Marriage Grass Greener?

November 2, 2011 § 59 Comments

One of my best friends, in many ways one of the more remarkable people I know, calls a spade a spade.

She reads my posts every day with astonishing loyalty, support and enthusiasm and is always full of constructive criticism and compliments.  She says this blog helps her realise the good things about her marriage – I think it’s great, for so many reasons, that married people also read this stuff – and to put the various struggles within it into perspective.  But she did say to me last night that I wasn’t to think that being married was all a bed of roses.  Of course I know that, but the way she said it, so forthright and frank and honest, pulled me up short.  I have so busily been ploughing the furrow which dictates that marriage-is-marvellous and planktonhood-is-shit, that I am definitely guilty of forgetting my married friends also have their crosses to bear, and in many cases they are not inconsiderable crosses.

You name it: infidelity; lack of communication; no money or too much (can’t say the heart entirely bleeds at that latter one!); mammoth selfishness; mid-life crises; unkindness; workaholism or indolence; illness, mental or otherwise; the list goes on – and on.  I have, for example, three gorgeous girlfriends whose husbands have not had sex with them for anything between three and ten years.  Don’t know why.  Either out-sourcing or gay or bored or turned-off or psychologically troubled or who knows?  Whatever, it’s all very well me looking at married folk and thinking it’s all scented fucking candles and significant back-rubs, hit-the-ceiling orgasms and cunting till kingdom come, but the reality can sometimes be at best prosaic, at worst, hidden marital rejection on a massive scale.  The wives don’t want to leave their husbands because they recognise they are a good couple and do love each other in so many ways, history together, children, and all that, but the sex has not just vaguely dwindled, it has entirely disintegrated.  At least if you are a plankton that it not necessarily the case and, even if it is, then times are – however dodgy and infrequent – when at least it’s on the cards.  No sex within an otherwise happy or plodding-along-nicely marriage is riven with complication, fear, heartache.  It doesn’t bear thinking about, but it’s out there, very real, and very commonplace and, for sure, breeds a hurt and shame that is up there with the worst aspects of being a plankton.

I am a woman of the world.  I know that the grass is not particularly green the other side of the fence from where I am standing (the stubble in my field was torched relatively recently – divorce – but there is now the odd weed beginning to put in an appearance).   From what I can see, the marrieds’ field is perhaps more bright yellow than glorious green, (call it mustard on a good day, rape on a bad) so perhaps there is not all that much between us?  There again, there kind of is (I cannot betray my plankton-statehood quite so cravenly!)  A generalisation, I own, but however bad marriage, planktonhood is on the whole still shit, shit, shittier.  I loved being married to my husband, even if the marriage itself had its imperfections.  There were more good things about it than being a plankton, even if I must grudgingly admit that being a plankton has about it some good things too.  But not enough.  My field is covered pretty comprehensively in a solid, thick layer of shit.

I told my lovely Spade friend (she has an allotment, so perhaps that’s a good name for her, though I hasten to say she doesn’t look like a spade, more like an angel) that for all her struggles, she would be better off sticking with the program.  She knows it too.  There may be several reasons to leave him, but one trumps them all.  She loves him and he loves her.  End of story.

Quite apart from the fact that the world can’t be doing with any more plankton, especially ones who may be called Spade but who have the faces, hearts and souls of angels.

Present plankton can’t be doing with any more competition than that with which we already have to contend, thank you very much.  Period.

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§ 59 Responses to Marriage Grass Greener?

  • Erin says:

    Dear P, there is a myth (that I’m sure was planted and propagated by men) that women lose their sex drive when they get older. I have found the complete opposite to be true. Your friends’ experiences with their lack of sex life are not uncommon at all. My husband, same thing. We were talking about it one night and he said “Men (at this age) want to have sex, just not with their wives.” He was joking in his normal sarcastic British way, but I didn’t think it was funny at all. We discussed and he admitted he just didn’t have the desire anymore. People will be quick to blame the woman for letting herself go, etc, and though I think that is the case some of the time, the fact is that men go through their hormonal changes at midlife just as we do. Which comes to the point of your post. There is a lot of compromise in the older stages of marriage, but if you love that person, you get over it. I would still choose marriage with its compromise and crappy or nil sex life over being a plankton.

    Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?
    Plankton: Solely responsible for absolutely everything in her household. Stress of being sole source of income, which frequently requires having to rob Peter to pay Paul. Stress of living paycheck to paycheck because there is no one to share expenses with. Stress of having no one but your girlfriends (all of whom are married) to vent to about your problems, no hugs of reassurance, no one to lean on, to be your rock. You are the rock always, and everyone is leaning on you. Stress and guilt of being a single parent. There is way too much that goes with that to write. Lack of sex life. Lack of social life except lunch with married friends who love you but secretly are relieved they are not in your shoes. The awful holidays alone or being the only single person amongst relatives and friends. No one to fall asleep next to at night, share morning cup of coffee with, share stories about work, the kids, make plans with. Feeling like you are dying on the vine with no one to nourish you. Fear of spending your future alone, because the kids do leave and go on with their lives.

    Married: Relief at having someone to share the expenses and be able to breathe. Comfort of knowing you are not alone, that there is someone there that cares about you to vent to, laugh with, talk about the kids, make plans, hug, warm body in the house. Lack of sex life (but you get over it). Occasional argument (but you get through it). Not feeling like the odd man out at functions, holidays, etc. Even if you go to events solo, there is still that comfort that you have a partner and people do treat you differently. Comfort of knowing you will not grow old alone (unless your partner dies, but you don’t think about that till it happens.)

    I know there will be comments about bad marriages and I am not talking about that. But contrary to how we were brought up believing in the perfect fairy tale marriage, no one’s marriage is perfect – no one – whether it be lack of sex, workaholic, occasional bickering, even an infidelity. Human beings are way too complex and the differences between men and women too great to allow a perfect union. Compromise on both parts is the key to a lasting marriage which in later years is more like a deep friendship. And yes, the grass is greener.

    • The Plankton says:

      Hear, hear, hear, hear, hear, hear, hear, hear, hear ad infinitum. Thank you. Px

    • MissBates says:

      Brava, Erin! Every word solid-gold truth.

      The bit about married women being treated differently at social events (even ones they attend w/o their husbands) than the never-married women (of which I am one) particularly resonates. The complacent married friend in whom I confided this painful factoid last Spring brushed me off, saying it’s not the case, or that maybe that’s the way it is in the U.S. (where I live), but not in the U.K. (where she’s based). I have since pointed her to Plankton’s newspaper column and this blog in an attempt to show her that, indeed, this phenomenon is not something “just in my head” or “just in America.”

      I am not a naive person. Have practiced divorce law for 20+ years so know all too well the horror show that a BAD marriage can be, but your average, good times/bad times/workaday marriage has massive benefits over the plankton existence. To stick with Plankton’s garden metaphor, while the married grass may have patches of weeds and yellowing bits, the average plankton’s lawn is a veritable desert.

      • Elle says:

        You’re right about never-married and married women being treated differently. A friend who married in the last few years spoke about this – how once she was engaged people at work were nicer to her and some people who had never spoken to her before sought out her company. She says that her family treats her with more respect now and her married female friends include her on weekends away, spa trips and of course she and hubby are invited to dinner parties. When she was single none of that happened and she had to make her own entertainment – go out with other single friends.

        Booking holidays as a single person is a nightmare, when you get older there aren’t as many people who want to go away and if you want to do active stuff the pickings are even slimmer. Solo travel can be a positive experience but holidays specifically aimed at singles are often a nightmare. I’d rather do the hardcore thing and travel alone but you need a thick skin for that as some people are bound to pity you. What are we planktons supposed to do? Sit at home looking at the four walls because we have nobody to travel with.

