Tag Archives: People

A Marriage Alternative: How Considering a Shift to Temporary Marriage Might Benefit Your Relationship

Temporary clock art

(Image/ART + marketing)

My brain and gut recoiled in disgust at the two words: Temporary Marriage.

They were hyperlinked in my email to an article I was certain I would disagree with—A Temporary Marriage Makes More Sense than Marriage for Life.

But then I read it.

I’m a lot a better at admitting when I’m wrong and checking my biases at the door today than I used to be, since doing it the other way is literally the reason me and so many others are divorced despite wishing we were not.

Whenever a philosophical conversation is happening about The Way Things Should Be (politics and religion, in a nutshell), there are two things to consider:

  1. The best idea in an ideal world under optimum conditions.
  2. The best idea based on its implications in the world we actually live in.

Which isn’t a small thing. The worst events and conditions in human history usually begin with two people or two groups with opposing opinions regarding this nebulous concept of The Way Things Should Be.

I was surprised at how unoffended I was by author Vicki Larson’s article championing the idea of temporary marriages.

Like a pro athlete’s contract. Something designed to last maybe two to five years, before the terms of the agreement are revisited and renegotiated.

A marital arrangement where neither the husband nor wife OWES their spouse any type of support emotionally, financially, or sexually beyond the length of the marriage contract if one or both of them should choose at that time to NOT renew their marriage agreement.

Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to the idea itself, and THEN, on top of that debate, there’s all the fine print no one is reading or paying attention to.

The Pros of Temporary Marriage

It’s not all bad.

People would never feel too trapped in a horrible marriage. People who WANTED to stay married would be more motivated to behave accordingly, and less inclined to take their spouse for granted.

People who are super-into variety and novelty would have it.

What people want in their 20s is often different than what they want in their 60s. A partner who is awesome while you’re in your 20s but who WON’T be awesome in your retirement years, won’t be an unpleasant surprise later. You’ll both see it coming and NOT renew your marriage contract once the time is up.

Shitty husbandry? At least the way I often characterize it? You’re in a contract year, fellas! Better play your ass off if you want to keep her!

Let’s not underestimate the power of deadlines and a fundamental shift in human psychology RE: positively impacting how people behave within their relationships and marriages.

I honestly believe a lot of measurable good would occur in a Temporary Marriage arrangement in which both married partners fully accepted the terms of the arrangement heading in, and WANTED them, and had the support of their families and social networks.

The Cons of Temporary Marriage

According to the most recent U.S. Census data I could find (2012), there are about 115 million households in the United States. A ‘household’ is defined as everyone (even just one person) living in a housing unit.

Of those 115 million households, more than 76 million of them are “Family households,” which doesn’t take into account people who USED to be in family households (divorced parents, widows/widowers, empty-nesters, etc.)

That’s the bureaucratic way of saying MANY people like to have sex and/or have babies and raise children.

There’s a debate to be had about the merits of reproducing little, ungrateful parasitic humans, but I’m totally glad we do. I’m in the Pro-Human Race Continuing to Exist camp, so it’s neat that babies are a thing. I’m happy I was born, so I’m grateful to my parents. And I’m the father of a rapidly growing little man in grade school and he is the center of my universe. I didn’t even know it was possible to love something the way I do my son.

It’s not a math equation. You can’t measure that. Parents don’t love OTHER children as much as their own children. Most parents would do UNTHINKABLE things to protect their kids, or in an effort to provide them a means of living a good life.

Larson barely mentions children in her article, saying only that the idea was INTENDED for people who did not have children, and planned on NOT having them.

I’m glad, too, because in my estimation, a “temporary marriage” could ONLY work effectively without the introduction of children to the equation.

One group of people won’t put a lot of stock in how children are impacted, because they don’t have any. Makes sense. Seems tone-deaf, but makes sense.

And the OTHER group will stop at nothing to protect their children.

Because of this, I don’t think this is a debate that’s ever going to gain much traction, culturally.

The Fine Print

Larson is proposing an idea. As someone who loves thinking about and proposing ideas that challenge the status quo, I’m inclined to cut Larson a little slack for glossing over the fine print in her short article. I’m sure she and co-author Susan Pease Gadoua go into much greater depth in their book The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels.

Here’s the fine print:

Statistically speaking (just in the United States, but these numbers hold up throughout most of the world), 95 out of 100 people will get married, or are planning to.

Why?

