Why Do Men Have Such Unrealistic Ideas About Marriage?

Why Do Men Have Such Unrealistic Ideas About Marriage?

I came across your blog a while ago researching a man’s point of view in dating and relationships. I read your blog religiously, plan on buying your books soon, and am trying to figure out a way to hire you as my dating coach. I appreciate your candor and approach when “giving it straight” and talk about you all the time and even refer to you as the “big brother” I wish I had.

That being said I am a 37 year old woman, who has never been married…and I think I may have stumbled across why.

It’s been my experience in dating that in having conversations with the men I date, a lot of times hypothetical scenarios come up (which I find fascinating by the way)…that I rely on to help me determine their level of maturity and readiness for a serious LTR. Most times I am left feeling cold beads of sweat run down my back with their depictions of ideal situations, glossy perfect home life that reflect none of the messy burdens of real life that marriage often comes with. I feel confident that I have a truer sense of what marriage really calls for, based on candid conversations and experiences I have had and dealt with from friends and family members who are married.

I keep thinking that I will eventually find a man who is mature enough and wise enough who knows marriage is more than having a wife who prances around in her underwear, gives bj’s on demand and cooks gourmet meals after working her 9-5. So far I am batting zero. If I sound a little cynical, I apologize but this is something I keep running into time and time again. Am I just fishing in the wrong “ice holes” or is there something I need to adjust in terms of expectations?

Thank you for reading,


Dear Michelle,

If you change the gender and the stereotypes in your last paragraph, this email could easily be written by a man, describing women and their unrealistic expectations.

Alas, you date men. Therefore, men seem to be the ones with unrealistic expectations. If you dated women, you’d realize that this is not a gender-based observation. One of the primary reasons that there are 100 million single Americans is because everyone’s expectations are a bit out-of-whack.

Men seem to be the ones with unrealistic expectations. If you dated women, you’d realize that this is not a gender-based observation.

At the same time, I think your email is much ado about nothing. Semantics, if you will. I mean, just think about it:

If you ask a woman to describe her ideal marriage, do you think it would involve watching a man get heavy, suffer from a mid-life crisis, manage stress associated with money and children, and muddle through decades of poor marital communication built on emulating bad parental relationships? Of course not.

Why SHOULD anyone talk about this stuff, even if it’s inevitable? If you’re on a date, if you’re in a relationship, you probably want to lay out the best case scenario.

For women it probably sounds like, “We wake up in each others’ arms. We have time to work out in the morning. The nanny has the kids ready and we join them for breakfast. I go to my fulfilling job in my home office. My husband goes to his. I pick up the kids from school at 3pm. My husband is home at 5pm. We play with the kids together, cook dinner together, put them to sleep together, and then make love each night, before starting all over the next day.”

Here’s the not-so-shocking part: men have largely the same marital vision, even if you’re a little thinner and orally fixated in our fantasies.

My philosophy is that good relationships are easy. If they’re not easy, they’re not that good.

Here’s the more shocking part: this fantasy is somewhat achievable.

This is why I do this job. I’m living that fantasy life. My wife is living that fantasy life. And I’m going to continue to do my part to get people to strive for that fantasy life, instead of selling them on the virtues of suffering.

Will all men be able to make it out of work at 5? Of course not. Will all households have support in raising their children? No way. But the fantasy I described should be the backbone of what we’re all trying to achieve – a north star for people to aim for when reality gets a little bit messy.

My philosophy is that good relationships are easy. If they’re not easy, they’re not that good. With the right partner, all of this is nearly achievable. And if it means he has to make some sacrifices to get home at a reasonable hour and you have to give an extra blowjob per week, I’d say it’s all worth it.


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  1. 1

    Good answer Evan. To the OP, I would also add, at what point in the dating timeline are you having these conversations? If a woman started asking me these types of things, I would probably only talk about the good (the fairytale stuff you mention).
    I have a feeling that if a guy said that married life consisted of lots of petty arguments, the stress of splitting holidays between 2 families, not minding that you wear boring sweatpants to bed and him falling asleep on the couch with the remote in his hand- you would find fault with that too.
    Married life is a combination of the things I mentioned plus the fantasy stuff those other guys mentioned. It is both. Perhaps a good answer you are seeking would be a guy that recognizes that both scenarios play out.
    But seriously, you are 37 and never been married. Stop making it seem like the reason you aren’t is because guys paint a fantasyland picture of married life and because of it you determine they aren’t LTR material. You are not married at 37 because you don’t want to be . Own that fact and stop suggesting it is because guys have an unrealistic view of marriage.

