Ok is not yes!
July 20, 2009 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Did you marry someone you felt "ok" about at first? How did it work out?

This does sound like it's been asked before, but I'm not asking for advice for any current situation - because one doesn't exist.

I was thinking about a lot of experiences I've had that I thought were going to be just ok, but turned out great.

In the context of marriage, what did you do when you found someone you felt "ok" about? Did you go ahead and marry them? Did it work out well? Better than expected?

When I say "ok" I don't say it with regret or the absence of affection. Ok is not bad. Ok is good.

But "ok" is not "great". Ok is comfortable and fulfilling. It's not a "you complete me" sort of thing though. If "ok" was a grade, it would be a B+ with a chance for extra credit.

I would like to hear stories. Thanks!
posted by abdulf to Human Relations (30 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
A lot happens between ok and marriage. This is a really tough question. Do people end up feeling more strongly about someone that they only felt so-so (not ZOMG, I am going to marry this person!!!11!!) about at the first meeting? Yes, all the time.
posted by k8t at 9:11 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Married her, had two kids. Lasted seven years; ended in an extremely bitter divorce. Nowadays I remember none of the good times; she's simply a detriment to a fufilling life with my children.
posted by Biglew at 9:13 PM on July 20, 2009

Hmm...I would think many arranged marriages would fit this description. You might want to look up some accounts of such marriages.

Personally, I know quite a few "it started out super-fantastic-awesome-passionate" beginnings that ended up as nightmare marriages. So I can't really help you.
posted by thisperon at 9:47 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

See, the thing about "ok" is that it can swing widely in either direction depending on the commitment (or lack thereof) of both individuals involved. I personally have had several "ok" relationships that ultimately became boring and stagnant, and a couple that started out "ok" and went pretty fabulous places. So there's that.

Ultimately in the end, a marriage is about how much BOTH individuals are willing to compromise and work together towards shared goals. And also their willingness to communicate that to each other. A true, deep, lasting relationship isn't so much about mad passionate sex or crazy infatuation because believe me, a lot of that stuff goes in cycles, and/or fades. A true, deep, lasting relationship is more about the feeling that both of you have each others back against the rest of the world.

I know an older couple who initially came together through adversity (unplanned pregnancy as undergrads in college, they married for form's sake, then struggled and suffered through two kids during grad school, etc...). They both will admit, whilst holding hands and gazing lovingly at each other, that they thought long and hard about divorce during the darker years. Yet something always meant more to them than ending it... ultimately for them, the rewards outweighed the risks, and they built a more solid love out of the foundations of "ok".

THAT is what you have to decide. The whole concept of falling madly in love with your Perfect Soul Mate is fine and well, and sure it happens, and if that's your situation, then run with it. However, there are plenty of perfectly awesome people out there who are "ok" at first who will ultimately become your best defense against the rest of the planet if you're both willing to work to make it succeed, and respect each other enough to maintain open communication about that.

I think a lot of "ok" relationships can go really great places when the individuals involved are mature enough to both respect each other and not place unrealistic demands or expectations upon their partner when they don't quite measure up to this whole crazy Fantasyland Perfect Partner movie we tend to have playing in our heads (thanks, modern media!).
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:16 PM on July 20, 2009 [39 favorites]

"OK" in terms of your question is good, but not great. Agreed.

Married "ok." Felt like something was missing all the time. Specifically, I needed something my well-meaning partner could never quite provide. It was sad for both of us. Divorced. That experience lead me to do it right the second time around. Also, I knew instantly because of past experience when I had found "The One." Yay!!

I have no doubt if I had stayed in marriage #1 I might still be feeling unfulfilled. I also feel totally guilty posting this truth on the internet.
posted by jbenben at 10:18 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]

My first marriage was to a woman I felt "OK" about, based on her representations. After child #2 was born, I was informed that those representations were no longer convenient, and that she had a new agenda, which was to move to within 2 blocks of her parent's home, in a city 1,000 miles from where we were living, and to have me agree, without discussion or argument, with every idea she would ever have for raising our children, and living our lives. After we moved, I made the additional mistake of finding work that didn't suit her idea of how I should make a living, and the marriage did not work out "OK" on many levels, but as the spinach eatin' sailor said "You pays your tuition and gets your grades, in da School of Hard Knocks."
posted by paulsc at 11:46 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I married someone I felt just "ok" about. We were together almost 7 years, married for 5, and have been separated now for over a year. We'll get divorced eventually. It's amicable. "There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys, there's only you and me and we just disagree."

