Marriage is (supposed to be) the one thing everyone’s working for when it comes to relationships, right? Or so we’re told. From our grandparents to our parents and siblings, as we age and grow in relationships with people, marriage is supposed to be the ultimate sign of success, as it means you’ve found “the one.” Problem is, it may be leading to more unhappiness.
As most of us know, there are plenty of studies about marriage, showing how divorce rates continue to balloon, and how more and more millennials are putting other priorities — mainly work or a career — before settling down and getting married. Hell, some people just think they’re happier without marriage because they can remain free without the burden of answering to someone else.
Thing is, as we age, I have to admit that it can get lonely not being married. That doesn’t mean we should all be putting marriage at the forefront of every relationship, but as friends age, get married themselves, have kids or get busy, when you’re the only one of your buddies not married, it can be tough to be happy with yourself.
That said, as lonely as you might feel at times, those who are actually in marriages might be even unhappier than you, which comes from a Psychology Today article about the happiness (or lack there of) in married couples. And, because we found the topic to be interesting, we’re joining the conversation by giving you some details on why those in marriages aren’t always so happy after all.
Are people in marriages really more unhappy then those single people?
As it turns out, yes, married couples show more signs of unhappiness than their single counterparts. There are several reasons why this is the case — some of which we’ll talk about below — but the general thought is that expectations, the amount of effort and added stress come from marriage.
Of course, that’s not to say that marriage is a bad thing, because it’s not, but it does mean that more and more people find that marriage is an added burden on their lives that doesn’t have to be there, and it’s leading to unhappiness, doubt and higher divorce rates.
Then why do people strive for marriage in a relationship?
Many people strive for marriage while dating because it’s what we’re told is the thing to do. Think about it, when you tell your parents that you’re casually dating, they always seem to ask when you’re going to find the one and settle down. They expect you to go that route, as it’s the preferred (and traditional) one to have. But we know that marriage isn’t for everyone.
Now think about when you tell your parents that you’re dating a nice girl who you met somewhere. They instantly perk up and ask loads of questions about who she is, what she does for work and all that other stuff. They become more interested about a potential future the two of you have together.
Outside of that pressure, another reason why marriage is something that people strive for in a relationship is because of the kids factor. Sure, people have babies out of wedlock, but it’s believed that marriage and having a family is the way everyone should do it.
Is marriage outdated given modern day sex and relationships?
Marriage isn’t outdated, so to speak, but people are beginning to put their own spin on how to make it work. For example, decades ago, many believed a successful marriage consisted of the husband going to work, the wife staying at home and watching the kids and the entire family living in suburbia. These days, we’ve progressed far away from that — for the most part.
It’s not uncommon for both husband and wife to be working, and, hell, even traveling a lot separately, showing that people can be apart in order to make a marriage work.
Likewise, there are open relationships or kinky marriages that involve both partners agreeing to a “hall pass,” so to speak, where they can sleep around as long as they’re safe about it and communicate what’s happening. It’s untraditional, but there are many ways in which the concept of marriage from 50 years ago isn’t what it is today.
What’s the number one factor that people in marriages are unhappy?
There’s no No. 1 factor why some marriages fail and others don’t — as each relationship is different. In the same vein, there’s no No. 1 reason why people in marriages are unhappy. However, there are some factors based off studies.
According to the Psychology Today article, one of the most common reasons people report unhappiness in marriages is because of unmet expectations. This can be traced to financial or social position, the reality that marriage takes work, the thought that marriage is settling and, lastly, that nothing new comes when a couple gets married. Whether fair or not, these are some of the reasons people express unhappiness in marriages.
Given the fact most of us live in a 24/7 cycle of news and activity — like checking Instagram or comparing one another to each other thanks to online dating apps — the idea of marriage might be as bleak as ever. Of course, people will continue to get married and, hopefully, find happiness, but a lot of the common problems we mentioned above are impacting relationships for the worse, so it’ll be interesting to see if things change, stay the same or continue to get worse in the decades that follow.