What you don’t know about marriage | Jenna McCarthy

Every year in the United States alone, 2,077,000 couples make
a legal and spiritual decision to spend the rest
of their lives together — (Laughter) And not to have sex with anyone else. Ever. He buys a ring, she buys a dress. They go shopping for all sorts of things. She takes him to Arthur Murray
for ballroom-dancing lessons. And the big day comes. And they’ll stand before God and family and some guy her dad
once did business with, and they’ll vow that nothing — not abject poverty, not life-threatening illness, not complete and utter misery — will ever put the tiniest damper
on their eternal love and devotion. (Laughter) These optimistic young bastards
promise to honor and cherish each other through hot flashes and midlife crises and a cumulative 50-pound weight gain, until that far-off day, when one of them
is finally able to rest in peace. (Laughter) You know, because they can’t hear
the snoring anymore. And then they’ll get stupid drunk and smash cake in each other’s faces
and do the Macarena. And we’ll be there, showering them with towels and toasters
and drinking their free booze and throwing birdseed at them
every single time … even though we know, statistically, half of them will be divorced
within a decade. (Laughter) Of course, the other half won’t, right? They’ll keep forgetting anniversaries and arguing about where to spend holidays and debating — (Laughter) Which way the toilet paper
should come off of the roll. And some of them will even still
be enjoying each other’s company when neither of them can chew
solid food anymore. And researchers want to know why. I mean, look — it doesn’t take
a double-blind, placebo-controlled study to figure out what makes
a marriage not work: disrespect, boredom, too much time on Facebook, having sex with other people. But you can have the exact
opposite of all of those things — respect, excitement, a broken Internet connection, mind-numbing monogamy — and the thing still can go
to hell in a handbasket. So, what’s going on when it doesn’t? What do the folks who make it all the way
to side-by-side burial plots have in common? What are they doing right? What can we learn from them? And if you’re still happily sleeping solo, why should you stop what you’re doing
and make it your life’s work to find that one special person that you can annoy
for the rest of your life? Well, researchers spend
billions of your tax dollars trying to figure that out. They stalk blissful couples and study their every move and mannerism. And they try to pinpoint
what it is that sets them apart from their miserable
neighbors and friends. And it turns out, the success stories
share a few similarities, beyond that they don’t have sex
with other people. For instance, in the happiest marriages, the wife is thinner and better-looking than the husband. (Laughter) Obvious. Right? It’s obvious that this leads
to marital bliss, because women — we care a great deal
about being thin and good-looking, whereas men mostly care about sex, ideally, with women who are thinner
and better looking than they are. The beauty of this research, though, is that no one is suggesting
that women have to be thin to be happy. We just have to be thinner
than our partners. So instead of all that laborious
dieting and exercising, we just need to wait
for them to get fat — (Laughter) Maybe bake a few pies. This is good information to have,
and it’s not that complicated. (Laughter) Research also suggests that the happiest couples are the ones
that focus on the positives. For example: the happy wife. Instead of pointing out
her husband’s growing gut or suggesting he go for a run, she might say, “Wow, honey, thank you
for going out of your way to make me relatively thinner.” (Laughter) These are couples
who can find good in any situation. “Yeah, it was devastating
when we lost everything in that fire. But it’s kind of nice sleeping
out here under the stars. And it’s a good thing you’ve got
all that body fat to keep us warm.” (Laughter) One of my favorite studies found that the more willing
a husband is to do housework, the more attractive
his wife will find him. Because we needed a study to tell us this. (Laughter) But here’s what’s going on here. The more attractive she finds him,
the more sex they have; the more sex they have,
the nicer he is to her; the nicer he is to her, the less she nags him
about leaving wet towels on the bed, and ultimately,
they live happily ever after. In other words, men,
you might want to pick it up a notch in the domestic department. Here’s an interesting one. One study found that people
who smile in childhood photographs are less likely to get a divorce. This is an actual study,
and let me clarify: the researchers were not looking
at documented self-reports of childhood happiness, or even studying old journals. The data were based entirely
on whether people looked happy in these early pictures. Now, I don’t know how old all of you are,
but when I was a kid, your parents took pictures
with a special kind of camera that held something called “film.” And, by God, film was expensive. They didn’t take 300 shots of you
in that rapid-fire digital video mode and then pick out the nicest,
smiliest one for the Christmas card. Oh, no. They dressed you up, they lined you up, and you smiled for the fucking camera
like they told you to or you could kiss
your birthday party goodbye. But still, I have a huge pile
of fake happy childhood pictures and I’m glad they make me less likely
than some people to get a divorce. So, what else can you do
to safeguard your marriage? Do not win an Oscar for best actress. (Laughter) I’m serious. Bettie Davis, Joan Crawford,
Halle Berry, Hilary Swank, Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon — all of them single,
soon after taking home that statue. They actually call it the Oscar curse. It is the marriage kiss of death
and something that should be avoided. And it’s not just successfully
starring in films that’s dangerous. It turns out, merely watching
a romantic comedy causes relationship
satisfaction to plummet. (Laughter) Apparently, the bitter realization
that maybe it could happen to us, but it obviously hasn’t
and it probably never will, makes our lives seem
unbearably grim in comparison. And theoretically, I suppose if we opt for a film
where someone gets brutally murdered or dies in a fiery car crash, we are more likely to walk out
of that theater feeling like we’ve got it pretty good. (Laughter) Drinking alcohol, it seems,
is bad for your marriage. Yeah. I can’t tell you anymore about that one because I stopped reading it
at the headline. But here’s a scary one:
divorce is contagious. That’s right, when you have
a close couple friend split up, it increases your chances
of getting a divorce by 75 percent. Now, I have to say,
I don’t get this one at all. My husband and I have watched
quite a few friends divide their assets and then struggle
with being our age and single in an age of sexting
and Viagra and eHarmony. And I’m thinking they’ve done
more for my marriage than a lifetime of therapy ever could. So now you may be wondering:
Why does anyone get married ever? Well, the US federal government
counts more than a thousand legal benefits to being someone’s spouse. A list that includes
visitation rights in jail, but hopefully, you’ll never need that one. But beyond the profound federal perks, married people make more money. We’re healthier,
physically and emotionally. We produce happier, more stable
and more successful kids. We have more sex than our supposedly
swinging single friends, believe it or not. We even live longer, which is a pretty compelling argument
for marrying someone you like a lot in the first place. (Laughter) Now, if you’re not currently experiencing
the joy of the joint tax return, I can’t tell you how to find
a chore-loving person of the approximately ideal size
and attractiveness, who prefers horror movies and doesn’t have a lot of friends
hovering on the brink of divorce, but I can only encourage you to try, because the benefits, as I’ve pointed out, are significant. The bottom line is: whether you’re in it
or you’re searching for it, I believe marriage is an institution
worth pursuing and protecting. So I hope you’ll use the information
I’ve given you today to weigh your personal strengths
against your own risk factors. For instance, in my marriage,
I’d say I’m doing OK. One the one hand, I have a husband who’s annoyingly lean
and incredibly handsome. So I’m obviously going
to need fatten him up. And like I said, we have
those divorced friends who may secretly or subconsciously
be trying to break us up. So we have to keep an eye on that. And we do like a cocktail or two. On the other hand, I have the fake happy picture thing. And also, my husband does
a lot around the house, and would happily never see
another romantic comedy as long as he lives. So I’ve got all those things going for me. But just in case, I plan to work extra hard
to not win an Oscar anytime soon. And for the good of your relationships, I would encourage you to do the same. I’ll see you at the bar. (Laughter) (Applause)

