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Is Marital Bliss a Bust?

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What do REAL women think of their own marriages? What's going on in their heads and behind closed doors?

upset couple in bed
Christina Montoya Fiedler: Momlogic asked its readers to share their thoughts about a recent survey conducted by AOL and Woman's Day Magazine that reported most women are less than thrilled with their marriage:

• 52% of women say they have no sex life or a dull sex life
• 72% have considered leaving their husbands
• 57% regret marrying their husband
• 79% want sex more often (only 19% call their sex life satisfying)
• 27% think their marriages are not successful
• 52% say their husband is not their soul mate
• 41% said they don't have date night

Here's what you had to say about these startling statistics:

My marriage is bliss because of the basis of it. The friendship, respect, and love we share ... nothing is ever total bliss. We have ups and downs, but the ups make the downs easier and we share in the load of life's journey together ... Sounds mushy but it is true! -- Kim Moffitt

I can believe the statistics. -- Val Pearson

My best friend -- of course there are misunderstandings but overall bliss to have such a great companion! -- Debram

... There is No Such Thing as a perfectly Blissful marriage, I don't care who you are. Not even my grandparents who were very family-oriented -- they did love each other happily but still had issues. One can be blind if they think it is perfect. I have seen those people close to my heart get hurt severely because they thought it was blissful. YIKES. -- Teri

To shed further light on the survey, momlogic sat down with Woman's Day health editor, Amy Brightfield, for a behind-the-scenes look:

Momlogic: What was the demographic of the study and do you think it had anything to do with the responses given?
Amy Brightfield: All the women were married (obviously!) and the majority of them fell into the age range of 40-59. Seventeen percent were age 30 to 39, and 12% were age 20 to 29. If we make the assumption that the older the women are, the longer they've been married, then yes, I do think that had something to do with the responses because the longer you've been married, the more ups and downs you've experienced.

ML: What was the idea behind the survey? Why was it conducted?
Amy: We're bombarded by scenes and stories of happy -- and unhappy -- marriages in reality shows like "Jon and Kate Plus 8" and celebrity gossip, but we wanted to know: What do REAL women think of their own marriages? What's going on in their heads and behind closed doors?

ML: Do you think that these statistics coincide with the fact that divorce rates are so high? Is one a mirror image of the other?
Amy: I do think that these results somewhat reflect the divorce rate, but don't forget the positive stats in the survey: 71% said they expect to be married to their spouses for the rest of their lives, 26% said their husbands have gotten better with age, and 28% said their spouses were the same as the day they married them.

ML: Overall, why do you think married women seem to be so unhappy?
Amy: I don't think that married women in general are SO unhappy, and I don't think that, even though on its face the survey results may seem depressing, they necessarily indicate that. In America, we see two extremes with marriage: the super-happy couple and the disaster. The reality is somewhere in between. It's normal to have bumps and negative thoughts along the way; it doesn't mean that your marriage is doomed. We idealize "happily ever after" so much that we think if you talk about the negatives (thinking of leaving, doubting that your husband is the right person for you), that they are or will become truths. A marriage isn't black and white, bad or good -- there's a lot of gray area and conflict that exists alongside the good, and these results reflect that.

ML: What advice can you give to women who might be feeling any of these issues in their current relationships?
Amy: Talk them out. Obviously, you don't want to blab your private life all over town, but running concerns or feelings by a good friend or two can really help give you perspective. And think about why YOU might be feeling that way. Are you going through a rough patch in your own life? Just because you're having doubts and negative thoughts about your spouse or your marriage doesn't mean you have to leave or that the relationship is doomed. Therapy is great for working these things out -- and can help you figure out if couples therapy would help, too.

Part of the reason why these results may seem shocking and disheartening is that we don't always hear successfully married couples talking about the rough times, the doubts, then how they came through it and stayed together. You might see extreme examples in prominent people (celebrities, politicians) -- a husband or wife who cheated but stayed married -- but you don't hear them talk about the emotions leading up to that, how they worked through it, and the aftermath.

Also remember that marriage is work: it doesn't just fall into place and stay happy or successful without us making it that way.

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