Sometimes, you come across statements you just can't let pass without commenting. I came across this casual comment a few days ago: 'Does anyone find it odd that the goddess of marriage never ends up with a good marriage herself? Like in any culture?'. Naturally, I had to counter that when it comes to Hellenismos. I'll quote my reply.

There is some serious judging from a modern standpoint going on with this question. Of course, I can only speak of Hellenic mythology, but I am quite sure the same applies to the other pantheons as well. TL;DR: Zeus and Hera have the perfect marriage in the ancient Hellenic view of things.

Marriage in ancient Hellas was a family affair. The father of the son–who was often in his thirties by the time he got married–opened negotiations with the family of a bride in her teens. The two families came to an agreement about dowry, a contract was signed by the father of the groom and the father of the bride in front of witnesses, and the groom met his new wife–often for the first time–before taking her to bed. Prostitution was common, and men tended to have concubines. Some even lived at the house. Demosthenes, a Hellenic writer from ancient Athens, was recorded as saying: ‘we have courtesans for pleasure, concubines to provide for our daily needs, and our spouses to give us legitimate children and to be the faithful guardians of our homes’.

In ancient Hellas, women were almost solely in charge of raising children. Their lives consisted of taking care of the hearth, her husband and her children. Any status a woman had, was tied in with her husband. Women were groomed to function in pairs. It was because of this that a widow was passed on to another male as soon as possible.

In ancient Hellenic society, free women lived separate from men. They rarely had interactions with men not from their oikos. Still, there are accounts of women being sexually assaulted, and monetary fines that were issued to the perpetrator. From this, we know that sexual assault and rape were criminal, and shameful acts. Ancient sources also tell us that men were only punishable for sexual assault or rape if they raped a woman–or possibly a man–above their own rank. No one was punished for raping a slave, for example, and the practice was common.

So then, what of Gods? It stands to reason that hierarchical rules also apply here, as myths are formed by the men who tell them. Who is higher in rank than a God? And, above all, who is higher in rank than Zeus? If Zeus desires a woman (or man), He is free to take her (or him) under ancient Hellenic law. It also stands to reason that a God lower in standing, say Apollon, would be punished severely for raping a Goddess above his standing. If Zeus had not claimed Hera, and Apollon had laid claim to Her, I am sure He would have been unsuccessful and perhaps would even have been punished.

Looking at mortals, nymphs and 'lesser’ Immortals, nearly all Gods outrank them, so the ancient Hellens would have seen no problem in a sexual act between a God and these women. An exception to the rules and regulations applied to mortal adulterous men, would most likely have been made for the Gods as well. Their Divinity would allow Them to 'overrule’ the mortal marriage without bringing shame to the husband, although there seems to be a threat stemming from a demi-God son (as can be seen in the myth of Perseus).

Now, Hera did try to overthrow Her husband once, in the beginning of Their reign. The reasons are never made entirely clear–nor for Her, nor for the others who joined her (most notably Poseidon and Athena). His adultry could have been a factor but at that time he also wasn’t a very good leader to the Gods, nor a ruler over mankind. Especially Poseidon and Athena took offense to the latter two. From Hómēros’ 'Iliad’:

“Help your brave son, therefore, if you [Thetis] are able. Go to Olympus, and if you have ever done him service in word or deed, implore the aid of Zeus. Ofttimes in my father’s house have I heard you glory in that you alone of the immortals saved the son of Kronos from ruin, when the others, with Hera, Poseidon, and Pallas Athena would have put him in bonds. It was you, goddess, who delivered him by calling to Olympus the hundred-handed monster whom gods call Briareus, but men Aegaeon, for he is stronger even than his father; when therefore he took his seat all-glorious beside the son of Kronos, the other gods were afraid, and did not bind him.” [Iliad I. 397]

This specific example illustrates a point: Hera (women) cannot and should not punish or resent Zeus (men) for their infidelity. In fact, as long as a husband takes good care of his wife (both financially and sexually), he should be free to pursue any woman he is societally allowed to sleep with. this is not to say Zeus did not love Hera dearly. In fact, it is noted in the Iliad that he loves and desires Her more than any conquest He has ever had–which is exactly how it should be (and what women in ancient Hellas longed for):

“Zeus, the Cloud-Driver, saw her, and instantly his sharp mind was overwhelmed by longing, as in the days when they first found love, sleeping together without their dear parents’ knowledge. […] ‘Hera, […] let us taste the joys of love; for never has such desire for goddess or mortal woman so gripped and overwhelmed my heart, not even when I was seized by love for Ixion’s wife, who gave birth to Peirithous the gods’ rival in wisdom; or for Acrisius’ daughter, slim-ankled Danaë, who bore Perseus, greatest of warriors; or for the far-famed daughter of Phoenix, who gave me Minos and godlike Rhadamanthus; or for Semele mother of Dionysus, who brings men joy; or for Alcmene at Thebes, whose son was lion-hearted Heracles; or for Demeter of the lovely tresses; or for glorious Leto; or even for you yourself, as this love and sweet desire for you grips me now.’” (Iliad XIV)

We might not agree with these views in modern times but I encourage placing the myths into their proper framework, a frame where the myths meet the society they were written down in, and are explained that way. These were the views of the people who wrote down the myths and they should be understood that way.