Is There a Balance Between Love and Marriage?

"Is it better to be alone, or to settle?" asks single mom/philosopher Lori Gottlieb in Marry Him in this month's Atlantic Monthly.

To me, the question has never been so simple. I've been married twice, both times for an irresistible mix of passion, respect, love and hope for a future together -- but fear of being alone wasn't a factor. The failure of my first marriage was more complicated than the issues Lori Gottlieb explores, as is the success of my second union. But she sure does tackle some wonderfully provocative dilemmas, like the ones listed below (and guys, please feel free to flip the gender assumptions; she writes about women settling, but clearly equivalent questions can be asked of men):

Every woman I know --no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure -- feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.
Marriage isn't a passion-fest; it's more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business.
Women's biological clocks place them at the mercy of men ... therefore a power dynamic dictates what should be an affair solely of the heart (not the heart and the ovaries).
Marrying Mr. Good Enough might be an equally viable option, especially if you're looking for a stable, reliable life companion.
So if you rarely see your husband -- but he's a decent guy who takes out the trash and sets up the baby gear, and he provides a second income that allows you to spend time with your child instead of working 60 hours a week to support a family on your own--how much does it matter whether the guy you marry is The One?
My married friends say things like, 'Oh, you're so lucky, you don't have to negotiate with your husband about the cost of piano lessons' [or] 'You're so lucky, you don't have to have sex with someone you don't want to.' The lists go on, and each time, I say, 'OK, if you're so unhappy, and I'm so lucky, leave your husband! In fact, send him over here!" Not one person has taken me up on this offer.

Some of Gottlieb's points made me laugh. At some I nodded my head. One made my blood boil.

How about you? Do you agree with any of these points? Did you settle, hold out for passion, or both? What are your regrets about your relationship? Your wisdom to pass along? Questions you asked yourself, or continue to ask, about the balance between love and stability in your current relationship? What are your hopes for future relationship happiness?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  March 19, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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Comments

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I think it would be incredibly sad to be married to someone with who you 'have sex with someone you don't want to' Or who feels that way about you.

In my second marriage, I did not settle, but I did change my criteria the second time around. I think it is negative and demeaning to your life partner to say you're 'settling'.

Posted by: marielley | March 19, 2008 7:45 AM

Ugh ugh ugh. Can we send this discussion to the same place as the mommy wars? Life rarely unfolds the way you think it will but enjoying the journey rather than pining for the purported destination is the way to go. I am trying to eliminate hand-wringing from my life -- do people think it's odd that I am not married (early 30s) - probably. But if I had married the guy I was with in my 20s, I'd be divorced now.

The last 3 statements make my blood boil to varying degrees.

Posted by: tntkate | March 19, 2008 7:53 AM

After almost 21 years of marriage, I have definitely found that marriage has its ups and downs. Many of my friends are I are enjoying our husbands so much more now that we aren't getting wake-up calls from one child or another at 5:30 a.m. (my children are almost-6 yo and up), and once we have finally accepted what we cannot change. My own parents immediately worried that my husband and I didn't constitute a "brilliant" marriage in the way that their son and his wife, who had met at medical school and therefore had so much in common, constituted a brilliant marriage -- my brother's first marriage lasted about 7 years before separation and divorce.
My husband used to joke that when we lived in the Third World (I'm the guest blogger from 3/18) I never got angry at him, because I was so annoyed at the driver who almost ran me over, the driver who threw an orange peel out the window, almost pelting me, etc., etc..

Once your kids are older, if you want time together, what's nice is that you can carve that out. I think the endless grind of childcare when your kids are little can test a marriage, but with luck you get through that stage to be able to enjoy doing things together which don't involve keeping children placated and occupied.

Posted by: suzyswim | March 19, 2008 7:55 AM

"But if I had married the guy I was with in my 20s, I'd be divorced now."

Ditto.

I don't call it settling, I call it "growing up". What kind of a partner, a relationship, makes a good marriage? It's definitely a conversation I am going to TRY to have with my daughter when she gorws up (if she will listen to me, of course!)

Posted by: tsm | March 19, 2008 8:29 AM

Now that a whole different dilemma -- how to pass on to your kids your hard-earned relationship wisdom. Do you tell them the nitty gritty about your mistakes and successes? I'm not sure words can be as convincing as their own experimentation.

But what you can teach, probably mostly by example, is how much fun trust and intimacy provide in a family. If you're enjoying life with your husband, partner, boyfriend, kids, parents, etc -- you show how valuable close relationships can be over time.

I think most people replicate their family dynamics in relationships, for better or worse. So give your kids something good to replicate!

Posted by: leslie4 | March 19, 2008 8:36 AM

When I met my husband, it was love at first sight. We got married a month after we met when I was 24 years and he was 22. For most of our marriage, we were inseperable. We had 3 beautiful daughters together which I stayed at home to raise while my husband worked 2 jobs to support us. Those were the most wonderful 17 years of my life. If I would have sat around worrying about if he was 'the one' or if I was 'settling' I would have missed out on an amazing experience. Although happily ever after did not pertain to us, it was quite an adventure. Will I ever get married again? That ladies and gentlemen is the question of the century.

Posted by: audreyelizabeth | March 19, 2008 8:47 AM

in Hawaii there's a saying, "That which is done is true and right."

It's incredibly freeing to live by that instead of hand-wringing over whether your life decisions are correct or not. If you made the decision, it's done, and true and right. Move on to the next decision free and clear of worries about the past.

Posted by: newslinks1 | March 19, 2008 8:54 AM

My Mom settled and I remember hearing her say that the marriage was miserable after the first 6 months. She did have 2 children, which includes me, and is still married and still complaiing about him. I don't have any sympathy for her. Also, she was miserable when I was a child and took it out on us, which made for an unhappy childhood. I can understand it now, but obviously didn't when I was young.

I didn't marry the first guy who was interested since it did feel a little like settling. I am now married and very happy. Marriage is not exciting every day and I can definitely see where it would be a chore if you settle and don't wait for the rhight person.

I also don't think 30 is old to not be married. I am 33 and many of my friends are still single. So, tntkate, hold out for the right one. You will be much happier!

Posted by: Thought | March 19, 2008 8:59 AM

I believe I am happily married. Not that every moment is blissful. We have our ups and downs. Some of the things that make us crazy we knew about before marrying each other. Most of the time I look at it like this. We are each others strongest supporters. We are life partners, co-parents, and lovers. We are better off with each other then alone. But all marriages go through good times and bad times. I do think some marriages are just toxic. But it does seem like some people bail too early. They cite things like we grew apart, or we just ghave different interests. My guess is the key is to keep your relationship alive and remember that there will be bad times. But mostly know that if your better off with each other, you will work harder at making it work out. I don't think multiple marriages are the key for a lot of people. My stepfather told me that he made all the mistakes in his second marriage as he did in his first. The only difference was he now knew they were mistakes.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 19, 2008 9:25 AM

I think anybody that is involved in a good marriage could also have a good marriage had they married somebody different.

but you can only pick one, (at a time anyway), and for sure he/she won't be perfect. Nobody is.

