The 2 Types of People You Don’t Want to Marry

unhappy couple having relation issue

I am pro-marriage for a dozen different reasons. But just because I believe in marriage, monogamy, and raising children in a stable environment does not mean that I believe in marriage for everyone.

That’s an important distinction that often gets lost in the comments section.

Essentially, I believe the same thing as eHarmony’s founder, Neil Clark Warren: I’d rather have fewer and better marriages than more bad marriages that end in divorce.

That means that people who don’t want to get married should remain unmarried, and that they should kindly step aside when they find themselves dating people who do want to get married.

If you’re with a depressed or aggressive partner right now, don’t think that things are gonna get better after you get married. In fact, they’ll probably get worse.

But more importantly, that means that people who do want to get married need to choose their partners more wisely. Not based on chemistry. Not based on similar backgrounds. Not based on common interests. Spouses should be chosen by their temperament and ability to function as a unified couple. Compromise, communication, consistence, selflessness, sensitivity – these are the hallmarks of happy marriages, as you’ve heard, ad nauseum, by now.

Which brings me to a  new study published in Prevention Science by Dr. Michael Lorber of New York University. In it, his team of researchers examined data collected from 396 couples during their first two-and-a-half years of marriage. Sure enough, 14% of men and 10% of women were extremely unhappy in their marriages after 30 months.

We could say that this happened because they got married at their blind and blissful passionate peaks. We could say that this happened because they had unrealistic expectations about what marriage was actually like. We could say that perhaps they got married too quickly and should never have tied the knot at all.

But what the study concludes is that there are certain types of people who are more likely to suffer from the honeymoon effect: “Men who were more depressed or aggressive, or whose fiancées were more depressed or less satisfied with the relationship, were more likely to exhibit the honeymoon effect,” Dr. Lorber tells The Huffington Post. “Things worked out pretty similarly for the women as well … The more depressed or aggressive women were, or the more depressed, aggressive, or dissatisfied their fiancés were, the more likely they were to have fairly high initial satisfaction that dropped sharply.”

In other words, if you’re with a depressed or aggressive partner right now, don’t think that things are gonna get better after you get married. In fact, they’ll probably get worse.

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  1. 1

    I am dealing with this issue right now. My boyfriend of 2 years has lifelong, mild depression that occasionally flares up for a week or so into states of greater irritability, sadness, etc. We have spoken about marriage and I have made it quite clear that he will need to see a therapist if we marry, because the worst part of the relationship–when I didn’t understand his depression at all–was when I felt very alone and without resources, and I was his sole support.

    Reading this article was interesting because I truly don’t think things are going to get better if we were married–but I don’t think they’d be  worse. We’ve been in some pretty dark places already, and with a lot of communications I am better at understanding his depression. We are dealing with it together. I think this might also have to do with a lack of “honeymoon effect” in our relationship in general. We’d already know each other for over 10 years when we got together, so neither of us were trying to “impress,” just seeing how the relationship evolved naturally.  

    A snippet I grabbed from a different research article:

    “Early idealization may serve the function of maintaining high expectations and deep levels of love and affection for the partner. For example, Murray and Holmes (1997) and Murray et al. (1996a) have found that people’s ability to idealize a flawed partner and an imperfect relationship predicts greater satisfaction, love, trust, and relationship stability, and less conflict and ambivalence. Furthermore, Murray and colleagues’ one-year follow-up studies revealed a positive association between strong relationship illusions and subsequent increases in satisfaction.  
    However, other researchers (e.g., C. R. Berger & Roloff, 1982; Crosby, 1985; Hall & Taylor, 1976; Huston et al., 2001) caution that “illusionment” in dating relationships may hold the danger of disillusionment during the first few years of marriage. At that point, partners settle down to the daily tasks of married life, become increasingly more interdependent, are less concerned with impression management, get to know each other better, and compare their expectations from courtship with the reality of their marriage.”

    TLDR;  I wonder how Lorber’s research holds up if you go into marriage with less disillusionment to begin with? And second question, if you go into a marriage  without the happy, giddy feelings of soulmateness and love-of-lifeness etc. do you sell yourself short on the romance but maybe guard yourself against the honeymoon crash?  

    1. 1.1

      Coral, a gem I learned from Evan is that a good relationship should be easy.   There should be overall a minimum of overthinking, worry, analysis, etc.   If things are this complicated now, just wait until you throw marriage on top of everything else.   If you stay committed to this relationship, you have got to accept that it may be a big burden on your life.

