Does Life Get Duller After Marriage? Do Women?

Dear Evan,

I’m in my early thirties and recently married. I’d consider me and my female friends to be very independent by nature. We received good educations, advanced in our careers and had the moxie to travel far off the beaten path. Quite a few of these girlfriends are now at that stage where they’re moving in with or getting engaged to their significant others. Being at this point in our lives has led me to make an observation:

For all the effort we women put into finding a mate (and I was no exception), it seems that life becomes a little dull for a girl once her match has been made.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my husband with all my heart. He’s my best friend. It’s just that, before I found him, life felt full of possibilities. I do still try to mix things up. I’ve just started training for my first triathlon. I enrolled in new subjects at the local college. And yet, overall, it seems my life course has been charted. Focus has been set (as in babies & making a bigger/better home for our family) and for the most part, everything seems pretty predictable.

In my girlfriends, I’ve seen various examples of how having a settled lovelife can change you, and not necessarily for the better. One girlfriend, whom I’ve always described as reliable has suddenly become flakey about every activity that doesn’t involve her live-in boyfriend. Another gal pal, who used to be up for any spontaneous adventure, now won’t even agree to a dinner double-date unless it’s at one of a tiny handful of restaurants, her boyfriend being such a picky eater. My friend who used to be one of those women you see jumping around on ESPN in bodybuilding competitions, now physically can’t perform half the fun activities she used to do with me because her fiance’s foot injury has kept them from exercising.

Another friend’s fiance persuaded her to do one of those expensive personal development seminars – you know… one of those $2000 weekends where, once participants “graduate” from the program, their next major “personal development” task is to recruit friends and family to sign up for the next $2000 seminar. Anyway, needless to say, she’s become a bit less interesting to talk to.

I really do GET most of the choices my friends have been making, since I find myself doing uncharacteristic things too for the sake of our relationship. My husband is a solid, affectionate, dependable guy with many things in common with me; he is nevertheless a different person with different interests. Plus, he’s caught up in the same family goals as me, which leaves us less time to relax and have fun together. When you’re married, you just have to put the partnership before oneself in order to make it work. I know it’s absolutely worth it.

It’s just… some days, the tedium gets to me more than on others. It really makes me wonder about how to keep one’s identity intact once you’ve committed to a whole other human being. And the conclusion that all this seems to be leading me to, is that a relationship takes a little bit of the shine off your personality, particularly if you’re a person who really enjoyed her independence.

What do you think? Is there some truth to that? Am I still just adjusting to being married?

Finally, I just wanted to say to all the single women out there, appreciate the freedom you luxuriate in now while you still can. Women invest so much time and effort into the search for love. The reality is that the return on investment is rarely what one expects – qualitatively and quantitatively. So the next time you’re feeling down on yourself for not having found a mate yet, just remember that there is always good to any bad, and vice versa. Then would you please go and book yourself the next last-minute fare to Sabratha or Santigron or Sokhumi… for me? Thanks.

Phia

Believe it or not, I’m not going to add anything to that. All I’ll say is that Phia has articulated my fear of marriage better than I could ever have done. Readers? Married readers? Your thoughts?

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Grace

    I’m 42 and married for the first time 9 months ago. I was a very independent person with so much to look forward to all the time when I was single but I was also lonely and felt my clock was ticking if I wanted to have a child and being a single mother was not an option for me. No I have been with my husband for almost 3 years and I tell myself “why did I worry so much about not being married”. I mean being married satisfies the whole fear of being a spinster thing but it also has an entirely new set of frustrations. Although I would not want to be single again, I think women are so obsessed with marriage being the answer to their problems. I think marriage can be good but it’s so important to continue to have you own goals and make time for your friends outside of your marriage.

  2. 32
    Margaret

    I noticed one comment from a man suggesting that men should be worried if their wives are reading Evan’s blogs. I found Evan’s site by following a trail of dating coaches – agreeing with some, completely disagreeing with others…. His advice clicked with me, and the fact that sometimes it borders on ‘suck it up princess’ is good for me too. I am now in a long term relationship – and I still come back to read his advice on why not to strangle my gorgeous boyfriend. As he’s still alive and blissfully happy I would suggest Evan is giving good advice. I wouldn’t worry about the wives reading it – they are mature and intelligent enough to know that they don’t know everything and that getting other points of view helps. I’d worry more about the wives who aren’t reading it and expanding their mindset to be honest. 

  3. 33
    Vicki

    Hi all. This is  a long post. I agree that marriage can become very dull over time, especially if you live somewhere (as I do) where there are few opportunities and your partner will not consider moving. This creates a very painful dilemma. I am always hesitant to sound ‘advicey’ on these forums, but I think that as get older we become more aware (consciously or not) that our options are becoming more limited by our age, societal expectations and our commitments. I think many of us tend to feel a sense of diminishment and urgency in our 40s to do all the things we fear we may not have time to do. I think there is a very real sense of loss that hits in your 40s for many people, lost opportunities, fear of losing ourselves, fear of losing future opportunities and fading away. Sounds bleak, but I think a few ppl can probably relate to what I’m saying? I have found it enormously helpful forging a stronger connection with myself through meditation and quiet time, and learning to savour everything, the good and the bad, that life brings. I think we women need to cultivate a sense of completeness in ourselves, no matter what our external circumstances & remember that we don’t actually need anything outside of ourselves to be whole & content. Sounds a little trite, but I think to live wholeheartedly is the only answer to this sense of things shrinking. We can respond by not letting our hearts and minds diminish. We have to be compassionate with ourselves and our experience, as we would a good friend. Kindness towards our feelings is the only way through them and often helps them to shift. We can acknowledge that, no matter how much we have or do,  life will always have a slight flavour of dissatisfaction to it, because our minds have evolved to see the ‘problems’  and lack in life and to discount the good. Ask any psychologist, and they will agree – we have a psychological bias towards the negative. And of course the negative, painful aspects of life are very real, but learning to say ‘yes’ to them as much as to the joyful and satisfying things allows us to open our hearts to life fully and be more richly and fully alive. Phia, my heart goes out to you, I hope you can find a way through your painful feelings and find some peace. God I hope this doesn’t sound like a load of hogwash!

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