Thursday, January 19, 2006

Marriage

Marriage Is What Brings Us Together Today

"Married & bored or single & lonely" -Chris Rock

So I read conservative/libertarian bloggers DADvocate and Dr. Helen because (among other reasons) they keep up with many issues concerning male psychology & education that are kind of glossed over in the MSM. This week, a nerve was touched concerning the issue of Marriage.

DADvocate started it up by asking: To Date or Not To Date? While there may be those of you out there who read this and say "well that's just crazy talk," you may not want to brush concerns like these off too quickly. This wrenchingly candid article points to something all too important: who has the power in social relationships? Though the point is made most easily on economic terms, "After my last divorce I successfully made a concerted effort to be fully independent financially and otherwise. I've worked too hard to risk what I've earned," what strikes me is the necessary evil of making calculations such as those when choosing whom to spend time with socially.

Once you've taken into account looks and personality and compatability, you must now calculate how badly you could be injured should this thing turn the wrong way. I know I take those considerations into account, even when dating casually.

Don't get me wrong, I don't agree that the entire system of justice is turned against men when it comes to divorce & domestic violence. You're always going to get skewed results and interpretations of the law when either attorneys or the police have to play the role of the referree. But in a nation such as ours, the perception of justice is of pronounced importance, and it should shock you that reasonable folks believe - because of their or their friends' experiences with the system - that the scales of justice are tilted against them.

These same thoughts touched off a storm of commentary when Dr. Helen picked it up. She wonders if marriage is a good deal for men at all this day and age. She continues the thread by wondering why society views men in such a negative light.

Maybe I'm just lucky not to have lived through some awful experiences with marriage, as evidenced by my family values opinions, but for every marriage I know of that has ended in absolute disaster for the man, woman and kids, I know of at least three others that stuck it out and made it work. (Not to say the ones that 'made it work' were without an entirely different set of issues...) That ratio just keeps going up as I get older and more of my friends get married. Maybe I'm just lucky, or maybe folks my age saw the destructive power of awful relationships and actually learned from those mistakes (and either married well or haven't married) of the past.

Read some of this stuff with an open mind (and the comments on the blogs I have linked to) and think about it. Our cultural perceptions of the family are far, far more important than any silly things said by the Sheehans and the Robertsons of the world.

6 comments:

petallic said...

This is new?

I swore off dating at 16 and only make the effort when I feel the guy is truly, honestly, really worth it. I have to feel like he improves the quality of my life simply by being in it - and obviously I don't mean financially or any other inane thing such as that; I mean he makes me a better person and I hopefully do so for him. In the thirteen years since being 16, only two men have been worth wanting, and neither wanted me. Ain't that a kick. Oh well. 0 for 2 I can live with, unlike my friends who are 0 for 40.

Over the years I have listened to countless lectures by my friends on how I'm missing out on the greatest thing life has to offer. I have a life filled with love, just not the kind that leaves me broke, pregnant, heartbroken, ripped off, hating myself, or otherwise emotionally raped.

As I tried to explain to my caustic friend Jim a few months back, I'm living in my own groove. If someone comes along and his groove matches mine, I'll think about it, but until then my groove is just fine.

I can totally understand why men would stop dating/marrying. Marriage is too dangerous for them, both financially and emotionally. To lose one's money in the name of spite is bad enough, but to lose proximity to one's children would destroy most decent men. I don't know that I would take the risk either. I understand women once needed legal protection from the discrepancy in gender relations, but 'tis out of hand.

Years ago, my graduate advisor said to me, "Kelley, statistically speaking the most dangerous place for a woman or a child is in a traditional home. There's something wrong with the Y chromosome. Never trust it." I took her statement with a grain of salt, but obviously it stuck with me. My experiences, however, have left me wondering if the man is any safer in the traditional home than the woman. More importantly, are we going to expect the law to protect him as it protects us?

I don't really wish to address the issues surrounding abuse except to say that I've experienced domestic abuse in the form of "glaring looks" and I've witnessed it in the form of "financial violence," so I know it does exist. It may seem namby-pamby, but it does in fact exist. I've seen a man lord money over his wife in the way a warden would lord food over a POW. Disgusting. As for the glaring looks, it does damage to anyone with a modicum of sensitivity, and as I experienced just yesterday, a withering look and mocking tone of voice from even a friend can feel abusive. From a husband it's unacceptable.

Dante said...

You guys can get all the advice from "graduate advisors" and "male psychology" and "science" all you'd like. I got all the relationship advice I've ever needed from AC/DC:

"I keep a stiff upper lip
And I shoot from the hip"

In relationships in general, my instincts are a lot more reliable than my brain. And notice they say "hip" and not some other body part in that region. "Instinct" and "libido" are very different things. Libido will ALWAYS get you into trouble.

Dating is the best way to get to know someone from my experiences since it's just you and them interacting with each other the majority of the time. It's also the easiest way to convey that you are interested in them in a more than friendly manner without coming accross awkwardly. Get to know the other person, make sure the interest is mutual, and then make an instinctive judgement call.

If my instincts tell me a girl is nutty, she is indeed nutty. It might not be obvious immedeately, but it will be apparent in the long run. If my instincts say punt (remember, I'm a guy and I think of things in football terms), I punt. "Nutty" is a nice way to think of it because what is nutty to you is not what is nutty to me.

