A wise man once said, "it's not always rainbows and butterflies - it's compromise that moves us along."Although Mr. Levine didn't mean relate this sentiment to marriage but relationships in general, the message still applies.
And well, the following Quora writers would agree...
(For more wise words, you can find the original thread source at the end of the article).
Something Like A Nobel Prize
“The average duration of a marriage in colonial America was less than 12 years (reference: The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz of The Evergreen State College, page 10). Those marriages didn’t end in divorce, but typically in death: accident, childbirth, war, and manslaughter. Numbers were probably similar in Europe since the causes of short marriages were universal.
The conceptual consequence is that marriage has not, traditionally, been a relationship for a long duration. Since I have been married for over 50 years (to the same person), friends of mine are typically embarrassed when they tell me their marriage is breaking up. I console them with the thought that long-term marriages are not something that the institution was designed for, so they shouldn’t feel as if they ‘failed’. Having a long marriage, in my mind, is like winning a Nobel Prize; it is not something to expect, but something worth working towards, and something to be grateful for if it happens.”
‘It’s A Responsibility’
“There are many disturbing truths about marriage. To me, the most disturbing is how the actual thing is so vastly different than anything it’s purported to be.
Marriage is not unconditional love.
There is hate. Resentment. There is bitterness, isolation, betrayal, and pain. I don’t feel love for my husband 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Nor does he for me.
Marriage has inertia.
There are times when we cannot access our love. Sometimes, it’s marriage – not love – that keeps us married. This thing manifest in shared cutlery and mattresses, Thanksgiving rituals and holiday cards – this thing sometimes keeps us together.
Marriage is not the agent nor the perfection of you.
It doesn’t fill your cracks and make you complete. It’s not what you’re missing in life. It’s not the fulfillment of your true self. Marriage doesn’t do anything; it – perhaps – allows you to do things.
Marriage is not enough.
Marriage is not a signal of success or achievement to the world. I’ve done this, I’m married, stop worrying, stop doubting. Perhaps for a while, but not for long. Not forever. The ‘what’s next’ questions persist. And nothing – not even marriage – is immune.
Marriage can be a bad thing.
Marriage endures beyond lies, beyond broken trust, broken dreams – if you want it to, it can. Marriages – good marriages, ones that work – must exist in dark spaces too, not just the light.
Marriage has no baseline.
With a few exceptions, there is no standard of what is good, normal, acceptable, and what is not. No one can tell you what to do with it, about it, it is entirely your responsibility to manage your marriage. There is no right answer so don’t seek one.
Marriage is bigger than you. Bigger than the both of you.
If my answer sounds like marriage is this mythical thing that cuddles in bed with you and your spouse and at times steals sheets – that’s because it is. Well, it’s not mythical, but it’s there, amorphous. It’s the third thing, between you, in your relationship.
It’s a responsibility, a commitment, a power, a profound intimacy. Ensuring we are seen, witnessed and bound to another before we expire. More than any other social institution we have as humans (paying taxes notwithstanding).”
The Truth About Intimacy
“The most disturbing truth about marriage is the libido drop, especially if the age gap is large. In marriage, the physical is a connective tie that binds and brings out the true intimacy between two people. But behind closed doors, the desired gap between couples are unimaginable to the extent that it is estimated that one out of four couples is in such great costly mess. If you listen to doctors and marriage counselors, lack of intimate desires top the list of complaints by many couples. There is always a problem when a spouse desires physicality more than the other does.
Secondly, most of the qualities that made you fall in love with your spouse might go to extinction as the years goes by. This can really be a big problem.
In addition, you will notice a lag in self-care with your spouse in no distant time. In most cases, you can’t compare your spouse’s self-care when you two were still dating or courting to when you both are already married. What you don’t know about your significant other is that they do pay attention to how you treat yourself especially when it has to do with healthy living.
Lastly, your space and independence are tampered with. Most times you just feel like being left alone with your thoughts, which is hardly achievable when you are married.”