Because we all grow up—and even if our parents are divorced (mine were)—it seems like EVERY adult is married, or dating with the intention of getting married, and that all of our friends are planning to get married one day.

We all know someone in the 5 percent. The “I’m never getting married!” people. And what do we think of them—even if it’s bullshit and unfair? We think they’re weirdos. Or, that they’ll sell out and get married anyway (which is pretty common, because—95 percent).

We have that reaction for the same reason that I thought I was going to get all pissed off and self-righteous about this Temporary Marriage article and idea.

We BELIEVE THINGS. All of us. We believe things.

Sometimes what we believe is pretty innocuous, like which team will win the football game, or how many ‘S’s are in the name Mississippi, or who is responsible for leaving those presents under the Christmas tree on December 25.

Other times, what we believe carries more weight. You know—the scary stuff. God. Climate. War. Afterlife. The value of an unborn human. The value of people who live in other parts of the world. The value of people who don’t believe what we believe. The value of people who don’t look like us.

What we choose to do with THOSE beliefs determines the fate of the world on a macro scale, and on a micro scale, determines the fate of our personal lives.

I used to believe that everything I was taught and believed was TRUTH. All caps. Truth. And that anyone who believed other things was wrong.

You know who else uses that same logic to make important life decisions and justify doing or saying things that might hurt others? Mass murderers and terrorists.

When I finally realized that much too late into my adulthood, I pledged to stop.

Here’s why this is important to marriage—temporary or otherwise.

BILLIONS of people believe marriage is more than just a government-sponsored contract. They believe it’s SPIRITUAL. Divinely influenced by an all-powerful creator. By God, essentially, even though many of those people believe radically different things about God.

Various religious groups have been trying to convince OTHER religious groups that their beliefs are WRONG for—well—a really long time. Humans have only been writing things down for about 5,200 years, so it’s tough to know just how far back religious arguments between people or groups actually go, but I’m pretty sure in 5,200 years, there is no documented evidence of THAT practice working out well for all involved.

Don’t Be So Quick to Dismiss it Just Because it Looks Different

The concept of “temporary marriage” flies in the face of so-called “traditional marriage,” which is a trash term, but we all know what it means.

It’s a trash term because so few people honor what it ACTUALLY MEANS to enter a traditional marriage, and that includes myself back in 2004.

I was 25 years old. I was a moron. And worse, I was a moron who BELIEVED myself to be smart.

Those are the scariest people.

Here’s my quick and dirty take on marriage (leaving spirituality out of it, because that’s super-personal to everyone and well above my pay grade):

What people need to succeed in marriage is PHILOSOPHICAL ALIGNMENT. It helps to believe the same things, want the same things, share the same goals, and speak the same language. (Metaphorically, I mean – you need to be able to accurately interpret what the other person is saying to you. Most people suck at this, which is why couples always have the same fight.)

I think almost ANY belief system can work, but it’s so important in a life-long committed partnership that BOTH people share it. Differing beliefs create conflict. Conflict creates negative emotions. Negative emotions provoke shitty marriage behaviors and all-around bad feelings.

And then toxic marriage and/or divorce happens. All the traditionalism in the world can’t stop that from being true.

I don’t think “temporary marriage” is super-practical, but it’s damn sure a superior option to toxic marriage and divorce.

I’m not likely to become a “temporary marriage” advocate any time soon, but I think the POSITIVES of a mutually agreed-to temporary commitment to one’s life partner can’t be dismissed.

Because near as I can tell, THAT would solve so much of what I believe ails modern marriage.

So, I guess if you’re unable or unwilling to have children, and brave enough to tell everyone who thinks they know what’s best for you far more than you do to piss off, check it out.

Thinking and asking questions never hurt anyone who wasn’t being violently oppressed.

So think.

Ask questions.

And maybe stop doing things simply because someone without any skin in the game told you that you should.

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The Human Mosaic

mosaic tiles

“I love pizza.”

“I love pizza, too! It’s my favorite!”

“What’s your favorite kind?”

“Deep dish with white sauce and chicken, tomato and spinach!”

“Wait. What? That’s barely even pizza.”

“Of course it’s pizza. I get it from pizza makers. What’s your favorite kind?”

“Normal stuff! Pepperoni. Sausage. Mushroom. Extra cheese. Tomato sauce. New York-style crust, preferably.”

“Sausage? Thin crust? Gross!”

A couple of human beings with a shared passion. And still disagreeing.