        The worst thing of all is that everything seems to cost more when you’re single. Single people spend more money on food, accommodation and day-to-day living costs. And here’s the rub – single women probably spend more on their appearance than married women because they’re competing for such a small pool of men and it costs money to look your best at all times.

        Not all marriages are perfect, but like Plankton I’d wager that most imperfect marriages, once you rule out abuse, bullying and violence, aren’t as bad as being single.

      • Lydia says:

        You can paint the opposite picture however. I have really enjoyed being single in my 40s.
        1. Not all of us leech off men in marriage. If you earn enough yourself then you don’t miss male earnings. Indeed you may be free from male dependency on you.

        2. The married ones as we are seeing often get very little sex and when they get it it’s dull. The single ones surely have a better sex life. To be young (ish) and free and not restricted to one man for life is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s what many a married person tempted by others wishes for.

        3. If you had a bad marriage as I did then being alone, that wonderful pleasure of waking up and that person isn’t there, being able to do what you choose when you want to is so so lovely and freeing.

        4. I am not a poster girl for singledom and I have enjoyed several boyfriends since I divorced because I do like that kind of intimacy but it’s there to be had and then if something breaks up often you’ve now a bank of previous boyfriends you can always talk to.

        We mustn’t forget that women’s mental health is better when unmarried (and men’s when married). All the statistics show that the single are the lucky ones. I feast every day on the green green lush grass of what I have in my 40s being single and divorced. Lucky me.

    • Leftatforty says:

      Erin, you’ve said it. I’d rather be in a sexless marriage than in hellish planktonhood. A hug every now and then would suffice…

      • Jo says:

        I’m also with Lydia. At the risk of being contradictory with my earlier post.
        Never would a bad relationship/marriage be better than the considerable pleasures of liberation, freedom and simple life pleasures of feeling free as a bird. A bad coupling is a bad coupling and the misery therein. No experience of planktoness is worse than that. Without a doubt.

      • Jo says:

        You can get hugs from your friends or family. Or beloved children (if you have them).
        No marriage misery compensates for planktonhood. NONE.

    • Jo says:

      Erin. You are a diamond. A supremely articulate truthful superlative diamond. And an amazing writer to boot. Bravo.

  • Love the name of your blog! What will you call it if matrimony claims you?

  • Dawn says:

    The Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady Formerly Known as The Plankton Blog?

    I am of two minds as to whether I prefer being married or a plankton. I think if I had a male pal to chum around with (and perhaps bonk and then send home), planktonhood would win hands down. At least if my actual marriage were the only other situation on offer. Not looking to go back to that. Ugh.

  • june says:

    Yes planktons, i agree with lots of this , such wisdom perhaps thats why we are planktons, we are so wise and look too deeply into things.

    Dawn you struck a chord with me though as i think your idea sounds more what i would like. I have no desire to be married, ive been single so long, only man ive ever lived with permananently was my lovely, easy going dad who loved me warts and all! A significant other would be more what i want, id like us to keep our individual homes, and would just like to be part of a couple,the marriage isnt something i find necessary, spend weekends together, holidays etc, but both keep our own spaces, full time living together i dont think i could hack . In middle age and older is there any need for marriage.? A friend of mine wants to get married her partner not so keen, they are both divorced, he says if aint broke dont fix it, i tend to agree, she says its committment, i said if marriage made people stay together, the divorce lawyers would all be broke!

    • MissBates says:

      On an unusually light-hearted note for me, I think it was Katherine Hepburn (or some similarly glamourous female icon) who once opined that the perfect romantic arrangement for a man and a woman would be to have two separate apartments with a connecting door. I couldn’t agree more. LOL! Short of that ideal, however, a conventional marriage still looks better than Planktonville.

  • Elle says:

    Lydia, sharing costs as a couple isn’t one partner “leeching” off the other. An electricity bill for two people isn’t going to be much more expensive than an electricity bill for one person. Ditto the food and gas bills. If you book a holiday as a couple there’s no single supplement to pay.

