There are times when I hate being single and wish I had been married, but there are times I’m glad that I’ve remained unmarried into my forties. One reason is that I see people who marry all the time – for the wrong reasons, and they are miserable.
There is a lot of societal pressure to marry, and to marry by the age of 35 at that, which is why so many women (and maybe some men) marry someone they are not truly happy with or in love with, and they get divorced years later.
Here’s another example, a letter sent to advice columnist Carolyn Hax with this heading:
“Quest for public approval pushed her into marriage and is keeping her there”
Here is what the letter writer said:
I don’t know why I got married. Probably a swirling mix of low self-esteem, anxiety and the desire to prove my mother wrong about my boyfriend caused me to pressure him to propose. What I’m left with is a husband who doesn’t really love me and the sinking feeling that I made a terrible mistake.
I don’t know how much effort to put into making this work vs. cutting my losses. He isn’t a bad person, but we don’t make each other particularly happy and this isn’t a relationship where I feel treasured. I would get a divorce without thinking about it, but I’m embarrassed about the possible “I told you so’s.” I keep hoping the minister made a mistake and we’re not really married and I can just walk away.
On a similar note, here’s an article that says that married women are cheating just as much as married men these days:
(Link): The New Face of Infidelity: Research shows women may be cheating now almost as much as men; the toll of new temptations
Here are excerpts from “The New Face of Infidelity,” by Peggy Drexler, October 19, 2012
…Lately, however, researchers have been raising doubts about this view: They believe that the incidence of unfaithfulness among wives may be approaching that of husbands. The lasting costs of these betrayals will be familiar to the many Americans who have experienced divorce as spouses or children.
Among the most reliable studies on this issue is the General Social Survey, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, which has been asking Americans the same questions since 1972. In the 2010 survey, 19% of men said that they had been unfaithful at some point during their marriages, down from 21% in 1991. Women who reported having an affair increased from 11% in 1991 to 14% in 2010.
A 2011 study conducted by Indiana University, the Kinsey Institute and the University of Guelph found much less of a divide: 23% for men and 19% for women. Such numbers suggest the disappearance of the infidelity gender gap, but some caution is in order.
…And if you believe the General Social Survey’s finding that 14% of women are cheating, keep in mind that 86% aren’t.
Still, even though survey accuracy is difficult to achieve and experts are by no means unanimous, it would appear that women are, indeed, catching up. In my own work as a psychologist and in my social circle, I see more women not only having affairs but actively seeking them out. Their reasons are familiar: validation of their attractiveness, emotional connection, appreciation, ego—not to mention the thrill of a shiny new relationship, unburdened by the long slog through the realities of coupledom.
…Researchers also point to other factors that might be leading women to stray more. One is what might be called “infidelity overload.” Scan the plots on any given week in television, and there seems to be more extramarital sex than marital sex. (Few spouses stay put in “Mad Men.”) With women portrayed as eager participants and aggressive instigators, there may be a feeling that infidelity has become more acceptable.
And then there is the opportunity factor—more travel, more late nights on the job and more interaction with men mean that the chances and temptations to stray have multiplied for the new generation of working women.
A 2011 study at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, published in the journal Psychological Science, argues that infidelity is also a function of greater economic and social power, which creates confidence and personal leverage for both genders. Women can now use their power in ways to which men have long been accustomed.
A broader cultural shift may also be at work. According to a Match.com study conducted earlier this year by the biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, women are becoming less traditional about relationships. Men, interestingly, may be going the other direction. In the survey, 77% of women in a committed relationship said they needed personal space, as opposed to 58% of men. While 35% of women wanted regular nights out with friends, only 23% of men said the same.
Social networks are another factor, if only by expanding the pool of possible partners. Emotional friendships that turn physical are the traditional point of entry for female affairs. It is now easy for those friendships to take root online. Some argue that social networks are merely an expediter and that cheaters will always find a way. Still, if you’ve never quite gotten over your prom date, today the chances are much better that you can find him.
Do women account for more of today’s affairs? Probably. But in a society that has been preaching, legislating and celebrating gender equality for decades, equality in marital misdeeds might be expected too.