Relationships vs Marriage: What’s the difference?

Long term relationships and marriages have a lot in common. But the ring does do something, so in today’s video we’ll talk a bit about that for those of you considering marriage, or those of you in a marriage wondering why is it different than when you were dating.

And what we’re going to be talking about a lot here is how nice guys are affected by commitment. Marriage, is just one expression of commitment. But commitment does weird things to nice guys. They either double down on their people pleasing, or they do the opposite; they stop trying now that they’ve hooked you.

Marriage used to seal alliances between families to prevent conflict and share property and so on. And these days, you can decide what it means for you. So let’s talk about it.



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Full transcript

Relationships versus marriage. What’s the difference?

Obviously, long term relationships and marriages have a lot in common. But the ring does do something. I’m sure that. So we’ll talk a bit about that now for those of you considering marriage, or those of you in a marriage wondering why is it different than when you were dating.

And what we’re going to be talking about a lot here is how nice guys are affected by commitment. Marriage, I guess, is just one form of commitment, an expression of commitment. But commitment does weird things to nice guys. They either double down on their people pleasing – so they become completely fawning and submissive and do everything to try and make you happy. Or they do kind of the opposite. They stop trying now that they’ve hooked you. They spend their effort trying to please other people, and they kind of just bring the scraps home.

It’s not unusual for women to be surprised and shocked at three to six months, after what seems like a wonderful dating period with a wonderful man, turns into something else where the guy is suddenly harmful towards them or indifferent and not meeting the expectations and the precedents that he had set before.

Why marriage?

Marriage used to be a seal alliances between families to prevent conflict and share property and so on. But these days, you can decide what it means for you. It can be something you do or not do, it doesn’t really make much of a difference.

In terms of long term partnership, you can easily have a long term relationship for life without sealing it with a marriage. But marriage can still do something for you. So you got to decide for yourself.

You know for me, marriage was about me finally facing my great fear of commitment. I had an avoidant attachment style most of my life. Committing to someone, having someone affect my life, having to consider other people when I made decisions, I had great fears and insecurities around that. And so when I was looking for ways to overcome that fear, I’m like, well, marriage. And I’m really big on going all in when it comes to overcoming my fears. I think if you got a fear of heights, you got to go skydiving. So I knew that marriage would be the place where I could overcome those commitment fears and those intimacy fears.

This doesn’t mean that everyone should get married. But I came to the conclusion that even if marriage didn’t exist, I would do something like that to overcome my fear.

I got great advice from a friend of mine, who is in a 30 year marriage that’s gone well. And he said that the thing with a marriage is when you hit hard times – and sometimes hard times can last for weeks, not just days or hours – a marriage gets you to try and commit to see through to the end of that hard time. He said that sometimes they go for weeks without even loving each other and then it comes back. It’s like a valley they went through – the marriage was the bridge across their valley, it got them through and allowed them to be patient and see it through rather than giving up just because it doesn’t feel good right now. And that makes a lot of sense.

When you want to do something long term, whether it’s a marriage or running your own business, something like that, there’s going to be times where you lose the love for it. And the wins are replaced by losses. And they might go for a long enough time, so that you start to doubt that things are good anymore. Like my friend, marriage helps me get through those times.

And the other reason I chose marriage is because I’m all about the science, and the stats show that married couples generally have healthier children. I’m not dissing anybody here. It is possible without marriage. But I always try to give myself the best possible odds when I can.

Nice Guy reactions

So many nice guys like me are avoidant, and so marriage and the idea of it triggers suffocation. Any kind of commitment triggers a suffocation feeling and a freedom seeking. In the relationship that might look like porn use distancing emotionally, cheating, stonewalling, just sort of retreating into their shell, constantly feeling smothered.

And anxious nice guys tend to cling to any girl that even looks at them, and so they end up in disastrous marriages. And these are the kinds of guys that get cut in half with divorce-rape, and end up being abused by a narcissist, and so on. Because they just take whatever they can get.

