Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Marrying Well....Make That, Why Marry?

I started out this post thinking I would be writing about all the wonders of marrying well (I did, but that is a whole other story) but after reading over some of the reasons men don't want to marry, I started wondering if marriage was such a good deal for men. I have read recently that fewer and fewer men are getting married. Perhaps this is for the best but when I read stories like this, I feel sad. Maybe I shouldn't and men who don't marry really have the best deal, but I can't help but feel that some men who want families will miss out because of politics and really bad advice. Here is an example of the political problems men feel they face in marriage:

Men are refusing to marry, says a report just released from Rutgers University. Professor David Popenoe attributes his finding to a fear of "commitment" by men and the ease of obtaining sex outside marriage.

Yet the men themselves express a weightier explanation of why they fear marriage: For many men, starting a family is a one-way ticket to jail, and even worse. Glenn Sacks and Dianna Thompson, [in the preceding article], found that many men now realize that any family they start can simply be taken away from them at any time, through forced divorce. Worse, once you have a child you become a likely candidate for false accusations of molestation, impossible child support payments, jail, and suicide.

Here is some of the advice guys are getting from other men about marriage:

What I'm saying is that human beings are nasty weak treacherous creatures that are for the most part totally untrustworthy. Experience is my basis for this statement, both mine and others who I know or who have written reliable histories. If you can find a woman to be your companion who is not treacherous, a deceitful little actress, a sly whore or a manipulative nag or a shrieking hag, then you are among the lucky few. Congratulations. I hope your luck continues to hold out.

Wow...are women that bad? I would think there would be some really wonderful women out there who would make great companions. Hint--it's probably not the one who wants a $10,000.00 engagement ring from a guy who makes only double that a year.

Are there any guys out there who have had some positive experiences with marriage that you could share?


Blogger Jerub-Baal said...

Dr. Helen, this one really hurts to read. I know examples of catastrophic failure in marriages, and I have the blessing of a great marriage and the chance to know many other great ones.

The central theme in all of them is trust. Not just between the partners in the marriage, but an agreed upon trust in certain things outside the marriage. For most of the good families (in the sense of stable and happy marriage) that I know, it is trust in God and the support of like-minded people through a church. For all of the good families that I know, it is a like-minded sense of duty. When both partners realize that marriage is foremost a duty to each other, not just an emotional high, then they have a chance when that high inevitably ends. (Not only that, but they have a much greater chance of ongoing bliss because they can have a maturing love, not just a hormonally driven one)

You mention the stereotype of men being afraid of commitment. Why not? Men have been culturally taught for more than a generation now that they are incapable of commitment, that they are either ravenous beasts or bumbling idiots or some combination of the two. I'm not sure that men are afraid of commitment; they want it. Men are afraid of failing at commitment, of being proved to be as impotent (in life issues) as they have been portrayed.

Also, as you show in your examples, there is a real fear that any commitment given will not be reciprocated. One-sided commitment is a certain recipe for heartache.

There is a passage in the Bible that says, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud....” The series ends with "Love never fails." Most think of that as a promise of God. It is not until people realize that it is a Personal Decision that "Love never fails" that they have a chance at success.

Matt Andrade

9:57 AM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Grim said...

You have three links here. Two of them are to pieces by older men (one identifies as "middle aged," the other as 'men 55 and older') talking about why marriage isn't right for them. Yet marriage was never really intended as something for a 55 year old man to contemplate entering -- I'm not sure that they're wrong to say that it has little to offer them.

I have a wonderful wife, whom I love and trust. My own marriage, like that of my father and mother, and her father and mother, has been entirely successful. That is not to say it's been easy. Even in a successful marriage, there are a lot of real costs and personal sacrifices, opportunities lost forever and prices to be paid.

If you can make it work, marriage is wonderful. I'll be happy to say so. But it remains hard. There are rewards: a stable environment for raising children is the main one; the possibility of a lifelong companion who will still be with you in your declining years is another. The biggest day-to-day reward is having a partner you can trust and rely upon.

Those things are all very nice. But if you are "middle aged" or older, you probably have raised your children. That's the main thing marriage is "for" as an institution. There's no special reason why you ought to feel inclined to marry, or remarry.

The one fellow remarks that he had thought of being a priest as a boy; and why not be a priest, or a monk? A life of religious contemplation could be as rewarding, and has always been viewed as a marriage of sorts (I believe the Catholics consider it a literal marriage of a man to the church, which is feminine in the Latin: Ecclesia).

If this fellow still wish to raise additional children, it's quite possible that some grandchildren will be along. He might find more enjoyment, and sufficient human companionship, from being a grandfather than from being a father again. Or, if family is not of interest particularly, you could undertake hobbies -- as the fellow says he has done -- and find friends and companions through those.

It is true you pass up the chance at a lifelong companion in your declining years, unless you find a friend to whom you become close. And even in marriage, it's only a chance -- death will steal one of you from the other, sooner or later.

The third link is interesting, however. It cites structural, legal reasons for men to avoid marraige. But it also cites the Gallagher book, which is based on sructural and legal reasons why women should fear marriage. The fact that the man can leave at any time, Gallagher points out, makes many women feel that they have to pursue a career so they can remain viable as providers.

The legal structures that men may rationally fear were erected to address that very problem: to help provide for the children of a failed marriage. They are a (admittedly clumsy) attempt to address the problems that have arisen because of the possibility of divorce.

To the degree that you relax those structures, you may make the one problem better, but you make the other problem worse. When we look at how to make divorce law fairer for men, we have also to consider how to protect the interests of the children and whichever parent ends up being their caregiver.

For that reason, marriage may not be the best institution for people in these demographics. The structure of marriage law has to be primarily for the children, which in fact disadvantages both parents, which is why both men (per No-Marriage) and women (per Gallagher) have complaints about it.

If you're not planning children, the institution may not be right for you. There's no reason I can see why an older man, or woman, should even particularly want to start a marriage. I'm not against them doing so if they wish, but I don't see anything wrong with not wanting to do so.

None of this addresses the bitterness that some of these individuals feel. Those are, however, personal matters. It's not really our place to tell strangers how they ought to feel about women. I'm happy to offer a counter view -- my wife is wonderful, and I have a very positive view of marriage. Nevertheless, they're entitled to think and feel as their own experience leads them.

10:30 AM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks for the wise words--I do agree that each person must come to their own personal conclusion about whether or not to marry but I do think the political climate can lend itself to people letting experiences in life pass them by until it is too late. I remember a female judge my husband knew saying to her female law clerks, "Don't forget to have children, I did." The political climate even ten or fifteen years ago was for women not to have children and get involved in a career but now younger women seem to be having kids again.

In the same way, some young men might be avoiding marriage because of what they hear from older men or because of the political climate (of course, maybe this is for a good reason) but it would be sad if they missed out on the wonderful companionship you found or children for political reasons, rather than because it was the right personal decision.

10:42 AM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Thom said...

I'm six years into a good marriage, and to quote the old Peace Corps commercials, "It's the toughest job you'll ever love." It not only takes work, but commitment. You have to be willing to make the success and happiness of another person at least equal or more important than your own. I don't think nearly so many people, men and women, realize that and accept that these days.

I don't think a good marriage is the absence of conflict. If anything conflict, successfully resolved, strengthens a marriage. I no longer worry that my wife is going to leave me at the first sign of trouble, because we've had plenty of disagreements and she's still here. As someone else said, we've developed a trust, and that's important.

A good marriage as the core of your life can be such a wonderful thing. I don't think it's a coincidence that my income has tripled in the time that I've been married. Having a haven of love and support to go home to makes it that much easier to deal with the difficulties of dealing with the world.

I guess I really have to wonder what the person who gave such "wonderful" advice was looking for in a spouse, if that's the only women he could find. Sounds to me like he's been "Lookin' for love in all the wrong places." Either that or he doesn't really know himself all that well and is looking for what he wants or what he thinks he needs rather than what he really needs. I think that's part of the equation. We can't marry a wonderful, attractive, intelligent, caring person unless we're the type of person a wonderful, attractive, intelligent, caring person would be attracted to.

I've been greatly blessed to find a woman who, though many of our interests and hobbies are different, shares most of my deepest, most central values in life. It is a source of great personal satisfaction and happiness to share my life with someone who I know I can trust, and who shares the same foundation.

I feel bad for those who can't find what I've found, but only those who honestly can't find the right person, not those who are unwilling to sacrifice for the right person. I've been willing to make sacrifices to find and keep the person I share my life with, and so has she. It's been well worth it.

10:59 AM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Grim said...

It would be sad. For a young man who wants to have children -- and children are worth having -- marriage is definitely the way to go.

Indeed, my first impulse on reading this was to offer some advice on how to choose a wife, so you get a good one. But as I looked deeper into the supporting articles, I realized we were talking about people with perfectly rational reasons for avoiding marriage.

If, however, any readers are young men who want to marry --

1) You should always have a long courtship, more than a year. During this time you should be entirely honest and straightforward about who you are and what you want out of life. It's better not to 'get the girl' than to get a girl who differs from you on core matters: whether to live in the country or the city, whether to have children or not, or whether it's acceptable to abuse drugs, etc. Be honest.

By the same token, listen carefully to her while she talks to you. Not only will this make her feel valued and special, but you'll learn what matters to her and whether or not you and she will work. Be ready to walk away, regardless of how powerful your feelings are, if you and she aren't compatible on big issues.

The most important issue is this one: after knowing her intimately for more than a year, do you find that you believe completely that you can rely on her? If not, she's not the one. If so, you've got a good chance.

2) Get to know her mother as well as you can. If you can't stand the mother, don't marry the daughter. This was the advice my mother gave me, and it seems wiser and wiser as I (and my wife) get older.

3) Keep your word in all matters, large and small. You know what is right. Do right by her, regardless of the cost. If she comes to know she can rely on you, all the hard parts of life and marriage will become far easier. Hard times will come -- life is like that -- but that trust will be repaid.

4) Believe, regardless of evidence, in true love. Slay anything in your heart that rises up against it. If you've followed the first three pieces of advice, you can be confident.

11:10 AM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is that society has stacked the deck against success in marriage. We have a divorce culture that celebrates divorce as a personal growth experience, especially for women. We have a legal system that puts all the power in the hands of the party wishing to break their commitment.
We have mental health and social service industries dominated by leftists who seem to see dismantling families as a holy quest.

Marriage is a risk. Any risk decision involves two components - the stakes, and the odds. While the benefits(stakes) are clear to most men, they see the odds as badly against them.

12:00 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm lucky to have been married to a wonderful woman for almost 27 years. As others have said, it's been work. I think that the US has a problem of expectations not matching reality. On TV, nobody has serious money problems (a major cause of conflict in marriage, if not the top). If there are money problems, it's funny and easily resolved. Not resolved by cutting back on lattes, eating out, buying new clotes, and going to movies for six months. Nobody on TV has to shop at resale shops, buy used cars, and clip grocery coupons to make ends meet. My wife and I did for quite a while until she got out of medical school and indentured servitute (a.k.a residency).

Dads are portrayed as bumblng idiots. Ward Cleaver may have been a tad distant and stuffy, but he was written as wise, as was June. Today's dad's are simply kids in big bodies - feckless and ignorant. Or they are mean and sinister. Or old and cranky. Who wants to be that, when you can be single and be a free spirit like Jerry Seinfeld or any number of TV cops?

Most TV is now written by staffers who only have other TV shows and movies as cultural touchstones. Only a few shows, like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", have writing staffs that seem to have more than nodding familiarity with great literature such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain, Homer, etc. Their culture is "I Love Lucy", "The Honeymooners", etc.

12:19 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wow...are women that bad?"

Some are, some aren't. Women don't come with a money-back guarantee, and therein lies the perceived risk for many men.

As a twice divorced idiot, I finally learned that I cannot make sound marriage decisions - and that apparently sweet, caring women can become incredibly avaricious when the Cinderella myth ends and unplanned reality sets in. The next fairytale theme one hears is "entitlement." And this one is backed up by the courts.

I know how this sounds, but I'm going to say it anyway: I believe that, for any number of reasons, women moreso than men have the potential to become extremely vindictive under certain circumstances, and marriage termination is fertile ground for an outbreak that will typically be manifested in unpleasant ways with which we are all too familiar.

There are always counter examples lying around to "disprove" generalities. Granted. Nevertheless, I believe that men and women tend to react differently to rancorous circumstances, and women are more likely to create rancor in the first place (men and women face different consequences in many life-conflict situations). Men experience conflict as "immediate" and want to get it over with and move on; women "feel" betrayed and want retribution - which includes acquiring the castle, the land, the bank account, the children and anything else they covet. Fairness leaves on the express coach, and what was a loving relationship becomes a bloody battleground.

Not a pretty picture, to be sure. However, if truth and fairness were paramount, then a pre-nup would automatically be included in every marriage contract - I repeat, contract - rather than the naive assumption that a marriage is never going to fail, or become of no consequence. When do you believe THAT will happen? Mention such a "noxious" idea prior to "the event" and the most likely immediate response from a prospective spouse is going to be emotional blackmail, i.e., "If you loved me you wouldn't want to discuss this, marriage is forever..." and so forth.

Several positive posts indicate that yes, good marriages are possible. Statistics suggest that the percentage is somewhere far south of 50 percent (Not all bad marriages end in divorce, but they end just the same.). A relevant question might address the likelihood of a commitment entered into by two relatively immature people in a chemical fog enduring in a desirable state for 50+ years. THIS is the point no-one wants to address, especially while in the throes of "love.".

My bias is that marriage as traditionally envisioned is an anachronism. A few will endure "Til death do us part." Most won't, and don't need to, but that prickly reality has yet to be factored into the law and the culture.

My bias also includes the belief that two strong factors influence marriage probabilities. One is the parental model. Growing up in a healthy two-parent household will measurably affect behavior in a later similar relationship. The other is moral strictures against divorce. These strictures exist to varying degrees in church teachings (Catholic dogma) and sub-cultures (Jewish reverence for families). In the absence of a good personal model or imposed strictures (effective conditioning), I wouldn't hold out much hope toward any "forever" outcome.

12:24 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger BobH said...

My big objection to marriage concerns something called the "irrefutable presumption of paternity in marriage." (Instapundit has mentioned it.) I first learned about it from a column on paternity fraud written by Robyn Blumner for the St. Petersburg (FL) Times on Fathers Day, 2000. Basically it means that, if a woman is married, the husband is always presumed to be the father of the child, unless he can prove impotence or something like that. Note that DNA evidence is insufficient to contradict the presumption.

So what we have is a situation where, if a man and woman get married (1) she can immediately cut him off sexually and charge him with rape, and/or (2) she can go out and get pregnant with some other guy and (3) he is stuck with paying child support, all because he made the incredibly stupid mistake of trusting a woman and, even worse, marrying her.

And it gets worse. I take night courses in psychology and have mentioned the Blumner article in several classes. Uniformly, everybody is completely surprised at this situration. Also, almost all of the women condemn the law and say that they would never do that to a man. However, several of the women have said that it isn't their fault and it is men's responsibily to get the law changed. Yep, men made a horrible mistake in passing that law - assuming that women are trustworthy. But it's a very easy mistake to fix and increasingly men are fixing it. The men that I have asked 1-on-1 after they heard of this legal doctrine have been more reluctant to marry, sometimes much more. Surprise, surprise!!!

In total, I've mentioned the article to over 100 women. Of these, I've had the opportunity to ask perhaps 30 or 40, between 2 and 4 months later, if they have done anything in response to learning this information. Not one of the women has ever done anything constructive to change the legal environement. I see no reason to view women's sympathy and solidarity as anything but reputation management and to not believe that their lack of action is a better predictor of their future behavior. Previously, most women didn't imagine in their wildest dreams that they had this wonderful opportunity to bleed men dry. Increasingly, they now know better.

If women want to kill off heterosexual marriage, all they have to do is keep right on doing what they're doing.

12:36 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met my wife in an algebra class. I remember her well as the lady who always walked in with her head held high. I knew she probably didn’t have much money for clothes, but she was always nicely groomed, and she clearly was trying to improve herself. After the final exam I asked her out, and we’re both glad I did.

We are alike in many ways: We’re both gentle, quiet, highly intelligent, well educated, and religious. Both of us are great snugglers.

We’re also different in many ways: I’m adventurous, efficient, and work hard; she dislikes excitement, is disorganized, and prefers to relax. We’ll never go sky diving together, or hike the Grand Canyon.

But, we are devoted to each other and supportive of each other. When the chips are down, we absolutely know the other will be there. Isn’t that what is really important in marriage?

12:50 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2) Get to know her mother as well as you can. If you can't stand the mother, don't marry the daughter. This was the advice my mother gave me, and it seems wiser and wiser as I (and my wife) get older.

I think the escape clause from this is if she can't stand her mother either. I've been dating a wonderful girl for about a year and a half, but her mother is batshit crazy (like, thinks the post office is a conspiracy, etc). That my girlfriend can't stand her, I think, sort of nullifies rule #2.

As for marriage, I'm young enough that many of my friends are just starting to get married, so I haven't seen any data on their long-term prospects. Most of them, I think, have pretty good relationships but people change between 23 and 63, etc.

My folks have had a good marriage, with ups and downs of course, for over almost 27 years, so I think there's still hope.

1:03 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good god, if someone judges me based on my mother, I'm screwed for life.

I think a large part of the problem is that people feel entitled to act like children until they're well into their thirties.

2:03 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Bad Penny said...

ault pharte: " A relevant question might address the likelihood of a commitment entered into by two relatively immature people in a chemical fog enduring in a desirable state for 50+ years."
I wish you had mentioned this to me in 1983.

bobh: I have heard the paternity thing explained as being for the benefit of the child, so that he doesn't suddenly lose the father he has had since birth, and so that the father can keep up the relationship with the children he has raised, even tho he is not the bio dad. Otherwise, the poor kid who has a slut for a mom loses the only good parent he has. IMO it's immoral for someone to abandon a child they have raised as their own.

grim: are you suggesting that middle aged people should forego companionship and sex, or that they should just shack up?

2:09 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Bad Penny said...

in the current legal climate the woman gets the house, the car, the kid and the dog, and the man gets the bill.

Is this really true? Haven't laws been updated to make things fairer? This hasn't happened in the few cases I am personally familiar with.

Anybody got statistics on this?

2:33 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think another problem is the deeply entrenched neo-misandry and misogyny that's pretty prevalent these days. Women are sluts, whores, and cunts, while men are idiots, monsters, and buffoons. I've always thought that respect is one of the cornerstones of marriage, but respect as a whole is nowhere to be found. What are we supposed to do?

2:35 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger BobH said...

To bad penny:

Except for one major detail - he isn't the father. In anthropology and biology, he would be known as the alloparent or allofather.

Defining "father" as the post-natel caregiver instead of the sperm donor is manipulative and hypocritical BS that women have been propogating for decades primarily, it seems, because this allowed them to de-emphasize the fact that a second (or third) husband was investing in a child that isn't his.

I was raised, from the age of seven, by a stepmother whom I loved dearly. It is one thing to be a stepparent when this situation is out in the open but, as Blumner points out, the man has been betrayed and deceived here. Paternity fraud has been called the only crime where the victim is forced by society to continually subsidize the criminal.