One of the worst things about me is my ability to make people feel like I don’t respect them when my personal tastes differ from theirs.

It might even be why I’m not married anymore.

Because my perfectly intelligent wife couldn’t flip through TV stations and pause on 16 and Pregnant or some other morally bankrupt show without me making some snide comment about it that made her feel like I didn’t respect her.

Because everything I do is so smart and righteous!!! Excuse me while I drink too much and air hump something, puke in the bathroom, and play Grand Theft Auto V all morning while I recover from the hangover.

I’m such an asshole sometimes.

“I love music.”

“I love music, too! It’s my favorite!”

“What’s your favorite band?”

“I mostly listen to whatever is popular on the radio!”

“…”

“What!?”

“I love peanut butter.”

“I love peanut butter, too! It’s my favorite!”

“Crunchy or creamy?”

“Creamy, of course!”

“God.”

“I love wine.”

“I love wine, too! It’s my favorite! What’s your favorite kind?”

“I like many wines, but lean heavily toward dry reds.”

“Ohhh. You’re one of ‘those’! I like sweet wines!”

“Like boxed white zin?”

“Yes!”

“God.”

I wonder why it is that so many of us have so much trouble accepting that other people have radically different tastes and points of view, then embracing and acknowledging that it’s not only okay, but preferable to everyone liking the exact same things.

“I love God and want to go to heaven!”

“I love God and want to go to heaven, too! Also I’m gay and pro-choice.”

“Burn in hell, sinner.”

Why do we fight it? Politics? Is that why? The political arena is a useful place for healthy debate and exchanging ideas. But out here, where 99 percent of us live, why do we treat people like shit because they voted for the other guy in the last election?

If an asteroid was going to destroy the planet tomorrow, I wonder how many people would care about who voted for who.

“I love reading.”

“I love reading, too! It’s my favorite!”

“What do you like to read?”

“French poetry, biographies, and romance novels. Want to borrow a book?”

“…”

We’re all different. But we’re all the same, too. We all have different interests and passions and beliefs.

Many people like sports! But golf fans don’t have much to discuss with auto racing fans. Soccer fans don’t have much to discuss with baseball fans.

Many people like sex! But straight people don’t like the same things as gay people. And the things that make one person feel good can feel like a violation to another.

Many people love beer and movies and food and clothes and dancing and charitable causes and writing and pets and an infinite number of other things.

Hobbies and passions that unite massive amounts of people. Yet, even within those groups of common interests, there are people with radically different tastes and opinions about what is “right” or what is “best.”

People knew it was okay to enslave African people like property and treat them shitty.

People knew if they hijacked airplanes and flew them into buildings that they would die martyrs and be rewarded in heaven.

People knew the world was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth.

People knew Y2K was going to cripple the world’s infrastructure.

People knew Bill Cosby was a good man.

People know they’re right and people who disagree are wrong. The people who are wrong know they’re right.

Maybe nobody really knows anything. And maybe thinking we do is holding us back from being the best versions of ourselves.

Maybe creamy peanut butter is actually better than extra crunchy peanut butter.

Maybe popular music is actually awesome. After all, it’s popular!

Maybe people who don’t like craft beer actually still like beer.

Maybe people who prefer white pizza actually do qualify as pizza lovers.

Maybe we’re always just too close to the mosaic to see what everything really looks like from the big-picture perspective. To see why that piece is here and that piece is there. And why they’re all different shapes and sizes and colors.

Step back and look.

A little bit further.

There.

Beautiful.

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The Great Mosaic

Image courtesy of adot.com

Image courtesy of adot.com

Up close, it’s little more than chaos. When we’re in the thick of all the noise, buzzing around doing all those super-important tasks.

Money! Laundry! Groceries! Lawn care! Errands!

Buzz, buzz, buzzing around like bees, doing all this work on jobs that will never feel finished.

What are we doing? What are we looking at?

The Rat Race. Where so many of us are scrambling around to grab everything we can for ourselves. Mine, mine, mine.

Ever see Black Friday shoppers in a frenzy?

It’s like a frightening metaphor for how so many of us live.

It’s how I’ve often lived.

Me-first.

I used to think it was because I grew up as an only child. But maybe it’s just because I’m selfish.

Everywhere in nature not involving human beings, equilibrium is maintained because living organisms only consume what they need. Trees don’t soak up all the water and nutrients in the soil, depriving all other nearby plant life of what they need to live. The trees use exactly what they need to grow.

