With high divorce rates and the popularity of extramarital affair sites, it may come as no surprise that some people may regret who they married these days. After all, marriage is a tough gig.
"I think that people might have an unrealistic view of marriage going into it," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "If they expect it to be all romance and hot sex then they are going to be disappointed!" We know that there are a lot of people who weren't happy with who they married, but what you might find shocking is just how many people regret being married to the person who they're still married to.
When CivicScience, the research company, asked 1,900 married Americans if they would marry their spouse again, a whopping 31 percent said they wouldn't. Not only that, 12 percent said they weren't sure. So, only 57 percent would definitely remarry their spouse. How worrying is that? If you wouldn't remarry your spouse, why are you married to them now?
What was really interesting was that women were much less happy about their current marriages than men. Out of the people who said they wouldn't marry their current spouse again, 57 percent were women — and women also accounted for 56 percent of those who weren't sure.
"The majority of those who said they wouldn't remarry the same partner (61 percent) said they didn't go on dates."
Why are the numbers so high? Well, the survey also found that the vast majority of people who were happy about their marriage (69 percent) went on dates with their spouses, while the majority of those who said they wouldn't remarry the same partner (61 percent) said they didn't go on dates. So maybe it's about keeping the romance alive.
How To Grow Together & Refigure Expectations
But the answer to staying happy in a marriage isn't as simple as having date nights. There are more fundamental problems with our understanding of how relationships work — and our expectations of them.
"I think people really underestimate how much we evolve over time," Pricilla Martinez, a dating coach with Blush Online Life Coaching, tells Bustle. "Our interests, goals, and desires can change a lot during the course of a marriage. Suddenly, you find yourself with someone who may no longer fit the person you’ve become. In this situation, no one is at fault. Yet, the longer you try to unsuccessfully fix a relationship, the likelier you are to develop feelings of resentment and distaste for your spouse."
So, what happens as you both change? Well, you can try to find a new way to relate to each other and try to keep the spark alive. "The question is how do you grow without growing apart," Martinez says. "I suggest people seek counseling to determine if they want to continue the relationship and develop strategies around communication. Also, spending time with your spouse without making it about finances, responsibilities, or children is extremely important. Your partner isn’t a means to an end, they want to be seen for the person they are."
You can also improve your relationship satisfaction by making sure you have realistic expectations. "Relationships and marriage are more about hard work and learning about oneself," Hartstein says. "I think that society has given us an idealized and romanticized view of marriage that can leave many people disappointed and frustrated." So remembering that you need to put some work into it and compromise — and realizing you're not alone in that — can make a big difference. That being said, sometimes you just do grow too far apart — and that's OK to admit, too.
Marriages aren't always happy — and there's nothing wrong with walking away from a relationship that isn't right for you. That's why it's so shocking to see how many people wouldn't remarry their current spouse. If you wouldn't do it again, you may want to think about why you're sticking around this time.