Do We Need Marriage?

handcuff marriage

Is this what marriage is? (Image/tlbn.org)

Julia asked: “I’m one year post-divorce and still grappling with the idea of ever marrying again. I used to feel that marriage was a necessity, but I’ve realized that I don’t really need it. You don’t need to be married to love someone for a long, long time, ya know? I used to think Marriage = Security, but I realized that isn’t true…

“Do we need marriage? Is it essential?

“I absolutely see the point you’re making, but I would love to hear more about the million reasons why we should get married.”

Life, much like writing, is filled with a bunch of nuance and subtlety.

Life, much like writing, requires we ask difficult questions and put effort into discovering answers. For example: Is there actually a meaningful difference between the words “nuance” and “subtlety”?

We talk about big things here. Big ideas. We have the conversations it often seems as if no one else is having because they’re busy screaming about Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders; or trying to decipher Beyoncé lyrics; or making summer plans for their kids before school starts again in a few months, or, just, individual life distractions that keep most of our minds off anything flirting with the philosophical or psychological.

Something important gets lost in all the noise: Meaning.

One minute, we’re literal. “I am frustrated with Fred at work because certain things he does makes doing my job more difficult for me.”

The next minute, we utter hyperbole—my communication method of choice: “Fred is killing me.”

It’s awesome that the police don’t show up to arrest people for attempted murder OR falsely reporting a crime every time we say “[So and So, or This Random Thing] is killing me,” because that would be really frustrating and burdensome for law-abiding citizens as well as police officers and the judicial system.

Put another way, we’d all lose our shit and wish we were dead.

Should We Get Married?

Probably not. If that’s a serious question a person is asking.

In the post ‘This is why you shouldn’t get married’, I wrote the following:

“There are a million reasons you shouldn’t get married.

“Five short, personal accounts without additional context from divorced women on the internet SHOULD NOT be among them.

“Because there are a million reasons you SHOULD get married.

“Active and physically fit people sometimes die of heart attacks during workouts. Should people stop exercising?

“People are sometimes hurt or killed while driving. Should we avoid getting behind the wheel?

“Patients sometimes die in hospitals because of human error or unpredictable reactions to medicine. “Should we stop visiting doctors while suffering health problems?

“Bad news, guys: the problem was never the institution of marriage. It was us.”

A couple of notes:

There might not be a million reasons you SHOULD get married. A better word choice might have been: “There are a million reasons to get married.” I was just playing off the SHOULD NOT from the previous sentence. And I’m fairly certain no human can write a million-reason list to do ANYTHING, let alone get married, when so many people have become disenchanted with marriage because of divorce, seeing their parents or friends divorce, paying attention to divorce statistics, or believing it to be an outdated religious concept unnecessary for living a fulfilling life in 2016.

MBTTTR commenter Lisa G. dropped this under The Life Blueprint, and it serendipitously hits all the points:

“I agree with this. Question models and think deeply about what you want and need and your gifts. Also consider how it will affect others. Don’t go into $100,000 in debt unless you really understand what you are doing. ;)

“The problem is we often substitute one model for another equally restrictive model instead of fixing the problem underlying the first model.

“That is what is wrong with the model described in your last post. Because so many people have crappy marriages and divorces, the new model is just not to get married. But still have children.

“That’s not a well thought out model either. It’s just reactionary in the opposite direction. Maybe ok on an individual basis but unintended consequences for large populations.”

Why Marriage Matters

“Do we need marriage? Is it essential?” Julia asked.

Let’s first be pragmatic, because there are two ways to approach this conversation.

People WILL get married. To the tune of 95 percent of the time. They’ll marry foolishly and thoughtfully. They’ll marry naively, or mentally and emotionally prepared. They’ll marry people who will lie, cheat and abuse, as well as people who will love, serve and protect.

For a million reasons (hyperbole!), wise or unwise to our individual perspectives, people will marry.

Sometimes religion and faith play a role. Many people believe marriage purifies sex after making spiritual vows, thus eliminating sin. Sometimes the Life Blueprint is a heavy influencer, independent of organized religion. When 95 out of 100 people are married, or say they plan to marry, it feels safe to assume many view marriage as one of those things everyone, just, does. You know? Because it’s The Way? Much of what we do is a result of modeling the behavior of everything we see everyone doing around us. Most people get married. So, we get married.

But, do we need it?

It’s a fair question.

The mentally tangible and observable positives of lifelong marriages are well documented.

Let’s start with the children. Kids raised in homes with their mother and father in an environment relatively close to what we all imagine standing in front of the wedding officiant during our exchange of vows, grow up to have measurably “better” lives than kids who do not. Stats are funny things. I’d prefer not to debate this.

The child who grows up with both mom and dad at home, and avoids exposure to the major red-flag dysfunctional stuff less-fortunate children sometimes witness, turns into an adult who is healthier, learns more, commits fewer crimes, makes more money, lives longer, avoids addiction, treats people well, and ends up having healthier relationships with partners and their children significantly more often than the kids who don’t grow up with an intact family.

The married partners themselves have measurably better lives, too.

They live longer, make more money, report more happiness, etc.

So, What’s the Problem?

Two things, I think.

1. I believe most people end up marrying someone they “shouldn’t.” Which is kind of a bullshit thing to say, because marriage is a very serious and personal decision that most of us should stay out of. I mean simply that most people will have crappy marriages—the half who divorce, and also all of the people who stay married, but hate it. I believe a large percentage of them will have done a poor job aligning their values with one another, enforcing important personal boundaries, and effectively communicating those values and boundaries with each other. In those specific situations, I would label them “incompatible.” Sadly.

2. Many people don’t know how to be married. Like any life situation in which we later find ourselves thinking or feeling: Whoa! I totally didn’t know what I was getting myself into!, I think most people are that way with marriage. Most other life situations are easily remedied. We change jobs, move to new places, hang out with different people—whatever. Since marriage is designed to be a forever-thing, the Whoa! realization is infinitely more inconvenient and creates much more complicated situations than every other life thing not involving children, legal contracts, shared bank accounts, shared property, shared social networks, and inter-family relationships as the difference between blood relatives and in-laws grows smaller with each family gathering.

Captain Obvious sentence-of-the-day: Marriage and divorce are very hard.

Beyond Pragmatism, Should We Marry?

You’re allowed to think marriage is a bullshit social or religious construct that doesn’t matter.

If you believe that, there’s a better-than-average chance you’re totally not reading this right now, or you’re still tasting the bitter pill of a divorce you didn’t want when you agreed to marry years ago.

If you believe that you got married in good faith, loved and honored your spouse in good times and in bad and then put effort into staying married after noticing cracks forming in the foundation, only to end up divorced because your partner quit on you or ripped your heart out and humiliated you through a major betrayal, then marriage stops looking awesome.

I get it.

I once had a pizza delivered to my house when I lived in Florida, and there was a cricket baked into one of the pieces like a black olive. Ordering pizza from that place stopped looking awesome after that.

Only through the prism of hindsight and self-exploration have I been able to identify the many ways I was a shitty husband, and even I felt scorned and abandoned when she decided to leave.

I felt like she was breaking a promise, regardless of how hypocritical that was. I felt it. And I broke. And it was super not-fun.

And after three years of healing, and gaining a lot of empowering clarity about how my choices contributed to the end of my marriage (which helps immensely in gaining confidence that you can avoid repeating those mistakes a second time), I am still quite unsure whether I’ll ever marry.

I assume it will feel like the Universe is forcing my hand should that uncertainty go away.

But if I end up living the rest of my life single and dying alone, it won’t be because I believe marriage is somehow an inherently flawed institution that should be avoided.

It’s hard to climb mountains.

It’s hard to save a million dollars.

It’s hard to finish marathons.

It’s hard to eat healthy.

It’s hard to learn new languages.

It’s hard to volunteer to help others.

It’s hard to do many, many, many things.

I’m really comfortable suggesting that almost everything really good and wonderful in the human experience is achieved through struggle.

Easy feels good, THEN feels shitty.

Hard feels shitty, THEN feels amazing.

What’s the argument against marriage?

That a handshake agreement is the same as a contract? That a half-hearted suggestion is the same as a solemn vow said in front of everyone you cherish?

That monogamy is unnatural because primates and dogs like to have sex with several partners, and that we’re the same as them even though we have minds that can conjure these thoughts and conversations, and ingenuity that can create the internet and build rockets we can land on Mars like remote-control cars?

That it’s shitty and horrible because one time we married someone who failed us, or we know stories about other people who were mistreated? Because THAT defines the institution of marriage and somehow influences what happens to us?

Because we’re powerless victims unable to affect our life circumstances?

No.

Marriage is shitty because people innocently make poor choices in partner selection AND in their decision making while they’re married.

Not because marriage is somehow inherently shitty.

Whether marriage is the thing people do, or becomes a choice fewer people make as we move toward the future, there is no part of the inherent human desire to connect, to experience physical intimacy, to reproduce, and to give and experience love that will change.

Call it whatever you want.

Marry or don’t marry. But in the end, we must learn to love.

Marriage isn’t the problem. Humans being human are. That’s been true forever.

Does a person need marriage?

That’s not for us to say.

Does the world need marriage?

I think it might.

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137 thoughts on “Do We Need Marriage?

  1. Travis B. says:

    Matt said,

    “Stats are funny things. I’d prefer not to debate this.”

    I laughed and laughed at this and, as someone who got a bit of a migraine reading through the halfway point of the “Life Blueprint” comments, am grateful you said it. For me (and I know there are those who’ll tell me “Too bad! Go pound sand!”), you are a storyteller, not a statistician. Sometimes for your readers, I think your forrest gets lost for your trees. What words you used get in the way of what you’re saying. I’m not throwing shade at any of our beloved Arthur C. Clarkes, who are very valuable to the MBTTTR community, and from whom I learn important things almost daily; I just wish sometimes, you were simply recognized and valued as the Mark Twain of Marriage that you are.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Mark Twain would have loved my census questions. I am shocked that you think otherwise. :)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Also I will just add that how a story is framed matters to how readers respond as we saw in the C section post.

        If the story is framed to represent “most people’s” experience it is expected that questions would arise.

        As opposed to a story about “my” experience.

        I much prefer Spock to Arthur C. Clarke. :)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        Hey, just because Kirk sometimes rolled his eyes at Spock and his insufferable logic doesn’t mean he ever stopped loving him.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        I irritate myself (not to mention my husband) sometimes with my insufferable ways. ;)

        It’s confusing sometimes to an abstract person because sometimes we are telling individual stories and sometimes debating big ideas like the value of marriage. Sometimes both are mixed up together like the post about blueprints.

        I think accuracy (as best as you can approximate) matters when discussing big questions but not in anecdotal stories. Because there you are telling your truth not necessarily “the” truth.

        So I agree that when someone mixes their story with big questions I sometimes get confused. It happened with the guilt/shame discussion.

        Are we discussing guilt and shame and cultures? A great topic. Or are we discussing one person’s story. Empathy is required not debate.

        Spock gets confused when the two are mixed together and I end up debating for accuracy sometimes when I should just let it go. Or maybe not because accuracy matters in big picture discussions but not in individual stories.

        And on this blog we often mix the two and diverge from the post topic frequently. The guilt/shame discussion was on the travel post.

        But I just started reading a book about how to not use the typical “debate” style in conversations and listen for what you agree with as much as possible. So I am going to practice doing that more.

        So I agree the census questions were not that helpful to the general conversation. I would leave them out if I had to do it again as they pros my didn’t interest most readers.

        And they clearly annoyed Matt (Dr. McCoy) who is after all a storyteller (country doctor). ;)

        Like

  2. Glad I came across this, very interesting read

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  3. cbecker53 says:

    I think marriage is imperfect because it is made up of imperfect humans. I’d like to think most people get married and then try to do their best, but that may not be the reality. Marriage is not required to legitimize the relationship between a man and a women, nor to make children “legal.” You can be just as committed, and just as much a family, with or without marriage. I think it’s a matter of what each individual wants to do. As much as I believe my husband and I could be just as committed to each other without a marriage license, I wanted to be married. So does he. So we are.

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    • 'Becca says:

      Thank you for explaining it this way. The only thing I’d add is that, *because* it is a matter of what each individual wants to do, if one partner strongly desires to “be married” and the other strongly resists that label, their relationship is unlikely to work out in the long run, whether they get married or don’t. This demonstrates that the power lies not with The Institution of Marriage but with the ability of the two individual people to reach agreement about what it is they’re doing in their relationship.

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  4. Numenaster says:

    Speaking as someone who stood in line to be able to marry my same-sex partner, I’ll tell you why people in partnerships need marriage. It’s because there are 1,138 places in federal law where being married grants you rights that a mere live-in partner does not have. And those rights affect your ability to stay with the person you love, to inherit their property and pension, and most crucially, to take care of them in sickness (in health, it’s much simpler). When my wife and I were unable to take advantage of those rights, it cost us hundreds and sometimes thousands of extra dollars per year to deal with the disability she developed when we’d been together for five years. It also meant that I would lie to hospital personnel and tell them I was her sister so that I could be her advocate when medication made it impossible for her to speak on her own behalf. I relied on the enlightened good will of our local school district to let me be involved with her son’s education: they would have been well within their rights to not speak to me about him at all. These are rights you don’t miss until they become essential to ensuring your family’s well-being, and if you don’t have them at that moment it’s too late.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Travis B. says:

      I mentioned this very thing (in less detailed form) a few days ago. For me, as long as these types of rights are determined and implemented by the State, it effectively squashes the discussion of “do we need marriage?” Clearly, it’s essential, for the reasons you stated.

