How much marital bliss can a married couple reasonably expect of themselves after being married for 8 years?
Readership: This insight is specifically for younger men challenged with the task of choosing a suitable spouse. It may also be of interest to married couples or those interested in marriage or LTR’s.
Author Information: This article was written by Scott Klajic, a professional psychologist and happily married father. In ye olde days of the Manosphere, he went by the name “American Dad”.
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The first one is in the APA Journal Review of General Psychology. It is an article pointing to a very low probability of satisfaction in marriages beyond the eight year mark. You can take a look at the article and make any critique you like about their methods and taxonomies. But for the purposes of this blog post, I am going to say I am OK with how they measured this. The article discusses “obsession,” which Rich Cooper then in turn re-labels “bliss” and then I will further refer to as “infatuation”. I have my reasons for this, but whatever you call it, only about two percent of the respondents said they are still at that high level of being really, super into their spouses after eight years. Only about thirteen percent said they were still “in love”.
The second link is to another bit of research about couples who post a lot of cutsie dyadic selfies on their social media pages. I am aware that most men who hang around this part of the internet really hate social media and I understand why. However, FB, instagram and twitter are here to stay, so it is my position that these things need to be infiltrated and understood if any progress toward rationality in this civilization is going to be achieved. So, Mychael and I have a “joint” FB page. You can look it up if you want. “Scott N Mychael Klajic” is what we call it.
This particular article jumped out me because we post quite a bit of material on that FB page about each other, how much we love being married, how devoted we are to each other and so on. Just yesterday, Mychael put this up:
These posts, and others like them are the most popular ones we share. 31 people “liked” it since last night, which for us is a pretty popular post. Our profile pic is one of us kissing.
The article draws some conclusions about the type of people who do a lot of this on social media. First, they score high on anxious attachment style. If you are not familiar with the three styles of attachment drawn from the attachment literature, they are anxious, avoidant and secure. And, you might guess that they are pretty intuitively named. Those with anxious attachment styles tend to be anxious about losing the object of their affection to some outside threat. Be it infidelity or such things like death or separations outside of their control. The same people who share a high volume of these posts tend to be very happy in their relationship and the posts, believe it or not are a relatively accurate reflection of the couples life together. People who only know us from our FB page tend to be surprised when they meet us in person and find that yes, we are really like that. We are like puppy-love struck teenagers at 48 and 46 years old, 4 kids and 13 years in. We are the ones people roll their eyes at and say “you two should get a room”. It’s not an act or social media lifestyle marketing.
They also score high on levels of jealousy. This kind of makes sense too, right? If you are fiercely protective of your spouse, time with him/her, and you do not take too kindly to things that interfere with that, you are likely to take preemptive measures to “mark” their territory (their social media page) with pictures like this. Of course, ours is a joint page, so it confounds this phenomenon a little.
Finally, the article points out that this kind of social media preening over each other provides a real, tangible protection against the very things the subconscious is trying to prevent. Namely, infidelity. That is, when a potential threat (a person who wants to move in on your spouse) sees this, they think “he/she is clearly taken. I’m not even going to try”. Also, people who post a lot of this type of material tend to give off a very loud “taken” vibe in public.
Moving backwards to the first article I shared–thirteen percent of married people are truly happy after eight years? Really? I have no reason to doubt this data, and it is truly depressing. I think the most common way to approach this kind of abysmal marriage outlook data is through the lens of expectations. This is what most people would do with this information and they probably aren’t wrong. I work with a lot of men who are in these marriages and, if I am to believe their side of the story their wives are being unreasonable. These men show up every day for the “fight”. They do chores, they work hard at their jobs, they try to come home and be sweet and work on “communication”. They aren’t violent. They don’t drink a lot. They are invested in what is going on at home, yet they cannot seem to make their wives happy. Both people are miserable. I sometimes ask “if you could wave a magic wand over your marriage and fix it, what would it look like?” In most cases, they don’t really know.
If I spend a little time prodding, what they want is for it to be something like “the way it was when we were younger”, which includes a less serious, more playful stance towards each other. More sex. More just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. All of that sounds totally reasonable to me, so we get to work on it. But usually, and I am just being honest here, the marriage has degraded to a point of no return and no amount of “game” or whatever is going to pull it out. I try though. I try to get them to improve on themselves. Try to get them to reduce “beta” and “comfort” behaviors and try to increase more alpha, carefree, activities and behaviors that signal independence and strength. The stuff she was attracted to in the first place.
And this leads me to a conclusion that I keep coming around to in my own “red-pill” awareness. There are a couple of different types of relationship fails that present themselves in this sphere (on the coaching sites, blogs, etc.). I think the red pill is most effective at helping really only one of them. This is the marriage (or whatever LTR) where there was an initially very strong, visceral attraction from the woman to the man from the beginning. In a case like that, understanding Rollo’s (and others) writings and comments about intersexual dynamics are a great way to get the spark back, because you are rekindling something that is smoldering, but not dead. Any other relationship configuration is not likely to be helped from this standpoint.
Here is my axiom:
A woman will almost never become strongly attracted to a man if she was not already very attracted to him from the beginning.
Got that? I can say, in 48 years I have never seen it happen. Not once. This is a painful piece of information to receive because it means that if you chose a wife who was not crazy, head over heels for you in the beginning, you are probably not going to get her to that point at some later stage in the relationship. And I’ll be a little graphic here. I am talking about the passion at the beginning of a relationship that Rollo calls, “hell yeah!” At the start of a relationship like that, you are constantly having sex. Every room in the house, any time of day, at parties sneaking off to the bathroom, all night, all day. She takes days off from work or shirks other responsibilities to be with you. Leaving social events early so you can go home and get naked. Both of you clawing at each other for it as if you cannot scratch the itch. Was yours like that at the beginning? If not, I am sorry. It’s going to be an uphill battle to whatever your ideal relationship looks like in your mind. I don’t think a woman can “fake” that kind of intensity for more than a few days or maybe weeks on the long end. *
So here’s my personal experience with it. When I look at my behaviors — even right now — I sometimes behave in very cringe-worthy, blue-pill conditioned, “beta” ways around my wife, and yet, she still acts like a teenager with a new boyfriend around me. I talk to her about stuff I am not supposed to (according to red pill lore). I show vulnerability to her. You name it, if its “beta” and a signal of “low value”, I do it. Not all the time, but sometimes. What explains this? My guess is she fell so hard for me at the start that it really doesn’t matter what I do now. We are the couple who would fall into the 2 percent “still infatuated” category.
We both have some anxious attachment qualities. We are fiercely stubborn about protecting our little romance bubble from any outside threat. And in the end, I don’t care if I look goofy or weak in my “beta” stuff to anyone. Mychael can’t keep her hands of me, and vice versa. In fact, I think that’s the part she likes the most–that I couldn’t care less what others think of us.
* Note: as this is a Christian oriented site–I should make the disclaimer that the situation I am describing is clearly for after the wedding day. However, even before the sex starts, you can tell if she is “that into you” unless you are truly clueless.
- Christianity and Masculinity: Revisiting the Christian marriage market (2017 April 4)