      1. 1.1.1

        Thanks for your reply Marie. I definitely agree with you–dealing with depression in a relationship is really complicated, way more so than I would have ever thought. The hardest part about the relationship is that a lot of my needs  and  wants are met, so it’s been a struggle knowing if this is a good relationship for me without a lot of overthinking. I’m really prone to overanalyzing… haha. 🙂

        The only good thing is that I don’t have to worry about him most of the time. 90% of the time, he is very very affectionate, loving, thoughtful, responsible, etc etc. It’s figuring out whether the bad and the ugly 10% is worth chucking the 90% out. Relationships are complicated, eh?  

  2. 2

    I think this also points out the fact that relationships won’t make you happy.   You have to understand how to make yourself happy.   It just goes to show you that a relationship may make you happy in the beginning, when you get the oxytocin hormone rush.   But after the relationship becomes a normal routine, that effect wears off and you go back to your baseline happiness.   So if you don’t know how to make yourself happy, a relationship isn’t going to do that for you.

    I’m curious as to what they mean by relationship illusion. My issue is that I don’t know what a good healthy relationship is.   I’ve never been in one.   So it’s hard for me to know if I have a fantasy idea of a relationship, and that’s why I’ve had problems or if my expectations are legitimate and I just make poor choices.   Dating confuses me.   

    1. 2.1

      After years of similar stories myself, I came to find the one thing that means the relationship is a healthy one.   *You are a better person with him than alone.*   Not better as in happier emotionally, but more content, harder working, more compassionate, empathetic etc.   Basically, going from a C- in citizenship to an A.
      I think the fantasy element in the paper is more about rosy thinking that blocks out the reality of one’s partner being too deficient (violence, severe mental illness etc.) to be able to make lifelong committments. It’s not so much fantasy as delusion. I would put most Lifetime Movies in the delusional category as well 😛

      1. 2.1.1

        You state it well. A good relationship broadens ones horizons, energizes you whereas a bad one causes one to shrink your horizons and leaves one feeling tired and drained. I agree with Evan in that yep, some people just cannot “do” marriage well, for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, these folk often do not realize this and do not “kindly step aside” when dating a marriage minded person. This ties into a previous post about cohabitation. People take time to reveal their true selves and one needs to know what you’re getting in to.

      2. 2.1.2
        David T

        I disagree Isa.   While I do believe a healthy relationship gives us more emotional resources and drive, if I am dependent on the relationship to be a happy, healthy individual it puts a lot more pressure on the relationship and will leave ,e far more inclined to stay in a relationship that isn’t quite right for me and in the long term will fail.

        Extending your metaphor, I would not go into a relationship if I did not feel functional, happy and content on my own   (say a “B” in my mind though the particular grade is more of a semantics point.)   That way I will always feel like they have an option to pull out of the relationship if it is not quite right and still be reasonably content and happy with who I am.

        1. Noquay

          Nope, no one should enter into any relationship if they are a train wreck. Stuff like addictions, health issues, financial instability need to be fixed before one is able to give of themselves to anyone. Also any sort of hurt/being especially vulnerable needs to be stamped out first. We should all be fully autonomous, self sufficient beings first. The coming together of two such folk, if compatible, leads to a situation where they complement the other. You are right, many seek rships to try and make themselves whole, are looking for rescue, either emotional or financial. This leads to situations where one person is not pulling their weight, because they cannot,   a lot of stress, doubts, tension

        2. Isa

          Please reread what I said.   I never stated that ther person was miserable or disfuctional prior to a relationship (quite the opposite), but that a good relationship changes him/her at a base level to a better person.   You are not dependent on the other for the change, as it is internal, but they inspire it. C is average, and most of us remain nothing but average unless we are inspired.

  3. 3

    Unfortunately, not everyone has had healthy marriage modeled for them.   Of course there does come a point where you don’t blame that on your past and you purpose to learn what those patterns and behaviors are and not follow them.   With regard to depressed/aggressive people getting married, they can and do improve enough to have a healthy, stable marriage provided they own their issues and get help for them.   But couples should go into marriage with intention and purpose and not just fly by the seat of their pants hoping it all works out.   You can’t 100% negate uncertainty, but you can go into it aware of what it requires and a willingness to work at it.   

  4. 4

    Sometimes I really do wonder whether the mark of a good and lasting relationship is simply that you still want to *be* together over a long period of time.

    The issues that you can have as a couple are so many and varied… not to mention sometimes your spouse has done nothing wrong and you simply decide that you don’t love them any more, or that you want to be with someone else.

