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February 10, 2008

Grow Up Already: Why Married Love Isn't "Settling"

Whilst drinking her morning coffee, the Princess ran into a rather perplexing piece (via Glenn Reynolds) on Settling for Mr. Good Enough:

... while Rachel and her supposed soul mate, Ross, finally get together (for the umpteenth time) in the finale of Friends, do we feel confident that she’ll be happier with Ross than she would have been had she settled down with Barry, the orthodontist, 10 years earlier? She and Ross have passion but have never had long-term stability, and the fireworks she experiences with him but not with Barry might actually turn out to be a liability, given how many times their relationship has already gone up in flames. It’s equally questionable whether Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, who cheated on her kindhearted and generous boyfriend, Aidan, only to end up with the more exciting but self-absorbed Mr. Big, will be better off in the framework of marriage and family. (Some time after the breakup, when Carrie ran into Aidan on the street, he was carrying his infant in a Baby Björn. Can anyone imagine Mr. Big walking around with a Björn?)

When we’re holding out for deep romantic love, we have the fantasy that this level of passionate intensity will make us happier. But marrying Mr. Good Enough might be an equally viable option, especially if you’re looking for a stable, reliable life companion. Madame Bovary might not see it that way, but if she’d remained single, I’ll bet she would have been even more depressed than she was while living with her tedious but caring husband.

What I didn’t realize when I decided, in my 30s, to break up with boyfriends I might otherwise have ended up marrying, is that while settling seems like an enormous act of resignation when you’re looking at it from the vantage point of a single person, once you take the plunge and do it, you’ll probably be relatively content. It sounds obvious now, but I didn’t fully appreciate back then that what makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.

It's hard to know what to make of this. On the one hand, I think the author has hit on something here. Too many young women run about with an Unrealistic Marriage Template in their heads. It seems to be composed of a laundry list of non-negotiable qualities which either don't exist in real, human males or do exist but effectively price them out of the marriage market (in the sense that any man who possesses all of those qualities isn't going to be willing to "settle" for them). Men are not our personal meal tickets. They shouldn't have to shower us with material things to win our affection; nor should they be expected to read our minds or surrender their independence to The Relationship. If we are adults, we will take responsibility for our own happiness and not expect a man to "make" us happy. Oddly enough, if we do this most men will bend over backwards to make us happy without our ever asking them to. It's just that they dislike traps.

But I hear the same kind of complaints coming from single men. "There are no good women out there." This is unreconstructed bunk. There are plenty of decent women out there. Contrary to the peevish meme that pervades too many comments sections, not all American women are spoiled brats. Look no farther than the nearest military base and you'll find women who regularly give up careers, friends, interests, virtually their entire lives to ensure their families and their husbands' careers are a success. And they have plenty of civilian counterparts.

One does not have to leave the continental U.S. to find a partner willing to take on her fair share of the marital workload. On the other hand, if your idea of the perfect wife is a 19 year old compliant Czech super model with pencil thin, cellulite-free thighs and DD-cup bustline whose fondest ambition is to have 4 children, stay home and do housework (and whose body will magically look just like those airbrushed girls in Maxim even after multiple childbirths) then perhaps it is your attitude that needs a bit of adjustment.

Nine tenths of marriage is work; the decision to get along with your partner and be happy. It's really no mystery. In that sense, the author has a real point. It's the gap between many people's unrealistic expectations and reality that makes them miserable.

On the other hand, marrying an unsuitable person; one with whom you are unevenly matched, makes marriage an uphill battle. If you find someone "tedious" at 20, odds are you're not going to warm to him as the years pass. But if you can talk for hours at 20 and the only thing standing in your way is that Roman Candles don't shoot out of your ass every time he kisses you, you'd be a fool to pass him up for the devastatingly handsome guy who makes you weak in the knees, but never listens to a word you say. That's infatuation, not love. Adults are supposed to know the difference between the two.

One of the biggest lies of feminism is that men and women are equally willing to don the yoke of marriage and childbearing.

They're not.

From the time we're children, women dream of our wedding day. Little girls dress up as princess brides. When was the last time you saw a little boy dress up in a bridegroom outfit?

Yeah. I thought so.

Girls envision, even if they plan on college and a career, that white picket fence, a loving husband, and 1.5 children somewhere at the end of the rainbow. Truth be told, this vision is somewhere in the back of most young men's minds too but there's a crucial difference: it's in the back of their minds. Way in the back.

When a man and a woman begin dating, he doesn't instantly begin assessing their "relationship potential", how willing she is to "commit", or where they'll be 5, 10, or 24 months down the road. He is focused on today (and very likely hoping she won't object if he sees other women on the side). In the mean time, the old biological clock keeps right on ticking with consequences that don't bode well for her. A woman's shelf life on the marriage market can only decrease with age while a man's remains fairly flat for decades. He is just as attractive (if not more so) at 45 as he was at 25 because women look at a whole host of attributes other than just looks: education level, range of interests, personality, maturity, stability, income. And all of these qualities are enhanced rather diminished by the increasing maturity that comes with age. And to add insult to injury, he can still father children at 50 while her fertility begins to decline after 35.

Given all of these considerations, it's hardly surprising men are quite willing to bide their time before entering into holy wedlock. Kay Hymowitz, in a provocative article for City Journal, bemoans what she calls an epidemic of child men hanging out in a hormonal limbo between adolescence and adulthood:

It’s 1965 and you’re a 26-year-old white guy. You have a factory job, or maybe you work for an insurance broker. Either way, you’re married, probably have been for a few years now; you met your wife in high school, where she was in your sister’s class. You’ve already got one kid, with another on the way. For now, you’re renting an apartment in your parents’ two-family house, but you’re saving up for a three-bedroom ranch house in the next town. Yup, you’re an adult!

Now meet the twenty-first-century you, also 26. You’ve finished college and work in a cubicle in a large Chicago financial-services firm. You live in an apartment with a few single guy friends. In your spare time, you play basketball with your buddies, download the latest indie songs from iTunes, have some fun with the Xbox 360, take a leisurely shower, massage some product into your hair and face—and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes. They come from everywhere: California, Tokyo, Alaska, Australia. Wife? Kids? House? Are you kidding?

It's interesting to see the explanations for this phenomenon. Dr. Helen thinks it's because men aren't being treated well by society:

Nowadays, for many men, the negatives of marriage for men often outweigh the positives. Therefore, they engage in it less often. Not because they are bad, not because they are perpetual adolescents, but because they have weighed the pros and cons of marriage in a rational manner and found the institution to be lacking for them. It’s a sensible choice for some and the video games, magazines, and humor websites that Hymowitz disses are a way to fill one’s time with fun activities that don’t tell you that you suck, are an “unfinished person,” emotionally detached or on your way to jail for fake domestic violence charges. People used to treat men better than this.

I question this assumption. A lifestyle that consists of filling their free time with video games, serial bouts of promiscuous sex and porn somehow:

(a) doesn't remind me of how society "used to treat" my husband, father or grandfather, who all settled down and got married, and

(b) doesn't impress me as particularly convincing argument for "how grown-up, adult and rational single young men really are".

I don't contest their right to spend their time as they please, and if they choose to spend their free time in that manner they are probably not particularly good candidates for marriage and fatherhood anyway. But don't expect me to call their choices rational or mature. I wouldn't condone the same choices in young women, and my father's and grandfather's generations would have been far quicker to condemn such behavior than I. In fact, they would have been downright scathing in their condemnation; which explains why (at 26) the young men in Hymowitz' article settled down and got married. They were expected to.

Grim, on the other hand, argues that young men are somehow "letting young women win" out of some misplaced sense of chivalry, an argument I find equally unpersuasive:

City Journal, having previously pondered young women who won't get married, now looks at young men who won't. The two articles posit a view of women who've decided they can go to college, "hyper-achieve" at jobs, and put off families until much later; and men who've decided to put off growing up until they're 30-something.

The problems they posit for this new arrangement are, for society, fewer children to grow up into the next generation; and for women, fewer men who are suitable mates. For young men, the only problem is that they're jerks, but they seem happy that way.

Before we engage in a thorough examination of the specifics of these articles, let me offer this analysis: what you see here is how post-feminist society has achieved a new equilibrium.

We read that women are getting the majority of college diplomas, 'hyper-achieving' (meaning achieving early), and then still wanting children -- but fewer, later. We read that men are taking on slower paths to the job market and obtaining fewer college degrees as a percentage. What does that mean?

What it appears to me to mean is this:

1) Young women have decided they want both a family and a career; so they "do" a career seriously-and-in-a-hurry, so they'll have time for the family too.

2) Young men recognize that the women are going to compete hard for promotions and such early, and rather than 'fight the girl,' which they've always been taught not to do, they let the girl win. Fewer go to college, so there will be more room for women in women-friendly careers (i.e., careers built around offices); more work in jobs most women didn't want anyway (such as construction or policing).

Then, around the 30s, the women start opting-out of the fast track, letting the men who did get degrees move up and marry them; and they start families at this point.

I think this indicates a sort of stability, in which most of these folks are getting what they really want: for post-feminist women, the chance at both a career and a family; for men, a longer period of freedom and play, and a softer landing into family and career. Young men now often only have to support wife and progeny for a few years until the wife will want to return to her (now more-balanced) career; so there will be two incomes, even if hers is no longer what it once was.

I'll tell you what I find more convincing than arguing that young men are nobly standing aside from competing with young women. Any mother could tell you what is wrong here - two sayings that have come out of the mouths of Moms from time immemorial both apply:

1. Give them an inch, and they'll take a mile. And,
2. No one buys the cow when they can get the milk for free. People behave up or down to the standards we set for them. If society no longer looks down on young men who don't marry by a certain age, who spend their time playing video games, sleeping around, and consuming porn, why should they spend their free time working? There is no penalty for goofing around, and a demonstrated reward for doing so.

Regarding the delayed marriage phenomenon, if you wish to entice someone into entering into a partnership, you offer something the other person desires greatly. In this case (unlike their fathers' and grandfathers' generation) these young men already have all the sex they want without the responsibilities that come with marriage. But what happens to these overgrown boys when the prospect of sex with someone they care about is withdrawn - when suddenly it's no longer free?

Just 18 months ago, I was your average bachelor dude, bumbling into my late thirties with a girlfriend stashed across the country. As such, I spent a lot of time strolling down less-than-wholesome cultural avenues. To be specific, I wasted approximately a week and a half (if you add up all the 20-minute segments) trolling the Internet for a free version of the Paris Hilton sex video. My friend Karl had told me it was hilarious, that she actually answers her cell phone in the midst of the action. Then there was the Britney saga. And the Lindsay saga. And whatever stray cleavage those might offer.

But in 2006, a number of things happened very quickly. I realized I was turning 40. My girlfriend announced that she would be staying across the country if I didn’t propose to her. I proposed to her. A week later, she called to say she was pregnant. In the space of six months, we eloped, bought a house, moved in together, and welcomed the arrival of Josephine.

Suddenly marriage becomes attractive again. Amazing how that works, isn't it? It was just a question of applying the proper incentives.

Men are not animals. Like women, they select a mate on the basis of a range of attributes (like compatibility). But at the heart of it, few men want what they think they can get too easily. Men are driven to compete and win; this is part of our basic biological drives. It helps us improve the gene pool. So in a sense, nature doesn't want us to "settle" for anything less than the best we can realistically get in the marketplace. On some level, we instinctively know this.

The key word in all of this is "realistically". Often, the guy or girl who makes our head rush or our heart pound like a triphammer is neither our soul mate nor our true love. That's biology, not love talking; and that's why the rational blend of attraction and compatibility that goes into selecting a mate isn't "settling". That's why, though every parent must judge what their child can handle, I've never agreed with not letting kids date.

I dated early, and often, and that's how I learned to tell the dizzy rush of infatuation from the more permanent glow that comes with true love. It takes practice; trial and error of many relationships over the years. Some people never do get it right.

What if the prince on the horse in your fairytale
Is right here in disguise
And what if the stars you've been reaching so high for
Are shining in his eyes?

Don't look at yourself in the same old way
Take another picture
Shoot the stars off in your own backyard
Don't look any further
And you will see
It's the stuff that dreams are made of....
It's the slow and steady fire
It's the stuff that dreams are made of
It's your heart and soul's desire

It's the stuff that dreams are made of.