    1. 1.1

      Wow, what a judgmental thing to say! There may be any number of reasons why someone might not be married at 37. Is someone supposed to marry just any warm body so that they don’t wind up single at the “wrong” age? Whatever happened to having standards? Sheesh!

  2. 3

    I’m wondering how all these fantasy -married -life conversations come about. I never had one with a partner, much less with a guy I just started dating. Are you “leading the witness” perchance Michelle? Setting the stage for hypothetical scenarios so you can evaluate the guy on his answers and shoot him down as a potential partner? I’m not trying to be harsh here, merely curious. 
    If I met a man who told me his idea of marriage was “having a wife who prances around in her underwear, gives bj’s on demand and cooks gourmet meals after working her 9-5″   – I’d be amused. In fact I might start laughing out loud. Perhaps to the point he’d rule me out as marriage material?  🙂

  3. 4

    To follow up John’s comment, maybe guys have an unrealistic view of marriage, and maybe you have an unrealistic view of guys!

  4. 5

    Do you remember that old joke email that was flying around the internet about a decade ago?  It was called The Perfect Day; the woman’s version included “3 dozen roses delivered by florist from a secret admirer” and “Notice that ex-boyfriend’s wife has gained 30lbs.”  The men’s version contained such gems as “Blow job” and “En route in private jet, receive back massage and hand job from Kathy Ireland.”  While it was clearly meant to make the reader chortle, the truth behind the joke was that both men and women have vastly different but equally unrealistic fantasies of the ideal life.
    I do believe that men have slightly more romanticized version of marriage than women, simply bc women do tend to talk amongst themselves and confide in their girlfriends more than guys, so (unless we’re amongst the first “in our group” to wed) girls tend have heard lots of “the straight scoop” before we march down the aisle.  

  5. 6

    I guess I learned something new.  I thought, since it was a bad idea to bring up “the talk”, that even casual conversation about marriage is to be avoided at all costs.

  6. 7

    Realistic expectations? I have been married for more than 10 years, and I am still not sure whether it was the right thing to do. There are days when it’s wonderful and my heart is filled with gratitude, there are neutral days, and there are days when I wish I had not married him. I got some of the things I hoped for (loyalty, friendship, reliability) and some I did not get (undivided attention, romance, a partner in following my dreams).
    But really, you have to have very high expectations for one particular person before the marriage in order to stay motivated to put in the work … No one gets excited by mediocre prospects. And, in this day and age, when sex (and having kids) is socially acceptable without marriage, it seems even more important to nourish the fantasies in the dating phase.
    So Michelle, don’t kill the party! You could always cancell the “bjs  on demand” after after you tie the knot. Happens to most married men eventually, hehe.

  7. 8

    You sound lovely, but why are you setting your expectations of life so low?
    If some people can achieve married bliss, why not you? If you’ve never been married, don’t you think you should at least try it before deciding that it’s filled with hardship and struggle?

  8. 9

    Michelle, have men proposed to you?
    If you haven’t been proposed to yet, then most likely you hung out with the wrong type of men. In other words, those men were not that into you or, as others would say, you chose to be with men who are out of your league.
    If you have been proposed to before and you declined – that’s a whole other story.
    Look, if you paint marriage as dreadful – I honestly doubt anyone will want to marry you. Why would a man want share, the rest of his life, with someone who doesn’t seem to enjoy the future? The reason behind wanting to grab that girl for life is because she makes life worth it, she makes life a happier place to be in. When he comes back home from a day of hard work, he returns home to someone who is happy to see him. Rather than someone who is nagging because XYZ hasn’t been done yet.
    And if you are not going to be willing to give him the occasional BJ on demand, then why should he be emotionally available to you when he doesn’t feel like it? And if you don’t give him BJ’s, then he is going to get them elsewhere.
    Reality is that a good long standing marriage does involve work (anyone in a 30+ marriage will confirm this), but if the future seems only bleak – well, would you want to be in it?

