The Myth of “Happily Married”

There’s no such thing as happily married.  There.  I’ve said it.

There’s the illusion of happily married.  A pretense, if you will that we all buy into.  We are all convinced that our marriage will be different, better, happier, than that of our peers, our parents, or anyone else we wish to compare our relationship to.

Don’t ever believe you know what’s going on inside other relationships.  You only know what you perceive to be.

What there should be is two people capable of finding their own happiness without each other and then deciding to spend their lives together.  What there shouldn’t be is two people getting married and expecting their spouse to provide an endless supply of happiness to them.

Why do we expect to be happily married anyway?  What is this myth we’ve created over the last fifty or seventy-five years that if we aren’t happy in our marriage something is wrong with us (or more likely the fault belongs to our spouse)?  A generation or two ago—my parents and their parents and grandparents—no one probably thought about whether they were happy, married or not.  Who had time?  Divorce was rare in my grandparent’s era and uncommon in my parents.’   They accepted what was and resigned themselves to a future with the spouse they’d chosen.  They may have been less than content but walking away wasn’t the answer.  Even in my own childhood, schoolmates whose parents were divorced was relatively rare.

In what other area of your life are you compelled or expected to be happy?  Your career?  Do you know how many people hate their jobs?  You say, yes, but they can change jobs, so why not life partners?  Yes, why not?  I’m not happy with this job, I’ll go work somewhere else.  I’m not happy with this partner, I’ll find another.  What’s the difference?  What IS the difference?

What else can you be unhappy with?  A car?  A house?  A pet?  All expendable.  All switchable.  So why not spouses?

Why not dissolve a marriage?  Especially if there are no children involved.  Trading in a car doesn’t connotate failure in a choice so why does divorce?

I started out writing this blog with a conclusion in mind and a point to prove only to discover I’d talked myself out of it which surprised me.

After a discussion with my wise, married, twenty-something daughter, I became even less sure of the point I wanted to make.

We agreed that a divorce has less impact if no children are involved.

If children exist, you’ve created an obligation bigger than yourself and you owe it to them your best effort to maintain a family unit in which to nurture them to the best of your ability.  Your “need” to be “happy” comes after their right to a decent childhood.

Is it better if divorce occurs when kids are older?  I don’t think so because then it’s like they’ve lived through a lie their entire lives.

What if you marry someone and you realize you want completely different things in life?  Compromise is the only answer there, assuming you both want to stay together.  (Why didn’t you iron out these “big” life issues before you married?)

A “happy” marriage can only occur when two people who realize they are responsible for their own individual happiness decide they want to be life partners and that their existence will be enhanced by the constant presence of the other.

An unhappy individual is not going to magically discover another person who can “make” her happy.  That’s a myth.

“I want to make someone really happy.”  Those are the words of a woman in tears who just got the boot from television’s  The Bachelor.  Too bad for her.  She bought into the myth.

Romance novels always offer HEA’s.  Visit me at

Follow my infrequent posts on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock


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