Remaining Committed Is A Choice
“On my wedding day, my best friend’s mom pulled me aside to offer some motherly advice.
‘Monogamy is a choice’
I wasn’t sure where she was going with that, but as she elaborated I started to understand. There are going to be people other than your spouse that intrigue you. There are going to be situations that present themselves. There are going to be moments of weakness.
Through all of that, monogamy is still a choice that you or your spouse would have to make (or not make) in that moment.”
Marriage Is A Sacrifice
“Behind every seemingly successful marriage is a spouse who gives up more than he or she takes. Without a sacrificial, peacemaker to smooth over the wrinkles and bumps – there is no marriage. People will argue and protest against this statement, even married people maybe but it is a disturbing truth about marriage.
Very rarely do you find a marriage where both people are willing and capable to compromise on different aspects of their lives and marriage to make it seem equal. Mostly, marriage is institutionalized unfairness, sacrifice, and compromise.”
Marriage Is Like Building A House
“What you see in movies or hear someone says to you that ‘they lived happily ever after’ you have to know that that is a lie (or an ideal; take it as you want). It is not real.
Marriage is like building a house…constantly.And not only that house needs to be planned, re-planned, repaired, adjusted and readjusted all the time because the environment and the outside conditions keep changing, but also because of you, the builders of the house, change. You are not the same people after 10 years of marriage as the people you were when you married. You will get bored of some things, you will change your opinions, you will get interested in other things, you will have children to take care of, your priorities will change and you won’t have the time and the energy to do the same things. So, the most disturbing truth about marriage is that you always have to negotiate and compromise. Always and in every detail.”
‘You Will Both Change’
“If you marry for love (which I did) you may not realize that love doesn’t mean the exact same thing to any two people.
So no one will ever love you, the way you think they should.
And contrary to the poetry, love can’t conquer all. Life will change you, in ways you don’t wish, or expect. It will change your spouse as well. Only the very lucky few will change in ways that still work.
That is the great sadness of marriage.”
Marriage Won’t Make You Happy, If You Aren’t Happy With Yourself
“Getting married, buying a home, and having kids will not make you happy. Why would anyone in their right mind believe this? Could it be advertising on television showing a happy family? Or maybe it’s your family pushing you from behind. Some married people will be happy, and some will not.
I have nothing against marriage, just don’t go into it thinking that it is the solution to your problems. If anything, it makes life more difficult, especially the kid part. Live together for a year and if you don’t end up screaming at each other, then get married if you want.”
Marriage – The Healer
“As a marriage therapist, I have the rare chance to see how different we all are in relationships. There are so many ways, so many permutations to this complex system, and yet…
The most disturbing thing about marriage happens to also be the most beautiful thing as well.
We marry and select with great care, the very thing we are trying to heal from childhood. We marry what we know.
Was your father a bit wild? You found someone that is unpredictable. Was mom needy? You married someone that has trouble with independence. Was Dad a workaholic? You found someone that is detached. Was mom a cheater? You married someone that has trust issues. Got no attention as a child? You’re taken for granted in your marriage. The list can go on forever.
The beautiful thing? If given the right tools, the very thing you did not get from your childhood can be healed through your marriage.
Now, that is pretty incredible.”
Marriage Isn’t A Fallacy
“People often confuse marriage and dependency. Couples many times enter into marriage thinking that the other person will fix all of their problems, make them happy, support them fully, enjoy all of their activities, and provide unconditional love. This is a fallacy, and if you enter into marriage believing this, you are doomed.
The problem with getting married is that you exchange independence for love, thinking that love is static. When life gets rough and love is tested, as it eventually always will, you become angry and resentful that you gave up everything that was important to you for this person who no longer makes you a priority.
Marriage should actually be viewed as two separate individuals going on a journey together. These individuals may have different interests, needs, and emotional ups and downs at different times. Healthy married couples allow their spouses space and room to go through the various cycles of life. They cannot necessarily fix things for each other, and they will argue in the process. The only value a spouse can really provide is saying, ‘No matter what, I will always be here.’ When nothing else in the world is certain and you are at a point in your life where you doubt yourself, you should be able to rely on your partner waiting for you at the end of that long dark road.