  9. 10
    Little Wing

    It’s not them, it’s you. You sound terrified of getting stuck in a thankless marriage. And you should be! It’s reasonable to be aware and to not jump in, just for the sake of being married. You want a good man and a good marriage.
    But at 37, you cannot claim you’ve never encountered a good man along the way who would have made a good husband. Your age doesn’t even matter, if you really wanted to be married or in a LTR at 27 or 17, you would have been! 
    Maybe you really didn’t want it then? Maybe you just weren’t ready for that level of giving and receiving? Maybe you dismissed viable opportunities because they didn’t meet the idea you had in your head of what it should be like. I’d take a step back and look at what men you passed up for reasons you probably wouldn’t today, knowing what you now know. 
    Or maybe you just keep seeking out completely unsuitable men?
    It’s worth looking at what you’re bringing to the table, and whether it matches the kind of man you’re holding out for, and whether it matches what you’d like a man to bring into your life. Because it’s not just about what he can do for you, it’s about what you can add to his life. 
    In this case, I’d say you’re hearing what you want to hear, in order to avoid stepping up to the plate. So while you say you are confident in knowing what marriage actually calls for, I’d back track a little, and focus on learning what it means being the best girlfriend you can be.
    Be thankful for any man who fantasises about marriage, because if they only thought about the “messy burdens of real life that marriage often comes with”, they would never want to go through with it!

  10. 11
    David T

    Kiki7 Michelle, don’t kill the party! You could always cancell the “bjs  on demand” after after you tie the knot. Happens to most married men eventually, hehe.

    Kiki, your tone pushes my buttons. BJs are trivial but the attitude of misrepresenting your intentions to entice someone into a lifetime commitment is not.

    I married a woman who had recently come out of a high powered job and said she planned to have a career in a different direction. I viewed a two career family as necessary if I was to pursue my dreams of teaching and research and still provide for a family. We talked about this before we married.

    After we were married, she just never seemed to get a career type job and “couldn’t” hang on to any of the others. She was able to cast it as bad luck and judgement mistakes on her part and I believed her because I trusted the partnership.

    As she was older than me, we had a child when she was 42 before time ran out. 4 Years later I learned that while she had told me she would have a career, her plan all along had been to never work again once her child  was born (not just the first few years which I would have been OK with, but never work again), and that she was deliberately making it look like she would work just to “get me off her back about getting a job” (at one point she bought an child’s art teaching franchise with no intention of following through, she also went into a masters program with no intention of completing). 

    My ex-wife chose not to kill her party by cancelling the “sure I will have a career” once she “tied the knot” and had a child.  There were other problems in our marriage. As Bluewoman 9 pointed out, with a bleak future I chose not to stay in it and go into damage control, though it did take me a couple of more years before I finally ended it.

    The end result is my son has a split home and I am in a high-paying but less than satisfying job.  I have scrounged to save for his college and have given my ex $300k of my salary, mostly post-tax, over the past 8 years. She has been through bankruptcy and continues to struggle to make ends meet and neither of us have any savings to speak of.  (I have built some in the last year that I only pay her child support.) My dreams of sharing my life with a partner and shared family have pretty much slipped out of reach and I now focus on making my life full in other ways. I am happy, but I also struggle.

    Couples should be up front to each other about what they want and at the same time be  realistic about what they will get and if they can live with that, otherwise a train wreck is inevitable.

    Kiki, your glib attitude regarding duplicity within what is supposed to be a lifetime PARTNERship indicates that unhappiness in your marriage may not all be about what he fails to bring to the table. Either get couples counseling and a new attitude or bite the bullet and divorce him before you two are in even deeper.

  11. 12

    David T,
    I can see from your post that you did not think the joke was funny. I take seriously the pain, disappointment and material damage you have suffered, and, I would readily apologize for the provocation, if that has any value to you. 
    I overcame my initial temptation to reply with something acid in return because I don’t know you, your ex, or your life story any more than what you choose to tell here, and all I know for sure so far is that you have been severely hurt.    
    At the same time, I will happily disregard your suggestion to get a new attitude,  seek marital counseling or divorce, at my own peril.  
    You may also wish to consider easing up a littte.  I wish you the best of luck in luck and love.

