Is Romance Killing Marriage?

I was raised by my single mother. My parents divorced when I was five years old and I have very little recollection of my father being around though I hear stories about him being a pretty involved father in the early years.  It is a shame how little we remember from early childhood when parents spend great efforts making their children happy.  Anyway, my father was not part of my life after a couple of years of obligatory custody post divorce; he just could not handle his own guilt and checked out. I never had a model for healthy romantic relationships. I dated a bit in high school and had a serious relationship in college but did not truly love someone until I met my husband.

He came from a divorced family too and was raised by his father. I have joked before that we are like the blind leading the blind down the marriage path. We have had our fair share of differences and growing pains along the way but are gaining more confident and insight the further down the road we get. We are like a “well-oiled machine” these days with a realistic and healthy dose of marital strife.

In the early days, I think I expected non-stop romance in marriage and this expectation lingered into the later days. My perception of what marriage was “supposed” to be like came from books, movies, and some vague idea I created in my head. Facebook came along and took expectations to a new level because people love to post about how blissful their lives are in a status update. Comparisons are the worst thing for a marriage and the easiest trap to fall into.


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Then of course, there is The Bachelor which I reluctantly admitted recently that I am an avid watcher. I laugh at its ridiculousness all the time and I think the silliness is part of its appeal for me, along with its mindlessness which I crave every so often. For example, the cheesy one-on-one dates are so extravagant and really have nothing to do with getting to know each other:“Today we are going to jump out of airplanes, wrestle with tigers and then scale a high-rise building finishing with a nice dinner on a scaffold overlooking burning lava” all set in a tropical paradise.  Then they go on to relate these activities to relationships; how these activities are symbols of trust, taking leaps and other such nonsense and later the contestant says she/he fell in love on the date because she/he “opened up” and learned that they share a same favorite color. And finally, the “fantasy suite”. After a long date on a secluded island, the Bachelor and one of the contestants get an invitation including a key to share a room where rose petals are scattered over the bed , candles burn and buckets of champagne erotically drip with condensation…all in the name of “having more time to talk.”

I always give my husband a run-down of the show or what is upcoming because I know he could not care less and I give myself the giggles making fun of myself for watching. “Hey babe, next week is home towns” knowing he has no idea what that means. Monday after watching the “home towns” episode, I almost choked laughing when I said, “tomorrow is the “fantasy suites episode!” It could have been that second glass of wine, but we both laughed at the complete ridiculousness of the “fantasy suite” to decide who is in the final running and his “true love”. I asked, “so, what was our “fantasy suite?” I think it was likely the dirty hole in the wall bar in Washington, DC called The Big Hunt, that dingy bar might truly be where our love really blossomed.

I am so thankful that I finally see marriage for what it is and how it should be instead of how it is depicted in the media setting unattainable expectations. For us, marriage is friendship first. We were long-distance when we started dating and that helped us to develop a strong friendship above anything else. And like many good friendships, it holds trust, respect, and honesty. That is invaluable and I believe, what makes me love my husband so much, because he is my best friend. He is stunningly handsome but attraction, lust and romance can only take you so far in marriage and at times it fizzles out for a while until it ramps up again later. That is the reality. Where is that reality show?

I love romance, who doesn’t?. But I also know that my husband is not a sappy romantic. He never has been and in fact, it was one of the first things I loved about him because I’m not either. I was in a college relationship with a guy who sent flowers for no reason, wrote love poetry and songs and planned special romantic dates.  And I was turned off by it because I did not love him.  For me, my husband is exactly right for me. We both value our “me” time and our space but love to be together and spend time in whatever way feels romantic at that moment whether it is sitting by a fire outside, dinner in a restaurant without kids or just being in the same room reading or working on our own things.

Is cheesy romance killing happiness in marriage by setting unattainable expectations?

The average length of an American marriage is 8.8 years; that is a disheartening and sad statistic. Having been married 10 years this coming May, that statistic translates to me that just when things start getting tough, around the 8 year mark, is when couples decide to call it quits. Is this the time when the honeymoon has officially worn off? Speaking only from my small piece of the pie, I wonder if our expectations of our spouse and what they “should” do even when we are too tired or lazy to do the same in return is what weighs down some marriages . Maybe it is time to revive our marriages by killing the romance that is fed to us in the form of illusion.

Related post: What Do You Do With Your Partner After Your Baby Is Asleep? by the lovely kukolina

19 thoughts on “Is Romance Killing Marriage?

