We Asked Married People The Harsh Truth About Their Marriages

Marriage isn't like the movies at all, here's the brutal truth of it.

happy couple at breakfast table IVASHstudio / Shutterstock

I'll admit it.  I want to get married. I wasn't one of those girls who was always planning her wedding...I mean, not until I was at least sixteen. But for me, the appealing thing about marriage isn't the wedding, it's the partnership. 

Standing in front of your friends and agreeing to love each other forever and then eating cake is all well and good, but what happens afterward is the real magic. 


I can't imagine anything more rewarding than marriage. I also can't imagine anything more challenging. 

Spending your life with someone, putting up with their stuff forever? That sounds potentially....deeply unpleasant. As much as I want to be married, I'm also terrified of it. 

I find myself looking at the married people I know from my parents to my college friends and wondering, are married people really happy? I don't mean are married couples really happy RIGHT NOW (because we are humans and have our good days and our bad days).

I mean are married people really happy overall? Because this could be potentially awkward to talk about, I decided to ask the married people I know for their thoughts but to keep their identities anonymous.


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We asked married people the truth about their marriages:

What do you miss about being single?

"Very little, truly. It would be nice not to have to make decorating decisions as part of a committee, but that's a minor gripe."



"Freedom to spend money how I want."

"Alone time! My spouse is much higher maintenance, so I rarely even shower alone."

"Being able to do whatever I want without consulting someone else."

"The sex."

"Having sex with other people, falling in love with other people. Farting freely."

"Never having to explain myself. Selfishly being able to do things like go see 3 movies by myself or spend a week not talking to anyone without having to justify my weird behavior to someone who genuinely cares about me. It sounds selfish (and it is), but those are the kind of freedoms I miss."

"Courting and new relationship energy."

"If I had a more controlling partner, I'd probably miss casually flirting."


"I don't miss things about being single."

"The ability to just go places or make big future decisions about my life without considering someone else."

"The freedom to move to a new city without consulting my partner."

"The freedom to do what I want without questions."

"Watching whatever I want on television."

"Solo travel."

"Watching movies I would like (and my husband wouldn't) instead of sports. Spontaneous vacations."

"Not having to coordinate plans with anyone."

"Being on time."

"Spending money freely and dealing with restricted holiday plans."

"Not a whole bunch, but I did use to like eating dinner by myself at a restaurant bar and quietly people-watching."


"Just having one person to care for."

"Being able to freely be with other men, without guilt."

"Nothing, really. My father told me that marriage was like a tourniquet ("It cuts off your circulation,") but a good marriage has provided me the alone time as much as together time. I can still flirt, I still have meaningful relationships outside the partnership, and my choices have if anything become better because I have that strong foundation upon which to build."

"Being able to work or read for hours on end without interruption."

"No in-laws."

"Being able to manage my time as I saw fit. Playing more games. Heavier drinking and heavier sleeping. (Maybe that's what I miss about being young, not single.)"



"Knowing where everything in my house is."

"My own bed. Less whining by my spouse."

"Not having to clearly communicate my thoughts."

What surprised you the most about being married?

"How nice it is."

"The complacency after so many years."

"That the act of getting married  having the certificate, having a wedding, and making vows in front of family and friends  really did make it feel more solid. It's a thing that pushes back against my instinct to flee when things get hard. It's a really real thing, that I thought was in name only."

"Having lots of sex, everyone said sex would stop after we got married."

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"It's not really different at all from being in a long-term unmarried relationship"

"The PROFOUND level of love that's unlike anything else in the world."

"Joint bank accounts are really hard to get used to. They can wreck a relationship. But, more than anything, I was surprised at how quickly my partner became my new definition of "home." I always saw home as my parents' house, as the house I grew up in. But, quickly after I got married, I realized that my spouse was my new home. Curling up with her on a couch, anywhere, in any location, was how I defined home from now on."

"The tax breaks are bigger than I would've imagined."

"Probably that I wouldn't miss things about being single."



"Constant negotiating over everything."

"In a positive way? Nothing. In a negative way? That I was expecting way more things from my partner than I should have had."

"How comfortable it is."

"The financial support my husband became willing to give without me necessarily wanting/asking. I expected him to want to keep our financial lines drawn."

"How much a man reverts back to being a child."

"Loss of alone time."

"How easy it is. Everyone says it's so hard. Not really."

"How little things changed."

"How consistently loyal and kind my husband is."

"How different it was from my parent's marriage."

"How we were able to create our family, just the two of us, and how much it feels as legit as my big old family did growing up."


"How much more emotional impact it had. Feeling that we were a unit instead of two people."

"Being late for nearly everything.That flirting and raw attraction EVOLVE... sure it's not the same as when you first meet, but if you stick around long enough you actually get to feel it again and again, but in BETTER ways. More sophisticated ways. It's harder to notice because you're around them all the time, but it's there."