And don't start rationalizing by thinking things like, "Well, she's not any nuttier than I am." If you're rationalizing this early, there's no way it will ever get any better. Remember, you're normal. Everyone else is crazy. Nutty is nutty and should be avoided at all costs.

Even running on instinct, you are bound to get hurt. Be ready for it, but don't be afraid. (It's that whole "stiff upper lip" part of the advice.) Remember that out of every monogamous relationship you've ever had, at most one will last until the end. The rest will end badly. Unfortunately, you might even lose a house or two along the way.

S.A.W.B. said...

I'm going to touch on a couple of things here.

With regards to the laws/equal protection - it doesn't exist. Period. Within the legal system now, men can not get a fair shake in family courts most of the time. Take, for instance, any of the cases of alleged paternity, where a man is told by a woman that he is, in fact, her 'baby daddy'. Man starts paying money to 'baby momma'. Baby turns out to look entirely not like man. Man has baby and he take a paternity test. Test shows that man is not the father. Guess what? Too bad. The courts have ruled, time and time again, that since the man assumed that the child was his, and has been paying support, that he is the defacto father, and can and will continue to pay support for a child that he has no real tangible connection to.

Don't get me wrong, marriage is still a 'good deal' for most men. The only reason it appears that it wouldn't be a good deal is because we don't hear about people with a solid, supportive, stable marriage, unless of course your reading material is limited to Guideposts and Readers Digest. The only marriages you ever hear about are the ones that end poorly.

Regarding Petallic's comment about what her GA said - somehow, i'm not surprised. Lemme guess, short-haired, glasses wearing, self-important feminist working 'with the people to make a difference' as a GA? I'll be she has 7 cats.

petallic said...

SAWB, fair assumptions all. In truth, she had medium length hair, glasses, was fairly unassuming, body of a stripper/dressed like a school marm. No cats. Interesting woman. Had a husband, but didn't share an abode with him. They were different professors at different universities, and they traded off on visiting. Had she been the sort you described, I would have ignored her completely. Being a somewhat interesting and valuable character in my life, I chose to at least glean what I could. It's certainly not a philosophy by which to live, but to be honest, it's not complete shite either.

Not saying there's anything wrong with guys or the "Y" chromosome, but she wasn't one to joke about statistics, and they generally speak for themselves. Most of the women I know have been abused at some point in their lives, and it was generally by their fathers, brothers, uncles, mama's boyfriends, etc. It can't all be stereotypes and malicious lies.

I absolutely agree that men can often get screwed to the wall when the marriage ends, but as you said, the marriage itself is a good deal for most men. My friend's husband didn't just get a spouse, he got a mother to his children, a cook, a cleaner, and an extra $50,000 a year to pad "their" expenses. Not too shabby.

ruby booth said...

Abuse doesn't have to be a black eye to be real. But it doesn't have to be Daddy over cornflakes either. I find it hard to imagine anything more abusive than taking someone's child away from them. Particularly when they are left with the knowledge that their child will be in the hands of crazy, violent, or unloving people.

I have known, at this point, so many men who have had this happen to them that I can no longer offer optimistic advice -- men who cared deeply for their children, who worked hard to provide for their families, and who suffer terribly not only from the loss of a beloved child, but from the complete lack of comfort available to them. In fact they are often accused, unjustly, of abusive behavior more accurately attributed to their spouse (or to those close to her).

To give you a bit of background, my biological father married many times, and has been brought up on charges for domestic assault (deservedly) even more; so I am not an easy sell on these matters. He always blamed the woman: She was crazy, and he was guiltless.

I do not believe that line easily. At first I assumed that these men were lying, that they must have done something, that the system couldn’t really be as bad as they say.
But it is that bad; worse.
Worse when it comes to their children, their property, even their safety.

The false feminism, which has become so popular, leads us to ignore very real inequalities. There is a tendency now to want all the new benefits and all the old privileges. I am a feminist. Proudly. But that means I believe in real equality, even when it is inconvenient to me. I don’t live up to that, I know, but I try to. I try to do the fair thing, the just thing, not simply what is best for me. Which means acknowledging I’m less likely to get a speeding ticket than you guys are. If arrested, I get less time for equivalent charges. If I get arrested at all. If my boyfriend doesn’t get arrested instead, because when there is a fight, it is always his fault. After all I’m just a little lady, who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

We get told so often that men shouldn’t hit girls – okay. But that means girls shouldn’t get to hit guys either. Like the woman I knew who thought her daughter hitting her son was her daughter “asserting herself,” but if that boy hit back his mother would punish him with – yep – more physical violence.

Look at the sit-coms. When did the idea ‘Men are idiots’ become funny? Today a show based on the idea that 'Women are idiots' would be immediately recognized as sexist crap, but there are plenty in primetime with the opposite premise.

Like Pat says: Justice is the Highest Pursuit of Man -- and Woman. We need a little over here please.

Dante said...

I've seen many divorces just amongst the people in my age group (late 20's to early 30's). One thing I've noticed is that if you are a father and you want custody of your kids, hold off long enough for your wife to be unfaithful and you can have primary custody in most cases (NOT that I'm a lawyer or anything). I've had two female cousins lose primary custody for this exact reason and I've had one male friend who got custody over that same thing. It seems the court is not very tolerant when it comes to promiscuity.