    Intimacy isn’t always easily found unless you’re happy to settle for drunken soulless one-night-stands (at least in my neck of the woods). Or married men. Good for you if you had lots of boyfriends but even the most attractive, well-presented, well-heeled, pleasant and positive of single women can find it difficult to meet a good man here in Dublin. Even if we are not fussy about who (or what) we date. Even young girls in their 20s find it hard to meet men here.

    You have been married and it wasn’t a positive experience for you which was a shame. That probably makes being single and divorced easier. I, like many single women of a certain age have never been married so women like me tend to have a rose-tinted view of marriage.

    I can only conclude that you live in an area where there is a surplus of eligible men.

    • june says:

      Dublin Elle, sounds a bit like my city. Single holidays cost an arm and a leg, i couldnt afford them and i live in a one bedroomed flat as to be honest its about all any single women on a small income can afford without taking a lodger. Ive friends who have to take lodgers to keep their house and others who hang desperately unto a relationship as couldnt afford to keep their home without a partner , apart from the other disadvantages of planktonism they couldnt stand, which we all know so well.

      Personally i do get invited out with friends with partners, so possibly i am more fortunate than some,and my coupled up friends do on the odd occasion go out without their partners,but it doesent really make it that much better, all the nights you spend alone, weekends,noone to do nothing with as a widow once said, As ive said for me im not bothered about marriage, its more about having someone in my life, if you do enjoy being alone so much you must be a natural loner,like you ive never been married so have no kids,and am a only child, but im not a loner. I dont mind my own company up to a point, but i pass that point all the time as a social animal,Ive tried single groups, hate them,the people in them seem like professional singles all pretending they enjoy it so much, when you can sense they dont. I honestly enjoy going out with my coupled up friends more..

  • anniebub says:

    Totally agree that it is better to be in a marriage, if you are lucky enough to have one, however imperfect, than on your own. Someone one said to me that most marriages are operating on a 75/25% basis of satisfaction, most of the time, and actually, if you think about it, marriage is, in essence a compromise in the first place. Someone else said to me that no single person can ever be everything to you, and we should be wary of putting our other halves on pedestals in case they fall off. But we are companiable beings, and to be deprived of the comfort and companionship of another, day in day out, into the foreseeable future is a life sentence indeed. I am married, but often, and much more now I am signed up to the Plankton, try to put myself into the shoes of the (newly) single woman in her late forties/early fifties. It is no good being complacent. It could happen to any of us married ones. And a chilly gloom seeps into my bones. However bleak, ghastly, lonely and sex-deprived a marriage can be, at least there is still another half around, and the alternative is all of those but worse. Reading your blog reminds us married ones to count our blessings, and stop complaining. The point being, that, like many of your supporters, I am desperately hoping for your fairy-tale happy ending, and the end of singledom.

    • The Plankton says:

      Dear Anniebub, Thank you. That’s a nice thing to hear. I, too, though battle-weary, am holding out for a positive if not fairy-tale ending to my planktonhood. Please do watch this space, and then prepare to watch some more… I am likely to be here a while. Px

    • Dawn says:

      If your husband were a selfish, immature, self-centred, egomanical compulsive liar with the emotional maturity of a 12-year old who begrudges you clothing, entertainment, books… anything really… you wouldn’t find being single so awful.

    • Jo says:

      anniebub. Oh for god’s sake! “The alternative is worse?”
      “However bleak, ghastly, lonely and sex-deprived a marriage can be?”
      Bloody hell. Sorry, that’s utter crap. On all levels.
      Christ. What a bloody life that would be. NOTHING is worth that. NOTHING. There ARE advantages and pleasures to planktonhood above that. No way would that be a better life against singlehood. No way. For god’s sake.

  • Erin says:

    Lydia, who said women’s mental health is better when unmarried? Where did that statistic come from, the Bella Abzug Institute of Feminism? With all due respect, that is a load of road apples.