I also think that anybody involved in a miserable marriage can also make a misery out of any marriage, no matter who they hook up with.

And even after 17 years of marital bliss, I still have to say, "I love you" to my wife before hanging up the phone..., or she will keep calling back until she hears me say those 3 words. Not only that, I have to say it like I mean it. LOL!

Posted by: DandyLion | March 19, 2008 9:43 AM

Ugh ugh ugh. Can we send this discussion to the same place as the mommy wars? Life rarely unfolds the way you think it will but enjoying the journey rather than pining for the purported destination is the way to go.

Posted by: tntkate | March 19, 2008 07:53 AM

tntkate nailed this one.

Whenever I meet a women who is more concerned with getting and being married, and checking an item off her 500-things-to-do-before-I-die list then she is about the quality and staying power of her relationship with her significant other, I feel sorry for both of them.

"But what you can teach, probably mostly by example, is how much fun trust and intimacy provide in a family. If you're enjoying life with your husband, partner, boyfriend, kids, parents, etc -- you show how valuable close relationships can be over time."

Spot on, Leslie. Let's not model, "Here's what NOT to do."

Posted by: mn.188 | March 19, 2008 9:46 AM

newslinks1,

I love that attitude! It is so much easier to live focused on the future.

In my case, I married at 19. My husband went into this thing with the expectation that it WAS going to work, that he would do what it took to make it work out. I was less mature, and guess what? Most of the major turbulence of our early marriage was caused by me. I freely admit that life began to get really good when I grew up and began giving him the courtesy and effort that he deserved.

We don't have a problem with the daily grind of childcare, so much. We both love our son and find it easy to give him what he needs. I think it will be interesting to look back in a few years and see whether it does get easier after the kids' needs aren't so intense.

Posted by: jaxom | March 19, 2008 9:52 AM

Thanks MN. Altmom has said it here before - relationships/marriage aren't about LUCK, which is why the statements in the post "you're so lucky..." made me scream. We make conscious choices about who we want to spend our lives with. I know my partners strengths and weaknesses and he knows mine.

I agree 30s and unmarried is ok. For me, it took finding a new OB/GYN who realistically discussed my childbearing prospects rather than reminding me I was running out of time. (No joke and my old doc is consistently in Washingtonian's top ob/gyn list).

Posted by: tntkate | March 19, 2008 9:56 AM

Argh! This is a topic of a 'sex and the city' episode....

Posted by: dotted_1 | March 19, 2008 9:57 AM

Offtopic to MN - how's life going for you?

Off topic to Fred - what color did Freida decide for her hair?

Posted by: dotted_1 | March 19, 2008 10:00 AM

DL - all together now....awwwwww... I love it

Posted by: dotted_1 | March 19, 2008 10:02 AM

Ummmm, wow. This is one of the most depressing articles I've ever read. It's so wrong in so many ways that I don't even know where to begin. Although I do love the fact that she figures that, for 30+ women, "if you say you're not worried, either you're in denial or you're lying." I didn't realize that being a 40-yr-old single mom granted the power of omniscience.

What she calls "settling," I call growing up and changing what you value. If you are looking for a man who will bring you flowers every day, provide great sex whenever you want, read your mind whenever you're unhappy, and change dirty diapers with a smile on his face (all the while providing a 6-figure income to allow you to stay home with baby and nanny), then yes, committing to a real guy with real foibles is going to seem like settling. But, umm, unless you're a cartoon character who lost her glass slipper, that was never going to happen anyway.

I understand her view, because I held it myself for many years. I always wanted the guy who didn't want me -- I wanted the hot guy, the too cool for school guy, the guy who all my girlfriends would be jealous of. Because if a guy like that wanted me, then I must be worthwhile, right? "Nice" guys who adored me were just boring, and I didn't understand why anyone would settle for that.

Then I met my future husband. Cute, but total geek -- exactly the kind of guy I had been turning down for 10+ yrs. So I kept waiting to get bored, but it never happened. He was crazy about me, and for the first time in my life, that made me happy instead of uncomfortable. I had finally grown up enough that character and values and how he treated me was more important than whether the "cool" kids would be impressed.

So yes, I ended up marrying one of the "nice" guys who was never Mr. Popularity, who will never be on the cover of People. But it sure wasn't settling -- I'm crazy about him. The best part of our relationship is that we both think we married up. It depresses the bejeebers out of me to think about marrying someone I didn't respect, someone who bored me, someone who I didn't want to have sex with, just because I wanted to be married. I'd much rather be alone than settle for that. Which, ironically, was the very decision I reached two weeks before I met my future husband.

Posted by: laura33 | March 19, 2008 10:04 AM

I met my husband very young--i was 21, he was 24. I would say that we are very happily married--we're not happy every single hour or every single day. My husband likes to quote an elderly Italian lady on tv who was asked if she ever thought of divorce in 60 years of marriage...she said, "divorce? never! murder? every day!". So yes there are moments each day when I may want to kill him (or at least just whop him one) but I can't imagine a happy life without him!

Posted by: mchatterjee22 | March 19, 2008 10:16 AM

I am fairly certain I didn't settle for easy and reliable. That might have been my first husband but certainly isn't my current.

I was like Laura. Right before I met my husband, I decided that I just wanted to enjoy being single and I was tired of the rat race of first dates and so on and so forth. If someone came along... great... if someone didn't... also great but I wasn't doing the dating/searching out thing any more.

I was looking for a language partner so I could practice my Spanish. I happened to be looking for a male partner because I find them so much harder to understand and wanted to practice listening to a man. So I put an ad on Craigslist and picked out a guy that I couldn't possibly be attracted to. I decided that I didn't want to tempt fate and have a cute language partner. Boy, did that backfire! Instant attraction and we married within 6 months.

You can do all the planning you want but life rarely goes along with it.

Posted by: Billie_R | March 19, 2008 10:20 AM

Laura, great story!

And I did marry up. I met DW when we were both 25 and she was foolish enough to say "yes" when I asked her out. I wasn't about to let that one get away. Ten months later we were engaged.

(Here's fate for you: our originally-scheduled first date was postponed because my father died. Really. We were going to go out on Saturday, November 30 1985. At 4:30 that morning I got a phone call telling me that Dad had died of a heart attack that morning.)