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    • 'Becca says:

      I am sorry that you suffered through being treated as less important than an other-sex spouse when you were already suffering the stress of a medical crisis. That kind of thing sucks, but my opinion is that tying up a bunch of rights (as well as some losses of individual rights) in the package deal of marriage is not the way to solve this problem. This post explains my views on marriage and taxes. Similarly, for medical decision-making, I think it would make sense to have a system in which every adult fills out paperwork about who can make decisions if we’re incapacitated, and nobody including spouses gets to make decisions about our medical care when we’re not incapacitated. For parenting responsibilities, when a child has two legal parents and also another adult in a parenting role, it should be possible to give that person the right to discuss the child’s education–and marrying the child’s legal parent does NOT automatically give you that right, by the way.

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  5. Tina says:

    The Mark Twain of marriage – now that’s a title! I wonder often if we need a different model of marriage. I’m not saying we do just wondering. I’ve heard the argument against marriage that says it is an institution founded when “until death do us part” covered from the age of about 15 to about 30. If that is true – and I have not extensively fact checked it – just a quickie google search – then I wonder if marriage ought to be more like military service. You sign on for a set period of time and then re up as your marital contract period comes to a close – or not. Would we try harder to please one another if we knew that we had to be “re chosen” again and again? Or would we try less because we could just let the clock run out? I suspect people being people – some would do one some the other. And some would still find a way to make a mess of even a short term marriage.

    I also have a more cynical day dream at times where all men and women are strictly segregated and only able to get day passes to see each other for specific occasions and purposes. I know I’ll get past this part but It looks pretty good right now.

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    • zombiedrew2 says:

      I’ll go with a sports analogy here.

      In pro sports, some people will only work hard when they feel slighted, or when they are up for a new contract soon. In those cases they are “showing” the world what they can do.

      People have varying degrees of talent, but when you look at the BEST of the best, they are those who didn’t just rely on their talent and coast, they also worked really hard to be the best. They don’t need to show the world what they can do, they know it. And they are doing it because it’s what THEY want.

      In marriage, some people put in consistent effort, and others don’t. So yeah, if we needed to re-up some would only start putting in effort when it was time to re-up. Others would count down the days.

      I have never understood that. Be the best you can be, as a person, and as a partner. Some days that means more than others, but I’ve never understood not trying. And I’ve never understood people who stay in unhappy situations where they aren’t actively working to make it better. That mindset is just completely foreign to me.

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    • Travis B. says:

      Tina said,

      “I wonder often if we need a different model of marriage. I wonder if marriage ought to be more like military service. You sign on for a set period of time and then re up as your marital contract period comes to a close – or not.”

      Totally nerding out hardcore here but this very type of marriage paradigm was posited in Gene Roddenberry’s and Alan Dean Foster’s 1979 novelization of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE. It seems rather clinical and business-oriented to a romantic-at-heart (is there any other kind of romantic?) like me, but I have to concede your logic about trying your hardest to earn your partner’s “re-enlistment” is hard to counter.

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      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Hey Travis, I consider myself to be a romantic at heart as well. But marriage is about SOOO much more than love and romance. Really, I think the things needed for a successful marriage are very much like the things needed to successfully run a business. There’s a lot of planning, organizing, and balancing limited resources with both present and future needs that have to happen. And if those things don’t? All the love in the world won’t really help.

        I’ve seen another blogger talk about how instead of seeing marriage as forever, we should always understand that it could end at any time. We shouldn’t become complacent, and it’s when we do that problems set it.

        I like to think the best of people, and hope that people would put in consistent effort because it’s the right thing to do (not because of a threat of it ending). It doesn’t always seem to work that way though.

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      • Travis B. says:

        Drew, I’d like to believe similarly but, over a lifetime, even the best of us don’t always operate at our best, so maybe anything that helps the marital condition would be a victory at this point…? I dunno…I find myself both attracted to, and repelled by, the idea of “marriage re-enlistment”. I doubt organized religion would ever get behind it, though, so it would probably forge ahead with lifetime commitments while the re-enlistmemt model might find traction at the courthouse/justice of the peace.

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      • Lisa Gottman says:

        I often wonder if we wouldn’t be better served in marriage by seeing a good therapist like visiting the dentist.

        I mean seeing one every 6 months for a relationship checkup and cleaning up small issues before they fester for years.

        That is the problem, we wait an average of 6 years after problems begin to seek help. That’s like waiting until you have an absessed tooth that is causing so much pain you can’t ignore it anymore.

        But by then, it’s really hard to save the tooth because infection has destroyed the root.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linbo says:

        Hmmm… I can agree that I think we should look at a different model of marriage, but I cringe at the thought of it being like military service (I wouldn’t see the purpose at all if the marriage would dissolve after a certain period of time..) or even a business :P!
        I am definitely with Travis when he says he couldn’t see marrying just anyone.
        There are people that I really cant muster up authentic affection for. Its not that I hate them, its just – I would probably need a gun to me head if I were to agree to spend the rest of my life with them. And even then, I would have to think about it..
        BUT, on the other hand I think that our culture has romanticized marriage into the fulfillment of our destiny, as a cure for our loneliness, and THE thing that will bring ultimate happiness. One person is supposed to do all that for us.
        I’m really thinking the point of marriage isn’t to find someone you will have romantic love with forever,(but yes, I think you can create that over and over). The real point is to make a family unit with together.
        I don’t mean that marriage is all about procreation- I don’t think that at all, but I am thinking about the more middle eastern cultural practices where the family unit is such a huge part of every individuals life. You marry into a family. And not just the nuclear family – the whole extended family.
        I think we have forgotten that, or we don’t appreciate the value of that because we are such an individualistic society.
        Boundaries, self differentiation, common values and desires are needed to have a healthy family. But I really believe that people were made to function within the social structure of a family. I think it benefits more than just the children. I think being in a (healthy) family unit can benefit everyone- husband and wife, grand parents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. All get to partake in the family, all contribute, all receive.

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        • Matt says:

          This.

          Because, it takes a village, and all that.

          And marriage is about another thing: Service.

          People seek elected office, not to serve, but to receive power and fame.

          People today often seek marriage to receive love.

          Methinks it would work better if set out to give it.

          I think maybe if everyone did that, everything would work out just fine.

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      • Linbo says:

        Amen and Amen ; )

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      • Linbo says:

        I’m really glad you like that.

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      • Magpie says:

        I’ve gained a lot of insight from not Only Matt’s Blog, but also some of the comments. Today, it is this…”Really, I think the things needed for a successful marriage are very much like the things needed to successfully run a business. There’s a lot of planning, organizing, and balancing limited resources with both present and future needs that have to happen. And if those things don’t? All the love in the world won’t really help.”

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    • Tina says:

      So Zombiedrew and Travis – I’m going to just throw this out there with no statistics to back ti up at all but it has been my experience and is thus my opinion that men are more likely to be “romantics” than women, I don’t mean they DO ROMANCE more but they are more likely to believe in things like “the one” and “soul mates” and “love at first sight”
      Women – again just in my experience – tend to be more practical about marriage because we have to be. We are the ones who have to change our names, put our career on hold if children are part of the deal (and thus negatively impact our life time earning potential), do most of the home making, and child caring. There is a lot more we know we are signing on for going in, Feel free to tell me I’m full of crap but its way easier for men to romanticize marriage in my opinion.

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      • Travis B. says:

        Tina, and I promise I’m not saying this with an irritated or insulted tone, but I personally don’t usually find much value in “who has it worse–men or women?” discussions. All I know is I’m a lover, not a fighter, LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I do observe that, Tina. Men can be very romantic while women can be far more practical. Part of that has to do with our different roles, women need to make sure the lights are on and there’s food in the fridge, especially if there are children. The practical, almost mercenary day to day details of life are often in women’s hands. Even men who totally provide and protect, often do not concern themselves with the same kind of emotional luggage that women do. We need the glass actually put away, the roof actually fixed.

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      • Tina says:

        Travis – no offense taken because I was not trying to make the point that women have it easier in relationships, because I don’t believe that is necessarily true. So i did a poor job expressing myself if that is what you got from it. I in no way meant to imply that men do not take on a lot of responsibility in a marriage as well. What I was really trying to stress is simply that men romanticize relationships more and women look at them more pragmatically – in my experience. Possibly I am just odd. Well I am definitely odd – but different in this particular matter specifically.

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      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Tina you bring up an interesting point.

        I remember reading that the reason many young men are reluctant to get married is because they understand it will require them to change and be more “responsible”.

        They don’t want to do this until they feel fully ready to take on new roles of husband and father.

        I think women are less reluctant to take on these roles for a variety of reasons.

        I’m not sure I would frame it in terms of men bring more romantic because there are plenty of women who get married partly to wear the white dress and live the blueprint.

        But maybe the romantic part you’re thinking of could be that another set of men (like my husband) underestimate the changes that will be required of them. They think it will be “just like dating” underestimating the family and household changes that happen as a result of marriage.

        And it is less “fun” and he misses the more carefree, happy girl he dated. And his old ability to do more of what he wanted without having to compromise all the time and do things he doesn’t enjoy.

        I think these used to be more common for men to understand the responsibilities 50 years ago but it is less common now since we have changed marriage into less of a financial
        co parenting institution into more of a friends and lovers forever idea.

        And many men (and women) are confused.

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  6. zombiedrew2 says:

    You know, I think your two problems above are in some ways two variations of the same thing. Or I guess maybe it’s better to say that problem one is really a symptom of problem two.

    What I mean by that is, look at the first one – we marry someone we shouldn’t. Well, what makes them someone we shouldn’t marry? Yeah, there are ways that seem like they should be more compatible than others, but really I think you’ll find that no matter who you pick out there in the world, if you really look you can find all sorts of reasons why you “shouldn’t” marry that person. Not saying that we should just go and marry anyone, but I do think that we can be reasonably happy with almost anyone.

    The key is your problem two, we don’t know how to be married. And holy hell, that’s a major problem. Humans are inherently selfish – which is understandable when we see things through the lens of how they affect us. And it’s this whole idea that marriage is a skill, and communication is a skill that is lost on people.

    We can always learn better ways of doing things, and when we do we generally find our interactions with others improve. Emotional intelligence, empathy – these are pretty big things that we can always improve on.

    I still go back to my three rules for a happy marriage:

    1) love each other
    2) don’t be selfish
    3) communicate

    easy to say, but not so easy to do. When we do figure it out though, things can be pretty damned good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1) love each other
      2) don’t be selfish
      3) communicate

      Yep, that’s it. It’s that simple. Big problem with the first one however, few people know how to truly love themselves and if you don’t know how to love yourself, chances are pretty good you won’t know how to love someone else.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dalindcy says:

      This is a really interesting point of view. I agree with you that people don’t know how to be married, and maybe they don’t even know what it means to be married, in the sense that you just promised your forever to someone. The three rules are really the base for any good relationship. :)

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ve really enjoyed your posts, but feel a break from them will be helpful. I mean that in the best way. You’ve given me a lot to think about in terms of my own responsibility. But (for there always is one), there’s a thin line between giving something a fair kicking to see if it stands up, and killing it outright. So I’m going to adopt some brilliant insights and hopefully apply them while giving marriage the freedom to breathe without nailing to the ground of over-thinking. For now.

    Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Matt, there are many marriage myths, myths about the negatives I mean. If you’re believing a bunch of myths about marriage than the reasons why we just don’t need marriage begin to stack up. But are they true? Seldom! Seriously.

    Here’s a brief post I did about half of all marriages end in divorce. Books have been written about, studies have been done, but the idea that half of all marriages fail, persists.

    https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/divorcing-the-divorce-myth/

    “That monogamy is unnatural because primates and dogs like to have sex with several partners..”

    I know you are being somewhat facetious, but actually monogamy is normal to many primates and while dogs may be rather unconcerned about it, often wolves have a very structured system. Many, many species mate for life. It’s become a bit of joke, but evo/psych people gave us the myth of the human alpha ape who must breed with as many females as possible. A few years later we discovered the Bonobos. Bonobos are pretty funny, a bit of a matriarchy and they don’t even care, they have sex with everybody, regardless of gender, species, age, etc. The point being, people are not animals, there are a lot of different species out there, and you can pretty much find a bunch of animals to confirm any bias about human behavior that you want.

    “Marriage is shitty because people innocently make poor choices in partner selection AND in their decision making while they’re married.”

    This is one of the biggest myths of all. It suggests that if we just “find the right person” and it hands all our power away. I truly believe that any two strangers in the entire world can learn how to produce a good marriage. I don’t say that to make anyone feel bad about divorce, but we have all these crazy ideas about needing to find our soul mates and how some people are just incompatible. Those are comfroting thoughts, but are they true? I suspect not. I really do believe that any two random strangers on the planet can make it work and work well. We can do that in any other situation if we set our minds to it and we can do that in marriage, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      Now wait a minute, IB. How many people have read more of my blog posts than you? 10? 15? Ever?