If your misplaced sense of morality is so offended, then maybe you should act as alloparent instead of forcing some guy to look at a child when all that child represents to him is a betrayal. There are men in JAIL who are there because they have been victimized and they refuse to pay child support. Perhaps you would like to take their place!

2:46 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Bad Penny said...

No, I wouldn't like to take their place. I'm sure it's horrible to be betrayed and used like that. I just feel bad for the kid who has a skank for a mom, and loses his dad. It's an awful situation and nobody wins.

My morality is not misplaced. Go ahead, try to find a moral authority (Pope, Rabbi, Dr. Laura, Peter Singer, whoever you have some faith in) who thinks it's a good thing for the legal dad to abandon the kid. Jails are full of kids like that. Listen to current pop music. Lots of the songs are about AWOL dads. The dad should suck it up and try to make the best of a bad situation and have some compassion for his kids.

2:57 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms/Mr bad penny, they are NOT his kids. He is NOT responsible for them. If a guy decides to be kind and generous enough to take care of the kid that should be considered something deserving of commendation, but to say he SHOULD suck it up, oh the effontery.

People like to say suck it up a lot these days. There are consequences for bad behaviour, otherwise we would tacitly be encouraging men to take responsibility for what is not theirs. I'm sorry If I ever find out that my wife did that (I'm not married btw), she'll be out the door before you could say slut.

3:08 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what they wanted for years and now the feminists have it. As system almost totally bias against men. Why marry? If it goes bad you not only have to battle her and her lawyer but a system predisposed to viewing you as the source of the problems. All of them.

3:11 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

bad penny,

I saw a news program recently where a couple was married and the woman cheated on him and they later divorced. The courts forced him to pay for the child despite it not being his--and the woman that you so appropriately called a skank was rewarded with child support and was so antisocial that she was spending the money as she saw fit--not as the father saw fit. This is flat out wrong. Laws that force fathers to support children that are not their own are not right. Yes, it would be nice if a father had compassion for the child and freely decided to pay child support but to force a man to pay like this is to take away his reproductive freedom--it is no different than telling a woman that she must have a child she does not want. We cannot have total reproductive freedom for women and put a leash around men's heads and call that progress. Women should stand up for men and their reproductive rights because that is what equality is about.

3:15 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Bad Penny said...

Anon, well, I think you're probably right that I'm a bit over the line with the suck it up bit. Sorry. I just can't imagine walking away from kids that I had raised. My gut says to penalize the mom, not the kids, but I've never been in this spot, and never will, and I can't think of a good way to penalize the mom, short of throwing her in jail. People have no shame anymore.

Maybe the law should be changed so that the tricked dad can maintain parental rights if he wants to, but doesn't have to if he doesn't want to. That would be fairer to the dad. And probably wouldn't change things much for the kids; a man forced to be a parent of kids that aren't his, that he can't stand to look at cus they remind him of his wife's infidelity probably isn't much of a dad anyway.

I wonder if this law has ever benn used by a dad to get custody of kids when the mom didn't want to let him maintain contact.

3:21 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Bad Penny said...

Helen, I'm coming around to your way of thinking. My first reaction on reading the first post about this was to think only of the kids. I guess my years working in an urban pediatric ER color my perspective too much. So many angry young men without fathers.

Fathers are important. And it sucks that so many kids don't have one.

3:27 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Bad Penny,

You are so right--I work with kids without fathers and it is tragic. I understand why it is easy to look at laws through the eyes of what is best for kids but the legal system cannot take away the rights of men--no matter how much we hate the repurcussions.

3:36 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


will you marry me?

3:45 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On behalf of Instapundit, I hereby disconnect anon 3.45pm from the internet....

4:01 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I saw a news program recently where..."

The mistake I think many of you are making is relying on some slim anecdotal evidence.

As an attorney, I can tell you that it is true in many states (but not necessarily all) that a husband is presumed the father of a child born during a marriage. This presumption is in some states, however, rebuttable by DNA evidence. However, I did have a case (in Tennessee) in which I represented a man who fathered a child by a married woman. He was not allowed to enforce his paternal rights because of her marriage.

Now, this is clearly wrong as is any irrebutable presumption of fatherhood by a husband.

However, as an attorney, I can tell you that these cases are anomalies.

Yes, women can be manipulative, and, as a woman myself, I will admit that women in general seem much more vindictive.

But, as an attorney, what I have seen far more often, in fact, what your courts are full of, are men who have no question about the paternity of their children, who have little or no desire to spend time with their children (or at least can't be bothered to do regularly) and who fail to pay their child support to the tune of appalling millions of dollars owed.

And I don't have any statistics on point, but, folks, men leave women all the time. Have affairs and leave their wives to care for the children (both emotionally and financially). It's not exactly one-sided on this score either.

If you don't believe me, all you have to do is go to your local courthouse and watch.

All I'm saying is: don't give me the whole women are to blame for the failure of the institution of marriage bit.

I agree with auld pharte and others here that marriage is a bad bet just in general. Two people subject to change, 50+ years together, our current "it's all about me" attitudes.

But I could seriously do without all the "it's all women's/those feminist's fault-those conniving whores" bit. There's plenty of blane to go around.

4:03 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I had a postive example but I don't. I married what I thought was the sweetest, loveliest woman in the world, but 18 months later she decided marriage wasn't for her. Was is something I did? Did she fall for someone else? No, she just felt that "her self-esteem and identity were being submerged in the marriage" because I was more successful, well-travelled, and knew more about how the world worked. This was no college drop-out mind you; my ex was an MD! And still had "self-esteem" issues!

What's really scary is that the VAST majority (~80%) of divorces are filed by woman, and often for the same frivolous reasons! The four "A's" - adultery, abuse, alcohilism, addiction - are NOT the majority of reasons women file divorce. It's usually boredom, self-esteem issues, identity issues, etc. IN OTHER WORDS, women are more fickle than men. The law used to restrain this by making divorce difficult. Now it encourages women's ficklness by making divorce profitable!

4:04 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger BobH said...

To anonymous - 4:03 and 4:04

First, the figure that I heard was that about 2/3 of divorces were filed by women, not 80%. Mostly the women gave their reason as "feeling unloved".

Second, I'd definitely have to rate men as more fickle in relationships than women. In particular, men are much less willing to commit to a relationship. The problem of paternity fraud just exacerbates the problem.

Women should consider themselves lucky. In 97% of mammalian species, there is no "significant paternal investment" in the offspring. Paternal investment occurs in about 25% of bird species and the males in those species pay a substantial price in paternity fraud. (Does that qualify as "too much information"?)

4:18 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 4.03pm: maybe men would take child-support more seriously if it wasn't tied to how much a guy made but to what a child really needed. Then maybe guys would not think she's trying to soak me for all I've got. For most of you that are older what you don't realize is that most men my age (27 - 32) have now decided to start factoring in this and what it's breeding is a generation that is ready to fight to the death. Yes men are generally not as vindictive as women but when you awaken that sleeping monster, you won't find it funny at all. This generation of women will soon begin to reap what their mothers/aunts have sowed.

4:18 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

anonymous 4:03:

Yes, there is plenty of blame to go around but the only side that generally gets told is the woman's side. I also work with the courts and families and I see fathers get the shaft all the time. So please step aside and let some of these men have a forum in which to discuss their feelings, just as I am sure, you give your female clients a chance to air their concerns.

4:19 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger michael farris said...

Many people here (to my utter amazement) seem to be using arguments that assume that men don't / can't love children they raise (or that it's not a given and is at best conditional).

My assumption is that if a man stops loving 'his' children because he finds out they're not 'his', he never loved them in the first place.

Let's assume FTSOA that all this is true.

The marriage models that suggest themselves if this is true have very little to do with mainstream modern US culture (think LatinAmerica, the Arab world or Victorian England) all characterized by women having very little chance to present men with changelings and recreational sex for married men widely available thru prostitution. Is that what people here want?

4:22 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anon 4:18PM, some replies to your observations:

"First, the figure that I heard was that about 2/3 of divorces were filed by women, not 80%."
- What you "heard" is irrelevant; what's relevant are the empirical studies. I've seen studies that conclude that in the US the figure is 70% and in the UK 90% (per a study by the BBC). I blended the two to get an average for the Western, English-speaking world.

"Second, I'd definitely have to rate men as more fickle in relationships than women. [You would be a minority in that view]. In particular, men are much less willing to commit to a relationship. [I believe you are confusing two different issues; committing to something and then backing out of it is fickleness; refusing to commit in the first place is an altogether different pathology].

4:26 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Grim said...

Bad Penny:

I'm not saying they should do anything, or give up anything. All I'm saying is that it shouldn't be worrisome if a 55-year-old decides that they don't want another marriage. The laws around the institution are devised with young folks who are planning families in mind, and that legal setup carries duties and obligations that may not be the best choice for people who aren't trying to do that.

When we lived in Savannah, our next door neighbor was a woman named Ann, of about sixty or sixty two. She had a gentleman friend of about the same age named Lewis, I seem to recall, and the two of them had been companions -- with separate houses -- for ten years, and intended to be as far as I could tell forever. I don't see what is wrong with that relationship; they didn't feel any need to marry, both of them having been married (and widowed). They did not intend to have children together, obviously; and if they had married, it would have created inheritance issues for the children they did have (separately, from their earlier marriages), as well as other complications.

Is that immoral? I can't think why. It always seemed to me that it was a structure that worked very well for them. There might be religious objections, but I think most of them are overwhelmed by the stricture not to judge others' sins, and the social duty not to pry in to matters that aren't any of your business.

Is it shocking? Not at all, not even in the Deep South. Everyone simply did not ask impertinent questions about what they did together. There were no possible negative complications, and therefore society had no interest in how they arrange their relationship.

By the same token, if they had decided they wanted to marry for whatever reason, we would have been thrilled for them and wished them every happiness -- just as we did under their existing relationship.

Whether marriage succeeds or fails as an institution is a question of the utmost importance to society at large. But the reason it is important is because of the need to produce children and raise them properly; a successful marriage is the best way to do that. If you're past the age at which you intend to raise children, or in fact you don't intend to raise children, then you have other options that may be just as good for you as marriage, and may even be better in some circumstances.

I do want to see marriage as an institution strengthened rather than weakened, don't get me wrong. I just think that one way to strengthen the institution is to take weight off of it that it was never meant to bear. If what you want is something different from what marriage is traditionally "about," i.e. children, a different arrangement might be better for you.

I've got no problem if older men and women want to marry. It's just that we can't restructure the laws around marriage with the purpose of protecting their assets, because it would weaken the protection of children that is the primary function of those laws.

I realize that may mean that some people who don't wish to have children won't want to marry. The marriage laws may not be right for them. I'm perfectly willing to accomodate them, by accepting their alternative arrangements in good spirit.

I'm not trying to tell them what they should do, or shouldn't do; I'm only saying that it makes perfect sense that someone of that age and condition might not care to marry. It's not necessarily a problem to be solved.

4:46 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Um, step aside? Forum? Ah, what you mean is you and "these men" don't want any backtalk?

Sorry. No can do.

You talk as if I only represent women. Clearly not true.

As for anyone airing their concerns, the thing is that anybody (male or female) who goes around with obvious antipathy for the opposite sex and citing as evidence a few anecdotes comes off as very biased indeed and not credible in the least.

And that, unfortunately, is primarily what you seem to have here.

It's not really good argument, is it?

I met this one man who was a total asshole. Therefore, men are assholes. No, wait, it was 3 men. Is that better? No, wait, it was a dozen men.

It doesn't matter. It's a negligible sample. We can make generalizations all day. But it's pretty immature.

5:01 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 4:18:

in Tennessee, chld support for one child used to be set at 21%. The rules have since changed. The calculation is more complicated, including the income of both parents, which in general, helps the payor. But even at 21%, that is hardly soaking a person. You think it should be set at what a child needs? How are you going to figure that out? A child technically doesn't need anything but food and water and in some places the most rudimentary of shelter. What are we going to do, set support the same for any Joe Schmo or Donald Trump?

And what do you mean "fight to the death"? You appear to be threatening something but I don't know what. That you won't get married? Why would we care?

5:20 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...are women that bad?

Well.... yes. Absolutely.

My experience would make me immediately recognizable, so I won't go into it. As to the experiences of friends, coworkers, relatives... I'm not the one to publish their stories. But I can assure you that the horror stories you've read/heard are not atypical.

5:23 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


No one here, including myself, needs to present you with a research proposal complete with graphs and statistics to have a discussion of how men feel about marriage etc. I am interested in men's views about marriage, women etc. and welcome their views. I am sorry if you are not able to hear them. I suggest you read "Women Won't Hear What Men Won't Say." Please do not accuse me of being biased when you yourself are trying to silence me.

5:38 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:01 PM -

"It doesn't matter. It's a negligible sample. We can make generalizations all day. But it's pretty immature."

Listen, I'm all in favor of good debate. I think debating is a skill that is horribly lost on the public at large. But here you are overlooking the pragmatic angle and you are missing the entire point.

Men will decide their futures by what they see around them. Men look around them and see high divorce rates. Men, good men, look around them at other good men and see them broken into shambles and stripped of everything from their assets to their manhood. The whole mess is wrapped up with a vindictive woman walking out the door over the man's back with her "justified" head held high. And the children watch the whole thing.

I'm not talking about the slimeball boys who leave their children. I'm talking about Men. And I suspect that most men speaking here are Men.

Generalizations or not, what I and others are describing is what a lot of men see. Men see this happening, and relative to the degree they see it they will act accordingly. You wonder why more men these days are hesitant to get into marriage, this forum is your reason. The point is not that all women are vindictive or selfish, etc. etc., but that more of them are -- enough so that men are taking notice. Members of society can either take note or remain in their ivory towers and be of no relevance.

5:50 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Obviously a lot of nerves were touched on this thread, and roughly at that. But it is good for EVERYONE to feel free to air their thoughts and opinion. The blogosphere is good for that, unlike real life.

Dr. Helen has written a great deal about the strictures that society places on BOTH sexes, including men. So it is nice to have a place where folks can speak their piece.

People who have had awful experiences are going to view things through that lens. Even when I disagree with an extreme statement, I certainly can respect the pain that no doubt led to that statement.

Me? I was married as I finished graduate school. My then wife didn't understand academics. We went to an area of the country that she liked, and I did research I liked there. I had some career reverses (mostly my fault) and I dealt poorly with them. I withdrew emotionally. My then wife kinda sorta gave up on me. She had lots of divorced friends who gave her moral support---that it was okay to give up on me and move on. No one did anything bad to each other in my first marriage. But she decided we needed to divorce.

I didn't, but by then it was too late.

I was very poor as a result of the divorce, and my wife had just inherited a large sum of money. So I was pretty destitute for a while. I could have, in fact, fought her about alimony. But I didn't. Neither did I fight her about money she had received while we were still married. It wasn't mine. I understand that there are other points of view about this; I was just trying to conduct my life in a way where I wouldn't be regretful later (or more regretful than I already was).

Fortunately, we didn't have kids...and since we had been trying up until my then wife wanted a divorce, I have to tell you how lucky I was.

But I did feel badly about the financial reverses. Heck, my then-wife got the family dog, even!

I honestly don't feel she was trying to cheat me, but neither did she try to help me very much. My ex-wife was not and is not a bad person. She got married again fairly quickly after our divorce to a person who has a much more "normal" job, has a couple of children, and is pretty happy.

Eventually, I got my career back on track. And after about ten years, I got remarried to a fellow academic, and we now have two growing sons. My current wife understands academics, is 1000% supportive, and is a wonderful partner. We are doing very well financially, and primarily because she has good financial sense and I do not. It hurt my little ego, but her success speaks for itself.

My ex-wife, again, is not a bad person. But my current wife is a MUCH better match to my personality and lifestyle. And I never would have met her, let alone married her, had I not gone through that divorce of mine.

And no, I don't think my divorce was bad in any cosmic sense. Lots of people go through much worse. I am just giving my own experience here.

So my point is I had a marriage that ended badly, and now I have a good marriage. It CAN happen.

But I don't blame people who are hurting for feeling bitter. I sure did, and I didn't have much to complain about, objectively speaking.

Thanks for listening. A lot of men here are posting things that are tough to say, and I think that guys like me appreciate the forum, and the acceptance for our thoughts.

5:54 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's not trying to silence you. It's called criticism. Suggesting that the tone here is immature and irrational is not trying to silence you. It's simply asking that the level of argument could be stepped up a notch. Sorry if that's asking too much.

No, no one need ever present graphs or statistics or indeed any facts whatsoever. I was merely making what I thought was a fairly obvious point that it's hard to take arguments seriously without them and therefore easier to make ridiculous generalizations. And those with any sense see through such bias immediately.

As for views and concerns--I'm sure you've heard the saying about opinions and assholes. Well, views and concerns are the same. They're not all equally valid. And if you're going to show yours in public, you'd better be able to take the heat.

You almost sound like a dreaded liberal. I know pop psychologists like to spread the idea that all views have equal value. "Let's just mirror back to each other without judgment or analysis. Yes, I hear you. What I hear you saying is...."


Anybody not willing to hear the opposite view should keep their "views and concerns" to themselves.

But if you want to run a site for "discussion" and people like that, have at it. Just don't be surprised at the backlash.

5:54 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen:

Thanks for trying to create a place where folks can speak their mind on a sad and sensitive subject. Sorry that the 5:54 poster had to be angry and even work in a small amount of profanity, just to add to the seriousness of her remarks.

I can cuss with the best of them, by the way. But I don't see the value of cussing on the 'Net. It wastes electrons that could be put to other uses (grin).

I suspect that the poster has an agenda quite different than you might expect. In fact, some of the verbiage and argumentation sounds a bit familiar. If you are catching my drift.

6:02 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 5:20 PM --

"And what do you mean "fight to the death"? You appear to be threatening something but I don't know what. That you won't get married? Why would we care?"

Wow, what a swing and a miss with a sour face to boot. That's a flat childish retort and it shows your colors.

Look, if you're going to attempt to bring a conversation to the table, try to be grown-up about it, it'll make for a much more interesting and *beneficial* conversation to everyone. There are multiple facets to be honestly and openly considered here.

As for a response to your "query" -- men would like to go into marriage without worrying about prenups. We want to avoid calling the police the moment a vase flies. We want to avoid developing a lawyer "trigger finger" when things start to go sour. Hell, even talking about these things is just silly to me!

Men don't want to stoop to that level. We want to trust our companions. We want to work things out and fight to make things right. We're Men. Cry it an anachronism or what-have-you, but that's as simple as it gets. We have a job in life and we're good at it.

But there is an opposite side of that coin. When you convince men that increasingly more and more women cannot be trusted, when men see their fathers or brothers or friends taken for everything they have -- good men taken to the cleaners -- then you'll start to see men more and more asking for prenups. You'll see men more ready to call a lawyer and fire the first shot and go straight for the throat (custody and assets). You'll see men who are less willing to stick around in a household where they are berated and abused and taken advantage of before the inevitable divorce where they lose.

Men will start standing up, and, being men, they won't do it half-hearted. The first sign of infidelity or abuse or neglect, more and more men will be following a more zero-tolerance attitude and calling it quits first.

Listen, all of the above makes it out worse than it probably is. In my opinion it's nowhere near ready to go towards what I'm talking about. But the point to be made, the point I'm making, is that if this trend continues (and it probably won't, I've seen signs turning the other way), what I describe will become more commonplace.

