Unhappily every after: Why you probably married the wrong person

Lots of people get it wrong - there's a good chance you did too.
Lots of people get it wrong - there's a good chance you did too. Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: In a study surely designed to cool the cockles of your heart, a British insurance agency has profiled married Brits to discover that 10 million of them have regrets about their marriages.

The survey found that a third of married folk have misgivings about their relationships, and one in 10 is haunted by 'the one that got away'.

Over 2.4 million Brits believe they walked up the aisle too early, and 2 million are kicking themselves for not being more sexually adventurous before they did. Eight percent regret the type of person they pursued, and 10 percent wished they'd spent more time single. Just over a million say they married their spouse for the wrong reasons.

Jane Morgan, business manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, said: "Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and when many people look back they may wish they had taken a different direction in life."

But the good news is that it doesn't matter. Of course you married the wrong person. Or you will. And that's completely fine.

English philosopher Alain de Botton says the problem is that we don't understand ourselves any more than we understand other people, so how would we ever find a perfect match? 

He suggests that a standard question on any early dinner date should be, 'And in what ways are you crazy?"

Writing in the New York Times, he said we tell ourselves we've done our due diligence with partners - we look at their photos, and meet their families and friends. 

But, "Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don't know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating."

De Botton says that what we need to combat it is a philosophy of pessimism. 

"We need a tragic awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us - and we will do the same to them. None of this is unusual or grounds for divorce."

What we truly need in a partner is not someone who never disagrees with us, but who is good at disagreement. "Compatibility is an achievement, not a precondition, of love," says de Botton.

Sex advice columnist Dan Savage takes a similarly sage and fatalistic view.

"We labour under the misconception that there is The One out there," he says. 

"There is no The One, there are Ones, and you will meet plenty." 

Savage says that what makes someone The One is a conscious decision to round them up to The One. 

"You will never meet someone who is everything you want and makes you deliriously happy," he says. "All you will meet is people who will do. 

"I'll round you up to The One, you round me up to The One, and with our delusions evenly matched, we can hang out until we die."

And that folks, is the definition of a successful marriage.

Watch Dan Savage dish out his sage advice below.

Maggie Wicks is Newshub's features editor