      There is NO WAY IN HELL you believe that I believe in soulmates.

      And there’s no way you don’t believe that I think anything other than: Love is a choice. Every day.

      I’m simply saying, I see young women not enforcing boundaries and marrying guys who demonstrate ALL of the innocent-ish shitty husband behaviors I write about, and see young men marrying young women before they’re “ready”, because the pain of losing her (she’s in an ill-advised hurry to get married, just because) outweighs the fear of committing for life.

      Young people SHOULD align their values and enforce their boundaries. It totally gives them the best chance for relationship success in all their forms, romantic or otherwise.

      But yes. In the grand scheme? If you’ve done a decent job marrying someone who was honest and of sound mind and body when they said “I do.”?

      Then yeah. Everyone can make it who understand that’s love is a decision to be made every day, and that how we “feel” is a pretty bullshit metric for making major life decisions in the context of committed relationships.

      Like

      • “If you’ve done a decent job marrying someone who was honest and of sound mind and body when they said “I do.”?”

        Well Matt, all in good humor here, but I think the very fact that we say “I do,” proves we are not of sound mind and body! And “honest?” Who does that? If we were actually honest we’d recognize we were the ones likely to not be of sound mind and body, lucky to have found anyone crazy enough to even try to align themselves with us.

        Something oft forgotten, women’s uh, beer goggles? Blinders? Whatever it is that makes us have poor boundaries with crummy men is also the same thing that allows us to have anything to do with men at all. We have to be able to see something that isn’t there yet, that has potential, because if we were honest, ever, even Prince Charming would be promptly rejected.

        Like

    • Travis B. says:

      insanitybytes22 said,

      “I truly believe that any two strangers in the entire world can learn how to produce a good marriage.”

      I have nothing to support this other than every cell in my body screaming in abject horror, but I’m gonna give that a respectful no, I fervently disagree.

      Like

      • LOL! Well, I’m always curious about abject horror, especially when it impacts every cell? It is an idea that many people don’t like hearing. I think it makes some of us feel as if we might be easily replaced or as if we aren’t unique or something.

        The thing is, people have been marrying sight unseen for centuries and even today people will meet on the internet and make a go of it. Men still find wives in other countries. People get drunk in Vegas, have no idea what happened, and somehow make it work. Conversely however, there are also people who plan everything, who have long engagements, who do everything “right,” and yet they divorce.

        In all other areas of life, we can figure out how to get along with coworkers, with bosses we dislike, with neighbors. We have an amazing ability to carve something positive out of all our other human relationships, but when it comes to marriage we start speaking about being compatible and not having irreconcilable differences, as if marriage is the one human relationship built on more ethereal things than our own willingness to make it work.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        insanitybytes22 said,

        “In all other areas of life, we can figure out how to get along with coworkers, with bosses we dislike, with neighbors.”

        To equate those surface-level, bare-minimum-necessary-to-get-through-the-day, only-a-few-minutes-of-face-to-face-time-per-day relationships with the deep soul connection of marriage is about as legitimate as equating a Bic lighter with Mount Vesuvius, if you ask me.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        I love your passion for this. I fall in between you and IB. Maybe Drew and I have similar takes from previous comments.

        I think you can be happily married to a significant number of people. It is very helpful if you have similar backgrounds and beliefs. That is one of the reasons arranged marriages are more successful. It eliminates many areas of conflict.

        It helps if you are paired with someone who fits your top 3 things (whatever they are) as we discussed in a previous post.

        Again so you eliminate areas of conflict on critical issues of importance. Like religious beliefs and how to raise kids or whether you want to have 30 friends over every weekend vs a spouse who wants to read a book by themselves.

        I personally would not like being married to an outdoor lover who wanted me to go on nature walks with him all the time. ;)

        If you are securely attached, reasonably mentally healthy and have good relationship skills you can be happily married to a spouse who has the same. But it’s much much easier if you have critical things in common.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. “..bare-minimum-necessary-to-get-through-the-day, only-a-few-minutes-of-face-to-face-time-per-day relationships..”

    Oh man, Travis, I don’t know what to say. People are so much more than these flat, two dimensional relationships we just try to avoid as much as possible. There’s brotherly love, right? Families, friendships? Marriage is awesome, amazing, but if I believed it was the only kind of relationship that could ever bring a deep soul connection between two people, I think I’d feel really emotionally burdened, as if I were the only one who could fulfill some other human being and that burden would suck all the joy out of marriage.

    Like

    • Travis B. says:

      insanitybytes22 said,

      “Marriage is awesome, amazing, but if I believed it was the only kind of relationship that could ever bring a deep soul connection between two people…”

      I’m not saying that at all, but you mentioned neighbors and bosses at work as though the typical functional, even perhaps openly friendly, relationships with those types of people was somehow tantamount with the type of connection a marriage demands. I just don’t see it. This world is aflood with people I don’t even want to share the planet with, much less think there’s a chance in Hell of successfully marrying for life. Wasn’t it you who said human beings are simultaneously so much more and so much less important than they think they are? Well along those lines, they also exist on a spectrum from angels to devils, too. I appreciate your faith in humanity, but I’ll be damned if I’m putting a ring on Ann Coulter’s finger.

      Like

      • LOL! Well, no offense, but what makes you think Coulter would even have you?

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        (*shrug*) The kind of raw sex appeal that would make Brad Pitt whimper and whine, “Forget it! I give up!”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        Well, on this mirthful note, your good man Travis B. will now be signing off until Sunday, June 5th (possibly late Saturday, the 4th), as my family and I undertake a much deserved week-long cruise to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel (as I type this, I sit in an exquisitely tired lump in the passenger seat of my wife’s Sonata about 130 miles from Houston as she beelines us to our ultimate destination of Galveston). Please try not to have too many interesting discussions while I’m off the air. Talk about Catholic sex issues again. I never have anything to contribute to those. ‘Til we meet again, my fellow warrior poets!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        Have a great vacation! We will miss your comments.

        Maybe Ann Coulter will be there too to make your dreams finally come true.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linbo says:

        Travis, Hope you have fun! You’re kind of not that far from me. I’ll honk if I see a Sonata with a beautiful blond laughing with her dude driving through ; ).

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Lisa Gottman says:

    I think you are right that we need to think more carefully about whether we are really ready to get married. Not to just follow the blueprint because all our friends are married or we’ve been dating x numbers of years.

    Not to be naive that because we love each other and are nice people that we won’t get divorced. And also not to give up when things get tough but can be fixed.

    The average shitty marriage can be fixed with the right diagnosis and help and willingness. But most people don’t know how and so they give up.

    And while I agree with you that women don’t know how to set boundaries (absolutely!). Men are the critical players the research shows.

    How to change that when we haven’t changed how we view masculinity so that men find it hard to express emotions, accept influence from their wives, or even read a book on marrisge?

    I don’t know, it really requires massive change that is resistant to change.

    But you’re using your gifts and vulnerably telling your story of your shitty husband ways to help men who are willing to listen. So thanks for being a part of the solution! ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      I want to add that I know you have said many times that you think men are the critical players and if men would act lovingly most of the things they don’t like in their wives would magically disappear.

      I believe that is very often true. The research shows that if a husband accepts his wife’s influence that is the most critical piece of a happy marriage.

      Like

    • Magpie says:

      I failed at setting boundaries until too late, I recognize this now. He kept pushing compromise as the norm (when really it was me deciding it wasn’t worth the fight) and then at the end said you should have been better at telling me what you wanted me to do or not do. But now I know for next time.

      Like

  11. People can have heart attacks while exercising? That’s all the excuse I need to stop.

    You bring up a lot of interesting points and I appreciate your effort to be fair and see things from both sides. I do think a lot of people’s opinion on marriage not working is based on a very small sample size: themselves and parents. I wonder how the idea of a long-term commitment changes when human life expectancy continues to increase. Maybe the idea of finding the love of a lifetime seemed more realistic when you only expected to live to fifty.

    Like

  12. Dalindcy says:

    When I read the title of your post my immediate reaction was ‘ha, of course we don’t’ but just like with every post you make me think about it and now I’m not so sure anymore. A very interesting post for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. marilyn says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I’m quoting from two of our favorite “gurus” — Terry Real and Dr. Gottman:

    “Empathic, or, as it is sometimes called, reflective listening….did not correlate, over time with either happiness (marital) nor longevity…..Gottman found that the most reliable predictor of long-term marital success was a pattern in which the wives, in non-offensive clear ways, communicated their needs, and husbands willingly altered their behaviors to meet them.

    Derisively called by journalists the “Yes dear”, study, Gotman’s findings appeared in most major newspapers through the West , often accompanied by snide commentary.What the press and general public found interesting, amusing and difficult was the UNIDIRECTION of needed change. It was the empirical data supporting “henpecking” that captured and repelled us.

    The thinly veiled subtext of the jokes was that BALL-LESS MEN MAKE FOR GOOD HUSBANDS. But does a man’s willingness to listen to the women he loves and change his own behavior constitute a form of CASTRATION? A great many men, while too well informed to say it aloud, certainly act like it.”

    Like

    • Ha! I am appalled that people would equate listening to your wife with being henpecked and ball-less. There are a lot of misconceptions in the world. That theory makes sense however, because when wives can communicate needs and men can accommodate them, it tends to bring satisfaction to both genders. Many women have a need to communicate and be heard and many men have a need to fix things. If you can bring those two things into harmony, life is good.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Marilyn,

      Yes, I agree that is horrible that the media framed it that way originally.

      That is part of the problem that we frame accepting influence from wives as being henpecked or yes men.

      Like there are only two choices:

      1. Being independent men making their own decisions

      Or

      2. Doing everything their wife wants.

      Those are the only two extremes that many men unconsciously or consciously feel they have.

      I really think many men fear being dominated by their wives needs because THEY don’t have good boundaries.

      The ability to stand up for your needs while also being willing to accommodate others.

      If a wife is being demanding or harsh he should feel confident that he can ask her to discuss things with him in a respectful way WITHOUT ignoring her underlying request as a bid for dominance. That having good boundaries means he does not let others treat him as a yes person.

      Feeling confident in his boundaries allows him to say yes or compromise to get both of their needs met and accept her influence without being her yes man.

      If a wife feels her issues are getting a fair hearing with an opportunity to work together to find a solution, the harshness usually dissipates.

      It’s just human nature overlapped with gender stuff. Part of which is men being “domesticated” into yes men and laughed at by their friends. Forced to do whatever his wife wants so she won’t cry or be angry or not have sex with him or whatever. That’s the fear. (I think?)

      I have a lot of empathy for this fear in men. They tend to do the wrong thing to avoid this happening to them. Avoid and withdraw or angrily deny his wife’s point of view.

      But it’s usually coming mostly from a place of self preservation rather than wanting his wife to be unhappy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Matt says:

        Lisa, I hope when the day comes that I ask people to preview the book and provide critical commentary, and identify areas for imorovement, that you’ll help me with that.

        At least for me, I think you’re particularly badass at putting things in a way “both sides” (independent of gender) can digest.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Matt, you said:
        “Lisa, I hope when the day comes that I ask people to preview the book and provide critical commentary, and identify areas for imorovement, that you’ll help me with that.

        At least for me, I think you’re particularly badass at putting things in a way “both sides” (independent of gender) can digest.”

        Thank you so much That is a great compliment! I am looking forward to reading your book.

        Your “shitty husband” marriage book will be one that “average” guys would be willing to read and learn from. And that is the key to the whole thing. Getting men to be willing to pay attention.

        Your “dishes” viral post proves that many, many people relate to your story and can benefit from the “Mark Twain”way you tell it.

        Funny but still with a lot of deep insight. That’s a powerful combination.

        Your blog has helped so many people already. You should be proud if that. That you have used your writing gifts to overcome you pain and help others with theirs.

        A book will help even more marriages and by extension kids in troubled marriages and their kids. That’s pretty awesome stuff you’ve stumbled into starting a blog while drinking vodka to process your pain!

        Even though I am not your target audience of husbands, I have benefitted greatly learning from your posts and the many commenters here. Plenty of stuff for “shitty wives” to learn too.

        PS Are you sure you don’t want to debate statistics about kids raised in certain kinds of households and father’s involvement based income levels?

        Really illuminating (and depressing) stuff. Oh well another time perhaps. ;)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        Ok here’s the stuff from The Marriage Clinic (great book by the way, much more detailed for research than general public books)

        “Men who did not accept influence from their wives wound up divorced. The prediction rate was very good, 80% accuracy, and it did not work the other way around: Most of the women accepted influence from their husbands, and the acceptance predicted nothing.”

        So your point about most women already accepting influence is quite true. But it appears to not to matter unless the man also accepts influence.

        I couldn’t find a quote about a woman not accepting influence and her husband doing so. It does happen that way sometimes but it’s much, much more common the other way around since only 35% of men accept influence and a very high number of women do.

        The thing he talks about that we haven’t focused much on when talking about accepting influence is that men escalate the negativity in an argument and women either match or deescalate the negativity.

        If he says, “you’re not listening to me” she will apologize and say “please say it again I want to hear what you have to say.”

        But he will respond to “you’re not listening” with “Yes I was” or “I am always listening to you just go on and on.”