Posted by Cassandra at February 10, 2008 10:45 AM

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Comments

I think that ideas, particularly cultural ideas, are viral in nature. Meaning that people adsorb these ideas from the culture around them, without necessarily consciously accepting the underlying premise behind the ideas themselves. But the effect is the same. People accept good and bad ideas without any introspective examination of the consequences.

"The Playboy Philosophy", "Feminism", "Womens' Liberation", and on, and on, and on. What do they really mean. Really.

You're right; why buy the cow when you can get milk for free? I actually heard this from the mouth of my 40 year old college advisor some 28 years ago. And leaving no doubt, he was not monogamous in his marriage (and his wife wasn't either, which drove him crazy). Heh.

Many people have discarded the traditional social and cultural institutions and virtues, because, "horrors", there might be HYPOCRISY involved. Musn't touch that one. The good is the enemy of the perfect because we are all flawed human beings.

So the generations that now reject the social values that hold people responsible for their lives and encourage them to be marital partners for life (or were never even taught them by their parents, etc.), are replaced by the shallow, pop-culture "ideals" promoted by the the viral "culture" ideas infused in everything they hear and see: music, TV, movies, sports, video games; you name it.

Who knows where it will lead? The braoder real-life consequences of this got Bill Clinton elected in 1992. Next up, The Big O? Or "Captain America" McCain? It's like a frickin' comic book.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 10, 2008 05:23 PM

1. Give them an inch, and they'll take a mile. And,
2. No one buys the cow when they can get the milk for free. People behave up or down to the standards we set for them.

Amen! This father of four daughters (aged 28 - 16) has seen a huge variety of bad behavior among males of comparable ages. Cassandra, this simple listing describes the vast majority of what I have seen. A major part of the problem stems from their parents, too: mothers who don't want to read the riot act when it is called for, and fathers who give a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to sons who should have had their butt kicked.

I see way more 28- to 30-year old students with terrible cases of arrested development now compared to 20 years ago. I want to slap them up side of the head, but I would have to start with their parents and the women who aid and abet this ridiculous focus on liquor, games, lascivious entertainment, etc. Yuk!

Posted by: Robert A. Connolly at February 10, 2008 05:32 PM

Off-topic, and I apologize.

The Great Santini has passed away from leukemia. He carried me on his shoulders when I was facing likely widowhood before MathMan got his heart transplant. I am so sad. I didn't know he was sick.

The following was published in The Sacramento Bee:

CORRINGTON, Kevin
Kevin Michael Corrington, son of Donald Corrington, Jr. and Madalynn Corrington, who preceded him in death, was welcomed into the loving arms of Jesus on January 6, 2008. He left a legacy of love to his wife, Carol, daughter Elizabeth, and son Bob; sisters, Jana, Milissa and Catherine and brother Christopher; nieces and nephews Rebecca, Crispen, Cassia, Sean, Amanda and Aaron, all from the Sacramento area. The love of Christ radiated from him and his presence will be missed by family, friends and work associates. He was a member of First Covenant Church of Sacramento where he was active in many church events including his beloved "An Evening in December". Witty, charming and full of talent, Kevin was well known for his parodies and played the guitar at all family functions. Kevin worked for the State of California as a litigation attorney for CalTrans for 23 years. The family invites you to celebrate Kevin's life on Saturday, January 12, at 11:00am. The memorial will be held in the worship center at First Covenant Church of Sacramento, 10933 Progress Court, Rancho Cordova; refreshments will follow in the gymnasium. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the "So Others May Live" building fund at First Covenant Church of Sacramento.

Here is the snail-mail address of his church:

First Covenant Church of Sacramento
10933 Progress Court
Rancho Cordova CA 95670

Attn: Karen Fields

Karen is the secretary that Sandy (upnorth) & RedPepper at Scrappleface both spoke to on the telephone, who assured them that cards and other messages of condolence would be forwarded to the Corrington family.

Posted by: MathMom at February 10, 2008 06:18 PM

I didn't either, MathMom.

I have been trying to absorb the news. It just doesn't seem possible.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 10, 2008 06:31 PM

When I met my guy, I found him amazingly bright, witty and compassionate-- not in exactly the manner I am, but close enough.

I figured: there is no way in HELL that he will accept me, when we're in Japan and he can have a pretty, smart, appealing little Japanese lady instead.

So I mentally prepared myself to hang out in coffee bars and try to get him a decent date, someone worthy of him.

....

He ended THAT when we were setting around playing video games and he turned to me and said: "I'm going to kiss you right now. Is that alright?" (answer: "yeah" in the most scared voice you can imagine)

Honestly? We spend most of our time together playing video games and talking, or listening to Sirius Right or the Derbyshire podcasts.

I know he'll kill for me, and I know I'd kill for him. We have our differences, but he's willing to RESPECT my religion, even though he doesn't agree.

Posted by: Foxfier at February 10, 2008 08:22 PM

When you find the right person, something just clicks :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 10, 2008 09:19 PM

Many people have discarded the traditional social and cultural institutions and virtues, because, "horrors", there might be HYPOCRISY involved. Mustn't touch that one. The good is the enemy of the perfect because we are all flawed human beings.

So the generations that now reject the social values that hold people responsible for their lives and encourage them to be marital partners for life (or were never even taught them by their parents, etc.), are replaced by the shallow, pop-culture "ideals" promoted by the the viral "culture" ideas infused in everything they hear and see: music, TV, movies, sports, video games; you name it.

The phrase "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" comes to mind...

Posted by: Cassandra at February 10, 2008 09:29 PM

". . . the only thing standing in your way is that Roman Candles don't shoot out of your ass every time he kisses you. . . ."

I had a girl friend like that once. Needless to say, on July 5th I broke up with her.

Posted by: KJ at February 10, 2008 10:00 PM

I got to Hymowitz' article through a link on K. Lopez's review of Juno. Of course, Lopez' article drove St. Amanda birdsh*t (and we all know that Mandy needs to rant about at least five Very Unjust Things Done to Womyn before breaksfast)

but it boils down to, IMHO, what is consider "cool" or "hip". Marriage, monogamy, family is not that "cool". Being a perpetual teenager is. That goes for either the mook or the midriff.

Posted by: Darleen at February 10, 2008 10:04 PM

YES! It's perpetual adolescence and the cow/free milk!
I think people are just looking for a way to blame women!

Posted by: Beth at February 10, 2008 10:20 PM

>> shallow, pop-culture "ideals" promoted by the the viral "culture"

Bingo.

Posted by: Beth at February 10, 2008 10:21 PM

". . . the only thing standing in your way is that Roman Candles don't shoot out of your ass every time he kisses you. . . ."

I was rather proud of that line, you know... :p

******************

You know, I keep reading that young men are wasting their lives because they're being 'denigrated', blah blah blah.

I think that's bullsh*t. I was really, really hard on my boys at times. Extremely hard. Brutal, even, at times with my older son (who, like his mother, needed to be hit upside the head with a 2x4 at times, just to get his attention). When they didn't measure up to what I thought they should be doing, I let them have it with both barrels, because I loved them and I knew they were better than that.

And guess what? A little loving disapproval didn't make them weak. They're both married, productive, strong young men. When Marines go through boot camp, do you think DI's baby them? No way.

And they come out MORE confident, not less.

They don't avoid me as adults either, so hopefully I didn't scar their souls or spank their Inner Children.

The problem is not that boys are being denigrated. The problem is that they are being coddled - that there are no standards being set for them, no challenges for them to overcome, no adversity to toughen their character, for them to test themselves against. Men require these things or something in their souls sickens and atrophies.

Actually, people in general are that way. It is just more true of men than of women.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 10, 2008 10:28 PM

This is a very well-reasoned post, Cass. I read the original article yesterday, I think, and my jaw just dropped. These women seem to think that they can shop for a man like you shop for shoes, choosing to buy or not based on small style differences.

As I was reading her tripe, I wondered WTH would happen with one of these women if, after rejecting “good” husband material and “settling”, they had to deal, like I did, with a husband who was seriously ill for many years, or as we do with a 21-year-old "special" child who won't be leaving the nest any time soon. These things are hard to bear when you have a solid marriage based on love and wanting the best for each other. Would she feel cheated if the husband she settled for got congestive heart failure, and ruined her day? You have to open your heart to someone, which means you can be badly wounded, but you won't likely get that "for better or for worse" bond if you're so stuck on the superficial attributes of potential mates that you can discard them because of an “abysmal sense of aesthetics”. Crikey.

I could not stop thinking that this woman deserved only the most superficial of relationships, because in her vanity, she was recommending "settling" with someone whom she obviously felt was her inferior, or some sort of marked-down less-than-desirable merchandise. What a morally vacuous, shallow little girl. She wouldn't recognize a real man if she perforated his foot in an elevator with her Manolo Blahnik stiletto.

Posted by: MathMom at February 10, 2008 10:31 PM

if she perforated his foot in an elevator with her Manolo Blahnik stiletto.

err...how out of the fashionista loop am I that I had to google "Manolo Blahnik"

Posted by: Darleen at February 10, 2008 10:38 PM

Too many young women run about with an Unrealistic Marriage Template in their heads. It seems to be composed of a laundry list of non-negotiable qualities which either don't exist in real, human males or do exist but effectively price them out of the marriage market

In engineering, this phenomenon is called "Perfection is the enemy of good enough."

In popular culture, we were instructed by Jimmy Soul -

If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So for my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you

Posted by: D. Sinope at February 10, 2008 11:02 PM

I think you missed Dr. Helen's point. She was arguing that men were doing the delayed adolescence thing not because it's particularly enjoyable, but rather because marriage had to a great extent ceased to provide the benefits to men that it had in our parents & grandparents days. And in fact it had become something of a very bad deal for men.

Today, most marriages don't last. And when they fall apart, men make out far worse than women do (and that's not to say the women do well. But they'll get the house, kids and an alimony check). So why get married young? Especially when you can have your fun youth, build a successful career and then be the well-off 40-ish bachelor that is often popular with mid-20's women. The cost benefit ratio matters. It used to be heavily biased towards marriage. It's now the opposite.

As a 30ish single male, I've noticed that of my friends only two groups are getting married. The ones with kids who have been with the parent of their kids for a while, and the religious. Admittedly I'm likely to fall into the second category shortly (As my GF and I will be joining the ranks of the married soon enough).

Posted by: Adam Maas at February 10, 2008 11:12 PM

I guess it's all in how you look at it, Adam.

I can only argue anecdotally. Both my sons have married fairly young, to very grounded young women. They had no trouble finding anyone either. And they never acted the way these young men do.

I have no expectation that they will divorce, though that is, of course, entirely up to them.

I agree with Dr. Helen that the perceived benefits of marriage have decreased for men - in fact, I argued that myself. I just quarrelled a bit with her characterization of their reaction ("Wow. Things are tough so I'm going to act like a big kid" as 'rational and adult', or being a result of society "not treating men as well as it used to"). I think society expected far more of young men back then, so while it may have rewarded married men more, it also expected them to work harder and punished them more harshly when they stepped out of line.

Society would have shunned young men who behaved that way in the past. It also would have shunned the young women who sleep with them. But then, that was my point :) Expectations shape our behavior.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 10, 2008 11:23 PM

MathMom, I wanted to work something like that into my post.

I just couldn't manage it gracefully.

The spousal unit and I talked, before he left, about what we would do if he were severely wounded this year. There were a couple of possibilities: you worry about physical wounds, of course, and being crippled.

But I think what is worse is worrying about what would happen if he came back with severe brain injuries: if he wasn't himself anymore. When I was reading her essay, I couldn't help but think about our conversation last year.

If you "settled" for someone, how could you survive that kind of injury? I remember reading somewhere about a man who visited his wife every day in a home. She had Alzheimer's and had long since forgotten him. Someone asked him why he never failed to dress up and visit her at the same time every day when she had no idea who he was, and couldn't remember their life together.

"Because I remember", he said.

I have always loved that story.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 10, 2008 11:34 PM

Random observation...

Part of the reason boy-men are able to act as they do, while still getting sexual favors, is because young women are isolated and lonely.

A lonely woman will do almost anything for comfort.

I have seen girls I would've sworn, in normal situations, wouldn't spread their legs short of a ring become the ship sluts because *they are alone.*

Never underestimate the power of a hug, of family, of physical touch.

