Friday, September 19, 2003

I recently received the following email from a friend living overseas:

“Now that all my friends are shacked up, the opportunities for meeting women, and developing relationships organically, have diminished dramatically. When opportunities do present I jump -- but nothing past the second date. Having become a serial first dater has left me a bit deflated. But at least I have a ready source of meaningless sex -- so serial first dating hasn't meant a vow of celibacy.

Et tu Brutus?”

My response

“Doing generally well. Everybody is healthy, business is good. On the
downside, our relationship has really settled into a mediocre rut,
occasionally getting better before reverting to the mean. Sometimes getting worse (like this summer) before reverting back to its rut.

Having been married to two very different women, I feel that I can make some basic observations on the institution of marriage, and why. So here it goes.

1) Is it my fault or the institutions fault?
The 'my fault' argument:
- I suck at long term relationships (reasonable assumption); and/or
- I am not that nice a person and don't do all things I should to make the relationships work (again, a reasonable assumption, as we all know that I will never be nominated for 'optimist of the year')

The contrary arguments:
1) Statistics
- 50% of all US marriages (give or take a few percentage points) end in
- It is likely that many of the ones that don't end in divorce should. From empirical observation of couples that hate each other but don't break up, say 50% of the remainder, or 25% of the total.
- Therefore 75% of all marriages are unsustainable, and in most instances, should never have been attempted in the first place.

2) Clichés about marriage – are they TRUE or FALSE?
- There is no sex in marriage. Married guys don't like to talk that much about this one as it is embarrassing. But from my little subset of 1 guy, I can tell you that this one is TRUE, particularly if you introduce children into the equation. For instance, it is now 4 weeks and counting at my pleasant little piece of suburbia. I didn't jerk off this much when I was 17.
- Women are different when you date them then after you marry them. The old 'gotcha' argument. Again, my subset of one says TRUE. Both wives – the former and current, did this one. The list is too long and depressing to write down.
- After the initial passion, you settle into a deep friendship - in a way more special. FALSE. After the initial passion, you need to find some value from the relationship. So you get it in the hundred little sadistic things you can do to torture your mate. After all, who really wants to be friends with a woman that you used to have sex with?
- You get lots of good presents when you are married. TRUE AND FALSE. Yes you get lots of things, but the last time you see all the lingerie that she got at her wedding shower is on the honeymoon. See the first bullet in this section for more on this.
- Married men are healthier. TRUE AND FALSE. TRUE that your wife will make you go to the doctor more often, but this is really only done to enable the third bullet in this section - you can't really make a sick person that much more miserable, but if they are healthy, oh the fun you can have. FALSE because men die on average five years before their wives. This is actually done to avoid five years of the third bullet.
- She will come into your life and change everything and throw all of your favorite things away. TRUE. But as this one goes, not necessarily a bad thing, as most guys are slobs and need somebody to kick sense into their heads. Nonetheless, the baby often gets thrown out with the bathwater, and the opportunity to go cycling on Saturday, watch the ball game, gets replaced with trips to Ikea/Domain/name her favorite store in this spot/etc. So I give this one a PUSH.

So, my single friend who is having casual sex but no meaningful
relationships, the grass is not always greener, count your blessings, and don't make the mistakes that most weak willed men make when they think the house will be cleaner, the sex regular, and their shirts washed, and the price for all this is low. Higher a cleaning lady and a hooker - you will pay a LOT LESS.

You asked....”

The first post is the hardest post. The first admission to yourself that you may have failed, achieved less than you hoped, is the hardest admission. That first time you stand up and say “Hello, my name is G and I am in a failing Marriage” (where is the inclusive, we are with you “Hi G!” response?) is the worst moment.

It is make comments to your friends, only half jokingly, like “my wife is the meanest woman east of the Mississippi” or “My wife has fangs like a snake”. But to admit the truth, that there is a slow grinding pressure every day that will not be relieved in the foreseeable future, is just plain depressing. And humiliating.

Thanks for sharing my little corner of hell.

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