        This escalates the conflict and makes it very frustrating for the woman because she does not have her needs acknowledged or addressed.

        That increasing negativity and batting back her attempts to ask for change is not accepting influence.

        Women are more critical than men. Meaning they have harsh start ups to discussions that are “blaming”. This makes it hard for her husband to respond without being defensive.

        As I said in another post comment, the harshness stems in one experiment from her husband ignoring her during an earlier conversation. The harshness is a result on his not accepting influence.

        Since women initiate 80% of discussions looking for change (that’s emotional labor that personally drives me crazy!), their “soft” startup is important to help her husband accept her influence.

        The divorce pattern combines the two, harsh startup by the wife, not accepting influence by the husband. But if he accepts influence, the harshness goes away because it is a refraction of her frustration.

        That’s why his accepting influence is the critical piece. And if he doesn’t, her not adapting to it but instead setting boundaries to require him to.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa,
        You said “It’s just human nature overlapped with gender stuff. Part of which is men being “domesticated” into yes men and laughed at by their friends. Forced to do whatever his wife wants so she wont cry or be angry or not have sex with him or whatever. That the fear (I think?). ”

        Yes, younger men, especially, have a term for this that I am not going to repeat. But it starts with a P and ends with a “whipped”.

        “I have a lot of empathy for this fear in men. They tend to do the wrong thing to avoid this happening to them. Avoid and withdraw or angrily deny his wife’s point of view. But its usually coming mostly from a place of self preservation rather than wanting his wife to be unhappy.”

        I definitely believe that is true- they are not intending to cause the wife pain, they are trying to avoid their own. ..

        You also said, in a different post, ” Since women initiate 80% of the discussion looking for change (that’s emotional labor that personally drives me crazy!) their “soft” startup is important to help her husband accept her influence.”

        I am just going to play devils advocate here and ask why is it that we want so much change?
        Is it that we are just naturally demanding, unsatisfied creatures?
        Or are we talking about the day to day obligations that women carry (such as being the point of contact for kids school, maintaining the home, dealing with in-laws and being the one to make social plans, AND initiating conversations about all this ect.) .. and those are the things that we are biding for influence on that makes us initiate 80% of the time?

        Is it that men don’t really have much to complain about, but we do?

        I remember Donkey mentioning emotional labor before, and I did read over the link she posted.
        If THAT is the stuff that we are initiating change about- there definitely should be some pretty straightforward conversations before marriage about it. That is something men don’t know about, because, they never HAD to.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo on May 29, 2016 at 10:29 AM
        Linbo,

        You said: “I am just going to play devils advocate here and ask why is it that we want so much change?
        Is it that we are just naturally demanding, unsatisfied creatures?
        Or are we talking about the day to day obligations that women carry (such as being the point of contact for kids school, maintaining the home, dealing with in-laws and being the one to make social plans, AND initiating conversations about all this ect.) .. and those are the things that we are biding for influence on that makes us initiate 80% of the time?

        Is it that men don’t really have much to complain about, but we do?

        I remember Donkey mentioning emotional labor before, and I did read over the link she posted.
        If THAT is the stuff that we are initiating change about- there definitely should be some pretty straightforward conversations before marriage about it. That is something men don’t know about, because, they never HAD to.”

        I think it is all of things you listed with the exception of the women are demanding unsatisfied creatures. I know you were using that rhetorically but there are many people who do argue that. I have sat through church talks that said that. Grrrr.

        It’s a complicated thing but Gottman frames it mostly in power terms. Women are looking to share decision making power that is often unilaterally often unconsciously given or taken by her husband.

        He will often just do what he wants without considering how it impacts her. So she has to “discuss” it.

        Another big issue as you pointed out is the emotional labor stuff. Many of the emotional labor decisions are deemed her responsibility because she is the wife or mom.

        She initiates talks to try and get her husband’s involvement at least. What camp should we sign Jimmy up for? What should we buy your mother for Christmas? The husband often doesn’t care or have an opinion.

        But this forces the burden on her alone instead of sharing it. It is his great privilege to not have to care even if he doesn’t understand or see that privilege and thinks she should just do what she wants and not involve him. This is part of the having to be the “mom” instead of a partner. And he gets to not care by most everyone’s default.

        Because even in 2016 it is part of everyone’s fast thinking no matter how much you discuss it before marriage or push back against it with the schools or in-laws or work. I am exhibit A for that one.

        Accepting influence means husbands caring and having an opinion and sharing the burden of all this crap even when people tell him he is whipped or all the other men sit around watching football while he clears the dishes with the women. That is a mature man who will have a happy marriage.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          You said “I think its all the things listed with the exception of woman are demanding unsatisfied creatures. I know you were using that rhetorically but there are many people who do argue that. I have sat through church talks that said that. Grrr.”

          I Grrrr right along with you!!

          You also said “Women are looking to share decision making power that is often unilaterally, often unconsciously given or taken by her husband.” …

          Thanks. I didn’t even really think about that, but I believe it is true. It is women merely saying -“Hey! can I have a voice here?”…

          I was thinking earlier this morning about Marilyn’s comments about men tending to take over more and more power/territory, and this being one of the reasons why a “One” relationship is hard to accept. In a way they would be the “one” and the women would be a “none”.
          I think more men are more aware than ever that his wife is not his territory or possession, and that there needs to be of a partnership, but I do still think there is a “given” that men have that women don’t, that can lend itself to this type of situation.
          I think this fact that we have to bring it up 80% of the time could be evidence of men assuming this power/control.

          Earlier I was thinking I would like to go back and look at our social history, and the major contributing influences on it in regards to gender roles and rights. But, really now I am just thinking I’d like to see what happens to those numbers -the 80%of the time women make a bid for influence, 35% of men accept influence- in the next 20-30 years.

          It would be awesome to see a change.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo, You said: “I think more men are more aware than ever that his wife is not his territory or possession, and that there needs to be of a partnership, but I do still think there is a “given” that men have that women don’t, that can lend itself to this type of situation.
        I think this fact that we have to bring it up 80% of the time could be evidence of men assuming this power/control.

        Earlier I was thinking I would like to go back and look at our social history, and the major contributing influences on it in regards to gender roles and rights. But, really now I am just thinking I’d like to see what happens to those numbers -the 80%of the time women make a bid for influence, 35% of men accept influence- in the next 20-30 years.

        It would be awesome to see a change.”

        I agree it would be awesome to see a change!

        To give myself a Churchillian pep talk here, we have made a lot of progress already. In my lifetime!

        Unbelievable to me that my kids will grow up with the image of an African American President when civil rights had to happen to be able to ride in the front of the bus when Obama was a child.

        And now women can go to college and have a choice of jobs that was just not possible when my grandmother and even mother was young. It’s really awesome when you think about the changes made.

        And men have changed tie expectations for what being a father means. To be emotionally vulnerable to his children and nurture and care for them that was uncommon for his grandfather. Good stuff!

        But, it’s discouraging how much is entrenched and unchanged. Particularly as we’ve talked about before around concepts of masculinity. And the role of mothers.

        It’s when children are born that things really hit the fan. That is when things that haven’t changed still are highlighted. On both sides, maternal gatekeeping and men just not stepping up to do the fair share of the grunt work.

        And I have been exposed to a return to “traditional values” from women as well as men. That it is the changes wrought by feminism that have caused these problems and the answer if for women to embrace their God given natural wiring to be a homemaker and stay at home mom.

        And men to accept their God given natural wiring as leaders in the workplace and family.

        I am not knocking anyone’s beliefs. I have friends who are very happy in traditional roles. But those “natural wiring” beliefs are partly why things don’t change.

        Why men are accused of being whipped for accepting their wife’s influence.

        And on the other side, presenting men as patriarchal power hungry despots is not helpful either. I agree with Matt that the vast majority of men are just doing their best with the society they were born into. And the relationship skills they have.

        But how do we get men to fight the system that WILL take away his man card. How do we get him to not care about that or not care as much as making his wife happy?

        And how do we get women to learn to stand up for themselves without making men the bad guys? Rejecting their bad behaviors and setting good boundaries?

        How do women even have the energy to do all that while taking care of kids and family and community and taking care of business and trying to take care of herself?

        I don’t know how to do it except to set boundaries and expect love and accepting influence from my husband, work to understand and change what I need to change myself to show him the same and try to teach my kids how to accept influence and set boundaries.

        And speak up in situations that impose dysfunctional thinking for boys and girls and men and women. Because the injustice is for both genders in small and big ways.

        I wish I had the strength and energy to do more but I don’t right now.

        Society is slooooow to change but one of my favorite quotes is “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”

        Gotta keep bending the arc wherever we are ;)

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,- Yes, to everything you said there :)
          I definitely think we are in the middle of a process. There have been incredible changes across the board in civil rights. And, I anticipate more change as the white population becomes less of a majority.
          The white privilege thing is a very real thing as far as I can see, and it definitely effects our understanding of ourselves. This could be especially true for men who experience relative ease in the culture, and in the marriage. I am just thinking that there may be less of an expectation that privilege brings as that shifts, and it may show up in the marriage relationship, too.

          You said “Its when children are born that things really hit the fan. That’s when things that haven’t changed still are highlighted.”

          Yes, I guess with the new stress, the cracks will start showing.

          “And I have been exposed to a return to “traditional values” from women as well as men. This it was the changes wrought by feminism that have caused these problems and the answer for is for women to embrace their God given natural wiring to be a homemaker and stay at home mom.
          And men to accept their God given wiring as leaders in the workplace and family.

          …I am not knocking anyones beliefs…but those “natural wiring” beliefs are partly why things don’t change.”

          I have to agree with you for so many reasons. I am with you- I am not trying to say anyone is wrong in how they live their life or what they believe, but what it seems like to me is we removed a tumor and everyone is freaking out because there is a lot of bleeding.
          I don’t know how far that analogy will go, but I am trying.
          How about we removed a roach infested wall and everyone is up in arms because now there is a big hole there.
          Its kind of like- “Yeah, there is a big hole there, but do you want the roach infested wall back? NO!”
          It’s so much easier to look at the past, no matter how dysfunctional and say “we had it better then.”
          This may sound like complete sacrilege to some but I believe God has what we call “masculine” AND “feminine” parts to him. (Not physical parts people!! :)…
          That’s why it says he made us in His image, male and female he made them.

          There is so much more I can get into with this, but I will spare you- except to say this:

          “The Proverbs 31 Woman” which is read like a laundry list of characteristics that a Godly woman is supposed to have, was actually a Jewish blessing that was read aloud to the wife, from her husband. The characteristics would change with every woman! But, it was a way for a man to speak appreciation over the wife that he had. How lovely is that!
          But, we have turned it into a list of what God and man demands a women to be. It increases the need to perform at something she is intrinsically.

          So, this is a very hot button issue for me. (Not in a bad way, but in a I can go on for a while, way.)
          I think biology had a lot to do with why the division of labor was originally divided as it was.
          But, we are more than our biology. We have other parts and pieces to our personalities other than being a nurturer and caregiver. We have dreams, and ideas and the ability to function in a greater role in society, as well as in the family and we should have the right to exercise those things.
          But, even if the role of mother and wife were what really filled you up, and there is NOTHING wrong with that, no women should have to live in abusive situations. The problem with men being the sole providers and “leaders”, was exactly what Marilyn was talking about. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. A women without financial means cant escape if the man is physically or mentally/emotionally abusive. A women without skills, or education, or a sense of self worth will stay because she is afraid she cant make it on her own.
          It completely disempowers half of our society.

          Not all men would do that, but I think enough would. And especially if it was something accepted, but not talked about, it would happen a lot.

          To answer what you said about “And on the others side, presenting men as patriarchal power hungry despots is not helpful either. I agree with Matt that the cast majority of men are just doing their best with the society they were born into.”

          I agree with that, I don’t believe men are power hungry ,ect. But I do think they, like women, are effected by the society they were born into, and could feel it was ok to exert dominance over women if that were acceptable to society at large.

          “How do we get men to fight the system that WILL take away his man-card? How do we get him to not care about that or not care as much about making his wife happy?”

          Here is something, and this is not complete a solution, because it is a big, wide issue that will take years and years to really change.
          But, there is this- Give him a new man-card.
          Not a wussy- de-masculinizing card, but a card that asks him to step up and exercise some real toughness and grit by looking at himself honestly, looking at his wife and family honestly and doing the right thing. (Society can help by showing him what “the right thing” is)

          I seriously want to print out a business card with the words “MAN CARD” on the front and the MBTTTR web address on the back, along with “The Good Men Project” web address and whatever other resources are out there (what other resources are out there!!!) , and give them to people as I deem appropriate.

          In answer to all your other questions, that are rhetorical, no?

          Yeah, it is going to take a few individuals doing it in their own life, and teaching their children. I believe when you are doing things like what you are doing, there is a difference that people can see, and they will want to know about it.
          It is just doing what you can to bend that arch, consistently. (LOVE THAT!!)
          :)

          Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa,
        PS- Sorry, sometimes I type like I am having hand to hand combat with a shark at the same time… :)

        Like

    • Donkey says:

      Hey guys! :)

      If I have understood Gottman’s reserch correctly, it’s just as important that wives accept influence (=willingly alter their behaviours) as it is that husbands do it. It’s just that the women already do it (to a large extent anyway), so since that’s already in place, what’s needed for a happy marriage is that the husbands do the same.

