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Old 02-12-2020, 09:08 PM
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What percentage of Western marriages are actually good/happy?


Actual data is impossible to come by, of course (unless one reads hundreds of millions of minds,) so it is just up to everyone's guesstimate since this is IMHO:

What percentage of marriages in the West would you guesstimate to actually be good, healthy, happy marriages? (Query limited to the West because in some other cultures you could have arranged/forced/child marriages which wouldn't be a good sample from which to determine whether someone is happy or not - you want it to be a marriage that both partners freely enter into)


20 percent, 30 percent?


("Roommate marriages" - wedded but no love or pleasure in each other's company, do not qualify as happy - secretly-contemplating-divorce marriages do not count, etc.)
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Old 02-13-2020, 12:27 AM
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0% or 100%.
There is no happy marriage where there are never days you'd rather call the whole thing off, but the logistics and expense would be daunting. And two days later you're deeply in love again. So if you define a happy marriage as being happy all the time, 0.
On the other hand, I'm sujre that even unhappy marriages have days when things are great, so if that's your definition 100%.
Lots of marriages that end in divorce are probably happy until they aren't. I don't know for sure, never been there.
My qualifications are being married 41 years happily, I'd say.
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Old 02-13-2020, 05:19 AM
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40 years now for me and the missus.

Only one other marriage from our collection of past friends/schoolmates has made it this far. All the others failed somewhere along the line. There are a few who married much later and are still together, but only two couples made the forty year mark.

From our generation of relatives (siblings/cousins), I counted up everyone and got a failure rate of exactly 75%. Better than that of our friends but still dismal.

Assuming that some unhappy marriages don't end in divorce, my WAG is maybe 10-15% are actually happy. I could be way off, as "happy" can be defined a lot of ways.

Last edited by pullin; 02-13-2020 at 05:19 AM.
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Old 02-13-2020, 07:49 AM
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I guess it depends on expectations. What we expect from a marriage seems unrealistic, especially when we're young. Smart, emotionally stable people are more practical about it.

Too many people conflate contentedness with happiness. You don't have to be wildly happy 24/7, whatever you conceive that to be. Rather, you need a sense of contentedness with what you have built relationship-wise, and how you and your partner team up to build a life. Affection, respect, and contentedness will increase durability.

It's not going to be sex toys and celebrations all of the time. Do you like each other? Do you trust your partner to do the right thing? Is your partner a reasonably competent person? Do you look forward to sharing experiences with your partner, such as travel, discovery, and the like?

My guess is: It depends. The longer you stay married, the better the chance that you will remain married. Overall, I'm going with 60% across life. Maybe higher.
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Old 02-13-2020, 09:06 AM
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No clue, but anybody who says a number close to 0% is way too cynical, and anybody who says a number close to 100% is way too optimistic.
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:19 AM
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I don't know how you could answer the question meaningfully. I know couples where the wife will tell you she has had 30 years of wedded bliss, and the husband will tell you his wife makes his life a living hell.
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:35 AM
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The definition of "good" and "happy" marriages will vary quite a bit depending on the people and circumstances. I think a problem is we all compare our experiences with some foggy ideal that does not really exist, and think we are not where we should be.

I have actually done an informal survey of my friends and social circle with this exact question - "Are you happy?". Based on responses (including mine) it seems about 1 in 10 are happy in their marriage. Mind you, this is a cohort of people mainly in their late 30s, 40s and early 50s, with stressors such as small children, aging parents, demanding jobs/not working, distance in intimacy, poor communications, etc. None of the people I asked were poor, and all were in long-term marriages.