  12. 13
    Karl T

    Kiki #12,
    In defense to David T, I didn’t find any humor at all in your post.  It had no clue you were joking.  Even, prior to David T’s comment I had contempt for you after making such a smug comment.  I’m inclined to believe your original post did not imply humor and that you are just saying that it did, now to make a rude remark not look bad.  If it really truly was humor, you have a horrible way of displaying it.

  13. 14
    David T

    @Kiki 7
    That was a very gracious and kind reply to my response. You made a joke and then I wallopped you. You see, I did not know you meant that as a joke. That was why I reacted the way I did. The misunderstanding comes in part because text leaves out a whole dimension of communication and for me more because having been pulled into a life course changing partnership via deception I am overly sensitive.  I did not perceive the joke so I wanted to be very clear that kind of behavior is a recipe for disaster. I did so inappropriately loudly and frankly I want to apologize to the whole board, though I do stand by the underlying message: don’t promise up front what you never intend to deliver, and examine the character of your dating partners to be sure they truly are worthy of trust.

    I am sorry for coming down so hard on you.  You must have been bewildered. I honor your wisdom in taking a deep breath before posting in return. I do hope that you and your partner manage to work on the shortcomings.  While nothing is ever perfect sometimes small changes can make a big difference. Good luck to you in finding a way to more days of gratitude.

    Thank you for your wishes.
    (*) And it isn’t all bad.  Knowing my son has been a beautiful experience. Also, remember the other problems I mentioned?  Those warning flags were up before we married and upon reflection spoke to her character.  I was 26 and failed to stick to my guns after I initially broke up with her.  So I foolishly but willingly went into a partnership with someone I ought not to have.

  14. 15
    David T

    @Karl T

    I do appreciate your confirmation that sometimes a text only joke is hard to perceive as such.  Given the serious tone regarding the disappointments in marriage in the rest of the message it is even more ambiguous. When I read Kiki’s reply, she was both gracious and deliberately chose not to be defensive, so I think she is in earnest. I can’t imagine what her motivation would be to so fake “making nice” (with the added subtlety of not rolling over and maintaining her boundaries regarding her thinking on counseling, self examination). Anyway this is rapidly becoming a meta-discussion (talking about how we are talking about the topic.)

    I gather you do agree with the underlying premise that pretending to be something we aren’t to land a marriage proposal is a Bad Idea.

  15. 16

    Kiki wrote, “So Michelle, don’t kill the party! You could always cancell the “bjs  on demand” after after you tie the knot. Happens to most married men eventually, hehe.”
    I usually think that a “hehe” at the end of a comment means that the writer is kidding.

  16. 17
    Karl T

    I interpreted the ‘hehe’ as a totally snide remark, so no it was certainly not obvious.  It also sounded to me like she was glad it happened to most men.  Like she was laughing at them.

  17. 18
    Karl S

    Perhaps it is because men get very nervous about the idea of losing their blowjobs, even in jest. 😛

    1. 18.1

      Comes down to loving your partner and letting them like what they like and supporting them in that —
      my current man, said he despises Valentines, I like Valentines, good opportunity to stop, think, try something new and love with passion – something we don’t do on a regular basis so it is the speed bump to make us stop and do. He doesn’t understand my likes and actually made fun of me.

      Well, I don’t understand his desire for me to wear teddies …. so equal trade he doesn’t do Valentines and I no longer do teddies. I’d been happy to do that for him as long as he happy to do for me.

      Don’t forget to scratch your partner’s back. Stubbornness leads to stubbornnes.

      And, if you aren’t going down on your women as often as you want a BJ — then you are being selffish and self centered. In my book, you do first then I will do 🙂 Amazing how the expectations change.