      If I’m right, then this is a really important point, and (healthy!) shame on the journalists who didn’t make this clear. They make it sound like only men must accept influence and women should just boss them around, when the fact of the matter is that as of now most wives do accept influence, most husbands don’t, and those who don’t simply must start doing it too for their marriages to be happy. Portraying it like it’s a one sided thing (and the factually wrong side at that) makes it even harder for men to accept influence without being seen as henpecked, it makes it harder for women to assert themselves in legitimate ways without being seen as nagging overly demanding bitches, and it makes all the accomdation/accepting influence/willingly altering behaviours that most wives do a lot of the time invisble, like it doesn’t even exist, like the truth portrayed is almost the opposite of what actually goes on in 65% of marriages.

      Grrrrr.

      Like

      • marilyn says:

        Hi Donkey,

        Grrrrr! Indeed! I just posted a quote that explained the principle of COUVERTURE that was the basis of marriage in 18th century England. At that time women, upon marriage, ceased to exist as separate beings!!! So accepting influence was more than a requirement — it was codified in law as in–” husbands could not covenant with her, for the grant would suppose her separate existence , and to covenant with her , would be only to covenant with himself.”

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Donkey,
          Thank you for clarifying that women need to accept influence,too. And how the one-sided view can look like “hen-pecking”.
          Do you think gas-lighting is a defense against what is perceived as “hen- pecking”
          Here is a recent (and very short) email exchange I had, in summary.
          Me/ “So can you tell me what some of your core values are?…something about the importance of those aligning..”
          Answer: “Well, you don’t have to date a clone to be happy.
          Me: “Lol- no that’s not it at all :). Values just kind of indicate how you function in and what you want out of life.”
          Answer: “It sounds like someone needs a hug.”
          Ugh! Gas-lighting at its finest,no?
          Totally minimizes the question and sums it up that there is something wrong with me to ask.

          Is there a way to make a bid for influence that is less threatening?
          In the case above I am just glad to be part of these conversations, otherwise I would have just Lol’d my way into some magnificent frustration!

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        If I remember correctly the articles Terry Real describes about Gottman’s work were around the publication of his first general audience book The Seven Priniples … published in 1999.

        I agree with you that women often accept influence more readily for nature/nurture reasons and that ideally both partners need to know and practice accepting influence and healthy boundaries.

        The interesting thing about Gottman’s findings is that it matters if the husband accepts influence. It does not matter if the wife accepts influence. I don’t have a quote right now because I’m in my car but he highlighted how curious this was.

        If the husband accepts influence but the wife doesn’t the marriage can still be happy even though obviously not ideal. Hmmm.

        But if husband doesn’t accept influence but the wife does the marriage will not be happy.

        I will try and find the quote later. Obviously most women will go ahead and accept influence anyway but the data is very curious about why their need to is not critical.

        Any thoughts on that?

        Like

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        I agree Donkey that the way it’s portrayed is damaging in exactly that way! I can remember a thousand and one things I just accepted and changed in my thinking or my actions almost automatically. But my soon-to-be-ex seems to have not the slightest clue that was happening in the majority of cases when it was happening. I’m looking to learn and grow in knowing how to communicate my side of that when I’m doing it without turning it into a negative. One thing we did right to a certain extent was a little joke that developed between us that I still use with my daughters. Sometimes when one of us is basically just giving in on something we moments earlier thought we didn’t want to give on, we just stop and half joking say it explicitly…I am doing X for you. I’m doing it just because it’s for you. And I want points for it! Sometimes we say it with our hands cupped to receive our points. Usually the other person will laugh somewhat gratefully and say something like, “you are getting ALL the points!” It always bothers me to see societal examples where men act like doing the loving thing is somehow demeaning to them…or from women the same thing now because apparently it’s a movement to make women more like men and therefor less likely to be loving in that way. Sheesh. I believe there are good men out there but the idea that women should be more like men to assert our rights just kills me. I do NOT want to be more similar to men, least of all in faults like being less likely to accept influence and more likely to take that notion as a threat to me personally!

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          FSM,
          Fo-sho!
          Something happened where (mostly younger) women thought women’s rights and being = to men meant being LIKE men. Women that objectify men are seen as “modern women”-& I’m thinking “you’re missing the point…”

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Fromscratchmom,

        Glad you’re back in action. I missed your comments when you were gone.

        I love you point joke thing. That is hilarious!
        And actually quite helpful to make clear to the other person you are doing something for them. That gives them the chance to say, “wait I don’t want you to sacrifice for me on this issue”. It’s not important to me”.

        I wonder if that ever happened in your family. It has happened in my family recently as o am learning to be more open in asking if what I am doing is what they want and vice versa.

        I think the changes that women need to make are not becoming men but learning from men. Men and women tend to be good at different relationship skills.

        I think men could learn from women how to consider their actions effects on their families. To accept influence and sacrifice their needs sometimes in small everyday things that women often do naturally.

        I think women can learn from men how to consider their own needs. To think of what they need and practice good self care.

        I think men generally are better than women at naturally allowing themselves to do this without any guilt. Self care and boundaries are important to healthy individuals and families.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey, (posted in wrong thread before)

        Ok here’s the stuff from The Marriage Clinic (great book by the way, much more detailed for research than general public books)

        “Men who did not accept influence from their wives wound up divorced. The prediction rate was very good, 80% accuracy, and it did not work the other way around: Most of the women accepted influence from their husbands, and the acceptance predicted nothing.”

        So your point about most women already accepting influence is quite true. But it appears to not to matter unless the man also accepts influence.

        I couldn’t find a quote about a woman not accepting influence and her husband doing so. It does happen that way sometimes but it’s much, much more common the other way around since only 35% of men accept influence and a very high number of women do.

        The thing he talks about that we haven’t focused much on when talking about accepting influence is that men escalate the negativity in an argument and women either match or deescalate the negativity.

        If he says, “you’re not listening to me” she will apologize and say “please say it again I want to hear what you have to say.”

        But he will respond to “you’re not listening” with “Yes I was” or “I am always listening to you just go on and on.”

        This escalates the conflict and makes it very frustrating for the woman because she does not have her needs acknowledged or addressed.

        That increasing negativity and batting back her attempts to ask for change is not accepting influence.

        Women are more critical than men. Meaning they have harsh start ups to discussions that are “blaming”. This makes it hard for her husband to respond without being defensive.

        As I said in another post comment, the harshness stems in one experiment from her husband ignoring her during an earlier conversation. The harshness is a result on his not accepting influence.

        Since women initiate 80% of discussions looking for change (that’s emotional labor that personally drives me crazy!), their “soft” startup is important to help her husband accept her influence.

        The divorce pattern combines the two, harsh startup by the wife, not accepting influence by the husband. But if he accepts influence, the harshness goes away because it is a refraction of her frustration.

        That’s why his accepting influence is the critical piece. And if he doesn’t, her not adapting to it but instead setting boundaries to require him to.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Linbo/Hephizba:

        “Totally minimizes the question and sums it up that there is something wrong with me to ask.”

        Spot on!

        “Is there a way to make a bid for influence that is less threatening?
        In the case above I am just glad to be part of these conversations, otherwise I would have just Lol’d my way into some magnificent frustration!”

        Hmmm… There are no magic words that will make it so that people never minimize, so you can only do so much. Maybe as a response to his minimizing explain what you mean? Sometimes the words we use are foreign to other people (that doesn’t mean it’s ok for them to minimize, they could just ask what you mean), so it could be easier for them with some explanation. So maybe say something like “what I mean is….” and then describe your core values and how those translate to your everyday life and future plans? :) What do you think?

        Marilyn,
        “Grrrrr! Indeed!” Thanks for the empathy. ;) Ugh, the women cease to exist as seperate beings thing… I can’t even…. Ugh. No. No. No. No. I wrote you another comment regarding oneness further down, and I personally want to be very cautious with talk and thoughts about oneness. Compromising, adjusting, a higher form of unity, growth, humility, confronting our immaturity and selfish sides, all good and well. But anything that requires an individual (man or woman) to disappear is a no for me. I’ve also read some thoughts about intimacy that says that it actually requires two separate selves.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Donkey,
          You remembered Hephziba- awesome. LOL :)
          With my question about making a bid for influence, I was really thinking about in long term relationships/marriages. Not that particular instance. For me, I did try to explain what I meant by values and he didn’t see the importance, so it apparently WAS a moot point and not worth explaining further- lol :) (It kind of made me mad, because I stated pretty clearly the importance of values on my profile, and he didn’t even pay attention to that- but anyway..)

          I think Lisa’s account of women making a bid with less harshness answers it.

          However,It is one thing to start a conversation about an issue with empathy, kindness and gentleness, I think most of us do that, but it’s hard to keep all that empathy, kindness and gentleness when we are continuing to same conversation for the 100th time.
          There comes a point when our approach will become harsh. And, I don’t think it necessarily has to be the same conversation either.
          I definitely believe that there will be reactivity as we approach any other issue, because we believe the response, or lack of, will be the same. That of course will ramp up our emotions before the conversation even starts.

          Like

      • Donkey says:

        Hey Lisa!

        You said;
        “Men who did not accept influence from their wives wound up divorced. The prediction rate was very good, 80% accuracy, and it did not work the other way around: Most of the women accepted influence from their husbands, and the acceptance predicted nothing.”

        So your point about most women already accepting influence is quite true. But it appears to not to matter unless the man also accepts influence.

        I couldn’t find a quote about a woman not accepting influence and her husband doing so. It does happen that way sometimes but it’s much, much more common the other way around since only 35% of men accept influence and a very high number of women do”

        Yeah, it’s hard to really comment on what’s going on, because it’s not quite clear to me what’s going in.

        Is it that:
        1. Wives accepting influence doesn’t predict anything, because they do it to such a large extent? Kind of like, let’s say most men allow their wives to have a drivers licence kind of, so that allowance doesn’t predict anything?

        2. Whether or not wives accept influence or not influence the divorce rate.

        I have a hard time believing the second one. I would imagine at the very least the men in these marriages would be very unhappy. Or is it that the men just do what they want anyway, so it doesn’t matter if she accepts influence? That doesn’t seem completly possible either, because when two people live together, one person’s actions will affect the other one some of the time. Is it that women are, because of conditioning, automatically quite considerate, so even if she doesn’t accept influence, all in all, he still has it pretty good? Or is it that men are quite fine with giving in all the time?

        Again, I don’t know whether 1 or 2 is going on, and I can only speculate as to what’s going on if 2 is indeed the case.

        The point about men escalating negativity in converations/disagreement is important. Sadly, in my opinion, it just points to the general trend in most (65%) marriages. We can talk about harsh start ups all day long, but when the general deal is that the husband isn’t accepting her influence, isn’t investing in the quality of their friendship (interest in conversation) and escalates negativity in conversations and doesn’t allow her a fair hearing (but she does it for him), is it any wonder the woman has a negative tone when starting conversations? Everyone is responsible for their disrespect of course, but it gets very exhausting for a person to be the only one being respectful and moderate and meeting the other person’s needs.

        Do you know if there is any research that show the 65% of husbands who don’t easily accept influence do accept influence when his wife’s using a nice tone? I doubt it, because I imagine most wives start out nice, but then it’s the whoe she’s wrong to be bothered by this and so on.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        “Do you know if there is any research that show the 65% of husbands who don’t easily accept influence do accept influence when his wife’s using a nice tone? I doubt it, because I imagine most wives start out nice, but then it’s the whoe she’s wrong to be bothered by this and so on.”

        Yes, there is research on that. The ability of willingness to accept influence is on a continuum ranging from some studies with violent men who won’t agree with anything the wife says no matter how small.

        The wife’s start up matters most when paired with men who are farther down the continuum. They can accept her influence if she doesn’t trigger defensiveness with harshness.

        I have seen it in the comments on this blog. I have said many times that you are usually good at using soft start ups with people so that differences can be discussed without defensiveness.

        I am reading Jack Ito’s book Connecting Through Yes. Very good! Thanks for recommending.

        Something he says is so helpful to me and I think applies here. He talks about how in western cultures we default to a “debate style” of conversations.

        If someone says, “I love the Yankees” baseball team. We respond with “I love the Dodgers”. Instead of adding a sentence affirming what they said like “yeah, they have some great players”

        When we get into a discussion about something more heated it is important to have this soft startup skill of affirming the other person’s point if view to keep both sides from focusing on winning the argument as the goal.

        When the real goal should be to maintain a positive relationship so you can work together to find win win solutions.

        That’s my problem. I have a debate style. It causes me to have harsh startups or to respond too coldly or harshly even when the other person means well or just stating their opinion or version of facts.

        I say all that to say that it is totally true that harsh start ups are related to frustration that the husband hasn’t accepted influence.

        I think it is also true that harsh start ups and not accepting influence can be related to defaulting to a “debate style”. Not focusing on how your words and body language are affecting your partner.

        I am a woman who does not easily accept influence in this particular way. I think I am “right” and so I try and persuade him to agree with me. I am trying to learn to not focus on this. It’s friggin hard so I relate to men in how foreign it feels. How disempowering it feels.