Does marriage ruin relationships?

I think like money, marriage is an amplifier; it’ll just make more of what’s already happening happen. So just like if a rich person is greedy, they were always greedy, money just gave them more to be greedy about, or if someone’s generous, more money won’t make them less generous. It’s like alcohol; how someone is when they’re drinking gives you a pretty good indication of what they like on the inside.

So if your relationship is bad and it has their seeds of toxic kind of unhealthiness, then marriage is going to be a disaster for the two of you. And if your relationship is good, the marriage can enhance that. You’re gonna go from amateur to pro, it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done and that’s a statistically valid thing to say.

So of course all you got to do is make sure it’s good first, make sure before you think about marriage, you go, that’s going to enhance the goodness we already got.

You got to make sure you’re totally honest, that it feels like you’re with your best friend who you also want to fuck regularly. You share your finances and resources amicably. You have strong boundaries together and no problem discussing those. You’re dreaming of a future together. You think that if you die on a deathbed that this is a better option than the other ones available. You prioritize each other over others, including other family members

Can marriage save a relationship?

No, it’s an amplifier. Fix your problems in the relationship before you get married, don’t hope the marriage will make it better.

If someone is bad with finances and you give them a million dollars, they’re gonna end up bankrupt, right? Get them good at budgeting, then give them a million and they’ll stay rich.

If you are in a marriage, and you found that since getting married it seems like your relationship went downhill and you’re quite sure that it was actually all right before you got married, there’s something about that commitment and that ring that did some damage. It’s a chicken and egg situation: was the problem there before the marriage or after? Maybe you don’t know. You don’t know whether one partner started it or you did it together.

But there is a way to actually fix this, and that is to understand that just because you’re wearing a ring and you got the term “married” attached to you, it doesn’t mean you have to behave in a certain married way. Quite often, when you’re processing along some sort of spectrum, you’re moving up through stages and you hit a stage and things start to get bad, the best thing you can do is go back a stage or two and do it again, because that’s usually where the problem started.

So what I would suggest is that if you got married and then things started to go wrong, it was in the pre-marriage stage that things weren’t done right, that things were kind of off a bit and the  marriage amplified that. So if you can go back to that stage and get that going right, then your marriage can survive. So you can stay married, but you might even take your rings off if you want to, a kind of symbolism. But mentally as an agreement between the two of you, you go back to dating.

It might be as extreme as sleeping in different beds, or even living living in different places. You go on dates again, rather than just sort of hanging out all the time. You only see each other if you really feel like seeing each other, rather than being forced to. You have separate interests and separate friend groups, you build time apart, so they actually miss each other and develop some sort of interest in each other. You might do things like dressing up for each other that you no longer do anymore.

And you might start doing some work while you’re doing that to see what went wrong the first time. So you read a book like “Attached” to have a look at your attachment styles to see if something is there. You can maybe get some therapy or coaching. What you do is you don’t give up on the relationship, you just dial it back from a 10 out of 10 down to a seven, and start over from there. Back when it was good, go back to your favorite time and behave like you’re there again, and try to see where were the seeds of trouble being planted and how you stop it. And then you can escalate again.

A really great one is to use just online questionnaires and stuff you can find for couples, where you just ask each other kind of questions that bring out really deep, transparent, shame ridden secrets about each other, and just get to know each other again. It might be that you’ve just become complacently like flatmates and you don’t ever really talk properly anymore. You’re not really interested in each other anymore. So explore each other deeply. I guarantee you any quiz you find online, you ask those questions like, What do you really think about me? or How do you feel about my parents? or What are your dreams for the future? You’ll find out hey, I didn’t know that. You’ll get new answers and you’ll realize, Shit we’ve actually lost touch with each other.

But of course as always one post won’t be able to help you repair that damage…

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Thanks for reading

Hope to speak to you soon

Dan Munro

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