The of a Modern Marriage

frustrated married couple

Could it possibly be true that marriage is harder today than it was in generations past?

The Misgivings of a Modern Marriage

With all the freedoms the modern woman now enjoy, could is it possible that marriage today is actually harder  than it was in generations past?

Surely the freedom to work, raise children, have a social life and oversee one's own finances is a bonus in a partnership … or does too much choice ultimately lead to matrimonial dissatisfaction?

Married life has changed remarkably since World War 2.

Until then the mid 1940s, marriage was seen as a contract far more binding than it is now.  The reality was that once they were married, most women had few opportunities to be independent and to fulfil their needs and dreams outside the home.  Society had a very clear view of what was acceptable and this was generally based on what worked well for the children and the husband

Married women were not encouraged to have independent means, once you were married work opportunities were significantly limited and the man was expected to be the provider. Women received a fraction of the pay that men got for doing the same job. Divorce was frowned upon by society and in particular the Church (who had significantly more influence than they do now). Divorce made women a social pariah.

When a marriage wasn’t working – whatever the reason, women were expected to suck it up, to accept the “will of God” and to make the best of even the most loveless or abusive relationships.

Fortunately circumstances have changed and women have a far greater range of choices. 

Does a wealth of choices make things easier for the modern married woman?
In one way it is easier for people to end a marriage than ever before. It has been my experience that couples have found this to be a double edged sword. As the pressure to stay together has diminished the pressure for the marriage to match up to the individual’s perception of what a good marriage should be like has greatly increased. 

Why? The answer is complex but I think there are some key reasons:

Expectations of marriage have changed. So many young people, particularly women, appear to believe in the fairy tale “Happy Ever After”.  Expectations that everything will be perfect are unsustainable.  Many marriages are failing within the first year – almost before they have had the chance to succeed.
Many of the clients I see have an unrealistic expectation that marriage will be perfect from the outset and are disappointed when they run into challenges.  Once the razzmatazz of a big wedding is over unless there is a commitment to make the relationship work many marriages falter.

Fix: Remember that it does need a great deal of commitment and work to create a loving, inter-dependent relationship. Just because you have hit a less-than-perfect patch doesn’t mean it is time to throw in the towel

Communication has become a minefield. Misunderstandings and mixed messages create disharmony and unhappiness, much of which could be avoided with more effective communications. Think about what “love” means to you.  Does your partner think the same?  How do you show your partner you love and cherish them? What do you need to feel loved by your partner?  You’d be surprised at how different these can be. 

Ironically in this world, where ever-more technology creates ever-more opportunities for communication, so many people fail to take the time to really talk (and to listen) to their partner.  Many spouses spend significant amounts of time on their laptop or on social media.  They may be in the same room but they are in reality engaging with the gadget and not one another. 

Fix: Use the off button - having a time embargo or gadget free nights have been proven to help enormously.

Too little time for each other. Women who are married with children may find they need to work in order to help pay the bills.  By the time the practical day-to-day stuff has been dealt with there is no time left to spend on nurturing and supporting the relationship between with their partner in marriage.  Exhaustion and frustration lead to anger and very quickly relationships deteriorate, often past the point of no return.

Fix: See what ways the day’s tasks can be shared so there is “together time” before everyone has reached the end of their tether. Make at least one night a week a date night, even if you don’t go out, it is scheduled one-to-one attention.

Too much time together. A common cause of marital disharmony especially once retirement is taken. Unless the relationship has been nurtured and both parties have grown and matured it is difficult for marriages to survive happily in the long term. Once the children grow up and leave the nest it is easy for the cracks to show and deepen.  Without a friendship and at least some shared interest many marriages falter.  A growing number of divorces are happening as one partner retires.  What has been bearable because work filled so much time, becomes untenable as couples have much more time on their hands.  To add even more pressure there is usually a reduction in finances. 
Fix: Act now to create regular time to be together and to really connect with one another, not just “being in the same space”. It pays dividends in sustaining and developing a lasting and loving relationship. 


Make time to go out on a “date” with your spouse, tell one another what you love and like about them, understand that relationships need nurturing for the best rewards. Above all, remember that…
Marriage may be hard but it is worth working at making it a success!

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Gina Gardener is an Inspirational Speaker, Master NLP, Business and Life Coach, and author of Chariots on Fire a remarkable story about how to create a positive advantage.


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