If nothing else, take note of this. I'm a man in my mid-20's who knows personally many families with good, stable, traditional marriages. I have faith in most women and have faith in myself to find a real women and to treat her right. But I'm still nervous about the whole situation. I'm pretty intolerant of a lot of the attitudes of women today. There are a number of girls from my generation that are following in the princess footsteps and I won't go near one. And there are lots. They haven't learned the correct lessons about men. The marriage statistics from my generation will be very interesting if they don't soon because the guys around me are, in fact, learning. Perhaps what they're learning are the wrong lessons as well.

Men have a lot to lose in a relationship -- as do women. The point to take away from all this (and Helen has noted this exactly) is that women have acknowledged the problem with respect to men. Men as of yet have not acknowledged the problem in our popular culture, but it is moving that direction. And I don't want to see what it's like when it gets there; I don't think it will be pretty.

6:22 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh please, grow up. Helen herself has cussed here.

As for getting angry, I'm no more angry than she is. Let's get this straight, she tells me to "step aside" and then accuses ME of trying to silence HER?

And if your "drift" is that I'm greg kuperberg, I'm not. I already told you that I'm a female attorney.

6:22 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you please calm down, be a little more polite? There are some folks hurting here. And yes, lots of other people hurt here, too---perhaps even you---but you seem quite angry. I don't see how your anger helps anything in this context.

I honestly don't care who anyone is on this or any other blog...but I do notice people seem to like to pick fights recently.

Finally, I consider posting to a blog like this one to be similar to being a guest in someone's home. You may cuss all you like, but I certainly won't. I'm sure you prefer courtesy in your own home. I know I do.

But I'm guessing that Dr. Helen doesn't much care if you cuss. And it is her "house," after all.

6:28 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, 45 comments plus...
I guess marriage is alive and well...

6:37 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

anonymous 6:37:

Yes, which brings us back to the point of this thread and post--guys sharing their positive (or at this point negative) views on marriage. Thanks so far to everyone who has been open and honest with their experiences. I am learning a lot.

7:05 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

So, so much here in the comments section, at least early on. I echo jerub-baal about trust in some things outside the marriage – and BTW, his artwork is magnificent. I assent to grim’s comments about long courtship, as well as his advice about getting to know the mother. Women do not always become their mothers, of course, but it certainly has been true in my wife’s case. More broadly, you marry a whole family – even if they’re all dead, you’re marrying their ghosts.

Julian Morrison, wanting to marry the love of your life may be the right place to start, but it’s not a good decision basis. To quote Dr. James Dobson, the trick is not to find the one who will make you outrageously happy, but avoiding the thousands who can make you miserable.

After that, the discussion interested me less.

I have been married – wow, 30 years this August. Our circle of closest friends, a Bible study/small group/parenting support group that has met for 28 years, has been enormously supportive of marriage in general and our marriage in particular. All our children have grown up in a sort of cousinage. When we have tried to sum up our marriage advice, we have all had different answers. But I think the child-centered culture we have lived in has been a common factor. Raising children has been our Great Work. No other legacy of mine approaches it. I had little fathering myself, and was determined to have the other side of that relationship with intensity. When the nest was about to empty, God called us (though we complained and whined at first) to adopt two more from Romania. There is simply nothing on this earth that has meant more than being a father – I confess I am a better father than husband -- but our common determination has always made divorce no more than a distant fear. For those who meant as well as we but somehow it didn’t work out I feel great sadness.

My first son is married three years after a seven-year courtship. Tracy and I were secretly amazed that a courtship of that length could be virginal – we could not have done it – but it’s worth noting that such things are possible.

I have four sons. I hope those are my dying, smiling words. I hope they put it on my gravestone.

7:07 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Assistant Village Idiot:

You are anything but.

Thanks for the lovely post. "I have four sons" or "I have X children," whatever. THAT is an accomplishment---raising your children---of which anyone could be justly proud.

Thanks for sharing your story.

7:17 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger WhidbeyIslander said...

Let me add some small comment as a middle-aged guy about some of the points raised so far.

My wife and I have been married for 33 years. We married quite young, poor, and without a clue. We have two lovely daughters and a growing tribe of grandchildren. Marriage is way fun. I am looking forward to the years ahead when we reap the fruit of all our efforts--having a companion in our later life.

Our marriage has not been withoout rough patches. We have several times been at the brink of divorce, but both of us backed away from the abyss.

I think that what has characterized our marriage has been the willingness to use what we had and what we could to keep our marriage alive.

She had a poor example in her own twice-divorced mother. I had issues with my own father. We tended to cut ourselves off from the support systems of our families and seek out support from the communities that we encountered.

But we did seek out people that supported us. When we reached what seemed like the end of our [patience | endurance | love] we would grab onto what we could. Sometimes it was taking a step back from needing to "be in love" and accept our partner as a friend. Sometimes it was our unwillingness to have our children suffer through a divorce. Sometimes it was the sheer stubborness that wouldn't let those that told us so long ago that, "It won't last," get the satisfaction of being right.

In the end, it's about a committment to the marriage as something larger than ourselves--something that allows us to subordinate our need to "be right" all the time or to be "fulfilled" in a way that harms the other and the marriage.

7:47 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's get this straight, she tells me to "step aside" and then accuses ME of trying to silence HER?

Look, we weren't born yesterday. How trolls work:

Step 1. The troll veers the conversation off topic, in this case from the male POV to the female attorney POV, as our hostess indicated.

Step 2. The people who want to stay on topic ask the troll not to.

Step 3. The troll whines about being repressed... which sets them up to go right back to step 1.

By making it impossible to have a discussion on our terms, you are silencing us. Dr. Helen was entirely within her rights to demand that you step aside because it's her website. (Something that you, as an attorney, should be cognizant of.)

Here's a good chance to practice a skill that will serve you well in any relationship: shut up and listen and stop demanding that the world revolve around you.

8:07 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Edgehopper said...

The divorce laws seem to be biased less towards women than to a bizarre concept of "equity" that has nothing to do with the case at hand. In my parents' divorce, my father was the one who filed. We found out later that he had been meeting men off the internet for sex for at least 2 years prior to separation. My mom had chosen to stay at home and raise us, and consequently had a lot of trouble getting back into medicine (it really is tough to get back into pediatrics after being out of it for 14 years.)

The court ordered just enough child support to allow us to keep our lifestyle (which included private school for both me and my sister.) My dad got to keep significantly more than half of his salary. The court at first was ready to bend over backwards to give him joint custody (even though it was known that he had been physically abusive in the marriage), and only backed down after he left the state and his perverted activities became known.

The problem is that we've removed the concept of "fault" in both directions. It doesn't matter if the woman is leaving to go shack up with a sugar daddy or the man is leaving to be with his trophy secretary. It doesn't matter which side was physically abusive. The courts just try to split things reasonably close to even.

8:08 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I doubt that the female attorney is who she says she is, frankly. Most lawyers I know don't care all that much what other people think---and are way too busy to post often in a trollish fashion. There was quite a bit of anger there, as well, feigned or not.

It doesn't really matter who that person is; the point is to have discussions on this thread, as you say.

Thanks for clearing the air a bit.

8:18 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This coming June my wife and I will have been married for 13 years. Our marriage was one of the two best decisions we made in our lives (the other was having our daughter).

We are lovers, friends, partners and parents. Marriage is not always smooth sailing as I am sure you know. Each of us brings some baggage to the marriage and few little quirks that can drive the other one up a wall.

A previous poster mentioned the importance of trust in a marriage, I have to echo his sentiments. We trust each other implicitly, in the Seventeen years we have known each other we have never given a reason to doubt that the other was absolutely trustworthy in thought, speech and deed. If you know your being dealt with honestly most other things can be worked out.

Over the years we have had our share of disagreements and arguments. We have each done or said a few things that inadvertently hurt the other. We have always talked, compromised and loved. In the end we come out stronger.

I could gush for pages and pages but it would serve little purpose.

Good marriages are out there, they are work and well worth it.


9:13 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But even at 21%, that is hardly soaking a person"

Really?? Considering you pay 30-40% of your income in taxes, now layer on 21% for mommy support (oops I mean "child support")...so now you're taking home 39%-49% of your income. Even though you did 100% of the work!

Child support is a scam that represents nothing more than hidden alimony. If it weren't, they'd fix two obviously unfair things about it: 1) They'd require women to demonstrate they actually spent the money on the children (I know several women who brag that their cosmetic surgery was a "gift" from their ex's child support. 2) They'd adjust it as your financial circumstances change. Something like 90% of the unpaid child support in the US is owed by fathers who made less than $15,000 that year. If you lose your job, you aren't required to pay $50,000 in taxes, just because that's what you paid last year! But with child support, that's how it works - the amount is set, and if you lose your job or get sick or whatever, tough luck - visit a loanshark, 'cause you still owe her (oops I mean you owe the kids!).

And you wonder why men avoid marriage!

9:42 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger David A. Carlson said...

21 years and counting.

Marriage is hard, but life without my wife is not worth contemplating. Support, love, care - where else would I get that? Who else would I have been able to raise 4 kids with?

"Car, vois-tu, chaque jour je t'aime davantage,
Aujourd'hui plus qu'hier et bien monins que demain."


11:18 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the father of two boys, married 17 years, the advice I will give to my sons is of necessity a mixed bag.

If one chooses the right partner (of whatever gender), a solid lasting marriage is a wonderful thing. I was privileged to have two of them (I was a widower when I met my second wife).

But not everyone must (or even should) get married, so choose your own path. Never get married because "its the thing to do."

And never, never let yourself be taken advantage of. It hurts you, it hurts those close to you, and it hurts the world in which you live when you let evil or selfishness prevail.

11:26 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

It's been like riding a roller coaster to read this post. I learned a lot from the candor and advice in the comments here.

My thoughts are not directed at marriages where there is abuse, infidelity, or addiction. Typically, those aren't good marriages and they probably should end in divorce.

For the others, however, there is no magic or luck to a lasting marriage. It takes 2 people who decide to stay together. Sometimes staying together is easy and sometimes it's hard - such as when you have financial or medical problems - but the key is deciding you won't give up. People bring a lot of baggage into marriage that affects their willingness to stay married, but I think the main reason a person decides to stay married is his/her moral beliefs. It takes a solid moral (often religious) framework to stay married when times get tough. Without the moral imperative, marriage is simply a "what have you done for me lately?" arrangement and, not surprisingly, those marriages won't hold up over time.

11:40 PM, January 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such an interesting thread here....

I'm no expert. I added a comment earlier as a divorced man who remarried someone very special. What was different in the second case?

The first is maturity. I wasn't very mature in my 20s. I think I could fairly say that about my ex-wife, as well. We didn't see our marriage as a partnership, really. And who could blame us? Look at the number of broken marriages we see, the number of unhappy couples, and the God awful nonsense on the subject among celebrities, for the most part.

Please don't view what I am writing as expertise. It is just my opinion. Marriage is like a bank account. Good deeds are like deposits, and bad deeds are like withdrawals. Straining the metaphor still more, some people run the "bank" of their marriage like the IMF and World Bank treat Brazil: when the account gets low, tons more credit is extended. Other folks are very, very stingey with their "rates."

Trust is vital, but so hard to find in our "right now, do whatever you want" kind of culture.

Anyway, when I had troubles in my first marriage (for which I take full responsibility), my ex-wife decided it wasn't worth the trouble. Don't take what I write next the wrong way, but she had lots and lots of support for breaking up with me from other divorced women. That is real and genuine problem---because every marriage is different, and every divorced person, male or female, cannot look at divorce without their own issues getting in the way.

Trust. Communication. Patience. A whole BOATLOAD of patience. Being able to see the other person clearly.

These are things that are tough for many Boomers (of which I am one) because they haven't had a rough go of life, not in the way the WWII generation did. My parents got married early and stayed married...because that was what people did. Their marriage was supposed to buffer them against the world.

Times aren't so rough, in many ways, as back then. So younger folk generally were more mature. They had to be. Things are different for my own generation, and the one in adulthood now.

Sure, things can get tough. But it is easier now. So some of us (okay, me) didn't get a more mature outlook until my middle to late 30s.

Then I could be a decent husband. And so I try to be, to my current wife. And she (again, a divorced woman), has proved herself my partner.

When I had horrible job problems, my wife gave up her job to help me rebuild my career. To her, it wasn't even a question. She gave up almost all of her career for me. I am humbled by her sacrifice, and it reminds me that I should be willing and ready to do the same.

It's part of being a team. I suspect I never really understood that until my current wife made her stand in support of me.

I just want to add one thing. Everything I write doesn't have a thing to do with abusive or nasty people. Those kinds of people you have to get away from, of course.

And all I can every real know well are my own experiences in this area. It took me a long time to see what marriage really is---a trust that somehow makes you more secure because of that trust, not less.

Sorry for the long post. I know the pain and bitterness of divorce, too. It is hard to find that trust in yourself afterward...because there are so many awful stories out there.

So I guess I am luckier than I ever knew.

Thanks for sharing your stories, folks.

12:11 AM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Child support is a scam that represents nothing more than hidden alimony."

You breed them, you pay for them!!!

"Something like 90% of the unpaid child support in the US is owed by fathers who made less than $15,000 that year."

There's a reason for this: The type of male (not a man) who would default on his child support obligation is pretty much of a loser from the get-go. $15K/yr would be their fantasy job. These are often from the same segment of society adept at making "off the books" income and keeping "judgment proof".

"...require women to demonstrate they actually spent the money on the children"

Easy. Be an involved father. Stop your sniveling and BE A MAN!

Better yet... since you're obviously the superior parent... go for custody and seek support from her.

"And you wonder why men avoid marriage! "

And what does marriage have to do with child support? Neither marriage nor divorce causes children. These [not] men should try avoiding something else entirely!

1:50 AM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another site allong the same lines : http://www.dontmarry.com/

3:20 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Chris said...

Third time's the charm for me. In my particular case, I found--over time--that it is American women that are not ideal as mates.

I'm definitely not perfect--and can be difficult to put up with--but the cultural programming of my first two spouses made relations enormously difficult.

My wife (no "ex") is originally from Romania and is very direct, bright, beautiful, and not at all self-conscious about her body, her intellect, or her opinions.

I have encountered similar women throughout Asia when I was still single.

Of course, both of my ex's were half-Irish, and there were no cases of insanity in the Norwegian strain until we pilliaged the coasts of Ireland. ;-)

3:30 AM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never quite understood how you can stop loving your spouse unless the spouse is truly abusive (not just complaining or difficult) or is unfaithful. Obviously you can not "like" your spouse for awhile ---- sure. But when you look at your full life, doesn't it make sense to also realize the moment will pass - in a day, week, month, year? How can you stop loving someone you "choose" and still tell your children "but YOU I will love 'no matter what'?"

There is a wonderful passage in the Bible that I absolutely hated when I was young and less wise: "remember the wife of your youth." When I was young I thought "oh great...a woman isn't worth loving when she is older and has lost her looks?"! Now that I am older, I realize it applies to both men and women. When you are stuck in the day to day grunge work of life --- tired, less than lovely, and not having any 'fun',--- it is good to remember back to the time when you first fell in love and really knew all the good qualities of your spouse (and freely overlooked their less admirable qualities). The love and admiration you felt for the other person, free from responsibilites and worries and imperfections, is the love that can open your eyes to these same qualities your spouse still dislays .... just in a different manner based on changing circumstances. If your spouse was worth loving then, they are worth loving today ---- even if you don't like them that well at the moment.

I guess I just can't help thinking that the person you "fall out of love" with is still inherently lovable....just as all imperfect human beings are lovable (barring real evil). Just think about your children and you know you are capable of loving someone with a multitude of imperfections "no matter what". Why not extend that same love to your spouse?

I am a bit overwhelmed by all the posts from such unhappy people. Yeah, we can't choose our circumstances all the time, but we absolutely get to choose the way we respond to our circumstances. Is the glass half full or half empty? That is completely your choice and no one, no spouse or loss of money etc. can make you see everything as being "done" to you without your input. When my dad was poor he took us across the U.S. to see all the national monuments ----- we just had to camp the whole way (some people would have complained that their "glass was empty", and they were too poor to travel with a family of six; My mom and dad had the "glass is partially filled" attitude and decided we would just camp everynight. I even remember sleeping in the back of our station wagon, with my feet hanging out the back with my three sisters, in the Badlands when we couldn't find a place to stay). I am sure my mother complained, and we four girls were surly in the back of our non-airconditioned station wagon, but we always loved each other and knew the bad moments would pass. I always, and I mean always, knew that my parents loved each other 'no matter what' and they were complete opposites in basic personality traits. My dad still complains about my mom's nagging, and my mom still complains that my dad never listens----so what? Has our culture really gotten so weak that basic human imperfections are a reason to stop loving someone?

4:18 AM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I have been following this thread in the opposite order! I have been reading the comments, which had some bitter comments, some sweet, and back and forth. That is pretty typical, I know.

Then I looked at the website Dr. Helen was referencing. The bitterness just came off in waves! I'm a normal guy, and when I was in my twenties, I dated a lot of women---both foreign and American born. There was no rule that the former were better or more feminine or anything.

Maybe society has taught some women to be unpleasant in their marriages, sure. But the same could be said for some men.

I didn't like that website much, but I have enjoyed reading the comments here---much to think about and much that can be learned.

4:38 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Frank from Delavan said...

I didn't believe in love at first sight until I met my wife. We just celebrated 28 years Saturday.

The one thing I really worried about was our ages. I was 33, she was 19. I got over that in a graveyard. I was visiting my grandma and grandpa's graves and realized that he was 33 and she was 19 when they got married, and they had 50 plus years.

Bottom line. NOBODY can predict the future. Much of the stuff I worried about never happened, and the stuff I never saw coming the two of us battled our way through together.

6:58 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Additional note about the sons. Raise them to be good husbands and fathers, right from the start. They may choose to neither marry nor have children, but being able to nurture and protect is just part of growing to adulthood.

I suppose that implies that one should raise daughters to be good wives and mothers. That sounds pretty retrograde these days. I don't know if I would have seen it that way if I had had girls. Actually, we did have girls several times when we had foster children, but that was usually short duration, and we were focussed on teaching some immediate lessons rather than long-term ones.

7:15 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger BobH said...

To NoFixedAbode

Most of your posting doesn't relate to marriage but rather to paternal investment in general. That's a different subject.

However, it deserves comment. How do you know that the children aren't the result of some woman lying about using birth control, then demanding that the guy cough up child support? When I have discussions about this subject with women, sooner or later, she says something like "He should have thought about that before the sex." What she means is that the man isn't paying for the children, he's paying for the sex. In other words, she (and many other women) basically think like prostitutes and their goal is to be very expensive prostitutes.

Just something to think about.

7:40 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


You do a disservice to prostitutes everywhere. Rather than thinking like prostitutes, I believe these women you describe are thinking like anti-prostitutes. What they are saying is, men should not be having sex and enjoying it so much. Even a prostitute wants men to enjoy sex so he will come back again. Women who tell men they have to pay for what they did are women who bear no responsibility for their own part in sexuality. They see themselves as "children" who have been taken advantage of by a male oppressor. Even most prostitutes has more scruples than that.

7:52 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger BobH said...

To Helen:

Prostitutes have competitors and the cost to the client in going to a competitor is small. In long standing relationships, particularly marriage, the cost of leaving the current relationship and entering a different relationship can be quite high. Therefore, the spouses "naturally" attempt to gain higher payment for services provided and to provide less service for a given payment.

