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December 29, 2008

Getting Along With Women 101: How *Not* To Make An Argument...

It has oft occurred to the Editorial Staff that the vast majority of male/female misunderstandings can be directly attributed to each sex's tendency to project their own assumptions and mode of thought upon what in progressive circles is politely termed The Other. Since men and women think and respond differently to a whole laundry list of stimuli, this is a recipe for disaster.

That's not exactly an earthshaking revelation, especially to anyone who isn't dumber than a sackful of hammers who has managed to stay married for longer than 20 seconds. But though most of us know men and women are different, when faced with behavior we don't understand we continue to assume the opposite sex will respond as we would.

And if they don't, well then darnitall they *ought* to.

It's hard to find a more amusing example of this phenomenon than Dennis Prager's latest column and the reactions to it. Mr. Prager weighs in on a subject from which far better men than he have fled shrieking in terror:

It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.

... A man whose wife frequently denies him sex will first be hurt, then sad, then angry, then quiet. And most men will never tell their wives why they have become quiet and distant. They are afraid to tell their wives. They are often made to feel ashamed of their male sexual nature, and they are humiliated (indeed emasculated) by feeling that they are reduced to having to beg for sex.

When first told this about men, women generally react in one or more of five ways:

1. You have to be kidding. That certainly isn't my way of knowing if he loves me. There have to be deeper ways than sex for me to show my husband that I love him.

2. If this is true, men really are animals.

3. Not my man. He knows I love him by the kind and loving way I treat him.

4. You have it backwards. If he truly loved me, he wouldn't expect sex when I'm not in the mood.

5. I know this and that's why I rarely say no to sex.

Mr. Prager proceeds to address each of these reactions in a way that sends the Hanes UltraSheers of bloggers both male and female into wads of fury. This is a shame, because there's really nothing wrong with his basic premise.

It's just that he really didn't do a terribly good job of explaining male behavior to women in a way that women understand. As amusing and overwrought as many of the reactions to his piece were, it's not hard to see why even some conservatives bridled at passages like this:

Compared to most womens sexual nature, mens sexual nature is far closer to that of animals. So what? That is the way he is made. Blame God and nature. Telling your husband to control it is a fine idea. But he already does. Every man who is sexually faithful to his wife already engages in daily heroic self-control. He has married knowing he will have to deny his sexual natures desire for variety for the rest of his life. To ask that he also regularly deny himself sex with the one woman in the world with whom he is permitted sex is asking far too much. Deny him enough times and he may try to fill this need with another woman.

Take one red flag. Wave directly in front of bull you are supposedly trying to stun senseless with the ineffable lucidity of your arguments. Step back, watch mayhem ensue.

As it so happens, I couldn't agree more that:

1. Sex is far more important to men (both physically and emotionally) than most women realize, and
2. Given that this is so, making sure your partner is satisfied in an area of your relationship which has tremendous importance to both the way he views your marriage and the way he sees himself as a man is pretty much a no-brainer.

BUT (and this is far bigger problem than diplomatically informing your wife her new little black dress makes her caboose look like a runaway Mack truck) allow me to suggest that telling a woman her husband desires sex with her (and apparently everything else on two legs) because he's basically an animal is not exactly calculated to appeal to her reasonable side.

And then there's the small matter of informing her how heroic her spouse is because he hasn't cheated on her.... yet. Of course those raging desires are barely under control. The reversion to animaldom *could* begin at any moment.

Cue the Barry White. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling romantic already. Methinks Mr. Prager needs to work on his sales technique just_a_bit.

Exactly how should this line of 'logic' make loving and concerned wives feel about something they don't understand? If you answered, "receptive", go back to the drawing board. Congratulations! You've married a caged beast who is constantly fighting off wicked thoughts and if you don't throw him some raw meat, he'll go feral on you?

Let me stipulate the points Prager made again and again in his column because they bear repeating. First of all, he didn't order anyone to submit. He advanced an argument whereby women might care to rethink their position if they have been habitually denying sex to their husbands. He further stated that it isn't a man's automatic "right" to expect sex whenever he wants it; that a considerate and loving husband must understand there are going to be times when for whatever reason, it's better just to roll over and dream of Halle Berry (just as a considerate and loving wife should understand there are times when protracted discussions about his feeeeeeeeelings or The Relationship may be the straw that broke the camel's back):

Of course, there are times when a man must simply refrain from initiating sex out of concern for his wife's physical or emotional condition. And then there are men for whom sex rarely has anything to do with making love or whose frequency of demands are excessive. (What “excessive” means ought to be determined by the couple before the refusals begin, or continue.)

That said, the slightly clumsy way he made his arguments was more calculated to appeal to a man than a woman and it ain't men he's trying to persuade. With a slightly different spin his observations remain no less true but are more likely to gain a sympathetic and willing ear:

1. You have to be kidding. …

The most common female reaction to hearing about men's sexual nature is incredulity, often followed by denial. These are entirely understandable reactions given how profoundly different — and how seemingly more primitive — men's sexual nature is compared to women's.

Incredulity is certainly the reaction most women have when first being told that a man knows he is loved when his wife gives him her body. The idea that the man she is married to, let alone a man whose intelligence she respects, will to any serious extent measure her love of him by such a carnal yardstick strikes many women as absurd and even objectionable.

This is undoubtedly true. I'm not sure if Prager understands *why* it's true, though. I have a theory about this. Maybe it's correct, maybe not.

Unlike women, men are competitive by nature: driven to fight and win. And as Prager notes, physically (let's not forget men are far more than the sum of their desires) men do have the instinct to sow their oats far and wide. But they also have other needs - intellectual, emotional, and spiritual - in addition to the purely sexual ones. Men are more than walking glands. If they weren't, they'd never settle down with one woman, accepting all the hard work and sacrifices marriage entails. Oddly enough, men have been known to forgo sex entirely, especially when they're working on something important to them. Who knew the poor dears had brains, let alone other interests in life? If that sounds a bit snarky, it's because it's a bit insulting to be thought of as nothing more than the satisfaction of a purely "animal" instinct. It's not that women don't get the animal part - trust me, we do, and far better than Mr. Prager seems to understand. It's just that most women would like to believe we provide a little more than the simple gratification of a nearly uncontrollable animal urge virtually anyone can satisfy. He is oversimplifying something that is actually pretty sophisticated and complex - the male sex drive, and what's more that oversimplification trivializes and demeans the needs of men. If sex were all men wanted or needed, they'd just take what they wanted. But men don't do that - they balance that side of their natures with their other attributes. That's why Prager's argument is calculated to raise hackles rather than promote understanding and acceptance.

During their dating years, most men prefer females they perceive to be a bit of a challenge. Certainly some will sleep with anything, but they won't settle down with just any woman. Ideally, they want the most difficult catch who prizes them in return; hopefully exclusively. They don't want her to be too easy to win over, but nothing is more attractive to a man than a woman who only has eyes for him, especially if she's viewed by other men as a good catch. She raises his status and in her arms he feels like a winner. This is a little hard for women to understand, but it's really very little different from the way we ourselves behave. We primp and preen and do our utmost to attract the best suitor from whatever pool we're able to gather around ourselves. We tend to undervalue the easy catch and often overvalue the one that got away, but essentially it's no less of a competition. From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes for healthy babies.

What women often don't understand is how truly important it is to most guys to please the women in their lives. For a man even love has a competitive aspect: he will fight for the prize of a woman's regard (or her desire at the end of the day), and that's how you keep the spark in a long term relationship: by allowing the man to do what he does best (pursue) and the woman to do what she does best (lure or seduce, often elusively at first but in the end, yielding... with the enticing appearance of a struggle... to his advances). In a good marriage, he continues to make this effort and she rewards him exclusively for his pains. But if she rejects him, not only is he going to be frustrated physically, but he's going to feel like a failure with the one person who matters most to him.

Since I've never met a guy who likes unpleasant feelings, guess what happens next? He shuts down and distracts himself with work, sports or hobbies. And this is where it all breaks down, as I'll discuss a bit later.

2. If this is true, men really are animals.

Correct. Compared to most women's sexual nature, men's sexual nature is far closer to that of animals. So what? That is the way he is made. Blame God and nature. Telling your husband to control it is a fine idea. But he already does. Every man who is sexually faithful to his wife already engages in daily heroic self-control. He has married knowing he will have to deny his sexual nature's desire for variety for the rest of his life. To ask that he also regularly deny himself sex with the one woman in the world with whom he is permitted sex is asking far too much. Deny him enough times and he may try to fill this need with another woman. If he is too moral to ever do that, he will match your sexual withdrawal with emotional and other forms of withdrawal.

Wow. Worst. Argument. Ever to make to a woman. Question for the ages: Is the wife who doesn't respond to the passes single and married men make at married women all the time (remember, women LOVE flirting, romance and attention of any kind - hey, we're animals! It's how we're made Mr. Prager: get over it) "heroic", too? Or is she just keeping her promise?

What about the woman who continues to tenderly care for her screaming infant when she hasn't had any sleep in 2 weeks and what she'd really rather be doing is relaxing on a tropical island with Fabio? Might such a woman possibly feel put upon at the end of the day when one more demand is made on her? This is something men don't understand - women are 'always on' to those we love. Just as men can't show emotion in the workplace, women have the opposite problem: we don't get to shut down emotionally because our feelings or pride are hurt. We can't turn off our feelings or stop thinking about those we love. We aren't "wired" that way and we can't shut out the needs of others, even when we are tired, angry, or resentful. They batter at us constantly until we do something about them.

Of course men have to keep their impulses in check once they get married. And of course that's not always easy. But it's hardly "heroic" any more than the thousand sacrifices women make in order to keep their relationships smooth are heroic.

There is probably little in life that annoys women more than being told by a man that nature has "programmed us" to do anything, bear any burden, make any sacrifice (except, apparently, having sex) in order to trap men into a state that is unnatural for them but oh-so desirable for us. I know I hate being told by conservative men in particular that women either hate sex or have little need for it; that we must pretty much be forced, against our natures, into 'giving it up'.

Could our extreme lack of interest in sex be why so many women cheat on their husbands, an activity that - last time I checked - included... lots and lots of the very activity we ostensibly exist to avoid?

