They say, single women over the age of 40 are as !*$# a demographic as can be when it comes to romance (from the movie Somethings Gotta Give). Well, they might not be the only ones. Marriage experts believe that half of all marriages end in divorce and only half of those who stay married are happy couples. This means that only 25 percent of all married women are happy and the rest – 75 percent — walk among us heartbroken, married or divorced. People might think a married woman who leads a reasonable good life, gets what she needs. But this is not so, 75 percent of the time. And if this is the case for the women, there must be a whole lot of unhappy men out there as well.
Does this prove that the institution of marriage is a failure? Maybe. Why are most couples (straight or gay – actually I don’t know if gay couples have the same rate of unhappiness) unhappy in their relationship over time? The answer is manifold and I don’t have the answers. Just a few thoughts:
1. Relationships are like everything that is supposed to last, hard work. Constant talking, listening, reassurances, compromises, and time, time, time commitment is needed. It’s exhausting just to think about it.
2. We have been conditioned by society (think Hollywood movies) to believe that one person – the one we are meant to be with, our soulmate, can be all and everything to us, best friend, amazing lover, breadwinner but available whenever needed, smart and funny… you get the picture. And of course, we humans are imperfect, nobody can live up to these ideals, and so we get disappointed very quickly. The expectations are just too high.
So, what is one to do? Forge many relationships that satisfy one or the other need? Be a better partner? Be your own best friend?
There are many ways to be a happy couple but without intimacy, mental, emotional, and/or physical, you really are not a couple. You are just business partners and even business partners need some form of intimacy, a mental space where they can connect, share a secret, and have a common goal they are working towards.
As I said, I don’t have the answers but I just want to point out that perhaps we should not glorify the institution of marriage as much as we have in the past and be realistic, loving, but realistic and be prepared to work hard for what we think we deserve. Listen first before talking, that kind of thing.
Also, marriage is often portrayed as the one and all, the goal, the happy ending of an adventurous journey. Singles are searching and married people have found it. Well, this may not be so. And next time you see a (gorgeous) married 40-some year old (woman or man), don’t be too harsh on her or him. They might just be as lonely as the next person.