In "The Evolution of Cooperation" (great book!!!!), Robert Axelrod said that, in purely economic terms, the most advantageous strategy is to exploit others until they are almost, but not quite, unwilling to engage in additional transactions. He also says that one-off transactions (like most prostitution) are extremely risky because there is enormous temptation for both individuals to defect, which may be why so many prostitutes apparently mistrust and dislike men. I have also read that prostitutes sometimes develop a comfort level, even affection, toward friendly, long-standing clients.

8:59 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


I guess I just don't think relationships should be a "transaction." Business deals are transactions. Love and relationships are about putting the needs of someone else first and loving the vulnerabilities in people--particularly your partner--and not exploiting that. Once you start the exploitation process--in whatever way,nothing good can transpire.

9:10 AM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I almost forgot the most important post of all:

Thanks for the ***great*** blog, Dr. Helen!

- Felix

9:51 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Hey felix,


10:09 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

Assistant Village Idiot (and anyone else who's still around at this thread):

I wholeheartedly agree that we should raise our sons to be good husbands and fathers and our daughters to be good wives and mothers. When it comes to our children, we feed them, shelter them, educate them, and try to impart our values so that they will have good lives. Most of their lives will be spent as husbands and wives, and fathers and mothers. I can't imagine why we parents leave this part of child-raising (how to choose a mate and how to parent) to chance.

11:54 AM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read about half the comments, so I'm not sure if someone has already stated this, but many of the legal dilemmas in marriage and divorce can equally hurt women, especially when it comes to money, who brings it into the marriage and who makes it.

A female friend of mine lost her house tha she had paid in full herself due to "divorce" from a 5+ year commonlaw marriage. Another friend of mine entered a marriage already loaded. It's a tumultuous marriage, not based on money, but anger causes the husband to sometimes threaten to "take everything" with divorce. I used to think prenups were a horrible things, but nothing makes both men and women behave more terribly than embittered love.


12:56 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greta stuff in theses posts. I will add:

1. Find a gaol who shares your values. (and if you have lousy values you will have a lousy marriage.)

2. For as long as you live, strive to do 60% of the work without complaint.

3. Love is a decision. Love is work sometimes. Love perseveres.

4. Marriage is more than just two people living together - it is families.

5. Your marriage must have a purpose - children, extened family, God, serivce to others.

6. The purpose of your marriage changes as you do as you age.

7. My 85 year old grandmother, at their 60th anniversary, said, "People are married for 10 years and they think they know what love is." Think about that!

8. My one prejudice: find a sweet Georgia peach, not a New York sour apple!!!

2:08 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the fortune to meet the love of my life at the end of high school. We started dating and weathered the four years of college. After college, we dated four more years - happy and content in our relationship. We have now been married six years and are closing in on our 15th anniversary together. I hope we both live to enjoy our 50th in good health.

Quite simply, I married my best friend. Marriage certainly brings its shares of ups and downs, but if you can anchor true love with friendship then I think you have a stable, happy, and long marriage.

Looking around at some of my friends and their relationships, I can see where that costs them. Most made good choices for partners - the only problem is that their relationship is based on a college or post college romance rather than friendship + romance. They end up having dramatically different conceptions of a good time, argue over time with friends, and so forth.

In our early 30s, all my friends marriages still seem strong. That being said, we all have a long way to go.

I am just happy to be travelling the road of life with my best friend. It always keeps me smelling the roses and at times when regrets or roads not taken press in on me this is quite important.

2:12 PM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Keating Willcox said...

A couple of thoughts
1. Some marriages, including mine, are superb, excellent partnerships, best friend, the whole deal. My wife is an angel.
2. The new best practices for family therapy - measure the percentage of unkind or hostile comments versus neutral or positive comments between partners. More than 20% hostile, then divorce is inevitable. Fewer than 10%, expect a warm and comfortable relationship. Manners counts more than anything else. If you can't say something nice, keep your mouth shut. Lavish praise. Requests for change should be constructive and dwell only in the present. You really can live a life with months and years between any bitter words, and yet be completely straight about your needs.
3. Married folks are happier, and more blessed. A good marriage with kids is a complete blessing.
4. I believe that a society that has a sense of being too crowded begins to have anti-family behavior to lessen the overcrowding. Sociobiologists can explain this. Who would have believed after the big overcrowding fears of the sixties that most major industrial countries are losing population
5. Marriage means more wealth, hence more happiness.

2:29 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Are there any guys out there who have had some positive experiences with marriage that you could share?"

- Nope, and I'm 53.

2:46 PM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger pst314 said...

"1. Find a gaol who shares your values."

That is one of the funniest meaning-reversing typos I've seen. (That said, I agree with the comment.)

2:49 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife died 15 months ago. Myrna was the most remarkable creature I ever met, and I'd give anything to have her back.

She was my artistic partner, as well as my wife, an astonishing beauty.

She was a traditional Filipino woman. From the start of our marriage, she made it clear that divorce was not an option. (Don't delude yourself into thinking that she was "oppressed" or "backward." Myrna, at the end of her life, was training manager for an international corporate law firm.)

Since her death, I've made it a point to look for another Filipina. And, I've found one. Filipino culture teaches respect for men and reverence for marriage. I don't trust American women. Marriage for them is just an extended date.

And, yes, Myrna and I were blissfully happy. She was such a brilliant deep soul.

2:54 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought my wife the $12,000 engagement ring 14 years ago. I was only going to do it once and I wanted to do it right. I am now the stay at home dad/ski instructor and my wife supports me! Marrige is grand with the right woman!!

2:56 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been married twenty years to a woman who was my best friend and lover. I gave everything to have a fulfilling partnership, financial security and two wonderful kids. We've travelled the world and have boxes of pictures of two smiling, loving, happy spouses. Then six months ago my wife left me and the kids for the Porsche mechanic. I would attribute it to mental instability at age 40 if not for the number of similar stories I hear.

I am one of the most optimistic and good natured people you'll find and I have to say our system of partnership is screwed and the institution of marriage is on the rocks.

No fault divorce and feminism has created the perfect storm where it is perfectly accepted to end a marriage solely because one spouse is "unhappy". I am all for women's rights and believe that some marriages with infidelity, abuse, or drug problems are not salvagable, but we now have a society where a large percentage of marriages with relatively small problems that just need some effort end as people search for the "happiness" they are entitled to.

There is no longer a sense of balance within marriages in our society for respect for a partner, well-being of children, and respect for the institution of marriage - there is only ME.

And don't count me as a bitter jilted lover. I'm having the time of my life - I just don't think it's right for the kids and miss the opportunity to grow old together devoted to one person in a monogomous committed relationship.

3:20 PM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Rod said...

Reading other posts in this thread from those expounding on their so far successful marriages is touching. Was I not saying just the same sorts of things about trust, sharing, attentiveness, effort to sustain the relationship and so on? Was I not taken totally off guard when divorce was forced on me, seemingly out of the clear blue sky? Was I not left to wonder what it was I had done wrong after so many years of effort and good faith had gone for nothing?

3:58 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not trying to silence you. It's called criticism. Suggesting that the tone here is immature and irrational is not trying to silence you. It's simply asking that the level of argument could be stepped up a notch. Sorry if that's asking too much.

You came to the conclusion that this discussion is about how women are "bad", when it really isn't. It is about how divorce law is stacked against men. Women are neither more nor less likely to be "bad" than men are. The problem comes in a system that grants women excessive power over men at the termination of a marriage, and the fact that women will naturally take advantage of that simply out of self interest.

Consider a case where a good woman divorces an adulterous, abusive husband. The courts are stacked in her favor, so the fact that she will generally have the upper hand is not a bad thing. Now consider the case of a good man who divorces an adulterous, manipulative wife. The man is still at a distinct disadvantage in the courts. Saying that this discussion is about how "women are to blame for the failure of the institution of marriage" strikes me as rather unobservant of what is being discussed.

Criticising someone who wants to change a system that is on it's face inequitable is what I would consider "immature".

4:23 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Late comment to the thread: unlike many of the other fellows posting, I am single and always have been. Now I'm in my late thirties. As for "why marry?" it appears clear to me that a good marriage would convey considerable benefit in terms of companionship and friendship. A more-efficient economic unit and great sex would be nice, too. I've met and dated a few women who would have accepted a proposal, most likely, but things never got that far. I'm probably slow off the mark but am unsuited to rushing into things and may be a little too picky.
I will say that I don't feel any particular pressure to marry in terms of career or society. One fear that has made me leary of the institution is that of a divorce, which seems like a significant personal failure. Another is viewing numerous marriages which, while long in duration, seem to have decayed to a state of mutual near-loathing. The latter make divorce look like a good idea.
In any event, I wanted to put forth a different point of view. I'm not bitter, not afraid of being taken to the cleaners in a divorce, not unwilling to marry, not too bad a catch (IMNSHO), and not getting married in the forseeable future.
Now, dating and the gender-based expectations there- that would have to be a whole other subject, as "no marriage due to child support" should be, since you don't have to get married to incur those obligations.

4:26 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous (the fellow who just posted before me, that is, and not the one talking about chickens), I think you're spot on. Good luck in your search.

With as many drawbacks as the "feminist" movement has had, one of the good things about it was pointing out to women that they didn't have to get married to support themselves. Because of this, a lot of people who weren't suited to marriage just didn't get married. Nowadays, you see people getting married because it's something that they really want to do.

It could be that some men just don't want to get married, or haven't found anyone they like enough to marry yet. I know women are the same way. My boyfriend and I both thought we'd be single all our lives when we met, but after a year of dating, we're talking about getting married.

I think a lot of men tend to blame "feminism" for the disadvantages placed towards husbands and fathers, and for the sexism towards men that, frankly, has always existed in women.

Feminism is so old, and it encompasses so many ideas, it is disingenuous to say that is responsible for, say, my mother's lining her pockets with the child support money that my dad paid her. My mother didn't do that because she was feminist, she did it because she's sexist; she sees men as meal tickets and not much else. All the posturing and mouthing of Cosmo and Betty Friedan doesn't change that fact.

I mean, come on, people. If a man hits his wife, I don't blame Sam Keen or Robert Bly. I blame the abusive husband. And I don't call him a masculist, even if "masculist" writings influenced him. I call him what he is: sexist.

Gentlemen: Don't let women treat you like that. You deserve better. Demand it. (And light Maureen Dowd's whiny new book on fire. Trust me on this.)

5:18 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Most of your posting doesn't relate to marriage but rather to paternal investment in general."

Didn't I just say that?

" That's a different subject."

I responded points made in a previous post. You scold me for being O/T, but not the first poster? So sorry for forcing my pixels into your eyeballs! My content annoys you, perhaps?

"How do you know that the children aren't the result of some woman lying about using birth control, then demanding that the guy cough up child support?"


Use a condom anyway. AIDS & Herpes you know...

And now really... If you don't know this "some woman" well enough to know whether she is trustworthy, and know her regime, howcum you're screwing her? Could it be that you are just as big of a slut as she is? I guess you'd deserve each other. Thus begets the next generation of the underclass. Do us a favor and keep your mistakes off the dole.

5:30 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding assumption of fatherhood: it varies from state to state, and is generally improving. This improvement is the result of outrage over stories like this: Man A discovers he is not father of children, wife divorces him, moves in with Man B (actual father), gets big child support judgement, gets Man As paretnal rights terminated... Man A STILL PAY CHILD SUPPORT. Nice.

The stats are in, and they are stacked against men. I haven't looked at them in a while, but every category favored women, and they favored women MORE when the woman filed (that is, the spouse who files gets an advantage). Women are awarded custody in the vast majority of cases, even if you only count cases where the man is seeking custody.

Also, the comment earlier about child support payments being "set" is quite true: men who have lost their jobs are known to actually end up in prison because they can't pay child support.

There is one more thing that's even worse: "imputed" income. If a man is licensed to practice medicine yet chooses not to (let's say he makes a meager living by farming, for instance, because he enjoys it more), the court (in states with this law, and there are several) can "impute" what his income "should" be (that is, if he were practicing medicine instead) and set his child support payment based on that. Then, see the previous paragraph about jail and child support... This is, essentially, a form of slavery, as the man has no way to meet the payment demended other than to work in the field where he could make more money, personal happiness or desires (or health reasons) be damned. Having the child support amount changed requires time, money, and judge approval.

When it comes to having children and paying child support for them, men are told that's the price of sex (if single or they get divorced) - women are given the option of abortion; few if any states have even manged to find a "Constitutional" way to require SPOUSAL NOTIFICATION, much less allowing the man any actual input in the decision... well, unless you count paying child support if she chooses to keep the child. (I don't have a good solution for this, mind you, but it does tilt one way.)

Oh, and don't give me "for the good of the child". If that was really sufficient to override other concerns, I volunteer Bill Gates to be EVERY child's father in the entire US - financially, that is certainly in the child's best interest.

There are plenty of scummy people on both sides of the equation. As beest I understand it, no one is saying otherwise.

What IS being said is that family law is strongly biased against men... which it undeniably is. This makes men less interested in getting married, especially when it's so much easier to get sex without it these days.

6:19 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since I'm late to the party I may just be talking to myself, but here goes. This thread obviously resonates with a lot of people, and it hits me at a time when I've been thinking about these issues and what the future may hold for me. My greatest hope is for the my status to linger... I'm married to the best friend I've ever had, I'd rather spend time with her than do anything else in the world, I can completely trust her and I can confide in her about anything. But she's mental. Not completely, just sporadically, and unfortunately right now we're in a peak, or valley, or something. She's convinced that she has ALS and she's going to die in 2-5 years, she doesn't trust our doctor who says he doesn't believe she has ALS (and who unhelpfully also says he cannot tell her for sure that she doesn't have ALS), and she says she'll never have the painful tests done to diagnose ALS since there's no treatment anyway. And this is the latest in her 10-year self-diagnosis list, after MS, cancers of all types, and I can't remember what all else. I told if I were a betting man, I'd bet against her because hse's never been right yet, but that argument is unpersuasive.

My anecdotal observation is that my wife is common among females in her tendency toward neuroses. I see fragile female psyches much more in my customer population, and chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia and other such malaise-like conditions seem much more common in females. I'll never divorce my wife, but if she's right and she does leave me a widower in 2-5 years, would I remarry? I doubt it. Women are nuts. They're too high-maintenance. They don't know how to be happy. I just don't think I can invest all the emotions into an interdependency that will lead me down this neurotic path again. Once was - and still is - definitely worth it; the depth of this 20-year love affair has given me more out of life than I ever dreamed was possible, but I don't think I can do it again. I don't want to volunteer to carry my baggage and someone else's, too. Maybe some men see what's coming, and just don't think it's worth it.

In the mean time, since she's jumped to the acceptance stage, she's not letting her phantom hold her back too much, and life is still good. And I know that in 50 years when I'm on my death bed, she'll be able to momentarily brush aside her disease of the month to stroke my forehead, tell me how good it's been to be married to me and how much she'll miss me, and kiss me good-bye. Man, I love this woman.

Oh, and did I say she's a good cook?

6:22 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been married just over twenty years. We were young when we married (by choice) after a whirlwind romance of three months. In hindsite, it is quite obvious that we should have waited, though I don't think we would have gotten married had we done so--mainly because we both grew up in a religious culture that values marriage so highly that we both confused what was a very good friendship for what would make a good marriage. At the very least, we didn't take the time to really learn about each other.

On the other hand, I'm really not sure I could have done any better. For all her flaws, my wife is a remarkable woman who has a tremendous amount of patience for my temperment. I'm quite sure she could have done better.

We've had four children, which I now realize, is part of the problem. I love them dearly and would quite seriously give my life for them without question, but I've belatedly discovered that I don't have a lot of patience with kids which has caused tension in our house and marriage. All else being equal, in hindsight, we reallyl should have stopped with two [kids].

One area of tension between my wife and I that has increased in time (though I now realize the signs were there early on) has been intimacy. My wife has not handled aging well which has been devastating, in my view, to our sexual relationship. Unfortunately, she's always had a lower libido than me and is very defensive about this issue, to the point where I no longer bring it up.

This tension combined with job stress, has led me to experience "performance" issues (which if you aren't a guy and haven't experience them, you have no idea how devastating this is. And then you worry and it makes it worse.) I have been very tempted to start an affair as a result (though I suppose it's good I haven't found a willing partner.)

Oddly, my wife has, and will, sacrifice in many areas, but there are some that are off limits. What bugs me is that in those areas, and it's not just sex, she is held blameless by society and is even made the victim!

It is this kind of masculine neutering that I, and many men, deeply resent. We are tired of being called perverts, even if it's done in a lighthearted way. We are tired of being told that the desire to spend a little selfish money on ourselves is a mid-life crisis. (The weirdest one for me is that my wife flys to a high school reunion every two or three years, but if I even mention using my frequent flyer miles to take my own vacation, I'm met with a withering stare. Truth is, I don't like travelling alone, so I wouldn't do it anyway, but it does illustrate the modern notion that a "girls night out" is justified fun, but a "boys night out" is now perceived at being a bad thing.

All in all, my marriage has been better than I'm sure I indicate here and it has been better for me personally than worse, but were my marriage to end tommorrow (by death or divorce) I very likely wouldn't remarry and I definitely wouldn't have more children (I made sure of that several years ago via surgery that will never be reversed, end of discussion.)

While I have no desire to return to the age where women "stay in their place and do what their told" I don't like how societal attitudes have swung the other direction, even if not as far.

6:34 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great thread.

Regarding divorce laws, I believe they differ by state, and in California I don't think they are still stacked against the man.

I know a woman who is a surgeon who was married to a guy in a much less lucrative profession. He left her for another woman. She was ordered to pay him alimony.

I was told that in California it simply goes according to who has the most money.

6:47 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's simple...if you build a relationship based on love, respect, trust, it usually works till you die. These three give you the elasticity to experience the joys together and the strength to experience the really crappy times together to.

That being said, yeah, marriage is broken. As I often point out, it's amazing how NOW and other organizations are quick to beat up on a guy for doing dumb stuff, but when a woman does it there's silence in church. This just reinforces the notion, in many men's mind, that women are out to get them.

As for men...well, c'mon fellas, we gotta freely admit, a lot of us _are_ pigs. Now, women reward this behavior (everyone who's gotten the "our friendship is too good to risk" speech raise your hand), but the fact is that a lot of guys screw women up.

Solution? Hey, I'm just trying to say _my_ marriage has been the greatest six years of my life overall...I don't do larger solutions.

6:57 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife's mother was a radical sixties feminist.

That should have been a warning

And she left her husband and took him for everything he had

And that should have been a warning

But I took no notice and married her anyway and had four children, who I adore.

And I worked sixty hours a week to provide a food, shelter and clothing as well as violins and dancing lessons and the other extras that make for a good start in life. And put money aside for the future.

After the fourth child the whining about not being "fulfilled" started, and the need to discover herself and I looked for answers for her but no answer was forthcoming because there wasn't one I could provide (it needed to come from within her).

One day I went away on a business trip. And when I came home she was gone with our kids back to where she came from. There was a lawyers letter demanding her share of everything. So everything was sold, investments realized and the money handed over.

Then the child support was added. 1/3 of my income to be paid monthly with interest rates that would make a loanshark blush if they are late.