    That I actually think maybe when it comes to selecting a mate that it’s simply you like your life better with them in it than without.   That you demonstrate over a lengthy period of time that despite whatever happens, or what life may throw at you, you still want to be together.

    I agree about communication and sensitivity and consistency being essential… yet what the ideal relationship actually looks like can vary so much from one couple to another.   Friends of mine have a wonderful, loving marriage and do literally everything together, they can’t bear to be parted from each other for any length of time. For me, I know I could never do this. In my ideal relationship I’d like to still be able to do my hobbies mostly on my own, have time to myself or with my girlfriends, maybe even travel alone occasionally, all within the security of a committed relationship.

    So I just think, there is no one size fits all. But I think it’s special if you *both* still want to be together, still feel attraction for each other, still are able to work through issues without wanting to throw in the towel, after a length of time.   For me this is the most important, and I know I do not automatically feel this way about any good man who is kind, consistent, committed and attractive.   For me, there’s got to be a certain something about that person that makes me want to *choose* them over all the others, over my freedom.

    1. 4.1

      Yeah, maybe I’m refusing to accept the truth here, but signing on to the whole “for better of for worse” thing seems to me to be about figuring out whose company I still want when he’s not at his best.   When my ex-husband and I started dating, I remember really struggling to figure out if I loved him or if I just loved how he treated me.   It wasn’t until he fell asleep at the wheel and demolished my car and went through this pissy, miserable phase afterwards that I got clarity.   And even with a divorce in the rear view mirror, I think welcoming him into my life was just about the smartest thing I ever did.

  5. 5

    From “Getting The Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix, “Marriage is a psychological and spiritual journey that begins in the ecstasy of attraction, meanders through a rocky stretch of self discovery, and culminates in the creation of an intimate, joyful, lifelong union.”   This depends not on your ability to attract the perfect mate, but on your willingness to acquire knowledge about hidden parts of yourself.   
    It’s a great book.   I strongly recommend it.  

  6. 6

    This article left me stunned. I was married for 27 yrs to a manic-depressed, bi-polar woman who took had two job-ending ‘crashes’ in her 20s…. and I still married her.   (the bi-polar was diagnosed before we even met, but she never disclosed it to me until 18 months after we separated!! Her claim was she was frugal and never ‘whored-around’ so she did not fit into the category.   Again I was floored and pissed.)

    You cannot go back ‘home’ ….but if I knew then what I know now   I probably would have paid attention more to the big head instead of the little head.   

    Now the scary part, my two sons have parts of her biochemistry.   My pain has been removed with her now, but now, given this data,   what should they do?…. Do they forgo the pleasures of a couple or just resign themselves to a life without a partner because they are doomed to the same see-saw of disconnection with the gf/wife/ect?

    Yes better mental life through chemistry is very abundant now vs 30 yrs ago, but they are a still treatment and not a cure.    On the more positive note, I have told both sons that any ‘qwirks’ they see in the gfs at this age will not improve with age and will probably worsen.   Without saying it, they saw it over and over again, with their own parents (me and the ex)     

    1. 6.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “Do they forgo the pleasures of a couple or just resign themselves to a life without a partner because they are doomed to the same see-saw of disconnection with the gf/wife/etc”

      I don’t think it’s an either/or. People have an amazing way of extrapolating false information from these studies. No one is saying that depressed people don’t “deserve” love. No one is saying that it’s “impossible” to find a happy relationship if you’re anxious. This study only indicates what common sense would tell us: it’s harder to forge healthy long-term connections when one party has mental health issues. It’s hard for the depressed person and it’s hard for the person who dates the depressed person. A lot of healthy people will opt out of such arrangements; some will stay because the rewards outweigh the risks. It’s all on a case by case basis. So don’t tell your sons to give up on love. Just be sure to let them know – if they ask – why being in a relationship with a depressed person is no pleasure cruise. All you can do is provide information. Life will take care of the rest. Good luck.

      1. 6.1.1

        Well said. Thank you.

    2. 6.2


      There is much your sons can do to get a handle on their issues. There is so much help available these days.   I think attitude towards your problem is all. People in relationships are much more likely to want to be with/stay with someone who has a constructive attitude towards their problem, and takes responsibility for doing something about it.

      Yes a relationship is going to be more challenging than someone who doesn’t have those issues, but it is possible. More difficult, but with the right person, it is possible.