        How disempowering it feels to have to focus on “being nice” rather than just focusing on who has the better logic or argument for who is right. I relate to a lot of men in this sense.

        His fear that he just has to “give in” to her emotions whether it makes sense to him or not. It feels very disempowering, accepting influence like this, that’s why it is equated to being henpecked and resisted I think.

        Because of all my gender issues, it helps me to think about it in cultural east vs west terms. In collective cultures, “saving face” is given priority over debating.

        Great effort is put into not making others lose face. Much less open dsagreement, more agreement. Saying yes whenever possible so that both sides keep their dignity.

        I am trying to view changing my “debating style” look for the thing I disagree with without acknowledging all the things I do agree with through a helping both sides save face and keep their dignity lens.

        I’m leaning in to that Eastern style because I tend WAY too much in the other direction. Other people might need to lean in the opposite direction towards speaking up to disagree more. It all depends where you start from.

        I got way too wordy on this comment so I’ll have to do another one for the rest of the Gottman stuff.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        You said “Is it that:
        1. Wives accepting influence doesn’t predict anything, because they do it to such a large extent? Kind of like, let’s say most men allow their wives to have a drivers licence kind of, so that allowance doesn’t predict anything?

        2. Whether or not wives accept influence or not influence the divorce rate.

        I have a hard time believing the second one. I would imagine at the very least the men in these marriages would be very unhappy. Or is it that the men just do what they want anyway, so it doesn’t matter if she accepts influence? That doesn’t seem completly possible either, because when two people live together, one person’s actions will affect the other one some of the time. Is it that women are, because of conditioning, automatically quite considerate, so even if she doesn’t accept influence, all in all, he still has it pretty good? Or is it that men are quite fine with giving in all the time?”

        Defintely number 1 is true. Most women already accept influence, the men are the variable piece.

        I think number 2 is also true. I couldn’t find a quote to back up my memory of hearing Gottman say (podcast, YouTube?) that there is no correlation with women accepting influence. It doesn’t affect the divorce rate.

        Assuming this is right, there could be a lot of reasons for it. There is the classic “yes dear” marriage where the woman calls the shots and the man doesn’t care enough about the details to be unhappy. My in-laws are like this.

        I think men are trained to be more avoidant and so can just escape into work or sports or video games or his workshop or whatever and just do his own thing enough to not be unhappy enough to divorce.

        There is research that implies that. Women in unhappy marriages get infectious diseases at a much higher rate than men. His rate only equalizes with hers when a “loneliness” factor is added.

        If you are avoidant and can auto regulate, you will be less unhappy in the same shitty marriage than an anxiously attached person. That may factor into how a man can auto regulate when married to a woman who doesn’t accept influence and be less unhappy.

        Another scenario might be husbands ceding entire sections of their life to his wife’s control. I see that in marriages too.

        She won’t accept his influence around the house or kids or inlaws or whatever so she just gives it all to her complete control. He just focuses on his areas of control like work or the garage or his hobbies.

        Just a few ideas, I think it mostly centers on it doesn’t matter as much if the wife accepts influence because the husband has the backup avoidant plan he is better trained to be ok with.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Lisa:

        Yeah, it makes sense that there would be a continuum. If you have more details on that, please share, I find it very interesting. :)

        It’s very interesting what you say about men’s avoidance strategies that allows them to be more ok in unhappy marriages. I guess partly it’s because women, like Linbo suggests further up, do more of the emotional labour, housework and all of that, so he doesn’t have to involve himself for it to get done somehow. And he isn’t socialized to care that much about family and marriage and home, so if she wants control over all of it, he can more easily give it. In addition to the emotional avoidance of drowning himself in hobbies, work. Ugh, doesn’t sound very pleasant.

        Do you know what the loneliness factor you mentioned consists of? Her having most of the control, him drowning himself in hobbies or work or whatever seems more than lonely enough for me, but I undertand something else must be going on aswell for the loneliness factor to come into play for him.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        The continuum thing is my wording but from the book I was reading last night, there are men who accept NO influence on any topic from their wives. They are very focused on being king of the house and their man card not being threatened in any way.

        But there are men that can accept influence in some areas but not others. How to deal with the children’s bedtime is ok but questioning his working late is not for example. I think because it threatens your sense of self to compromise in certain areas that vary by person.

        I have a lot of gender triggers where it is harder for me to accept influence than my husband for example. The whole dance mom buster club thing represents things to me that it doesn’t to him so accepting influence from the other dance parents is easier for him then me.

        On the continuum are men being able to accept influence with the right language and tone and body language. My husband used to be like this. It’s conditional on the presentation.

        Or other men can accept influence if it makes sense to them. If they can understand and empathize with the request. I put myself sadly in this category a lot of the time.

        These conditional accepting influence abilities are not enough for a happy relationship because everyone has things they need/want that just don’t make sense to the other person.

        In fact, sometimes things my husband needs like time alone when upset are the opposite of what works for me.

        And it’s impossible and exhausting to have to get the right tone, body language and soft startup all the time when discussing highly charged issues.

        Of course it’s important but a perfect presentatation should not be required before accepting influence.

        So only 35% of men really accept influence. Many of the 65% remaining have the ability to learn with the right boundaries put in place.

        I think women also do not accept influence in certain areas that are traditionally women’s domains or are somehow tied to their self image. We’ve talked before about maternal gatekeeping and wedding planning and home organization and decorating.

        There are a lot of studies about maternal gatekeeping. That is defintely an area where a lot of women resist their husbands influence.

        Lots of reasons for it like that she will be judged. But that is part of why men resist influence from their wives because they will be judged as whipped. He has fear of more global judgement that is defintely real.

        What about your experiences? Do you know relationships where you see a continuum of accepting influence or women not accepting influence?

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        You said “Do you know what the loneliness factor you mentioned consists of? Her having most of the control, him drowning himself in hobbies or work or whatever seems more than lonely enough for me, but I undertand something else must be going on aswell for the loneliness factor to come into play for him.”

        Loneliness is the final stage of Gottman’s Distance and Isolation Cascade.

        1. Flooding- being overwhelmed physically and mentally by the negative ways problems are processed as a couple.

        2. Problems Seen As Severe – they are caught in a dysfunctional cycle of interlocking sensitivities that seem inescapable.

        3. Best To Work Problems Our Alone – this is where an avoidant tendency starts to be an advantage over a anxious or secure person. They are simply better at being happy working things out alone.

        4. Parallel Lives – you avoid negativity by operating in completely different spheres. Getting your happiness as best you can from friends, work, kids, hobbies, alcohol or Doritos. Avoidants are better equipped to be less in happy in this stage.

        5. Loneliness – The final stage where affairs become much more likely. And where finally the avoidants become equally vulnerable to infectious diseases and unhappiness.

        I think the men who are shocked because their wives want a divorce ate auto regulated enough to be in stages 2, 3, or 4 while their wives have been in the final lonely stage for a while.

        If a woman is more avoidant she can find happiness in other things like work or kids or friends enough to stay in the earlier phases.

        But the more common pattern is for men for nature/nurture reasons to be more avoidant and auto regulated than the wife.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          That just makes me sad. : (
          I suppose both parties just try to cope until it’s not worth it anymore.
          THIS is why relationship skills are sooo essential.
          Empathy, being aware of your partners emotional state, accepting influence; clearly stating what your needs are and enforcing boundaries.
          Really, this is sad to think about, when it happens so often. Things just spiral out of control, nobody knows what to do, so they just keep doing the same thing. In the meantime they are losing so much of the good stuff! Being able to connect, laugh, share and enjoy each other- it goes out the window.
          …I don’t have any great insight into this, just my emo response. Which is this is just really, really sad.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo, you said. “That just makes me sad. : (
        I suppose both parties just try to cope until it’s not worth it anymore.
        THIS is why relationship skills are sooo essential.
        Empathy, being aware of your partners emotional state, accepting influence; clearly stating what your needs are and enforcing boundaries.
        Really, this is sad to think about, when it happens so often. Things just spiral out of control, nobody knows what to do, so they just keep doing the same thing. In the meantime they are losing so much of the good stuff! Being able to connect, laugh, share and enjoy each other- it goes out the window.
        …I don’t have any great insight into this, just my emo response. Which is this is just really, really sad.”

        It is sad and I think it applies to all kinds of relationships from parents, siblings, friends etc.

        It can even a modified version for work as one of Matt’s post about equating his wife’s feeling with his needs being ignored at work.

        But the good news is it can be reversed! It is not fatal and your destiny. If both sides understand what is happening and are willing to change, everything is fixable! Happiness and healing can be in the future.

        Sadly, sometimes only one person is willing and or able to change. So in those situations you can change yourself and set boundaries to be as healthy as possible with a realistic point of view.

        Still I can be happier knowing I’ve done the best I could to show myself and the other person respect and love.

        Like

  14. marilyn says:

    Lisa,

    You said, ” But its usually coming from a place of self preservation……” BY JOVE!! I think you’ve nailed it!!

    A lot of the maneuvers men use in difficult situations, I now see as “defensive” in nature.
    Like ‘stonewalling’ or dismissiveness, deflection and many others.

    I also remember that the “HEROES” of boyhood reminded everyone that men were “defenders of the weak” i.e. girls and women. Real heroes, real men did not “make women cry”. My grandson was particularly careful about how he expressed his anger toward the girls in his classroom at school. He wanted to be gallant and chivalrous, yet the little girls seemed determined to “make him lose his cool”. It took a lot of time, support and advice from his mother, father and male family friends to get him past these episodes.

    I hope the men who contribute here, will ‘weigh-in’ on this seemingly catch-22 inherent in the lives of many men.

    Like

  15. Fromscratchmom says:

    I find the it’s-a-state/legal-thing response fascinating as to why marriage matters. I’ve wished, for years, that the government would get out of the social engineering business. (Yes, I’ll be voting libertarian.) It’s both fascinating and horrifying how the government both advances and destroys the concept of marriage. For myself, as a religious person, I think if I ever got to a point to be willing to marry again I’d seriously consider hiring a lawyer to write a prenup to tell the state exactly what we were agreeing to which is very different than the pathetic state of our legal system and its attempts to justify and “fairly” regulate divorces that should never have happened. Our culture is just far too screwed up and fragmented to leave any stone unturned in exploring all of these concepts and insuring that myself and a future spouse are on the same page in understanding the real meaning behind making a sacred, lifelong commitment, entering into it consciously and determinedly, choosing at a specific moment in time to make it absolutely binding or choosing to walk away and not enter into any pretense or facsimile of that concept.

    But, yes, I think marriage is valuable and good and very much to be desired even if many people do abuse the concept and their chosen spouses. I’d far rather strive for and work towards the best rather than throwing the baby out with the bath-water!

    Like

    • fromscratchmom says:

      I wonder if I should have also included divorces from marriages that were never really marriages to begin with. I’ve been to wedding ceremonies where to people stood up and vowed to cohabitate for as long as they both continued to want to cohabitate. I’m not even joking. And sadly no matter how much hyperbole I might be tempted to add to emphasize the level of crazy and wrong of that, I don’t think that attitude going in is even all that uncommon.

      Like

      • Linbo says:

        Gosh, FSM-
        That says so much. Basically it says “I’ll be here until it no longer benefits me,…but hey- I’m going to be awesome enough to allow you to promise that too.”
        It becomes about “the mutual accommodation of self need.” Two people admit that they have a need of the other, but they aren’t willing to commit to the other. ..
        I guess that can work for a little while ( I guess that’s the point), but in the end- errr…I can see so much pain, anger and serious warping of psyches and emotions that can happen with that. That scores about a 10 yuck factor for me. YEP- Giving it a solid 10.
        It is really a very self serving way to view other people and relationships.

        Like

      • 'Becca says:

        The only thing I think is crazy and wrong about that is having a ceremony about it and calling it a marriage. I think it’s fine for people to agree to cohabit as long as they both want to cohabit. I lived with assorted housemates throughout my twenties, and it was a great arrangement. Some of those people are still good friends, and some have fallen out of touch, and I think both ways are acceptable. There is nothing crazy or wrong about agreeing that the living situation may be temporary, but it’s the right thing right now and you’ll re-evaluate as necessary.

        I never had a housemate who became my sexual partner after we were already living in the same house. But when I began living with my boyfriend (2 years into our relationship) we were moving into a housemate situation with 2 other people. He and I slept together, had sex, and tended to spend more time together and be more aware of each other’s “where are you and when will you be home” than the other housemates, but the exact specifics of those last two things took a while for us to work out–but we did work them out, by talking about what we each wanted and needed.

        20 years later, we still make lifestyle decisions based on what we each want and need. Sometimes that changes. If it ever changes such that we don’t want to cohabit anymore, then we’ll work that out. 20 years of experience has shown me that this is not a selfish or uncommitted way to live. True, we are not committed to maintaining a relationship between the two of us and only the two of us forever no matter how horrible it gets because we promised to do it forever. Instead, we are committed to working out what is best for both of us, for our children, and for the house we co-own. It’s all about cooperation and give-and-take and all the good stuff Matt talks about…and for us, it is easier to do this right, to think flexibly about how to solve our problems, because I’m not feeling like I have to be a Wife or feeling like I’m stuck with a Husband, and the reverse for him.