So here I am working sixty hours a week with the labors of my life gone to support a family I never see and have little say in the raising of and no hope of ever getting ahead again.

I just hope she is fullfilled because I am sure I'm not

7:08 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your blog.

"Fear of commitment", my ass. It's rather that more and more men are becoming acutely aware of just what consequences commitment can have for them, up to and including imprisonment and impoverishment.

I've come to believe that men and women have very different definitions of commitment. For a woman, commitment means making a promise. For a man, it means keeping a promise once made.

In today's perversion of marriage, two people have made promises to each other, typically including a promise to stay together "'til death do us part". But only one of those people is actually held to those promises, and we both know it isn't the woman.

When a man marries he also assumes a legal obligation to support his wife and children. IANAL, but I know of no jurisdiction in this country in which a woman is obligated to provide any support whatsoever even for herself (let alone her husband or their children).

Yet with no-fault divorce, a man can lose most of his income, his house, his car, and be required to pay all the considerable expenses without being in any way at fault. God help him if there are children involved.

Generally "women have rights; men have responsibilities".

Your husband is a law professor. Ask him if he knows of any other field of human interaction in which one party to a contract can walk away from it with no reason without penalty, and in addition receive huge payments from the other party, continuing for many years. I doubt if he will be able to name one.

I believe men and women are meant to marry and raise children together, and I am genuinely happy for those who find success and fulfillment in that estate. I just don't feel like rolling those loaded dice.

7:15 PM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Edgehopper said...

I guess I was luckier than some of the other men here...my girlfriend had her set of "I'm not being fulfilled...I need to find happiness" issues before we got engaged. I'm now single and looking again. Imagine if I had gotten married quickly...

7:41 PM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Lucelu said...

I am a married woman, married to my husband for 14 years. He and I are best friends and anchors to each other in this world. We both are from broken homes and saw what divorce brings. When parents are married, their children are an investment for the future, when they become divorced, the children become just another bill.

We have one son we love more than anything. We would never think of breaking his world apart.

I don't know about these women who can 't find fulfillment where they are. I don't know about the vindictiveness that is described yet I believe the witnesses here and I have seen what my brother's ex/soon to be ex has done. There are some really lunatic women out there. We tried to tell my brother and urged him to protect himself but he shut us out and refused to believe us.

My dad complained about $25 per week per child for umpteen years and my mother never went to court to have it raised. He cheated on her and was an alcoholic and abusive. My father in law beat the hell out of his wife and his first child (my dh). I'm not saying that our mothers were perfect, perhaps they nagged. There is always another side to the story I guess.

No matter your family history, I think people have do decide what marriage means to them and find that their values converge with their intended spouse--especially concerning money, religion/faith/spirituality and lifestyle.

8:05 PM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Thank you for bringing up an important point. I have heard this from other men frequently--their wives do not want them to take a vacation on their own or with their male friends. The wives themselves go on all kinds of trips with girlfriends, etc. but seem to want their husbands to have no fun. This is ludicrous.

I do not understand why a wife would stand in her husband's way of having a good time being with friends etc. Both men and women need to have time on their own without their spouse at times. If a wife is so afraid that her husband will stray while he is gone, then there must be an issue of trust in the marriage and if a woman just does not want her husband to have fun, she needs to change her behavior. No one can be happy being held captive.

8:07 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a minister, I'm honestly confused why plain "marriage" continues to be valued and fought over by secular American society. So many political arguments could be solved by simply letting the government care about "civil unions" and individuals or their religious groups worry about whether these are named "marriages" or not.

There are good reasons for the government to keep track of when two people partner together economically and in responsibility, for property and children. But from the government's perspective, does it matter if this is one man and one woman, or (for example) two siblings who together run a farm and have adopted an orphaned relative?

Similarly, if "marriage" only had meaning when a personal or religious prefix then arguments would be deflated. What is important to a religious group is retaining control over it's type of marriage (a "Catholic marriage", a "Jewish marriage", etc.). Why should the Catholics care if a Jewish marriage differs from their own? Or if two men obtained a civil union and decided to call it a "gay marriage", as long as they didn't add the adjective "Catholic"? And so forth...

8:31 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My perspective is of a man in my mid-40's, never married, successful in business, fit, handsome, active, financially independent and enjoying life every day.

A few nights ago I attended a fund-raising supper at a small country church. Everyone sat at long tables. Across from me and a few places down was a young woman, probably in her late 20's. With her was her mother and her 2 young children.

The woman was very attentive to the children while still carrying on a conversation with her mother and others around her. She was dressed modestly but attractively and not so that body parts fell out every time she bent over to cut up a child's grilled chicken.

She had a pleasant & friendly smile on her face, not a corporate game-face scowl.

The ring on her finger indicated she was married.

I don't know her name or anything else about her, but I caught myself watching her and thinking how I admired her.

In a way it made me happy that for the first time in a long time I observed a woman that made me think I shouldn't give up on the idea of getting married.

In a way it made me sad that it's so seldom I observe such a woman.

8:52 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just anecedotal, but of my five or so friends that have gotten divorced, in every case the woman left the man and took at least half (sometimes all) the money, got full custody of the children, and the family home. In no case did the men cheat or anything else, they just "didn't pay enough attention" to their wives. Entering into marriage after seeing that is quite daunting. One of these women was an acoholic and cheated on the man, the others all just cheated. But they took the men's children away, just like that, and get paid for the next decade despite being married for less than that long.

9:15 PM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Jeff Faria said...

Wow. What a comment thread. Had to turn this into a post.

10:07 PM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger kipwatson said...

I've got a buddy.

His wife had an affair, he believed he could see the end of the marriage coming, hired a lawyer, got his daughter to say Mum once hit Dad (true, she slapped him one time) - Bingo! - 'domestic violence', he got the house, custody, the lot.

He did to her what he feared she was going to do to him. It works both ways, but it's still bad. Their marriage wasn't a wreck, why should the law encourage the people to take the worst option first?

I have a great wife, she's Japanese.

I thank God we met. I could never have married any of nasty hippy/feminist/progressive-middle-class-with-attitude women I slept with when I was younger, in fact, before I met my wife, I had actually given up on women - as all those I knew were unbearable!

So much attitude they weren't even worth sleeping with! I wasn't a neanderthal, just a happy easy-going ordinary guy. That was the 80s. I hope things are better now. Otherwise, men, find yourself a nice woman with strong traditional morals - in my experience most Christians and a lot of Asian still have them.

10:49 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't dated for years. None of the usual reasons apply to me.

The only legal reason I can think of to avoid marriage is "child safety." I could see myself getting in trouble for negligence or abuse because I believe in spanking and not in wearing 40 pounds of protective gear to cross the street. I think my own parents did a good job under the circumstances (which were unusual--poverty combined with a gay father and very devout mother is probably less than ideal). My parents rarely spanked me, and they were consistent about it. I think this was less harmful than the bitter, life-long power struggle I've seen in some families, but I admit I have no hard evidence to support this view. I was also left alone at an early age, which is allegedly harmful, but I think this taught me a degree of self-reliance that seems lacking in many of my peers.

Divorce laws are a disincentive to be sure, but they're not one of my main reasons. I'd trust (perhaps naively) anyone I married. I'd act under the assumption that the relationship would be permanent. This may be wishful thinking, but I think it's a necessary fiction.

I haven't had sex since I was a stupid teenager. So "the ease of obtaining sex outside marriage" is definitely not the deciding factor for me. On the contrary, one of the reasons I stopped dating is that few women seem serious about a relationship, and they seem to move way too fast for me. After the third date, if we have a real connection, I might be willing to let someone into my personal space. Sex is out of the question until I know someone very, very well. In the last decade, none of my relationships lasted that long.

It's partly financial. I've had six-figure jobs, but they were too stressful, so I now work part-time and run my own business in my spare time. I make plenty of money for just me, but not quite enough for a family. I'm not sure I'd trade my ideal jobs for a family at this stage. I'm too conservative (and I have too many bad memories) to send my own kids to day care or public schools, so one parent would have to stay at home (and that parent could be me--I could run my own business from home and home-school most subjects). It would be irresponsible of me to have children if I wasn't capable of supporting them fully. It would be doubly irresponsible for me to enter a relationship knowing that I couldn't support the children that might result.

The major reason I stopped dating is that I just wasn't very good at it. Since I've had nothing but unsuccessful relationships, I suspect the failures are at least partly my fault. Certainly my ex-girlfriends seemed to think so... If so, I have no business getting involved in the first place. If it's not my fault, then all women are (insert derogatory term here).

Some of the problems are merely demographic or "finding someone compatible."

For instance, I believe that common values are important. I'd welcome someone with different tastes and interests, but not someone with radically different views. Since I'm an atheist and a conservative (even a social conservative in some cases), the chances of finding someone who shares my core values is small. The obvious solution, of course, would be to change my own values, but I've grown rather fond of me the way I am.

I don't like crowds or noise, which excludes all the common dating environments. I have poor auditory discrimination (and a 60dB loss in my right ear), so if there's too much background noise, I can't understand what anyone is saying. I'd rather just talk on the first few dates and try to get to know someone than do something "entertaining." I've never understood how people find out if they're compatible in a nightclub, etc.

Misogyny's part of it, too. There are a few things many (not all!) women do that annoy me. Too many women have a creepy, pathetic need for a constant stream of compliments and reassurance (often combined with the assumption that all compliments are lies). Too many women assume all men are guilty of (insert random feminist complaint here) unless they prove otherwise every single moment. And too many of my ex-girlfriends cheated on me. I hope the percentage is atypical.

None of these things would be bad on their own, but the chance of me finding an atheist, conservative, quiet, demophobic, independent, sane, faithful woman I'm attracted to is so small that it no longer seems worth pursuing.

Sure, I could be less picky, but my limited personal experience strongly suggests that, if anything, I should be even pickier.

When I was young I had a long list of things I wanted to do. I've achieved many of them, even some of the unlikely ones. While I'd still like to get married, my experience suggests that I should focus on goals with a higher chance of success.

There's also the "Sour Grapes" factor. Being celibate means turning people down. Usually this is painful and embarassing, and I actively try to make myself less attractive (poor grooming, no flirting, etc). But there are times when I childishly enjoy it. I was a nerd before it was cool. Most girls wouldn't even say hello to me. Now they all seem to want me, and it sometimes feels very good to be one saying no. This isn't healthy, I admit.

10:54 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having read the comments above and due to my own experience I wonder why any man would get married in the curent social and legal climate. Marriage today is like walking through a mine field...sure you might make it but if you dont it will be your ass. You have exposed yourself to the risk of losing almost everything.

I had throat cancer 8 years ago, never smoked. I got West Nile virus 2 years after that, trust me you dont want it...migrane headache for 10 weeks 24 by 7 and unable to think straight for several months. For the next 2 years while trying to rebuild my life/career/mind my wife kept telling me it was my fault the marriage wasnt working. I wouldnt give up on my family, my girls (6 and 3 at the time) deserved a full time father and mother. She finally left in spite of my desire to keep trying still telling me it was my fault. Turns out she was having an affair with her married boss, telling everybody at work I abused her(a lie...one of many). She ended up destroying both families. My therapist concluded she is a malignant narcisist after listening to tapes I made of her ranting at me on the phone.

The point is after all this I got the privilage of having to pay her 750 a month even though I have my kids 50% of the time and she makes a little more money than me. My retirement fund is gone and I'm 49 with 2 girls now 9 and 6. Younger women with kids dont want me cause I'm "too old" (6'3" 195 and still jump off 50' cliffs at the lake) and ladies my age have been there and done that raising kids. I refuse to run out on my girls and have paid dearly for the access I have. At this point I advise every young man I meet, thinking of getting married, to get a prenup that includes provisions about the children if she leaves. A young man getting married and wanting family today is risking everything with absolutly no assurance that if it ends he wont be screwed to the wall financially and held hostage over access to his children. If I were 25 with what I realize now I would never get married, the risk to benefit ratio is just too staggering. I wish with all my heart this wasnt so.

11:59 PM, January 18, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife has an ex-friend who decided to dump her husband. No abuse, no affairs, she just decided she didn't like him any more, or something. He was a quiet, stable guy. Her friends told her how great divorce was. She got the kids and half of his military retirement. He got a new girlfriend and moved on. She told my wife how the divorce was a total mistake, and all her fault since she initiated it and he didn't want it. Too bad she listened to her stupid 'friends', huh? Three kids with a part time dad made bitter by his wife's impulsive and foolish decision. Nobody won that fight, except that the father traded up to a younger & much more attractive woman, if I heard right.

Why do women do that? How can they tell each other divorce is a good thing? (leave aside special cases where it may be the best of bad choices: abuse, etc.)

12:19 AM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger kipwatson said...

I hate that stupid term 'narcissist'.

I like the word previous generations used: 'selfish'.

Why do people capriciously wreck the lives of their kids and spouses? why do they abort their unborn disabled? why do they do almost any act of wickedness big or small, new or old? Selfishness.

To make marriage work, husband and wife both need to give up much of their self, but since the 60s we live in a society that admires and encourages selfishness - that's the root of the problem.

1:04 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I hate that stupid term 'narcissist'."

I'm sorry you dont like the term but selfish hardlty describes the evil, self absorbed, dishonest, hurtful, destructive...etc behaviour of people like this. You never get over it. It is a blot on your soul. You learn to accept and move on. That said it still rips out my heart when my 9yo sits in my lap crying saying "I dont like divorce daddy, I dont want to be divorced" unfortunetly that hardly mattered to my ex strife. She even told the other guys wife it was all her, her husbands, and my fault...she was the "victim".

Your hatred of the term hardly negates the validity of it and selfishness barely scrapes the surface of the destruction these people cause.

1:28 AM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger kipwatson said...

My apologies - the point I was trying to make is that we have become completely accepting of selfishness.

Narcissis himself was self admiring and in love with himself - so the gods punished him!

Self admiration, self love - these days people think those are good things!

You say 'selfish' and people will say 'well, good for you - you deserve it'. The word loses meaning, the behaviour is no longer challenged.

And then suddenly psychiatrists observe an epidemic of horrific behaviour - people doing great harm to others to satisfy the slightest whim or want. Hmmm.. what could it be? better invent a term for it.

The term is stupid because its very existence (or necessity, if you like) is a symptom of the problem.

I didn't mean to offend you. I didn't mean to suggest you're stupid, nor to belittle your disturbing experiences. Sorry.

2:08 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kip, No problem. I wasnt insulted I just dont feel "selfish" really completely describes the behaviour.

2:13 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a young man of marriagiable age, and I honestly for the life of me can't figure out anything positive for me in getting married. Don't get me wrong, I would definitely marry if I intended to have and raise children (or found myself unexpectedly in that position), I take the raising of children very seriously. However, I cannot for the life of me see what a man gets out of legal marriage that he doesn't get from a long term non-marriage romantic relationship. Legal marriage simply seems to be a bundle of liabilities for a man. If I go the route of marriage, what I get over and above what I get from cohabitation is exposing all of my assets to seizure and transfer to another person, exposure to transfer of a large part of my future income to another person, exposure to forced responsibility for children that are not mine (as previously noted in the thread about presumption of paternity). I don't see what there is on the upside that isn't present in a committed cohabitant relationship. I am curious, what, if anything, am I overlooking here?

2:13 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"what, if anything, am I overlooking here?"

Nothing, I believe you get it.

2:22 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Blue...

It's not just the risk in a marriage going bad. My parents are still together, and still quite loving to one another. But my fathers whole life got burned into supporting his family. He has no hobbies, no friends independent of my mother, every iota of his energy for decades went into providing for his family. Complete sacrifice of self. I look at my coworkers who are 'happily' married, and they are mostly on the same path. They work their fingers to the bone all week to support their families (which I respect) and then spend all weekend doing maintenance on the home/cars/etc to save money so they can support their families. They hardly even have time to enjoy them. It increasingly looks like family life for a man consists of being yoked to the wheel.

3:05 AM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger kipwatson said...

But in spite of everything, and all the wreckers out to spoil it, a good marriage with great kids is the closest thing to heaven on earth.

Before we had kids, my wife and I used to eat out at restaurants, go to see live music, watch movies, that sort of thing. Now we spend all our free time with the kids.

I look back at those days and wonder at what at sad, empty and meaningless life I had compared to now.

4:46 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it is a life yoked to the wheel-but isn't a woman's also?
How they choose to live that life is what makes the difference. If a person has no friends or hobbies, that seems to be a function of how they spent their "free time." If the home and cars are not kept up, they will certainly fall apart-(and maybe in your neighborhood people can afford to have a lawn service and a detailer tends to the wheels...) It can be quite the rat race just being able to afford a home in a neighborhood which gets the kids into a decent and safe public school...There are men in this world who get great satisfaction simply out of providing for their families and making them "happy".

As was mentioned before- marriage is about lost opportunities and sacrifices (and even regrets) along with the "good stuff." Frankly, some people are not that exciting or even sociable, and might not even realize they are "missing out."

I am almost half a century old, and after 21 years of marriage have now lived with that man even longer than with my parents. It all runs together, and it goes fast. Some of it is no fun at all, and sometimes running away seems quite alluring...Maybe I would take up with an exciting young man, unencumbered with responsibilities and with no bad or annoying habits...

Amid the sad , sad stories here were some real gems of advice about marriage and choosing a mate. (Heck, at least we get to choose.) The saddest stories have got to be those of the children left behind ,or (more often) bounced back and forth like a ping-pong ball. The family is the greenhouse where we raise the children, and we should be tending to them like precious orchids, not
destroying everything around them!
Everyone is so busy trying to figure out the true meaning of their lives, when they just need to lower their gaze a few feet.

5:06 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An earlier poster mentioned that he knew several couples whose history was suspiciously familiar. Marriage, followed soon thereafter by the number of kids desired by the wife, followed by divorce initiated by the wife - who has gotten what is now clearly were the only two things she actually deep-down-inside cared about getting from the institution of marriage (genetic material to produce progeny and guaranteed financial wherewithal to raise them) - within a 5-10 year timespan.

Another mentions the fact that any time the husband dares to have any enjoyment out of life that doesn't involve the wife or children (golf once a week, a fishing trip on the weekend with a buddy) that the response from the wife is outraged disapproval, as if she is keeping a little mental ledger sheet and that the man can never, ever have more joy in life than she is having at that given moment, even for one second, or she is being "oppressed" and a victim of male domination.

This exactly mimics what I have seen to a great extent amongst my circle of friends. And when I ask around, pretty much everyone, even a lot of women, acknowledges that this behavior pattern seems to be a fairly common meme.

The question then becomes, is this a sort of oral tradition - communicated between mothers and sisters and daughters and friends - and a furtive but actively planned approach, given knowledge of the current divorce law and state of shrill, hostile feminism that exists in the West?

Is it an unconscious thing brought about by the same?

Or is it something else entirely, like an overweening narcisim and selfishness that pervades society at large?

7:13 AM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Callmeteem said...

I got married late in life at 40 to a woman who is in many ways very different from me in personality. But it works, I am better for having her in my life. And I believe she is better for having me in her life.
It has been difficult at times. Marriage can be a challenge. One of those challenges is talking about our differences. But it is and has been worthy.
I really do thank God for my marriage and my wife.