  • rosie says:

    I’m not bothered about getting married, I’m not even bothered about living with someone, I just want to BE with someone who’s not going to disappear in a puff of smoke, but I can’t even do that, goddamit. Barring a few flings, the longest of which lasted a year and a half with a seven-month gap in between, I’ve been single since I was 34 and I’m now 48, the admission of which makes me want to run amok with a sawn-off shotgun. I mean, how many sane, solvent (ish), attractive (I’m no Liz Hurley but I’m not exactly Anne Widdecombe either, with apologies to Ann) are right this minute sitting hunched over their laptops commenting on, albeit great!, blogs like this, bemoaning the fact that they can’t find a woman?

  • rosie says:

    And Lydia, sorry but you do sound horribly smug and clueless.

  • EmGee says:

    Well to call a spade a spade, this “is” a blog about unmarried middle agers (since there are male Plankton, Bless ’em!) looking for a mate, if not necessarily matrimony.

    Most of us are divorced (I’m a ‘double winner’ I am afraid, also divorced, but I was quite young then), and we know the bad bits about married life too, we aren’t gray haired Rapunzels up in our cold water towers dreaming this stuff up. Maybe that is why we are picky about our next mate – we don’t want to make the same mistake twice (even if we invariably do 🙂 ).

    I am glad your married friend reads this blog and ‘counts her wedded blessings’. I too have married friends, and big surprise, not a one of them is in a perfect marriage, and some of them put up with a lot of crap I wouldn’t. As one dear male friend always reminds me; “when you have trouble counting your blessings, you can at least be grateful that you are not married to me!” 😀

  • RS says:

    I am confused by this discussion in light of the whole “he’s perfectly nice but doesn’t do it for me” discussions following previous posts.

    If a sexless, less-than-wonderful marriage with someone you aren’t really all that in love with, or even all that attracted to, is preferable to being alone, then why is June so disparaging of every man near her own age and Plankton not at all interested in men with beards or Poppy Seed?

    I’m not trying to be deliberately provocative but you have to admit the messages here are very mixed.

    I am trying to negotiate the single life after a 20+ year marriage myself and spend a lot of time pondering what it is I really want going forward.

    • Erin says:

      RS, I believe we were referring to a sexless, less-than-wonderful marriage to someone we do love and are attracted to.

    • june says:

      You will do a lot of pondering RS believe me,its a great skill of planktons, pondering and you will also, as we all do, get sick of well meaing friends with their platitudes.

      As for me, in my head im 50, when i go on websites and see men of my age either rotund, in a suit and tie, why would they think that would appeal to women, yep im over 60, but im more of a topshop, or oasis customer than country casuals , or saying they are athletic when actually they just look wizened,although slim myself i am not at all wizened, i despair and know in a million years i couldnt fancy them,so thats why i prefer younger men, not toy boys, just a fit 50 plus , its the age i feel, most of my friends are this age group, some younger, so thats my answer, plankton can give her own…

      • Jo says:

        June. You’re just so generalised and dismissive. And I think you may give that off with potential (sometimes older than your ‘younger man?’) interested parties?……
        You’re stuck in your mould and your intense dismissive negativity. And that is in no way attractive…………

      • RS says:

        June, I can be on board with SOME of what you say. I get the whole rotund/stodgy/looking-and-acting-older-than-they-need-to-be thing. I get the previously discussed beard thing to a certain extent. I am quite astonished at the men who contact me (I do some online dating searches) and think that anyone would even be attracted to them. And before any male commenters jump in about superficiality, let me say that men are in my experience the worst for basing initial contact on looks alone. Generally.

        I am late 40s, look mid-thirties (sometimes to my frustration) and act about 20 if I’m being honest (because I don’t think that’s really a good thing). I was in the sort of “good enough” marriage you all seem to be referring to here, which to outsiders would have seemed the ideal marriage, and feeling a bit empty but overall OK… then I was dumped. Not even for another woman – just dumped because he was tired of dealing with me, and the house, and so on. He likes to only have himself to answer to. A huge blow to the ego, that.