Yeah. Doesn't make much sense to me, either.

The truth is probably a bit more nuanced than that: something more along the lines of, "men and women are different and within the spectrum of our differences, individual men and women vary greatly in temperment, need for sex, etc." This means that if you plan to get along with an individual man or woman, it helps to try and understand not just how all men or women think in general, but how the individual you're dealing with may differ from that general description. Try this argument on for size:

Men have feelings too, even though they don't talk about them very much. The number one reason for marital infidelity is not sex but rejection: the feeling one isn't appreciated.

And men, as many women may have noticed, are not always so good at talking - especially about their feelings. From birth they are trained to keep their emotions under tight rein. But as a woman, you hold the key to his heart. A man is never so receptive and loving as he is in bed. This is the one place where the rest of the world can't see him and when you touch him, when you show him you desire him above all others, that is probably the safest and most open he will ever feel. If you wish you were closer to your husband, you need to connect with him. For better or for worse, men find it easier to be emotionally intimate within the context of a happy and loving sexual relationship. It opens up their tender, loving and protective side.

If, as a woman, you are intentionally (and this was precisely the argument advanced by many bloggers who objected to Prager's post) holding back out of some misguided "He has to do X,Y, Z first before I'll interact with him in a way that allows him to be respond to the things I need from this relationship..." mentality, let me be the first to say: "You're a fool.". Sorry, but there it is.

A happy man will do almost anything to please you, up to and including conquering the world.

3. Not my man.

Many women will argue, understandably, “My husband knows I love him. He doesn't need me to have sex with him to know that. And this is especially so when I'm too tired or just don't want sex. Anyway, my man only enjoys sex with me when I'm into it, too.”

Not a bad argument so far as it goes. Realizing that many men would rather stick their heads into a gas oven than talk about their feelings, ask a woman how she would react to this statement from a man:

“My wife knows I love her. She doesn't need me to listen to her or tell her I love her to know that. And this is especially so when I'm too tired or just don't feel like making nicey-nicey. Anyway, it wouldn't mean anything to my wife if I acted affectionate just to please her.”

If you believe that, there's a very large bridge in Arizona I'd like to sell you. Often in marriage it's precisely the gestures we make when we don't feel like it - just to please our partners - that show how much we care. Anyone can be considerate when they're in a good mood. It's when you care enough to consider your mate's needs when you're tired and cranky that you know a marriage is solid.

4. You have it backward.

Every rational and decent man knows there are times when he should not initiate sex. In a marriage of good communication, a man would either know when those times are or his wife would tell him (and she needs to — women should not expect men to read their minds. He is her man, not her mother.)

This goes to my earlier point. Just as women should not expect men to read their minds, the absolute WORST thing a man can do (and very likely the #1 reason a lot of wives don't understand their husbands) is ...

[drum roll]

Men expecting their wives to read their minds. Women are good - very good - at relationships. But we're not perfect, and in a relationship between two consenting adults I don't have a whole lot of patience for an adult who takes his - or her - ball and goes home when things don't go his or her way. You want game?

Show up. And don't sulk.

And don't expect your partner to know - or understand without a lot of explaining - how you think. Not all men are alike. Neither are all women. Though men and women share many overarching similarities to others of their sex, no one marries "all men" or "all women". Individuals can be all over the map in terms of their need for emotional or sexual fulfillment and in the end, it is your individual needs that matter. If you don't feel comfortable broaching a subject, buy her a book that expresses what you wish she understood about you. Take responsibility for your own pleasure (and your own emotional well being). And here's a huge hint: find out how *she* thinks, what's important to her. Marriage involves communication and negotiation. Maybe she has shut down in the bedroom because she's feeling emotionally rejected. Maybe she's just lost touch with that side of herself, just as many men aren't terribly in touch with their emotions. Either way, asking a physically smaller and more vulnerable woman to open herself to a man she feels - for whatever reason - doesn't care about her is not only insensitive but leaves her feeling used.

SHE CAN'T READ YOUR MIND, and if you won't talk about your feelings she assumes you don't care about her or your marriage. She interprets the whole 'shutting down' thing as a rejection, and it hurts. Hurt people generally retreat into themselves, and that's never healthy for a marriage.

5. I know this and that's why I rarely say no to my husband.

I believe I'll let James Joyce speak for me here:

And then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.

The secret lies is meeting each other halfway. And if you find your spine a bit unyielding, you may wish to consider an old saying we ladies have often found instructive: That which submits, rules.

We humans are complex beings full of often contrary desires. Sometimes, though, someone has to make the first move.

Posted by Cassandra at December 29, 2008 08:02 AM

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Comments

Sex and relationships again?!?

Okay. Got it out of my system...

Posted by: BillT at December 29, 2008 12:35 PM

Well, I took the Superhero Superpowers test again, and it said this time that I could be given the superpower of being able to abstain from sex for hours on end without beating or cheating on my spousal unit.

I think I'll pass.

Posted by: KJ at December 29, 2008 12:35 PM

I'd love to say something intelligent, witty and informative here Cass. But you already said it all. Brava.

Posted by: MikeD at December 29, 2008 12:35 PM

being able to abstain from sex for hours on end without beating or cheating on my spousal unit.

Well, men *are* just animals you know. Sometimes I do wonder how y'all make it through the day without going all Cro Magnon on us ...

I sometimes wonder what Mr. Prager thinks goes on in the minds of women... high minded beings that we are :p

Posted by: Princess Leia in an Orange Danish Bikini at December 29, 2008 12:46 PM

My wife and I have been married for 38 years and I am now certain in the knowlege that she is not boring.

Everytime I think I have our relationship down pat she has a birthday, menopausal, post-menopausal, hot flashes, cold flashes, or any trip wire that makes her rear up like trigger or fire an imaginary SAW at my feet to make me dance like the town drunk.

Of course, I am perfect! NOT! A keen sense of humor and patience goes a long way. I can hardly tell that she puts Viagra in my metamucil. Of course I don't tell her of my suspicions and she knows that I know what is going on, we just don't talk about it as an inside joke.

Life is good!

Posted by: vet66 at December 29, 2008 12:52 PM

If you believe in the here-after than you know what I'm here after.

Posted by: mike at December 29, 2008 12:53 PM

wanting sex does not make us animals. Perhaps wanting to wihthold it make women controlling. I disagree with that as well. We all have our needs and until we learn to meet EACH OTHERS needs, we will continue a useless fight. If we learnt to work with EACH OTHER we will all have what we need. Let's not continue to pursue these useless comparisons and learn to live togehter in peace.

Posted by: connectingus at December 29, 2008 02:23 PM

wanting sex does not make us animals. Perhaps wanting to wihthold it make women controlling. I disagree with that as well.

A few observations :

1. I'm not sure who the "wanting sex does not make us animals" is directed at. If at me, my post took issue with Dennis Prager for characterizing men as animals :p

My *point* was that telling women men are animals for wanting sex and that we'd better get over it won't win any converts. Men are humans. As I pointed out several times, there are many women who have stronger sex drives than some men. Personally, I don't think that makes them animals any more than men are animals for wanting sex.

FWIW, I also think (though I don't think guys are necessarily comfortable talking about this a lot) that once the basic desire for sex is accounted for, both men and women get more out of sex with someone they care for than the simple gratification of lust... not that there's anything wrong with that. But most men will tell you that sex gets better - less of thrill ride, perhaps in some ways, but more satisfying to them in others, as they grow older. I think it's part of being a complete person.

That's what is great about marriage - through partnership with someone a bit unlike you, you're challenged to develop parts of yourself you may never have had a chance to appreciate before.

2. Perhaps wanting to wihthold it make women controlling.

Depends on the reason. If she doesn't even understand how important it is to him (and, as Prager says, the man conceals how upset he is by her behavior) how in the heck is she supposed to know? Osmosis? It's only controlling if the desire is to control his behavior or gain something in exchange. If a woman says no because she's exhausted or sad or thinks he doesn't love her... that doesn't strike me as controlling.

3. I don't think any comparison is useless if someone is having a problem and it helps them think through it and act in a way that enables them to get along better with their partner.

The point Prager made that I thought was very valuable (though he didn't say so explicitly) is that many men *assume* women understand them. Therefore, if women don't give them what they want, it must be a deliberate rejection or insult. But if there's a misunderstanding and neither party is talking to the other, how does that ever get fixed if no one addresses it?

I've spent a lot of time paying attention to things men say and reading about how men think so I can do a better job of trying to understand my husband. Comparisons help me to accomplish that end. It's not a competition; when I hear or see something it's a way for me to say to myself "Wow... that's amazing. I never looked at things that way at all -- that's utterly foreign to the way I think. Now what I need to find out is, to what extent does my husband think like this?"

As vet66 said above, in 30 years, I've never gotten bored. There's always more to learn.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 29, 2008 02:50 PM

women should not expect men to read their minds. He is her man, not her mother.

My mother can read minds? Shit. I thought she just had eyes in the back of her head.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at December 29, 2008 03:45 PM

Cass, try focusing your analysis on the same set of facts with one additional variable included, married versus non-married couples. Your ideas completely break down at that point. A non-married man treated by a woman in the same Prager scenario can simply walk away from a cold or unappreciative woman and find a woman who treats him better. In my experience, non-married women treat their boyfriends, fiances, whatever, far better prior to marriage than after. Beforehand, any woman knows that consistently rejecting her man will simply drive him away to another, so she dares not act that way if she wants to get that allimportant ring on her finger.

Sadly, once the fish has been "landed", all too many women think that the male has now been caged and no further enticements or lures need be used to keep him happy. The kind of rejection posited in the Prager scenario will definitely lead a less moral man to cheat, and a more moral man to withdraw emotionally and mentally from the relationship. Either way, divorce is usually common nowadays.

So, whether women like it or not, and whether their delicate sensibilities are offended (its not what you said, but HOW you said it), they better keep their partner satisfied or he will eventually move on. This is true in both pre-marital and post-marital scenarios. Women like to think of a wedding ring as something like the coming of Jesus; a division of life and scripture into Old Testament and New Testament divisions, but it is not. What a woman does to get a man before marriage, is what she better do to KEEP her man after marriage.