10:42 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newly married myself, and I've always been aware of the problems nowadays and the potential for divorce. Managed to avoid marriage in several relationships where I know it would have been disasterous. (The hectoring nag, the gold digger *when I had no gold to dig*) I'm still wary of the potential for breakup in the future although I hope for the best and will work like hell to keep it together.

My wife is once divorced. Her ex deserted her and left her file for the divorce after the required year. So, we do share in the concerns about staying together. Perhaps because of this, one of our typical endearments that we use to each other goes like this.

"I love you- in spite of everything"

I guess we're just trying to adopt/embed in our minds the idea that neither of us are perfect, that there's going to be problems yet we are still loving each other no matter what.

10:57 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


How is marriage for a woman 'yoked to the wheel' in the same sense it is for a man? It's completely socially acceptable for a woman to decide she doesn't want to work any longer and rely on her husband for support, what's the reaction if a man tries that, particularly a man with children? And while I in no way denigrate the activity of looking after a household and children, given current labor saving devices and the fact the kids are at school all day, woman have much more latitude to continue to have hobbies and friends after marriage (if they are not working). Overall women in marriage seem to have more options to grow, and fewer cast in stones responsibilities.

My father in the example above had (before marriage and kids) a rich life full of diverse hobbies, friends, etc before marriage. So did most of the coworkers I mentioned. It wasn't that they were unexciting or unsociable, it's that there is NOTHING left after they take care of their families. I've rarely seen women in an analogous position.

11:12 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in favor of a two track marriage system. Track one - easy in, easy out: like today's no fault divorce. Track two- harder to get married and harder to end, much harder. Track Two would be real marriage. Track one would be domestic partnership.

Real marriage would require education and evaluation of the partners in a religious context. if you're not religious - what do you care? Domestic partnerships would be just like so many marriages are today. Its time to separate the men and women from the terminally immature and selfish. Let's stop tarnishing the name of marriage by associating it with what Donald Trump or Elizabeth Taylor have practiced.

11:39 AM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, all!

I just wanted to share my experience with all of you and maybe get a little feedback. I was married entirely too young (19) and divorced at 23. Our marriage ended because we had different expectations of our lives. We had different goals that just didn't work together that we had not been mature enough to discuss before marriage. We had been childhood friends and decided mutually to end our marriage before things got out of hand and we ended up hating each other.

With regard to our seperation, I think we were very fair. Neither of us really had anything going into the marriage because we were so young. Everything that we had, we had acquired together, including debt. His income was significantly higher than mine, but we had both gotten ourselves into the mess so we split EVERYTHING down the middle. No attorney told us to do that. We already had our divorce planned before we saw an attorney. We wanted things to be fair and civil. I kept the house, so he took two of our cars that valued about the same. We had two credit cards with about the same balance, so we each took one.

Now, here is the problem. I am still young (26). I want to date and eventually get remarried, but am in no hurry. The thing that I am running into is that men don't even want to DATE anymore. I am an educated, morally decent woman with an excellent job. I have a lot to offer. But the only thing that men seem to want is quick sex with no commitment. Forget marriage, they don't even want to have dinner together! I even changed my geographic location because I thought maybe it was like a virus that had spread among my community, but even having moved 120 miles away, the problem is the same.

What's going on?

11:41 AM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Steverino said...

I'm a middle-aged man who has never married but hopes to someday still. While I recognized the truth of all the preceding comments, I'm still basically a romantic about marriage. What bothers and baffles me in my relationships with women is that so few view relationships romantically. They like the cards and flowers, but they tend to think of them as sales gimmicks to soften them up rather than courting.

I can't help but notice how The Divorced Woman is assuming a preferred role in the view of women. I see young women unconsciously imitating the talk and values of divorced women and their terrible cynicism toward men. More and more, I get the awful feeling that for many women marriage is just a way station to their ultimate destiny in life: divorce.

There seems to be a dysfunctional script some women follow which leads them to get pregnant by bad guys, find good guys to marry to raise the kids, and then divorce the good guys. The script concludes with them in command of their own house and household, financially supported by an absent divorced husband, emotionally supported by a coven of divorced girlfriends, and sexually supported by the occasional affair with attractive but unmarriageable men. I spend most of my dating life identifying and avoiding these women.

I am also struck by the different way men and women treat their divorces. You won't hear casual male friends utter a peep about their divorces in most cases any more than they would talk about being fired. With the closest friends, they will admit their failures.

By contrast, I have talked to dozens of divorced women who are happy to give you an earful about their divorce. They often can not talk about anything else. In every case, they claim the husband was to blame.

Now after you've heard about fifty divorced women blame the husbands for the failure of their marriage, you can't help but wonder if maybe at least a few of those women aren't selling you a story, that they caused the divorce and have concocted an elaborate alibi they tell everyone. Maybe these women get divorced because they can't take responsibility for their own shortcomings. Anyway, I've never had a woman look me in the eye and tell me that she was to blame for her divorce, as men have. This shrill denial of blame is a flaw in the female psyche.

The fabled male refusal to commit is another manifestaton of that female refusal to admit blame. There are many women who make fun dates or fine girlfriends yet whose personal flaws and failings make them unsuitable wives. It's one thing to have a girlfriend who maxes out her credit cards but it's another thing to have a wife who maxes out your credit cards. All too often when a man comes up against the stops in a relationship, erected by the woman's own shortcomings, the woman shifts the blame away from herself to the man's inability to commit.

While the other folks on this thread have contributed some real gems of wisdom about marriage, I can only recycle my Mom's advice to me: Don't fall in love with anyone you don't like.

It didn't make sense to me then but it's my core principle now.

11:48 AM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Old Wacky Hermit said...

Married woman with 3.8 kids ages 8 to -2 months, married 12 1/2 years to my first and favorite husband. Hubby was in the Air Force for a long time, and we got to watch as a lot of our friends' marriages went south. All but one of them could be seen coming, like watching a train bear down on the heroine tied to the tracks.

As a woman, I usually knew the woman of the couple best, so I can say with some confidence that these were not what you might call "quality women." They got married because they wanted to get out of a parent's house, mostly (evidently not realizing that the house did have a door...) They were too lazy to leave a house to do something worthwhile with their lives; they wanted someone to drag them out by their hair. Then they turned around and complained that the guy was hurting their hair by dragging them out. If that's not the most troglodytic thing I've ever observed in womankind, I don't know what is.

Some of the other divorces we've seen involved women leaving to go and "find themselves"-- as if they'd be walking down the street one day, glance in a store window, and say, "Oh, look-- THERE I am!" I honestly don't know what these women think they're looking for. You are who you are, and you shouldn't have to move more than a few inches to discover this.

There are other problems too, which I attribute to the men in the relationships. The most notable of these was the desire to get oneself into definite trouble (defined as where all your friends say "dude, don't do it!!") in order to have sex with a pretty girl. But coming in a close second is deliberately seeking out "high-maintenance" women, then getting surprised that they need so much maintenance. They would go find women who will sleep with them at the drop of a hat, and then they're taken aback when those women will also sleep with someone else at the drop of a hat. They pick up chicks who are all about conspicuous consumption, and are shocked when they discover these same women are cleaning out their bank accounts for fancy shoes and soaking them for every bit in a divorce settlement.

Anyway, that's my two cents. Take it for what it's worth. I think, based on my observations, that the vast majority of divorces are caused by factors that were visible at the courtship.

12:21 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Concerning Vickie's question that men just don't want to DATE:

I've been married 20 years, but I still remember the dating scene. It was hell. I'm an introvert which made it double-hell. And I couldn't even say "well at least we'll have sex" since I was raised in a well known conservative religion and felt I should remain a virgin until I married (which I did and looking back think it was stupid, but that's life.)

The problem is all the bullshit that goes along with dating. Even low maintenance woman and high maintenance compared to most men--they constantly insist on being "validated" and ask stupid questions that I don't want to answer--unless a woman's dress or hair or shoes or whatever are absolutely stunning, I honestly don't care (and if they're hideous, I'm in worse shape. If I lie, she may say "your lying" or wear the same crap next time. If I tell the truth, odds are I'll be thrown out the door, even if she agrees with me.)

Truth is, women play games that aren't winnable and most like it.

As Bill Cosby said: Come here, come here, come here, go away, go away go away.

(What kills me is when they don't learn; my wife complains when I don't notice she got her hair done. Hello? We've known each other over twenty years and I've noticed you've changed your hair maybe twice and even then it was a wild guess.)

Oh, and just to quote Tim Allen:
"Women now have choices. They can be married, not married, have a job, not have a job, be married with children, unmarried with children. Men have the same choice we've always had: work, or prison."

1:21 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an old Irish tune that goes something like this:

"If the Devil would take her, I'd thank him for his pain.
I swear to God I'll hang myself, if I get married again!"

Marriage means giving someone else control of your money, what you eat, and where you go at all times. If you object, you "oppressing her" or "acting like a neanderthal. Or worse, a conservative."

2:21 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been married to the same low maintenance woman for 31 years. She is strong mentally physically and morally and emotionally. I can buy her a bottle of Scotch for Christmas and she'll really appreciate it (single malt of course, there are limits).

And Joe, there are a very few things that you should do prior to marriage that statistically will reduce the odds of divorce *almost* to zero: You did one of them: remain virgin prior to marriage. the others are strange things like go to church together, take a honeymoon ...(and one or two other simple things.) That low divorce rate is a relfection of good decision making & why it was not stupid.

2:35 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe, when I say "I'm not like most women and I don't care about those kinds of things" you probably won't believe me, but it's the truth. I'm very much a guy's girl. So much so, in fact, that some of my best friends are male. I watch sports, I'll have the occasional beer and I work in a male dominated profession. Is it possible that I'm on the other end of the spectrum and that's the problem? I'm too much "one of the guys"? I look very girly, but don't act that way.

The sad part is, when you get to this point where you can't get a date, you tend to stop blaming society and current trends and start to blame yourself. Is this the same for men? "I can't find a decent girl, so there must be something wrong with me"?

2:49 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think to be fair to Vickie, what she says is true but only because most guys are a tad suspicious now, it's hard to tell who wants to soak you for all you've got and who really is interested, hence most guys don't even bother to try to get to know you. However there are good guys still seeking out there.

The only advice I'll give is take your time and sift through the hay. And like Joe said, the less validation you require the more likely you're to find straightforward honest guys. Guys that are into games will tell you all you want to hear and give you what you want until they get what they want and then poof!

3:15 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's my litmus test:

Never marry a woman who balks at a prenuptial agreement. Even if she eventually gives in and agrees to sign it, don't marry her.

BTW, prenups can, and should, cover a lot more than who gets what if you break up. You can even agree to who does what housework, how free time is spent, and cover a multitude of issues that lead to chronic resentments in many marriages. You can also create an agreement or amend it after you are married.

3:32 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I feel this is where I came in! I used to hear all this kind of talk back in the 1950s too. Women were treacherous. There were movies about how women were out to snag men, ruin their lives. There were songs like "Don't Fence Me In." The carnival barker in Carousel talking about how he didn't want to be tied down with a wife and kid. And Shane walking away from..whatever. Made me resolve even as a child to never be dependent. Then feminism came along and provided the ideology. Didn't marry until I was 43.

So now we're back to square one. Part of me wishes my husband felt that way because then I could cut loose with a free conscience. I miss being single. Marriage is hard. I try hard to be low maintenance, available for sex and not neurotic like my mother was. But part of me wants to sneak out, buy a condo somewhere and be on my own again.

But where does all this end up?

3:36 PM, January 19, 2006  
Blogger Jack said...

It is said that men can't handle intimacy. That's not it at all. It is sadness that men can't handle and they fear that intimacy will take them there.

3:56 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the sad fact some other posters have observed about good husbands/fathers being expected to focus purely on work and family. The system seems rigged to let women keep all their girlfriends, yet so many men seem destined to let their friends slip away.
Perhaps part of it is that women relate with each other just fine over the phone whereas men are more interested in bonding while *doing* something, even if it is just sitting around BS'ing around the TV with a beer in hand (g).
Essentially, yes, girl's night out is self-expression, but guys night is somehow taking time away from the family.
The traditional southern hunting-fishing-golfing thing is seen as unenlightened. None of those are my thing anyway, but I do somewhat envy the good old boys who can still do it.

The rest of us "good family men" slip into the work/home routine while women have their girlfriends (and all the divorced or bitching ones don't help) and Lifetime channel.

Women pat themselves o the back for being superior in relationships etc etc but they actually effectively, if unintentionally, discourage men from maintaining any deeper firendships outside the family.

FWIW, I've been pretty happily married for 14 years, but I don't want to end up like my father or father-in-law with no close male friends.

6:03 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 11:39 AM, who advocated a two-track marriage system involving different levels of commitment and barriers to dissolution:

You should be aware that the State of Louisiana already has such a scheme of "covenant marriage". I haven't seen any analysis of how it has been working out so far, but I agree with you that it is a good idea.

8:45 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Vickie,

You sound like a young woman who would be a good match for a sensible man, so I doubt any "problem" meeting men has to do with shortcomings on your part.

"Famouslurker" has a good point-- look in other places, like churches or professional associations. You may also want to look at men somewhat older than yourself-- one other poster mentioned that he didn't really grow up until his 30s.

If I may toot my own horn here-- I'm single, 44, and could probably use a wife, if for no other reason than it would be good to have a stablizing influence on my life. For many reasons, I have never married, seldom dated, and haven't had a girlfriend since 1988. (Maybe I'm just undersexed. [rueful chuckle])

It's taken me a while to grow up, and I'm probably not there yet. But look around-- a guy like me, who's at least trainable, likes unusual things like amateur (or "ham") radio and Japanese animation, is college-educated, and is basically a decent sort, just might be what you're looking for, even if he's got more "miles on the clock" than you do.

[end horn-tooting]

Good luck, Vickie, and keep an open mind-- age matters less than attitude, manners, and CHARACTER.

("Fujii Yakumo" is a pseudonym. I don't want to use my real name-- it's too distinctive. Yes, I'm a Japanese animation geek, or "otaku", and "Fujii Yakumo" is the name of the hero in "3x3 Eyes", my favorite anime.)

9:56 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever else one might say about the trade-offs involved with getting married (and plenty of interesting things have been said here), the one thing that every man (and, to a lesser extent, a financially independent woman) must understand about marriage is that it constitutes the legal equivalent of selling yourself into slavery. This fact should be uppermost in the mind of anyone contemplating marriage, and should discourage all but the most certain, the most foolhardy or the most parasitic.

I strongly disagree with Dr. Helen that marriage should not be viewed as a transaction for two reasons. First, the legal consequences can only be appraised realistically from this perspective. And secondly, these consequences only come into play when all of the emotional satisfactions of a successful relationship have dissipated and the parties are left to fight over money and custody.

And the sad fact is that as a legal institution, marriage benefits only two classes of people: freeloaders and family lawyers. It survives in its present form principally because women and (particularly) children are emotionally appealing freeloaders, which causes most people to suspend their disbelief at the unfairness (or in many cases, the sheer stupidity) of its rules, and because family lawyers are the only organized interest group involved in shaping the law.

Abetted by the "family law" bar, marriage as presently constituted gives some people (ususally, but not always the woman) the right to money they haven't earned and full custody of children only partly theirs. That men feel oppressed as a result is hardly surprising, given that marriage violates every one of the following basic principles that would underlie a decently balanced legal regime:

1. No adult is entitled to be financially supported by someone else. If you are lucky enough to find someone to support you, be grateful (you might even consider saying "thanks" once in a while). If he gets tired of supporting you, support yourself (without whining).

2. No adult is entitled to assets accumulated through the efforts of someone else unless he expressly gives them to you. Again, if you are lucky enough to find someone who wants to share with you, be grateful. When he stops wanting to share with you, say "thank you" and move on.

3. Human capital belongs solely to the person who cultivated it (any other rule violates the 13th Amendment), and valuation of truly joint assets should be established based on the assumption that each spouse died on the date of separation (i.e., no joint asset should have any value attributable to the future efforts of either spouse). If one spouse paid for the other's training, he's entitled to be reimbursed for the cost with interest (but the cost should be amortized over 5 years after the training ends).

4. Being a stay-at-home spouse is not a job, and "moral support" (even assuming it's real) is not the same as working for a living.

5. Unless your children are very young or unless there are a good many of them, being a stay-at-home parent is not a full time job that precludes making an economic contribution to your own support or that of your household. (I recognize that there may be many good reasons for a couple to agree that one spouse should stay home with children, and I think express (preferably written) agreements on this subject should be enforceable, but there should be no presumption that a caregiver gets a pass on supporting himself).

6. Children (unlike property) belong equally to both parents, and if they split each parent should, as a matter of right, have access (both custody and visitation) to their children 50% of the time. Parents should be free to work out an arrangement that suits them and their children (including one that changes the 50% allocation); but absent such an agreement there should be a presumption that a 50% arrangement is in the best interest of the children, overcoming that presumption should require "clear and convincing evidence" of the unfitness of the disadvantaged parent and unproven allegations of abuse should be met with harsh sanctions (up to and including jail time).

7. An important corollary of (6) is that each parent is equally financially responsible for the support of their children. In the absence of a contrary agreement between the parents, mothers who are unwilling to provide at least 50% of the financial support for their children from their own efforts (which does not include stealing from their ex) are "deadbeats" in exactly the same sense as fathers unwilling to pay child support. (If one spouse is unable to provide 50%, the more financially able should have to assure the basic level of support for the children (see (8) below), but the stigma should remain.)

8. Children are entitled to a basic middle class standard of living; they are not entitled to share in their parents' "economic station" above that level (unless their parents choose to provide it). Mandated child support above this minimum is merely a subsidy to a custodial spouse.

In contrast, what "family law" actually provides is "equal" division of assets earned by only one spouse, post-marriage support potentially lasting for years (or even forever) based on the notion that the supported spouse is entitled to a standard she can't or won't provide for herself, that children "belong" to their mothers and their fathers are obligated to support them even if they have no custody or visitation rights. At its essence, it is a regime of legally-enforced theft, with a sanctimonious edge that adds insult to injury. Is it any wonder that sensible (or lucky) men want no part of it.

11:15 PM, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading a great many of these comments, some sad and many bitter ones...I appreciate my husband even more...and I don't think I would even want to be in the same room with some of you-wow.

12:57 AM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read all the way through, and while I should have been in bed ages ago, I want to add my two cents' worth.

I'm a single mother - welfare dependent with a some work during the week, so I'm not a complete sponge.

My little one is the product of a longterm affair, and was not an accident - she was a decision I thought long and hard about. Like for at least a year.

Her father was told in advance - I was going off the pill, getting pregnant, then I was out of here. He didn't want to make a decision about which of his women he wanted to be with after 3 years with me and 7 years with her, so I was making one.

He accepted that, but when I got pregnant, he didn't leave.

Did I love him? Absolutely. He knew it. Did he love me? He said he did, but now I don't know.

Since I had been badly burned before, I know that I had/have commitment issues, and he obviously had the same problem. I would consider him a serial monogamist/bigamist.

Do I see him as a bad person? Not as such. I see him as irresponsible, unreliable and somewhat untrustworthy. It doesn't help when you give him every opportunity to be a part of his daughter's life and all he wants to do is play on the fringes. He loves her to bits and tells me he wants to spend more time with her.


This is a man who, after he broke up with the first girlfriend and (eventually) told her he had a child by me, did not make any commitment to myself or our daughter beyond giving me money occasionally and seeing her regularly for a few hours each week. Each commitment that he made for her was after pressure from me.

