In an age when divorce is increasingly common, the lucky couples who do stay together aren’t enjoying fairy-tale romance; more often, their unions are enduring but lukewarm at best. Can we really call that a win? After surveying 1,879 married (and formerly married) people online (and 50 in person) about what’s really going on behind closed doors, Pamela Haag wrote Marriage Confidential: Love in the Post-Romantic Age to bring these private struggles faced by so many Americans to light. Here’s what you can learn from them–and how you can avoid becoming one of them.
In your book, you talk about “semi-happy marriages.” Tell me what that means.
My definition of a “semi-happy” marriage is one where at least one of the spouses is up at night worrying about divorce. In my book I describe marriages in the “post-romantic” fashion. These marriages are more pragmatic than ecstatic; more comfortable than dazzling. One popular variation is the marriage that’s pretty much defined as a coparenting relationship…. Another variation that’s extremely common: the spouse-as-best-friend marriage. In these marriages, the spouses really do function as buddies. The upside: The marriage tends to be stable and amiable. The downside: It can lose its traction, or passion, pretty fast. Finally, there are sexless marriages, where passion takes a serious backseat, or the couple just doesn’t have a sex life. This is not uncommon; talk to enough married people and the confessions pour forth.