        Like

  16. marilyn says:

    Fromsctatchmom, Linbo, Lisa,

    On Matt’s other blog about reasons not to get married, I quoted from David Richo’s “How To Be An Adult in Relationships”.

    I’m not going to repeat it here, yet I do think one of the most helpful parts was Part Two: Struggles Along the Way– subheadings are: ‘Choosing A Partner, and AM I CUT OUT FOR CLOSE, INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS? ‘ Qualified Candidates, What Are We Up To? FULL DISCLOSURE: ( I snore loudly, drink exuberantly, work excessively, and my future is drawing to a close. But I am tall and Jewish and I do love you– David O. Selznick proposing to Irene Mayer).

    There are exercises to help find answers to the questions.

    Like

    • Linbo says:

      Marilyn,
      What I really love about that David Selznick quote was his admission “but…I do love you.”
      In spite of everything that has been said that says emotional love is not enough, I don’t think we can discount it’s purpose and power, either.
      My belief is that we are all cut out for close, intimate relationships (apart from psychopaths and severe narcissists) . Even if they “snore loudly, drink exuberantly, and work excessively”, the issue isn’t what behaviors they are demonstrating while they are outside of relationship (and I am inclined to say that this list is a list of what people do when they don’t know what else to do with themselves …apart maybe for snoring, and that can be a deal breaker depending on who you ask..:) , it matters what behaviors they display IN relationship. But even then- I don’t know if what is listed would be a deal breaker for everyone. ..
      The whole issue of learning relationship skills falls into this. Those are the behaviors you need to have in order to have a good relationship. That is why the “but I do love you” is important. You have to be willing to act on that emotion in relating to the person you love. Men need to be willing to “accept influence” ,as Lisa reminds us. They need to be willing to be empathetic, be willing to hear and concede to another persons viewpoint. Women need to be straight forward about what their needs are, and enforce their boundaries. These are some of the most fundamental relationship skills that are needed for a good relationship. And they are/can be learned. So the question shouldn’t be “Am I cut out for close intimate relationships” but “Am I willing to be in close intimate relationships.”- Am I willing to make efforts to make personal change, make efforts to build, make efforts to maintain a good relationship.
      A lot of times we don’t know what we are doing that sabotage’s relationships, and sometimes we just aren’t willing to change what we are doing.
      That’s why this blog exists, I am pretty sure. ..:)

      There are people who chose not to be in close/intimate relationships. But, I don’t think that is because they are not cut out for them, as much as it is that they don’t know how to have a good relationship or they don’t want to put forth effort into having a good relationship.

      Just some thoughts…

      Like

  17. fromscratchmom says:

    thanks for the book recommendation, Marilyn! I am compiling a list! ;)

    Like

  18. shannon says:

    WHAT LISA SAID! Sorry for yelling, I am just so excited! That – husband listening, me feeling I am getting a fair hearing with the purpose to solve issues, (be they tiny or big)=harshness dissipates, understanding reigns, husband catching onto knee jerk stuff he does. We are working our second big event of the season under this new understanding, and it is nothing less than amazing what a change it has made. It is as if we stopped being personal and put the project first, but the outcome has been more personal and emotionally rewarding, bringing us closer, much closer. A paradox. A beautiful, hard to explain, paradox.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. marilyn says:

    Fromscratchmom:

    FSM I don’t know if there ever will come a time when the government completely releases its stranglehold on the institution of marriage. It is so heavily invested in it, and has been for centuries that most of its supporters/architects would rather die a long, slow and painful death rather than give up control of its influence.

    This is a quote that describes the workings of English Common Law as it pertains to marriage in the 18th century.

    ” As it has been pithily expressed, husband and wife were ONE PERSON as far as the law was concerned, and that person was the HUSBAND. A married woman could not own property, sign legal documents, or enter into a contract, obtain an education against her husband’s wishes, or keep a salary for herself. If a wife was permitted to work, under the laws of COUVERTURE, she was required to relinquish her wages to the husband. By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law , that is, THE VERY BEING OR LEGAL STATUS OF THE WOMAN IS SUSPENDED DURING MARRIAGE. For this reason, a man cannot grant anything to his wife, or enter into covenant with her, for the grant would be to suppose HER SEPARATE EXISTENCE, and to covenant with her, would be only to covenant with himself…”

    To untangle the legal status of the wife under couverture has been an ongoing challenge/struggle — its last gasp not finally rendered until the feminist movement of the 60’s established the right of women to exist as human beings in their own right.

    Still there are some significant areas (reproductive rights) where the voices of men overpower those of women.

    Like

    • Fromscratchmom says:

      The funny thing is, I’m all in favor of husband and wife being “one.” The problems of the past have often been abuses of the concept by men. But the modern problem of rejection of the concept just changes old offensive problems for new and different problems that people currently find easy to ignore, justify or pretend cannot possibly be caused by what they are really caused by. There would be (and often are) great benefits that come from those couples and families who are doing it right. Viewing the family rather than the individual as the basic unit of society and keeping covenant with a spouse is an awesome thing. But we humans do manage to mangle even the best of things sometimes don’t we?

      Like

      • marilyn says:

        FSM,

        Sorry, I just don’t see how being “ONE” translates into being an effective partnership; I know there is need for acting in tandem sometimes, I don’t think it means that such situations should be the template that defines the marriage.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        *Donkey- Glad your back!
        FSM, I hate to go down the path of dooms-daying, but I can’t help but think “what happened?” Matt mentioned service being a part of marriage, but really when your dating the criteria that people are looking for is really self-serving. It really does seem like people are only interested in being “lovers of self”. But, this is even true in a lot of churches when they emphasize being “family oriented” all the time. What they mean is they are nuclear family oriented. There is a lot of good intention in it. They are trying to help marriages, but in trying to “protect” the marriage, most can’t comprehend having room to open their lives to others. In fact singles, especially women are seen as threats and are often left on the fringes. That is another reason why “family” in the broader sense is really important. …
        Even though I see there has been such an incredible social shift in the last 50-60 years, I still don’t like to be a dooms- dayer . That just means there is even more reason to be open, honest and loving to people who don’t see that a lot, and don’t know how to do that themselves.
        (I know you’re not dooms-daying, these are just some things I’ve been thinking… ; )

        Like

      • I’m with you, Scatchmom. English common law aside, I’m in favor of becoming one. It’s a wonderful marriage template, because it becomes sacrificial in nature, what is good for one is going to benefit the other.

        “THE VERY BEING OR LEGAL STATUS OF THE WOMAN IS SUSPENDED DURING MARRIAGE.”

        I guess I’m an old warrior because such words don’t frighten me anymore, they don’t cause outrage. Being a mom for 30 years, surviving marriage, they pretty much break your heart, they chew you up and spit you out, and your legal status, your “separate existence,” is pretty much just wiped out and erased. One problem in our society is that we seem to have forgotten that being a wife and mother really is a huge sacrifice, that it will cost you everything. We’re talking about preserving rights and protecting individuality and I’m kind of cackling hysterically from the gallows over here.

        From a religious perspective, that is about being one flesh. So men are to “love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” If you aren’t loving your wife, you aren’t loving yourself, and no law on the books or change in cultural direction will ever be able to protect women from that truth. You simply cannot legislate love. Men who love themselves will also love their wives.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        IB,
        Would it so be true that a man who loves his wife, loves himself? ;)
        I think you are absolutely right that being a wife and a mom is a for sure way to die to self, and one of the most rewarding in the end. Nobody sacrifices like a mom or dad for their children. :)

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Well I agree with the oneness idea and I also agree with Marilyn that women deserve full legal rights as individuals.

        Two work stories come to mind. I used to work for a cooperation that was run by two co-equal partners. They had areas of specialities but they made decisions together for the good of the whole company.

        The oneness was in their joint participation in making their company successful and the employees happy so they would do their best work.

        I think of marriage like that. Two fully equal individuals with their own gifts and interests working together in oneness for the good of the partnership and the children.

        The second story was from a pregnant coworker. Her husband had a sudden religious conversion and wanted to name their child an unusual name she didn’t like. The laws of the state gave HIM the right to name the child by default. Old stuff still left on the books.

        That was shocking to me since I am young enough that stories about women not being able to get their own loans and credit cards were history. But it was very recent really in history and we are still dealing with remnants of that stuff today.

        In attitudes like when we opened a joint bank account 3 years ago and the manager put my husband’s name and password on the account first. Without asking. WTF what year is this?

        I asked her to change the order since I handle the financial bank records and she said “oh you can just use you husbands name and password.” Uh no, this little lady would like to use her own name and password if you don’t mind.

        This way a major national bank and the person handling it was under 40. It’s really mind blowing how deeply entrenched this stuff is.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          That is a good analogy of “one-ness”.
          It’s not either losing their identity, it’s making unified choices, considering other points of view- since it effects more than just one individual.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Two work stories come to mind. I used to work for a PARTNERSHIP that was run by two co-equal partners. They had areas of specialities but they made decisions together for the good of the whole company.

        Curse autocorrect. Should be partnership.

        Like

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        IB, I find it really helpful to remember that the same word used to make man and wife into “one” in the certain scriptures is also used to make the father, the son, and the Holy Ghost into one God or godhead as some people say. It helps me understand both marriage and the “godhead”. Being unified in purpose is a wonderful thing to be a part of. I’ll just have to pick a trustworthy and godly man if I ever do decide to trust enough to do it again! The jury is still out on whether that will actually ever happen of course which makes sense at this stage, but I’m praying about every little aspect of what it would entail and how to only do so wiselyAND perhaps most importantly to become better at being good for all my loved ones and even for people in more casual relationships like co-workers. I figure I’m obviously not going to be better prepared if I’m not practicing relationship skills and learning and growing. Plus how much better does it end up feeling to lift others up and lend a hand when they need it than to be selfish most of the time?

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo you said:
        “That is a good analogy of “one-ness”.
        It’s not either losing their identity, it’s making unified choices, considering other points of view- since it effects more than just one individual.”

        What I am learning now is that there are different styles of being “one” while still maintaining a strong self. For example, my brother in law wants a LOT of togetherness in his marriage, I’m in the middle and my husband prefers more independence.

        All styles can work as long as you can agree and compromise on a way that stretches to meet both spouse’s needs.

        It’s a hard thing to balance and you have to make continual adjustments.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          I know the reality of marriage is a lot more difficult as it is being lived out. Or, at least I think I know it is. :)
          But, for me, I would rather live 10 years with people than 100 alone and isolated.

          Like

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        I am loving y’all’s examples of good partnerships to demonstrate “oneness”!

        Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      And I also think it is CRITICAL for the husband and wife to maintain their marriage separate from the family relationship with the children.

      And it is CRITICAL for both individuals to maintain differentiated selves apart from their spouses. Especially for women. That is what healthy boundaries is all about.

      Otherwise you get a lot of sad depressed codependent women who don’t know who they are or what they think of feel. I was just talking to one yesterday. It’s not healthy for the individual or the marriage.

      That is the mystery of marriage or parenting or family relationships. You are both one at the same time you are separate.

      Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa you said “That is the mystery of marriage,or parenting or family relationships. You are both one at the same time you are separate”

        I don’t claim to “get” this mystery, but I can’t help but think that being a part of the marriage/family does change who you are as an individual. It has to. And, I think that those changes can lean towards or away from unity. So, the more you as an individual are a part of the family, the family becomes a part of you. Sneaky, beautiful,intertwining of souls.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Marilyn, you said ” I just don’t see how being “one” translates into an effective partnership.”
        Errr..maybe I need to clarify my romantic language. …
        Maybe it would have been better to say “sneaky, beautiful, intertwining of lives.”
        It’s sneaky because when both/all are invested and involved in the family as a part of their life they may not recognize the significance it has over their own independent decision making. Beautiful- because , well, I think it is beautiful. Intertwining of lives because again- your life is linked to these other peoples. I’d like to think if effects more than just day to day events and chores, like plans for dinner. It effects your mood, your desires in life, how you see other people. On and on.
        We effect and affect one another, and the closer the relationship the deeper the affect is. That is the intertwining.

        I agree that there needs to be independent relationships between the spouses, and for the “family” to not just focus on the children. The marriage unit needs to be strong. I did read a few step-parenting books once upon a time that talked about this at length. But, I still think that the spouses need something larger than each other to also be a part of. At least that is true in my untested hypothetical perfect family. :)

        Like

  20. marilyn says:

    Hi Donkey,

    I forgot to add that the last remnants of the principles of couverture did not disappear from codified law here in America until the 1980’s.

    Like

  21. marilyn says:

    Lisa, insanitybytes22 and Linbo

    I am reluctant, to say the least, to accede the ground of the meaning of sacred marriage to the proponents of sacrificial “oneness”. There is an old saying that my grandfather was fond of repeating, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. There is abundant historical evidence that those who act the part of “THE ONE” seldom resist the temptation to extend/expand their territory/ sovereignty often by means less than ethical and/or loving.

    There is also the fact that what men determined, in the past, to be their “unalienable rights” were not granted to women. A war was fought to preserve these rights for all men and their male children. I am not sanguine about the ability/willingness of men to act as a collective to insure the blessings of liberty to those considered the “weaker sex.”