He was also quite happy to see other women behind my back and lie both about and to me.

It's been difficult for years now - I have so many people around me demanding that I take him to the cleaners, force him to pay maintenance, cut him out of her life altogether. Leaving the country would be applauded by my family.

None of this addresses my daughter and her needs.

He believes that a child needs both parents. He just doesn't believe that both parents should have to make a real, binding commitment to that child's upbringing.

Currently, he makes noises (no doubt prompted by the current girlfriend) to see her more often. That's not the problem. The problem is that he can't be relied upon to honour that commitment. There have been occasions already where meeting up with the girlfriend was more important than seeing his daughter. Okay, she's two years old at the time, but that's not the point. Particularly when agreements that he has made with me about the child have been overridden because the girlfriend didn't like them.

Unsurprisingly, he never wants to get married. Never did. He's also seen the divorce rates; in the news, amongst friends and work colleagues, like the rest of us.

Do I want to get married?

I don't know. I doubt I ever will - statistically, the little one (she's 4) will be safer if I remain single, and that's a big incentive.

Will her father ever grow up? I doubt that. He doesn't want to. He likes to talk about being responsible, but the fact that he can't be relied upon doesn't bode well for us.

I worry endlessly about what sort of rolemodelling she is getting from her mum and dad. I can't consider him a "parent" because he's never been there for the hard work. He gets to play dad once a week and plenty of other times when it suits him. He claims he's busy, but he's the one who chooses to work 2 jobs, be a part of 2 bands, have a girlfriend. He's never chosen to be a "parent".

I get bitter at times, and wonder what I've done wrong. I thought we were best friends. We communicated on so many levels. We laughed and mucked about and we did do things as a family.

I never tried to force him into marriage or anything like that. I've never tried to keep his daughter from him, so they have a great relationship. I've recently told him to stick his money up his backside, since I've been unreasonable enough to ask what can I expect and when. I should apparently accept that he'll give me a bit of money each month.

I guess it got too hard for him because I went from being independent, in control, fun girl to someone who was depressed, insecure and needed reassurance.

I now have broken family relationships, lost friendships, and all because I never dragged him into a marriage he didn't want. I haven't forced him to pay maintenance, even though I have a sneaking suspicion that he can afford it (paying one mortgage and being able to cover another one while working 4 days a week is a bit of a giveaway).

Hindsight tells me I was stupid to get involved with him in the first place, but hindsight doesn't fix things. It just enables you to identify where you might go wrong again.

I guess it makes me sad - I read all the comments, think about my own story, and so much of it rings true.

I have friends who have been through multiple divorces. Some are bitter beyond belief, and others just pick themselves up, dust themselves off and move on again.

I really don't know what to do for myself. I miss the laughter, the fun and doing things with him and my daughter. I miss spending the night with an adult in my bed rather than having a toddler snuggle in with me. I've discovered celibacy as the thought of another man makes me run a mile.

Sometimes I think I still love him, and would love the opportunity to actually be a family, but that will never happen. He would have to accept real responsibility, and in his mid-30s, I can't see that happening.

There are a lot like him out there, and it's understandable when you consider how many women do shaft their husbands when they tire of the marriage. Not all of us women are like that, but plenty are - all I have to do is look at those around me telling me that I should be dragging him through the courts for money or keeping his daughter from him. What about our child? She is still his, she loves him to bits and he loves her. Surely that is what's most important. I don't have the right to keep them apart.

It's difficult to keep it all balanced, but for her sake it must be done. I'd like to shake him and tell him: "Grow up! Be a real man! Being called Peter Pan is not a compliment!" and also, "Don't tell me you are committed to being a father unless you are prepared to be a real one and not just a disneyland dad." That means commitment, and one night a week is not that.

Hehe. I can hear the howls of outrage from everyone around if that were to ever happen. It won't, but sometimes I think it would be nice.

(I hope I've not been ranting too much and this doesn't come off as though I've been drinking bile. It's just another perspective. I've tried to prevent our child being raised by a bitter mother with a resentful father. It's bloody hard work, but in the long run it's worth it - everybody comments on how happy/secure/confident/grounded she is. I'm doing something right. It would be nice if I could have a partner, that's all.)

7:28 AM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Dr Helen, thanks for providing a place for the men to talk. Too often it's us women just ranting on and on.

It can take two to make or break a marriage, but a lot more often these days it seems to take one - and statistically ittends to be the women initiating it.

I've known men who have been bled dry by ex-wives. The women got what they wanted, and the husband got to pay for children they couldn't be with, houses they couldn't live in.

It's an appalling situation, but I don't know how to fix it. I just do my bit to ensure that I don't fall into that category.

For those of you with successful marriages, I envy you. :) God bless you.

For those of us without, bless us too. It doesn't have to always be this way.

7:34 AM, January 20, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks for sharing your perspective; you sound like a caring and concerned mother. I am glad you have not let your embittered friends persuade you to "take this guy to the cleaners." Having worked in many custody disputes, I can tell you there is no easier way to harm your daughter than to have her parents arguing bitterly over money, etc. and visitation. I am sorry that the father does not want to see your daughter--she sounds lovely. The best thing you can teach her is how to be a problem solver regardless of the circumstances and that whether or not her father sees her is not a reflection of her worth. If you feel depressed about the situation--you might check out a professional who can help you to cope with your feelings in a way that minimizes their impact on your little one. I wish you luck--don't give up altogether on relationships as just when you do, someone often comes along who changes your mind.

8:10 AM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FD, I think this is the heart of the problem:
"My little one is the product of a longterm affair, and was not an accident - she was a decision I thought long and hard about. Like for at least a year.

Her father was told in advance - I was going off the pill, getting pregnant, then I was out of here. He didn't want to make a decision about which of his women he wanted to be with after 3 years with me and 7 years with her, so I was making one.

He accepted that, but when I got pregnant, he didn't leave."

You were going to have the child regardless of the state of the relationship, doing it w/o him having committed to being husband/[true]father... and are now disappointed that he is not those things. ??? You never required them up front!
This is precisely why marriage is still useful in spite of the legal flaws.

I do applaud you for trying to put your daughter first, given that he is trying to be at least a partial dad in spite of your original assumption of total responsibility.

8:42 AM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our liberal democracy has reduced marriage to a contract. It must be a covenant. Contracts define legal agreements. Covenants make families. Therein lies all the difference. Pre-nuptuals (except for those designed to protect children from an prior marriage) are nothing but preludes to divorce. I want to marry you, but I don't trust you. Sounds like a great way to start a family....yech. Trust and respect are at least as important in a successful marrige as love - if not more.

10:31 AM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Quite the opposite, the problem is that marriage is quite explicitely NOT a contract in our modern society. Instead, it's a collection of whatever the judiciary/legislature decide it is today. A great many of the complaints about marriage on this list would be alleviated by making at least the financial elements of marriage and explicite, enforcable contract (and preferably one where the parties could choose the terms). Unfortunately, while you can get a prenup, there's no way to know that it will actually be enforced by the courts. They may simply decide willy nilly to interpret it or ignore it as they see fit.

11:10 AM, January 20, 2006  
Blogger Richard said...

Does the fact that I am going to get to pay an additional $14K a year for my stepchildren to go to college when all of them are in at the same time because my income is counted for figuring "needs based" scholarships (when it wouldn't be if I just lived here) count?
And yes I realized it beforehand.

12:29 PM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I have been married for just over 11 years, most of it joyous! Here are some random observations on what has helped our marriage not only last, but strengthen over time.
1) Being friends first is a huge advantage. Romantic/Erotic love is fickle and easily extinguished. Love that grows from a friendship has a better chance of lasting.
2) A long courtship: We dated for almost 6 six years before we got married. This gave us time to see that our love was more than just a good friendship. Another advantage is that we both pretty well knew the faults of the person we agreed to marry before the "I do's".
3) If, like me, you have a short temper, learn to keep your mouth shut until you calm down. Then keep you mouth shut for another few hours. Then think about what you want to say and say it as nicely as possible. Also wait for your spouse to be calm as well. (Side note: It's a great lesson for you children if they see you discuss something in a civil, respectful manner with your spouse. Never yell at your spouse in front of the children unless it's a life or death situation.)
4) You and your spouse should examine the way in which you communicate and share that information with each other. Your spouse may think he/she is just about screaming "Yes, I want to go to the movies with you tonight!", when you hear "A movie would be nice."
5) Don't stop dating once you get married. Even with children, you should find a few times a month to go out together (without the children).
6) The words "I love you", spoken with conviction, can carry you through many problems. Always kiss your spouse before you part for the day.
7) Take the time to pray each day with your spouse.
8) We discussed in a general way how we wanted to raise children BEFORE we started trying to have them. We already knew that my wife was going to stay home with them and that we were probably going to home school them before our first daughter was born. (We have since decided that we are definitely going to home school now.)
9) If you look for trouble, you WILL find it. Don't enter into relationships with other people that will cause you to stray from your spouse. A good rule of thumb for men (and women) is to never be alone with a member of the opposite sex who is not a blood relation of yours.

My wife has been the second biggest blessing in my life. I can't imagine life without her love. I trust her to raise and school our children, take care of our home, and to be a life-long soulmate. She trusts me to provide for her and our children, protect our family, and to be her life-long soulmate.

Dr. Helen, thanks for hosting these comments. (BTW, if you want another topic that is sure to generate a number of comments, post something about men's relationships with their fathers....)

1:38 PM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8.42. :) I wholeheartedly agree with you on that. It really was a foolish way to go about it. My rationale at the time was that I loved him, but couldn't continue with the situation so I was going to change it. LOL. I certainly succeeded in changing things!

As we all know, hindsight is 20/20 vision.

Regarding her father's contact, he has her over night one night a week, and calls her one other evening around dinner time. That is all that I hold him to. There have been times that he's asked to see her more often on a regular basis, but having seen too many times the disappointment when parents don't stick to their routines, I've decided against that. Extra visits are kept ad hoc and as a surprise treat. That way, she knows when she will definitely see or hear from him, with the bonus of being able to see him other times, too. I keep it flexible.

I've been accused of being controlling and manipulative (that's to my face, who knows what behind my back!), but again, the child comes first.

I certainly wouldn't recommend raising kids the way I am, but she is more than worth the grief. If I were to do it all again, I can't say I wouldn't do it the same way. I still wouldn't suggest anyone else try it, though.

6:36 PM, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made the wonderful mistake of falling in love with a markedly insanish girl ... 11 years later, we've been married for 7.

Like an earlier poster, my wife is a _serious_ hypochondriac. the cure for this was (unexpectedly) when she (against my (mistaken) judgement) got a part-time job in a doctor's office. I have not heard about any deadly disease since about a month after she started. The reason is simple ... she has faced her fears and discovered reality ... she's also gone from being disease-free (and afraid) to catching 10% cases of _everything_ (and understanding disease for the first time in her life) ... she constantly now has a tickly of this or a tickle of that and fights it off in hours. (most hypochondriacs are mostly bug-free and jump at micro-symptoms ... typical, normal human aches and nerve-firings, etc)
(The other 'treatment' for hypochondria is "immersive therapy" ... the spouse becomes the counselor instead of the here_take_Zoloft-Psychiatrist ... pre-study the target diseases and talk the patient/wife down when they are NOT scared ... pre-set up your arguing-points before you need them during one of her panic attacks so she'll remember ... nothing gets into someone's head _while_ they are panicing, you must have told her early. ... AND DO NOT LET THE PSYs put her on drugs ... noone ever safely gets off them without further damage and modern neural-med does not understand the brain well enough to say that there are no deleterious consequences even after stopping ... some drugs claim to intentionally have post-stopping rewire-the-brain effects.)

My wife has gone through (at verious times) ... massive paranoia, hypersexuality, hypo-sexuality, hypochondriasis, serious social problems, academic disaster, violent over-reactions, raging jealousy, etc. When I met her at 18 (I was 21) on her first day at a new university 1500 miles from home, she was convinced she was a lesbian and changed so fast that she never made it to the first meeting of our university's LGBT club.

For reasons that would take writing at book-length almost no guy would ever stand being married to her, yet I have ... and the recent few years are the vindication for the first few years of infinite patience.

1) before you get married, look at older people, especially of your parents' generation and learn what makes marriages into disasters ... think about it and before you even start a relationship, pre-emptively steer clear of ... micro management ... petty jealousy, especially of time ... separatism ... rage ... expressed bitterness ... outside venting ... hopelessness ... self-centeredness.
2) look at the people 10-15 years older than you and seek the qualities of mate you wish to be married to in 15 years, trace that back to someone of your own age
3) don't marry while young-and-fun-chasing, get married only when you "feel that clock ticking" ... when you feel wild+free, even at 40, you are not ready to settle ... when you crave _bonding_, you are ready, even at 18
4) decide who you are ... determine if there are things about yourself you wish that you can change ... if these are short-term changeable, do that first ... then
5) get to understand yourself ... imagine that your potential mate is making a list of who they are seeking ... look for someone whose list matches you who also matches your list of them.
6) never marry fast ... a multi-year courtship is best
7) do not move in together until you actually marry ... but do co-mingle every other aspect of your lives ... my wife and I shared a bank account 2 years before we were married but kept that magic start-life-together feeling when we moved in together after our honeymoon
8) if your families are unhealthy, separate yourself from the unhealthy parts ... you can reconcile later.
9) do physical things together as much as possible, _especially_ before marriage ... sports, outdoors activities, etc ... build up shared experiences ... much of this can be entirely free ... parks, hiking, tennis, biking, etc
10) touch ... for no reason, unexpectedly ... maintain physical contact of a intimate-but-not-sexual nature as much as you can ... I unexpectedly run my hand down her back randomly (intentionally not predictable), caress her hair, unexpected foot-massages, play with her hands, out-of-the-blue kissing, etc
11) make it obvious that you care ... (I'm a little overboard on this possibly) ... I get flowers for her on our _monthly_ anniversary and inconsistently throw in something odd ... one month I wrote I [HEART] U in clown-baloons on our wall to see when she woke up ... another time I put a card for her in the car above the visor so she'd not see it until she went to check her hair after I was gone for the day.
[NOTE: this has caused some distress between my parents when my mom realized what I routinely did for my wife and how little my dad did for her]
12) learn what makes you angry and pre-emptively train yourself out of expressing _rage_ ... being upset is one thing ... being stupid about it is really not good ...
13) deal with impossible situations, freak-outs, raving, etc by short-circuiting your spouse ... get a squirt-bottle and if they are going nuttty, instead of using the typical male response of she's-gone-loony-i'll-shout-at-her-to-make-her-stop ... don't ... whisper ONLY (whispering drives raving people nuts for a few seconds then forces then to shift gears) ... and if she continues to rave, use the squirt bottle ... something about cold water hitting skin triggers an abrupt psychological shift, a neural jolt that snaps someone back to a mental-reset ... and saves you from trying shouting.
[NOTE: typical male respnose to female nuttiness is to shout ... this sets off an internal chemical cascade leading to anger even if you did not mean to get angry to start with ... it is better to stay calm and short-circuit her rage/tantrum without letting yourself get carried away also ... plus male anger tends to lead to violence, which really never helps any situation]
14) believe in reciprocity: whatever you would get upset at, you MUST be _overtly_ grateful for the opposite. If you would get upset at unhelpfulness, be audibly thankful for helpfulness ... if you would get upset at overspending, be audibly grateful for frugalness, ... this includes "thank you for marrying me" statements.
15) strongly encourage her to have a life, hobbies, etc
16) do not tolerate double standards in either of you (from the beginning of dating) unless you can tolerate them forever (like chivalry regarding door-holding, etc)
17) be her "bestest" friend ... and more importantly, make a "try not to complain to outsiders" rule ... divorced friends will read HUGE mountains into tiny molehills in any micro-problem you have or argument ... we realized that every divorced friend of hers always read their own disasters into every molehill we had and pre-emptively counseled divorce as the solution partly to validate their own problems as worthy of the solution they chose, invariably leaving them lost and alone and bitter about males. (conservely, those I refer to had made seriously poor choices in males)
18) take time before having kids ... lots of time ... there is no hurry ... once you have kids, they will (and should) dominate your life
19) take time to grow up ... date for ages, settle slowly, take years before kids ... americans grow up slowly ... you are not even approaching grown up until you are comfortable admitting mistakes ... and you are not stably grown up at all until you have stopped changing psychologically for at least a year or two.


anonymous @ 10:54 PM who has not even dated in many years, intentionally poor appearance, highIQ, low social tolerance, low-sound-tolerance / hearing-problems, high-tolerance-for-aloneness, etc
Sir ... we share something in common, but I fear you may never see this ... I hope you do though:
Please look up "Asperger's" ... I am an ASpie and what you wrote is eerily familiar. You are less unique than you may think and there are others people out there like you (and me (and my wife)). This can go un-realized/detected for decades (as it was in my case) and leave you no understanding of potential ways to deal with society without being entirely an outcast.


you are in a classic problem age for girls that you have to improvise your way out of: a few males are sane and stable below 25 ... they are almost all if not actually all taken already and unavailable. most males do not become actually grown up until 30-ish ++. Your choices are to eith er date older guys, wait until you are a bit older, or look in all the OTHER places for a guy to meet. Any guy you meet in a classic place that 25-yo guys hang out is interested in what's between your arms and legs, not between your ears.

Meet reasonable guys by activities, not places. This depends on your interests which I do not know, but if my bad memory holds, you said you are (paraphrasing) a pretty-tomboy ... I take this to mean that since you said that you are one-of-the-guys ... then go out and have fun and be seen having fun ... stop looking and just be seen being happy and laughing (few things in life are more attractive than a laughing and happy woman). If you are interested, get out and be physical ... my brother and his wife met around 30-ish through windsurfing (excellent way to be both physical and visibly feminine) ... also snow-skiing or biking-down-ski-mountains, get into a tennis or golf group, join a school-tutoring group or big-brothers-big-sisters. But I can guarantee that meeting guys at any traditional pick-up-place means you will pick up a guy of the low caliber who'd hang out there.

Essentially I'd recommend trying to find an activity club/group (as compared to danceclub) that you can join that most closely approximates the kind of guy you'd like to find combined with what you find fun.

May I also recommend looking at the geeky types you may have ignored in the past ... they tend to be massively high earners (if they are in science or computers), attentive, non-macho, rarely have emotional baggage from the past, easily trainable, etc. They are also trivial to pick up (ask for computer help for example), easy to distinguish quality by your age (should be reasonably well employed by now), generally open to new things (but just not to do them alone), easy to find (branch out from university social circles ignoring bars/nightclubs). If you actually are interested in high-earning, high-IQwide-interest types, consider a renaissance festival or SCA group .. brilliant and good with swords :)

Remember that males and females are radically differeny socially and many guys will only tolerate 'dating' relucantly, whereas 'fun' (sports events or outdoors activities like biking-down-mountains) they'll go for in a heartbeat. Also many guys have been emotionally traumatized by the glamourous girls but may not be scared off ofthe fun+outdoors types.


This blog-comment-page may lead you to a disproportionately negative attitude to marriage. Here's the positive side that is woefully under-represented here:
Cohabitation leads to a friends-with-benefits-with-financial-benefits-too arrangement, but the lowering-your-guard-trust relationship never really forms without the i'm-not-leaving-you commitment implicit in marriage. This can best be (badly) explained as a deeper level of peacefulness in knowing that in a tumultuous world, at least one aspect of your life is sane and predictable.

