The ugliest truth is that some marriages are abusive, or rather some marriage partners. Statistically, those partners are husbands. Intimate partner abuse exists in and outside of marriage, and in same sex relationships too. Patriarchy and gender roles, however, mean that in male-female partnerships the victim is usually the woman and the abuser is usually the man. Abusive relationships are difficult to leave, and abusive marriages create additional legal obstacles to safety.
Spousal rape is another common problem, again disproportionately impacting wives in mixed sex marriages (which may contain bisexual or pansexual parties, but are commonly referred to as heterosexual or straight marriages). This violation was not made criminal in all US states until 1993. Our culture pushes girls to dream of marriage, and laughs at “old maids” but doesn’t talk about this.
Even in marriages without abuse, the majority by most estimates, wives get the short end of the stick most often. Married mothers do three times as much cooking, cleaning, and childcare as married fathers. Interestingly enough, men who lived unmarried and child free with women partners came closest to equality in hours of household chores. A woman’s household chores increase if she lives with a male partner, and increase even more if they have children. Husbands do fewer chores after baby arrives.
We’re often told that marriage leads to a longer, healthier life, but that’s only half true. While married men live longer than their unmarried peers, marriage on average shortens a woman’s life span. Married women die younger, and that’s without factoring in women who were abandoned by their husbands when they became terminally ill. Men are seven times as likely to abandon a sick wife as the reverse.
We also hear that marriage makes people happier and some studies do suggest that. However, these studies often exclude participants who have divorced, biasing the results. Eighteen prospective studies that tracked participant mood, life satisfaction and relationship satisfaction, despite eleven of those studies omitting data from divorced participants, found no long term happiness gain from marriage.
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