  7. 7

    I think there are two types of depressed: the kind of people who THINK they are depressed and walk around with a black cloud over their heads and TELL everyone how depressed they are and do nothing about it and then there are people who truly have a health problem with depression but try to fix it. You do not want to date someone in the first group. As for the second group…
    I have a family history of depression and have experienced and dealt with it myself. I tried medication. It didn’t work. So I got off of it. Now I’m using diet, exercise and self-help techniques to beat it. I want love and a relationship so bad that I am damn well determined to “fix” myself and not let it interfere with my relationships.
    But then again, don’t we all get “depressed” every once in a while? Just because someone mentions they’re sad once or twice, or are taking a mild anti-depressant, doesn’t mean they aren’t an awesome person! I have good friends who had no idea about my struggles until I mentioned it to them!   

  8. 8

    I think it is important to know yourself very well before staying too long with someone. For example, if you are like the previous poster and need regular exercise to avoid depression, is your partner supportive of that? Do they want to exercise with you, or, minimally, do they encourage you to go get your exercise?  

  9. 9

    I’m patting myself on the back right now for ending my last relationship. He had a history of depression, was insecure, a self described porn addiction, trust issues, huge fear of marriage, etc. He called it “the sick part of his brain”. After I broke up with him he claimed to have been depressed for the last few months of our relationship. I don’t know whether I even believe that or not, I think it was his attempt to get my sympathy so I would go back with him. If we’d gotten married my life probably would have ended up being a living hell.  

  10. 10

    I guess I shouldn’t follow your advice anymore since according to this article I’m not worthy of marriage. I’ve struggled with depression for years but I am committed to self-growth and managing my illness, which I didn’t choose to suffer from. Very disappointing to read.

    1. 10.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Actually, you should stop following my advice because you can’t distinguish a fact from a personal attack. I didn’t say anything bad about you; I just cited a study.

      1. 10.1.1

        Bitchy much, Evan? Not the poster above but honestly, I can’t think of a person in my life that wasn’t depressed at some time or another.

        I must tell my husband that he shouldn’t have married me because I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and lost both my parents in the same year and ended up depressed because of it.

        Depression isn’t a bloody pivotal part of a person, it’s not the colour of your skin.   It happens for many reasons and it’s not forever. You Americans and your pills and your inability to take anything even the slightest bit real or unpalatable about life. You must disconnect because it is difficult.

  11. 11

    This was my marriage 30 years ago. After 3 months he tried to kill me and I escaped into a Domestic Violence Shelter and needed a bodyguard. Evan’s right.

  12. 12

    i don’t know about this study. My husband and I got married one day before our one year dating anniversary and we’ve been married for 16 years. Not always happy but we love each other and work thru our issues. We have two beautiful boys who we love dearly and are proud that they have two happily married parents who still love each other more than they did when they got married. I say this as he is dancing before me doing the air guitar and he grabs my face and kisses me. Still love this man of mine!!!

    1. 12.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      The study is fine. You are merely an exception, not the rule. Why is that hard for people to understand. A study isn’t wrong because it doesn’t apply to you.

  13. 13

    I’m going to say something very controversial and that won’t be received well. I don’t have what you would call a happy marriage. But I do have a good, happy life. You are right in saying that if you marry someone with very real problems that it will not go well. You will have difficulty having a completely stable home, stable life, and there are many things that will likely not get worked out. You will have difficulty building something great on the platform of marriage if that is what you are wanting to do. It leads to the question about why you would get married. Because that is the real question- why get married? If you are getting married to build a life where you can have children, retire with companionship, etc. choosing someone who is able to appropriately do these things is ideal. But if you have chosen someone who does not embody that stability, but with whom you have a deep connection, then there are things you have to understand going in. You cannot get satisfaction from another person. Any person. It is something you choose for yourself. Someone else cannot give you happiness. It is something you choose. Happiness is not the same thing as meaning. Living a life that is meaningful to you has to do with the value you assign to things in your life – your partner, your work, your life. Another person can’t give that to you. You are the one who assigns meaning. I’ve seen people choose really meaningful relationships that were also very difficult. And I’ve seen people choose partners who fit all their rules and it seemed like everything was great until one day everything seemed to lose its meaning. I think what I’m saying is that I agree with the assertion that marriage is not for everyone. But more than that, I want to say that we never know what will happen. It is not for the faint of heart. You have to be relentless in your pursuit of making everything good, reaching out toward the other person. People are not ‘things’ that you choose to fit a certain need, to fill out your idea of what happiness is and throw away when they don’t. Because death and tragedy and illness and any number of scary real things can come and change this perfectly appropriate person, change everything. And in the end you have to be the one to decide the meaning in the relationship, in your life. You have to be the one to choose to be happy.

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