We've been married 7,557 days now, and through it all I still can't believe she even went out with me. We've had our ups and downs, and to be honest there were a few of those days when we didn't like each other, but we always loved each other.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | March 19, 2008 10:21 AM

My stepfather told me that he made all the mistakes in his second marriage as he did in his first. The only difference was he now knew they were mistakes.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 19, 2008 09:25 AM

This is absolutely true for me, but I haven't ever articulated it quite so well. My second marriage is a happy one, not so much because I've fixed all of the annoying things about myself that contributed to the failure of the first, but because I now have the humility to recognize and amend for stupid behavior before things really get ugly.
That being said I certainly do not recommend settling, if that's how you feel you'll turn into the trojan horse of the relationship, destroying the poor soul that you have so kindly gifted yourself to. The three most important things I learned from my first marriage, don't marry a fixer-upper, don't let things get ugly, and make sure you have plenty of fun together (real foreplay takes whole weekends, not just 15 minutes).

Posted by: pinkoleander | March 19, 2008 10:25 AM

I think that the myth of "THE ONE" is really dangerous. The fact that someome is "THE ONE" for you does not mean that they are perfect, or that the relationship will be perfectly harmonious all the time. People are flawed and complicated. The best that we can do is figure out what we respect and cherish, and then find a partner that is compatible with that. In the process we will have to figure out what we can tolerate, what we will not tolerate, and find a way to incorporate all those choices into our decision. I do think that it is true that marriage can be mundane, but I think that is the beauty of it: the regularity, the routine, the sense that you can count on someone to be there with you, day in and day out, through dirty diapers, sleepless nights, and a straight six weeks of colds in the winter months. This doesn't seem too romantic, but to me anyway, there is nothing more romantic than a spouse who will hear you walking a crying baby in the middle of the night, and get up without being asked to take the baby from you so that you can get some sleep. When the fireworks are gone, it is nice to have a low steady fire burning at home. It is not about settling. It is about settling down.

Posted by: emily111 | March 19, 2008 10:28 AM

How does one really know? As a youthful 67 year-old, I figured after 2 failed marriages early on, and 30 subsequent years of independent (read:alone) living, I had carefully and realistically refined the characteristics I wanted in a potential partner so I gamely tried again. Five years into the relationship (four of them married) finds me back where I started. Hubby just left looking for "young, juicy p...y" after never being able to really bond or partner in a meaningful way. I would have stayed longer, tried harder and possibly "settled" anyway. All that emotional investment and time spent makes it difficult for women, I think, to recognize a mistaken choice and face the plain fact that "he's just not into you." Men and women are their respective biologies, different as night and day. Call me cynical, but I don't think men can be happy in a relationship for long without wandering afield; some are just better than others at keeping it hidden.

Posted by: klholmes41 | March 19, 2008 10:30 AM

Emily -- best thing I've ever read on this subject: "It is not about settling. It is about settling down." YOU should write an article for Atlantic Monthly.

ArmyBrat -- You frighten me with your calculations!!!! 7557 days? So if Perry and I got married Sept 9, 1995 how long have we been married? Include leap years!

Posted by: leslie4 | March 19, 2008 10:31 AM

Leslie,
Seriously, I remember the fireworks and passion of first love. It is really great and fun, but truly, how long do you think anyone can keep that up? I have been married 10 years now, and that kind of pace would have worn me out years ago. Of course we look back fondly on the pre-children days, when we were so passionate and energetic, and it is nice to have those memories. But we have moved on to something more solid and enduring now. We still aren't getting any sleep, but at least we have 2 kids to show for it now.

Posted by: emily111 | March 19, 2008 10:37 AM

I'm 50, never married, no kids, almost settled twice, most recently in my early 40s. I never wanted children, so marriage for child-raising was never an issue. But at 50, I do think about aging alone. My brothers and sister have their own families, and I am in no doubt of my position on that priority list. My friends are mostly married, so ditto. Advantages to not settling: I've loved living alone, and I've loved my career. I have great friends. I have no hassles over money. I have control. Disadvantages to not settling: Not knowing who will make the decision to take me off the ventilator someday...Who will make certain my nursing home is a good one...Who will take me out to the ballgame when I'm in a wheelchair and help me keep score...Who will I be important to?

Posted by: babsy1 | March 19, 2008 10:43 AM

Leslie, that would be 4,575 days of wedded bliss for you and Perry.

(Okay, you can cheat a little bit. See http://www.calendarhome.com/date.shtml

Just type in any two dates and it tells you the number of days between them.)

(I keep track of the number of days DW and I have been married because I like to surprise her with "anniversaries" - like 7,500 days a couple of months ago. She came home to see the bottle of wine, the steaks grilling, the flowers on the table and went "okay, what now?" She never did figure it out before I told her.

Why yes, I am a geek. But then you knew that by now. DW certainly does. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | March 19, 2008 10:49 AM

I think part of the issue is that some people are placing too much emphasis on things that, in the end, don't really matter. It isn't settling to realize this. I couldn't care less whether my husband brings me flowers or plans spontaneous romantic dates. However, knowing that someone's got your back 1000% of the time is vital.

To me, having the guy hold my hair back while I puke nonstop due to morning sickness is more romantic than all the flowers and candy in the world.

Posted by: floof | March 19, 2008 10:49 AM

ArmyBrat,
You just warm my heart. All men should be like you.

Posted by: emily111 | March 19, 2008 10:50 AM

Army Brat, what emily said, plus the geek in me loves that site! ;-)

OT to MN: hoping to see Duke get out of the first round... really really wish I had tickets to game here in DC.

Posted by: tntkate | March 19, 2008 10:58 AM

Ugh- after reading Gottlieb's article, I think that her (and her friends') biggest problem is that their "standards" are pretty unrealistic. Towards the end, she cites as examples of older women who have recently "settled" by marrying unacceptable men like a "socially awkward engineer," and a struggling actor in his 40s. Geez, do people have to be perfect to get married? This is humanity.

It would serve her right if she gets married to a guy whose friends all go around tsk-tsking about how he "settled" for her despite her ... (insert flaw here).

Posted by: acornacorn | March 19, 2008 10:59 AM

Laura wrote: "The best part of our relationship is that we both think we married up."

Ding! Ding! Ding! We may have the all-time winning quote here. I feel the same re DH, and try to remind myself of this on the mundane or annoying days to ease getting through them.

tntkate wrote: "...relationships/marriage aren't about LUCK, which is why the statements in the post 'you're so lucky...' made me scream. We make conscious choices about who we want to spend our lives with."

True, but only up to a point -- certainly a great starting place for a couple. However, even when we make a superb choice in life-partner, bad stuff can still happen to good people, later if not sooner.