    I agree with Lisa that it is CRITICAL for both individuals to maintain differentiated selves apart from their spouses. ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN. That is what healthy boundaries is all about.

    It is indeed a mystery that two souls — acting sometimes in concert, other times as individuals can make such awe-inspiring music. There is something sacred about it.

    Like

  22. marilyn says:

    Linbo,

    You said,” Maybe it would have been better to say, ‘sneaky, beautiful, intertwining of lives’.

    I like it, it’s really appealing, I like its subtlety. Thanks for the clarification!

    Like

    • Donkey says:

      I like this definition of oneness. And I liked Lisa’s example of the work partnership. There’s both the individuals and the oneness.

      Here’s Steven Stosny on Psychology today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/201605/soaring-love-or-plodding-relationship)

      “Soaring love nurtures individual growth and relationship harmony, much as musicians help each other in a duet. They practice their own instruments as much as necessary to perform well as a unit. Only then do they fit their individual resonances together to accomplish something greater than they can on their own—harmony.”

      Everyone is allowed their own ideals of oneness in marriage of course, but this speaks to me. Two different instruments that are complete on their own, but that also together can create something beautiful and unified.

      Like

  23. marilyn says:

    HI Donkey,

    I love it! You said, “Everyone is allowed their own ideals of oneness in marriage of course, but this speaks to me. Two different instruments that are complete on their own, but that also together can create something beautiful and unified.”

    I would only add that it takes discipline and practice and joy, a sense of purpose, and an agreement on the path to take that will finally determine the quality of the music that is played. (Oh, I forgot, talent helps a lot!)

    Yea! I love music

    Like

  24. marilyn says:

    Lisa, Linbo, Donkey, Fromscratchmom, insanitybytes22, Drew, Travis and all who enter here!!!

    .
    The original question from Matt was, “Do We Need Marriage?”

    The comment and discussion here has been robust and enlightening, we have never- the- less wandered rather far-afield from where we intended to go. We are no closer to answering the difficult question about the need for marriage.

    To keep on track, to get close to the final destination do we need some guidelines to help us?
    Do we need to declare that only a “YES” or “NO” answer be allowed before we state our reasons? Will that help or hinder the discussion? The question lends itself to such subjective answers, maybe after 10 days of discussion, we should pause and take a vote.

    WHAT DO THE CANDLELIGHTERS SAY?

    Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Marilyn,

      The answer from me is yes. In similar terms to Churchill’s answer about democracy.

      “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

      Marriage is the worst way to commit to another person and the wotst way to raise children, except for all the others.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Donkey says:

      Hehe, I like Lisa’s answer,

      I’ve also noticed other thoughts here though, marriage with an expiration date so as to keep people striving to be decent partners, and at the same time I see thoughts about commitment without marriage not being as good or as functioning as marriage. And I don’t think anyone here wants to outlaw divorce either. You can stay together or leave for right or wrong reasons when you’re “just” cohabitating and when you’re legally married. It happens all the time. And personally, considering the other options, I think it’s the better option for people to leave relationships (married or not) when they’ve truly looked at themselves and grown and matured, but the other person just isn’t willing to hold up their end of the bargain (whether or not they’re aware of it). So I guess for me it really comes down to the commitment of the two people, both to stay together, and to work things out and grow and be decent partners. And that, in my opinion, is more an internal thing rather than an official thing. I’m thinking the piece of paper and the ring isn’t really the heart of it, because we all know those can’t make people grow up and be good and understanding partners, and the ring and the paper can’t stop people from leaving for whatever reasons either. The commitment and willingness of both people is at the heart of it, in my mind.

      Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        I agree with you that divorce is sometimes the best answer for a bad situation. And there are countries like Sweden where couples are committed and raise children together for decades without being married.

        My answer was a general answer for the US culture I am familiar with. Where marriage has become decoupled from raising children often to the children’s detriment. Where instability in families creates many problems passed from generation to generation.

        There are many non traditional families that can work quite well to raise children and/or couples live together happily. Yes!

        I am thinking more of the general pattern of what is best for large populations of people.

        Marriage is not a cure all. I don’t believe that.
        There are problems with it that need to be changed. Yes! Let’s start with a prenup committing to equal toilet cleaning :)

        But getting rid of it without replacing it with another form of stable family structure has resulted in worse options for large groups of people.

        Part of it has to do with income and education inequality. Marriages of college educated people who marry later than average have low divorce rates. Marriages of lower education people who marry young have much higher rates of divorce.

        And these are the populations who tend to not get married or whose children do not have father’s in their lives at higher rates.

        Same old reasons though men not accepting influence, women not setting boundaries. Just on steroids because of many other stressors.

        These are very complicated problems but I believe throwing out the commitment of marriage has resulted in things being made worse and adding new problems.

        Countries like Japan have low marriage rates because marriage has not changed very much there from a system that wasn’t so great for women. Many women make the choice to stay single rather than give up their freedoms to serve her mother in law and others. ;(

        I am curious what your experiences are in Europe with marriage? How is it experienced and defined in different counties you have visited it are familiar with? I know you don’t want to talk about where you live so generalities would be great if you’re willing.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Lisa, thanks for using your super powers to answer my questions (Im’ mostly talking about further up in the comment section here, but definitely a general thing too!). :)

        My experiences in Europe…. I see a general trend as to countries further north placing less of an importance on marriage (though still a lot of importance) relative to the countries in the south. Though it seems like the south is also catching on, for lack of a better phrase. But still a lot of individual differences of course, and I see very stable couples who aren’t married. Often they’re highly educated, middle class and so on. Sometimes they get married after many years together, though not always. Though definitely break ups in these kinds of couples too. More often than when people are married, I would say. But I’ve seen many divorces when people were married too.

        But marriage still holds an important place for many people. Although I know it doesn’t guarantee anything at all, I don’t think I would want to have children without being married. Although I know life doesn’t offer any guarantees, the thought of being a single parent terrifies me, though I’m sure that’s the better option in many cases. And the romantic in me would want a lifelong commitment, even though, again, I know it’s an internal thing and that marriage offers no guarantees.

        “Like Matt says: “Call it whatever you want. Marry or don’t marry. But in the end, we must learn to love”
        A lot of external factors need to happen for people to have good lifelong relationships (employment, decent housing etc), married or not, and a lot of internal factors need to happen aswell. A more emotionally healthy society, more true and internalized gender equality

        Further up Lisa, you asked:
        “What about your experiences? Do you know relationships where you see a continuum of accepting influence or women not accepting influence?”

        Hmmm… Yes, though I don’t have any particularly poignant examples to share. But I do know people, both men and women, who are easy to deal with and negotiate with in some areas but not in others. I guess most of us are like that, and we would do well to strive to rid ourselves of our blindspots. :)

        Like

  25. marilyn says:

    Hello All;

    I am a Libra — the perpetual “fence sitter extraordinaire” Yet, a few days ago I made up my mind. I vote “YES”. Because my brothers and sisters in the LBGT community need it, because my brothers and sisters there deserve it, because I want their children to be safe and secure in their homes and in their lives. Because it matters to them and their families, it matters to me.

    Lisa, I too love your answer. Carry on!!!!!

    Like

  26. marilyn says:

    To Everyone –” Food for thought”:

    “Marriage is a friendship recognized by the police” — Robert Louis Stevenson

    “A man can be happy with any woman so long as he does not love her” – Oscar Wilde

    “The first bond of society is marriage” – Cicero

    “There is no greater risk than marriage; but there is nothing happier than a happy marriage.”– Benjamin Disraeli, 1870

    “Of all the actions of a man’s life, his marriage does least concern other people. Yet, of all the actions of our life ’tis the most meddled with by other people” – John Selden, 1689

    Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Friedrich Nietzsche

      “By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher”. Socrates

      “Husbands, clean the damn toilets.” Lisa Gottman

      Like

  27. marilyn says:

    Lisa, Donkey, Linbo, FSM, Insanitybytes22 and all others who DARE TO ENTER HERE

    Lisa, thanks so much for “Husbands, clean the damn toilets” we needed a good laugh here.

    To all the others —trying to wade through the morass of definitions, motivations, behavior problems, gender specific attitudes, etc, etc. is now to me like volunteering to participate in a circular firing squad. I’m at the point of surrendering the field to those who actually KNOW what to do to fix the problems with the institution.

    I’m tired and I wanna go home!! My toilets stay clean because I’m divorced and my grandson is now living elsewhere. Even before he left, his aim had improved 100%.

    Like

    • Donkey says:

      Marilyn, I hope this doesn’t mean you won’t be stopping by here anymore? Though it’s your choice of course. :)

      Like

      • marilyn says:

        Hi Donkey,

        I was feeling a bit “worn around the edges” last night and missing my grandson. I shall be here for the foreseeable future.

        I KNOW THIS SOUNDS CORNY, yet I will say it anyway, I want us to be VICTORIOUS!!!! as in find some ideas/paths that lead to a future that includes some form of deep commitment between men and women that will honor our deepest needs, our most cherished dreams for our children and our individual
        gifts.

        I want that deep commitment to be available to all who feel love/marriage/sacred commitment/union is too great a mystery to be left for definition by guardians of the status quo and want to be a part of whatever liberates it from its love-killing dogmas.

        I especially want the warrior/poets to show up and tell us how we can support them in attaining VICTORY!!! YES, I AM PROBABLY DELUSIONAL!!!!

        I want us –formidable females– to be part of solution I hope the lessons of feminism are still viable in this new age

        I want love to be what we live every day. As hopeless as it seems, something in me refuses to give up the dream that it is possible..

        I want all of you who come here to keep the candles lit . You DO make a difference.

        Kisses and Kudos to all!!!

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Hi Marilyn,
          Good morning :).
          I appreciate your passion. I think everyone is a little delusional, so nothing strange there! :)
          I think we would all like to see changes for the better in marriage relationships, in how people see and treat each other, in what we teach our children.
          The best answer I am aware of is the fairly new adage “Be the change you want to see.”
          Every time you practice self compassion, every time you show someone else compassion, every time you accept your humanness it allows you to accept others humanness as well. Then maybe defenses (da- fences lol :) will drop and connection is easier.
          Every time you are kind to a stranger, every time you look someone in the eye and have compassion for them, you are reinforcing this in you, and hopefully in them.
          We’re all a little delusional because we believe this life is all about ourselves and about getting our wants/needs met. But we miss all the good that is happening for our neighbor, or the trouble we can help to bear.
          Just some thoughts. Nothing/no one is perfect. It takes practice,practice,practice.
          :) Hope you have a great day, Marilyn!!!

          Like

      • Donkey says:

        I want us to be victorious too! :)

        Like

  28. marilyn says:

    Hi Linbo and Donkey,

    Thanks Linbo for the large dose of much needed empathy and encouragement. Today is a better day; and Donkey I know you care. There is a little framed poster over the sink in my kitchen that says, “Grant me patience Lord, but HURRY.”

    One of my life’s most challenging needs/efforts is to rein-in the two year old within me who keeps screaming, ” I don’t care what you say I want it now!” Needless to say, that little voice has gotten me into some very sticky situations.

    I do forget that the change I want to see in the world begins with me.

    Again, thanks a lot.

    Like

    • Linbo says:

      We’re all working on it, Marilyn.
      Because you mentioned your 2 year old, I was reminded of some work a friend of mine does. I don’t want to push religion or any such thing, but if you are interested in a Jesus based way to healing yourself and the family/community you live in, and eventually, hopefully the larger society- Google “Faithwalking”. They are based in Houston, but I know they travel quite a bit and may have some offerings in your area. They do a lot of “vow” work. The things we told ourselves we will always or never do in order to protect ourselves. It’s good to have others around you who will process some of this stuff with you. Or, you can journal it on your own. I do that a lot for myself. Anyway- if they don’t have anything going on in your area, but you are interested I can see if I can give you a copy of the workbook.
      But, just so you know- we are all working towards not letting our 2 year old, 6 year old, 13 year old self run our life. It’s so easy to let them,though!! :)
      P.S.- I am taking a 2 hour drive and going to the beach, for no other reason than because I want to. Who-hoo, go me! :)

      Like

      • marilyn says:

        Linbo,

        Thanks for the suggestion about “faithwalking”. I do so much appreciate your concern I am respectfully declining your offer of the workbook.

        One of the reasons I have been so frazzled lately is because I have neglected my journaling — it has been a large part of my healing process for a long time. I MUST get back to it .

        Enjoy the beach!!!

        Like

    • Donkey says:

      “Grant me patience Lord, but HURRY!”
      Good one! I think you’re delightful Marilyn. :)

      Lovely Linbo, further up you explained you were talking about the bid for influence in a more general sense. Hmmmm….. Like Lisa has mentioned, Brent Atkinson thinks the best bet is standing up for yourself without making a big deal of the fact that you have to do it (at least at first). Easier said than done of course, I think that would require a lot of self confidence, self worth, a robust/healed nervous system and a lot of wisdom. And the road to all of this can be…long and arduous.

      Like

  29. Princess says:

    I feel like I don’t even want a marriage. After my husband died, I was shattered. Maybe that is the reason why I don’t want to marry anymore. I have a good career and I can take care of my 2 children. Am I crazy? Plus I’m still young (32)

    Like

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