Are Married Men Ruining Marriage?

September 29, 2015

For the past few years, I’ve been in that phase where a large percentage of my social circle is getting married and having babies. While some single friends are struggling to adjust, I would venture to say I’m doing just fine. Not weeping in a corner wondering what has become of my so-called life but also not doing “I’m single & lovin’ it” cartwheels down my driveway. I’ve attended enough beautiful weddings to appreciate the promise that exists in an ‘I Do’ and witnessed enough nasty divorces to understand how quickly things can take a terrible turn for the worst.

For most single women open to one day tying the knot, marriage is sacred. It’s the culmination of finding Mr. Right and securing that once elusive thing called everlasting love. However, as I talk to many unmarried friends lately, there seems to be an increased hesitation to exchange rings and recite vows. A negative view of marriage has definitely emerged carrying with it a slew of pessimistic hearts and downturned mouths.

Initially, I was surprised to hear women sound so opposed to the very thing they’ve been dreaming about since childhood. What happened to shift their way of thinking so strongly? I assumed there must be a trending article detailing the pitfalls of marriage or possibly new  statistics released by a medical journal saying it’s officially bad for one’s health. Regardless, I needed to understand what was capable of having such a powerful influence on how my friends came to lose such a seemingly intrinsic part of themselves. It didn’t take long for the answer to leap out at me. Well, not literally. It was the result of an IM received on Facebook coupled with two conversations I had with married male friends. All three interactions, while extremely different, profoundly affected my view of marriage and the concept of taking that transformative journey down the aisle.

On Wednesday, I spoke with Mason*, a B-school friend that’s been happily married for eight years. For the better part of ninety-minutes, we discussed relationships, family, life and everything in between.  When Mason mentioned his wife or their children, love and sincerity flowed through his words. He cherishes his family and the future he’s building. I’m not saying he and his wife haven’t had their rough patches. However, he’s always been one to quickly remind any listener that marriage requires both hard work and commitment and he has no plans to shy away from either.

Two days later, I had lunch with Derek*, a thirty-two year old currently in couples counseling with his wife of three years. Derek’s marriage problems started long before he stood at the altar. He’s a great friend but a complicated significant other due to infidelity and communication issues. After only one year as a husband, he cheated on his wife later telling me it was because he felt trapped and torn. He loved her but doubted she was The One.

The following Monday, I received this IM on Facebook from an old high school acquaintance:

Heeeyy beautiful. Hru? Guess What…   I dont hv any panties on. (Whispering) lmbo. Hv a great day friend.

No joke. I received that EXACT message in my inbox. I was confused, surprised, and annoyed-in that order. Not only was this guy a mere acquaintance (we probably spoke twice in high school) that suddenly felt comfortable enough to share a juvenile joke, but he’s married with two kids! I wondered what his wife would think if she read his private message. How much would he trip over his words to explain this as a simple joke or misunderstanding.  Oh honey, it’s not what it looks like. Yeah, right.

 Within one week, I’d come to see marriage quite differently than in the past. It wasn’t from talking to married girlfriends, watching talk shows about married life, or trolling blogs to understand why marriages fail and succeed. The primary difference that week was my interactions with married men. That’s when the lightbulb went off.

Married men have become one of the most significant influences on single women and how they view the time honored tradition of marriage.

Their words cause us to reset expectations and their actions are akin to a bucket of cold water being thrown in our faces. Married men help us gauge the chasm that exists between our childhood dreams and our grown woman reality. They have the power to shift how we view, not only what marriage is supposed to be, but what it tends to be – for better or worse.

So, do our married female friends have any influence? Yes, but not in the way you’d think. Our married girlfriends can complain all day long about their husbands but we casually dismiss their rants with thoughts of ‘well my husband won’t be that way’ or ‘I would never have to deal with xyz.’ Instead of seeing their marriages as learning guides, we often make ourselves and our future relationship the exception.

