Marriage is tough, in ways that no one talks about when you are newly engaged and looking forward to “living happily ever after.”
Women have more rights and opportunities than they have had in decades and yet they are less happy than ever in both absolute terms and relative to men.
Marriage is part of the reason are unhappy.
Marriage is an unequal institution. Women on average do more of the unpaid and undervalued work of households, they work more each day, and they are more aware of this inequality than their husbands. They are more likely to sacrifice their hobbies, leisure time and career goals for marriage.
Marriage is a moment of subordination and women who subordinate themselves and their careers to their relationship, their children, and the careers of their husbands.
Compared to being single, marriage is a bum deal for many women.
Married women are less happy than single women and less happy than their husbands, they are less eager than men to marry, they're more likely to file for divorce and, when they do, they are happier as divorcees than they were when married and they are more likely than men to prefer never to marry again.
What Is It About Marriage That Causes Women Such Unhappiness?
1. Marriage does a number on women’s self-esteem.
Especially those women who choose to forego a career and become stay-at-home mothers. When you become financially dependent on a husband self-reliance and self-confidence flies out the window. Women in such situations begin to view their husbands as their only hope for a good future and themselves as someone who has nothing to offer.
These women lose their own image and replace it with that of a mother and wife whose role is to care for and about others before caring for and about themselves. They set high goals about their ability as mothers, homemakers and good wives. Goals that are hard to attain and when faced with not being able to meet those goals experience negative thinking about themselves and their abilities.
I wish I had a dollar for every stay-at-home mother I know who feels she is falling short at the work she does.
2. Women are no longer the captain of their own ship.
Let’s face it, men out earn women and if a woman is married to a man who out earns her, he will feel he has more power over marital decisions that are made.
Career women with children, even in this day and age, do the majority of the child rearing and housework. It is the wife who keeps the house running smoothly in spite of the fact that she also has a full-time job. When women have free time they focus on what needs to be taken care of at home.
When men have free time they focus on finding leisure activities to engage in. Women are called “nags” when they ask for help from a husband and find that doing all herself is easier than suffering the wrath of a husband who feels that is “women’s work.”
3. Women expect too much from marriage.
Those expectations, when not met leave women feeling frustrated and resentful. According to Elizabeth Gilbert, Women want intimacy and autonomy, security and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills. Gilbert understands this isn’t possible, but she tries to convince herself and her readers that she has found a loophole. She tells herself a familiar story, that her marriage will be different. And she is, of course, right—everyone’s marriage is different. But everyone’s marriage is a compromise.
And, who do you think does the most compromising in marriage? Women! Women go into marriage expecting too much and end up settling for too little!
4. Women are more likely to gain weight after marriage.
Dr. Annette J. Dobson, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Queensland in Australia says, “Getting married or moving in with a partner and having a baby are events that trigger even weight gain."
Here is an interesting statistic, the 10-year weight gain for an average 140-pound woman was 20 pounds if she had a baby and a husband, 15 if she had a husband but no baby. Bottom line, married women become chunky. There are many reasons women gain weight after marriage.
- Pregnancy and the inability to loose baby weight.
- Using food as comfort to cover dissatisfaction.
- Taking up the eating habits of a husband.
- Putting the family’s preferences for food above their own healthy choices.
- Turn to food for solace due to the pain of marital problems.
Whatever the reason, a full-bodied married woman is a norm which is an indication that women don’t take good care of themselves after marriage.
5. Before marriage life is interesting, fun and rewarding.
Not so much after marriage. After marriage couples tend to set into a routine, one that promotes the health of the marriage and not the health of the parties to the marriage. Financial worries, the belief that couples should do everything together, having children, buying a home, these are all things that can make life less interesting, rewarding and fun.
Marriage is tough, in ways that no one talks about when you are newly engaged and looking forward to “living happily ever after.” I’m not attempting to discourage women from getting married or encourage those who are married to divorce. It is, however in a woman’s best interest to either know what marriage is before going into it or, learning how to find happiness once she’s said, “I do.”