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Committed: The Ties that Bond

with Angella Dykstra

I'm a mom of three, a professional accountant, and an amateur photographer and writer. I am not a marriage expert. But my husband and I take "Til death do us part" seriously, and here I'll be sharing how we keep our marriage strong while we both do that insane work-life juggle.

Check out my Work It, Mom! profile and my blog, Dutch Blitz.

Why is being happily married frowned upon?

Categories: love, marriage


I first started writing this column over two years ago because the dearly departed (not dead; just quit the Internet) Kristin thought this would be a good fit for me since I “have one of the happiest marriages on the Internet.”

I don’t know if that is entirely true, but I’d have to say that it is mostly true. I don’t bash my husband online (I honestly have no reason to)(and I can’t see how that would help a relationship) and tend to gush about him a lot (I have EVERY reason to). We are really, truly, happy.

I’m not sure how much time you guys spend online, or what spaces you spend while surfing the Internet tubes, but there seems to be a lot of snark against people writing happy things about their marriages. People think that you are whitewashing or not being “authentic” or that you are LYING. And so, those of us that are living in peace and enjoying each others’ company and just generally HAPPY are scared to say so, lest the Internet Gang Of YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG comes out, guns blazing.

Here is my truth:

I have been married for nearly eleven years and we’ve had a tears-flowing, slamming-doors fight…three times? Maybe four? I take full blame for all of them because if you know my husband at all, he’s one of the most gentle, soft-spoken, level-headed men on the planet. I, on the other hand, am outgoing and use my OUTSIDE VOICE and TALK WITH MY HANDS.

(It’s a miracle that I’ve never hit him in the face with those flapping hands.)

We don’t all each other names, ever. Never have. Unless you count Honey as a name, then I guess we do call each other names.

We just don’t have cause to fight, really. I’m not judging those who do, because God knows that if I married someone with a personality like mine there would be a whole lot of conflict. As it is, we talk (a lot) and we laugh (a lot) and we have “special time” (a lot). I know how good I have it and he thinks he knows how good he has it, even though I totally know that I got the better end of the deal.

So, yeah. We’re stupidly happy with each other and that’s just the honest truth. Plain and simple.

I’d love to hear what you guys think about this. Are happy marriages really that rare? Or are people just afraid to say anything outside of the stereotypes?

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14 comments so far...

  • you know, it’s not just happy marriages! i have noticed this trend in general and i think (hope!) there is a shift into a more positive direction. I am also happily married! 10 years this year! We have had a few crazy fights but they are very rare and we also NEVER call names or say things to intentionally hurt each other. I never really understood that game… to me… how can that help anything? certainly doesn’t help resolve whatever the conflict is about!

    Mostly I think people want to know they are not alone in their misery, however, going overboard and thinking the misery is something to be cheered makes me cringe.

    good for you for being happy! enjoy it! and SHARE IT! for every ‘you are lying’ comment there are likely 10 people too shy to cheer you publicly but pretty darn thrilled to see that it’s possible to be happy :)

    kate  |  March 29th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

  • I’ve only been married for 2.75 years, but we’ve been together for 11 years and I have to say I’m relieved to read about other happy marriages. My husband and I get along super well and we rarely fight. We’re just genuinely happy together but so many people tell me to wait until we’ve been married longer. I just don’t see us changing our ways, and don’t expect that to really happen….like at all. I hope I’m right!

    Melissa  |  March 29th, 2011 at 12:23 pm

  • I think maybe that more people are happily married than we think, but it’s the difficult marriages that just tend to create more noise. Our marriage is very happy and low-conflict but neither of us gushes about it because that’s not who we are. :-)

    bethany actually  |  March 29th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

  • I belong to a women’s volunteer organization, and I can’t tell you how many times the side discussions revolve around everyone’s (supposed) incompetent, responsibility adverse husbands. I don’t get how if you love someone so much, you can bash them and their habits so often. They always complain their husbands are watching football, dress the kids in mismatch outfits, and let them get SO dirty at the park. In reality, these women are very lucky in the lifestyles they lead, and from the few of them I know more personally, their husband’s are very hands on with the children, as a spouse, and a productive household member.