  18. 19

    @David T,
    thank you very much for the kind words. I really was bewildered how my lame attempt to be funny angered you so much.
    I realize now that what I said is politically incorrect to men here.  I see Karl S cleverly put a smiley at the end of his post, to prevent stoning.
    On a personal note, David,  I am curious why do you think your ex wife deliberately fooled you that she intended to work, and consistenly lied to you on this.  It sounds like a stupid and cruel thing to do. But isn’t it possible that in a cruel economy, she may simply have been unable to maintain the high-powered type of job she once had, especially if she had to be out of the workforce  for a while due to maternity.  I say this not to defend her, but because I see how important intentions are to you.
    Pretending to be something we aren’t in order to extract a benefit is a bad idea in principle; it is first of all unfair but also unsustainable. At the same time, sometimes we set out to do things which are beyond our current capabilities, hoping that we somehow will manage, with effort, and a little bit of luck. I am trying to bring the topic back to the original question about realistic/unrealistic.
    My original point, in my original post, save for the unfortunate last paragraph which drew the attention, is that, more than a decade down the road I still don’t know was I /am I unrealistic in my expectations, and would I have married, had I known exactly what is in front of me. I am not unhappy, and I am not contemplating divorce, but I am certainly uninspired, and, to go back to Michelle’s original question, I understand pretty well when she says that, based on her observations on friends and relatives, the realities of marriage are far from glossy. 
    From Evan’s advice I take that your marriage is what you make of it, and if both parties try hard, it could be fantastic.  Sadly, watching the people around me, and in my own experience, it is several degrees short of fantastic, but I choose to keep trying.

  19. 20

    First I have to get over being tickled pink that EMK responded to my email. Yay!
    Second, I completely understand where your coming from and everything everyone is saying.
    These conversations generally come up during the 3 month mark of relationships. I don’t generally talk about marriage when dating as I believe dating is the time to decide if I even like the person and want to spend time with them. When we are headed towards a relationship is when I tend to “test the temperature” of what they are expecting and if I would be able to make them happy.
    I get that  I don’t paint the prettiest of pics, but I wasn’t aware that I came across so gloomy. It is my intention of being as honest as possible. I wouldn’t want any SO of mine feeling like he was baited/switched on.
    Like if he is expecting porn star sex 3x a week, hmmmm, 5 years down the road I would hazard a guess that he might feel tricked if he were getting it only on vacations and anniversaries.
    For me personally, I believe marriage to be a union that requires a certain amount of substance and stamina. So it’s more important to me to try and determine a man’s  ability and willingness to be there and hold my hand during really dark times that will eventually visit everyone’s life more so than if he brings me flowers because it’s Tuesday and mows the lawn without me asking.
    I’m aware that not very many people think like this.
    @John,  yes, if I could find a man who got that there a 2 sides to that coin I would be happier.  And the BJ’s wouldn’t be on demand. 😉 

    1. 20.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Michelle “Like if he is expecting porn star sex 3x a week, hmmmm, 5 years down the road I would hazard a guess that he might feel tricked if he were getting it only on vacations and anniversaries.”

      Right. So maybe you shouldn’t reserve those kinds of activities for vacations and anniversaries. Problem solved.

      “For me personally, I believe marriage to be a union that requires a certain amount of substance and stamina. So it’s more important to me to try and determine a man’s ability and willingness to be there and hold my hand during really dark times that will eventually visit everyone’s life more so than if he brings me flowers because it’s Tuesday and mows the lawn without me asking.”

      You don’t try to determine a man’s ability to do this through a rigorous series of questions. You observe his behavior for two years before agreeing to get married. You might want to pick up a copy of Why He Disappeared. I’ll bet you learn something very valuable that you can use in the future. Or your money back. 🙂

  20. 21
    David T

    @Michelle  Thanks for posting.  I like it when the OP gets into the mix. 
    I first replied with a rather long description and as memories triggered my anger and probably said too much.  Here is the gentler summary.

    We were married in 1994, and the economy was doing pretty darn well. Except for one year in a career track job in ’98, and perhaps a total of two more years temping and as an admin, and some briefly held (a few weeks here and there) hourly jobs she has not worked. I saw an email back in 2002 (?)  to her cousin.  I paraphrase: “I spent $12,000 dollars on a Kidzart franchise. Maybe that will keep David off my back about getting a job for a while. Before we were married I told David I would have a career, but I never intended to work again after I had a child.” Our son had just finished kindergarten. This is a woman with an NYU MBA who worked for 17(?) years for a major corporation.