And before everyone's panties get all in a bunch, I'm not just talking about sex, although that is a big part of it. For those who call upon the christian tradition of virginity and sexual abstinence prior to marriage (usually a bastion of female thought in this area), that same christian tradition holds that it is a wife's DUTY to physically satisfy her husband AFTER marriage (something women hate to acknowledge). So, as usual, women want to both have their cake and eat it.

After my divorce, I have made no secret of the fact that I gave up on marriage due to the significant financial penalties and burdens our divorce laws place upon men in our society. Over the years, however, I have found that I also no longer have to deal with all the other baggage and garbage that women bring to a post-marriage relationship. I date and have had some relationships but, in each circumstance, had far more fun than I ever did with my ex-wife. If a girlfriend ever felt that I was not meeting her needs (of whatever kind), then she was free to ultimately end the relationship if I persisted in my behavior. Likewise, I could do the same to her. Knowing that you needed to meet your partners needs and desires on a daily basis in order to keep the relationship healthy and ongoing, or risk losing it altogether, is what makes these relationships more pleasant for me. This was completely lacking in my former marriage and, from what I have seen, in most marriages. This leads to unhealthy situations and ultimately divorce. So, women can turn a blind eye to what their men want and need, truting that the "iron bands" of matrimony will keep him at your side, but this is becoming a riskier and riskier proposition in these modern times.

Posted by: a former european at December 29, 2008 05:24 PM

*sigh*

afe, what in the heck are you talking about here?

Beforehand, any woman knows that consistently rejecting her man will simply drive him away to another, so she dares not act that way if she wants to get that all important ring on her finger.

Are you saying we ladies have to sleep with men in order for them to marry us? Or that women scheme to "trap" men into marriage by withholding sex? In my experience, it's far more common for a woman to have sex with a man thinking he loves her, only to have him sprout commitment phobia at the mere thought that she might actually be in a "relationship" as opposed to being just a "friend with benefits" who can be casually tossed aside as soon as he gets bored (a situation I wouldn't even entertain, let alone enter into).

It's hard to put myself in your shoes, but if I were single and found I absolutely couldn't contain myself, I wouldn't get within a mile of a man who told me up front he would never commit to a long term relationship with me. I wouldn't expect that to happen right away either, but (despite my admiration for your honesty) announcing that up front would cause me to regretfully show you the door. I'd rather have a one night stand than a relationship that would only result in my getting hurt and feeling used. Much more straightforward. If you think you're not hurting anyone, I respectfully have my doubts. However, you are honest about your intentions, and if a woman is willing to put up with that, she can hardly say she wasn't forewarned.

The entire premise of this article is that we're talking about a married couple who love each other. Prager stipulated that. So saying my arguments "break down" when applied to a situation they were never intended to address strikes me as somewhat less than helpful.

re: this

Knowing that you needed to meet your partners needs and desires on a daily basis in order to keep the relationship healthy and ongoing, or risk losing it altogether, is what makes these relationships more pleasant for me. This was completely lacking in my former marriage and, from what I have seen, in most marriages. This leads to unhealthy situations and ultimately divorce. So, women can turn a blind eye to what their men want and need, truting that the "iron bands" of matrimony will keep him at your side...

Again, you're being unjust.

Prager stipulates that the women he's talked to truly don't understand. And furthermore, their spouses don't talk to them about the problem, and talk is just as important to women as sex is to men. So the men are withholding communication.

I guess in your book, that's OK because it's not a male need? :p

My point was that both sexes *assume* the other one responds and acts the same way they do, and when things go wrong they often assume a slight is intentional when in fact it may simply be a misunderstanding that is compounded when the other partner retaliates (as Prager noted) in kind.

Nowhere in your analysis do I see ANY recognition of this. It's all "the woman had better give it up or the man will leave".

Interesting viewpoint, afe. But not helpful to people trying to fix a broken relationship, and not likely to convince someone who doesn't understand or someone smarting from her own feelings of rejection. It's a rare relationship problem that is just one-sided.

Posted by: Princess Leia in an Orange Danish Bikini at December 29, 2008 06:07 PM

Cass, I'm not saying its one-sided. It works the same way for men, but in different areas. Women generally want a certain level of security from their men, whether that is categorized as a nice house and home, financial stability, or ability to provide for a family. This is not to say that's the ONLY thing they want, but it is a fundamental need. Just like men wanting sex from women they love or care about is not the ONLY thing they care about either, but it is also a fundamental one.

If a man one day decided that, gee, work is really stressful and tiring, and he is "not in the mood" to go earn a paycheck to support his family, that man should be rightfully comdemned as failing to meet a fundamental marital obligation. Eventually, I would think that most women would leave a deadbeat who refused to work and look for someone else to provide for her and her children. Very few people, I think, would argue in favor of the loafer spouse/dad, and say that the wife must "understand" his needs to be lazy, and tread on eggshells when encouraging him to get a job so as not to offend his delicate emotional state. Naturally, when the shoe is on the other foot and it is women and sex we are talking about, the viewpoint changes dramatically.

This once again flows from the basic fact I have observed that, while talking a good game about wanting equality, women still want to simultaneously receive preferential treatment. Actually, it is perhaps more correct to say that they wish to be treated equally or preferentially, on a moment by moment basis, whichever is most advantageous to them at that given moment.

I refuse to play that game anymore. I tried to live by those one-sided rules and got burned. I now treat my romantic partners as just that -- partners. If equality is not good enough, then they can find some other sucker to dance to their tune. I try to live by the golden rule in my dealings with any personal relationships, whether love, friends, business, or whatever. I try to treat persons with courtesy and respect, and would appreciate the same in return. If someone can't abide that type of relationship, then move on, or I will.

What seems to drive some women crazy is that I really don't NEED them to live my life. I am with them because I CHOOSE to do so through an enjoyment of their company, mutual interests, etc. Some attract me because of their physical beauty, some because they make me laugh and they are fun to be around. Some women are just friends, but we go out to share the same mutual interests in art, music, or the theater.

I am a successful professional that earns a very good living. I don't need a woman to help me financially. I am a better cook than most women I know, and enjoy doing so, so I don't need a woman to cook for me. I am a neat and orderly person, and have never had a problem with doing household chores whether married or unmarried. Therefore, I don't need a woman to clean or "keep house" for me. A service would be cheaper in any case. As for romantic or sexual fulfillment, these needs are more and better fulfilled now that I am unmarried, than they ever were during my marriage. In light of these circumstances, I see no need to ever remarry. I have nothing against the institution itself or for those to whom it appeals. I have several friends who claim to be "happily" married, an more power to them. In most of those cases I have noticed, however, that the men have basically given up. In other words, they will express deep disappointment and unhappiness over beers with the guys, but accepted that their wives will always wear the pants in the family and they don't even try to assert themselves anymore other than to say "yes, dear".

Finally, accusing men of only being concerned with sex is a cheap shot, and you know it Cass. Sex is a fundamental need for men and, when unmet, can seem to overwhelm all other issues. Women can ignore this at their peril, or dismiss it out of hand rather than deal with the issue. Likewise, men can ignore a woman's fundamental need for security by dismissing such "goldiggers" out of hand, at similar peril to them. Fundamental needs must be met or the underlying scenario will be changed by one partner or the other. Pretending otherwise is futile.

Criticism of Prager for putting his argument foreward with insufficient "delicacy" or sensitivity to women serves no purpose but to obfuscate the underlying issue. I can certainly choose not to pay my mortgage, after all, how dare the bank tell me what to do! My decision, of course, will have consequences, and I should be considered an idiot if I cannot or will not see the foreclosure coming hard on the heels of my decision.

Relationship decisions have similar consequences, and a woman's choice to ignore the sexual needs of her husband will only end badly, one way or another. Her refusal to see, accept, or suffer the consequences of her voluntary decision strikes me as childish, and not the actions of a mature adult. Or are we back to treating women as helpless waifs, in the classic patriarchal fashion, who need to be protected from the world and themselves? I say it again, you can't have it both ways.

Posted by: a former european at December 29, 2008 07:21 PM

accusing men of only being concerned with sex is a cheap shot, and you know it Cass.

Where did I do that? What I said was (and you yourself have on more than one occasion said exactly the same thing) that when women have sex trusting it will *eventually* lead to commitment, what is more common is that the guy doesn't appreciate her/see her as a challenge, gets bored, and moves on. This is not news.

It's no news that women are on a different timetable concerning relationships than men are, afe. We know what we want fairly soon, whereas most men can date a woman and have sex with her and - if she asks absolutely nothing and doesn't make her ultimate intentions known to him - he will be just as happy to keep things casual.

And why shouldn't he? She's told him that she's willing to settle for an uncommitted fling when what she wants is a relationship. Men generally neither respect nor reward that behavior from a woman. It's sad.

It's also very true, and women who ignore that basic truth get hurt. I've seen it happen over and over and over again. Never happened to me, but then I was always up front about what I wanted when things got to the appropriate point.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 29, 2008 08:05 PM

Criticism of Prager for putting his argument foreward with insufficient "delicacy" or sensitivity to women serves no purpose but to obfuscate the underlying issue.

That's not the argument I made, afe.

What I said was that if women don't already understand how their husbands feel about sex, telling they their husbands are like animals and they should "get used to it" isn't a terribly effective argument.

Telling a woman, "Hey, your husband is a human being, there's nothing absolutely wrong with the way he feels - he's just different than you and furthermore what you're doing makes him very unhappy IS an effective argument. It's also a hell of a lot less insulting - both to women and men - than the way he put it.

For the love of Mike - considering I said about a gazillion time that I AGREED with Prager, I can't figure out how you could possibly get any of what you wrote from my post. And afe, FWIW, telling a married woman that every single married man you know is secretly miserable and complains behind his wife's back and moreover happy married men are only that way because they essentially "gave up"...

Pretty goddamned insulting. And not just to women.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 29, 2008 08:18 PM

And finally afe, you just might want to think this over. Really *read* what you typed.

Sex is a fundamental need for men and, when unmet, can seem to overwhelm all other issues. Women can ignore this at their peril, or dismiss it out of hand rather than deal with the issue.

Yes, just like love and commitment are a fundamental needs for women...which you proceed to show you are determined to ignore:

Likewise, men can ignore a woman's fundamental need for security by dismissing such "goldiggers" out of hand, at similar peril to them.