    While my husband is not perfect (hi! no one is) he astonishes me with his commitment to me and the kids. When I was pregnant, he made my lazy butt a nutritious breakfast each morning, delivered to the bathroom while I was getting ready. Yes, sometimes I wish he’d do a load of laundry, but I’m sure he sometimes wishes I’d clean the toilets more often. He is interactive with the kids (bike riding, playing on the floor, trips to the zoo), withstands my CARAZEE PMS rages, and emotionally provides for me as his spouse…I can’t even imagine going on a husband complain bender.

    It’s like these women somehow get pleasure in trying to out do the bad in other women’s husbands. I don’t get it.

    Dawn K.  |  March 29th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

  • I hope happy marriages aren’t that rare! I am not married yet (but engaged! As you are aware!) but I’m counting on having a happy marriage. I don’t see why the need for all out fighting and name-calling. We’ve been together for over 6 years and don’t ever really fight. I realize that living together and officially making decisions as a married couple could change that dynamic a bit, tbu I don’t foresee our overall attitudes towards each other and how we deal with conflict to change much. Only time will tell. In the mean time, I enjoy hearing about your happy marriage. :)

    K  |  March 29th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

  • I think for many, it’s a misery loves company thing. Many come around the blogosphere to commiserate their woes.

    Also, I think that what works to make “your” marriage a happy one, might not work for another couple and therefor it makes it harder to discuss in this kind of forum. The rules of treating each other with respect and basic fighting styles seems like common sense, until that’s not how it is in your life, then it’s a foreign concept.

    Lastly, I think that not all marriages are happy ones with as much consistency as yours seems to be. Much more ups and downs, not so great times mixed in more evenly with the great times. Not to say it’s a roller coaster, but I think we all change so much over our lifetimes, it’s a hard area to keep consistently groovy.

    I wish more people would share the happy and share what works for them. I know when my marriage is good I want to shout it from the rooftops, but when it’s not I want to vent and work through what’s broken as soon as possible.

    Annabelle  |  March 29th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

  • I may be the wrong one to ask. We have been very happily married for more than 35 years.

    Has it always been a bowl of cherries - no. But do I think there is another person who I would have rather have spent my life and had a son with - no.

    I think the “you can’t be that happy” crowd is not confined to the internet either. {*grin*}

    Dan  |  March 29th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

  • I also have a happy marriage. Yea! 10 years and going strong. Our friends often point to our relationship and remark on how strangely happy we are. I think there are a number of dysfunctional and unhappy relationships out there. I think the unhappy relationships outnumber the happy ones. (Think of how many people aren’t being ahem “romantic” with each other as an example- a lot.) We’ve also had maybe 2 big fights in our 12 years together. So, I don’t believe that marriage should be hard or is a struggle. I think when marriage is hard or is a struggle, there is something inherently wrong there- communication, mismatched goals, priorities, etc. That doesn’t mean my husband and I are always happy with each other. We’ve made a commitment to love, honor, and care for each other and that’s what we do.

    elz  |  March 29th, 2011 at 6:13 pm

  • I won’t comment on the happiness of my marriage. I think the truth is that people like to complain. So, if you are happily married then what do you have to complain (or blog) about? Also, maybe people like to read about unhappy marriages so they can feel better about their own.

    Marcia  |  March 29th, 2011 at 6:44 pm

  • I think it’s an inherent quality of storytelling (and life) that conflict generally draws more attention and interest than lack of conflict, so just on a pure numbers scale, it makes sense that we hear more stories of conflict in marriage than non-conflict.

    I’m happy to read about happy marriages, if that’s the person’s story to tell and they tell it well. I’m also happy to read about a rough spot or an unhappy marriage because that’s some people’s story to tell as well. I don’t judge either type of story as likely more true, real, good, bad, authentic or whatever than any other, unless I’m given reason to do so (inconsistencies, etc.). I also don’t take other people’s stories as a judgment or commentary on my own marriage, or feel like I have to have an opinion about it at all. If you’re happy, be happy and my congratulations. If you’re miserable, be miserable and I hope you can find a way to heal and change it.