Remember the guest blog re a husband's terrible work-related accident and years-long recovery? Or the one by young mother diagnosed with breast cancer? (BTW, shout-out to Frieda! Fred, I second Dotted's question re wig color). Not to mention marriages in which there occur other life-threatening illnesses (moi), bad traffic accidents (all 4 parents, 1 of whom was killed), unforeseen job layoffs (1 parent), long-term sick parent/child (2 parents), previously undiagnosed mental illness in a spouse or other family member (happened to a BFF to whom we lent moral support), etc., etc.

Yep, it's all about the journey...

Posted by: mehitabel | March 19, 2008 11:01 AM

I made the most wonderful choice in a husband I could have made. But I would have rejected him 5 or 10 years earlier for stupid things, like the fact that he is not a voracious reader (not literary at all, in fact), or that he's 9 years older than me, or that he was married before and has a daughter by his first wife.

So did I settle? If I had married the man who asked me at 26, we'd have certainly gotten divorced. The passion was there (in bed and in arguments), but that's not someething on which you can build a life-long connection. I am so, so grateful that I said no. And I am thankful every day (almost) for the wonderful man I married. I don't feel I settled -- I hit the jackpot, baby.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 19, 2008 11:03 AM

Yes, WorkingMomX! You nailed it. It's not settling -- it's realizing what's important. I feel like I hit the jackpot as well.

Thank you, ArmyBrat! Gotta go tell Perry to read today's comments...

Posted by: leslie4 | March 19, 2008 11:10 AM

Getting around to one of Leslie's other questions:
"Now that a whole different dilemma -- how to pass on to your kids your hard-earned relationship wisdom. Do you tell them the nitty gritty about your mistakes and successes?"

The most trouble I've ever gotten into in my marriage is telling the kids a few years ago that DW had been engaged while in college and that the guy had broken it off. (She was an undergrad, he a grad student; they were going to get married after she graduated but he broke it off a couple of months before - fortunately before any serious plans in terms of halls/receptions/etc. had been made.)

DW made it clear that she has definite thoughts and plans on how and when to share life experiences with the kids. Her mother consoled her after the broken engagement with the story of her own broken engagement; DW had planned to hold that in reserve for use when/if one of our daughters shared that same fate.

It was made very clear that I was NOT to share stories about past relationships with the kids without prior approval!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | March 19, 2008 11:14 AM

I have been married quite happily for 8.5 years, and I did feel that my husband was "the one". Still do. However, I do remember a palpable sense of relief when we got engaged (after 1 year of dating) that I wouldn't have to spend my late 20's (I was 26 at the time) worrying that every guy I dated would think I was on the prowl for a husband, which I wasn't.

Posted by: TashaMike | March 19, 2008 11:20 AM

AB:
Thanks for the website reference.

11,358 days since we met, 9769 since we got married. The 10,000-day milestone comes after the 2008 general election!

Posted by: chemguy1157 | March 19, 2008 11:30 AM

"It was made very clear that I was NOT to share stories about past relationships with the kids without prior approval!"

Interesting, Army Brat. My son has known that I had a previous marriage since he was about 4 years old. He saw a picture of my first wedding in an old photo album, and I figured it was best to tell him that I had been married before rather than let him be curious and wonder. I am actually glad I told him, because I did not want my first marriage to be some deep dark secret to my kids, and now I don't have to worry about possibly shocking them with the news when they are older. I actually think that sharing some info with kids is important, as long as you do it in age appropriate ways. I don't know about sharing the nitty gritty details of your marriage, however, especially if there is conflict where a child could potentially feel pressured to take a side. On the other hand, I think it is fine, and even important, for kids to see that their parents sometimes disagree and that they work it out.

Posted by: emily111 | March 19, 2008 11:32 AM

By the time I married StrollerDaddy I realized "happily ever after" was my responsibility. I wound up with a magnificent partner, a wonderful father, and someone who supports my running by running with me. Like a marathon, some of our miles aren't as great as others, but we work at it and we get each other through our respective touch miles. Settle? No, we're building the story of our life adventure by adventure.
Army Brat -- smiles at your comment. I also know how many days we've been married and how many days old our kids are. And when I want to really geek out DH I tell him how many minutes we've been married :) I also celebrate the milestone days AND the first day of every month, since we were married on the 1st.

Posted by: StrollerMomma | March 19, 2008 11:39 AM

"I think anybody that is involved in a good marriage could also have a good marriage had they married somebody different.

. . .

I also think that anybody involved in a miserable marriage can also make a misery out of any marriage, no matter who they hook up with."

One can be preoccupied with labels, or be focused on living and giving. The marriage dance still takes two. While neither party can single-handedly make it a good one, one party inevitably holds the power to make it a bad one.

Fortunately, for those of us who married up, when both people fully appreciate how fortunate they are to be with their beloved, they are far more invested in making the marriage a good one.

Posted by: mn.188 | March 19, 2008 11:44 AM

Ditto on sharing with kids about past marriages and broken engagements. For me, it feels deceptive and destructive to withold info about a prior marriage. My kids deserve to know that -- from me. The only way I can ensure that is to tell them myself, which I've done since they were old enough to understand what "married" meant.

Posted by: leslie4 | March 19, 2008 11:50 AM

Obviously it is much better to be alone than to settle. Many, if not most, people are perfectly happy single. No one can have a fulfilling and full life in an unhappy marriage. Before you find the right person, you need to comfortable with yourself as an individual. Then, when you do fall in love, be sure to date for at least three years and cohabit for at least one before marrying. I had no idea that there were still some people so sad and pathetic that they want to be married by age thirty just for the sake of saying they're married. Many people now choose to commit to their soulmate for life without signing a marriage contract and many others choose to remain single. Quite a few other people wait till they're 40 or 50 to marry so that their single lives are cut short. My spouse/partner and I, together now for 8 years and with a wonderful son, will not get formally married till all couples have that right (i.e. till marriage laws no longer discriminate on the basis of sex).

Posted by: lfivepoints69yahoocom | March 19, 2008 11:53 AM

Anybody else out there watching 'John Adams'? What a relationship between Abigail and John! My husband had never studied their letters. I remember studying them...I don't know if I remembered because I'm female or if emphasis changed between 1969 and 1973 (the years we each took US history)

Posted by: dotted_1 | March 19, 2008 11:58 AM

1. Over 11,700 days of marital bliss. Anyone here have more?

2. No need for a wig yet.

F.

Posted by: fred | March 19, 2008 12:07 PM

How do you pass along what you have learned?

By letting your own experiences come up in conversation. Little bits and pieces and comments here and there add up to the whole picture.

Don't go out of your way to tell them things (too artificial) or to hide them (turns them into mysteries and sets them up for shocks).
And most importantly, if they are anything like myself or my siblings, only the stuff you tell them before they hit adolescence will really stay with them. After that, there's the "yeah, right" barrier...

Posted by: enkafiles | March 19, 2008 12:10 PM

Fred: I aspire to "over 11,700 days of marital bliss." We're going on 6388...