I have a bit of news for you. I never gave an instant's thought to my husband's salary when we dated or before we married. I married him because I wanted to spend my life with him.

Because I love him. If you don't get that, you don't get women at all and you never, ever will afe. And that really disturbs the hell out of me.

Men aren't paychecks. I don't need a man to support me and I never have: I'm plenty capable of that on my own. What I can't provide for myself is love. That takes two.

Confusing love with a paycheck - well, that just shows a depth of cynicism that is stunning.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 29, 2008 08:24 PM

I'm a little late to the comment party, here, and I don't have much in the line of personal experiences to draw on here, but I have to agree with Cass. If you're in a relationship, sometimes you need to do things you don't really feel like doing because you know the other half in the relationship will appreciate it. Doesn't matter if the thing is sex or an evening at the opera. But, if it's always only one half of the relationship making those sacrifices, that person - whichever half it is - is going to begin to feel used and unappreciated, and that won't end well.

And, if I ever came across a man with an attitude like afe's, I wouldn't waste my time. I don't need a man to live my life. Yes, I'd like to have one in my life, someone to grow old with, but I'd rather continue to be alone than get involved with someone who apparently thinks women are shallow gold diggers looking to trick men into marriage...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 29, 2008 09:50 PM

Prager is a fraud. He's been divorced 2 or 3 times and is outspoken in his support for the troops. However, he secretly discourages his own family from serving.

Posted by: dick schwanz at December 29, 2008 10:09 PM

What about women who won't do anything but man-on-top-get-it-over-with-quick sex? I started fooling around on my pregnant wife when she refused me both oral and anal. A hungry man has to eat!!

Posted by: Robbie at December 29, 2008 10:19 PM

Robbie--
And the sad thing is that you probably think it was acceptable for you to cheat on your pregnant wife, even though she was willing to have normal sex with you. How sad.

What isn't said here is that the reason some women don't want to have sex with their husbands is that they simply don't feel wanted. They think all men are like Robbie, simply using women and throwing them away whenever they feel like it. Women want to be wanted, not just lusted after. She wants you to want HER, not just IT.

Posted by: Trish at December 29, 2008 11:30 PM

Cassandra, I believe that you are talking about men as the male half of mankind, and talking about women as Cassandra. Unfortunately, 'Cassandra thinking' doesn't equal the female half on mankind.

I believe that you could throw all the points in your argument away, except for the giving part of number three,

"Often in marriage it's precisely the gestures we make when we don't feel like it - just to please our partners - that show how much we care. Anyone can be considerate when they're in a good mood. It's when you care enough to consider your mate's needs when you're tired and cranky that you know a marriage is solid."

and define a happy marriage.

Posted by: Russ at December 30, 2008 04:39 AM

It seems some of you are missing my point. Maybe I failed to make myself clear. Sometimes that happens. I thought I stated it several times, but maybe I didn't do so effectively or maybe people are ignoring entire parts of my post. Several people seem to be under the impression, despite my repeated assurances to the contrary, that I disagree with Prager's basic premise.

I don't. I just think he only looked at one side and made an inconsistent argument: i.e., it's completely understandable for men to withhold communication and affection (i.e., what women want) but "not fine" for women to withhold sex!

My point was :

1. Men and women don't understand each other automatically. Because this is true, it requires an active effort to understand how your partner thinks and responds to things. You can't just *assume* they respond the way you do. That's essentially a "self-centered" (i.e., it's all about me, what I want, how I think) way of looking at life. It doesn't work.

2. Both parties need to compromise, and both parties need to take some responsibility for getting what they want (since they best know what that is) rather than assuming the other person reads minds.

If you're not making yourself or your needs understood, stubbornly repeating the same message (only louder, in language that angers, insults or offends the other person) or worse, withdrawing from the relationship either sexually or emotionally is not a viable solution - for either party.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 06:42 AM

And let me point something out here.

Every time I write something about men and women, if I blame the woman (and sometimes the nature of the story is that a woman is clearly being unreasonable) it's a very popular post. The world's full of conservative female bloggers who routinely tell their readers women suck and relationship problems are always the woman's fault. That's the surest path to popularity, but it's hardly a reasonable take on a complex situation. If VC were that kind of site, I'd be running it far differently than I do.

If I try to take a more balanced view (i.e., most relationship problems are the result of miscommunication and misunderstandings, or of a conflict between what men and women want) and try to explore what might be causing it on both sides, there are always a certain number of commenters who respond as though I'd viciously attacked men in general. In order to say this you pretty much have to ignore everything I've ever written on the subject.

It seems as though I'm supposed to "take sides".

Well, I'm never going to do that because relationships aren't supposed to be adversarial.

afe's argument wasn't based on anything I wrote, but on his concept of marriage as the woman trading sex for money:

If a man one day decided that, gee, work is really stressful and tiring, and he is "not in the mood" to go earn a paycheck to support his family, that man should be rightfully comdemned as failing to meet a fundamental marital obligation. Eventually, I would think that most women would leave a deadbeat who refused to work and look for someone else to provide for her and her children. Very few people, I think, would argue in favor of the loafer spouse/dad, and say that the wife must "understand" his needs to be lazy, and tread on eggshells when encouraging him to get a job so as not to offend his delicate emotional state. Naturally, when the shoe is on the other foot and it is women and sex we are talking about, the viewpoint changes dramatically.

First, I never once said it was right for women to refuse to have sex with their husbands. What I said was, that if (as Prager argues) they are doing so because they genuinely don't understand - in fact, they don't believe him when he tells them! - how this hurts men, telling them sex is an animal urge rather than pointing out, "Hey - you are really hurting someone you care about" and trying to help them understand their husbands better doesn't help solve the problem.

Just as (and I pointed this out too) telling men, "Hey - women ought to be like you and be satisfied with sex but - fluffy headed irrational creatures that they are, they foolishly crave affection" rather than saying, "You know, your wife is a person who thinks differently from you. if you refuse to talk to your wife, that hurts her. She will think you don't love her and (duh) won't want to have sex with you." isn't calculated to help a man respect his wife for who she is, nor to make him want to accommodate a need you've essentially trivialized in his eyes.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 07:10 AM

And finally, I don't want to turn this into a referendum on afe and his life choices. He brought it up. I didn't. I understand his financial reasons for not wanting to marry again. But he always goes on to vilify women in general and tell us how miserable married men are, so I suspect it's not really about divorce laws but in what he fundamentally believes about women as people. Because his marriage didn't work, he doesn't seem to trust women and doesn't much like them either.

I can't change that.

Russ asks what a "happy marriage" is? I would have thought that was obvious. A happy marriage is one where both parties get enough from the partnership that they feel better off than they would be, if they'd remained single. It's up to them to negotiate that mix. If you "give up" or don't talk, you won't succeed.

It's that simple.

That mix is going to be different for different couples. Some don't care about sex. For others, it's a deal killer. Frankly, I would have a very hard time staying married without sex. Touch is a healing thing. It connects people and it reminds me that I'm a woman and not just a mother or some office worker.

And sex is more - at least to me - than having an orgasm. It's how you share, another way to express affection. A basic need we all have.

Women just access it differently. To think we don't want or need it is insanity. I've had female friends all my life and they want and need it - and the men in their lives - desperately. As do, despite what afe says, most men I know. They don't just want sex.

They want love too. And respect. And just someone to talk to.

I hope afe's cynical take on marriage is wrong. I read things like that and I just cry. I've never had one single friend like the one he describes and I'm almost 50. I have had a LOT of friends over the years. Where am I finding these "unusual" women, because they're everywhere I go, in every state I move to, in every town all over America.

But if the majority of men really feel that way (and like Robbie does) about marriage - that their wives wear the pants and make them miserable, or that it's OK to cheat if your pregnant wife doesn't give you anal sex - then shame on them. Happiness is a personal choice: a responsibility you can't delegate to someone else. You have to figure out what you need to be happy and go after it patiently and persistently and not blame others if you make choices that don't bring you what you need. If you can't stand up for what you want in a relationship, whether you're male or female, and be *honest*, you aren't ready for one.

Finally, I don't - and can't - claim to speak for anyone but myself. I throw my thoughts out, and people are free to accept them, argue over them, and reject them. Or they can offer their thoughts and we can have a conversation. That's the spirit in which this was offered - not me saying I have all the answers, but me throwing out ideas for discussion. As to Russ's comment that only my item #3 is in any way representative of what women think (or maybe that the other points were invalid? I'm not sure :) I guess I'm not sure what the objections are because they're not stated, so if this response if off-target, please tell me where you disagree:

In #1 I say many women genuinely don't understand how much men want and try to please them.

Is this wrong? I don't think so. Women generally interpret a man's refusal to talk as a lack of caring, when in fact he shows his caring non-verbally - by going to work, doing things around the house, etc. We just speak two different languages and misunderstandings result.

In #2, I say that telling a woman who already (Prager's premise, not mine) doesn't understand male sexuality that her husband is "like an animal" and she'd better pony up or he'll break his vows isn't a particularly helpful way of framing the problem.

Is this wrong?

Furthermore, I say that it is her duty to try and understand him, and that rejecting him in bed is dumb. It only makes him retaliate by refusing affection (which is what she wants). Now everyone is unhappy.

Is this wrong?

#3: I point out that just as men need sex, women need communication/affection. The best way to point out to a woman who says, "Well I don't understand why he needs sex" is to say, "Your husband probably doesn't understand why you need to talk so much - should he refuse you what you need because he isn't like you?"

Again, where is the illogic in this?

#4: Neither men nor women read minds. You don't think like she does. She doesn't think like you do. Maybe you'd have a better chance of getting what you wanted if you were open about it instead of expecting her to absorb it by osmosis.

#5 I agree with Prager that women ought to try and meet their husbands' needs.

What is wrong with this?

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 07:30 AM

I said it earlier, but I guess I need to reinforce it. Cass, I agree with everything you have said, and it was clear (to me at least) from the beginning.

Prager's statement that men's sexual nature is closer to that of animals isn't just unhelpful, it's a bit offensive. It's more than just setting low expectations for mens' fidelity, it's insulting. Cass does a much better job of putting Prager's basic thesis (that men and women do not communicate the same way) in terms more easily understood in the way women communicate.