    Personally, I don’t choose to write about my marriage online, nor discuss its goodness or badness with anyone but my very closest confidantes, who I know can hear the real truths of the good and bad and not judge me, my husband, or our relationship inappropriately. The internet is patently incapable of non-judgment and seeing shades of gray, so I keep it to an inner circle.

    Molly  |  March 29th, 2011 at 8:40 pm

  • I am also happily married - coming up 12 years in a few weeks’ time. I have some ‘friends’ who seem to think I am not being honest when I talk about my marriage and how happy we are, but I’ve since learned to ignore them because THEY ARE JUST JEALOUS.
    Sure, it’s not all roses and rainbows, but there are MANY more good times than bad, and that’s how it should be! If it’s the other way around, then it’s not a healthy marriage and some work really needs to be done. Too many people lower their expectations and then put up with things that they don’t like because they can’t be bothered doing anything about it. Marriage takes WORK, and mine is good because we both WORK HARD AT IT. What astonishes me is how many married couples are not prepared to work?! Who said it would be easy? Nobody! Why are so many couples SO LAZY? That’s what really stumps me. It’s like parenting. Freakin’ hard work, but absolutely worth it.

    Hannah  |  March 29th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

  • Actually, this is a good question, because I don’t think it has a simple answer.

    You have those people who are themselves unhappy with themselves, and if they think you are happy with good reason, then that might mean they are doing something wrong. So they will say things like “she’s living in a dream world,” i.e., you only “think” everything is all right.

    And you have people who go on the internet to rant (haven’t we all been there?), and they want to be in a place where ranting is cool. Not where it’s all flowers and sunshine.

    And then, there is the fact that based on what you’ve said, you may indeed have one of the most peaceful “real” marriages around.

    Once I saw a book called “red hot chili peppers” (?) (or that was part of the title). It talked about different types of marriage-personalities and how none of them is necessarily wrong, unhealthy, or impossible. It just depends on the individuals involved and their chemistry. Even a couple whose relationship is like “red-hot chili peppers” (a lot of heated discourse) can be a healthy one as long as the attitude toward the marriage is healthy. Which is good, since my sister appears to be in a red-hot type of marriage and they’ve been together for about 15 years.

    And then speaking of books, there was one I really liked called “simple abundance” where a woman had a flowery discussion for every day of the year. In the book she periodically mentioned her wonderful marriage with her awesome husband. She came out with another book some years later called “something more” in which I learned that she and said wonderful husband were now divorced, and perhaps she’d been fooling herself all those years. So this does happen. My mom had a friend who would talk just like you, but her husband thought nothing of smacking her around. So you can’t blame some wives for being a little skeptical, especially given the tendency for women to judge themselves based on others’ lives.

    SKL  |  March 30th, 2011 at 10:36 am

  • Sometimes I feel like talking about my happy marriage is gloating.

    It makes me uncomfortable to talk about it. I think a lot of people have good marriages but they aren’t… interesting, for lack of a better word.

    Plus, nobody wants to hear about marital sex.

    Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah  |  March 30th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

  • Knowing that you have a happy marriage is now surprise. It’s why I stop by.

    I am relieved to know that 3-4 times you have had big fights. My fiancĂ© and I do not fight very much. Disagree, yes. He is calm, rational and a little passive aggressive (and he admits it). I am emotional and loud. So when I get wound up, it’s all my fault that things go sour. I’m glad to know that a rare fight does not mean things are bad.

    I cry a lot, it doesn’t mean it’s a fight. There has maybe been one instance (and I don’t have any idea what it was about) where we were both angry and raising our voices. Once in 2.5 years is a ratio I’m willing to work with.

    Heather  |  March 31st, 2011 at 5:48 pm