally healthy for her either.

Dahlen Mon 13-May-13 13:49:28

I'm in a very happy relationship and my parents and grandparents had very happy marriages. I'm not cynical about marriages.

HOWEVER, bearing in mind the divorce rate is 40-45% of all marriages, and that many of the 'successful' marriages will feature people as mentioned in the OP, it seems to be that most marriages are actually very unhappy.

Which is why I am always totally bemused that 'family values' are so often touted as a golden age ideal. Seems to me that 'family values' = abject misery and mixed-up children in very many cases. confused

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 13-May-13 14:23:54

Nothing wrong with family values. Families come in all shapes and sizes and values can be common across them whether they are single, married, co-habiting, blended, gay, straight or whatever. It's only when two people persist in staying manacled together under the same roof in a very bad long-term relationship because they have fallen for the rubbish about 'working at it' and 'taking the rough with the smooth' that things are miserable. Very little to do with family values and everything to do with social convention.

tawse57 Mon 13-May-13 14:29:06

Thank you all for your views and thoughts - very interesting.

Do you think people who get married for the second, or even more times, are more likely to put on a happy face to the outside world or do you think this is just something first time marrieds do? Or does it not make a jot how many times you have been married?

I think I read somewhere that if you remarry then the likelihood of divorce is much higher because you have learnt from the first marriage and will no longer be prepared to suffer in silence. Or because you have not learnt from the first marriage and then repeat the same mistakes in the second marriage.

Or do second or third time married people still fall into the trap of everything looking rosy on the outside but, behind closed doors, they can be just as miserable?

I only ask as I am now thinking about all the couples I know and wondering what is truly going on.

headinhands Mon 13-May-13 14:34:42

You have to bear in mind that people bring their own attitudes and history to marriage when discussing others. If an alien landed on Earth and spoke to my Dad they'd think that everyone who is married is depressed and downtrodden because of their marriage. Maybe he just never talks about the happy ones he hears about at work but I've never heard him mention one, it's all negative.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 13-May-13 14:36:32

I think it's more of a problem for first-timers. Most of the second-timers I've known have gone into things with their eyes open, rather more realistic about what they're getting into and with less of the delusional 'love conquers all' stuff younger people tend to fall for. There certainly are some that repeat the mistakes. Some people are very insecure and spend their whole lives thinking it's better to have a really bad partner than none at all.

Dahlen Mon 13-May-13 14:38:21

Cogito - totally agree with you. I'd like to see 'family' redefined in the way you mean. IME the people who talk about 'family values' usually mean the typical nuclear family to the exclusion of all others. They are usually the same people demonising single parents and the like.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 13-May-13 14:45:21

I think I realised that's what you meant. smile Yes there are some very small-minded people who must live in a bubble if they haven't worked out that the nuclear family is just one model. There are so many others that work perfectly well that it's daft to exclude them.

What are 'family values' after all? Sticking up for each other, caring about each other, having high standards and expectations, showing respect and setting a good example, working together .... ? To me, a marriage where people are arguing 24/7, harbouring resentment towards each other, modelling a really toxic relationship to their kids and then putting on a big plastic grin for their mates, that's not family values, that's just dysfunctional behaviour bordering on the delusional.

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