And honestly, it's pretty much universal. Women need verbal interaction to feel loved. Men are more on the sexual interaction side. Not always is this true, but enough for a generalization. If women don't get the verbal interaction, the relationship suffers. If men don't get the sexual interaction, the relationship suffers. All Cass was saying is "Ladies, if want to understand how it makes your husband feel when you keep telling him 'I'm not in the mood,' imagine how you'd feel if he kept telling you 'I don't want to talk.'"

That's pretty clear to me at least. Then we got off track into who exchanges what for what, and the unequal balance of it and so forth. But none of that really was part of the original point.

Cass is right that if men are unhappy, we need to verbally communicate that with our wives/significant others, as we don't like it when they expect us to read their minds, why should we expect them to read ours? And I am DEAD CERTAIN Cass believes that women ALSO need to verbally communicate if they are unhappy with their husbands/significant others, for the exact same reasons. That's not a double standard. That's just fair.

And finally, a man who breaks his vows of marriage
because he's "unhappy" has proven his lack of character and honor. I made a promise to my wife in front of all my family and friends to love, honor and cherish her above all others, forsaking all others, until death do us part. I intend to keep that promise, even if she won't ever know. ESPECIALLY then, because that's what 'honor' is to me; doing the right thing when no one else will ever know.

If the day ever came that I felt like I needed to get out of the promise I made to her, I owe her (and my own self-respect) enough to tell her I want out of it BEFORE I break it. In other words, if I want to fool around, I'd be divorced first. I don't see that happening, but that's how I feel on the subject.

Posted by: MikeD at December 30, 2008 09:55 AM

And looking back at Russ's comment, I now see that I think I completely misconscrewed his point.

I am sorry, Russ. That just shows that sometimes, male/female communication doesn't work so well! But if we keep trying eventually we understand better, even if not perfectly. I misread your comment - didn't understand that the last phrase was intended as the completion of the sentence that began before the excerpt.

I agree with you. If both partners always tried to meet each other halfway even when they didn't feel like it, marriages would work a lot better.

My only comment is that people aren't perfect. Sometimes I think most people are wrapped up in themselves unless there are unpleasant consequences for acting that way, and then they will act more considerately.

If a woman says no to sex (thinking it's no big deal) and her husband never tells her this really, really bugs him, she may never realize she's failing to be considerate -- just as men often need to be explicitly told what women want because they are wrapped up in what they're doing and don't even notice their wives are really, really upset.

I think it is unwise for either sex to assume the other "knows" what they want. This is why we have words.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 10:04 AM

Thank you Mike :)

That is exactly what I meant. Every word of it.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 10:08 AM

Anytime ma'am. And for the record:
For the love of Mike

You weren't supposed to TELL anyone! :P

Posted by: MikeD at December 30, 2008 10:18 AM

:D

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 11:47 AM

Cassandra, you did a great job with that essay. Thanks. After 6 years of dating, 25 years of marriage, followed by my wife's death and the total separation it encompasses, and then four years of learning how to create a relationship with someone new I wish to thank both of you, Dennis and Cassandra, for bring the subject up and trying to address it. I am going to print out your essay and discuss it with my girlfriend as soon as possible.

Posted by: tyree at December 30, 2008 12:09 PM

Cassandra, I read Prager's column and instantly wondered what your take on it would be. :P

You didn't disappoint--did a great job fleshing out/translating what he said into more female-friendly phrases. As always, thought-provoking and educational. /kissing up to Cassie

I did a Goggle search for responses to Prager and found a posting on it at Free Republic with an amazing comments discussion. The comment thread runs the whole spectrum and collectively results in some excellent analysis and extrapolation on Prager's ideas. And the warm, mushy romantic in me just loves some of the comments from happy couples... *awwww*

Posted by: FbL at December 30, 2008 12:27 PM

Well, I do not know if this will resonate with your girlfriend, but I will tell you the single biggest thing I ever read that really, REALLY resonated with me.

It was this:

Women and men both desire sex and both desire love. But women, in general, need to feel loved and secure first, before they can fully realize the sexual side of their natures. We are taught to repress that so much - almost to be ashamed of it - that we're sluts if we like it, that we stuff those feelings way down so deep that sometimes, we can't even find them anymore. We fear disapproval if we allow ourselves to lose control and be fully sexual.

The same goes for men.

From birth, they're told "Big boys don't cry. Be strong. Don't be a wuss." And then some woman *wants* him to show his vulnerable side to her. Of course he doesn't react well. All his life, he's gotten mixed messages about showing his feelings or revealing too much.

So sex allows men to get in touch with a part of themselves that they "turn off" during the day - the loving, gentle, warm side. That is what women crave - to understand men as people and love them. And we'll do anything - provided we understand what "anything" is - to accomplish that.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 12:30 PM

That is what women crave - to understand men as people and love them. And we'll do anything - provided we understand what "anything" is - to accomplish that.

Oh, wow... that ranks up there with some of the most insightful things you've written, Cass. It even applies in platonic relationships, as I see that being a strong component of my close friendships with men (I suspect that when I don't have a romantic interest in my life, I often try to do the same thing with my platonic relationships... certainly food for thought).

Posted by: FbL at December 30, 2008 12:46 PM

Upon rereading my last comment, I realize there is room for misinterpretation...

What I mean with "I often try to do the same thing..." is that even in platonic relationships (that STAY platonic), I suspect I am trying to meet the same objective--that is, fulfill the "craving to understand men as people and love them." We are absolutely hardwired to do that. :)

Posted by: FbL at December 30, 2008 01:06 PM

I understood, and I agree :p

I think that is what makes us women: that we are loving. This is why I am growing increasingly frustrated by the female bashing I see on the Internet all the time. I don't tolerate male bashing, and painting all women with the broad brush (no pun intended) is no more acceptable.

People are imperfect, and when they're hurt or misunderstood they act unreasonably or lash out. Men who would be responsible and protective towards women can become heartless cads. Women who normally would be loving and kind can be shrews. I think the real problem is misunderstanding.

Sure, some people are also just jerks. But most of us want to be happy and would prefer not to get into messy divorces. We don't do it on purpose.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 01:18 PM

People are imperfect, and when they're hurt or misunderstood they act unreasonably or lash out.

Exactly. The sad thing is (and I'm speaking for the female side here) that we bring so much of this on ourselves by how we act and the stupid things we do--either mean things to others, or self-damaging things to ourselves. And the saddest thing of all is that so much of what we are advised to do these days to be self-actualized and have "healthy" relationships are those very damaging and destructive things. *sigh*

Posted by: Fbl at December 30, 2008 01:41 PM

One of the issues that I have had is that in any discussions that I have had most wives think that their husbands are interested in having sex simply to physically "get their rocks off".

I'm sure that in many cases that is true, but a simple fact is that men can take care of the physical part all by themselves.

What I think the majority of husbands crave is the closeness and intimacy that sex affords them. They are interested in pleasing their wives and their own pleasure is simply a side effect. An orgasm for them is a premature end to a wonderful journey (no matter how long that journey lasts).

I believe husbands also want to be physically cherished and wanted by their wives, and a wife who does that can be sure that her husband will never stray, even if Angelina Jolie (or whoever they consider the hottest actress of choice) made herself sexually available to him. This is simply because some random physically attractive woman can never supply that which he truly needs which is a soul mate he can truly become one with physically, emotionally and spiritually and not a "warm place to put it".

Maybe I'm just judging other guys by my own attitudes. *Shrug*.

Posted by: Tony at December 30, 2008 03:52 PM

One of the issues that I have had is that in any discussions that I have had most wives think that their husbands are interested in having sex simply to physically "get their rocks off".

I *know* that is true, Tony. I've heard women say it. Most of us truly don't understand men. But that's not surprising. A lot of men don't understand themselves, and moreover they generally don't talk so there's no real way for us to find out we're wrong.

I have found all my life that men are incredibly giving and generous -- so long as they feel valued. If they don't, they can be very cruel, and since women tend to leave ourselves vulnerable we get hurt very, very easily when that happens.

But I don't think women are much different in that regard. We can be mean too when we are hurt. So often when things go wrong, it never seems to occur to anyone that the other person just has their defenses up.

That's one reason I like to turn things upside down sometimes - -to try and get people to think about how someone else sees things. Sometimes, it's a real eye-opener.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 04:11 PM

I tried marriage once. I was very happy. No complaints. She decided that I needed to stop smoking. I quit smoking. She decided that I needed a $300k/year job even if that meant spending 40 hours a week just commuting, never mind working. She decided that I needed to stop all drinking. She decided that I should not continue on involuntary active duty as a recalled/mobilized reservist. She decided she wanted us to move to a state beginning with T even though I had no job offers in those states. She decided that she was tired of my duty imposed absences overseas and she decided one day to tell me about it 2 days after my return from overseas. She decided to take my daughter and move away to a distant state.

As I see it there was no reason for divorce and there was no justification but that is the way the modern world works. If I had sons I'd advise them to never marry since there is absolutely no upside to marriage for men. A man trades bliss and happiness for the near certain loss of everything.

Posted by: Curtis at December 30, 2008 04:56 PM

If I had sons I'd advise them to never marry since there is absolutely no upside to marriage for men. A man trades bliss and happiness for the near certain loss of everything.

You know Curtis with that one example, you've changed my thinking about the institution of marriage.

We women are all controlling, manipulative b**tches who exist to suck a man's soul from his shrieking, shuddering body and then stomp on his corpse for good measure (but only after they rifle his wallet) :p

Better?

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 05:23 PM

I believe husbands also want to be physically cherished and wanted by their wives, and a wife who does that can be sure that her husband will never stray...This is simply because some random physically attractive woman can never supply that which he truly needs which is a soul mate he can truly become one with physically, emotionally and spiritually and not a "warm place to put it". Maybe I'm just judging other guys by my own attitudes. *Shrug*.