About the author


  1. I filed for divorce at 27 from a controlling abusive husband. It was the most difficult but by far the best decision of my life. I'm now 29 and happy, setting up my own company, travelling the world, full of beans. No point staying miserable for the rest of your life.

  2. Why buy a book when there's a perfectly good lending library in the town. men have now got wise the to woman we are not meals tickets

  3. Yea! No romantic comedies! Watch some action comedies if anything it makes families want to fight side by side if civilisation does end and only thing to survive is the will to keep families strong in times of need.

  4. Two step process for reducing 90% of arguments in marriage
    1. Install a urinal beside the toilet to avoid leaving the seat up life-long argument
    2. Install two toilet paper holders if there is dispute on the correct orientation of the roll

  5. Jenna talks so clever but stays totally ignorant. Family life in the USA is different. In France and Thailand family is something wonderful. Marriage is the normal way of living together and of course there is failure. The main aim is to have a successful family life and that needs renunciation in many ways. In the US this is too difficult and that is why Jenna – as so many of the American women – don't want any kind of giving up this and that or tolerate their husbands having a girlfriend . The same is with American men. They are still more offended when their wife have a harmless boyfriend-affair. In France that is normal.
    An absolute different chapter is bad behaviour mostly of men. This cannot get tolerated and here arises the question why mothers cannot educate their boys to treat girls with admiration and to abstain completely from any form of violence.
    Jenna refers to research for her reasoning and this is also normal. Everybody refers to science and results of research. The truth however is more than often different. I am a lawyer (my wife pronounce it often in direction liar) and can prove easily the contrary. What you can find in the US you can never find in Thailand, Italy, France and and and. Well, my American friends cherish often the view that all what you find in the USA you find in the same way in other countries also. That is not the case, especially in Asian countries where you find a culture which is by far superior. I learned from my Indian wife many habits you don't see in the western world. I never put my feet on a piece of paper on wich something is written. When I come from outside into a house I always take out my shoes etc. etc.

