What chance do you give this one?

January 3, 2010
I met a newly-married couple today.  They left me pondering… “how long will this last”?
What first jumped out at me was the degree to which the husband seemed to control the dialogue and relationship.  My meeting with them was in a professional setting.  I was conducting a significant business transaction with them.  There were important decisions to be made on which it is my role to provide guidance.
The wife was late 20’s and somewhat naive about the whole thing.  The husband was mid-30’s and had what I experience as “just enough knowledge to be dangerous”.  Kind of a know-it-all who had to show how much he knew, which frankly wasn’t much.  He argued a particular point with me that I know based on years in my profession and have first-hand experience verifying he was not correct.  I did not want to be argumentative and did not want to embarrass him or make him defensive so I just conceded that perhaps he knew something I didn’t and let it go.
The next thing to stand out was that the husband came from affluence and the wife from more average means.  They live in a home he owns and pays for in a very expensive part of town.  Comments he made suggested family money.
And the third kicker that jumped out at me significantly… she appeared far more “eligible” than he did.  In layman’s terms… she was quite attractive, he was a bit of a dork.
So the question bounces around in my head…
“In today’s marriage climate, how much tolerance is there in a marriage for…
  • conversational controlling behaviour?
  • financial dependency/control/mismatch?
  • significant “eligibility” mismatch?”
They simply struck me as a couple who would leave anyone scratching their head.
In today’s world of easy-out marriages and relationships, I so often wonder if some of these fairly typical but painful dynamics of a relationship that would have been tolerated in generations past, will end up being deal busters (or silent killers) of today’s marriages/relationships.
Lets be honest, how much resistance would anyone face in todays relationship culture for leaving a marriage because their spouse was controlling, financially superior, or just plain unappealing?
I am not speaking of what should or shouldn’t be.  Nor of what is fair or unfair, moral or immoral.  I am simply speaking of what seems to be the case in the here and now.


  1. Good points made here:

    Lets be honest, how much resistance would anyone face in todays relationship culture for leaving a marriage because their spouse was controlling, financially superior, or just plain unappealing?

    It just doesn’t happen as often as we think – or at least in terms of what we see, in those divorced around us…or, people are afraid to leave marriages for those reasons, when they are basically very realistic reasons to break up (if you weren’t married). Great post on some subletles…

    • I suppose my experience of recent has been a little disproportionate. I have seen a number of marriages end due to the subtle things.And quite a few more become agonizing life sentances.

      I would agree that it is probably not likely that marriages fall by the wayside on mass. I am probably reacting a bit based on recent experiences.

      All I can really say is that I would prefer something better and hope for something better for my friends and family.

  2. Who knows how long the marriage will last. Even if it does last, the next question is, “Are they REALLY happily married?” I’ve found in my experience that relationships I think won’t last often do and ones that I think will, don’t. The odds were stacked greatly against my husband and me: he’s divorced with two kids, he’s 13 years older than I am, he’s the bread winner with a stable career, his parents were divorced, etc. I was 18 when we got together and going to school. People thought we wouldn’t last two seconds. But so far we are doing great, and a lot of it has to do with my recovery.

    • R/A…

      Agreed… who knows?

      And also agreed, often the seemingly least likely do better than ones that seem ideal.

      People are free to choose and be in whatever type of relationship they want. It is none of my business. I have just recently seen so many marital problems and breakups over such subtleties.

      To me, the kiss of death for a relationship is to be called, “the perfect couple”. I had that one hung on my now ex and I many times. And it blew up against everyone’s expectations.

      This describes about 6 other marriages I saw come apart over past 10 years. It is shocking.

      So glad yours is doing well. A great relationship is a truly amazing thing.



  3. I give it two years.

    • How so?

  4. Another interesting post Chaz – happy new year!

    The question is very similar to ‘how long is a bit of string’ really. For some people, these ‘issues’ would be tolerated and perhaps would never be a reason to leave a marriage. For others, they could be an excuse for an easy exit.

    (I think that divorce rates have risen in the last 30 or so years primarily because it is just easier to be divorced now, and there is a lot less social stigma associated with divorce than there was, say, in the 1950’s for example)

    Who knows I suppose? Everyone is very different – as they say ‘different strokes for different folks!’

    • Agreed Laura…. there are fewer social and cultural boundaries to divorce. Many of us seem to have an expectation it will happen and it is not such a big deal when it does anymore.

      Yet a huge price is still paid, especially if there are children involved.

      I guess all I am really saying is that I have seen such dynamics lead to divorce or chronic misery. Neither of which is appealing to any of us I am sure.

      I really wish this couple well. I only experienced them for a short while in a specific situation. Hopefully this is not telling of all of their interactions.

      Only time will tell.



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