  1. First off, congrats on 10 years! I know that the reason my parents are together is because they made it through the hard times and the reason they made it through the hard times is because they respected their wedding vows. They weren’t willing to go back on their word just because things were rough. I completely respect you and your hubby for working through your issues and not giving up! You may not have had it growing up, but now you are setting a great example for your kids!

  2. Hahaha! Seeing as I just stayed up way too late watching the Bachelor, and all its ridiculousness, I love this post. I think romance is important, but to me, romance is if he unloads the dishwasher without being asked!

  3. I completely agree. There has to be a friendship first, because most of life requires the need to be able to lean on a friend…not have candlelit dinners. I often wonder about the causes for rising divorce rates. I’m sure there is a lot that plays into it, but I do think people don’t always go into marriage with realistic expectations. My husband and I were long distance for much of our courtship as well, and I do think that helped us learn to develop a connection other than a physical one.

    • Absolutely. Though it got tiring while we were doing the long distance thing, and granted it was only for about 8 months, I am thankful for it. I think it was helpful in many ways. I think friendship is the most important ingredient too to make it the long haul. I really had no idea how to be married at first but luckily am figuring it out. 😉

  4. What a wonderful, thought-provoking post. You know I’ve said before that my parents gave me a good example of a realistic, and loving, marriage and I am beyond grateful for that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create that same marriage without the example. I think that my husband and I have been married for 8.8 years exactly right about now! We’ll be celebrating our 9 year anniversary in June. I’m thinking we’ll make it past the average 😉

    • I bet you will too. And I think since my husband and I both came from divorced families, we fight even harder to keep it together because we desperately want our kids to have an intact family. But of course, you can’t stay together if there isn’t love. Luckily, we have lots of that. Thank you for allowing your thoughts to be provoked 😉 ha

  5. Marriage is hard work; anyone who says that it isn’t is either still in the honeymoon period, or they’re so numb and ‘checked out’ that they can’t even bother to notice what’s wrong — they’re just atrophied into place and too lazy to either fix it or leave.

    It’ll be 27 years this May for me — and there have been a LOT of bumps along the way. A. Lot. Some things are worth fighting for, though.

    • Wow, 27 years is amazing. Bordering on 10 feels like peanuts and I know we have more bumps, probably big ones, in our future. Just trying to hold strong and keep strengthening that foundation to withstand everything that comes our way. When in May is your anniversary? Ours is the 15th.

  6. I am told the drop of times are 2 years, 5 years, 7 years then not again until after the kids are grown. I suspect that means 2 years- the ‘honeymoon’ is over, 5 years differences in life direction starts to take its toll, 7 years pressures of family life have become too much. These are just my guesses of course.

    But I do tend to agree that the idealized romance lived out on Facebook, tv, and blogs helps to make people feel like something in their marriage must be wrong so they split in the hopes of finding something better.

  7. You should have just asked me. I can tell you, coming from long lines of lifetime marraiges on both sides, that once you procreate, if you do it once a month… then you can stay awake longer than me. PLUS- try watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. That shit is HYSTERICAL.

  8. Bingo! I had a good time laughing over your description of the Bachelor. I have never watched it, but I did watch a version of it where Flavor Flav was the “bachelor.” It was hilarious! And incredibly stupid. I also found myself constantly wondering what had happened to those women to make them want to degrade themselves so much. But I digress…

    Facebook can be pretty funny when it come to social comparison. I tend to be one of those sarcastic people who posts a funny twist on the latest situation that really just makes you want to run away. Haha. I had that nonsense notion of romantic love as a child and a teenager, but not because I didn’t see real marriage all the time. Disney and your girlfriends do all of that even if you have a ton of regular marriage examples in your life. I’m glad I got over it, and I’m glad I have had models of everyday, hum-drum marriage to look back on. It is the tiniest little things that my parents and grandparents do for each other that get me all choked-up and saying, “those two really love each other.”

    Marriage is HARD, but so totally worth it because I want someone that will stick around after seeing me huge and pregnant sitting on the couch in the middle of summer covered in sweat and angry as a bunch of pissed-off hornets. That is real love. Not some grand, romantic gesture that involves sweeping me off my feet…that would probably end in a slipped disc anyway.

    • haha! Exactly, and we don’t need any slipped discs or even pulled muscles around this joint. Man-power is needed for child-rearing! Working as a teamp to clean up then getting the kids ready for bed and reading them stories is about as sexy as it gets. Just kidding, we haven’t totally lost the romance, it is just more spread out so that when it does happen, it is quite noticeable and appreciated.

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