It seems my blog readers would much rather read about homophobia, based on the statistics on my last post. More than twice as many people read that post than any previous one. Nothing like a big rainbow flag to get people’s attention! In any case, I am grateful for my readers, and I hope you got my point in that last post. But that was then, and this is now. Now I want to write about being married, or, as in my case, not being married.
The New York Times recently published an article entitled, Study Finds More Reasons to Get and Stay Married. Nothing can depress me further than a headline like that. Great, just great, more reasons as to why I’ve failed and how my life will always be a mess.
The article says, “Social scientists have long known that married people tend to be happier, but they debate whether that is because marriage causes happiness or simply because happier people are more likely to get married. The new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, controlled for pre-marriage happiness levels. It concluded that being married makes people happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who remain single – particularly during the most stressful periods, like midlife crises.”
And here I am getting close to midlife (crises I’ve always had). Seems like a good time to get married. Alas, it’s looking bleak. Tough to be a bleeding heart liberal in southern Indiana. Where, if you’re signed up for something silly like OkCupid, so many of the men answer the question, “Is homosexuality a sin?” with “Yes” and “Which is bigger, the earth or the sun?” with “The earth.” A good friend of mine suggested that values go beyond liberal and conservative, and that I could settle down with a nice, family-friendly Republican. I think not.
Just as an aside here: OkCupid gives you a percentage on how compatible you are with someone based on a shit-load of questions you can answer. So- people scoring less than 80% are of less interest to me than those scoring over that. It’s a bit arbitrary, I know, but OkCupid seems to know the types of questions that will trigger red flags (see paragraph above). However, I have found that under “men looking for women” very few who have a percentage of 80% or greater. Just a handful, really. Out of curiosity, I looked at “women looking for women” – and bam, same thing. Very few with 80% or higher. Then, for the hell of it, I looked at “women looking for men” and ALMOST ALL OF THEM WERE 90% OR HIGHER. This leads me to conclude that straight women should date straight women.
But I digress. Back to the study and the article.
How many people do you know are married to their “best friend”? How many marriages do you know that are wholly successful? I know I’m dealing with a small sample, but still, it’s not many. My parents’ marriage is perhaps the exception, but my parents are exceptional in so many ways. They will soon have their 48th anniversary, and they are happier with each other than they’ve ever been.
So this study makes me think that only people WHO ARE EXTREMELY LUCKY will end up in a marriage like that. It’s not easy to find someone like that, and inevitably, people will come up short. Interestingly, the article also said divorce rates are down, contrary to popular belief. Does that mean a lot of unhappy people are staying together? Possibly.
I almost got married. Really. He was Pakistani and we met, of all places, in Saudi Arabia. Let me tell you, it is no easy feat having an affair in The Kingdom. A lot of life got in the way (and geographical/visa issues as well), and later I discovered him to be manipulative and controlling. And – we were worlds apart, culturally. I couldn’t see myself fitting in with his life in Pakistan, and I couldn’t see him fitting into my life in America. It’s been a wholly distressing part of my life, more so because Shahid still loves me (or so he says), and continues to be a force to be reckoned with. I am still very fond of him, but sadly, I can’t see us getting married.
The article also said that the more affluent you are, the more likely you will be married, and married happily. The disadvantaged are even more disadvantaged in this department. And that’s terrible, because it seems to me that if you’re dealing with poverty and everything that comes with it, you could really use a partner who is your best friend, and a much needed support system.
I also think that equality in a marriage plays a big role in whether or not it will be a happy one. In fact, the study begins to suggest this, saying that unhappy marriages were more likely in Latin America, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
So it’s not just finding someone to love that’s the only issue. People are also up against socioeconomic status’ and geography.
I’m glad that there were enough people in this study to prove that marriage is a happy institution. I’m reassured that they could find that many. Still, for the rest of us, married and unhappy, or unmarried and unhappy, what will give? I found it interesting that the study said it isn’t just the institution of marriage that makes people happy – that long term relationships in general with all the right factors could also be happy. It’s the “friend” part of the relationship that is the most important, the study found. So this in itself is encouraging.
It seems to suggest that if you have good friends, and a support system, you may be just as well off as if you were married to your “best friend.” Researchers should do a study on THAT.