Posted by: Foxfier at February 10, 2008 11:34 PM

men make out far worse than women do (and that's not to say the women do well. But they'll get the house, kids and an alimony check).

Not always true. My mom got none of those things when she divorced my dad and has since fared *extremely* badly economically, while my father basically continued his standard of living unchanged, even managing to send all three of us children to college on his own without help from my mother (who was in no position *at all* to provide *any* financial help). And for the record, I was and remain on my father's side throughout the divorce, and literally thank God that Mom did not get custody of the children (particularly my little sister, whom Mom has since driven into therapy).

I stopped reading Dr. Helen when I realized that when it came to gender, she was a shrill ideologue.

Posted by: colagirl at February 10, 2008 11:36 PM

I think the answer lies elsewhere. We did not see this complaining and moaning from both sexes in earlier generations. Excluding the Depression, most people historically got married earlier and had more children.

The answer I think is in the better social and economic condition of women. When women's opportunities were constricted, Joe Average was a good prospect because he had a MUCH higher expected lifetime income than Jane Average. And women seem hard-wired to desire (again on average) above all things higher status in their mates. One readily available marker of which is expected lifetime earnings. A white collar woman is not going to marry a plumber or carpenter (again, on average). Look at the astounding amount of money spent on cosmetics, fashion, and plastic surgery particularly breast implants. If that is not a red flag that most women are chasing a few high-status men I don't know what is.

But look at the money quotes. Hymowitz notes but fails to understand the OBVIOUS: the "man-boys" are living in apartments. Working in cubicles. Women in general are not going to want a peer, particularly a slightly lesser peer, when they can chase after Mr. Big. Of whom there are only a few. Obviously individual cases may vary but we are talking about the average woman and man.

Predictable result: most women lose, chasing after Mr. Big, who can only commit to one of them and likely a younger one than himself when it's time to settle down. Young men spend ten years or more priced out of the relationship market -- no house, no fancy job, no big earnings differential (higher) than their potential mates. When they finally enter the marriage / relationship market in their thirties or later they've develop coping and rejection avoidance mechanisms, and find their age peers a poor bargain: too many prior sexual partners, decreased fertility, etc.

This to me explains why, all around the world, we see the same type of complaints and behaviors from men and women. We obviously won't change the status of women OR increase men's earnings, so women will have to prepare for the following:

*Eternal adolescence from the majority of men priced out of the marriage/relationship market.
*Variations of misogyny since the unattached men are losers in the marriage/relationship market and can be counted on to express it in one way or another. The popularity of the slasher movies where attractive young women get killed in gory ways ought to a big red flag -- a healthier society would have the men kill the monster/slasher and get the girls.

Men of course will have to be prepared to lose in the marriage/relationship/family formation lottery. Only a few win, most lose.

Societies with large groups of unattached men, denied the ability to form families, have never fared well or experienced stability. But that's what we've got now.

In short I don't think it's the culture, the pill, the sexual revolution, though they may have made things worse. It's that men just are not making a lot more than women as they did throughout Western History and as a result most men lose out in the race to get a mate when it matters -- in their twenties.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at February 10, 2008 11:38 PM

I have to say on the topic of women and divorce, that my anecdotal experience has been that even when women get awarded alimony or child support, collecting it is another matter entirely.

I have more friends whose daughters have been divorced and have ended up nearly destitute than I can shake a stick at. Only remarrying restored their financial stability. It certainly was not the courts, nor was it their ex-husbands paying their child support, sadly enough.

Which tells me two things: there are a lot of crappy irresponsible men in the world.

And there are a lot of wonderful men who are willing to take on a woman with children who were fathered by someone else.

Go figure.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 10, 2008 11:41 PM

That's a very interesting theory, Jim.

I will have to think about that one.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 10, 2008 11:45 PM

It's been a depressing evening (I did my taxes, and instead of the anticipated refund, I have to pay...) and then I read this depressing story about men and women and the likelihood of marriage. It doesn't make me feel any encouragement about my prospects. Men my age can and do get girls in their 20s. My sister and her boyfriend are a prime example. She's 10.5 years younger than me; her boyfriend is 6 months younger than me. A friend of theirs, who is also friends with my even younger sister, who is in his 30s (not sure how old, but younger than me), I think would like to actually date said younger sister. I know there are good men out there, and I think I'm one of those "good women". I'd just like to know how I can find one of those good men.

And this isn't a good time of year to be discussing this sort of topic. I have February. Haven't always. Just for about the last 15 years or so...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 11, 2008 12:02 AM

correction:

I hate February.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 11, 2008 12:03 AM

"The problem is not that boys are being denigrated. The problem is that they are being coddled - "

Can it be both? Low expectations is both denigration and coddling.

Divorce is usually an economic disaster for both sides. Take two people keeping one house-hold and double the number of households that have to be maintained and it's going to cost twice as much.

Posted by: Synova at February 11, 2008 12:05 AM

There is a big difference between being hard on your boys and the beating society doles out to boys.


You gave your sons ideals and standards to adhere to. Most teachers and TV just beat on guys without giving them an ideal to follow. Most guys would love to be chivalrous but get spat on for doing so (I'll never forget getting my head handed to me for opening a door for a women once) and get called whims and denigrated for going the equality/difference/new-age man route. So, you have a bunch of guys that feel they can't win. Give men a clear and consistent standard to live up and they will gladly do it.


Without a proper role to fit into you see them drift aimlessly. Unfortunately, the only role that is being championed in the post-chivalrous/feminist age is the hip-hop gangsta. The number of young males I see trying to emulate Vanilla Ice is frightening. Even the ones going to college. Someone needs to tell them to turn the hat around the right way and how to be a proper man. Instead they get told that all wars are because of the Y-chromosome, that they are all rapists, and that men are nothing but dogs, and you leave boys with no ideals to live up to.


Plus nothing makes a guy want to get out of a relationship than the male bashing that comes out when 2 or more 20-something women get together. The message there is that she doesn't care about me; there is a double standard where she can be misandric but men merely complain and they are misogynists; and that emotional support really isn't going to be forthcoming in the relationship.


When it comes to guys opting out of college. I feel that after being told they are stupid and bad (students/people) for 12 years in education, many of them look for a different game to play.

Posted by: EvilDave at February 11, 2008 12:16 AM

What I wanted to say before reading all the comments, though, was that I read the column and had almost the same reaction as you did.

To a large extent it was, "wow, she gets it", with a nice big side of, "well, she *almost* gets it."

Your remark about Roman Candles was, of course, perfect. ;-) The context was just as perfect.

She seemed to suggest that it was okay to marry a guy you really didn't want to have sex with. I wanted to tell her that was wrong. It's not a bipolar choice between someone unappealing and roman candles! Marry someone only if you're attracted to him. But you're looking for a partner, not the perfect man to make you complete. After all, he's got to put up with an imperfect you, you ought to be able to put up with an imperfect him. It's only fair.

The other big point I thought, which goes along with the roman candles, is that we tend to think of love as something that happens to us beyond our control (which is a nice excuse for cheating or divorce) and that when it "happens" that we'll know. (ie. fireworks.) What is much much closer to the truth is that love is a choice we make and something we *do*. It's a verb. We chose to concern ourselves with this other person and his welfare (because we *like* him, respect him, and have the hots for him)... so we *love* him.

Verb.

Posted by: Synova at February 11, 2008 12:22 AM

Wonderful post. As a survivor of a painfully failed marriage and the odd dating world of urban thirty-somethings, I'm now engaged to an absolutely wonderful woman.

The truth is that I had a lot of fun in that second round of dating--as painful as the divorce was, I found it easier to attract women, to get them into bed, and to enjoy my single life than I did when I was broke and under-employed in my early twenties. But every step along the way, I knew that I wasn't actually getting any closer to what I really wanted: a family of my own. The truth is, it was so much easier to have the things that I wanted in my gut (sex, freedom, and no commitment) than the things that I wanted in my head (marriage, commitment, and the stability of family).

When those base needs are being filled so willingly and easily, the compromises that come with the bigger desires seem much larger than they might if I found myself having to work for those base needs.

I don't think you can blame this on men or women in particular--certainly I was behaving immaturely, but it was only with the complicity of the women who happily helped me along. It seems like a mutual failure to me.

The funny thing is I'm not sure that I ever had unrealistic expectations. My first wife was certainly beautiful, but she wasn't a model and I didn't have unreasonable expectations about finding a "19 year old compliant Czech super model." What I did expect, I mostly got: a woman who I found interesting, attractive, and fun. Our problems were that I ignored her growing alcoholism and she didn't meet some of my other reasonable expectations: fidelity and mutual respect.

And my expectations of dating, when I went out into the world again, were solidly met by the women that I met. I expected that I could meet and enjoy the company of attractive women without having to give up my freedom; and I did precisely that. The problem isn't that I had unrealistic expectations, it's that my expectations were so perfectly aligned with reality.

I feel lucky that I've always wanted stability, though, and even though I was having all the fun I could imagine, I wasn't getting where I wanted to go. When I met S, I realized that I had found the right person to fill up my life. Luckily, warts and all, she's accepted me and my past and agreed to marry me. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it in a way that all the rest never could be.

Posted by: zombyboy at February 11, 2008 12:31 AM

Hate to tell you, but women are too picky in their 20s.

I had a decent job, an active social life. I am very witty, well educated, not a "player" by any sense of the word.

And women didn't want to out with me. When we did, they'd break up with me, and break my heart, etc.
Now I'm over 30. I have a good job. Still funny, well educated. Almost all women my age are married or engaged. Or have let themselves completely go (looks aren't everything, but a little attraction is needed, let's be serious).I went 10 years being rejected for "i can find something better".

That used to piss me off. Now i don't care. So every time i see any woman in their 20s or early 30s whine about their man treating them badly, I have a hearty laugh. They probably had someone like me and tossed them aside for "better". I like watching them when that gamble craps out.

I enjoy life more, look much younger than my peers, and enjoy my video games.

[ps- the video game industry makes much more money than the film industry, yet watching films isn't considered "juvenile." Quit being prejudiced.]

Posted by: AtLien at February 11, 2008 12:35 AM

I don't think you can blame this on men or women in particular--certainly I was behaving immaturely, but it was only with the complicity of the women who happily helped me along. It seems like a mutual failure to me.

Oh, I agree about that.

my expectations of dating, when I went out into the world again, were solidly met by the women that I met. I expected that I could meet and enjoy the company of attractive women without having to give up my freedom; and I did precisely that. The problem isn't that I had unrealistic expectations, it's that my expectations were so perfectly aligned with reality.

I suspect more than a few of those women had more in mind than a romp in the hay :p But as I almost commented earlier, women have a nasty habit of not cluing men in on what we really want out of relationships from the get-go and then being hurt when you don't read our minds. To us it seems perfectly obvious, and we are *stunned* when you don't pick up on what (to us) we thought didn't need to be said. We're not trying to deceive you.

We just don't "get" that you can sleep with a woman and not be at all emotionally attached, just like men don't "get" the way women think.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 12:42 AM

Regarding Jim & Ladybug's comments:
Yeah, I agree with the age thing. My plan B after I had a post-engagement break up was to concentrate on my career for about 10 years and then come back on the dating scene with more wealth. The dating scene in my 20s was unpleasant as I had to both complete against my 20 year old compatriots but the 40 year old sugar-daddies.


Plan B was becoming a sugar-daddy.


Fortunately, Plan A (normal dating) worked.

But you do notice the 40-year olds out there. And they always seem to have the hottest 20 years olds as girlfriends. One of my friends is 45+ and recently married a gorgeous 20 year old.


The major danger in the Plan B scenario is staying fit and being confident/successful. I have seen too many 35+ guys get out of shape and loose their confidence. That ruins Plan B.

Posted by: EvilDave at February 11, 2008 12:46 AM

She seemed to suggest that it was okay to marry a guy you really didn't want to have sex with.

That one really threw me.

Sex is pretty important to most guys. In fact, it's extremely important in keeping a man happy. It's not one of those "optional" items in a marriage. What was she thinking?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 12:48 AM

Contrary to the peevish meme that pervades too many comments sections, not all American women are spoiled brats. Look no farther than the nearest military base and you'll find women who regularly give up careers, friends, interests, virtually their entire lives to ensure their families and their husbands' careers are a success.