Altho I have known several friends to have gone thru divorce, all to have come out the other side MUCH happier, almost all of my closest friends are still on their first marriage. That surprised me, and leads me to think most of them are in unhappy marriages, but the daunting prospect of divorce and disruption to their lives and that of their dependents seems to deter any further thought or action. Inertia and all that.
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Old 02-13-2020, 11:02 AM
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I don't know how you could answer the question meaningfully. I know couples where the wife will tell you she has had 30 years of wedded bliss, and the husband will tell you his wife makes his life a living hell.
Well, that would be a straightforward case of an unhealthy marriage.
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Old 02-13-2020, 05:12 PM
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Just speaking for mrAru and myself, we have been happy with our marriage [won't say that we have been thrilled at outside circumstances, but the relationship between us is what you were asking about.]

We started as casual acquaintances, playing D&D at Campaign HQ in Norfolk VA, then we became friends, then lovers and finally married couple - the pre marriage part was over 5 years, and we have been married 29 years as of tomorrow. [Yup, we got married on Valentines Day - it happened that that was the day he got the marriage chit approved by his command and we could get it done.] I think that we have lasted so long, and been content because we are first and foremost friends - he really is my best friend and he has said that I am his best friend. It doesn't hurt that I have civilian training that makes me understand his military 'job' so we can talk intelligently about the non-classified parts of his day. Being able to grump to someone who understands the frustrations of a recalcitrant valve because they have had it happen to them *works* My being raised by an independent intelligent woman who made sure I could cope with running a household solo helped when he deployed for random amounts of time ranging from a surprise 3 days to a 6 month Northern run to an 18 month refit at a shipyard in another state so the household ran without his having to be in charge of everything. I also never complained about being left at home - many military wives are stressed out at the idea of having to do everything alone because the husband has vanished into the sea they melt down.
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Old 02-13-2020, 06:34 PM
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It's easy to get a divorce these days so I assume more are happy than aren't.
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Old 02-14-2020, 05:40 AM
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No clue, but anybody who says a number close to 0% is way too cynical, and anybody who says a number close to 100% is way too optimistic.
I would say around 25% because you know around 50% are "failing" or on the road to failure. It's possible to have a "happy" marriage and still divorce, but atypical. Then you have to figure 50% of the others being some combination of dead bedroom, "for the kids" only, some combination of factors for a roommate situation, maybe just tolerating each other not to divorce, too expensive too divorce, too lazy to divorce, one or both partners ill, codependency, and so on. I think that may be on the conservative side. I think 25% happy would be around the max.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:23 AM
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It's easy to get a divorce these days so I assume more are happy than aren't.
But, would that lead to unhappy marriages being short, which leads to there being more of them?
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:47 AM
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I would say around 25% because you know around 50% are "failing" or on the road to failure. It's possible to have a "happy" marriage and still divorce, but atypical. Then you have to figure 50% of the others being some combination of dead bedroom, "for the kids" only, some combination of factors for a roommate situation, maybe just tolerating each other not to divorce, too expensive too divorce, too lazy to divorce, one or both partners ill, codependency, and so on. I think that may be on the conservative side. I think 25% happy would be around the max.
Here is Cecil's take on the 50% thing.
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by pullin View Post
40 years now for me and the missus.

Only one other marriage from our collection of past friends/schoolmates has made it this far. All the others failed somewhere along the line. There are a few who married much later and are still together, but only two couples made the forty year mark.

From our generation of relatives (siblings/cousins), I counted up everyone and got a failure rate of exactly 75%. Better than that of our friends but still dismal.

Assuming that some unhappy marriages don't end in divorce, my WAG is maybe 10-15% are actually happy. I could be way off, as "happy" can be defined a lot of ways.
I wonder what pushes your group so far to the end of the spectrum, I seem to be on the other extreme.

I come from a relative small family, each parent only had one sibling, but when I add up all of my siblings, 1st cousins, aunts/uncles, parents, and grand parents I get one divorce from a fairly short marriage and that one was followed with a 25+ year marriage that is still going. Only one cousin is not married, but has been with the same guy for 25 years.
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Old 02-14-2020, 12:00 PM
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It's easy to get a divorce these days so I assume more are happy than aren't.
The legal process isn't that difficult, but divorce almost always is. There are many reasons someone might avoid it, even if "unhappy" in their marriage. Kids, logistics, money, family pressure, etc.