Posted by: kate07 | March 19, 2008 12:19 PM

"Then, when you do fall in love, be sure to date for at least three years and cohabit for at least one before marrying."

Huh? What page in the Rulebook of Life includes this arbitrary standard? Is there then a rule for how long after marrying is the appropriate time to have kids? and how many kids? and how far apart?

Life is for living, not measuring.

Posted by: mn.188 | March 19, 2008 12:24 PM

we are mere babes in the woods with about 450 marital days under our belts.

Posted by: Billie_R | March 19, 2008 12:37 PM

MN: the WaPo ate my post when I tried to take that one on. Long story short, that "rule" was broken...we only dated 462 days before we married (sorry, I'm now geeked on the calendar counter), and we did not cohabit beforehand. Not for any big moral reason (NTTAWWT), but that he was in VA, and I was in CA. And only 602 days before our son was born..and...I'll now back away from the calendar...

Posted by: kate07 | March 19, 2008 12:42 PM

kate ... back away slowly ... I found the calendar site addictive myself. punching in memorable dates and such.

Posted by: dotted_1 | March 19, 2008 12:51 PM

my hubby and i have only 333 days of marriage under our belts, having met each other just 1236 days ago. this article is so ridiculous--and sad if the author really means it and anyone takes her advice. She'd rather live in a loveless marriage, day in and day out with someone she doesn't love, rather than submit to the horror of single life? Yikes AND yuck!

Posted by: gudpup | March 19, 2008 12:59 PM

There's a vast difference between holding out for THE ONE and taking on a husband essentially as a sperm donor / maintenance man. Gottlieb is writing about extremes, presumably because that's more dramatic, but I think most people recognize that most of life happens in the mushy middle ground.

Posted by: tomtildrum | March 19, 2008 1:02 PM

Caution: unrelated comment.

Today marks the end of the 5th year of the Iraq War. I'd like to acknowledge the new "Greatest Generation," this young generation of soldiers -- regular military and guardsmen/women -- who have been called to action in hazardous territory far too many times by this President, with too little in the way of return or commitments to be taken care of as needed far into the future. And it's not just the soldiers, it's also their families (especially children), adjusting to the chronic state of not being able to move on with their lives as families, employees, members of the community.

And to what end... $9.2 B per month that will never, ever be recouped. And 10s of thousands of lives and families that will never be the same.

Thank you to all who serve. I hate this war, but I respect your service.

Posted by: gottabeanon1 | March 19, 2008 1:04 PM

I can't honestly imagine myself living in a loveless marriage. I tried it in my previous marriage after everything went wrong (MN was correct that one person can't hold it together but one person can definitely wreck it) and I was determined to stick with my vows of 'til death due us part'. It was one of the hardest and most soul destroying things I have ever done. I only lasted a couple of years so I totally can't fathom how someone can do it for potentially years.

Posted by: Billie_R | March 19, 2008 1:06 PM

200 days! Thanks for all the good advice :)

Posted by: teaspoon2007 | March 19, 2008 1:11 PM

I think a lot of women (and some men, too) have been sold the whole idea of "the ONE." Perhaps it's all the fairy tales read to kids, or the movies that show two people falling madly in love and living happily ever after (or riding off into the sunset, or whatever the metaphor).

Could I nitpick about my spouse and wonder if I could have done better? Of course. But I love him madly (even when I'm mad at him), and we deal with our issues, or agree to disagree. He's loyal and a devoted father. If I think back to my teenage self, though, my marriage is not what I would have envisioned an ideal relationship to be. I still don't think I settled, though. I think it's the act of living with someone long-term in a committed relationship that has created all the nuances. You can love the whole person AND still get profoundly annoyed at some of his habits/beliefs/actions. I agree it's maturity that changes one's perspective.

Posted by: ravennajen | March 19, 2008 1:16 PM

I settled twice in marriage and I don't recommend it all. Now, at 48 years old and being single for ten years, I don't plan on marrying just to be married. I felt a lot of pressure to be married and even to stick to marriage when it was not working in any way whatsoever. If I marry again, it will be not be to a perfect man, but it will be to a man that I am friends with and a man that has similar life goals. Never settle ladies/gentleman - it will not make you happy. I also never look down on women or men who have never married, I just figure you were a little smarter than I was and that you did not settle. You lose yourself totally when you settle for a marriage and not a true partnership.

Posted by: pkm123 | March 19, 2008 1:56 PM

I realize this isn't Carolyn Hax, but the topic makes me want to post a question...a lot of people my age (27) are demonstrating really poor judgment when it comes to marriage (starting out with tons of debt, ignoring the fact that only one of you wants kids, etc.) I know plenty of couples younger than me who are already getting divorced. What advice do you married people have for those of us who want marriage to last longer than five years?

Posted by: ishkabibbleA | March 19, 2008 1:57 PM

"What advice do you married people have for those of us who want marriage to last longer than five years? "

Realize that marriage is not just about love/passion. It is also a business partnership, a parenting partnership (if the couple wants kids), a social partnership...

Love is grand and necessary for a good marriage, but it isn't enough, not by a longshot. I remember some advice someone gave me about getting rid of meaningless crushes when I was younger... imagine sitting down and doing your taxes with this person. It works wonders ;).

Posted by: floof | March 19, 2008 2:22 PM

I don't have any expectation of marriage, or even romance at this point in my life. The men my age are looking for SYTs, or affairs with desperate women my age. The men younger than I are searching within their own age groups. Its discouraging, but I wouldn't get married to avoid being alone. I've been unhappily coupled, and I've been alone. As dismal as aging alone seems, its better than being in a home that's a battleground, or a silent set of parallel tracks. Fortunately I get fewer "you poor thing, you lost out in the marriage race" remarks and looks. And that AARP discount comes in handy for traveling!

Posted by: babsy1 | March 19, 2008 2:24 PM

Just thought I would point out an article on MSN about a couple in Hugo, MN that have 83 years (yep - they married in 1925) of marriage behind them. Their secret to a successful marriage - "You take your vows, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer," Mayme said. "I guess you just stick to it, come what may."
What a neat story!
My husband and I were friends first - I heard once that love is "friendship that has caught fire".

Posted by: stupid2007 | March 19, 2008 2:30 PM

Count me among those who find Gottlieb's positions simply bizarre. I didn't get married so I could have someone to take out the trash, set up gear, and have more income. I don't need someone else to do those things for me. What I am grateful beyond measure for everyday is the emotional and spiritual support that my husband gives me. He is my partner in life in the most profound way, and while there are hard things and easy things and lots of practical things to resolve, I can't imagine going into a marriage without that foundation. What you do when that foundation begins to erode away is another question I guess, but for myself it's what the marriage is about.