Careers? I would venture that the vast, vast majority of military wives didn't get beyond high school or GED classes. They're honorable women, buy you're more likely to see them on "The Biggest Loser" than "Jeopardy." And it goes without saying that the Hymowitzes of this world wouldn't even consider military men as potential mates. The snob factor is too strong.

Posted by: Brendan at February 11, 2008 12:51 AM

*ahem*

You're speaking to a Marine officer's wife, Brendan. And with all due respect, I very much doubt you know what you're talking about there.

I've been going to wives' meetings for over 25 years and I have a pretty good idea of the education level and career aspirations of the average military wife, both officer and enlisted, and I don't think either category belongs on The Biggest Loser.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 01:01 AM

Younger men are not so much priced out of the "marriage" market and so play video games instead of getting laid. They are out getting laid until women their age finally freak out about their age at 31 and again at 41 if they are really ladder climbing like crazy in their career. So they act as girlfriends. Free milk theory. Video games?! Look at how many hows of TV either sex watches a day. Average of 4-7 depending on demographic or study. Video games are just a male-preferred form of media consumption, as was spectator sports for the Boomers.

Indeed what *has* changed is that women stopping having their race to find a husband at age 21, so it has now switched one or two decades later. I'm 42. I can't get a long term girlfriend who is 22, or else I have to merge with her social group, and well, that age group is rather juvenile to me. Yet most 36-42 year old women are both very hard to meet at all, since they work so late, as in here in NYC a typical lawyer babe works till 9PM (one of who I happen to be dating who makes a lot more money than I do...so she is doesn't consider me marriage material as far as I can tell...yet it's only the 55 year old guys who both make more money than she does *and* are finally ready to settle down, usually in a second marriage). But it's just as easy for me to date a 28-32 year old, since I look young, own my own design business and, well, I'm dashingly bold, cute, and charming, having learned the hard way to stop being so afraid of showing romantic passion like most "nice" guys are (according to the girls I meet).

* I don't have hard data, but one hypothesis is that in addition to careerism in women, is that a lot of 30-50 year old guys are in non-marriage style romantic relationships with women many years their junior. *

As far as general masculine nature: a man's fantasy is to make love to many, many beautiful women, while a woman's fantasy is to have a man provide for her. When a woman marries, she fulfills her fantasy, whilst when a man marries, he forsakes his fantasy.

That means there must be a strong incentive for men to marry, whereas marriage is hard-wired (as the writers above point out) to want to marry, and to marry up. In the story above, the woman pulls rank and it's either love her or loser her. Most women of age 35-40 will lose that deal with any guy of the same age who is highly attractive to all women, including 26 year olds.

Posted by: NikFromNYC at February 11, 2008 01:06 AM

I would venture that the vast, vast majority of military wives didn't get beyond high school or GED classes.

What source do you have to substantiate that assertion? Or did you just Carnak that outta your ass?

Posted by: Darleen at February 11, 2008 01:14 AM

Army brat that I am, Brendan, you couldn't be further from the truth about military wives. I don't recall any of my friends moms growing up being ugly, fat housewives. That goes for enlisted wives and officer wives. And military wives aren't stupid, either. While my mom never pursued a career back in the day and was always home with us kids, she had considered becoming a nurse way back when. Yes, there is a certain segment of the population that views military services with disdain, that is likely the same segment that wouldn't consider anyone without a degree and a six-figure income, and those are people I wouldn't care to associate myself with - I prefer people who are much less shallow. I'll let the current military spouses that post here have their say, too. Our wonderful hostess would be a prime example, I'd wager.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 11, 2008 01:14 AM

Where do I find an inline grammar checker for the Mac? Spelling is a pop-up menu, but dashing off a quick essay always results in at least one "hows" instead of "hours."

But a new thought also comes to mind. As a 42 year old guy, I have to say I'd love to meet a cute gal around 35 (so she's not crazy in a hurry to have kids within a few months!), but it's very hard to do so. They are just not as nice and easy to talk too as the gals in the unjaded gals in their late 20s. If you can imagine the "locker room" version of this paragraph, you know what I really think, which I will reinforce with the confirmable observation that any online dating site is chock full of stubby (5'2") fat women who work in non-professional jobs such as assistants, nurses, social workers, legal assistants, who spell out in all caps:

PLEASE READ. IF YOU ARE NOT AT LEAST 5'9"-6'4" TALL AND FINANCIALLY STABLE, I WILL NOT RESPOND SO STOP WASTING YOUR TIME.

That is a bitchy statement, and that, from older women who don't even hit the gym is the *norm*. I thus present another theory, having laid the path to avoid it sounding abusive and hateful, but in fact uses, in all calmness no slang or slander:

Older women are bitches.

Posted by: NikFromNYC at February 11, 2008 01:20 AM

Nik

It's hard to generalize. Even an attractive 30 something male may find himself realizing that maybe chasing 20 something females is thrilling but a long term relationship should be to a loving woman who will be his best friend and partner. He may even find that woman is older than him.

Ten years ago I was that 42 y/o woman with four kids at home. I met, and married 3 years later, that 35 year old man.

We both had been through divorces and were through with all the game playing that comes with the dating scene of the 20 somethings.

We have sparks, we have laughs and most of all we are always there for each other.

Posted by: Darleen at February 11, 2008 01:24 AM

Nik

Nurses are "non-professional"??

Better not end up in the hospital where my eldest is an ICU nurse with that 'tude, boy. After years as a paramedic she doesn't suffer fools well.

Posted by: Darleen at February 11, 2008 01:26 AM

I know I'm not in my 20s anymore, but I don't yet consider myself an "older woman" - I've got to hit at least 40 before I'd think that. Anyhow, not all "older women" are bitches. Just maybe a lot of the ones in NYC (or any big city where status seems so all-important). Ever consider being in a different dating environment? And men's personal ads online sometimes don't seem any less shallow, when they are looking for a woman 10+ years younger with only a slim or athletic build ("average" isn't even good enough for some men).

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 11, 2008 01:32 AM

Heh, the fun thing about a good topic, is that whatever you were thinking of saying is usually said by someone else... FWIW, I don't think the argument is new, just that the age scale is sliding up. Who hasn't had either your mom, aunts, or grandmother tell you you should find a nice girl and settle down. My grandmother was astounded when I asked her why. Even 25 years ago, it didn't seem like that worthwile an idea. I eventually got married, because it was the right thing to do, and I bought that whole thing about being in love and protecting your family, and so forth. After going through a bad marriage, and all the fallout from that, I still don't really see the advantage. Sure I'd like a companion, but not someone who will tell me that all my stuff belongs in the garage, IF I am allowed to keep it.

I think that is what I am seeing most from these articles. Lots of scolding and NO persuasion. Lots of expectation, and stress when unfulfilled. Speaking of romps in the hay... Can you present that to me where it doesn't seem like a trap? Why is a woman's desire in that regard, more correct than mine? I'm not being facetious, but I don't see the sorts of advantages for men, getting in to relationships. The guy's gotta work, regardless. For 50+ years of his life he will work every day. Why is it such an advantage to come home everyday to somebody who takes the product of such work and uses it? Why is it advantageous for women who have their own careers, their own money, their own life, to get entangled with a person they will have to try and compromise with?

There have always been religious, or economic reasons for these entanglements in the past. Do those rules still apply?

On another note, re: divorce and guys, and stuff. It is seldom said, but worth mentioning... The guy who gets nailed in a divorce, is the guy who wants to do what is right, by the ex, and by the kids if any. The deadbeats jackrabbit and disappear, and so the laws never apply to them, because they don't get caught. The system has a built in disposition to assume the guy is in the wrong, and that the kids should stay with her. It is very difficult and expensive to get custody of the kids, even if you can prove you are a better parent for some reason. All things equal, she will get them. Because of that, the legal expectations of her, are different. It is difficult to prove underemployment for her, because of 'circumstances' but woe to the guy who loses his job. He will still have to pay.

That is IF he wants to be part of his kids life, and IF he regards his responsibility to parent them equal to hers. He has to toe the line, or it gets ugly and ultimately damages the kids. Having the Sheriff force your ex-wife to live up to the divorce decree, is garundamnteed to make your kids unhappy. I have many friends of both genders that got nuked in the divorce, and it all comes down to who is conscientous... If they are both conscientous, it is far more likely that they will stay together, no?

Posted by: D at February 11, 2008 01:35 AM

I think you've misunderstood Dr. Helen, and I think she's right about the reluctance of men to commit to a marriage.

Virtually every guy I know who got married in his twenties is now divorced. He's making good money, but living in a crappy apartment, driving an old car, and sending virtually all of what would have been disposable income to the ex. I don't know what state women aren't able to collect child support - certainly not the one I'm in. It comes right out of his paycheck, like taxes or a 401k deduction.

He sees his kids every other weekend, but the ex runs him down at every opportunity, and anyway he doesn't see them enough to have much of a relationship. So they can't wait to get "home", no matter how much he reaches out.

Oh, and one of these guys is a victim of paternity fraud. He's paying child support on a kid that isn't even his. I dunno what logic people see in this idiotic practice. Sure, someone needs to pay for the kid. Here's a wild suggestion - maybe it should be... the actual father?

You can't blame guys for doing the risk/benefit analysis here. What, exactly, is the great horking benefit of marriage that justifies this kind of risk?

Posted by: Eric at February 11, 2008 01:46 AM

"One of the biggest lies of feminism is that men and women are equally willing to don the yoke of marriage and childbearing."

Actually, most of them are, in a just, equal, and trustworthy situation. One of the biggest lies of feminism ... one of, oh, so many ... is that what feminists want, and are well on their way toward producing, is equality in marriage and childbearing.

I was going to respond in detail to this post. But frankly, it's so full of stereotyped and woman-sided drivel, it's hopeless. Or do you think it's coincidence that "perpetual adolescence" and "why buy the cow" are almost always only used to condemn men? Welcome to being part of the problem.

Posted by: SaltedSlug at February 11, 2008 01:52 AM

"Nurses are "non-professional"??

Better not end up in the hospital where my eldest is an ICU nurse with that 'tude, boy. After years as a paramedic she doesn't suffer fools well."

That's the best you've got?

Posted by: Joe at February 11, 2008 02:02 AM

You can't blame guys for doing the risk/benefit analysis here. What, exactly, is the great horking benefit of marriage that justifies this kind of risk?

I don't know, Eric. Why does my husband stay around?

Why doesn't he cheat on me? I'm 48. I don't have enormous silicone boobs. Sheesh. The guy still seems to love me. Is he a chump? What the heck is his problem? :p Furthermore, I don't recognize the world you describe.

None of our friends are divorced, and I don't go to church, nor am I perfect.

I got married at 19. My husband was only 20. We're both college graduates though, and my husband has a Masters degree. I left an Ivy League school and stayed home with my sons so my husband could serve his country. He's been gone a lot of the time - three years unaccompanied (in fact right now he's been gone for a year). According to the New York Times, I should be at the fricking breaking point and in need of counseling.

By every rule in the book, I should be miserable. Yet I'm not. We're still in love after 29 years of marriage. Go figure.

It sounds to me like these people didn't choose terribly wisely. Getting married isn't something you do lightly, and getting divorced shouldn't be, either. You make real promises on your wedding day. Staying married is hard work. I know.

I've been married almost 30 years. I grew up with my husband. He's not the same man I married and I'm not the same woman he married but we've adjusted to each other because we made promises. It doesn't sound like a lot of the people you're describing believe in keeping promises, and that is a huge factor.

I don't mean to sound unsympathetic. I really don't. But sometimes people get married for all the wrong reasons. Maybe that is what happened to some of your friends?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 02:03 AM

I guess if you aren't a doctor, lawyer, architect, engineer, accountant or work on Wall Street, you aren't a "professional". Talk about snobbery...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 11, 2008 02:04 AM

You didn't read carefully, salted slug.

I said I don't condone the same behavior in young women, now didn't I? Men can't very well sleep with women who refuse to sleep with them, now can they?

This seemed so obvious that it didn't need to be pointed out. "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free" has never been used to "blame" men.

It has been used to blame WOMEN.

Duh.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 02:06 AM

"This seemed so obvious that it didn't need to be pointed out. "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free" has never been used to "blame" men."

I didn't say "blame", I said "condemn". Specifically, the idea that all men want from a relationship is sex, therefore giving them sex eliminates their desire for marriage. "But what happens to these overgrown boys when the prospect of sex with someone they care about is withdrawn - when suddenly it's no longer free?"