*romantic sigh*

Tony, do you have any unmarried brothers? ;)

But seriously, how about I throw a curve into the discussion here? Where does physical attractiveness fit into all this? If I take Tony's statement at face value, there's a lot more than physical attraction that binds men to women--in fact, he doesn't mention it at all. And yet, anybody in the dating world will tell you that "ugly" is deadly when trying to attract a mate--it's the first priority and the first thing that is noticed unconsciously if not unconsciously. I know all the exceptions to the rule (I have a fascinating, physically-unattractive friend who has men falling all over her), but that's how it seems to work 99.9% of the time. It seems like everything is all backwards and upside down--it's amazing 99.9% of relationships don't end up like Curtis' and afe's.

*unromantic sigh*

Posted by: FbL at December 30, 2008 05:34 PM

Physical attractiveness is a variable - Every one has whatever looks they were borne with, but just being in decent health is probably good enough. Ugly, on the other hand is more mental. It could be a reflection of someone who is just plain mean, or self absorbed, or really doesn't like themselves. I was acquainted with a lady several years ago who was physically scarred from being badly scalded as a child (pan of boiling water pulled off the stove as I recall.) The first thing anyone saw were the scars. After you talked to her and got to know her even a little bit you never saw the scars again. I've got to go out on a limb here, but I think the big problem with physical appearance is women growing up being told that looks are everything and the ideal is some kind of Barbie doll look. Looks will probably make it easier to get that first date, but after that it's the person.

Posted by: Pogue at December 30, 2008 06:47 PM

What about the woman who continues to tenderly care for her screaming infant when she hasn't had any sleep in 2 weeks and what she'd really rather be doing is relaxing on a tropical island with Fabio? Might such a woman possibly feel put upon at the end of the day when one more demand is made on her? This is something men don't understand - women are 'always on' to those we love. Just as men can't show emotion in the workplace, women have the opposite problem: we don't get to shut down emotionally because our feelings or pride are hurt. We can't turn off our feelings or stop thinking about those we love. We aren't "wired" that way and we can't shut out the needs of others, even when we are tired, angry, or resentful. They batter at us constantly until we do something about them.
the above is exactly why womens' legs don't fly open as if on a spring-loaded switch when their husband (who WOULDN'T take 5 minutes to ease one ounce of her exhaustion that day) start to tune in Tokyo on her nipples. feh. any wonder we sigh to ourselves "literally one more mess to clean up"? they can go F themselves.

people fighting their way OUT of your body and then people fighting their way INTO your body. we are EXHAUSTED. beyond anything your manly imagination can imagine. for real.

so take out the fecking garbage all on your own, like a grownup manly man. don't be a rotten teenager all the damned time and then expect to be treated like an adult male in bed.

your married sex lives can then be a wonderous thing to brag about.

Posted by: ShyAsrai at December 30, 2008 07:15 PM

Cass, you are reading far more into what I was saying than was intended. I raised the term "goldiggers" as a MISNOMER and a false way for men to view women who are only seeking security. Perhaps you care nothing for security and financial stability but, judging from my female friends, many women do. I did NOT express such a desire for security as a criticism, but as an expression of the different fundamental needs between men and women. I could have very easily chosen others, so take your pick if you are so deeply incensed by my security example. Which one do you prefer -- need for verbal communication, non-sexual intimacy, or others still?

My point, which you apparently missed, was that the relationship must be one of equality. As equals, the partners must respect and satisfy each others' fundamental needs. For women, this may very well mean satisfying their husbands' sexual needs. For men, this may mean providing financial security, or perhaps more and better communication time, romantic evenings out, whatever. How you turned an argument for equality into some sort of misogynist screed is beyond me. Is the notion of equality so offensive to you?

It is very difficult to talk to some women candidly about these kinds of issues, because of the immediate escalation to Defcon 5. If I believe men and women should treat each other equally and with respect, I must be some sort of cad. This is one of the very reasons men learn early on to just shut the hell up around women when discussing these kinds of issues. Women always say they want to talk and communicate more, but God help the man who says something she doesn't agree with. Easier to just keep quiet, and head out to the garage and work on the car. Then they get accused of being cold and "distant".

I agreed with some of your points re Prager, but disagreed with others. If women truly want openness and honest communication from men, then they better be prepared to hear things they may not like or agree with. If they won't or can't handle such openness, then their stated desire for such is so much BS.

Everyone has probably had the type of boss at some point who made a big show of desiring openness and honesty in staff meetings, but surronded himself with yes-men. In such situations, you quickly learned the difference between word and deed. The boss wanted a scripted situation where everyone pretended to consider and analyze the issues at hand, but ultimately agreed to do whatever the boss wanted. Asking for affirmation from a bunch of yes-men is form without any substance. Are you saying women really want to operate under such a self-imposed delusion? This is akin to the dreaded "Does this dress make my butt look too big?" rigged question. Men, smart ones at least, learn to be wary of such verbal traps. Some women, thus encourage silence from their men and provide incentives for non-communication.

As far as love, both sexes fall in love. As a man, I have never understood the Hugh Grant/chick movie version of the emotion. Love to me was far more serious than some candycane, unicorns and rainbows view of it. I expresed my love through faithfullness, devoting myself to wife and family, providing for them, and caring for their needs. We equally shared in household duties like cooking, cleaning, and raising the kids. I made sure we spent quality time alone with romantic evenings and weekend getaways. My expression of love was far more practical and grounded in the here-and-now, than in some romantic escapism. Some women need to stop confusing the real world with Hollywood fantasy. In short, your idea that a practical view of equality leaves no room for love, or leads to some sort of abuse of a woman's affections is unfounded and unwarranted.

If you know anything about me from years of posting, it is that I will give you my honest and open opinion on a particular topic; at least when not clowning around. The fact that my view differs from yours is no cause to paint me as some sort of ultra-cynical, misogynistic troglodyte. I call a spade a spade, and if this deeply offends you then, in the immortal words of Jack Nicholson, maybe you can't handle the truth.

Whatever you may think of me, I still like and respect both you and the VC community, no matter our differences.

Posted by: a former european at December 30, 2008 07:28 PM

I don't think anything bad of you afe.

But you have, several times when this subject has come up, gone on and on and on about how marriage is terrible. OK. I get it. You don't want to be married because it didn't work out for you.

But when you feel the need to state that, not only do YOU not want to be married, but pretty much every married guy you know cries in his beer every time his wife is out of the room because she has his Johnson in a sling, perhaps you can see where I start to wonder. Saying "Hey, marriage is fine... for those who like that sort of thing... but every guy I know who is married is miserable because his wife wears the pants" somehow doesn't strike me as a sincere response:

I have nothing against the institution itself or for those to whom it appeals. I have several friends who claim to be "happily" married, an more power to them. In most of those cases I have noticed, however, that the men have basically given up. In other words, they will express deep disappointment and unhappiness over beers with the guys, but accepted that their wives will always wear the pants in the family and they don't even try to assert themselves anymore other than to say "yes, dear".

So:

1. Marriage is fine, for those it appeals to.
2. And you even know some "happily" (your emphasis) married men...
3. Though most of them are secretly miserable because they're married to controlling harpies
4. Fortunately, such men can deal with their situation by "giving up".

I call a spade a spade, and if this deeply offends you then, in the immortal words of Jack Nicholson, maybe you can't handle the truth.

No, you claim to say one thing, and then turn around and say another (I have nothing against marriage ... but did I mention that that most of my married friends who claim to be happy are secretly miserable???) .

And, "both partners should try to meet the fundamental needs of the other". And then I point out that for most women I know, the security of a commitment is a fundamental need, so if you refuse that, you're getting what you want from the relationship while refusing the woman what she wants -- somehow this doesn't sound like "equality" (unless you define away any need you won't meet) or "meeting her fundamental needs".

And when I call you on these contradictions, you claim I can't handle disagreement :p

I will accept if I misunderstood you. What you said was susceptible to misunderstanding. So did others. My question is, why am I not allowed to argue back without being accused of not being able to handle the truth or only wanting people to agree with me?

Or is meekly agreeing with everything you say your definition of "being able to handle the truth"? If so, that's a high bar. I don't claim my opinions are the truth, but I guess maybe I need to work on that :p

Does that str


Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 09:19 PM

And afe, I do think the excerpted bit above *was* condescending, and not mainly to women but to your married friends. I hoped you didn't mean it and said it only in the heat of argument, but since it hasn't been retracted I guess not.

Maybe, as you repeatedly inform us, marriage is only a good deal for the woman and no man in his right mind would get married. Personally, I don't see it that way but I can't convince you.

I don't, however, accuse you of not being able to handle the truth simply because you don't agree with me. Discussions are supposed to be a two-way deal. Or even a three-way.

And here I thought all men secretly wanted to have a three-way.

*rim shot*

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2008 09:37 PM

Okay, I accept some of your criticisms. I did probably come down harshly on my married friends, or more than I should have. People stay together for many reasons, even if unhappy, and I can only see things from my limited perspective rather than the full picture. I had initially tried to keep an unhappy marriage going for the sake of the kids. Maybe some of my friends feel the same way.

My comment was based upon a recent experience, though. I had a recent get together with one married friend who spent the evening crying in his beer about how unhappy he was. When I asked why he didn't try to improve his unhappy situation, he said he basically had to do whatever his wife wanted or face a divorce, loss of his kids, and financial ruin. On the surface he was the perfect "Stepford Husband", but he hated his life. It was very discouraging to listen to him. A few weeks later, another married friend expressed similar sorrow to me. he said he just agreed with whatever she wanted because he was tired of the constant fighting and arguing if she didn't get her way.

So yes, when this topic came up I was influenced by these recent experiences, perhaps unduly so. Nevertheless, I disagree that the only way for a man to be committed to a women is through marriage. I have known couples who have been together 20+ years without a marriage vow, and they are at least happier than my married friends, on the whole. Nowadays, many marriages do not last more than 20 years, so wedding vows are no guarantee of a lifelong commitment.

As to the Nicholson thing, that was a feeble attempt at humor, and not intended as an insult. I was just trying to give you an honest, but contrary, response to your position within the given limitations of the discusion.

And, I never mind when you argue back. I like it when you're feisty.:)

Posted by: a former european at December 31, 2008 01:18 AM

Sorry for the mis-communication, my use of the English language tends to be barbaric.

Posted by: Russ at December 31, 2008 02:51 AM

I like it when you're feisty.:)

You know, I never thought of myself that way at all. Someone came up to one of my co-workers at a conference last year and asked if I was going to be there (I wasn't). And he said, "She is a real hoot.. very feisty".

