Woman married for 50 years declares marriage unsuccessful


**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a close friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

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Longevity in marriage has long since been heralded as a sign of success. Couples who live the vows “till death do us part” are seen as exceptional, in light of statistics that report that 40–50% of US marriages end in divorce

It’s rare for a longtime married person to declare their marriage a failure, but that’s precisely what “Roxanne,” an old family friend, did.

Roxanne and her recently deceased spouse were married for 50 years, and after he passed, she declared her marriage “unsuccessful.”

She said she had accepted that being with someone doesn’t automatically make you both happy and fulfilled. “My husband was not a bad man,” she said. “But it felt like we were strangers for much of our half-century union.”

The pair who opted out of having children got along well and rarely found themselves at odds. “I often wondered which of us sacrificed more in the name of our marriage: he or I. Neither, it turns out — we both gave and gained nothing,” she said.

Roxanne’s experience serves as a reminder that staying together doesn’t always mean “happily ever after” and that it’s okay to admit that. Despite her experience, she is grateful for her life and all the lessons she learned along the way, including that sometimes our expectations don’t align with reality.

Discontentment vs. Unhappiness

There are many reasons someone might feel discontent in their marriage, such as boredom or feeling taken for granted. It’s important to note that feeling discontented does not necessarily mean being unhappy.

Although Roxanne felt her marriage was unsuccessful overall, she acknowledged there were moments of joy. “We laughed together, shared similar values and interests, and had deep conversations,” she said. But she also admits, “our marriage lacked passion and intimacy, and that wore on me.”

Fifty years together doesn’t guarantee happiness — sometimes, it can mean feeling unfulfilled. Roxanne said, “It’s important to realize that marriage is not an answer to all questions, and it’s not a reward for being good. It has to be worked on, like anything else.”

“This idea of shame is just another “should,” as in something society says we must do or feel. The only thing you should in this moment is to decide what is best for you and your family.
Divorce is not admitting defeat. Divorce is deciding that you deserve a different future.” — Lindsay Weisner Psy.D.

Waiting for Better

It’s not uncommon for people to remain married, hoping things will change or get better over time, but as Roxanne’s story shows, this isn’t always the case. Waiting for better may mean sacrificing things that could have been experienced had the marriage ended sooner.

It wasn’t until after Roxanne’s husband passed away that she could be honest about her feelings. It’s not uncommon for people to stay together out of fear, guilt, or a sense of obligation.

In her own words, Roxanne encourages others to take responsibility and accountability for their choices and be honest with themselves: “It’s important to acknowledge when something isn’t working for you, even if it’s been a part of your life for years.”

“That glimpse of the world you used to think you would be living in, with someone you long to grow old with — that’s not fate stepping in to show you the direction you need to take, that’s an example of an intermittent schedule of reinforcement.” — Lindsay Weisner Psy.D.

While happiness may not be a priority in every relationship, it is essential to be away of your expectations. Taking an honest look at what you may be gaining and sacrificing can help you make better decisions, even if they’re hard.

Just like Roxanne, you don’t have to accept unhappiness in your life or relationships — you have the right to pursue happiness and fulfillment if that’s important to you.

In the end, Roxanne’s story is a cautionary tale that reminds us that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marriage and happiness. What works for some may not work for others, and being honest with yourself is the key to finding joy and fulfillment in whatever journey you choose.

What advice do you have for individuals who find themselves in unhappy marriages? Let us know in the comments below.

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Intimacy + Relationship-ing Coach | Writer. Helping singles & couples create healthy loving relationships.

Los Angeles County, CA

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