    By summer ’03 we were facing bankruptcy and a few months from getting a foreclosure notice. This was not about maintaining a living large lifestyle. 10 yo car, a house and a few camping vacations. We had been limping along slowly falling behind further each month, with me picking up some part time teaching, working as a handyman’s assistant, other odds and ends jobs  and was starting to look seriously at bartending opportunities.
    We only needed $40k a year.  When I flew to California for a job interview, she skipped the food closet appointment that I had done the legwork on saying when I returned “That is what poor people do.” …. The only thing that saved us was me biting the bullet on my child rearing values and checking the “willing to relocate” box on my resumes.

    Without going into the all the details since our divorce, she consistently has refused to seek work that she considered ‘beneath’ her regardless of  how much our child would have benefitted from even part time low wage income. Now, 8 years later I *think* she is starting to come around, but she has fooled me before.

    I tend to be a fairly optimistic person regarding others’ motives, (this has shifted a bit over the years!) but to me this is someone who consistently refused to do whatever it took  to help provide for her child. This wasn’t about her not being able to reenter into a career path job.

    For many years after we split I put energy and hope into encouraging her, paying for career coaches, classes to update her skills, and finally I pulled up stakes because it felt like a waste of my energy and a waste of my son’s potential college savings. (Dilemma of course, because if she DID get a job it would make a huge difference). About three years after we split, people who knew us both in the community and some of her family told me I needed to stop enabling her to not work. So,  there is her story from my admittedly colored perspective. I will leave it to you to judge.

    In your case, are you generally happy? You can be happy without fantastic, and like I said there are often small changes you can make as a couple (or that each of you can do for the other) that can make a big difference. Michelle, you should remember that one too.

  21. 22

    Evan, problem solved?????….not exactly….;-)
    And I did buy “Why he disappeared” great information and your wife’s section truly awesome.
    Your right, rigorous answer/question sections aren’t effective in determining worthiness but it sure is effective in determining when to pull the trigger.
    It will be a difficult habit to give up, but I will try.

  22. 23

    thank you very much for sharing your story. I see your point, and I understand now much better the situation, and why you were angered so easily.
    For me personally, I wanted to work after the children (we have two) and I took very short maternity leaves.  I wanted to preserve the double income, loved my job, and  knew I could not afford to be absent for long to keep it. That was met with a lot of criticism from friends and relatives,saying that I am not giving enough attention to my kids. Many people think it is appropriate for the woman to stop working after having children, and devote herself to the household, like it’s the traditional norm, and goes without saying.  My husband was supportive of me working; in fact I suspect that part of the reason he married  me (after dating 5 years of which we lived together for 2) was that he saw that I will be happily providing not less than half of our family income.
    To your question, I am ok.  Occasionally, I ask myself, is that all there is to marriage, and, when my kids grow up and leave home, will there be anything left between me and my husband? I know we have to work on it now, to create it for later. Part of my dissatisfaction comes from the fact, that I never truly stayed home with the kids, and that I missed something important, and I am so physically tired to be a supermom with a career.  My life is the kids, work, chores, and, from what I read in the occasional articles on marriage posted by Evan, the next thing I know we will be 70 years old, he dozing in the recliner at 8 p.m., and I sneaking out to the bedroom, in my ugly flannel pijamas, on my own…

  23. 24
    David T

    I don’t judge you for going back to work. I had the great fortune of being part time employed those years in Denver enabling me to spend a lot of time with my young son. That was not what I set out to do, but I really loved it and was of tremendous value.  As a result I have struggled financially in part because I was underemployed for so long. Sometimes that bothers me, but not much.
    You enjoyed your job and the comfort of a double income.  That is a valid choice.  If  I had had a full time job, today I would be happy I have financial comfort and sometimes be bothered that I did not spend time with my son.
    I took what came my way and decided to be happy with I have had. You took what came your way and are troubled by what you don’t have. I am sure you still have many precious memories with your kids, and I bet they adore and feel safe and nurtured by you, but instead you think about what you didn’t have with them.