Duh, yourself.

Posted by: SaltedSlug at February 11, 2008 02:13 AM

Hey Joe

When my daughter graduated with her nursing degree there were 7 men in her class. Her class president who spoke at the pinning ceremony was a former Marine and he stated that the nursing program he had just finished was tougher than boot-camp.

Every single one of the class, save for those going back to school to work towards their masters, was recruited into jobs. RNs are highly sought after professionals ...usually hired with signing bonuses and money towards further education.

Posted by: Darleen at February 11, 2008 02:16 AM

What, exactly, is the great horking benefit of marriage that justifies this kind of risk?

What's the big advantage of taking history in school at the risk of lost time? Or art, or music or literature? Aren't there always "better" things to do?

In marriage one stops singing in one note "me, me, me, me" and starts harmonizing in "we". It is the ultimate in learning to love The Other (gender differences are even more profound than "race"). It is the first step out of narcisism (a hallmark of juveniles).

Posted by: Darleen at February 11, 2008 02:23 AM

First of all, this article wasn't about all men.

It was about a subset of men who are (according to Hymowitz) sleeping around, playing video games, watching porn and underachieving instead of climbing the career ladder and marrying the way their counterparts in previous generations did.

As I said, I really don't care what they do with their time.

I did say I am not going to characterize their choices as "adult". And I'm not. Period.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 02:31 AM

And while we're on the subject, let's not go haring off onto a "men vs. women" gender wars thing.

Anyone who reads me for any length of time knows that I'm not anti-male. They also know I don't think much of self-centered, narcissistic young women. But that was not the subject of *this* particular article and I not about to engage in a round of pre-emptive condemnations just to allay the suspicion that I'm a secret man-hater :p

And re: Specifically, the idea that all men want from a relationship is sex, therefore giving them sex eliminates their desire for marriage.

Again, read carefully: Men are not animals. Like women, they select a mate on the basis of a range of attributes (like compatibility). But at the heart of it, few men want what they think they can get too easily.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 02:39 AM

It's the economics, stupid :)

There was a time when marriage was necessary for survival. That was a long time ago. Now marriage is... about love. It's romantic. Yes, but then, men and women in their 20s both are shying away from marriage -- both while pursuing their careers and their unleashed, extended adolescence. And this is nothing new. The average age for marriage used to be in the early twenties, decades ago, now it's in the early to late thirties, and it's been. And all that extra work, and all that wealth way beyond what is needed to survive amounts to this: there's no need to marry and have children. Lower fertility rates go hand in hand with wealthier societies. So which is the cause, and which the effect? The economic aspects of the problem? Or the cultural ones (i.e., spoiling men)? Hard to say, really. Perhaps it's more complex still.

Reminds me of Childhood's End.

But the good news is: we can still fall in love. So paradoxically it takes longer to find true love when it's so easy to mate; oh well, but we still do fall in love. And love must be the reason folks still marry, else they wouldn't marry at all.

Posted by: Nico at February 11, 2008 03:06 AM

Maybe I'm all wrong, but it seems to me that a lot of this can be traced back to Roe v Wade. Not because it allowed abortion but because it made it a feminist goal to be able to behave like a man. Women could then persuaded that casual sex was pretty much a no penalty activity.

It is an old saw, but true, that men will trade love for sex and women will trade sex for love. If women can be convinced that a casual "love ya babe" is a substitute for some form of relation then young men, who have less sense of responsibility, will take advantage as often as possible. Women give them what they want and are then amazed that they think it will always be free and available.

Over the course of my life, I've watched the cost of sex go down and the cost of love go up. Is it any wonder that many young men hesitate to invest in the latter?

Posted by: Ken Hahn at February 11, 2008 03:09 AM

Why is it such an advantage to come home everyday to somebody who takes the product of such work and uses it? Why is it advantageous for women who have their own careers, their own money, their own life, to get entangled with a person they will have to try and compromise with?

There have always been religious, or economic reasons for these entanglements in the past. Do those rules still apply?

I can only speak for myself, D.

I think so. I hope so. There are risks and tradeoffs in any endeavor. Marriage is no exception.

I have given up a lot to be married. There are so many things I wanted to do with my life. But because I chose to be a wife to my husband and a mother to my sons, I did none of them. And at my age, I've had to face the fact that it is probably too late now. There are times when I have felt moments - only moments - of regret for what I could have done with my life.

But I imagine that is equally true of my husband, you know. It's not as though he has been perfectly free to do as he pleases. Certainly he has had more freedom than I. But he has made sacrifices too. He has gone to work every day for nearly three decades to keep a roof over our heads without complaining. So in the end, I think it all balances out.

The things I have given up are nothing compared to the joy being married has brought into my life. I think I'm a better person for having known my husband. Because he is so different from me, I have learned to see the world through his eyes. That is a priceless gift.

I have found myself, often this year, in the midst of having fun, stopping and feeling his absence cut through me just like a knife.

It's not that I need him with me. It's that I want him there. I have enjoyed this year in many ways. I've gone places and done things that I would never do if he were here. But being alone only reinforced two things I already knew:

1. I do just fine, and am very happy, on my own.
2. My life is infinitely richer and happier with my husband in it.

The only reason for being married is that your life is better *with* the other person that it would be, without them. That is what my husband said to me just before we got married, almost 30 years ago.

It is still true.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 03:09 AM

The only reason for being married is that your life is better *with* the other person that it would be, without them. That is what my husband said to me just before we got married, almost 30 years ago.

It is still true.


Have you considered the possibility you got inordinately lucky?

As to so many divorces not being part of your world... that probably depends somewhat on where you live. I'm not surprised the area I'm in comes off worse than average in that regard. But it can't be that far from normal.

Posted by: Eric at February 11, 2008 05:16 AM

Ma'am, great blog, but I think you've slightly missed the mark here.
You're attempting to place your anecdotal evidence on a happy, working marriage (congratulations on that, by the way), onto the general populace. Others in the comments are just as guilty. Remember everyone, before you post the "my experience is thus" that the plural of anecdotes is not data.

With that in mind, I'll state that there is little drive for marriage currently among myself and a large portion of my colleagues, which are either just graduating college (mostly in engineering, with few exceptions) or have been working for a few years now. The downside to marriage is not "the milk for free", but the fact that we, as males growing up in this generation have been faced with women who are as well emotionally stunted.
Many are daddy's girls who look for someone to literally leech off of with out putting in the hard work that it takes for a committed and stable relationship. We'd rather play video games (and I second the motion of a commentator above, this is just our preferred media, just as our fathers prefer watching sports on TV, and our grandfathers on the radio before that. It isn't juvenile, or at least, any more so) because we like to be rewarded for what work we do. Expect an uptick in sports car ownership.
In this group, at least, there are plenty of knights in shining armor, they just don't see the point in slaying the dragon if their going to be left for the town thief the following year. Most of us good guys (again, limiting my viewpoint to a certain group opens up the same selection bias), would have been willing to marry, but because of both the world telling us we're misogynist, rapist, pigs of man-boys, and getting used and abused by daddy's little girl who's never had to put forth effort before in her life, we don't want to deal with it. I've had to experience this one personally (the female in question has now latched onto her third fiancee). We are looking for that quantum of solace and finding none in the current crop of females. I wouldn't be surprised if this generation of males finds itself paired with the successful gen-x-ers.


Being a husband does require large amounts of sacrifice (my father has given up much to raise me, something which is hard to repay), which for the rewards that are currently offered, aren't worth it to some in my generation. Me personally, I hold out hope, but it's decidedly failing.

Posted by: GeoSTI at February 11, 2008 06:55 AM

Women civilize men. Young women used to refuse sex until the man committed to the relationship, but now they give it away for free.

More importantly, women are only driven by sex once commitment is tossed aside. "Nice" guys perhaps have always been a little "boring", but they could find a nice woman who wanted to have a family. Now, these "nice guys" are spurned by young women who are looking to satisfy primal sexual urges. Men used to have this impulse restrained by women, but now it is unleashed as well. The result is that nice guys finish last until their 30's, at which point they may have learned a lot of bad habits and bitter attitudes towards women. Add in the terrible legal situation facing men in family court, which they've likely seen a few friends suffer through, and the result is not surprising.

I don't think men or women are interested in changing the rules though. Women want freedom and men want to get laid.

Posted by: Jummy at February 11, 2008 07:10 AM

Have you considered the possibility you got inordinately lucky? As to so many divorces not being part of your world... that probably depends somewhat on where you live.

Yes, Eric I have. But on the other hand all my friends are happily married too. Did we all get 'inordinately lucky'? Pretty much everyone I know is happily married.

We don't go through life is a perpetual state of bliss, but we're happy. I don't (honestly) know anyone in my social circle, nor have I for years, who is divorced or contemplating divorce, or unhappily married or having an affair. I guess that's weird. Some are happier than others, but that is kind of life. My youngest son got married last summer, and one of the nicest things about the wedding was looking around when the vows were being exchanged and seeing so many couples who had been together 10, 20, 30, even 50 years. And they were looking at each other with love in their eyes. That really spoke volumes to me.

It's not so much where I live, I think, because I've never lived anywhere longer than 3 years in my entire life. Maybe it is the people I hang around with? Maybe they are just the kind of people who stay married?

Everywhere we *have* lived, I have known *of* other people who seem to have constant marital problems.

I don't think geography has anything to do with it. I think maybe it is more culture; how people behave. It takes two people to make a marriage work. Often even if one is trying, if the other won't try, the marriage is not going to make it.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 07:38 AM

I don't mean that to sound like we're incredibly virtuous or something.

I suppose you could (and many people would) turn that around and say "What is wrong with you?" Why are you so willing to settle? Why aren't you out having affairs/finding your bliss/doing your own thing?

Maybe it is just a question of deciding what you truly want out of life, and young people are deciding that they don't want marriage?

To me, that is very sad, but I can't choose for them. The thing that is sad is that marriage in many ways is a lot like war :p

You can't do marriage by half-measures, and that is exactly what I see so many young people do, and then they complain when it doesn't work. They never put their marriage first, before their job, their social life, before anything else. I don't think they really pay attention to those vows they take on their wedding day, or that some (and I mean some) even consider them binding promises. One of the biggest arguments we ever had around here was on a post I wrote on that very subject.

It was about a woman who wrote an advice columnist b/c she was "bored" by her husband and considering an affair and I reamed her out and told her to go home and use some of that excess energy revitalizing her sex life with her husband (IOW, if she was "bored" then maybe she was the problem, but she'd made a promise and she needed to give it the old college try). People told me I was a big mean spirited poopy head and I didn't understand "love" (this ditz was getting ready to cheat with ANOTHER MARRIED GUY!), blah, blah, blah....

Sorry. Not buying it :) I understand her feelings. I just don't understand thinking it's OK to wreck two homes because you've decided commitments are optional without even trying to salvage your marriage.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 07:51 AM

"Men are not our personal meal tickets. They shouldn't have to shower us with material things to win our affection; nor should they be expected to read our minds or surrender their independence to The Relationship."

This is the thing that has long puzzled me the most about women. My wife of 20 years is an accomplished scientist, a rationalist to her fingertips, yet she still somehow thinks I should always know what she is thinking and wants me to do.

Granted, I can often do this now after so many years, but not always. Still, she really does expect me always to know what she is thinking.

Women, how can you act like this? I mean, really?

But most importantly, those who think that marriage is a trap just never met the right person. When you do, it's indescribable how right it feels. After 20 years, I still can't imagine being married to someone else. I got really lucky.

Posted by: Chester White at February 11, 2008 07:58 AM

Oh, that's easy to explain Chester :)

You are going to love this. Watch this video, but remember a lot of it is tongue in cheek:

http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/archives/2008/01/men_vs_women_th.html

One of the biggest differences between men and women is that we see everything as interconnected, whereas men tend more to compartmentalize. So you guys go off to work and don't think of us for hours. But while we're at work, you are always in the back of our minds. We may not be consciously thinking of you, but we're always thinking.

And we're always thinking about your feelings, how you're doing, if you are happy. And 99.9% of women really do not understand that you don't do that with us - that if you don't hear us complain, you assume we're happy (WRONG!), that you don't watch our faces for emotional clues to what we're thinking and feeling.