"How weird it feels to deeply intertwine your life with someone else's. From practical stuff like retirement planning to emotional things like why a movie scene now makes you get weepy. Really, the reality of considering another person in every decision you make."

"That someone would love me even after they see me at my worst."


"The lack of personal space I'd experience."

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"How beautiful my partner remains to me, even after two and a half decades."

"That I could actually trust someone else to have my back like that."

"That marriage can be whatever you want it to be."

"How comfortable you feel always having someone."

"How it was easier than I thought it would be."

"Learning what a terrible communicator I am."

"The instant respect of adulthood it gives."

"How smooth went all, yes we have an adjustment period but we can get used to being married pretty soon."

"My mother always tried to explain to me how marriages change over time...specifically how the lustful burning passion subsides into a loving companionship. I always thought "Never!". It surprised me a little that she was right!"


"How easy it is to suppress the desire to be alone."

"How used to someone's bad habits you can get."

"How restricting it can be."

"That my mom was right — it's not all about sex."

"Realizing how strange your own family's customs are when you see your in-law's customs."

"So it turns out that married people miss things from their single lives, but at the end of the day, they wouldn't go back there for any amount of money."

What's the one thing you would change about your marriage if you could?

"How we share housework!"

"Wife's health."

"I wouldn't have had kids."

"I would love for my spouse to go to therapy, to try and treat their depression, but alas  it only works for people who want to do the work. "


"Nothing, I am one of those weirdos who is happily married for over 18 years and loves every part of it."

"I would have given more thought to the long-term repercussions of marrying someone with a litany of mental illnesses."

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"More farting. More sex with other people."

"I would just go back to the beginning of our marriage and tell myself all the hard-won lessons that I've learned. (I've been married for a while.) Pick your battles, don't call names, and tell your partner what you want. It feels like I spent a lot of wasted time in my marriage dancing around issues and, now that I'm older, I'd love to have that time back."


"I wish my wife would lose the baby weight."

"That we would both be healthier."

"I would like to react better to the things that annoy me about my wife."

"I get into sullen moods."

"More sex."

"Considering the place I'm at in my marriage, I would like not to be married."

"I wish the wedding had been smaller and that we could've kept money from that for resources later in life."

"We would take more time for planned leisure together, both in planned vacations and simple weekend outings like a hike or a trip to the park. Money is considered a limiting factor for planned vacations, but with our combined income, it really shouldn't be. There's a ton of retirement planning happening instead, but I'm concerned we won't enjoy things while we're spry and we'll have regrets."


"The trust level."

"Make it an open relationship."

"More time together."


"I wish my husband were slightly more social."

"It's been really easy to let myself gain 20 pounds now; I'd like to go back in time and not let myself go so much."

"I would like it if my husband could be more open to communicating. He can be taciturn and dislikes any hint of conflict, which keeps us from talking about potential pitfalls."

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"We would be closer in age! I worry that my husband will die long before me."

"Our different interests would converge more."

"More time playing games together."

"For sure I would bring back some of the spark from when we first started dating."


"Nothing. It's not perfect, nor does it need to be. It's ours and it's wonderful."

"Getting rid of my husband's health problems."

"That my value for time & my spouse's would match up."

"I wish the excitement and thrill were back. After six years it has gotten routine."

"More flirting. I'd also like to make more effort to be more attractive and stop making excuses that I'm working too much or have no time because of the kids. I should still be making the same effort as I would if I was single  not because HE deserves it, but because I want him to know that I haven't "settled" for him, and he hasn't done the same with me."

"I would change the WASP-y way we handle confrontation."


"I would have made sure I was more financially prepared."

"The one thing that is the hardest is recognizing where we've changed. I want to be able to see and be seen by my partner with new eyes, understanding how we have grown, and not being held to everything previous (good and bad.) Is it more than three years ago? Give it up. We're different now."

"A little more adventure. (But just a little.)"

"Having more separate-but-together time. I'm reading, she's working. I'm cooking, she's cleaning. I'm gaming, she's Skyping. That sort of thing."

"I'd get spouse to fart less. or at least more quietly."

"I would like the sex to be better and not so forced."


"I would like to have a little more of the burning passion back. The funny thing is that it's likely there for the taking, meaning my husband would be all for it! It's all me...It's just not there. It's a side effect of growing older and being worried about the cares of life."

"We should have embraced polyamory a lot sooner."

"I might tone down some of our flaws. Like, make them still present but less dramatic."

"To have won Powerball and Mega Millions."

"Better communication at the beginning of our marriage."

I think these results make one thing really clear.

Marriage is awesome, but it's also hard work.

Like so many other things in life, your marriage is what you make of it. 


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Rebecca Jane Stokes is an editor, freelance writer, former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango, and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek. Her bylines have appeared in Fatherly, Gizmodo, Yahoo Life, Jezebel, Apartment Therapy, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, SheKnows, and many others.