        Since then have seen a number of different men, all younger. I had been dismissive of men 45 and up because I just like the attitude (and looks of course) of the younger ones. BUT I have recently begun a correspondence (we have yet to meet) with a man a couple of years older than I am and I can tell you that it’s quite lovely having so much more common ground AND to find someone who is thinking more along the lines of finding someone to settle down with long term. Now, this is a guy who also doesn’t look his age and is not stodgy and set in his ways like the others his age I’ve met, so he bucks the trend as I do and I guess that’s why I found him acceptable to start with and was even open to the possibility. However, it’s made me realize that attractive and desirable guys my age DO exist… and how arrogant I was to exclude everyone my own age in my previous searches.

    • The Plankton says:

      If I may put my oar in, perhaps better the devil you know? The reason a marriage is better is simple: your husband is a person of whom you were once more than fond and perhaps remain so. There is the priceless shared history, family etc, almost impossible to replicate; and you have grown old with that person as opposed to him having grown old with someone else. Just a few thoughts. I am sure if I were to think about it for just a few moments more, there’d be numerous others besides. Best P

    • Jo says:

      Well put RS. Re: June and (-‘though I admire you- Plankton.).
      Very well put.

  • maria says:

    Stop bullying Lydia, I love her comments and I totally agree with her. I’m a plankton too and honestly I don’t care, I’d much rather be on my own than being married to some pot bellied, smelly slob. From what I know, I have a much happier and easier life than many women who put up with all kinds of crap, just so they can say they’re married. Well, not for me, thank you very much.

    (I apologise for any spelling or grammar mistakes, I’m not a native speaker.)

    PS: Plankton, I love your blog.

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you, Maria, you are welcome! Px

    • Jo says:

      Here here Maria. Re: “I’d much rather be on my own” etc etc.
      Being a plankton does not mean that it’s better to be with ‘someone’.
      ‘Anyone’. However miserable, pot bellied, smelly slob, miserable existence. Just so that one is with ‘someone’.
      Aaaargh… For christ’s sake. Perspective here. Please. It’s just a lowest possible denominator life. As long as it’s with ‘someone else’.
      NO. It’s ridiculous to place such store on the worst state to be in as long as it’s with ‘someone else’. What the f**k……

  • Caz says:

    nail-on-the-head job RS well said!
    having been married 20yrs+ and single for 12 i can honestly say I wouldn’t have missed the chance i have had to grow and develop for anything.
    I have had so many interesting experiences – grown and developed in every way possible; embraced opportunities, increased in confidence….and believe it or not was happily married.
    Yes, i do have a lover – who is kind and considerate but doesn’t make the heart flip. i also have a “fuck-buddy” which i think is the modern term?
    oh….and i’m the wrong end of 50.
    well done with the blogs plankton

    • The Plankton says:

      Thanks, Caz. Am grateful for the encouragement. I heard the word fuck-buddy for the first time a few weeks ago and, no prude myself, I think everyone would agree, nearly threw up. Px

    • T Lover. says:

      Not sure but it appears that whilst there have been a comparatively large number of replies to this post none have been from men.

      I hope you do throw up. Whilst the phrase “Fuck Buddy” seems to have turned your stomach – you must have a very thin skin – not one of these bloody women who hangs on your every word seems to think there is anything wrong with being duplicitous.

      Has a one of you given a millisecond to the thought that the lover (kind and considerate) may be devastated to find out about the Fuck Buddy?

      Just scummy. Single? You deserve what you get.