Posted by: LizaBean | March 19, 2008 2:30 PM

Reading True Wife Confessions on blogspot definitely tells me that a heck of a lot of people settle and regret and worry about the person they married.

I wish society would accept and encourage other forms of relationships rather than "marriage" being the one and only holy grail. I've lived with my partner for a year and a half, and we certainly plan on staying together "forever." But I don't know if marriage will ever be right for us.

In response to Leslie:
Now that a whole different dilemma -- how to pass on to your kids your hard-earned relationship wisdom. Do you tell them the nitty gritty about your mistakes and successes? I'm not sure words can be as convincing as their own experimentation.
***
I think mostly just be a great example of how relationships do/should work positively for everyone. Eventually you tell them the nitty-gritty, but that's as they get older and can process them. Life experience may be the best teacher, but fair warning is definitely preferable.

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | March 19, 2008 2:40 PM

When I was ready to settle down, I asked my little sister to find me a goody-goody, go to church, girl next girl type.

So my sister ended setting me up with a really nice girl that was looking for a bad boy in her life.

And now, after 6375 days of marital bliss, I still haven't been able to corrupt her, nor has she been able to fix me. I guess we both got stuck with what we were looking for. Hahaha! Thanks sis!

Last week after writing out a huge check for the dentist to get our son's teeth fixed, my wife said to me, "Just think how rich we would be if we didn't have any kids." I replied, "Yeah, but then we would have gotten divorced a long time ago."

My wife and I both agree. With all these kids we've had, we're just too darned poor to get a divorce. So as long as we're stuck with one another, we may as well try to make the best of it!

Posted by: DandyLion | March 19, 2008 3:03 PM

I always have to laugh when people talk about how long you "MUST" be together before marriage and how you "MUST" live together first.

Thanks, Fred, for the calendar!!!

We've been married 1902 days.
We've known each other 2059 days.

We got engaged three weeks after we met and married five months (157 days) after we met.

We just went to Hawaii together and as we walked around looking at all the other young couples, I was struck by how grateful I was that I never had to wait and wonder, "Will he propose? If so, when?" For us it happened really naturally and quickly, during a conversation over lunch. Then we went and took pretend engagement pictures in a beautiful park with him down on one knee. :)

People thought we were out of our minds, of course, since it had only been 3 weeks and I was 22 and he was 25. (Especially out of town family!) But as soon as they observed the two of us together, they relaxed a bit.

Different things work out beautifully for different people, and all should be celebrated. Yes, there are obvious things that make many marriages unhappy, but less-obvious things make many marriages happy.

Posted by: newslinks1 | March 19, 2008 3:03 PM

Hmm, let me try that again.

I didn't settle. I didn't notice some of the warning signs on the far horizon though, either. I certainly wish all the mental health diagnoses had been made before I met him. At least one of them is intractable--at least for him.

If wishes were fishes, we'd all have a fry.

Posted by: maryland_mother | March 19, 2008 3:07 PM

There's a big difference between "settling" and being in an adult relationship. My hubby is incredibly cute (to me, at least), but not in the 6-pack-abs and biceps-of-steel sort of way. HOWEVER, he is incredibly sexy b/c he loves, respects, and appreciates me, and b/c he is a fabulous father. We are additionally compatible b/c we are on the same page in regards to religion, role of family, and some other big issues.

I think of a friend who, when we were in our 20's, loved the drama of relationships. She and her boyfriend broke up countless times b/c of one thing or another. Years later they are happily married, b/c she realized the little things and the drama were no longer what she needed. She needed this great guy who loved her and was supportive of her. I don't think she would say she "settled" on him, merely that she grew into the relationship they now share.

Last thing: I think that true "settling" is incredibly unfair to the person you are with. To debate whether or not someone should "settle" for a spouse they don't really love is trivial. If you are not committed to the person and the relationship, let your would-be spouse find the right person for them.

Posted by: nvamom | March 19, 2008 3:14 PM

1) I agree with the comment, "Every woman I know --no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure -- feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried." All of my friends panicked as our 30th birthdays approached. At 29, I began mercilessly pressuring my boyfriend to propose, threatening him with crazy ultimatums and even at times withholding sex. I look back and am so ashamed at how desparate I likely appeared. Where was my self-respect? It worked and by age 30, I was married. Am I happy with my decision? On tough days, I sometimes question my hastiness in choosing a lifetime mate. It is such a gravely serious decision that should not hinge on one's age. Two years and a baby later, I know that and while my marriage is doing just fine (thank goodness we'd dated for 6 years before my mad rush for the altar), I sometimes find myself daydreaming about "what if?" and wondering if my husband does the same. I can only pass on this hard-learned wisdom to others. Take your time in choosing your mate if you want to be happy and to do this thing only once.

2) I agree that, while it is unfortunate, "Women's biological clocks place [us] at the mercy of men ..." This is the case only IF we want children. I've had friends who do not want children, but I have always dreamed of becoming a mommy and now that I am one, it is just as rewarding as I dreamed (although more challenging than I ever dreamed). I wish I could have been like some of my friends - not desiring children at all and having the freedom to wait until my 40s if necessary to weigh my options, increase my dating pool, and find the perfect guy.

3) This statement made me cringe:
"So if you rarely see your husband -- but he's a decent guy who takes out the trash and sets up the baby gear, and he provides a second income that allows you to spend time with your child instead of working 60 hours a week to support a family on your own--how much does it matter whether the guy you marry is The One?"
Ladies, take it from me: do NOT settle. You will be unhappy for as long as you are in the marriage because after the newlywed newness wears off, you will face the mirror every morning and be reminded of what a big mistake you've made. You'll be stuck (unless you opt for divorce or adultery) with an unfulfilling mate. Will you have children if you want them? Most likely, if nature cooperates. But children alone - while they provide lots of companionship and happiness - are not enough. Adults need adult companionship from the opposite sex. Do NOT settle!!!

Posted by: mrsbookaddict | March 19, 2008 3:18 PM

Not to put too fine of a point on it but..

I met Frieda 145 days after I got out of the army.

We knew each other/were engaged for 507 days before marriage.

(I don't remember the exact date but the Creepy Van (tm) was not involved.)

And thusly started over 1,013,991,400 seconds of martial bliss, all without an argument or other disagreeable issue!

Posted by: fred | March 19, 2008 3:30 PM

"And thusly started over 1,013,991,400 seconds of martial bliss, all without an argument or other disagreeable issue!"

*snort*

Liar!

Posted by: maryland_mother | March 19, 2008 3:35 PM

"martial bliss". Hahaha! Good one, Fred!

Posted by: DandyLion | March 19, 2008 3:48 PM

Marian:
"As long as the Madison Public Library was entrusted to me
For the purpose of improving River City's cultural level,
I can't help my concern that the Ladies of River City
Keep ignoring all my council and advice."