    I think part of that is because you have internalized external criticism. That is hard to shake off and impossible for most people to shake of completely, but you  can let go of a great deal of it.  Who cares what they think!
    I wonder if part of this is because you are running 24/7  and are Burning Out. I know major emotional fatigue changes my perspective a great deal!  Think about whether that is true for you. Total rest Away From It All does wonders for me. It is hard to nurture a relationship when you are running as hard as you are. In my past small gestures from my love made a huge difference in how I perceive the relationship. It was only in the complete absence of small “I’m thinking of you and I care” gestures and complete absence of us time that would begin to shake my faith and happiness in it.
    You have heard this before, now hear it again with a self assessment of your burn out state in mind. Make time for you. Make time for date night. Make time for a two week vacation part with the kids you adore, and part only you and the man you did fall in love with. Sounds like you have the means for that if your husband will help you co-create this time. Maybe you can move from “ok” to semi-blissful?
    Satisfaction with a relationship (and more broadly our life) is a both how nurture it and how we choose to experience what happens within it.

  24. 25

    @David T: Thank you for opening up on your experience and for the great advice @25. Like other female commenters, I really appreciate men’s comments, especially coming from people with more experience than I have. I always apreciated your comments, and today I understand better where you are coming from.
    @Michelle: I also like it when the Letter Writer comes back to comment and/or add more information, so thank you! I definitely relate to how you want to go about dating and marriage. I agree with Evan that the best way to evaluate someone’s character is through observation over a certain period of time and under various circumstances. There is no way to find out about how he treats people, his integrity, and his general way of functioning in life through a series of questions. However, there are some facts that are pretty much impossible to find out through observation (or that would take too much time to wait for them to be brought up randomly), and at some point in the relationship I think it’s necessary to start evaluating compatibility and goals more proactively. At that more serious stage, I find asking questions to open up deeper discussions absolutely necessary. That’s what I did, a mix of observation to evaluate my man’s character in action, combined with a lot of questions to find out about his values, goals, and intentions for our marriage when we were talking about the future. Sure enough, after two years together and our recent wedding, he continues to treat me with the same thoughtfulness, fairness, and humility than on our third date when we had our first “difficult” conversation. And through asking more questions, I continue to get to know him, and adjust to how his thinking evolves.
    On the topic of being unrealistic, as Evan said it’s not a gender thing. Lot of people have unrealistic expectations. The most unrealistic one being that we somehow deserve someone who is going to dedicate their whole life in making us happy. Happiness and inspiration must come from within. At the end of the day, this is our personal responsability as adult human beings.

  25. 26
    Sparkling Emerald

    Fusee @ 26 On the topic of being unrealistic, as Evan said it’s not a gender thing. Lot of people have unrealistic expectations. The most unrealistic one being that we somehow deserve someone who is going to dedicate their whole life in making us happy. Happiness and inspiration must come from within. At the end of the day, this is our personal responsability as adult human beings.
    Hi Fusee – I have been reading this blog for awhile, but obviously haven’t read where EMK actually said that.  Could you show me that article where he said that ?  Sometime I think the whole “Happiness must come from within” is just an excuse to treat a partner badly.  Of course, I would hope the couple starts out happy, but that inner happiness can be greatly compromised when your partner becomes indifferent to your happiness and well being, engages in destructive behavior etc.  Who wouldn’t WANT someone who cares about your happiness ?  And if you were married to someone why wouldn’t you care about theirs ?

  26. 27

    @Fusee26 – Congratulations on your recent wedding!  I wish the both of you contentment and ever-lasting love.  i hope you’ll continue to take part in the discussions here even now that you’re married; I always enjoy reading your insights.
    @Kiki7 – I knew that you were kidding.  But I think that joking about the bait & switch marriage hits close to a lot of men’s fears about women who use lies to “seal the deal:”  a fear that’s not entirely unjustified.  Maybe it’s like a guy joking that guys should tell women that they’re interested in an LTR when they just want to get laid.  It happens often enough IRL that even when I know someone’s bringing it up in jest, I cringe.  