      • The Plankton says:

        At this rate, it is you who is going to make everyone throw up. I so nearly trash your comments pretty well every time, and will do if they carry on in this typically crass vein. What are you doing here, I wonder? Plankton

  • Caz says:

    I agree….maybe “friend with benefits” is more appropriate? Perhaps a future blog could include a definition of all these terms…..Cx

  • Joules says:

    Plankton I agree that term “fuck-buddy” is disgust inducing; can’t we just have the more discreet “frends with benefits” instead. And it is a dangerous dalliance. One of my fellow plankton friends is considering ditching her “friend with benefits” as he is becoming all too clingy. I am sorry – even when I was in my 20’s the idea of sex with friends on a regular basis as not leading to one or the other of you wanting more out of the relationship was a pipedream. My “friend with benefits” was hurt rather badly when I did not reciprocate his feelings. And he had a point – after all what is a romantic relationship if it is not friendly and includes some sort of intimate behaviour?

    Not sure how to take Lydia – she is so damned happy regarding her state. I suppose it really might be that those who walked out are invariably happier than those of us who were walked out on. This state of planktonness for those who were walked out on was not one we chose and I would have stuck by my unsupportive, childish (and unbeknownst to me lecherous) other half until death us did part.

    Perhaps, for those of us who were left, what it is we want to get from a new relationship is to rediscover what it is to trust someone.

    Anyway I am happy your are writing this blog and very interested in what others in my state have to say about being a plankton. Really good not to be in this alone.

    By the way, did anyone read that article in the Atlantic?

    • The Plankton says:

      I didn’t read it, but thank you for reminding me, and I will tomorrow. Thanks. Px

    • Elle says:

      I read the article in the Atlantic, very thought provoking. I have also dated a pot-bellied, smelly slob in the hope that when I first saw him it was a bad day (he’d gotten out of the wrong side of the bed and forgotten to shower). It wasn’t. He also continually reminded me of my shortcomings, told me he preferred latina brunette types (I’m blonde and nordic looking) and made a big deal of paying for dinner once because he was earning more than me and felt obliged to treat me. I tried to extract the best from the situation but unfortunately the more I saw him the worse it got so I ended things. That came as a surprise to him – the thought that I was grateful to be dating him!

      So maybe there are times it is better to be alone. What really irks me is that I’ve been single for so long with so few coupled-up periods. The older I get the harder it is to find somebody. I get young attractive 20ish professional female friends commiserating with me on my single state saying “it’s not because you’re older, it’s like that for us as well”. So one could say that in Ireland the state of planktonhood starts earlier, say age 30.

      It’s interesting that Maria (not a native English speaker) doesn’t mind being alone. I find that friends from non-English speaking countries don’t think it’s such a big deal to be a single female of a certain age. Perhaps that’s because there is a more favourable gender balance in these countries and it’s easier to find single men of any age there. At the moment men of all ages are leaving Ireland in droves so that would explain why women in their 20s also find it difficult to find somebody. As always, the brightest and the best go, so we have to make the most of what’s left behind.

  • june says:

    God fuck buddy, agree sounds awful.. Think difference is Caz you have someone,so many of us planktons dont. I agree i wouldnt want to be ,married to a pot bellied, smelly,slob, and certainly being a plankton is better than that. What pisses me off is how if we planktons dare to complain about our status, people think if we that unhappy we should accept said slob,presumably then they would say how on earth could she have someone like that!.

  • Steve says:

    I must disagree with this notion that it is better to be in any marriage than to be single.
    Far too many people (sadly, a great many of them female) seem to regard getting married as the answer to all lifes problems and an end in itself. This is, of course, a myth, a nonsense and a dangerous one at that.

    I can’t comment on what a good marriage is like, but I can tell you plenty about a bad one. A bad marriage is having to spend 24/7 on eggshells around an immature, fractious woman. A bad marriage is sleeping on a thin strip on the edge of the bed to ensure that she isn’t upset by being touched. A bad marriage is being banished to the spare room on a regular basis. A bad marriage is lying awake with your stomach doing a passable impression of a washing machine as you wonder if the new day is the day that she is going to leave. A bad marriage is having to make excuses for going to family functions and parties on your own and having people ask you “where’s your wife?”