I was the one that pushed to end our marriage. I know it's the right decision. But I'm still sad about it. At the beginning, we were so happy together. Building a life, buying a little house and fixing it up, very much in love. We used to lie in bed at night and talk about how lucky we were to have found each other.

But when it came time to get married, I felt just "ok" about marrying him. By that point, I had a lot of reservations. I remember the night before we got married, telling myself "It's just a piece of paper." Along with the reservations, there was a lot of love and a lot of joy. It seemed like the only way to know if marrying him was the right thing to do was to marry him.

It's hard for me to write this. We just spent the weekend together at the house because he needed to sort through his belongings and pack some stuff up. Seeing him still gets to me. It always takes me a few days to recover.
posted by Majorita at 12:21 AM on July 21, 2009 [5 favorites]

Notice that there is a difference here in the answers between the people that are talking about the fact that they "married someone they felt OK about" and the people talking about feeling just "OK" about someone when they first met, but eventually married them.

That is a VERY important distinction.

I could never, in good conscience, advise someone to marry a partner they just felt okay about... that's not fair to either of you. but I know lots of people that fel in love and married people that they felt just "okay" about (or even "uh-uh!" about) when they first met and have great happy marriages.

To recap, "Ok" upon meeting: be open to what could develop... Still just "Okay" at the altar... run.
posted by veronicacorningstone at 1:11 AM on July 21, 2009 [11 favorites]

Hmm...I would think many arranged marriages would fit this description.

The person who chooses to go through with an arranged marriage is a lot different than the type of person who would rather find their own mate. A LOT different. Different expectations, different ways to handle the inevitable confrontations, and a totally different outlook on life.

I think its like comparing apples and oranges here.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:12 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm not asking for advice for any current situation - because one doesn't exist.... I would like to hear stories. Thanks!

I think this is chatfilter, but if we're playing that game anyway.... it sounds like a pretty bad idea to me.

It's always a safer bet to choose something already great, rather than something that's just adequate but MIGHT be great later.
posted by rokusan at 2:02 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding veronicacorningstone. I am extremely happily married to someone I initially thought was okay, but if I hadn't thought he was an awful lot better than okay by the time he asked me to marry him, there's no way I'd have said yes.
posted by raspberry-ripple at 2:49 AM on July 21, 2009 [4 favorites]

To sum it up in one word: Poorly.

I dunno, it was complicated. We were young, there was that passion for a bit, though in retrospect I am sure some of that was just late-teen lust. We moved in together, got engaged and then and got... comfortable, or to use your word, OK. At the time I figured comfortable was just a stage and things were always in flux and soon would be on the upswing again. Instead, comfortable persisted for a while, ticked up a bit after the nuptials, and then settled into straight comfortable again until about two years after we had a child. Then it went down, down, down Titanic style. And that, was that.

Age is probably quite an important factor in my story. I would have to say based on personal experience and observation of those around me that between the ages of 18 and 24 people change quite a bit personality wise, and by the time we'd gotten through that time period we were just different people wanting different things. Fortunately we both recognized that and were able to dissolve the union in a fairly amicable manner and remain friends to this day, especially important because we share joint custody of our child, which is the one truly great thing that happened as a result of our union.

So to sum up, I would have to say if it's just "OK" when you're young, it probably won't work out.. If you're older, it might be fine and comfortable for the rest of your lives.
posted by barc0001 at 3:39 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Married to my ok for 17 years; divorced 5 years ago.

He was ok when I met him (when I think about it, I had the hots for his friend but he was just the ok sidekick) and still ok when I married him 5 years later. It was the longest relationship I had even been in, nobody else was looming on the horizon, so we figured let's get married.

I always liked him but he never really "did it" for me. I never fell in love over the ensuing years and after three kids together he went from ok to someone with problems he refused to seek help for.

As he couldn't cope with living with us, I made him leave, which was the smartest thing I ever did.

I wonder, though, if I had felt strongly about him I might have tried to help him more. But then I remember that you can't fix other people; he was miserable and loved wallowing in his misery, so the short story is no, it didn't work for me.
posted by dzaz at 4:40 AM on July 21, 2009

Why get married? You know guys needn't rush this business. If you want kids, just never date anyone who is too old or has kids already, you'll find a suitable one eventually.

I've heard relationships that lacks some special flair won't last, even once seen statistics backing this assertion up. If your a girl who wants kids, then you must realize that "Okay" may beat "flair with issues", but guys can afford to simply wait.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:06 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I married someone I was lukewarm about and it lasted just over 4 years. I would not recommend this to anyone. The goal is to do it once (right?) so you should pick the right person.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:45 AM on July 21, 2009

those who might state yes and are still married won't answer here.

