A Historian of Marriage on Unrealistic Expectations

The Tightrope Wedding

What unrealistic expectations do couples have about marriage today?

Marriage as an enduring romance — sex can be hot like 30 years down the road!

Sex can be good, and it can be satisfying, and it can be vital, and it can be important, but it’s not like you want to rip your clothes off with somebody that you’re sleeping with for the 1,000th time.

We should know going into it that the nature of love and sex changes from what it begins as, and that a great love affair doesn’t necessarily make a great marriage. It might, but you have to look for other things, too.

So much emphasis, certainly in movies and pop culture, is placed on falling in love and getting married. But then everyone kind of shuts up and doesn’t really look at what happens during married life, and how married love is very different from the premarital love that got you to the altar.

We could learn a lot about what is in the nature of marriage and separate that from what our personal problems might be. We could probably have fewer divorces if people realized that some of the problems have to do with the nature of married life. It’s the only relationship that is both domestic and sexual. It’s very hard when you’re living day in and day out with one person. That’s the antithesis of passionate sex. Passion withers in a daily routine. It just does. It doesn’t mean that you don’t desire each other. It doesn’t mean that marriage isn’t hugely rewarding.

The life span has more than doubled since 1900. We’re talking about marriages that at best lasted 18 years before someone died. Now you’re looking at 50 years of marriage to one person. That’s a great thing and a terrible thing, because there are going to be bad times.

Susan Squire
Author of  I Don’t: A Contrarian History of Marriage (2008)
Salon.com, 9 August 2008


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