    I have seen what a good marriage can bring – my parents were together for 38 years – but just being married in itself is not enough. A bad relationship is a living hell, regardless of whether or not you have a ring on your finger.
    Sure, I’d take being with someone instead of being single if the chance ever arises, but I’d rather be single for all eternity than be trapped in a loveless, soul-less marriage.
    Anyway, on a a lighter note where do you find all these women on the lookout for a man?!

    • MissBates says:

      Steve — if you actually read the post and the comments, you will find that NO ONE is saying that it’s better to be in a BAD marriage than no marriage. Rather, what we’re saying is that it’s better to be in a marriage that’s “OK” — one where the spark has long since faded but is still a solid partnership — than on our own. And may I also add that it’s very, very different for single middle-aged men out there than it is for women. Men — even unattractive, unsuccessful ones — are spoiled for choice; women go years without so much as a flirtatious look on the street, much less a date.

  • Steve says:

    Dear Miss Bates,

    I’ve no wish to attract the derision of the fairer sex (God knows I can do that quite easily without electronic help) but a number of the replies indicate precisely that there are people who would rather be married than not, regardless of whether it was a good relationship.

    One correspondent wrote “Totally agree that it is better to be in a marriage, if you are lucky enough to have one, however imperfect, than on your own.”
    That is the point I am disagreeing with. I’m not looking for an argument -honest(!) – just suggesting that there might be an alternate view.

    I realise that I have a jaundiced perspective because of my own experiences, but as the title of the blog was ‘Marriage Grass Greener’ I just wondered if we would all be better off if there was more emphasis on a good relationship rather than the desire to simply get married.

    But where I must take issue is this idea that men are spolit for choice, even the unattractive, unsuccessful ones. Well, trust me, I am both of those and spolit for choice I am not! Another myth, I’m sad to say 😦

    • Lydia says:

      I agree. Most people aren’t spoilt for choice by people they want whether male or female and a bad marriage is not better than being on your own. However a marriage with some things which are not perfect may well be just as when you are on your own things aren’t perfect either. I would hope that most of us do not look for perfection.

      Howefver if you can induce the brain chemicals which generate the feeling of in love then the way the biology works is that you are blinded to the faults for long enough to hitch up (and depending on age) have babies and then society and hopefully some affection (and if it really really goes well enduring lust) continues throughout for years.

    • fi says:

      My brother – 48, slim, good looking, wealthy and successful – has split with his wife and has custody of the kids and I’d love him to meet someone else. However, looking at it from his perspective I’ve suddenly realised I can’t give him any suggestions on how to do it. He’s met all the women he’s going to meet in his daily life already. Does he go to the pub with a friend? Try to spot a single woman? Are there as many plankton men but we don’t spot each other or come into contact with each other?is the difference that when women decide to go after a specific bloke they are more targeted and that’s why a half decent bloke in the right place at the right time seems to have a wide range of choices? My brother would never do internet dating, goes to the gym, plays football, looks after his kids. He won’t meet women doing that but I can see that one day if bumps into a woman who likes him he’ll end up with her. Can’t think where that could be though. Maybe female planktons should get down the gym…

  • rosie says:

    I may be wrong but I think whoever said ‘however imperfect’ meant it as a throwaway comment. I’d rather be on my own than contract the ebola virus and lose a leg. So what?

    As for unattractive and unsuccessful middle-aged men being spoilt for choice, everyone’s definition of unattractive and unsuccessful is different by definition but if they’ve got half a brain and an ounce of wit and charm they’ll never put a foot wrong, whatever age they are. As long as they don’t smell but I think that goes without saying.

  • plumgrape says:

    I missed this post and I have decided to print it with 55 responses (on 18 pages) to begin and to do an analysis. I will try to give you a report, Plankton. It would be good to know your contributors and fans better, Plankton. I think there is room for an embellishment of the service. Yours is an instructive and very informative medium. Thank you

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