Mrs. Paroo:
"But, darlin'--when a woman has a husband
And you've got none,
Why should she take advice from you?
Even if you can quote Balzac and Shakespeare
And all them other highfalutin' Greeks."

Marian:
"Do you think that I'd allow a common masher - ? Now, really, mama. I have my standards where men are concerned and I have no intention..."

Mrs. Paroo:
'I know all about your standards and if you don't mind my sayin' so there's not a man alive who could hope to measure up to that blend of Paul Bunyan, Saint Pat, and Noah Webster you've concocted for yourself out of your Irish imagination, your Iowa stubbornness, and your li'berry full of books!"

Lori Gottlieb sure has a li'berry full of books, citing half a dozen of them, including "Madame Bovary" by Flaubert, who is pretty close to Balzac. She also has a library of TV shows including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Friends, Sex and the City, and Will and Grace, plus movies like Say Anything and Broadcast News!

Folks, there are so many real-life marriages around, made up of real-life husbands and wives, warts and all. Novels, TV shows, movies and plays are fantasy -- and that includes Meredith Willson's play, "The Music Man." If I had thought I deserved more than the real-life married people around me; if I had thought I'd hold out for the kind of bride that the heroes of novels, TV shows and movies get -- I would never have married the wonderful girl I did marry. So, look at the real-life married couples you know, and set the best of them as the standard for you to aspire to. Don't wait for Paul Bunyan, St. Patrick or Noah Webster.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | March 19, 2008 3:52 PM

I am the quarterback and DH is the defensive line. We have different handoffs.
I plan for camp, school, and activities. On those weeks I don't do errands and I may not do laundry but he will.

This has evolved over 3,000 days but usually works with reasonable expectations.
I asked dear grandparents to pick up DD a little earlier Friday so he could work out before going to work. I had a couple hours of needed rest last Sunday and I felt much better.

Posted by: shdd | March 19, 2008 3:53 PM

"Just thought I would point out an article on MSN about a couple in Hugo, MN that have 83 years (yep - they married in 1925) of marriage behind them. Their secret to a successful marriage - "You take your vows, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer," Mayme said. "I guess you just stick to it, come what may."'

Whoa. There is a whole lot more to a successful marriage than an aversion to divorce or inertia. Without more, the only thing you know about a long marriage is that it's been, well, long (cue MeatLoaf, "so now we're waiting 'til the end of time . . ."). Is it successful? Tallying the years (or days, Fred, LOL)doesn't tell us.

A successful marriage? That is true bliss, baby. leslie, LizaBean, laura and emily are talking about successful marriages, whether or not the quantity of days involved impresses anyone.

Posted by: mn.188 | March 19, 2008 3:56 PM

Fred, we have 13,395 days under the marriage belt. Some of them good, some of them blissful, some of them bad, and some of them bad enough to break most marriages. We hung in through the worst of times and have grown a lot in the process. I think we'll make it for the long haul. :)

Posted by: lsturt | March 19, 2008 4:52 PM

Three sisters - me, oldest, brief first marriage. Second marriage to "the one" has been going for 20 years, two kids, and loads of ups and downs along the way.

2nd sister - no kids ever, because she picks men who've already been married and had kids and vasectomies. First marriage lasted 16 years, then she left him because he was an alcoholic and she found a new boyfriend. The boyfriend is younger and less ugly than the ex, but otherwise is exactly like him. My sister settled both times because she feels she's a failure as a woman unless there is a man in her life. i suspect that stealing her men from their wives is part of that proving-she's-a-successful-woman thing. In fact, the first marriage should have ended 5-6 years sooner, but it took her that long to find a tolerable boyfriend so she wouldn't be alone.

Youngest sister - married for six years to a sweet guy, but they couldn't have kids together, and he wouldn't support her education and career goals. She got pregnant with a meth-head less than two years after the marriage ended. She's stayed single, and happy about it once she got the meth-head out of her life and stopped bringing home other less-than-wonderful men. Her beautiful daughter is now 15, and my sister has been celebate since the girl was about 9, and she's quite sure that she will never marry again. She likes her freedom, self-determination, and independence.

To each her own. We aren't all the same people, so we shouldn't be expected to make the same choices.

Posted by: sue | March 19, 2008 4:54 PM

Wow, 4322 days -- but somehow, going on 12 yrs sounds more impressive to me. :-)

I really like the "friendship that has caught fire" comment a lot -- that seems to describe it perfectly for me. My future husband and I dated long-distance, and what reeled me in were the long phone calls with someone who completely "got" me, in strange/funny/weird ways (like we both won the same science award in high school). By the time we were engaged, I couldn't imagine him not in my life.

But let me join the chorus of laughter over the "date three years, live together one" rule. Interestingly, I heard on Dr. Phil (so it must be true, right? lol) that the most successful length of time between beginning to date and tying the knot is between 6 mos. and 18 mos. -- apparently, those long "trying out" periods don't make for more successful relationships. It's more like, if you both have the same goals, and you know it's right, then there's no need to wait; whereas if you don't have the same goals and aren't sure, then waiting around isn't likely to help.

I gotta say, the Dr. Phil approach is far closer to my life than the "3 + 1" rule. My future husband and I actually had the marriage talk very early in the relationship -- were were both upfront that marriage was the ultimate goal if things worked out. I don't know if it was that long-distance makes you fish or cut bait sooner, or that we're both fairly direct. But playing with all the cards on the table from the get-go was one of the things I liked about him -- no annoying game-playing or worrying about whether we wanted the same thing. We ended up getting engaged after a year, then were engaged for just shy of a year while we planned the logistics of how the [bleep] we were going to manage to live in the same state. Cohabited for a few months, but not a test, just logistics (he didn't have a place to stay in my state, and it seemed silly to rent a second apartment for 3 months).

Posted by: laura33 | March 19, 2008 5:15 PM

Oh, I forgot: the one area where I will concede men have a completely unfair advantage is "man with cute baby" syndrome. If my husband and I ever split, all he'd have to do is go to the park with our cute little happy blue-eyed 2-yr-old, and he'd have 3 dates within 20 minutes -- the women just freaking fall all over them. If dating services really wanted to be successful, they'd keep a stable of on-call cute babies for their male customers to rent (we've offered to rent the boy to my brother as a babe magnet).

Whereas when I take the boy to the park, the men don't seem to get all sentimental and gushy in quite the same way. SO not fair! :-)

Posted by: laura33 | March 19, 2008 5:22 PM

"By the time we were engaged, I couldn't imagine him not in my life."