Do not expect marriage to fix your problems and bring you everlasting happiness. This is not a fairy tale. Fix your own problems, create your own experiences, and continue to grow as individuals. Enjoy your partner for the happy moments that you have together during this process. That is the only way to have a long, fulfilling marriage.”
‘Sometimes It’s Enthralling’
“This lovely spring Saturday morning I’m still angry.
My wife and I had an argument yesterday afternoon. It was over something critically important.
I’m tired of the study, her office, looking like a parking lot sale at Walmart. And she’s tired of me complaining.
Clutter drives me crazy. Of course, I’ve been told it’s a short trip.
She said she’d clean it up. I said I’d shut up.
I sit in the sunroom drinking a cup of coffee, looking out on our beautiful green lawn and garden still smarting.
I feel kind of grimy. I hate confrontations. No one wins.
I dream of running away. By myself. Anywhere. Maybe the ocean. I love the ocean. And to not come back for a while.
I wonder, ‘Would she care? Would she notice?’
Actually, she’d probably pack my bag.
An hour later she comes out and asks, ‘Would you like some more coffee?’
I reply, ‘Sure’.
She gets the pot. We sit and chat for a while. Not about anything important. Certainly not about yesterday.
She kisses me and goes back in.
The hurt releases and I think, ‘We’ve been here before. And I’m still glad we’re together’.
As I’ve heard, ‘The hard part about marriage is, it’s just so daily’.
Sometimes that’s enthralling. Sometimes downright disturbing.”
‘The Potential Downside Is Always There’
“What I have learned is that marriage is a state of fluctuating but constant interdependence and vulnerability. In trusting this man enough to go to the courthouse and marry him, I exposed my weaknesses in ways I never did when we were just living together. And so has he. Each of us has taken a huge leap of faith and handed the other the most effective tools to hurt us. Happily, neither of us seems to be disposed to use those tools, but there’s no denying that they are there.
I don’t dwell on the prospect of widowhood the way my husband says he does, but the very idea of it fills me with dread, and I can’t talk about the possibility without choking up. The thought that this man I love and depend upon could vanish from my world and I could be left behind without him is more painful than anything I could imagine. I lived alone for years and loved it! But now things are different. I’m different. He didn’t do that. We did it together.
So I have become a much more interdependent person than I ever was before. It’s a trade-off, like everything else in life. The upside of it has been immensely satisfying, and I don’t regret it for a moment. But the potential downside is always there, quietly, in the background.”
Thoughts Become In Sync
“That you start to think like each other.
My husband and I have very different outlooks on life and very different personalities. He is thoughtful, introspective, blunt, honest, and straightforward. He would much prefer someone to come out and ask what they want and leave rather than spend 10 minutes in small talk and beating around the bush. I, on the other hand, am politically correct to a fault, love small talk and have a very ambiguous relationship with the truth, especially when it comes to white lies and protecting people’s feelings. He is more logical and every decision is black or white with a clear right answer and I am much more emotional and live in a world I believe is morally grey.
However, due to the fact that we spend so much time together and often look at decisions and actions through each other’s lenses in order to predict or forecast how the other would react, we have started making each other’s views our own. I start getting irritated when people go on and on when we meet. I find myself being blunt and honest when a friend asks me to comment on her attire and have started being able to compartmentalize my emotions when making decisions. And as expected, he has started becoming much more emotional and I even caught him in a white lie the other day telling a friend that quitting his job in anger was the right thing to do and he supported him.
I sometimes stop and have to think to myself – is this a ‘me’ thought or a thought of my husband and what do I actually believe? Then I realize, that maybe this is what marriage is about, taking the best of the other person and making it your own so together we end up both being far more than the sum of our parts.”
Points are edited for clarity.