I read an article today on the state of marriage and how feminism and the feminist movement has impacted how men and women view marriage. It stated that statistically women’s interest/desire to marry has increased while men’s interest/desire to marry has decreased.
In case you’re interested in reading it as well…
While I do believe we, as a society, have contributed to the demise of marriage as a sacred institution, I don’t know that we can point to any one specific reason.
I believe that a large contributing factor to the downfall of relationships between men and women is the propensity for each to seek their happiness through the relationship. We have come to believe that our own happiness is paramount, and that when the relationship (hence the partner) is not making us happy any longer, then it must be time to move on.
…to find our happiness elsewhere.
At least I believe this was the biggest failure, which in turn caused the ultimate break down of my own personal marriage relationship.
And maybe my story isn’t anything like yours. Maybe I am unique in my thoughts.
But I can say that I believed that if he just ___(fill__in__the__blank)___ then everything would be okay. It all centered around him doing things that I wanted.
Rarely did I think of what I could do to make his life happier. This is not to mean that I didn’t do things for him. I was a stay at home mom, so laundry, dishes, dinner, shopping, cleaning, etc. were all the expected things for my part in taking care of a smooth running of the household. Plus I believed my support of his job was yet another thing I “did for him”. And of course this doesn’t include the special occasion gestures that would be a pointed effort to make him happy.
I failed to recognize that making it possible for him to work and not have to focus on the daily grind of running our household were not things that would specifically “make him happy”. I did things I “thought” would make him happy, and often disregarded the things he “asked for” because I guess I believed that I knew better. Of course he wouldn’t “ask” outright for the things that would make him happy, so I needed to interpret for him what that might be…right?!
And truly, when I did things, there seemed to always be a resulting feeling along down the line that was felt as “so I did XXX for you, what have you done for ME lately?” As though I was only doing things for our household/him as a payment for something in return.
Society has stepped away from selfless giving and survival being a joint effort. We are now so self reliant and seeking our own true happiness, that we rarely give what is necessary to make a relationship strong. Unabashed love and affection for our significant other and best friend. We wait for the other to “give of themselves” or make themselves vulnerable first, in an effort to avoid being hurt.
In an effort to avoid being rejected.
In an effort to avoid being judged.
In an effort to avoid coming up short in someone else’s eyes.
Now, I do believe that this idea of selfless giving is scary. That you could give, and then, heaven forbid, not get ANYTHING in return. And maybe even get heartache or pain in return. Or even be ignored, unappreciated.
I know that was one of my major fears.
I didn’t feel emotionally safe in my relationship.
Partly from my own doing, and partly from his actions.
I don’t condone the “using” of another person. That is not what I am advocating. If one side of any partnership is doing 100% of the giving and the other half is doing less that 10% in return, then it is an unbalanced situation. The giving between sides MUST be equalized to be effective.
I’d like to say that the giving in my marriage wasn’t equalized, and that it was primarily because HE wasn’t doing HIS part…
but the truth is…
I didn’t always do my part either.
I expected to be happy.
I expected that it was HIM who was supposed to make me happy.
I couldn’t have been further from the truth of what real love is all about.
I only know this now, because I see it through the love I have for my children. I constantly want to do things that will make them happy, expecting little in return.
Accepting all their flaws and shortcomings and yet still loving them and being completely devoted to them through all the challenges.
I didn’t do that for my marriage. (not that he did either)
And it has little to do with the feminist movement…but wow, does it provide a unique perspective that I wish I had BEFORE I got married. Maybe if I had known back then the outcome, I would have been pessimistic about marriage too.
Every story is different and I would say ‘don’t be too hard on yourself’. It isn’t really our job to make the other spouse happy, their happiness is up to them.
This is one thing that I have finally come to grips with.
I agree it isn’t anyone’s responsibility to make another person happy. I apologize if that was the way I came across. However as much as it isn’t my job to make anyone happy, I also need to recognize that it isn’t anyone else’s job to make ME happy…and I think I was looking for that in my marriage to an extent, and reacted negatively when I didn’t feel that I was fulfilled. I do believe that you can get out what you put in to a relationship, and I recognize that I didn’t put in the same as I expected OUT of my marriage. (not that I believe that it is my sole responsibility the relationship failed) The only idea I hoped to present with my post was that men and women tend to go into relationships with a desire to be “happy” and that often gets projected on being somewhat dependent on the PARTNER to be the source of that happiness…because in the beginning, the happiness seems to overflow from the partner (ah, the early stages of love! haha) and then when it disappears, partners are left feeling “unhappy” and ready to move on rather than work to make it better for both involved.
(and truly, I feel I am more describing my ex than myself, because he was the one that “moved on” and gave up on the relationship-I would have stayed together had I thought he had fight for our relationship in him)
No need to apologize and I did get what you meant. I think we all expect that in marriage to find happiness from or with the other person. I think that my issues was that I felt I could not be happy unless he was happy and he constantly wasn’t and I was letting that ruin my own happiness.
I understand how that could be completely debilitating…and I think I may have been the same way in some regards. But more often I feel that maybe I was expecting that I should be happy more often and if he would just _______ then I could be…and most of the time the blank could have been filled in with “genuinely show me he loves me” and not necessarily with “take out the trash” or “buy me that new dress” lol I’m glad we were on the same page, it is often difficult to know how I come across through writing…I have been told I can be severe and judgmental in the past…I try hard not to come across that way, as I don’t feel that I am, nor do I want to be. 🙂 Thanks, as always, for commenting. Hope things start looking up for you again very soon. Hugs!
I am enjoying your approach to how you will think about your divorce. You have a philosophical bent. My two cents on the problem of “seeking happiness through a relationship” is this. No, we shouldn’t do it, but it is natural that we may think it could happen. I have been divorced for almost a year and have begun dating. Dating is often fun and often makes me happy. I can see how it would be easy to generalize or expand on the theme and think a long-term relationship with this person would make me happy. Of course, with maturity comes perspective: marriage is not dating. A good marriage will contribute to the happiness of a person who is, in their own right, on a path to living a fulfilling life. But to think you could be miserable or dissatisfied with your own self or your personal path and have that all negated and transformed into happiness by a happy marriage–not wise–not workable. But still, it is a problem for some and potential seduction for us all, the search for some easy path to fulfillment and personal happiness.
I agree with your perspective 100%…I think happiness is always what YOU make it…not what someone else creates in you. 🙂 No one can truly “complete” us…but rather “complement” us so that we can feel fulfilled through the relationship. Yin to yang, so to speak. Thanks for reading and complementing!
Perfectly said and written. This is exactly what happened in my marriage. He became unhappy due to external issues and transferred those issues onto me and so therefore instead of dealing with what actually made him unhappy and suffering those consequences, it was easier to blame me and the children. Amazingly he has also just “come” to that conclusion himself. Bit late if you ask me. Words cannot be unsaid.
I was unhappy, but mainly because our relationship wasn’t what I had hoped for with my marriage. I didn’t really expect him to “make me happy” so much as I thought I would “be happy with him” in some regards. I did take my disappointments out on him in some ways…and you’re right, words cannot be unsaid. Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