Women raise children. Children are non-verbal. So we have to be extremely adept at reading physical and nonverbal clues while simultaneously doing other things, like (and I have done these things) reupholstering a sofa or fixing a Weed Eater. You have to be able to somehow magically divine that your 4 year old just stuffed a coffee bean up his nose, or fed your new MasterCard into the air conditioner slot in your station wagon from the slightly guilty and scared expression on his face, because he is NOT going to come and tell you of his own free will.

But guys don't even notice stuff like that.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 08:15 AM

Huh? Sorry, did you say something? =;-)

Posted by: Ralph Cramden at February 11, 2008 08:20 AM

Zoom, boom to the moon!

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 08:22 AM

Cassandra:

Well, I'm a stay-at-home dad and my wife is the breadwinner, but of course we are hard-wired by evolution the other way. So it's pretty interesting sometimes.

In playgroups, I usually got accepted as one of "the girls" eventually, and got to see more than my share of breastfeeding up-close-and-personal.

I'm very fortunate we have a son, because I can usually figure out EXACTLY what he is thinking, or just about to do. "Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if I stuck this in here? What would happen if I stuck my tongue out and left it there for 10 minutes? I wonder if this can burn?" Been there.

If I had daughters, I'd be completely at sea. My nieces and friends' little girls can be like aliens to me (what's with the mandatory random screaming all the time?). Another thousand years and I'd still never be able to figure out the human female.

Posted by: Chester White at February 11, 2008 08:35 AM

Cassandra,

I believe you answered your own question :)!
"But on the other hand all my friends are happily married too. Did we all get 'inordinately lucky'? Pretty much everyone I know is happily married."
"I think maybe it is more culture; how people behave." That is, you have lived in the "military culture" (for lack of a better phrase), if I understand you correctly. The ratio of happily married, undivorced couples you describe is roughly the same that I have encountered during my 20 years on active duty.
As I am approaching retirement, losing the access to this culture is one of the things I fear most. Discussions with civilian friends routinely highlight "difficulties", for example, in finding someone that they can trust their children with, yet, for us, knowing someone for a day or two after moving to a new location is sufficient. We know that we share the vast majority of values with our "new neighbors," and we know that we can trust them.

Posted by: Milty at February 11, 2008 08:51 AM

EvilDave said: But you do notice the 40-year olds out there. And they always seem to have the hottest 20 years olds as girlfriends. One of my friends is 45+ and recently married a gorgeous 20 year old.

My husband was married before, to a woman who liked the idea of an "open marriage", and actually left him for a guy who was making more money and was on the fast track to become really wealthy. This left my husband emotionally wrecked for a long time. He entertained the idea of being a 40-something Sugar Daddy college professor, squiring the young ladies blah blah.

Well, I'm only six years younger than him, (I was 29 and he was 35 when we met) but he says in actuality that's almost too much. We are both baby boomers, but the music of his time was Buddy Holly, while mine was The Beatles. He says there are things I just don't understand because of my "youth" (he still calls me his "trophy wife" even though I am about to turn 54).

So even though you can have eye candy on your arm when you are greying and looking jowly, you still need someone to talk to. Of course, it can work. My aunt married a man 21 years her senior, and they always looked the same age to me. He died in his 80's, she was 67 when she died, and that was when I learned of the age difference. They did fine, but they were raised during the Depression and worked a Nebraska farm together. They certainly had different expectations than a 40-year-old marrying a 19-year-old today.

Posted by: MathMom at February 11, 2008 09:04 AM

Oh, one more thing about "settling". My husband's ex has told people she should have settled for my husband. Mr. Rich Guy dumped her when she had health problems (no "for better or for worse" for him). She spent the intervening years as a single mom, then when the last one left the nest she married a guy a couple years older than her older child. They divorced a couple of years ago.

I saw her last year. She looks like she has been "rode hard and put up wet", she's living in an apartment at age 60, and is facing her retirement years alone. And that financial security she was chasing by trying to trade up in the husband market? I have it. And she can tell.

I've been through the wringer too, and I don't look like the trophy wife my husband married. But I can smile very easily, because even though life has given us some hard whacks, we got whacked together. That makes it easier. I also still like him after all these years. I love him, of course, but believe me, there is tremendous value in really liking him, too. It makes it fun when he comes home every day.

Posted by: MathMom at February 11, 2008 09:16 AM

I love him, of course, but believe me, there is tremendous value in really liking him, too.

I can vouch for that.

My husband makes me laugh. And he makes me think. And he is a genuinely nice guy.

And sometimes I really want to brain him with a shovel.

And on top of all that, he can still make me weak in the knees after all these years. How can you beat that?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 09:31 AM

Yes, Cass, sometimes you need a baseball bat, because there is a waiting period for a .44 mag pistol. :)

Posted by: MathMom at February 11, 2008 09:34 AM

It is one thing to have expectations and WORK WITH THEM to achieve same. It is another to hear the incessantly irritating bs of 'white male oppression violence' mantra and drugging boys in school.

right now, the eldest CLU is FINISHING off the sewing of his patches on his scout uniform.
He had to get a larger shirt (the lad is 5'11)
and transfer the patches from the older shirt to the newer one. I didn't have to do a thing.

We call it teaching them to be independent and self reliant.

Oh, he will be doing academics next, and then
he is working on the riding lawnmower the neighbor GAVE him. The neighbor 'man' is 29 years old, let his house go into foreclosure
this year, and that was two and a half years after he moved into it...with his wife.

She was studying for an RN degree, and he was still partying...so she left him. He has had
boarders coming and going so fast that that house needed a revolving door. He went through six different jobs in two years. He is working on rebuilding a Ford Bronco, but was too drunk or hungover to fix it and never had enough money.

He screwed up his riding lawnmower, and gave it to the CLU as a parting gift. The deck NOW works, thanks to persistent work of a couple of hours on the part of said CLU. We just need to
look at a couple of other things...

The CLU has plans for starting a lawn care service...he was inspired by Cass's lawn chica stories. He has a weedeater and hedge trimmers
and I guess we will be doing some summer work.

Life is good.

Posted by: Cricket at February 11, 2008 09:37 AM

Cricket -

Life is good, and you're a first-rate mom!

Posted by: MathMom at February 11, 2008 09:39 AM

Good for him, Cricket!

I made good money mowing lawns when we were first married. One thing in life is for certain - everyone has grass and everyone HATES mowing it :p

I am always surprised when people say they can't find any work. People charge so much to mow a lawn - you can undercut the big services if you're not greedy. The overhead is nil and if you're young, it's just your sweat.

My boys always hated working outdoors but they were proud of themselves when they got that money in their hot little hands.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 09:47 AM

Cricket

congrats on some fine parenting!

Cass:

One thing in life is for certain - everyone has grass and everyone HATES mowing it :p

er... I have a small lawn and I enjoy mowing it. Hubby says anytime I get tired we can pay someone to do it, but that hasn't happened yet. :-)

Posted by: Darleen at February 11, 2008 10:02 AM

YES. And thanks for the pats on the back. I needed that after a near meltdown yesterday.

We have always had a job we did with them, to teach them the value of work and time while they were young. Jonathan delivered the Fort Lewis newspaper for about six months. One day a week,
for about 100.00 a month. we did it in the wee hours of the morning, to three different housing areas on the base. He got paid by the Tacoma News Tribune which published it...and thought he was a pretty well to do ten year old when he had nearly 700.00 saved.

He just added to it, but put me on his account when he got older. At the time of his death, he
had saved about 3 grand. Not bad for a 16 year old.

and the CLU got frustrated by a big round patch.
I told him to QUIT (he's ripped it out twice already) and to go work on the lawnmower.

Heh.

I'll rip it out and stabilize the patch for him and ask him if he wants to finish it or if he wants me to do it.

Sometimes you hafta step in...

Posted by: Cricket at February 11, 2008 10:10 AM

"I am always surprised when people say they can't find any work."

I'm more than surprised; I'm angry and I feel like telling them off. Any idiot can make $100 minimum a day on ebay. With US Postal Service pickup, you don't have to leave the house or even get dressed.

Just pick something, anything, you know a little bit about (tools, car parts, gardening books, baby clothes, lingerie, draperies, specialized kitchen utensils, belt buckles, childrens' videos, turquoise hippie jewelry, weird Japanese candy, anything).

Check to make sure the market isn't totally saturated, find it cheap in quantity (Google if nothing else, and clear space for a pallet), and break it down for sale in smaller lots, doubling or tripling or quadrupling the price. I sometimes resell stuff I buy at Costco or Big Lots.

It's a perfect business for a stay-at-home mom, since you can dial it up and back as needed and work any hours you want. All you have to do is work hard and be honest; customers come running and keep coming back. Couldn't be easier.

Posted by: Chester White at February 11, 2008 10:14 AM

I used to love working in my garden, Darleen. I could happily spend all day "terraforming" (as my husband called it) our little slice of heaven.

I think having a career ruined that for me. Now it is just one more thing I have to do that I can't seem to find time for, and I hate that.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 10:16 AM

I think you are right that we men are getting too much free stuff, so marriage is not that essential. If women stop giving it away, we'll have to pay the pro's for it. Actually, they are a much better bargain, but the law introduces a risk that has to be considered. The three parties suffering the most from this are attorneys who aren't getting the lucrative divorce business they used to, women who aren't getting the divorce settlements they used to, and feminists who got everything they asked for, but still aren't happy about the outcome.

Posted by: willis at February 11, 2008 10:30 AM

The comical aspect of this "settling" business is that while you are all worried about having to settle for someone, no one seems to want to settle for you! And when they do, finally, you're still convinced that you are the one who settled.

Wedded bliss becomes possible once you realize that your spouse actually settled more than you did. Gratitude replaces resentment and you think and can even say things like, "Honey, I am so glad you settled for me. You could have done better. What can I do for you that will make your life better?"

Foxfier: I loved the video-game kiss story. Thanks.

Posted by: tomson at February 11, 2008 11:20 AM

Heh :)

I think yours and Foxfier's win best comment, tomson.

Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 11:28 AM

You and Glen have really started something. It's a great topic, and it's great to see so many good people weigh in on it.

I have only one observation, and a question:

Many people seem to get married with the idea of changing the other person (or figuring the other person will change). It almost never works. This should be in the Instruction Book.

The question is about "Bridal shows". I see signs for them all over the place, and ads for them. Why is it always "bride" and never "groom"? (Maybe it's because no adverb works: groomal, groomly,... ?)

Posted by: ZZMike at February 11, 2008 11:33 AM

"Wedded bliss becomes possible once you realize that your spouse actually settled more than you did. "
Heh, epiphany... I believe is the word, right?

After reading the comments in this thread, there is little that I can add.

"I think society expected far more of young men back then, so while it may have rewarded married men more, it also expected them to work harder and punished them more harshly when they stepped out of line.


Society would have shunned young men who behaved that way in the past. It also would have shunned the young women who sleep with them. But then, that was my point :) Expectations shape our behavior."

That's my view, but I'm somewhat of an old dusty methane eruption. Your mileage may vary.
"The things I have given up are nothing compared to the joy being married has brought into my life."
Quite so in my case. But being a guy, I probably do not visit that compartment in my little fast-twitch guy brain as often as I should. =;-)
"The question is about "Bridal shows". I see signs for them all over the place, and ads for them. Why is it always "bride" and never "groom"? (Maybe it's because no adverb works: groomal, groomly,... ?)"
Just a WAG, but how many package stores, outdoor outfitters, hardware stores, auto/truck after-marketers and firearms merchants would set up a registry for those who would be shopping for the prospective groom? Do I sense the onset of a bid'ness plan? Heheh...

Posted by: bthun at February 11, 2008 11:53 AM

Well, here's an interesting topic. Let's see... I don't believe that horror stories of divorce and family court are scaring off the men from marriage. I think it's more along the lines of the social pressure for men (and women) to get married early seems to be gone.

Personally, I have WANTED to be married and have a family since I was about 19. The trouble was finding a partner who was also looking for that. Most women (girls really) 'my age' back then were not looking for a long term relationship, they were looking for a hook up. I remember being a young enlisted man and having many young women express no interest in marriage unless it was under the context of "wow, you've got a lot of spare income!" Yeah, that's a stone cold turn off ladies. Of course young enlisted men have a lot of spare income. Our housing and meals are free. We're still broke. And NO guy wants to hear you're interested in the contents of his wallet more than anything else.

