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Are most marriages miserable?


Poppy

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If you're happily married that would be good to hear as it's getting a bit depressing in my circle. The majority of my married friends, relatives, neighbors, acquaintances, and colleagues (i.e. everyone) complain quite often about their spouse and the state of their marriage. Childcare, money, respect, free time, weight, jobs, laziness, in-laws, and housework and other chores, are all fodder that seem to feed the misery cannon. It's put me off marriage to be honest. Maybe couples stay happier if they live together without getting married or having kids.
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I think at least part of the problem is folks trying to live in accordance to what they think society expects of them. Everyone's "supposed to" get married, get a stable career, have kids, buy a home, eventually retire because that's what good normal respectable people do.

 

But aside from that vague generalization, I think a more concrete thing is that there's a lack of communication as to what's working and what isn't in most relationships. I've said before and I'll say it again, I engage in polyamorous relationships instead of regular monogamous ones. To define that as briefly as I can, polyamorous means you have multiple romantic relationships simultaneously.

 

To make such a relationship dynamic work, there has to be lots of clear and honest communication about boundaries, rules, things we like, things we dislike, what we want and what we don't. There also has to be constant effort put in to make sure that you don't leave 1 partner feeling like they don't matter as much as another partner.

 

My girlfriend lives an hour away with her husband of 8 years and their 2 1/2 year old son. I only get to see her on Sundays, usually she comes to my house but every 4 weeks I go to their house when her husband is on call for work and can't reliably watch the kiddo. I only have my girlfriend at the moment, but she has to balance the relationship with me and the relationship with her husband. You might think that sounds even harder than maintaining just 1 relationship, but it's a lot easier than you think.

 

To do poly relationships successfully, you have to put in that communication effort and you have to give each partner enough attention to maintain the relationship - I think this right here is what's missing from a lot of unhappy monogamous relationships. There's NOTHING WRONG with being monogamous, I'm not trying to advocate that everyone turn to polyamorous relationships, but you might learn a thing or two from it. I think in monogamous relationships, people eventually taper off in how much attention they give each other, they eventually get stuck in a routine and while poly isn't immune to that, we do become more aware of it because of the balancing act we're maintaining.

 

I think if folks would go into relationships with the same type of clarity/honesty that poly folks do right from the get go (due to necessity to balance it all), they'd do better. Instead, a lot of folks play games (intentionally or unintentionally) and talk to everyone BUT THEIR PARTNER when they have problems. Meanwhile, my GF is the happiest she's ever been having 2 unique relationships and me and her husband work as a team to make sure she's got her emotional and physical needs met, and likewise she makes both of us feel so very loved and valued just by being herself.

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The majority of my married friends, relatives, neighbors, acquaintances, and colleagues (i.e. everyone) complain quite often about their spouse and the state of their marriage.

I'm betting that you're a kind person who is trustworthy and known for being able to keep a secret. You probably don't gossip about the people you know and you don't appear judgmental. That's why you're sought out as a sounding board/mini-therapist. It's happened to me and it can really skew a person's view of things when all you hear is negativity. Those same couples who are complaining to you, also have great days together, you just don't hear about them. Taking in all that drama and negativity can be so draining. It's okay to take a step back and let them know that the mental load is getting to be too much. Just be honest. I bet those people don't realize how many others are confiding in you.

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I agree with you @Poppy about there being a lot of negativity around the idea of marriage. We quickly forget that no two couples are the same. People who keep whining about their spouses, while creating a 'perfect' image of themselves, are flatly dishonest, in my opinion. @Zack T that is a unique way of deriving happiness, but I know a lot of people who wouldn't advocate for it. For how long have you been in this relationship?
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This particular relationship is at 3 months, while her and her husband have been married for 6 years I think. I've been actively looking for this type of relationship since April 2015, just didn't succeed in finding the right persons til now.
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This particular relationship is at 3 months, while her and her husband have been married for 6 years I think. I've been actively looking for this type of relationship since April 2015, just didn't succeed in finding the right people til now.

I appreciate your openness and honesty and I love hearing your stories, but you're kidding yourself if you think the situation you're in right now is at all realistic. You aren't living with these people. You aren't sharing in the childcare, the finances, the housework, the yard maintenance, the cooking, the admin stuff, or anything else that makes a relationship, a relationship. You get all the fun with none of the work. Move in with those people and I bet your story changes. Though, I'm surprised you aren't getting stressed by your kid and ex. Could be because you're a guy though and face different expectations. Or hey, maybe you are sharing in all that domestic stuff and I've just read it wrong. I don't think so though. And is he bi too? If not, how are they the right people?