After thinking about this for a few days, I wondered – if single women are increasingly becoming dissatisfied with the idea of marriage, are married men to blame? What could they be saying or doing to cause this epidemic? I’m certain my married guy friends view our conversations as innocent, friendly interactions. But what about the not so harmless actions taken by married men that taint the image of holy matrimony? What else are men doing to ruin the single woman’s fanciful notions of happily ever after? Read Part 2 of this post – 5 Ways Married Men Ruin Marriage for the Single Woman!


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(originally posted 01.14.14)


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  • Reply myndmatters March 22, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    These are some GREAT comments! Thanks for reading my post!

    I agree that Choice (which social media facilitates) is a big factor in what’s driving down the appeal of marriage.

    Conrod, I agree that women should appreciate the honesty and views of their married male friends but this is about guys that cross the line. Guys that show her more of the consequences she doesn’t want and less of the deep-thinking ‘how do I make my marriage stronger/better/more fulfilling’ perspective. The guy on FB that sent me the IM wasn’t trying to Help my view of marriage. He was being disrespectful to his wife and their family. I’m not naive to think all married men cheat just as all aren’t faithful. However, constantly seeing married men cross lines causes the single girl to question marriage – no doubt.

  • Reply 5 Ways Married Men Ruin Marriage for the Single Woman | Renita's Mynd Matters | Renita's Mynd Matters March 5, 2014 at 4:07 AM

    […] last week’s post, I posited married men as a critical influence on single women’s view of marriage. Her casual […]

  • Reply Conrod Kelly January 17, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    I apologize in advance because this is going to be a lengthy response. As a married man, I believe single women with male friends should be thanking them for sharing their experiences about life after the “fantasy” of marriage. The fact people have a “fantasy” about marriage is a big part of the problem. Most people don’t even think beyond the wedding. The reality of marriage that is often shared / witnessed is often met with disbelief or denial that they will ever find themselves in that situation. Single women should take the time to ask their married male friends what’s causing them to say or do the things that they are doing. What they will discover is that a lot of women had expectations of marriage and the future husband that they never shared with their spouse (especially the “I thought marriage would change him”), they weren’t willing to keep doing the things they did to get the man to marry them (the work starts after you get the job), somehow sex became not as important (in what world), for better or worst doesn’t mean let your self go and I’ll love you any ways, and they thought once you married him the competition for him was over (no, it actually just got real). Having these conversations with your married male friends will reveal the conversations they wished they would have had that they never did. Don’t judge them, learn from them. Destroying the fantasy and making a fact based decision will likely improve marriages. My prediction is that less people will get married because they will realize that the dream was not theirs but rather implanted by their parent, friends, or media and the divorce rate will decline because those that decide to get married would have entered into it eyes wide open. So no, married men are not ruin marriage (at least not all of us, some of us are trifling…just keeping it real)…but some of the women who are tired of waiting for their own and going after married men are not making it any better because it’s creating distrust on both sides of the equation. Sorry about the length. Great post.

  • Reply samanullah January 17, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Social media in particular has ruined marriage, though I still believe it is possible to have a healthy one in the face of it. It makes affairs easier, it allows people to disengage from their own relationship as they lurk into others, and it enables fantasies to turn into destructive realities. I believe the statistics are that Facebook alone is cited in 40% of current divorces.

  • Reply acellnamedscooter January 14, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    CHOICE is ruining marriage…along with the ‘idea’ of marriage, itself. What was once a societal necessity is now a cultural luxury. The value of marriage is changing for both sexes and all orientations.
    These married men you speak of (and I have known a few ‘Dereks’ in my time), are just catalysts.

  • Reply Sonia Thompson January 14, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    I’m learning as I talk and observe married couples – that a lot of them present an image either in conversation or behavior of something that doesn’t sound appealing. So as someone who still desires to be married, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will have to focus my relationship with my husband on me and my husband. What others do is their business. It has nothing to do with us – and what we have with each other. At the very least – others are I’ll teaching me some things not to do, but I won’t let them taint something that I hold so dear with their actions.

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