I don't see myself that way at all. I get way too wrapped around the axle worrying about people's feelings all the time - to a really ridiculous degree. But maybe, in the end, I don't allow that to influence my decisions all that much. I guess I just worry about it, but decide that can't be the basis for objective decision making in life. Maybe that is why I get so cranky sometimes.

Anyway, sorry for the misunderstanding. And Russ, it wasn't the way you said what you said. I just should have been more careful in my reading, and some degree of misunderstanding is inherent in Internet communication. After all, women in particular rely on facial expressions and tone of voice to interpret what is said, and there is none of that in a written comment.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 31, 2008 04:53 AM

Nevertheless, I disagree that the only way for a man to be committed to a women is through marriage. I have known couples who have been together 20+ years without a marriage vow, and they are at least happier than my married friends, on the whole. Nowadays, many marriages do not last more than 20 years, so wedding vows are no guarantee of a lifelong commitment.

I will give you a qualified agreement on this, afe.

I have a close friend who divorced twice. Her husband divorced once.

They have never formally married, but chose to exchange wedding vows privately. So she has the security she needs, but legally they really are not "married". I think this is cool, and given their history, I understand why they'd be leery of marrying again.

I also agree that simply marrying is no guarantee of fidelity or permanence. In fact, despite my total faith in my husband's integrity, I have never lost sight of how easy it is to begin taking each other for granted. In a long term relationship, it requires effort not to get lazy and stop doing the things that make the relationship rewarding. So while I don't worry about him cheating on me, I have always taken steps to ensure that I don't lose his love or his interest and he does the same with me. Neither of us assumes "the promise" alone is sufficient to keep either of us interested and engaged.

But... (and you knew there was a but!) :)

That said, for the vast majority of people it is true that people behave differently when they have taken a vow. You yourself argued that *against* marriage, so you are going to have a difficult time backing off from this now. The promise changes your perceptions, for better or worse, depending upon your character.

Some may indeed become complacent and stop trying. But that's a character flaw afe, not a deficiency in the institution itself. To me, that says (and I'm sorry to say this) that you picked the wrong woman. A woman of good character would never behave the way you say your wife did. She just wouldn't.

A woman of good character would never behave the way Curtis' wife did.

So... why on earth did you marry her? My guess is that looks and attraction blinded you to her essential lack of integrity. She looked wonderful on the surface, but underneath there was nothing there. It can be hard to know a person well before you marry. I think men especially don't always take the time to find out what a woman is like on the inside. Sometimes, the wrapper is more important, and if she behaves fairly well before marriage they may be blind to the small telltales that would have given her lack of character away.

But people don't change mysteriously. They just don't.

I know another man who married a very pretty woman first. It didn't last - she never really committed to the marriage. Everything had to be her way.

His second marriage has been extremely successful. Of course, his second wife is not as pretty as his first but her character is impeccable and she makes him happy. That is fortunate, because their marriage has been sorely tested in ways the first one never was, and she has proved her worth every time.


Posted by: Cassandra at December 31, 2008 05:07 AM

All of this reminds me of a conversation I had with a male friend whose wife cheated on him.

He took that very hard (as a personal rejection) and they divorced.

I told him, though, that in a lot of ways it probably had more to do with the kind of person she was than it did with him. Lots of people are tempted to cheat. But they don't actually do it because they know how much it would hurt their spouse, and they know it is wrong.

I think this is why I always say that you have to be strong in yourself before you can love someone else.

I've spent many years and many holidays - literally - alone during my marriage. If I married because I felt incomplete as a person or lonely, I would feel cheated and unhappy. And there have been many times when I wished my life were a bit different - that I didn't have to spend an entire year without my husband, for instance; or that I had a permanent home somewhere where I could build something and not see it wrecked every 2-3 years. That is no fun.

But, looked at another way, deployments are an opportunity for me to rediscover my own life and interests. And moving has allowed me to live all over the country and meet interesting people. So I make the best of it and enjoy what life offers to me. And I am happy.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 31, 2008 05:31 AM

Well, Cass, I do agree with your last points. There is no question that I married the wrong woman, and for that I am to blame. I was young and stupid, and allowed a very attractive "wrapper" to influence me. At the same time my ex, like many women, should have gotten an Oscar for the false performance she put on to get me to marry her. She knew I was a traditionalist, and took a marriage vow before God and Man very seriously. Thus the goal was to get and "I do" by whatever means possible. I was very naive, and fell for it. Her head started spinning around almost immediately, and the woman I had married was nothing at all like the woman I dated.

So, is it my responsibility for being a fool? Sure, I can own up to that in an honest assessment of my missteps. Sadly, unlike most other contracts in our society, there is no fraud clause in a marriage vow which allows you to unwind the deal.

I also understand that this goes both ways, and a woman can suffer in a marriage due to a louse of a husband. This is why I think it is better not to marry. In an ongoing relationship, daily work and commitment is needed to keep it going. If one or the other begins to behave badly, or take each other for granted, then it will end of its own accord rather shortly.

An eternal vow, while a noble ideal, is very susceptible to abuse by men or women of low character. It is precisely because I try to be honorable and vows and promises mean so much to me, that I cannot make such a vow again. If I say "till death do us part", then by God that's what I mean. My fidelity is easily abused if I marry someone who treats that same vow as meaning "until I feel like it". Cheating has never been part of my internal makeup, so I avoid the problem by not entering into such a promise in the first place. So far, it is working for me but, may not be for everyone. By definition, though, it avoids many of the common problems of marriage. Relationships, for example, don't usually have the "being taken for granted" problem for very long. If one sides stops contributing to the relationship, then it fails shortly thereafter, with the neglected partner free to find someone who actually cares for him/her. This can't happen in a marriage short of divorce.

Posted by: a former european at December 31, 2008 10:53 AM

At the same time my ex, like many women, should have gotten an Oscar for the false performance she put on to get me to marry her. She knew I was a traditionalist, and took a marriage vow before God and Man very seriously.

Please know that my intent was not to criticize, afe. That is why I said it can be very, very hard to know someone before you marry.

I would never call you a fool.

My point was this: I think the problem was not the institution of marriage, per se. IOW, it wasn't that she was a good person and marriage made her complacent, nor that there was something deficient in you (for instance that you weren't "good enough" for her). But more that she wasn't the right kind of person to put the right effort into being married.

Does that make more sense?

I understand your points about fidelity and trust. I am a very trusting person and I take promises very seriously. I always thought other people did, too but I am learning that isn't true. So, should I ever be left alone, I wouldn't look forward to dating.

That is sad, because I am a very affectionate person. I don't mind being alone, but I enjoy having someone to care for. But not at the price of my self respect, ever.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 31, 2008 11:06 AM

People stay together for many reasons, even if unhappy, and I can only see things from my limited perspective rather than the full picture.

I stay together on the strength of The Promise(tm). That is the one I made to my spouse before God, friends and family. I promised "to love". I didn't promise to be "in love" (though that continues to happen). I didn't promise to feel particularly loving. Sometimes I don't. I did promise to make a choice every day to love the woman I'm married to.

Sometimes I'm not happy. This is the "for worse" part of "for better or worse". When I'm unhappy, I take steps to be more attentive to my wife. I've found that when I "prime the pump" with a couple quarts of attention, I get gallons in return.

When I asked why he didn't try to improve his unhappy situation, he said he basically had to do whatever his wife wanted or face a divorce, loss of his kids, and financial ruin. On the surface he was the perfect "Stepford Husband", but he hated his life. It was very discouraging to listen to him. A few weeks later, another married friend expressed similar sorrow to me. he said he just agreed with whatever she wanted because he was tired of the constant fighting and arguing if she didn't get her way.

I've discovered that it's easy to acquiesce to the little things on a continuous basis. I make a decision to do that, so it become, de-facto, my choice too. In the big things I will put my foot down, and when that happens, it happens so infrequently that my wife immediately pays attention and listens to my view on the subject.

I ask myself "is this the hill I want to die on?" and in most cases the answer is no. Many men either turn every hill into a suicide run, or simply lay down and die. I choose not to do either.

Afraid of divorce? For crying out loud, we're men. We need to use those balls God gave us, but we don't need to be swinging them all the time.

Nevertheless, I disagree that the only way for a man to be committed to a women is through marriage. I have known couples who have been together 20+ years without a marriage vow, and they are at least happier than my married friends, on the whole.

When you don't get married, you have a "renter's attitude". That means that you can get out of the lease any time you want to. That's not the way I approach a lifelong commitment. If a woman gives of her body, bears my children, keeps the hearth and home and the millions of other things she does for our family on a regular basis, the least I can give her is a public promise that I will be there until one of us dies.

No-fault divorce is the most pressing social problem of our age. Gay marriage isn't destroying the institution of marriage. We've done that well enough on our own. We need to roll back the no fault laws where one spouse can get out of a marriage easier than a car lease and get back to proving cause for divorce. Make the penalties for the one who violates the covenant substantial.

Nowadays, many marriages do not last more than 20 years, so wedding vows are no guarantee of a lifelong commitment.

Of course it isn't. Part of that is because people know how easy it is to get out of a marriage, that to them, it isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

And if wedding vows are as meaningless as you say, why are so many people reluctant to make them?

Posted by: Tony at December 31, 2008 11:28 AM

I can only speak for myself obviously, but I agree with pretty much everything Tony said.

I've discovered that it's easy to acquiesce to the little things on a continuous basis. I make a decision to do that, so it become, de-facto, my choice too. In the big things I will put my foot down, and when that happens, it happens so infrequently that my wife immediately pays attention and listens to my view on the subject.

This is the way it happens at our house. And this is mutual.

I am very VERY stubborn. I also find (forgive me for saying this, guys) that there's a HUGE gulf in perceptions as far as who "wears the pants" between men and women. I think it has to do with expectations. And I think this may explain a lot of the grumbling men do.

Men expect to be in charge. They expect to dominate by default. And durnitall, when that doesn't happen (i.e., when they have to act as equal partners rather than bosses) they get their backs up :p

Women expect the relationship to be give and take. Granted, if you let them they'll walk all over you, but so will men. I chose my husband precisely BECAUSE he doesn't knuckle under to me. I don't *want* a man who meekly does what I say. That bores me to death.