Laura, I guess that is what it boils down to in the end: the sense that your other half is truly family, just as much family as your parents, siblings, and children. That's how I feel about my husband. We are a family--for better or for worse. I would walk through fire for him, and I would expect him to do the same for me. Sometimes, when I get home, I feel tired and cranky, but I am glad that he is there. I am glad for his presence in my life, even when he is cranky and tired himself. There is nothing like being together, in companiable silence, and know that everything is right, even if we have nothing exciting to say to each other. It is equally nice to know that we can sometimes say things to each other that are hard to say, and trust that we will be heard without judgement or hostility.

Posted by: emily111 | March 19, 2008 5:53 PM

Women panic and get desperate as they approach 30 if they're single? Damn...this means I only have eight more months to enjoy my freedom before I have to start freaking out, huh?

Truthfully, I'm more panicked about finals than finding a husband. It's not hard to fall in love and get married. Civil procedure, though...that's hard.

Posted by: Monagatuna | March 19, 2008 5:59 PM

Mona,
Long time no see. How is law school going?

Posted by: emily111 | March 19, 2008 6:03 PM

"[T]he one area where I will concede men have a completely unfair advantage is "man with cute baby" syndrome. If my husband and I ever split, all he'd have to do is go to the park with our cute little happy blue-eyed 2-yr-old, and he'd have 3 dates within 20 minutes."

Yikes--not true, not for me at least. Anytime I'm approached by a "Sunday Afternoon Dad" (appropriate acronym, there), all I think is: that guy needs a maid, someone to change diapers, and sex, and prefers the convenience of only having to shop once for all three. Yick. Babies, no, puppies yes, because they don't come with the baggage of an ex-wife (and in some case, I'm sure, a current wife and a ring-finger tan) or a child.

Then again, I'm only 29, and my "desperation" hasn't set in yet. Ask me next year.

Posted by: Monagatuna | March 19, 2008 6:20 PM

Em, thanks! Law school is slowly but steadily sucking the life out of me. AND I'm not married yet! Oh no! Just kidding...it's going about normal, I guess. Law school abuses us, we abuse each other. I got berated on monday for answering a question wrong, and completely screwed up an oral argument yesterday. Now all I need is to be hit by a bus today, and my life will be complete! Thanks for asking! How have you been?

Posted by: Monagatuna | March 19, 2008 6:22 PM

Off-topic to Mona!

Good to "see" you. You sound as though law school has not changed you a bit, and I mean that as a compliment.

If you didn't do as well as you'd have liked in the fall (assuming your goals were reasonable), finals in the Spring are sure to be immeasurably better. If you did do pretty well, you've already proved you have the keys to the kingdom. Either way, good luck, but you don't need it.

Posted by: mn.188 | March 19, 2008 6:25 PM

"It is equally nice to know that we can sometimes say things to each other that are hard to say, and trust that we will be heard without judgement or hostility"

Emily, your entire post resonated with me, but this line in particular. I must say that I feel truly blessed, and yes, lucky to have the marriage that I do right now. It is my refuge and my rock, and we have weathered some storms together, but I am always struck seeing what others have gone through how lucky my husband and I have been thus far.

Posted by: LizaBean | March 19, 2008 6:25 PM

"Whoa. There is a whole lot more to a successful marriage than an aversion to divorce or inertia. Without more, the only thing you know about a long marriage is that it's been..."

Well, MN, I don't agree. To be together for 83 years without the benefit of murder is a good definition of success.

(that is some 30,300 days!)

Posted by: fred | March 19, 2008 6:31 PM

And congratulations, lsturt!

It seems that not many of us are married over 30 years anymore. For whatever reasons this happens or doesn't.

F.

Posted by: fred | March 19, 2008 6:45 PM

MN, thanks! I love your positivity. I just hope you're right! I am probably freaking out a bit prematurely, but I've never felt stupid until I came to law school (whether I am actually stupid or not is a completely different topic, ha-ha). It's a sobering experience (especially considering how little time I actually spend sober...law school has driven me to drinking). ;-) Good to "see" you again, too!

Posted by: Monagatuna | March 19, 2008 6:50 PM

I'm sure no one will be surprised with what I have to say. I was perfectly happy being single. Then I met someone wonderful. We just seemed to have similar goals and values. I certainly never thought I wanted to get married and have kids, but it all happened. And we do it together. It's really great. :) I couldn't think of being married and miserable. But so many people think they have to be married - that it somehow validates them (oooh! Someone would marry me!)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | March 19, 2008 8:59 PM

Hey there Mona!

off topic to MN:

Did you see 48 hours mystery the other night. Frightening! Really. It was a couple who had 'it all.' The big house in the suburbs- the two kids, the loving husband, the expensive preschools, the 'life.' Well, the trader husband who was bringing in $300k a year was now broke and looking to figure out how to pay all the bills. So...what did he do?

Well, one day, he was driving around the ritzy neighborhood and was arrested for BANK ROBBERY (go look at 48 hours website, steve trantel). Amazing. Everyone thought - there's no way *this nice guy* could do that!!! he volunteers for everything, his dad is a police officer. ETC.

BUT he did it. One of the examples of how it had NOTHING to do with money that this happened. It was that the husband was afraid to let the wife know what was going on - a lot of people blame her for 'wanting that life' but if he had only discussed it with her, she *would* have known. I think in that case, communication, not money, was the biggest issue. I was just flabbergasted by the whole thing. Couldn't turn it off.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | March 19, 2008 9:05 PM

atlmom,

WOW. WOW. WOW. No I didn't see it, but I would have been mesmerized as well.

Maybe this will make no sense at all, but your comment immediately reminded me of the guy who posted her the other day that he wanted to hire a maid but his 7 month pregnant wife and mother of a young child wouldn't hear of it. What a corner these people get into when their images of who they should be and what they should provide to their respective spouses doesn't work in the real world. They consider every solution - even the whacky ones with a 2% success rate like bank robbery (WTF!) - but the obvious one - honest communication and all cards on the table so the couple can develop a joint strategy TOGETHER.

I will hug my husband tonight in gratitude that we aren't afraid to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. And it's not as though we are always on the same page, or agree about everything. It's just the only choice that makes sense if you're in it for the long haul. To do otherwise is to be merely cohabiting with the benefit of a marriage license, but not really be married heart and soul, it seems to me.

Posted by: mn.188 | March 19, 2008 10:13 PM

Fred, thanks for the compliment and congratulations to you and Frieda as well. It has been rough going, especially when everything looked so hopeless. However, the "for better or worse" aspect is not taken lightly (as well as those other vows) so I hung in there. Let's just say that mental health issues and the resulting behaviors/actions that come from them can crack most of the hardiest souls and their marriages. I know that most people who know us were surprised that we made it through that awful time (and some may even be disappointed, but so what?) but we have, and things are so much better now. Progress is on-going.

My best wishes to you and Frieda as she continues with her treatments. You have my prayers and encouragement to get through this challenge.

Posted by: lsturt | March 20, 2008 12:13 PM

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