Lions hunt gazelles. After eating one, they don’t run around killing more.

But sometimes people do things like that. Needless metaphorical gazelle slaughter. We’re cruel to one another. We inflict pain. Lie to get ahead. Insult. Steal. Wound. Rape. Kill.

We do it because other people have different beliefs. Because they have different color skin. Because they live in other countries. Because they’re a different gender. Because they’re not as cool as we are. Because they’re weak.

Because we can.

I didn’t realize it, but the cultural story we all believe about ourselves is a story that’s only 10,000 years old. Humans have been around for 175,000 years. Life is 4 billion years old. So, 10,000 years is nothing. A relative blink.

We’re young. Young and stupid. Like when we were growing up, and we’d take toys from one another, and whisper secrets in the back of class about teachers and other students, or snicker in the halls at kids who knew they were being snickered at.

Up close, in the middle of all the shit, it feels chaotic and hopeless.

“There’s just so much ugly!” we say after watching the news. After driving through bad parts of towns and cities. After reading comments written by cowards on the internet.

But is there really? As a matter of percentage? If we really do the math?

I notice people holding doors open for one another. Smiling and exchanging pleasantries. Extending courtesies of all shapes and sizes.

The news doesn’t tell us about the people who donate their time and money at the local shelters and soup kitchens. Who band together to raise money for their friends’ cancer treatment. Who do immeasurable good.

The ugly gets a microphone and a video camera.

The beauty often gets ignored in the great mosaic.

We need to step back. It’s time.

Life’s Operating Manual

That’s the title of the interesting book I’m reading now. Author Tom Shadyac—an accomplished Hollywood filmmaker—asks readers to rethink many things. He asks a very thought-provoking question: Does life have an operating manual? A set of instructions, that if followed would see the world—and all its inhabitants—achieve an optimum state of being?

The gut reaction from many people—including, admittedly, me on some topics—will be to accuse Shadyac of being a dreamer. An idealist. Someone with a lot of interesting thoughts that are not necessarily executable because you could never get buy-in from enough people.

It would take a revolution.

Is this the world we want?

It would take an awakening.

Does the author ask the impossible?

I used to make fun of environmentalists.

I thought they were a bunch of namby-pamby liberal hippy morons.

When I was 21, I stood face to face with U.S. Vice President Al Gore in the summer of 2000 inside of the newsroom where I was working between my junior and senior years of college. He asked me about my career goals. I shook his hand, smiling, and answered his questions honestly, even though all of my goals have since changed.

I respected the vice president. I was polite. I try hard to treat everyone that way.

But in the back of my mind? I remember thinking his position on the environment bordered on lunacy.

This will not be a place where we spend much time discussing politics. But I do try to be transparent with you and it’s a topic I’ve mostly danced around. Intentionally.

Because I care about connecting with people. I think connecting with people is WAY more important than politics.

And political conversation, debates, arguments disconnect us.

I don’t want any part of that.

Because I respect you and want to talk to you no matter how much you agree or disagree with me. That’s the only way that makes sense to me. That’s the only way I can think of that gives us any chance of making the human experience a better one.

I have a mostly conservative and right-leaning political history. I was raised in that environment.

I’m politically moderate today. When I take those online political quizzes, I come out damn near dead center of the grid.

I’ve left behind the political ideals that stopped making sense to me based on my life experiences.

And I’ve gravitated left on some social issues, education and the environment as a result. All of those things have a very striking commonality to me.

They strike me as non-partisan issues. We politicize them so we can scream at each other on TV and radio and in internet forums and at political rallies and conventions. Our media accommodates because they like the ratings and the opportunity to help shape public opinion on editorial pages and via talking heads.

But the truth is, most sane people care about the general welfare of all people, an education system which functions effectively, and do not recklessly seek the planet’s destruction.

The vast majority of us don’t even think about it. How much has changed.

We were born into a world with highways and skyscrapers and infrastructure and where traveling the globe relatively safely are commonplace.

It’s what we know.

But not long ago, EVERYTHING was different.

Just 2,000 years ago—there were only 250 million people on the planet. Today, there are 317 million people in the United States alone, and more than 7 billion people worldwide.

It took 174,800 years of human life before there were a billion of us. It took 123 years to reach the second billion, 33 to reach the third and 15 to reach the fourth.

In about a dozen years, we’ll have 8 billion alive on earth.

The planet is filling up.