  6. Marriage works…..as long as you don't marry a girl from America, there's tons of great marriage material women….just not in this country.

  7. The absolute stupidest thing I ever did in my life was get married. I was married for 13 years. About half of it was utter misery, although it didn't seem like it at the time. As a result, I will never, ever – EVER! – get married again – – – EVER!!!!

  8. I fail to see any actual logical arguments here. Coincidently, they fail to mention any statistics about Divorce… like that women file for divorce 80% of the time. They also don’t mention that men get 0% custody 83% of the time. How about this… marriage rate is only 46% for people between 18-34 . It is an antiquated and dying institution that has no real purpose in a modern day of gender equality.

  9. I've experienced that when ppl around you divorce you may too. I wasnt married but lived with my now ex. First my parents divorced. I think that did something to my belief for love even I was an adult when they divorced. Then mine and my ex's friend couple broke up. Then I knew that our relationship is not going to last either. The reason why we broke up wasnt anything to do with other ppl, but these really had an effect.

  10. I am married 49 years to a very beautiful woman. And happy. Ane you, Jenna, have a foul mouth. Thus, you are single, right? Most people do not like people with foul mouths.

  11. I wish she could have stated a better case for her decision, instead of mocking it and turning it into a comedy routine. It would have been fine for a comedy routine, but I don’t think that was the impression of the intended general audience. Best suited in a comedy club liquored up.

  12. I could not disagree more than Jenna or the responses of others against marriage. After 40 years, I can say I would not change one thing. The marriage commitment is something to be respected and honored. I feel her talk is in poor taste and offensive.

  13. Marriage is a contract with the state and nothing else. She has all the rights and he has all the responsibility.

    The real stats are closer to 75% failure
    And 70-80% of all divorces are brought by wahmin
    That means less than 20% success rate

    Mgtow is the only answer

  14. Happily married and divorced 4 times. Sleeping alone for the past 15 years. I've never been so happy.

  15. The choice of a marriage partner is one of the most important decisions a person makes in their lifetime. A marriage where both partners are 100% invested in helping their loved one be the best that they can be, creates the best of human relationships. God is the originator of marriage. His plan for marriage, done His way, offers respect and sacrificial love between two humans, where there is no room for cruelty or tyranny. Sadly most people are more interested in the trappings of having a party that makes them feel good about themselves and they believe that love is, “I love what you do for me and when you don’t, I don’t love you”. A nearly life long devotion between two people deserves more serious thought and preparations. Everyone enters this world alone and will leave it alone, but to have a person who has unconditional love for you, to journey with you through all of the good and hard times, is invaluable. When to people include a united devotion to God in their marriage they create a much stronger bond. Marriage is not a never ending romantic movie. It requires work—negotiation, sacrifice, humility, loyalty, encouragement and a lot of forgiveness. It is amazing that two imperfect people can do it., but with God’s help they can! When it is done well, it provides tremendous growth in maturity for the two partners, emotional and physical security, deep unconditional love, and a healthy environment, to train children, to be able participants in society.
    The bond of marriage is a precious union to be preserved and protected. I am married for 46 years, to my husband, my best friend.

  16. The real reason woman get married is so they don't have to go to the store and by their women products. Ever notice in that section it's all men walking fast and looking out the side of there eyes. Theres so many types and sizes and thats just to make it harder on men.

  17. The only thing a female can offer a man is a 75% chance she will ruin his life.
    Of what possible use is a female to a man?
    A Msn Needs a Female Like a Fish Needs a Lobotomy

