Time for honesty.
I'm not married. Not anymore. But I have many friends that are, both male and female. And you know, with several exceptions, almost all of them, in their quiet moments, admit to a creeping sense of despair and desperation. They find themselves masquerading as the loving wife or husband, when in reality their minds, their hearts, their souls are screaming for meaning, for something more. Life continually pushes them further and further into the experience known as marriage, with or without children, until it implodes terrifically or they are gently hypnotized and subdued into stay in the relationship.
This is coupled with the fact that, oddly enough, a large amount of conversations I've had with men around their happy marriage involves them being sexually shamed at some point, whether through having been found engaging with pornography or something to that extent. Now, this isn't a conversation for or against such things, I just find the common thread of shame to be interesting here...
This is not to say that there aren't happy marriages at all. There are. Also, children tend to bring deep joy and commitment, spelling real significance while they are in their young age.
But it doesn't take much to see that something about this: most likely psychological, is broken with this system.
Single people - you don't get off easily either. I see the desperation in my unattached friend's eyes, even as they extol the virtues of being single. Yet, deep down they yearn for the commitment, the partnership, the person to grow old with. They feel the clock ticking and they wonder if they will really find someone. Each new date or social experience is underlined by the desire and need to meet THAT person. It sets an impossibly high standard.
This isn't just limited to relationships either. It's about our hopes and our dreams, our health, our waist lines, and for some...our hair lines. It starts to dawn on us that life might not be what we thought it was going to be when we were growing up.
Our culture is set up to make us feel desperate, inadequate, and stressed. Why? Because this makes us good consumers, good customers, always out for the next fix. But we can never fix our real problem. We can't satiate the hunger for meaning, for growth, for significance, with the fast food of buying or consuming more.
The only way out of the pit of despair is through fear. Through distraction. Through procrastination. Find an adventure that means something and go on it, whether with your partner or on your own. It doesn't matter.
The point here is to wrest significance back from those with whom you've entrusted it. Make yourself significant and then turn that back on those you love or those who you hope to love. Things might be tough, but we can take our power back when we take responsibility for our own happiness and sense of meaning.
I've seen it time and time again - marriages start to come alive again, single people start finding like minded, interesting prospects. - It's an inner game, not an outer one. And your game, is played by no one but yourself.