I’ll leave it to the experts and Chicken Littles to debate the health and sustainability of our planet’s natural resources. I’ll just listen to what makes sense to me and try to be part of whatever the solution is.

But I do think about all the people. As we continue to close in on one another. As our needs increase.

It’s going to become increasingly more important that we co-exist.

As the population increases, we need to make sure the beauty—the good—increases as well.

No Beginning, No End

We don’t have any hard edges. You and me. We’re mostly empty space. A whirling flock of subatomic particles dancing in the air, comingling with everything around us, including one another.

Our hearts have a measurable electromagnetic field it emits 10-15 feet from our bodies, causing our hearts to literally affect other peoples’ hearts.

At the risk of sounding like a namby-pamby liberal hippy moron, I’m really coming around to this idea of “oneness.”

That we’re all made from the same stuff.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

But not just with our planet.

But with one another.

I believe we are all intertwined. Connected.

That you are me. Sorry!

That I am you.

And that all those soft-edged particles of energy that make up our bodies, hearts, minds and souls can dance together if we can just take a step back from the chaos and see the big picture.

A change of perspective.

A step back from The Great Mosaic.

So instead of this…

cassini-wave-earth-detail

We see this.

wave_earth_mosaic_3

Happy Earth Day.

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How to Be a Man, Vol. 2

keep-calm-and-make-me-a-sandwich-52

It was about 5 a.m. this morning when I discovered a subgroup of people I seriously didn’t know existed.

The manosphere.

It was a comment from a reader on my An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4 post.

I think he was trying to be helpful.

“Man, you have to go and reinvent yourself… I am in the same situation. It gets better, if you do the work,” he said.

He dropped in a link and a suggestion: “Start here.”

So, I did. In the wee hours of the morning—knowing I’d pay for neglecting sleep later tonight, I dove headfirst into the rabbit hole.

I was introduced to psychological concepts like “hypergamy,” which is the theory that women instinctively want to discard their current partners when an opportunity arises to latch onto someone better.

Is that what my wife did?

I read all about the sex strategy of women, according to these guys—Alpha fucks, and Beta bucks. This is the theory that all women crave the comfort and stability of whipped men brainwashed by the rising tide of feminism into a “fem-centric,” safe, Beta-providing lifestyle. But they want to be fucked, on the side, like porn stars by large men with huge dicks and werewolf blood.

I am part of this emasculated, effeminate world, they’ll tell you. Plugged in to the feminist system. In metaphorical chains. Destined for a life of being taken advantage of, and abused by women.

Essentially, they will tell you: I am ignorant. I am a weak idealist. I am a fool.

The author of The Rational Male is clearly very intelligent. Educated. Well-read. A strong writer.

But is he wise?

I’m not sure yet. I must read more from him to get the entire scope of his philosophy. And I will.

But just between you and me? I value wisdom more than intelligence.

Men vs. Women

I have read way too little of this manosphere philosophy to offer any sort of major criticism or thoughtful rebuttal.

The following represents my uneducated gut reaction.

At first glance, it appears men who subscribe to this lifestyle measure life success on three things:

1. How many women they have sex with.

2. Never being tied down to a monogamous relationship doomed to fail because modern marriage is a societal construct that goes against the very nature of men and women’s genetic programming.

3. Having power and dominance over women.

If I had a candid conversation with any of these guys or even if they just read my quasi-tongue-in-cheek whining about never having sex, they’d all tell you it’s because I’m a big pussy. Wussified by my mother, and liberal, feminist brainwashing, and years of emasculating servitude to an ungrateful spouse who did exactly what all women are instinctively prone to do—trade up for the bigger, better deal when the opportunity arose.

I’ll say this. I err on the “side” of wives in my writing. In my opinions as they relate to male-female relationships.

But that doesn’t mean I think all men are worthless pigs, and all women, blameless victims.

There are a MILLION posts to be written on shitty wives.

But I’m not going to write them.

OWN. YOUR. SHIT.

I write my posts to “shitty husbands” because I believe in every individual accepting responsibility for his or her own actions.

I write about the need for men to serve their wives and families. I do that because I believe men have the most power to stem the tide of divorce by being what a husband is supposed to be.

That’s not to suggest the wife should sit around getting foot massages and fake tans while metaphorically castrated husbands run around saying: “Yes, princess. Of course, princess. Whatever you want, princess.”

Absolutely not.