I married a woman three and a half years my senior who made twice what I did as an NCO who had been previously married (she took all the debt and gave him the savings so that he'd go... so he really made out on that exchange). She hadn't been looking for Mr. Right so much as Mr. Right-now when we met, and I take it as a huge compliment that she decided to give the marriage thing a second chance.

A lot has changed in the intervening twelve years. Her health has declined to the point that she can no longer work, so I'm the sole breadwinner in the family. I know a lot of folks have looked at us and wonder why I haven't left her, and frankly that attitude appalls me. I made a promise, and I intend to keep it. Plus, I never loved her for what she could provide to me financially, but for who she is. And health problems or not, she is still the same person, and I love her as much today as when we were married.

"What's wrong with kids today" is a refrain heard throughout history. I think it's just a new chorus we're hearing right now. Give it 30 years and you'll hear those 20-somethings now complaining about the 20-somethings of their time.

Posted by: MikeD at February 11, 2008 11:57 AM

Damn good article Cassandra. TH had a link to your story and that's how I found it.

Insightful, and something I hope my 9mo old will come to learn when she grows up herself

(New Dad thinking about the future, what can I say? ;) )

Posted by: FireWolf at February 11, 2008 01:39 PM

Thank you :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 01:53 PM

I'm a little young to have witnessed the women's lib movement. But it seems to me that women rearranged the social structure in this country so that they could be freed from the traditional roles that marriage forced on women.

It logically follows then that males should be able to make those same decisions for themselves.

You don't like my reasons for staying single? You think that I'm immature? You think I should be doing what you want to do instead of what I want to do? Well, I think that's a little hypocritical.

My opinion will change if I ever decide to have kids. Until that time, I fail to see any reason to get married.

Posted by: tom a at February 11, 2008 01:59 PM

Marriage as an institution has been severely damaged in our society. 'Bastard' has ceased to have meaning and is just a swear word. The wedding vow has the same words, but how many pay attention? Ending a marriage is much simpler.

Military folks generally (there are scumballs, like any other institution, but generally) take oaths seriously, and see the marriage vows for what they are, a lifetime commitment. Military also tend to be more religious and conservative, these may also be factors. There are many women who see a uniform as a symbol of honor and commitment, and put these virtues high on their list of requirements, since they have the same attitude. Many different subsets of society do worse with successful marriages, few do better. This may skew your outlook some.

When I realized that my wife had become an alcoholic in my absence (God knows my family is enough to drive anyone to drink, and they live across the street), I left the Navy for the reserves and we held together. We were two people with a common purpose, helping each other's weaknesses, subtracting sorrow and multiplying happiness. She passed away last year, I am diminished manyfold. A good marriage is the nearest we can get to Heaven on earth.

Posted by: tweell at February 11, 2008 02:25 PM

"My opinion will change if I ever decide to have kids. Until that time, I fail to see any reason to get married."

Well, good luck with that. When you decide to have kids you might not be able to find anyone willing to have more just to make you happy. Or the one you do find won't be someone you like very much or have anything in common with.

It's the same problem women have, actually.

What sort of plan is it to wait until all the good ones are taken?

Posted by: Synova at February 11, 2008 02:45 PM

You know, it seems really easy to talk about all of this in 'generalities'. Men fear women will take them to the cleaners. Women fear men will never be mature. Whatever.:p What it really boils down to people who are looking for an excuse for their problems. A whole lot easier to look at the statistics and wimp out than take the risk.

I've been divorced once, and it was a hard break-up. But, I don't think it'd stop me from getting married again, especially if I thought I found the right woman. It'd be silly not to. What kind of woman would want a man who didn't have the fortitude to go for what he wanted?

Posted by: Kevin L at February 11, 2008 04:42 PM

it seems to me that women rearranged the social structure in this country so that they could be freed from the traditional roles that marriage forced on women.

Actually tom, "I" didn't "rearrange" anything :p

"I" stayed home for 18 years and raised two sons.

And then I went back to school at night full time while working a 40 hour week and kept a 4.0 GPA. And then I quadrupled my salary in 2 years. And now I have a career and I still cook my husband dinner at night and do most of the cleaning and housework.

So I really don't want to hear that "women" changed the rules, because that is bull if you'll pardon my frankness. I am a woman, and I didn't change anything, and I've lived the traditional roles as well as the nontraditional roles.

Life is (as Kevin said) full of risks. I'm not telling you what to do. But I have a right to my own values, and I have the right to think whatever I think of your choices, in light of my own values. Just as you have the right to yours.

Certainly your choices ought to be able to stand up to reasonable scrutiny, and it shouldn't bother you if people don't agree with them. Adults understand that other adults are not necessarily going to endorse or approve of their lifestyles or their values. That's just the way it is.

And for what it's worth, if you go back and actually READ MY POST, I said that I really didn't care what young men did with their time. That was their own affair.

I don't contest their right to spend their time as they please, and if they choose to spend their free time in that manner they are probably not particularly good candidates for marriage and fatherhood anyway.

Where am I saying you have to get married? I am, if you look at what I actually said, saying the opposite -- you probably should NOT get married because you obviously don't want to.

So we are in perfect agreement. I am not sure what you are arguing, here.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 05:07 PM

And so, we segue into song....


"I can bring home the bacon
Fry it up in a pan
And never let you forget you're a man
'Cuz I'm a woman -- W-ooooo-m-aaaa-n!"

You tell 'em, girlfriend. :D

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 11, 2008 05:27 PM

/smack!

Soooooo.... dead :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 05:50 PM

Never mess with me when I've been working late :p

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 05:52 PM

Men are not our personal meal tickets. They shouldn't have to shower us with material things to win our affection; nor should they be expected to read our minds or surrender their independence to The Relationship. If we are adults, we will take responsibility for our own happiness and not expect a man to "make" us happy. Oddly enough, if we do this most men will bend over backwards to make us happy without our ever asking them to. It's just that they dislike traps.

That's a penetrating observation that deserves to be highlighted and given as advice to every woman who is seeking a committed relationship.

I especially like this: "they shouldn't have to shower us with material things to win our affection". When women expect to be showered with flowers and chocolates without giving gifts in return, I find that particularly off putting. Once upon a time it made sense, but it this day and age of equality it's anachronistic. If you believe you should be showered with gifts with no need for reciprocation it signals that you have no desire for a partnership of equals.

And if you believe you are giving affection in reciprocation, you're even worse...

Posted by: morbo at February 11, 2008 06:46 PM

Then she told me a story

'Bout free milk and a cow;

Said "There'll be no hugging or kissing

Until I get a weddin' vow!"



"My honey, my baby,

Don't put my love upon no shelf!"

She said "Don't hand me no lines,

And keep your hands to yourself!"

Posted by: Georgia Satellites at February 11, 2008 07:07 PM

Something else bothers me. We didn't see these complaints in the 50's, 40's, 30's, 20's, etc. Other than the Depression years, people married younger than they do now.

So what's up?

IMHO another factor is that women seem hard-wired to chase men with higher status. When women were restricted, few career opportunities, even the butcher, carpenter, and plumber were good matches. Now women seem to chase only the few high-status men. The poster upthread mentioned how women in his age group (female lawyers working long hours) chase the top execs/partners in their fifties. Meanwhile he's attractive to women in their late twenties.

Like a giant ponzi scheme someone's bound to be the loser. Particularly since younger age groups are always smaller (ever decreasing birth rate).

Posted by: Jim Rockford at February 11, 2008 07:49 PM

Ya know, I've was told (by a man my age when I was still in my 20s) that I needed to find a rich man to marry. I really didn't know what to think of that comment. I don't know what it was about me that made him think I'd be so shallow as to only be interested in a man's money. I come from a humble, but comfortable, background - my father was an NCO by the time I was born, and he made a career of the Army.

I was never a spoiled child, given everything I asked for. While every little girl, I had fantasies about Prince Charming and what-not, but as I grew up, I just seemed to know that wasn't reality. Yes, I had crushes on the popular guys at school, but that wasn't always the guy who came from money. I was also always very shy (and I still am today, when it comes to letting a man I'm interested in actually know it - I've never been a good flirt), so I never dated much. My best friend told me a long time ago that she was afraid I'd "settle" for the first man who proposed, precisely because I never dated much. She probably still thinks that because I haven't dated in way too long. And that's not for a lack of interest in dating. For whatever reasons, opportunities never really seemed to present themselves. Now, I'm in a situation where my circle of friends don't live where I live, I'm no longer 20-something and on the thinner side ("rubenesque" would be the polite euphemism to describe my current body type, although I'm trying to change that, and I'm closer to 40 than to 30), my jobs don't really offer the opportunity to meet men (I substitute teach - education being a field dominated by women, and I also work part-time at a baby/children's clothing store - also not a place one is likely to meet single, unattached men), and all those things people are advised to do to meet someone (take a class, pursue a hobby, sign up with dating sites) are things I am financially unable to try right now.

I've never played games with any of the few guys I've gone out with. I know that there are women that do, and they piss me off because their actions risk making decent men bitter and resentful of women in general because of how they have been treated in the past. It's never been my goal to find someone to mooch off of for the rest of my life. I want a partner who will love me for who I am, "worts and all", who I can also love, "worts and all"; I want someone to grow old with and have children with (but, with my age, as Cass mentioned, I feel as if I'm fast approaching the point where that dream will remain just that - a dream: I'm not dating anyone now, I have no prospects of dating anyone any time soon, and I don't expect that as soon as I start dating someone that we'll want to rush off and get married, and I don't want to rush into having a baby right off the bat, either). Is that too much to ask for? I'm not expecting Brad Pitt - I'm not Angelina Jolie, either. So, when I hear some of these men (such have commented on this thread) bitch & moan about bitchy women, I have to wonder just what, exactly, are their criteria are when they look for a woman. If you keep dating bitchy women, maybe you should modify what it is that you feel is important, and then you'll open yourself up to meeting The One.

Oh, and I had a guy tell me once (someone I had been interested in and we attempted a long-distance relationship - I think I actually dodged a bullet on that one, but that's a story for another time) that marriage was nothing more than legalized prostitution. A woman provides sex to a man in exchange for him taking care of her. What a cynical view of what marriage is all about (like I said - I think I dodged a bullet on that one...).

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 11, 2008 10:45 PM

FWIW, Miss Ladybug, I think both men and women sometimes rule perfectly suitable partners out.

And sometimes it's only chance (or a concerted effort) that brings the right people together. The reason I say this is the number of people I know who were married once unsuccessfully, then ended up with someone the second time around who (according to them) was not someone they would have considered earlier.

And yet, they're really happy. I know a guy whose 1st wife was very pretty.

His second wife is... well... "rubenesque" :) They have a great marriage. I will never forget him saying to me right before he proposed to her something about how she 'wasn't as pretty' as his first wife but she made him very happy. I have found with guys that if they come to care about you, you become pretty in their eyes. But you are right: they have to give you that chance first. So it helps if you work with men, or are around them in some way where you can get to know them. That is how he got to know her - at school.

Oh, and yes. I think you were better off without that guy.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 11, 2008 10:56 PM

Yeah - I met him the last summer I was in Germany. The only way I can really describe our initial connection is "electric". But, when we met, I was dating someone else, and he was dating my best friend, so nothing ever happened that summer. He was getting out of the Army, so he, too was returning to the states. I went back to the states (with my entire family - PCS), and back to college, and started that long-distance whatever it was (after clearing it with the best friend who started attending the same college as me): we made plans several times to see each other, we could talk on the phone for hours; but, when it came time to actually get together, something always came up to where he couldn't make it. During that time, he went from going to school to joining the Coast Guard. Finally got to the point where I cut my losses and sent him a "have a nice life" letter. Then, about 7 years later, I get a phone call from him. I'd moved out of state and he said he had a devil of a time tracking me down. He was married, but wouldn't still be if it weren't for their kid. Gave him my email address - he wanted to keep in touch, and I wasn't completely comfortable with talking to him on the phone, what with all he said. He said he'd been stupid for treating me that way, but he was having issues back then (ya think??). Got one email from him to which I replied: you want to be friends, fine, but if you're looking for more than that, sorry, can't oblige. Never heard from him again.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 11, 2008 11:11 PM

Cassandra (original post): I don't contest their right to spend their time as they please, and if they choose to spend their free time in that manner they are probably not particularly good candidates for marriage and fatherhood anyway. But don't expect me to call their choices rational or mature.