And those whose stories are "no, it doesn't work" are much more likely to want to caution others against it.

This is a pretty individual thing and I agree with lonefrontranger that it depends on the attitudes, commitment, and willingness to compromise of the people involved. In my parents' and grandparents' generations, a lot of them ended up with Mr. or Mrs. OK and actually did OK. Even couples who start out madly in love fall in and out of love many times over the course of a marriage. And lots of couples who feel passionately devoted at the time of their wedding don't make it over the long haul. Yes, marriage is a dumb thing to do if you're not completely convinced that you want to make every effort to make a go of it with this person. And frankly, it's a risk 100% of the time - because people and circumstances are guaranteed to change. But if you're asking whether hot adoring passion and ga-ga-ness are required to make a lasting and valuable marriage bond - I'd have to say, based on my observations, not at all. That's a romantic bias our culture promotes avidly.
posted by Miko at 6:36 AM on July 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

It's always a safer bet to choose something already great, rather than something that's just adequate but MIGHT be great later.

Well, not necessarily. If you choose something thinking it's really great, you're likely going to be disappointed and perhaps even feel blindsided when it changes, because everything does change (especially feelings) over time and the change here can only be towards 'less' great, if you're starting at really great.

Whereas if you choose something that's OK (i.e. good, as defined by OP), it could change to become either better or worse.

I chose OK and have been married 18 yrs, mostly happily. There are even times (and more lately) when it's really great. Every day is different.
posted by mmw at 7:36 AM on July 21, 2009 [4 favorites]

My husband was the first guy I dated who wasn't all drama. He is emotionally stable, generally happy, doesn't like playing games with people, generally likes everyone unless they do something mean, generous to a fault etc. Needless to say, I really couldn't see getting involved with him. I was used to depressed, drama filled a-holes, who were all about themselves. He seemed boring by comparison. There was nothing to fix and therefore nothing for me to do.

Lucky for me, he was nice enough and liked a lot of the things I like, and most importantly he bared a passing resemblance to Jonathan Frakes (the bearded years), so I was willing to be friends+. And then the weirdest thing happened. Over the course of six months or so, he just ... grew on me. The whole time I'm thinking, "He's really nice. I'm not ready to be in a relationship though" and then BAM I suddenly felt like it would be the worst mistake in my life if I didn't give the relationship a chance.

And now it's over 7 years later, we've been married for 4 and I still think he is probably the best man I've ever known. Thank Jebus for the beard, yo.
posted by Kimberly at 8:04 AM on July 21, 2009 [17 favorites]

I know lots of people who have had old school arranged marriages, where you'd meet someone for a half hour and then decide if you want to get married or not. They all seem quite happy with how their marriages have turned out. I think the key to a successful marriage is that both partners are committed to making it work. Being super-ultra-in-love-OMG isn't an instant win.
posted by chunking express at 8:10 AM on July 21, 2009

I'll be the one to come out and say it. I had serious reservations about my wife before I married her - even for a short period of time after I married her and things got worse. In fact, you might say that marrying her was a leap of potentially ill advised faith. We're totally different people. We've had fundamental disagreements on important issues. She's needed serious therapy to reconcile with traumatic past experiences. I've needed a big dose of get-the-hell-over-myself and stop being so selfish. But at the end of the day, she's the only woman that I've ever believed in to my very core, even when I thought she might not make a good wife. We understand what has made each of us who we are and we accept that. She has turned out to be the most wise and doggedly strong person I could have ever hoped for. She is a wonderful mother, both in her strengths and flaws and lets me be exactly the father I want to be. She is everything I am not, when I'm not, and lets me be everything I am, when I am. She is my full and equal partner in everything I do. And at any given time, if we both did not put ourselves as a couple before everything else in the world, we probably wouldn't have made it, and we've had to sacrifice a lot to do that. I'm sure we'll have to continue to do this for the rest of our lives. So, I guess the question is not how you feel at any given time, but how well you are willing to get to know someone, accept them for who the actually are, and commit to working through *everything* together.
posted by mrmojoflying at 9:07 AM on July 21, 2009 [10 favorites]

Never happened. If I only feel "OK" about someone, there's not really much chance of anything deeper developing over time - whether in friendships or relationships. It doesn't mean my interactions with the people I feel OK about have no value, just that they're never going to be a high priority in my life.