Women are responsible for themselves. They are responsible for self reflecting, asking the difficult questions, and deriving reasonable conclusions as to the role they play in failing human relationships, same as men.

My job is to accept responsibility for my own actions and encourage everyone else to do the same.

I’m not going to sit here and point any more fingers at my ex-wife than I already have.

I’ve done plenty of That-bitch-ruined-me feeling sorry for myself.

She’s not a bitch. She’s a human being. Flawed. Mistake-prone. Unable to carry the weight of the world when the pressures and brokenness all become too much.

Just like me.

Just like you.

Life is not one-size-fits-all.

We don’t need advanced degrees in human ethology to recognize that all humans share some very striking physical and emotional commonalities. AND, that we’re all incredibly unique and diverse, as well.

To pigeonhole every man and woman into these silos seems incredibly over-simplistic.

It’s a battle for ultimate power, these guys will tell you. Us versus them.

Is that what we’re in, men and women? An epic power struggle between genders?

Am I supposed to look at every woman I meet as someone plotting to control me? As an enemy?

These manosphere philosophers seem to believe that very battle is being waged. And at least a few of them argue their points intelligently and succinctly.

I just have a little trouble latching on to such ideas. You know that smell? That reeking smell of rotting bullshit? That’s what I smell when I read some of this stuff.

So men should have power over women, you say?

Should white people have power over black people?

Should straight people have power over gay people?

Should rich people have power over poor people?

There’s an aura of macho elitism in much of this. And in their defense—like the guy who commented on my post this morning—I think they just want to help me. They want me to join their team because they believe that’s where true life satisfaction and happiness as a man lives.

A Different Kind of Tough

They’ll tell you I’m weak.

And don’t take this the wrong way, guys, because I’m not completely dismissing every facet of this manosphere philosophy until I’ve studied it much more (the author of The Rational Male, for example, has been married for 17 years and has children)—but, fuck you very much.

I don’t not have sex with women because I’m weak and can’t get any. I don’t have sex with anyone because I’m strong.

I believe in unconditional love. In choosing to love. In making the hard, difficult choices every day in the context of a committed monogamous relationship.

You think that’s easy to do? You think that’s weakness? Eat shit.

Because that’s HARD.

Walking the walk every day—striving to be the best version of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual self—is not for the weak.

You better be strong. Tough as nails. Every single day, forever. Because that’s what it takes.

My tough might not look like your tough.

You slept with three women last week. Running a scam. Pretending to be something you’re not. To perpetuate the lifestyle of cheap, throwaway relationships, designed solely to serve yourself.

Forgive me for failing to see the virtue in that.

I would gladly choose a lifetime of celibacy over treating human beings like things.

If you want to write that off as my inability to get laid, that’s your choice to make.

I believe in respecting myself. I’m attracted to people who respect themselves.

It’s not weak to respect women. To do it right actually takes enormous strength.

The Meaning of Life

I try so hard to keep theological conversation off these pages.

1. I don’t want to debate it.

2. I don’t want to tell people their beliefs are wrong, nor do I want people saying that to me.

3. I’ll never believe that words on a page will bring people to spiritual fulfillment. Spiritual fulfillment lives in prayer, meditation and taking action. Self-discovery.

To be part of the manosphere, it appears I would have to abandon every moral principle I possess.

Marriage is bullshit, they say. Committed relationships are for fools.

So we teach our sons, through both action and word that women are inferior beings designed to be subservient to our daily whims? To what? Not respect their mothers? Or any other girls in their lives?

And we teach our daughters, what? That they’re a lower-class of human being? That they need to find a dominant man to “game” them into bed before they tire of our daughters’ illogic and crazy emotion-driven behavior?

Here’s as preachy as you’re ever going to see me. Do with it what you will:

Keep telling yourself there are no such thing as souls. That life is meaningless.

That there are no consequences, in this life or the next, in living without moral restraint.

I do believe in God, and maybe I’ll write about why someday.

I subscribe to Christian principles when I’m not saying “fuck you very much.”

I don’t pretend to understand the mysteries of a world beyond our human experience. I don’t have any answers. I just know that trying to emulate Christ (NOT by judgmental assholes who call themselves Christians, but Christ himself), leads to making solid lifestyle decisions that involve loving each and every human being. In behaving in ways that set a wonderful example for our children. Our friends. Our neighbors. Our co-workers.

It doesn’t mean preaching on street corners, screaming at “sinners” and quoting bible verses all the time.