Au contraire
, one criticism that often gets levied at such men is that they're being rational to a fault. That is, they've weighed the perceived risks and rewards to themselves (note the operative phrase) in the whole marriage/family-forming thing, have found that the former outweighs the latter, and therefore have concluded that it all just isn't worth the trouble. The criticism is that, like any other decision-making process based on rational self-interest, this ignores the effect on the community and nation at large.

What we seem to have here is an inverted "tragedy of the commons" scenario. That is, one in which the community reaps the net benefits of marriage while individuals who actually marry and form families are left to bear the net risks. This is not to say that individual rewards don't exist in marriage, only that, as things stand today, they are outweighed by the individual risks, to the point where so many men are on the so-called "marriage strike". Meanwhile the community rewards and risks associated with marriage are more or less invisible at the individual level, which is why they typically don't factor into a rationally self-interested individual decision on whether to pursue marriage.

Posted by: Joshua at February 12, 2008 03:00 AM

I can see I'm late to this party, and I really don't have time to read the 100 or so previous comments; I apologize for that.

I'm sorry you find my argument "unpersuasive." I can't say that I find yours so, exactly; just one sided. The factor you attribute to chivalry is really mostly chivalry as such; it's just that modern society punishes, in a host of ways, men who don't yield to the women's-empowerment movement. It starts at grade school, and pushes on through young adulthood. There are formal parts of this (e.g., the pro-girl/pro-woman education encouraged by the teachers' unions); legal parts (sexual harrassment legislation); informal parts from women (such as not dating young men who don't comply); informal parts from men (such as shaming fellow boys or young men who 'fight girls' -- the only part of this that is chivalry as such).

I mentioned in the comments the fact that, now, even heroic-fiction-action-movies are required to have women as action heroes; and so, if you won't leave young men even the fantasy of manhood, well, what do you expect?

What I'd expect is finding young men who simply won't engage that society; they'll wait it out, playing games where they can fight and be heroes; watching porn, where girls are easier to deal with that the ones who push and sneer; and otherwise waiting until the young women are finally ready for them.

Most of them find they don't really become "worth" anything to young women until suddenly they hit their 30s or so; and now the women want husbands who can help them have and raise families, and help support children. Suddenly they can marry and engage the world on what are really more natural, friendly terms; so they do.

As you point out, though, womens' fertility doesn't last forever. A woman who waits to 30 or so to start the family cycle has 0-3 children, not 2-5.

So there you are. That's the other side: it's not just that 'they can get the milk for free,' but that the cow isn't interested in them. For the first ten years of adulthood, these days, the cow wants them out of the way.

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2008 06:20 AM

By the way, I love how you and I go around about these things, defending and accusing people neither of us approve of even somewhat.

I think young men of this type are twerps who don't understand the first thing about what really matters in life; the young women I feel sorry for, as they don't seem to know what matters or how to get what they really want, or even how to decide what they really want. I feel sorry for them because I was trained to sympathy and courtesy for ladies of all degrees; but I suspect that, if I hadn't been so carefully trained, I would find them to be impossibly annoying whiners.

I suspect you have a broadly similar attitude toward both parties.

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2008 06:27 AM

As for myself, I'm a great fan of married life and married love; and only too eager to get back to them. 47 days. :)

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2008 06:42 AM

By the way, I love how you and I go around about these things, defending and accusing people neither of us approve of even somewhat.

Heh :) I think some of that is the imprecision of language, Grim. I suspect that if we could talk in person most of that would go away. It is more stilted trying to have a conversation over the Internet - your responses are limited b/c you have to type everything out, and so you end up not saying everything you might, otherwise.

I think we agree more than we disagree most of the time.

I just don't think young men are thinking that hard, that's all (re: the 'not competing' thing). And re: the "cow" not being interested in them, I really have to disagree on that. Young women are very interested in young men. I'm around them all the time. They'd rather be with a guy their age than an older man, really. It's just that (I think) you really DO have that free milk problem.

If a girl gets into a relationship and does have sex with a guy, she thinks she has formed an emotional bond, so she starts acting as though there is a relationship. And her behavior changes, subtly.

And the guy usually doesn't.

And when her behavior changes, she suddenly isn't as "fun" as she was before. She makes little demands. And a boy who isn't mature yet doesn't "get" that when he had sex with her, it was her unspoken understanding that they made a "deal" - i.e., they are now in a "relationship". He just thinks he's having fun. So he thinks, "Man - why is she being such a buzz kill all of a sudden?"

And typically, he goes cold on her. Which results in all kinds of ratcheting up behaviors from her - she tries to find out why all of a sudden he is acting like an ass? Or, she tries to be extra nice to him and he avoids her even more out of guilt.

I think you are completely wrong about girls not being interested in boys their own age. I see this happen all the time. There are lots of decent boys out there, but there are plenty more boys who have not been taught how to treat a girl right, and plenty of girls who don't respect themselves enough to let a boy know what their expectations are from the get-go, or walk away from a guy who doesn't treat them with respect.

And so you see a lot of hooking up and dumping instead of relationships leading to marriage. People have sex way too soon and then fail to communicate. I'm not against sex at all.

Trust me on that one. It's just that both parties need to be honest about what they expect from it.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 12, 2008 08:05 AM

There are always unintended consequences; you can never "do just one thing". I remember the sexual and feminist revolutions, and many things didn't turn out like anyone -- either cheering or fearing -- expected. Some of them have been good, some of them have been bad, especially if you do the evaluation in terms of the society of 1950. That society is long gone for many reasons and while it is useful as a benchmark to measure how much things have changed, measuring goodness of change is a more difficult thing.


Marriage has changed. It used to be one group of things, and it's become a different group of things. I've seen "good" divorces, and "bad" divorces, both with and without children, and with and without grown children. Sometimes, especially when there was an abusive or addicted or drunken spouse, things end up better for the abused and children. Not as often as I'd like; I think it's almost as hard for the victims to learn new coping skills as their abusers.


Society has changed. Instant gratification is, in general, a bad thing, and it's worse when it consumes people.


I feel blessed. Spice & I met in a dorm, became friends, fought like cats and dogs about politics, became close friends, became lovers, moved in together, and eventually married. She still surprizes me every day, challenges me, squabbles with me, cooks with me, debates politics with me, ... and cheers for me. I can't imagine life without her. I'd say that avoiding temptation has been easy, but it's more accurate to say that while I've admired the menu, I've never been tempted.


Cricket, it sounds like you've got a fine son. Not easy in this day and age; congratulations.


Miss Ladybug (and FbL), hang in there. There's a song that you ladies remind me of, by Deborah Henson-Conant, "Closer to You" on a stunning jazz harp album "Just for You" ...



I asked my mamma how I'm gonna find the man who's meant for me.
She said, "He'll turn up by and by, just you wait and see."
...
I said "Mamma, what if I go the wrong way around?
What if he's looking in the other direction?
What if I dawdle when I'm meant to run?
Mamma, what if I do it all wrong?"

She said "You don't have to worry, honey, don't you fret.
'Cause if it's meant to be,
Well, then, you only gotta go the way you want to go,
and that's the way he'll be."

She said "Every step you every take, every triumph and each mistake."
She said "Every thing you every do,
Is gonna bring that man a little bit closer to you,
Just a little bit, little bit, closer to you."

Posted by: htom at February 12, 2008 11:19 AM

htom~

Thanks for the words of encouragement, but the waiting really sucks. And at this time of year, I feel even worse about it. All that crap about flowers and chocolates really can make you feel like there is something wrong with you. On top of that, the cruelest thing that was ever done to me (whether it was intended to be cruel or not - that doesn't really matter) was done on Valentine's Day, 12 years ago. I've got lots of reasons to dislike the day and not much on the other side of the scale to balance things out.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 12, 2008 09:59 PM

Cass:

I shouldn't say that young women "aren't interested" in young men. Of course they are, in the way that young women and young men are interested in each other.

What I was trying to express was that young women today have a plan, sort of: they're just as much victims of the "girl power" movement as the young men are. Only, instead of being taught they need to get out of the way, they're taught they need to make things happen. They have biological drives to have families and children, but they have a strong socially-input drive to have a career that they can be proud of, that can "justify" their lives to their peers during that time when they're pushing baby carriages.

What that tends to mean, in terms of the relationships I've observed between young folks at work, is that the women aren't interested in the young man they have. They're interested in what he can become.

I'm not sure what the effect of having sex is on the relationship, because I am of course too circumspect to permit myself to know such details about their personal lives. I do think you're right about the question of how women think of a "relationship" versus how young men think of it as "dating." To a certain degree, that's what I'm talking about too.

The woman doesn't just start making little demands because they've had sex, I think, but because he's now part of her plan for herself, and he needs to shape up and fit it. That's what I mean when I say she's not interested in him, but in who he can become: in the guy who will be bringing in those paychecks and raising the kids during the part of her life plan where she's being a mother instead of a lawyer.

And the guy says, "What am I going to be doing ten years from now? What?"

I know a young lady out here who has a boyfriend. She's very proud of him, insofar as she shows him off to other girls as something they should be jealous of; but she's not at all satisfied with him, in that she's constantly critical and harping. What are his plans, not just for now but ten years out? Is he living up to them? What is he doing today to get there?

She's got her whole life mapped out: she plans to go to a high-powered law school ("I don't want to go unless I can go to one of the top schools," she says; meaning, she doesn't want to be a lawyer, she wants to be important); then, after a few years in a botique career like human rights or womens' issues, she'll quit (at 30-something) and raise lots of children with her highly-successful husband. Whom this boy is going to become. Now.

I'm sorry for both of them. Their chances of being happy with each other are nil, unless they both seriously redefine their expectations.

Posted by: Grim at February 13, 2008 12:04 AM

If sex is so freely available, why should a man settle down and get married?


After about 30 years of free wheeling sex, do you really expect a man and a woman who have grown up in this kind of culture to suddenly end their promiscuous ways and start living a monogamous married life? No wonder the divorce rate is hovering around 50% nowadays.

Honor and virtue, these are the qualities married men used to devote to their wives. But that was back in an era when brides remained virgins until their wedding night.

Do women from this day and age still expect the same devotion from their husbands? When a man marries a virgin, he treats like a princess. When a man marries a sl*t, he treats like one.

Posted by: NoName at February 13, 2008 11:48 AM

I'm sorry for both of them. Their chances of being happy with each other are nil, unless they both seriously redefine their expectations.

John Ross recommended that young women have children first and marry men who are already financially secure. This way the market balances out. Men who are financially secure have an incentive to get a younger wife that can take care of a family. Then when the kids are older, the wife can take another career by going back to school. With economic and family security, husbands have no reason or incentive to block that or get in the way.

As you said, Grim, the power of career women myth has it set so that young women are thinking first of having careers then of having children.

That creates an interesting set of variables concerning motivation.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at February 13, 2008 03:13 PM

"There are no good women out there." This is unreconstructed bunk. There are plenty of decent women out there.

i don't think any men are claiming a complete lack of good women; rather, more and more men are coming to their senses and realizing that the risks of marriage, especially to one of the bad women,** have spiraled completely out of control.

divorce is no-fault, family courts are completely biased against males, and men can be kicked out on the street immediately at any point by false allegations (for which the woman won't be prosecuted even if they are proven false beyond a doubt). despite the fact that women generally out-earn men per hour of similar work, it is men who are virtually guaranteed to bear the burden of 'supporting' their spouse upon divorce.

and it's going to get worse, too. feminists, and the useful idiots who support them, have done a wonderful job of indoctrinating people with the image that 'domestic violence' is (1) still this huge looming problem in society, and is (2) almost exclusively male-on-female (when studies show precisely the opposite; i could cite the relevant studies). therefore, society's noose around men's necks will only continue to tighten.

in addition, marriage and fatherhood no longer raise a man's status; rather, husbands and fathers are constant butts of jokes, displayed as inept and incompetent.

for a man, getting married these days is like taking a walk across a minefield. yes, there's a good chance that you'll make it alive, but would you want to risk it, especially after seeing enough of your buddies step on mines?

Posted by: johnny five at February 15, 2008 06:22 AM

i forgot to explain the **'d footnote above.

** = and there's no guaranteeing that a currently 'good' woman won't turn into one of these, especially at a convenient time such as the 10-year mark (= the point at which lifetime alimony kicks in in california).

Posted by: johnny five at February 15, 2008 06:24 AM

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