Looking back on life, there are certain lessons we all wish we’d learned sooner. If only we’d known that one thing, we could have been less critical of ourselves, taken more chances, spent more time with loved ones before it was too late, or spoken our deepest truths without fear of consequence. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.
That’s why a recent thread on r/AskReddit tried to identify that one thing that most people wish they’d discovered sooner, hoping to transform the hive mind’s insights into foresight. “What is a lesson you learned too late in life?” the original poster asked. The top response garnered a whopping 41,000 upvotes in just eight days. It read: “Being alone is less lonely than being married to the wrong person.”
The message seemed to resonate with the forum, as people shared stories of their own unhappy relationships, past and present. Many spoke of seeing their parents struggle through loveless marriages, and the impact it had on the whole family. One individual currently going through a painful divorce expressed that they had been doubting their choice until seeing the post. “Might sound stupid, but this actually made me cry,” they wrote. “I really needed to read this right now. Thank you.”
Studies have shown that a person’s happiness within a marriage has a massive impact on their overall happiness trajectories, corroborating the notion that a loveless or discordant marriage is worse than being alone. As one report published in the Journal of Marriage and Family explained, despite people associating marriage with higher levels of overall happiness, “recent evidence has suggested that marriage is not beneficial for all spouses with respect to health and well-being.”
A second study published in the Journal of Family Psychology reveals that roughly 20 percent of married study subjects were dissatisfied with their relationships over time—and those are just the relationships that people stay in. According to the American Psychological Association, between 40 and 50 percent of U.S. marriages end in divorce, with a higher divorce rate in subsequent marriages.
Still, there’s cause for optimism when it comes to marriage if you consider the other 80 percent of happily married individuals. Yes, there may be a statistically high rate of divorce, and some couples may struggle in silence through unhappy unions, but the majority of people that stay married are happier for it. It’s up to you and your partner to look at your relationship and determine if your marriage sustains or drains you, and whether your marriage is one worth fighting for. And for more relationship insights, check out these 12 Ways People Have Saved Their Marriages From Divorce.