I'm very happy in my marriage. But, if things fell apart, the divorce would be a nightmare.
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Old 02-14-2020, 12:03 PM
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Actual data is impossible to come by...
Actually, here is one survey on the matter...
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Old 02-14-2020, 02:26 PM
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Here is Cecil's take on the 50% thing.
Some others, besides the extreme he quotes/refutes of 1/8, still stick to lower numbers than 50%. 40-50% seems to be the most common quotation. Based on US not 'Western' statistics.

Anyway the statistical issues which make it difficult to nail down that number also affect this question, or it presumed variants:
-what % of marriages did not end in divorce, and were mainly happy, with all the tracking of cohorts etc. to get a meaningful answer;
or more simply
-what % Western marriages are happy right now, those happy now divided by the total number of married couples now

Those wouldn't be the same. Considering that a lot of the 40-50% (let's accept that range) are happy for awhile, and my contention that the earlier estimate that 1/2 of marriages that don't end in divorce marriages being unhappy is much too high, I would say second answer would be considerably over half. The first answer is presumably only near or below 1/2, if disqualifying any marriage that eventually ends in divorce as having been 'happy', and considering that some people are consistently unhappy but never get divorced, though it's not half of people who don't get divorced. It might have been back when the % who actually got divorced was much lower.

As to subjective views, I think both people in long happy marriages (36 yrs here) and divorced people may both tend to want to see happy marriage as less likely than it really is (to bask in the glow of a more unusual achievement in the first case, and downplay a personal setback in the second). I guess recently married people might tend to want to think success was more likely than it actually is.
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Old 02-14-2020, 02:29 PM
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double

Last edited by Corry El; 02-14-2020 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 02-14-2020, 06:29 PM
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Looking at my immediate family. My parents were very happily married till my father died. I have been happily married for nearly 56 years; one son for 28 years, the other for 24 and my daughter for 16, all very happy with their spouse as far as I can see. Of my closest friends, one was divorced after a very short marriage and has been happily married for close to 50 years. The rest are still on their first wives and seem happy. Of my maybe 40 colleagues, I can think of only three who were divorced. I realize this is far from typical.
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:08 AM
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So many early marriages go bad. Think of them as test runs, followed by a winner or alas, yet more test runs - cf my sisters. Some are happy (or miserable) till someone dies or deserts - see my aunts and uncles. Some are lucky escapes - that's us re: our first mates. And some are beyond comprehension. Humans are the craziest people.
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Old 02-16-2020, 10:30 AM
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It really depends on what exactly you mean by "happy" The OP says ""Roommate marriages" - wedded but no love or pleasure in each other's company, do not qualify as happy - secretly-contemplating-divorce marriages do not count, etc."

Someone earlier said something like "don't conflate contentedness with happiness" . But "contentedness" is a form of "happiness". It's not the only form , but I suspect that if the question in a poll was whether people were "content" with their marriage rather than "happy" , you'd get different answers. Similarly " a roommate marriage" where the parties don't take pleasure in each other's company certainly isn't happy, but what about one where the bedroom is dead because neither is interested in sex anymore ? I don't think that one is automatically "unhappy".
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Old 02-16-2020, 06:53 PM
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How to Make Your Marriage Gayer: Same-sex spouses feel more satisfied with their partners than heterosexual ones. What’s the secret?
Quote:
Here’s where same-sex couples can offer their different-sex counterparts useful tips. Since same-sex couples can’t use imputed male-female differences to sort out who does what, they rely less on stereotypes. Heterosexual parents tend to see tasks such as child care, laundry and dishes as part of a package that is handed to one partner. Same-sex couples are far more likely to each take on some traditionally “feminine” and some “masculine” chores.