Like afe, I guess I prefer feisty :p I don't want to fight all the time, but nothing makes me lose interest faster than a man who is always trying to please me and never stands up to me.

I ask myself "is this the hill I want to die on?" and in most cases the answer is no. Many men either turn every hill into a suicide run, or simply lay down and die. I choose not to do either.

BINGO :) choose your battles.

Afraid of divorce? For crying out loud, we're men. We need to use those balls God gave us, but we don't need to be swinging them all the time.

A woman wants a man who isn't afraid to BE a man. But there is a balance, as Tony says. If you try and control her, she'll buck you right off and ride off into the sunset. But if you set limits, she'll respect them, at least if you're evenly matched. And that's important.

The most important thing, I think, is that you have to be able to talk and negotiate without it getting destructive or vengeful and that is a difficult skill to learn. I treat it like a business arrangement in many ways - we both need to profit from the partnership. If there is no mutual profit, why bother?

Posted by: Cassandra at December 31, 2008 11:43 AM

Doing your pregnant wife in the butt is just wrong. Like eating puppies and kittens. And you shouldn't do it.

Robbie,

This is not a condemnation of all things anal. If the two of you enjoy that, go to town on that highway.

And if normal stuff isn't being offered because of pregnancy, then a little hand or mouth isn't an unreasonable request.

But don't expect the butt when the baby is in there dude!

BTW, your cheating is also a non-starter.

Posted by: Hummer at December 31, 2008 12:40 PM

I think Robbie was trying to get a rise (so to speak) out of me :p

Either that, or he's a bit scary. That's why I just ignored him.

However, it is nice to see a man say "if the two of you enjoy that". Some women do enjoy it. And some women absolutely hate it and find it painful and frightening, but do it to please their S.O.'s, and that is a very sad thing. Not to be indelicate, but pregnancy doesn't exactly lend itself to that sort of activity even if a woman was previously able to do it, for some pretty damned obvious physical reasons most Dads will already be aware of.

If a man is incapable of seeing that, I really do worry about him and I appreciate your pointing that out. It's the kind of thing that (if a woman says it) is dismissed as "emotional" even though anyone capable of using Google ought to be able to figure out why it could be a problem.

And I'll say no more on that subject because it's admittedly indelicate. I wouldn't have said anything, except statements like that really make me wonder how many people there are wandering around without a clue in their heads.

So, thank you. As I've often noted, men are cool.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 31, 2008 01:07 PM

*sigh*

Well, *that* certainly killed the conversation!

It occurs to me (belatedly) once again that men and women think differently. Trust me, if I thought for one moment anyone could reasonably deduce anything about my personal practices in the important matter of... what Robbie said, I would never have spoken up, and certainly would not have done so without using a pseudonym. Think about it for a second.

It was a general comment based on the obvious physical impact of pregnancy on a woman's body, and it didn't require personal experience (let alone a proctologist) to figure that one out :p Just someone who's had a baby or two.

So if anyone's mind went down that road, yank it right back up onto the high ground!

Posted by: Well all-right then.... at December 31, 2008 03:00 PM

Cassandra --
Just ignore misogynists (e.g., a.f.e.). The question I'd ask any man who complains of his wife not putting out for him is the same question I'd ask any woman who complains of her emotional needs not being met: "Who do you love more? Your spouse, or yourself?"

Posted by: Bob at December 31, 2008 04:00 PM

Oh for crying out loud! Way to miss the entire point of my argument, Bob. Try not to fall asleep during class next time.

Posted by: a former european at December 31, 2008 04:15 PM

I don't think of afe as a misogynist, Bob. Now Robbie on the other hand... :)

afe and I like to argue a lot, that's all :) In the end, we generally find out we're not that far apart on most things, other than the predictable male/female stuff.

But thanks for the comment!

Posted by: Cassandra at December 31, 2008 04:21 PM

> 1. You have to be kidding. That certainly isn't my way of knowing if he loves me. There have to be deeper ways than sex for me to show my husband that I love him.

Two things:

1) Ladies, GET THIS EVEN IF YOU GET NOTHING ELSE:

Men are wired, very strongly, to have sex. There is a part of the brain which responds to sex as a form of approval -- "Rah! Rah! Rah! You're doing it right!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay, TEAM!!"

OK? Get that through your heads, stick yourself on it.

Getting laid is to most men like getting chocolate is to most women... or even better -- It's like getting chocolate that won't make you fat!.

When you have sex with a man, you're telling him that he's been good.

That doesn't mean you should ALWAYS have sex with him when you don't feel like it, but you certainly should be aware that you are denying him critical approval that IS relevant to your relationship.


This is why women tend to get into relationships with F***ed up men who screw around on them. You're having sex with the wrong ones.

By making men do all the courtship work, you pretty much guarantee that all the ones who win the prize will be men who are ill-suited to doing the job -- sorta like getting elected to office -- the skills required to win are diametrically opposed to those required to do the job correctly.

By arrogantly assuming that you can figure out a man within 15 minutes and never have to make a re-assessment of it when/as new data comes in, you also guarantee your selection set is biased against those very male qualities which are most desirable in a husband.


I'm not claiming the above is directly and unquestionably true for YOU, the reader, as an individual, but it's certainly true for women as a group. As a collective group, y'all flat out suck at picking men for yourselves.

2) Dogs and Cats

Posted by: OBloodyhell at January 2, 2009 01:49 AM

Thanks, I knew you'd see the light.

Well you know Cassandra, it was my one and only forlorn hope. I had a wonderful Christmas with my 5 year old daughter at her grandparents home and then returned her to her mother who later called and announced that she was broke and would I oblige her with an immediate child support and alimony check?

So, guys that haven't married need to understand that the girl you marry is, in fact, just exactly like her mother. Meet the mother first. Find out if she has a personal Nordstrom's shopper that buys her $400.00 pairs of jeans for "gardening" and then run like hell away because her daughter won't comprehend "savings" or "not putting in all hardwood floors right now since it means going into debt."

The funny/dangerous bit of the above wisdom is that no girl likes to be compared to her mother and will hate you for suggesting that she bears any resemblance to the old dame. Forewarned, forearmed! They are ALL just like their mothers and why wouldn't they be? Only marry the ones with the good mothers but use the check, double check and verify rules for ensured success.

Posted by: Curtis at January 3, 2009 02:49 PM

That is good advice, Curtis, and not just for women.

I am like my mother, I think, in values.

My mother is an immensely talented artist who doesn't practice her art because if she did, she couldn't take care of my Dad (who, I must note, is perfectly capable of taking care of himself now that he is retired). The point is, though, that for my Mom her marriage has always come first.

For me, I think the same is true. In many ways that has cost me. There are many things I could have done with my life.

There are a lot of things that I wish I had done - a lot of things I am capable of doing. But if I had made those choices, I would not have been able to have children and have a happy marriage. You don't get something for nothing. Sometimes, you pay a price for what you want in life.

Grownups face that price honestly and don't whine about it. They also admit that they chose to give up what they sacrificed in order to gain other things they valued instead of blaming others for the things they lack.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 3, 2009 03:00 PM

By arrogantly assuming that you can figure out a man within 15 minutes and never have to make a re-assessment of it when/as new data comes in, you also guarantee your selection set is biased against those very male qualities which are most desirable in a husband.

Let me just note that it's OBH (and other men) who are claiming women do this. Not me.

In fact, I argued against this idea.

Every guy I ever stayed with for a long time has been one I initially didn't take to.

Every guy I have been bowled over by has been one who I either wasn't initially impressed by, or actually kind of disliked at first. So much for the "15 minutes/reassessment theory".

In fact, by the time I was in 9th or 10th grade, I'd already figured out that if I went gaga over a boy, that was a pretty good sign that he was someone I should avoid, and he didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting me to date him. I might dream about him, but I would never let him know.

Some of us do think, you know OBH. Some of us even have principles. Shocking, I know :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 3, 2009 03:06 PM

My first wife became another person after the wedding. Married late in life and having had a fairly healthy sex life as a single man it was a little surprising to watch her changing attitude regarding sex once we were married. It became a situation where she acted as if she were doing me a favor. My attraction to her had little to do with sex, since it seemed more than adequate, rather her charming personality (an asset in my business) religious faith and what I believed was her healthy family background. Later she couldn't seem to live without directing my every move and attempting to exert an almost pathological kind of control over me to the point of harming my business. I've been around the block with women in my life but I've never experienced anything like this. Some disturbing things have been revealed regarding her relationship with her father and I've tried to be supportive although she seems to believe that those things are without consequence as to her views of men. Personally, I don't buy it. The comment regarding the girl's similarities to their mother's is so true but it's sometimes obscured by elaborate camouflage and rationalizations where appearance becomes more important than reality. In the case of the 'father', it seems rationalizations became a mechanism to maintain a semblance of normality, even sanity at the cost of my wife's future relationships. Very strange stuff.

Posted by: EB at January 3, 2009 07:42 PM

You've no doubt moved on. I've just driven from San Diego to San Francisco. I'm still a little wired.

My dad has taken care of himself and his wife and his family while supporting a tremendously talented artist and mother. At some point she decided that having 4 kids and raising them right was worth hiding that talent under a bushel and she did although she also engaged, along with more friends than I think you can imagine in activities that she found personally, very satisfying....until we moved to Huntsville and I have to say the bloom came off the rose there.

But all of this was her decision. She married an army officer and knew what that entailed. In the modern navy I had instructors that invited us to consider marrying physical therapists and teachers since they could get jobs anywhere in their peripatetic lives.

So, my wife stopped working when we got married and she was pregnant. She had a darling baby that I actually took care of from the time I got home from work until just before midnight. No complaints. I'm a night owl who, forced by the navy wakes at 0530 but I'm the guy who delivered the nightly bath and then the bed time stories (if you have not done this then you just don't know how rich life can be.) I delivered all bottles after dinner and did the whole good night routine...and having just come from Christmas and done this with Bartholomew Cubbins 6 nights in a row, I miss it greatly.

so, no point, just tired.

Posted by: Curtis at January 11, 2009 02:52 AM

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