It means walking the difficult path. When people are watching. And when they’re not.

I’m HORRIBLE at this. But it’s what I strive for.

I don’t need to sell anyone on this, nor am I trying to. You’re going to do and believe what you want. And you SHOULD do that. Ask hard questions. Figure things out for yourself.

The truth will be revealed in the end, one way or another.

But living without restraint—without principles—leads to a poisoned soul. Darkness. Contamination. On the inside of us.

It robs us of peace. It robs us of fun. It robs us of love. It robs us of the best feeling we get to experience as human beings—happiness.

Do the wrong thing long enough, and you’re going to feel shitty. And I don’t want you to feel shitty.

So, maybe try something new.

Because many of you manosphere guys are going to wake up 75 and alone one day. And none of your “game” or selfishness is going to have gotten you anything of value.

You’ll be empty, and morally bankrupt.

Maybe—just maybe—you could try it my way instead.

1. Love yourself.

2. Be grateful for your life.

3. Love your partner unconditionally. Choose to love. It’s a decision. Not a feeling.

4. Serve something greater than yourself. On Earth, and spiritually.

5. Give more than you take in all of your relationships and feel the world return that unselfishness to you. Because it will.

Sure, your way will get you more sex with women who don’t care about you in the interim.

But my way? That will keep you from wanting to off yourself in retirement, when you’re empty, bitter and alone. When you’ll need all the “Game” you can muster to get that flaccid thing erect to try and work things out yourself.

Hopefully, there will be some Bones reruns playing for you on TV Land.

Because I’d hate to bump into you 30 years from now working behind the local deli counter.

I’ll walk in. You’ll immediately identify me as not being as manly as you. My pocket will be full of Beta bucks.

“What can I get for you, sir?” you’ll say.

And I’ll reply: “You can make me a sandwich.”

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In Defense of Men

Underneath his mask of apathy, he wants to be a hero. I promise.

Underneath his mask of apathy, he wants to be a hero. I promise.

Men aren’t so bad.

We lead nations. Win wars. Build skyscrapers.

We fix things. Protect things. Create things.

We are often calm. Rarely petty. Good problem solvers.

All men want to be heroes.

I’ve written a series of blog posts titled “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands.” There are four parts so far. I published Vol. 4 yesterday, and it is far and away the most-popular thing I’ve written.

Predictably, unhappy wives are drawn to it. It makes sense that they would be.

Marriage—or at least, relationship—trouble is unquestionably the human ailment that affects more adults than any other thing in the world.

And that makes sense, too. We are attracted to others. We find each other. Pair up. The honeymoon period is always awesome.

Then monotony sets in. And that’s when we learn about ourselves and our relationships.

That’s when we learn whether we’re going to let our feelings dictate our actions, or whether we’re going to let our decisions and resolve dictate them.

Many guys have commitment issues. When conversations involving “love” or “marriage” come up, lots of men run away.

I don’t like labels!” they might say.

I can’t explain this phenomenon. I can only share my experience.

I was afraid to commit to someone for the rest of my life, too. And then finally, I was in a relationship with my ex-wife, who I met when I was 18 and started dating when I was 21.

She was the first woman toward whom my fear of losing was greater than my fear of losing independence.

I proposed to her when I was 24. We were married a year later.

When men first get married, they have no idea what they’re doing. A small percentage of us figure it out and grow into the role. Most of us don’t. And we end up divorced, or with miserable wives.

When men first get married, they think they’re simply signing up for a permanent girlfriend. That what they’re experiencing in that moment is how it will always be. They’re simply agreeing to never have sex with anyone else again.

They don’t have any clue what is required of them to make a marriage work.

They stand in the reception line at their own wedding accepting little bits of marriage advice from the old timers walking through, smiling and nodding politely, and agreeing to always love and cherish her, but they’re not really listening.

They just want to go party with their friends.

The Ultimate Denial

It’s easy to point fingers at the dicks. The obvious dicks. The guys who physically abuse. The serial cheaters. The guys who go out with their friends and get drunk while their wives stay home raising children alone.

Men see guys like that and think: How bad can I really be!?!? At least I’m not like those losers. My wife is lucky to have me!

We’re in denial, you see.

Because we mean well. We have hearts. We care. We love. We are well-intentioned. We really, truly do love you more than anyone or anything else in the entire world. We would take a bullet for you. Run through fire for you.

You are why we go to work every day. In many instances, you are the very reason we live and breathe.