They are also more likely to share the routine tasks. A 2015 survey found that almost half of dual-earner, same-sex couples shared laundry duties, compared with just under a third of different-sex couples. And a whopping 74 percent of same-sex couples shared routine child care, compared with only 38 percent of straight couples.
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Old 02-16-2020, 09:23 PM
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Are they happier being alone?

Are they content to just have a friend or the security of a partner at home?

I'm not really sure how to measure all this.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:11 PM
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I don't think "happy" and "good" marriages are necessarily the same thing.

I'm not even sure "happiness" is a good metric for judging a marriage. It's like raising kids. No one has kids because years changing diapers and attending a bunch of birthday parties for toddlers makes them "happy". By the same token, no one says at 29 "thank God I never have to have sex with another woman after this."
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:30 PM
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Last anniversary was the 60th. And no, not all of these were deliriously happy all the time - but divorce was never contemplated.

I remember years ago reading that some well known female was asked if she had ever contemplated divorce. Her reply, "Never divorce. Occasionally murder."
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:59 PM
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I remember years ago reading that some well known female was asked if she had ever contemplated divorce. Her reply, "Never divorce. Occasionally murder."
Ninja'd. But I recall it as: She looked up with fire in her eyes and replied, "Divorce, never. Murder, often." I'm on better terms with the current MrsRico of 40+ years. I saw a question on another site asking, "How would you spend a night with your ex?" The common answer (mine too) was, "There are REASONS they're the ex!" And still alive.

OP: How many marriages are "happy"? Hard to tell. But well-educated couples are much less likely to divorce than the less educated. (cite) This doesn't count the "poor man's divorce" aka abandonment. But educated folk seem happier or at least more satisfied.
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Old 02-18-2020, 11:33 AM
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'What is happiness?' is in general a rat hole to go down, not just for marriage. Once you pull on that thread, there's no end to it. Maybe the answer actually should be based on surveys, and take them at face value, or at least what we estimate people would say, if the question is 'reasonably happy'.

Snapshot: Around 2% of marriages end in divorce *in a given year* in the US. So right now there's a couple of % in the process, a couple of % who will next year, couple more slated for 2022, etc. Most times the problem that ends things doesn't pop up out of nowhere (might pop up from perspective of one party but other knew it was there etc) so I think it's reasonable estimate on average a number of years worth of upcoming divorces reflect unhappy marriages now. But 10 yrs worth seems like a lot and I doubt there are nowadays large %'s of people who are unhappy but will never divorce. So I think in snapshot 'happy' is more than 1/2, maybe 3/4's.

OTOH longitudinally over life, and condemning all of maybe 40%+ of marriages which eventually end in divorce as having been just 'unhappy' all along, then add in *some* people who stick out consistently unhappy marriages for life, happy might be more like 1/2, or perhaps a bit less.

Last edited by Corry El; 02-18-2020 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 02-18-2020, 12:35 PM
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Ninja'd. But I recall it as: She looked up with fire in her eyes and replied, "Divorce, never. Murder, often." I'm on better terms with the current MrsRico of 40+ years. I saw a question on another site asking, "How would you spend a night with your ex?" The common answer (mine too) was, "There are REASONS they're the ex!" And still alive.

OP: How many marriages are "happy"? Hard to tell. But well-educated couples are much less likely to divorce than the less educated. (cite) This doesn't count the "poor man's divorce" aka abandonment. But educated folk seem happier or at least more satisfied.


I feel I should point out that you could have murdered your partner 20 years ago and you would probably be getting out of jail about now...except you would be free!

Last edited by msmith537; 02-18-2020 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 02-18-2020, 07:24 PM
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I feel I should point out that you could have murdered your partner 20 years ago and you would probably be getting out of jail about now...except you would be free!
Finding someone else to put up with me would be difficult.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:54 AM
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Finding someone else to put up with me would be difficult.
I think someone just wrote their vows!
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