NOTE that this implies marrying someone sane and predictable when both of you are of an age to be sane and predictable, not young, neophilic and wild.

sorry this got a little long ... ASpies tend to have longish diatribes :)

yahoo email - m a r c u s 5 3 1

1:08 AM, January 21, 2006  
Blogger Internal Medicine Doctor said...

As a doctor, I'm always amazed at the things men do outside their marriage to be able to continue being married. As a guy, I'm not amazed at all.


6:39 AM, January 21, 2006  
Blogger BobH said...


To me and, I think, to most men (even those under 26!), relationships are necessary adjuncts to doing something, to achieving some goal. Being in a relationship does not, by itself, have a great deal of value. Furthermore, men seem to learn about others' mental states and dispositions by observing them in a variety of situations over an extended period of time, not by engaging in long discussions about feelings.

Why do women think that going to dinner is such a wonderful thing to do with a guy? That has always struck me as incredibly boring, or at least it would be if it weren't so stressful. But show me a woman who wants to paddle a canoe up a creek, photographing wildlife as we go, and I'll be very interested. Ditto with trying (repeat, trying) to photograph the band at a rock club. Ditto with taking pictures at the local criterium bike race. (Yes, there is a pattern here.) The point is to be DOING something, preferably something that you greatly enjoy and that is best achieved in a group.

1:05 PM, January 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Good guess, but I don't have Asperger's Syndrome.

Criterion A) I learned to be by myself out of necessity and practice, not by choice. I enjoy socializing, and I often feel I don't get enough of it. But if there's more than one person talking at once, or non-trivial background noise, I can't understand what anyone's saying (I can lip-read, sometimes, but that's tricky if people aren't facing you or in poor lighting...). I don't enjoy just being near a crowd or conversation without participating. Think of it this way: If you liked the taste of ice cream, but eating ice cream made you temporarily deaf, how often would you eat it?

Criterion B) I'm a bit fidgety (and a former percussionist), but otherwise, no.

Poor grooming was an experiment which didn't work and has enough unintended consequences that I've been reconsidering it.

Off-topic: I was in the SCA (and several similar groups) when I was younger.

11:46 PM, January 21, 2006  
Blogger Ken Mitchell said...

"Are women that bad?" My experience has been 50-50. My first wife and I were happily married for 3 years; too bad it lasted for another 7. She was vindictive, demanding, and capricious.

My second marriage has been as good as the first was bad. It's too soon to tell (we've only been married for 25 years now, so we're still newlyweds) but I think it'll probably work out OK.

But having seen both sides, I think that men generally have more to lose than to gain from marriage. When I was first married, sex outside of marriage was severely frowned upon; nowadays, it's common. The key to a successful marriage is that you have to be FRIENDS even before you are LOVERS. The marriages based on love alone, without friendship first, are the ones that will fail in the years ahead.

2:10 AM, January 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Mitchell, I think you hit the nail on the head. Mean have more to loose than to gain in marriage. If you look at the expectation value (the sum of each possible outcome times it's probability) of marriage for a man it's negative. For a woman marrying an middle to upper class (economically) man, the expectation value of marriage is very positive. Until things even out, and a man can enter marriage with a positive expectation value, expect the willingness of men to marry to decline.

3:01 PM, January 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually men experience many increases in quality of life as a result of marriage. Overall men are more healthy in marriage, less likely to end up in jail in marriage and also more emotionally stable in marriage. Married men are more likely to advance in their careers and less likely to engage in public acts of aggression that get them in trouble with the law or mark them as antisocial.

Because women do approximately 85% of the unpaid work in family life, men have a pretty easy time of it when they are married. They make the lionshare of income and reap the benefits of the unpaid work. Since women do nearly all of the unpaid work of society, the man is sometimes required to share some of his paid work as a means of validating the woman's unpaid work (she gets to eat dinner and buy clothes and have a bed to sleep in for raising the toddlers all day).

A far more equitable solution would be to share the unpaid work and the paid work equally. Then when men or women leave relationships, neither would owe the other. Both parties would contribued unpaid work and paid work and both parties would continue to do so either in or out of relationsip contexts.

3:18 AM, January 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been married for almost 12 years. Sometimes my wife and I drive each other crazy, 80% we happily live with each other, and from time to time we feel a huge amount of love that takes us back to that day in 1994.

One of our advantages was that when we dated, we were temporarily poor. That is, we came from middle class backgrounds but were un- or underemployed for most of the 18 months between first date and engagement ring. We saw each other without pretense.

A great deal of unhappiness in marriage comes from unrealistic expectations, I believe. Couples that could be happy are miserable because they expected to be ecstatic. Then they get divorced and - especially when they are parents - become miserable.

Divorce with kids is just pure misery 90% of the time. Poll the divorced (especially divorced and now single) parents you know about how happy they are. Most aren't.

12:11 PM, January 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of your helpful comments and good luck to all of us. It's really nice to get a little encouragement every now and then. :)

4:42 PM, January 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know that I have any "magic answers" - I've only been married for ten years as of this June. But I can share a couple of things that have worked for us:

1. We share a common faith, which gives us common values, a common worldview, and a common set of criteria for decision-making.

2. We have determined that we will not use the "d-word" no matter how ugly things get. (I once joked about it during an argument - and it was clear it was a joke - and the argument immediately went on hold while I got read the riot act.) The advantage to us is that we're forced to work things out, instead of taking the easy way out. It also gives us a sense that the other person is committed to the hard work of being married.

3. Related to #2, we have agreed to get whatever help we need whenever we need it, if and when we run into problems. As a friend of mine once said, spinning your wheels till you're buried up to the hubcaps wastes a lot of energy - and doesn't really get you out of the mud pit.

4. We each have determined that the other person comes first. Not that "my" needs aren't important - but "her" needs take precedence.

5. We do at least one date night every other week. And one rule is, "No MacDonalds, etc". Not that I mind a good burger - but we try to make this a special event. Romance isn't optional - it's essential!

6. Last but not least, we set a budget and stick with it (best we can, anyway). I know we should never have made it thru seminary - it ain't cheap, you know - on what we each were making . . . but we did. And we did the date night all thru school, too, because it was that important. We haven't fought about how we're going to spend our money since we've been married - even though we've had some tense discussions about where the money was going to come from.

Again, it's not foolproof. But it works for us. It all boils down to "considering each others needs as more important than your own."

5:10 PM, January 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few more thoughts...

(1) As a happily married man, who talks with his wife about other happily married couples, I've certainly seen that (in general) women remember details and past events better than men. Related to this, (and still in general) women find things that happened more than few months ago to be undiminished in importance, whereas men consider that "old history".

So, in general, not only does the legal marriage contract currently put more liability on the man than the women, but it is a "feminine" agreement in which details of what happened years ago can matter immensely, to his disadvantage.

Saying this another way, the personality that wants to voice problems and deal with them is not benefitted by formalizing the relationship with a contract. The personality that does not mind letting problems quiety fester until they explode does benefit.

So even if marriage was legally reduced to "civil unions" of gender-neutral language and liability, the concept would still make more sense to the stereotypical woman than the stereotypical man.

(2) As someone who did not have sex before marriage, I am glad I made that choice. It was not for any religious reasons, at that time. I simply noticed that friends who dated and were platonic, if they broke up, stayed friends after breaking up.

In my college days, I also felt that I only wanted to date someone if the relationship might lead to something permanent. Now I feel differently. I had quite a few rough edges, as did some of the women I dated at college. Dating was an awful lot about working off those rough edges. Now that I am married, I am glad my wife is not the one who had to suffer through that with me, back then. She got a husband who had fewer rough edges, and who was appreciative of the process of mutual support in removing rough edges.

So if I had a child of dating age, I would very strongly advise platonic yet emotionally intimate dating that does not expect to create a permanent relationship. That is not what people normally desire when influenced by hormones and romantic ideas. It's a tricky path to walk. But it makes for a good marriage later, even if with someone else.

Obviously, American society does not encourage high school or college kids to expect or have ephemeral, platonic, and emotionally intimate dating relationships. Vickie noted this eloquently with older men too.

It's not because this is difficult. People are quite capable of separating love and lust, at least until society bombards them messages that this is impossible or neglects to teach them the difference in the first place.

It's basically that "dating" is so much about shallow things like dinners and movies and miniature golf courses. It's not about how to be best friends with someone while working out your future goals and being supportive of each other's growth and maturing.

As BobH said, he wants someone to do photography with. He probably has some rough edges he may or may not know about, but once aware of would not mind a caring person helping him mature though. And I'd bet he would appreciate a society where he could have a woman for a best friend, doing things together and growing together, and even celebrate whatever holidays they do together without them or their family/friends constantly wondering if there will be some "end" to justify this "means".

6:27 PM, January 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I would never marry, I have too much to do and see. I don't like kids, they're too expensive, and no matter how good you raise them they'll find some way to blame you for all their problems. Women are not to be trusted, it's not a matter of if you'll get divorced but when. I've seen people married for 20 years get a divorce. All women care about is money and what you can give them. They don't care about a man's needs, or what a man what's. With women it's all about me. I'm a younger guy and women from my generation are garbage and that's exactly how I treat them. They're manipulative, lust driven, decietful, vain, temptresses. I've gotten to the point with women where I don't even want to be around them, period. Love is a four letter word and that's it, so for all you people out there with your love my wife, God said this, and devotion talk; don't be surprised when your sweet little wife slams divorce papers down on the table in front of you and says " sign this".

1:11 PM, April 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, marraige sucks. I wish I would have just lived w/ my wife until she moved out. She has completely changed since we started dating and constantly nags me. Now since I'm m w/k's, I can't even find someoene else to be with.

12:23 PM, June 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it said that so many men here feel that women "are not to be trusted" and that all we care about is money. I am in my 20s, I have been with my boyfriend for almost 10 years. We have not got married yet because I have been in a long University program. however, I can not wait to marry the man I'm with. I love him, respect him, and I am NOT with him for his money. I am with him for companionship. He is my partner in life,truely my best friend. This is how I feel it should be. Yes, not all women are perfect, neither are all men. I agree with others who have said that a successful relationship is a choice. You must be honest about your expectations, you must be commited to the relationship - even in difficult times. In the best of relationships, while problems do exist, the problems of taking one persons money or children away from another, do not exit. I can say that I am able to make my own money, and under no circumstances, would I take my husbands' children away from him. The only rational reason for a woman to ever do that would be if she feared for her children's safety. However, if you are realistic in your initial assessment of and getting to know your partner, you will know that he is not that kind of person, and you never have that problem.
I believe that when men feel that women are not listen/caring about their needs, it is a communication break down on both sides. Likely, the woman would have similar complaints. To these men, I would advise that they re-read previous postings that talked about how important it is to put your partners needs ahead of your own. If both partners are doing this, you both end up feeling loved and special.
I hope for those men who feel so disheartened, that you find a companion who you are one day, able to have a successful marriage with.

1:07 AM, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met a woman that I was sure was my soul mate. I was deeply in love and so, I thought, was she. All this changed when I lost my high paying job through downsizing. To my credit, I went to work immediately and had two jobs, but still only made about 80% of my old income. My wife gave me a year and then began sleeping with a man who hadn't lost his job in my bed while I was at work. She left with him, taking almost all of my savings and anything else she could carry. Here explanation was that she was "an expensive bitch" and she was unhappy because I worked so much. The adultery doesn't seem to matter to the court and she got essentially everything. Besides the financial losses, I was so devastated by the betrayal that I could barely function for months. She treated me like garbage and I never worked harder at any endeavor in my life. My only consolation is that most relationships begun in adultery fail and that either God or Karma will make things right and settle the score. Will I ever get married again? Not in the United States. Maybe I'll get a job teaching english in some country where marriage is not so treacherous a prospect for a man.

6:30 PM, April 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a woman, 25, and I've been with the same partner for 4 years now. I feel very sad for the men out there who have had terrible experiences with women, and vice versa. I love my partner to pieces (not that it has always been easy, either). Both of us are broke, but we try to work together as a team. We set future goals together and we will probably get married in the next few years. I guess I just want people to know that there are good men and women out there. He is very sweet and trustworthy and goes the extra mile. I feel that we both make sacrafices for each other. I will probably soon have a much better paying job than him, and we have talked about him staying home with the kids when we eventually decide to become parents. I am young, and probably naive- but I am certain that I will never become the type of woman that has been described here, and I am certain that my partner will never become the type of man described here in all it's negativity. I wonder if the people getting burned take enough time to really know their partners. If there is only one beer in the fridge, I always leave it for my partner. If there is only one beer in the fridge, he always leaves it for me. Beware the boyfriend/girlfriend who always drinks the last beer. I know that doesn't SOUND profound, but our whole relationship goes like that, each of us being considerate of the other. It makes me happy to be a part of his happiness. It makes him happy to be a part of mine. Part of our happiness is tied to the happiness of the other. Sometimes things get hard and one of us has to stretch a bit more for the other one, but that's the beauty of a good relationship. You know you have someone to lean on when the chips are down. Relationships are like gardens, if you don't water the plants and cultivate the ground- you can't curse the plants for not producing fruit. You also can't plant tulips in the desert and expect it to be an easy task.

I remain optimistic, and I hope that some of the more negative people see that there are good people on both sides.

7:28 PM, May 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone read the Book,"Marrying a MAN, Raising a HUSBAND." If not, Google search it on the web. You'll find true enlightenment and inspiration in the Power of Love,and Companionship.

8:27 AM, June 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it really the case that in divorce, men are routinely ass-raped and deprived of their children? This discussion is rife with stories which all pretty much go like this:

'I was a wonderful caring provider and my wife fucked the pool boy in my bed while I worked 80hrs/week supporting her expensive lifestyle. Then she took all my money, the house, the kids, the dog, and the car.

Now half my paycheck goes towards supporting my whorish ex-wife and her boy toy's partying lifestyle. I'm poor and I never get to see my kids.'

Is this (or anything remotely close to this) the reality? If so, can anyone point to any studies or statistics which validate these claims?

It just seems a little hard to believe.

5:46 PM, June 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good blog. I'm a single, never married guy. Professional, good job, etc. Have been dating a great lady for almost a year. I thought I was ready to ask her to marry me (she has been hinting for months that she wants to marry). Problem is, at least 7 out of 10 guys I talk to tell me that it is one of the worst mistakes that they every made. Some tell me not to marry American women, that they are all feminist at heart. One married guy told me that I could get the same effect by selling my house, giving all my money away and having someone castrate me. This is really starting to un-nerve me and the more I learn about the legal basis against men, I'm beginning to back of marriage. I love my girlfriend, but all of these guys say their girlfriends changed once they married and begin to dominant and control. I am starting to think marriage in American can not be saved.

1:16 AM, July 29, 2007  
Blogger toysarefun said...

I will never get married, to many demands, WAY to pricey. It's bad enough, you thought men discriminated against women at work, you should see how discriminating women can be in the workplace!!!

10:39 PM, October 22, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Julian Morrison stated he's a romantic... so was I and she betrayed me after 21 years of marriage. I know, vox populus will say it was my fault, she needed more of this and more of that... is always his fault when she decides to screw around, take a love or two, stab him in the back.

4:54 PM, December 08, 2007  
Blogger Tom B said...

I’ve been married 33 years and have no plans of breaking up. My daughter got married last June and like her mom and dad, have very strong family values. Marriage is a life long commitment that ya take the bad with the good. Have all 33 years been super great? NO! I have three married brothers, all have which have been married for more years then me and they too have had problem years but they stuck to their vows.

I can’t see my life without my wife. If something happened to her (God forbid) I know I wouldn’t remarry. I’m still young at age 53 but wouldn’t think of getting married again. Why? Because, IMO, women these days are confused about who they are. It’s as though they’ve lost their identity. I’m a husband/father before ANYTHING else. I supported my family and was the breadwinner. My wife was a stay at home mom until the kids were out of HS. She’s now a business women but like me, her role of wife/mother comes before her career. Women these days appear to believe that they have to be wife, mom, business women, self sufficient, independent with a priority on career.

I’m all for marriage but not if the two are not willing to make it a life long commitment. Not if the two aren’t willing to put their marriage first.

Oh, one other thing. My wife and I were both virgins when we got married. Our love life is better now then it’s ever been. One thing I know is that I never worried about STD’s or if I had some kid out there that was mine and I didn’t know it. We married young and grew together. If I were asked if I had any regrets in the past 33 years I would say that I would have worked less, traveled for business less so that I could have spent more time with my family.

3:40 PM, March 29, 2008  
Blogger WinterSunLover said...

Marriage is misery for women in the Third World, and misery for *men* in the U.S. Weird, eh? The problem with women's attitudes and real agendas for marriage have been well documented in a fascinating article by a career counselor who's worked with thousands of people:


10:50 PM, June 30, 2008  
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10:14 PM, June 07, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, there are a few women out there that are rapacious harpies, but they're harder to find than flying ostriches. Seriously, it's the culture that US men and women grow up in. Radical feminism has not only made women more assertive, but more aggressive. They feel that there is nothing that they can't just come out with--after all they have the backing of the courts. Another way to put is that women don't grow up with a sense of shame over focusing on money and material things. We all would like to have fancy houses and cars, but we used to be taught that one had to earn such things. Women tried work in the 80s and found that there is nothing glamorous about it. Madonna came along about that time and showed women that shaking a little T and A was all that was necessary to get men to pony up. Meanwhile from the late 70s to now, feminism progressively turned our K-college system into a institution without rigor, rules, or thinking skills (these things make people feel unhappy)and a place where boys and men are despised. As a result, young men in the US are, on average, poor partners, husbands and fathers--for which are, not surprisingly, endlessly criticized by women. We live in a culture of, 'it's all mens' fault and 'I am always the victim (women)'. Too many young women are childishly angry about everything, and just like a child expect men to fix everything with no thought toward accountability or responsibility. I say make her bring everything to the table that you have or no deal. Be as practical as she is. Don't even think of marriage without a prenup and check her background out carefully. Pay the $2 for the lawyers and investigators and make damn sure she knows everything you are doing. Like Ronald Reagan used to say, 'trust but verify'. Oh, by the way, I am an unmarried man who has seen but a few marriages worth a damn, and who is extremely well educated. I never got married in the US because of the horrors I saw going on around me. I live and work in the Middle East and amazingly even here where I cannot touch any Arabic woman, I still find more respect and support for me as a man than I left back in the US. I'll marry a European or Asian woman as I have generally found both to be more mature and reasonable about men, marriage, and life.

12:06 PM, June 13, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really appreciated your article, and as a guy who had what some would say idealistic dreams on finding a woman to share my life with i can be open and voice that i haven't met ant one who loved me for me and wanted me not what i could offer materialistically. Its hurtful to think of buying love, i don't want to support that view of marriage. I'm old fashioned and just believe in love being the persons heart not wallet. And i know so many men hurt depressed and lost after their wives left them being seduced by what they perceive as a better life leaving them with no money and feeling used. Fortunately i didn't end up like that but i have experienced the pain of loss and break up feeling down and worthless. So for those nice woman out there i respect them for choosing the person as a posed the life style. A woman is worth so much more than money or being a guys trophy,more importantly tp up hold value and not allow money to decide who is their choice to marry

12:51 PM, August 24, 2011  

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