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You place a lot of significance on that stuff, versus the emotional connection, it sounds like. I do agree with you, the dynamic would change if I moved in with them. You're making assumptions though, and I can't blame you since I didn't give you a full detailed account of what our relationship is like, but still, try not to do that.

 

I get to see her every Sunday, that's the only time our schedules allow us to be together in person due to life and the fact that we live an hour apart. Most of the time, she comes to my house because it's easier. However, every 3 or 4 weeks I go to their home because her husband will be on call during the weekend for his job and may have to leave at a moment's notice (therefore, he may not be able to care for their son as he normally would). On those days, I do help out with house stuff because I end up being there nearly all day. I'll watch their son while Brad relaxes and plays games, while Linda is cooking dinner. Last time I was there, me and her tackled cleaning up the kitchen and living room. I have contributed to their finances as well, when they've needed it (which has been very sparingly and small amounts). For example, 2 weeks ago we had a vicious thunderstorm and Linda's SUV got stuck in the mud in the ditch in front of my house. Didn't have roadside assistance on her auto insurance, so I paid for it.

 

Brad isn't Bi, my relationship is not romantic or sexual with him. Also, my ex knows about the situation and polyamory and while she isn't poly herself, she doesn't have a problem with it because she trusts that I'm not bringing drama-filled or bad people into our lives. She met Linda 2 weeks ago and they hit it off really well, they're friends on Facebook now. I still have my son stay with me Thursday through Sunday every week (I drop him back off Sunday's around noon).

 

That's the power of honesty and communication. It can be hard to understand at first if you're not poly yourself, but this type of relationship doesn't automatically lead to problems. If we can love everyone in our lives without running out of love, then it makes no sense that we're limited to loving only 1 romantic partner at a time. Additionally, it's rather silly that we're encouraged and taught to manage our emotions and to manage our lives, but when it comes to jealousy and people, it's almost expected that you DON'T manage that. Have you ever heard someone jokingly say "If I even catch him so much as LOOK at another woman, so help me..." and everyone just nods and goes along with it laughing? THAT is the problem. It's so ingrained in us that this type of thing automatically is a problem that we just blindly accept that point of view, without ever thinking about it or questioning it.

 

ANYWAY, long winded point was you're on the outside looking in, trying to determine if this relationship is a "real relationship" and using all these different criteria you decided to list as reasons why you think it probably isn't. That'd probably be pretty insulting to other people. I've made it a point not to let "being a man" excuse me from child care, or from being emotionally available. It's totally fine if, for your own personal romantic relationships, you don't view them as being completely validated until you've done certain things, and I agree to an extent. However, everyone has different needs and different expectations. Try to keep that in mind.

Edited by Zack T
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  • 2 weeks later...

ANYWAY, long winded point was you're on the outside looking in, trying to determine if this relationship is a "real relationship" and using all these different criteria you decided to list as reasons why you think it probably isn't. That'd probably be pretty insulting to other people. I've made it a point not to let "being a man" excuse me from child care, or from being emotionally available. It's totally fine if, for your own personal romantic relationships, you don't view them as being completely validated until you've done certain things, and I agree to an extent. However, everyone has different needs and different expectations. Try to keep that in mind.

I think I somehow insulted you and I'm very sorry for that. Poppy didn't say what the complaints were about and I bet she wouldn't. So I was trying cover another side to it. I simply meant that living in a household and dealing with daily drudgery brings more stress than simply coming around sometimes. It isn't being married, being in a relationship, being committed, or that makes it hard. I think it's living together that changes the dynamic. It's the dealing with the daily drudgery of everyday life. It's true for platonic roommates as well, one person always feels like they have the lion's share of the work, and they'll often complain about that. I read what I wrote earlier again and I can see how it came across as rude and I'm so sorry for that. I'm not very emotional, so I tend to think of things in terms of the logistics. Sometimes intent is hard to get across, but I certainly didn't mean to attack your relationship style, parenting, or anything else.

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We learn new things each passing day, and this thread has brought out a different approach that may not augur well with a lot of people. All that you say is true, only that each person likes to look at a situation from a personal point of view. Does the end justify the means all the time?
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