  27. 28

    @ Fusee,
    I am flattered that you and others find my interaction a positive one. I try to be as open as possible so that I can learn and grow and I feel that couldn’t happen if I were to hide behind my keyboard. I asked for advice so I am willing to “face the music” whether it I can dance to it or not. I am also aware that EMK’s “regulars” all have opinions too and I am also cool with that.
    I like to think that I approach my romantic life as graciously as you do. I don’t think I come across as Barbara Walters when having these discussions but I have always been aware that on some level my “probing” was most likely unfair as the men involved had no idea or maybe a vague sense that their answers were being weighted. That being said, I am also aware that dating is a 2 way street and based on EMK’s Why he disappeared, I can almost certainly not chalk everything up to “He’s just not that into me”. I gotta take ownership of what I did to turn the guy off. Interesting enough I am not that sorry over the guys who did disappear. Life is a marathon and too bad for them who didn’t realize that people can get better. As I am trying to. But I plan on being more fair and conscious in the future. And maybe one day soon, I can sound as syrupy in love as you and Evan. 😉

    1. 28.1

      Michelle, you should post more often. Keep doing what you’re doing by making these men retreat because they can’t give you a realistic answer regarding marriage. Don’t let any commenters change your mind – you’re doing great. I wish more women were like you, because it would make life much easier for us men and plus it would weed out the boys in men’s bodies. Continue with your logical thinking. You’re doing nothing wrong and everything right.

  28. 29

    @Sprakling Emerald #27: Ooops sorry I did not express myself clearly. The “As Evan said” applied only to the fact that being unrealisitc is not a gender thing. He clarified in his response to Michelle that men AND women hold unrealistic ideas about marriage. The rest is mine : )
    Now, I agree with you that engaging in a relationship means taking serious responsabilities towards the other party. I made a commitment to make every effort to make my man feel loved and happy, and I agree with you that our partner has the power to make us feel miserable. However I strongly believe that ultimately we are responsible for our own core happiness; we must feel content about our life before engaging in a relationship, continue to manage our life carefully while in a relationship, and make sure that we maintain enough self-respect to leave any abusive relationship. Marriage does not relieve us from that responsability.
    Another thing that we women can be unrealistic about is the concept that we can or deserve it all. The feminist liberation gave us the power of choice, not the entitlement of having everything. Instead of being forced to become a wife and mother and being confined at home, we now have options, and we can even imagine trying several in our lifetime. However it is unrealistic to believe that we can be the wife our husband desire, the mother that our children need, and the career woman that we would be proud of all – at the same time and for many years. Trying it all without careful planning and mutual decision-making with our partner is a recipe for dissatisfaction, burn-out, and in the worse case scenario, for the man leaving.
    Yes, men will support the “idea” of a wife-mother-career woman, but without realizing that it will mean ending up with a roomate instead of the fun-loving date they remember falling in love with. We must be realistic about our energy levels, that there are 24 hours in a day, and that our partner should have the priority. If we can’t give him the priority, it’s best to not make a life commitment.
    @Henriette #28: Thank you! I’m not going anywhere : ) I appreciate Evan’s advice and all the intelligent comments I’ve read since I found his blog by chance. I hope to keep learning from all of you!
    @Michelle #29: Good luck!!

  29. 30
    Sparkling Emerald

    Fusee #30 – Thanks for clarifying, now I understand what you are saying, and that you combined EMK’s philosphy with your own. And also much happiness to you and your new spouse !!!!!!
    And to add to the happiness discussion, I do think that in order for a relationship to be successful, both people need to START off happy at their core. (not deleriously happy 24/7, but reasonably content with most aspects of life and self)  A relationship can’t make a basically miserable person happy, but a bad relationship can eventually wear down the happiest person on earth.  As the couple becomes more intertwined, their actions and attitudes PROFOUNDLY affect their partners happiness and well being.    Neglect, constant criticism, destructive behaviors, disrespect, etc. will wear down the biggest optimist.  Marrying someone based on that initial rush of those “love chemicals”, (which is what we did) can be another happiness stealer, because when the “love high” wears off, if the two people turn out to be incompatible, (which we were) the relationship will self destruct.  (which ours did) I don’t think the neglect, criticism & the abuse are actually something that either person intended, but when two crazy love-birds marry in lust (which we did) and then end up “stuck” with a child & mortgage with a person they are fundamentally incompatible with, then criticism, neglect, verbal abuse is the inevitable result. (others may have different results, we didn’t)  Sure some people marry in the initial rush of passion, and luck out and turn out to be compatible and happy for life, but that’s not something I will ever take a chance on again.  And if I EVER come to this board an announce that I am engaged to someone I met online last month, please metaphorically kick me in the caboose, and link me to this post !   😉  🙂 :0.

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