  18. Always the guff about men doing chores around the house, not mentioning that in the vast majority of marriages, men work longer hours, longer years, doing far more dirty, dangerous and thankless jobs, then……on retiring, they work so hard at a numbing job, they now feel useless…..and she feels he is now a pain, and "under her feet", notwithstanding her 3 – 4 wardrobes of clothes and shoes were paid for by him. He , statistically will die anywhere between 5 and 15 years before her.
    It starts in childhood, little girls are loved and cherished, boys are, well, boys. remember the song?.
    What are little girls made of?……sugar and spice and all things nice. (CHEER)!…..
    What are little boys made of……..slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails……(boooooo)!.
    On the wedding, it is the bride's day…..she looks beautiful in her dress.
    The groom……well yeah!.
    But to these sorry feminists who openly say men are useless…..
    Go to the top of the tallest building in any village, town or city on the planet.
    Look around you 360 degrees and tell me what Men "didn't" invent, build, repair, protect, and expand.
    That includes Gas and electric systems, rail networks, canals, offices, factories, shopping malls, houses, cars, trains, aircraft, roads, housing estates, hospitals, and all the modern techno stuff in the home, from a toilet to a microwave oven, washing machine, gas cooker……and on and on…..but woe betide if we put a pound of weight on…………..fancy bricklaying a 42 storey office block in the rain girls…….nope………thought not.

  19. Divorce Judge asks, "Did you learn your lesson?". "Yes your honor, next time I'll just find a woman I hate and buy her a house."

  20. MGTOW fella's! Don't share your wealth and health with these western women!
    Jenna, I struggled to get to the half way mark but I'm off from this garbage.

  21. Would love to hear this woman's husband speak about his experience one sided view is bringing out so much negativity in comments column

  22. Its possible to be very happily married but my guess is that that percentage of the population is small, maybe 10%. 1/2 get divorced, so we know they were not happy. And many couples stay married though lonely, abused, neglected, and miserable. They probably stay married because of money considerations. Sad

  23. What utter rubbish. Love to see her citations. Her arrogance and self absobtion is astonishing. She had the opportunity to do a Ted talk and prepared for it by spending 5 mins on google searching for obscure studies over a glass of wine.

  24. marriage is only for those who want to raise children and be mommy and daddy…
    otherwise be single and have fun with your money and date who you wish without drama

  25. Marriage? You have nothing to worry about. Men are being "WOKE " and are realizing that Eve never existed it's always been LILITHE in guise of of Eve. The pedestal has turned to mud. MGTOW = LIFE)

  26. 1:14 these optimistic bastards? Gee… both born from unmarried parents. Some kind of a coincidence? Oh … she meant it as a kind of swear word. Trying to be funny …. oh I get it. LOL .. not.

  27. As someone who is married for 39 years to a partner that didn't control her weight or much of anything else I say this woman is sexist and full of BS.

  28. There is only one factor that will determine whether or not a marriage with a good man will work: If the woman has been infected by third-wave feminism, then the man will either cheat, hang himself, or divorce eventually. First and second-wave feminism were great things. Third-wave feminism is cancer.

  29. Marriage is a business. If you go into it with that intent only. Your marriage will last till death do you part.

  30. Movies, books ect. are delusional fantasy stories, that people cherry pick what they want to believe.
    Every "good" (sellable) lie has a portion of truth.
    Chick flicks are representations of the bi-polar, hypocrisy products of what women want to see and hear.
    Chick-flick: Bla, bla, bla, guy dies, she lives on with a heart full of memories.
    Guy flick: Mumble, mumble, BOOM! Every body dies, except "the hero." (Repeat).

  31. Marriage today is a loosing proposition for men. Men are far better off staying single. Al I sadly agree with you. There's absolutely no reason for a sane man to marry any of these liberalized FEMANISTs today. What they have to offer you can purchase a lot cheaper in the long run and with NO headaches.

  32. I already know to much about it cost to much just hire a hooker 2 hours if you get married you pay alit more that's a fact

  33. el matrimonio es hermoso por que se apoyan juntos y se aman lo que pasa es que no hemos encontrado la persona adecuada yo siempre he sido soltera pero espero encontrarlo a el

  34. That was a very odd Ted talk indeed. You get to know someone at the end of the relationship. A lot of people who have been divorced have never really recovered.

  35. Marriage sucks woman are fricking nuts. I can’t stand marriage bullshit. Woman don’t give a frick about men just the god dam money

  36. I understand the first sign of happy couples: the woman is thinner and better looking than the man.
    The reason why that identifies happy couples is that when the woman is prettier, the man can easily tolerate her faults and the relationship has a lot of chances surviving because women are usually the one initiating divorce and problems. So being with a man who can tolerate all her faults and caprices tremendously help make the marriage stable.
    I would also guess that additionally, the man is wealthier and/or wiser than the woman in stable couples because a woman will not be drawn to a man for life if he has nothing special to offer mostly a woman who is prettier than the man. Women usually have more expectations mostly at the beginning of he relationship.

  37. I thought I was the only one who thought it was more of a "look at me and how well I'm doing" session rather than a teachable experience for both single and married people alike. Disappointing

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