You are right, most of us marry with the expectation that it will last forever. But stuff happens. Doesn’t mean it’s failed. If a spouse comes out as gay x-years into a marriage and they divorce, is that a failure? If a spouse leaves an abusive marriage, is that a failure? No and no. Calling a marriage that ends a “failed marriage” is judgmental and shaming. Language matters.

Marriage isn’t about happiness. No one needs to wed to find happiness, although many people are happy in their marriage. No one needs to marry, however, for now, marriage is the only way to get access to the more than 1,100 perks, protections and privileges that the federal government grants people based on their sexual/romantic life (states offer perks, privileges and protections, too). This is why same-sex couples fought so hard for the right to wed; they had the love, they had the commitment, they often had kids. They just couldn’t get access to the perks, privileges and protections.

Maybe that needs to be rethought (I believe it does). But until that happens, and if that happens, that’s why marriage matters, whether the people are happy or not and whether it lasts forever or not.

So, yes, in order to have a mutually rewarding and satisfying marriage, a couple should base it on their goals and values, not longevity. From my research, couples who have matched expectations (not your expectations or anyone else’s — their own expectations) have happy partnerships.

I’d like to see the research that backs up your statement that “most people don’t possess enough self-determination, self-sacrifice” to wed happily.

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Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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