I do think that age might affect this somewhat, and that there are times in our lives when how we relate to other people depends on whether or not they're changing in the same directions as we are.
posted by Lolie at 9:54 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think that that sort of marriage is much, much less common than it used to be. People used to get married purely because they were supposed to be, and stuck together for the same reason; the joke was that the woman would stop waiting for Mr. Right and settle for Mr. Acceptable, hoping that he was also Mr. Trainable. Nowadays, someone might move in with a partner just to have a bedwarmer, but not feel particularly compelled to make it permanent.

For my part, I was married to someone for nine years, after a short engagement, and I think that we made it that long only because of a combination of it being a long-distance relationship for the first year and change and our careers keeping us busy for a few years after that. In retrospect, knowing what I know now, if we'd been engaged for a year, or even just spent more time together than we did, we wouldn't have gotten married. I'm not quite sure how this fits together with your idea of OKness.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:46 AM on July 21, 2009

Much like Kimberly's story, I married my OK 17 years ago, and that has made all the difference.
posted by maloon at 1:11 PM on July 21, 2009

I don't have a story, but: Arranged marriages aside, why would you want to marry someone you merely felt "pretty good" about when you could marry someone you felt great about? It seems to me that considering how important marriage is (or supposed to be), it's an awfully big risk to hope it can start out at OK and go up (and last!) from there. Sure, it's possible, but considering how difficult it is to make a marriage work, and judging by the anecdotes in this thread, why handicap yourselves?
posted by axiom at 1:39 PM on July 21, 2009

I was absolutely in love with both my ex-wives. Wonder if you wouldn't have a clearer idea of what you're getting into with "OK". Blinded by "OK"?
posted by Carbolic at 1:42 PM on July 21, 2009

why would you want to marry someone you merely felt "pretty good" about when you could marry someone you felt great about?

Because (a) we have absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that the ultimate outcome with the person you feel great about will be great, and because (b) you may realize that the person you feel OK about agrees with you in terms of life goals, habits, loyalty, sense of humor, ability to make decisions, stability, honesty, responsibility, follow-through, and the other important things that a healthy long-term partnership is actually made of, completely apart from infatuation.
posted by Miko at 1:45 PM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Exactly. I felt "great" about my wife when we were married, but I don't think our relationship works because of that. It's all these tertiary things that they don't make romantic comedies about that really matter in the end. I'm sure there are lots of people out there who loved the shit out of their spouse right up until things crashed and burned. Anyway, i've only been married a year so what do I know.
posted by chunking express at 1:51 PM on July 21, 2009

you may realize that the person you feel OK about agrees with you in terms of life goals, habits, loyalty, sense of humor, ability to make decisions, stability, honesty, responsibility, follow-through, and the other important things that a healthy long-term partnership is actually made of, completely apart from infatuation.

I guess we have a definitional problem here(?). In my mind, getting past OK to the neighborhood of great (and marriage material) kind of requires agreement about all of those things in addition to infatuation. Or maybe put a diffferent way, if you don't even have those kinds of compatibilities, marriage isn't even in the question, so the only (big) thing left to consider is the intensity of your feelings for each other. Essentially I kind of read the asker's question as a choice between these two scenarios:

(a) Marry a person with whom you have general compatibility, similar life goals, shared loyalty and responsiblity, etc., and who you feel OK about.

(b) Marry a person with whom you have general compatibility, similar life goals, shared loyalty and responsiblity, etc., and who you feel great about.

Obviously, yeah, people get married while lacking some of those other qualities all the time, but you don't need an AskMe to tell you those other things you list are going to be important to a marriage.

Or at least I don't think so.
posted by axiom at 5:59 PM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Sure, it might reside in your definitions of what "OK" and "great" mean. I think I take "great" to mean infatuated, highly hopeful, perhaps idealizing the partner. It's possible to feel like you've found an excellent partner, and feel very happy about the choice, without describing that feeling as "great."

I do stand by the idea that how you feel about someone at the start of a relationhip, or indeed at any given snapshot moment in the relationship, is a rather poor indicator of long-term happiness. This was just linked by theora55 in another thread, but it goes really well here, too:
...how happy a couple were before marriage was unrelated to how long the marriage lasted. ''What counts in making a happy marriage,'' said George Levinger of the University of Massachusetts, ''is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.'
posted by Miko at 9:48 AM on July 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

Interesting article in the New York Times today: Modern Love - Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear - Sure, you have your marital issues, but on the whole you feel so self-satisfied about how things have worked out that you would never, in your wildest nightmares, think you would hear these words from your husband one fine summer day: “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out. The kids will understand. They’ll want me to be happy.”
posted by SpecialK at 9:44 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

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