You give us something every man needs—purpose.

You validate our existence and give our lives meaning.

We feel this through every fiber of our being. Our brains are almost incapable of understanding how you don’t know it also.

Here’s why this is important: We—I shit you not—DON’T KNOW that we hurt you as badly and as deeply as we do.

They are accidental wounds.

I know what you’re thinking, ladies: “But Matt! I tell him over and over and over and over and over and over and over again! But nothing ever changes!”

You don’t want to hear this, but it’s true.

He thinks you’re crazy and overly emotional.

He thinks you’re crazy because he loves you more than anything and you’re suggesting that despite all of his sacrifices on behalf of your relationship, that he doesn’t.

He thinks you’re overly emotional because he’s a man. And men think that overly emotional = chemically imbalanced.

Men think calm is better than crazy.

Men think steadiness is better than overly emotional.

Men think the way they feel and experience the world is the way women feel and experience the world also, only women don’t handle it as calmly and coolly as they do. (I realize I’m making broad generalizations here. I understand there are always exceptions. But I do believe this covers most of us.)

When we love you more than anything and have mostly positive experiences with our friends. With our co-workers. With people we meet out in the world. With our other family members.

It’s nearly impossible for us to understand how we—the men who love you and swore off all others to be with you—can be your greatest source of pain and frustration.

It’s hurtful and discouraging to hear you say it.

And in the end, we don’t believe it. Because it doesn’t make sense to us.

It doesn’t make sense when everyone likes us except you. In our minds, you must be the problem.

Shame, Shame, Shame

The worst thing a woman can do to a man is make him feel ashamed.

In the end, all of the accusations, all of the sadness and hurt feelings wives report to their husbands, cause men to withdraw.

Women confuse this reaction with selfishness. With apathy. As a display of not loving a wife enough to validate her concerns.

It’s shame, ladies.

You have, probably without trying, just made your spouse feel inadequate. Like he’s not good enough.

He wakes up every day, goes to work to provide for you and any children that may exist. And all he wants is for you to feel proud of him. To respect him. To appreciate that he does this for you every day.

But you don’t feel proud of him. You feel like going to work is the bare minimum. You don’t respect him because you don’t feel like he respects you. You don’t appreciate him because he REALLY doesn’t appreciate how much of a load you carry.

In the end, he feels shame. Deep shame.

And all of the chemicals in his body—just as you have chemicals in yours—cause him to withdraw. Survival mechanism we inherited from our earliest ancestors.

Shame is at the root of most relationship problems. A silent relationship assassin.

And if I can sell unhappy wives on just one teeny, tiny thing, I hope I can sell you on the idea that you can help change your entire marriage by doing just ONE thing.

Always phrase your frustrations and fears in such a way that can’t be interpreted as: “You are the reason my life is shitty. I blame you for all of my problems. All that you do is not good enough.”

Because you simply can’t save your marriage communicating with him that way.

If you do, his shame will grow. He’ll withdraw further. And maybe that girl at the office that makes him feel sexy and brilliant and tells him so will poison your relationship even more, just as your fantasies about the other men in your life who don’t make you feel shitty like your husband does, poison it also.

I feel shame in ways I can’t articulate.

That I don’t make more money. That I’m not more attractive. That I’m not in better shape. That I’m not smarter. That I’m not funnier. That I couldn’t make the woman I love happy. That I have to tell people I’m divorced. That my five-year-old son has a fractured family because of my choices. That I don’t manage my life responsibly. That I procrastinate. That I do a poor job communicating with friends and family. That I’m selfish.

It’s darkness. On the inside. Potent darkness.

And it makes my daily pursuit of inner peace and happiness an incredible challenge.

Ladies, Men Are Not Your Enemy

Besides infidelity (which I believe happens mostly because people don’t know how to treat their spouses in the first place), the worst thing a man can do to a woman is abandon her emotionally.

I’m going to repeat this for any guys who might be reading.

Gentlemen, your greatest crime is leaving your wife alone in your relationship.

But Matt! I’m home every night! We have dinner together and sleep in the same bed every single night!”

She feels emotionally detached. I know you don’t understand that. It’s not your fault. You’re a guy. You won’t know what that feels like until she turns into Robot Spouse and completely shuts you out before starting her affair or leaving you. Please believe me when I tell you that you won’t like how that feels.

Being physically present isn’t the same as being emotionally and spiritually present.

Does this sound dumb to you? Like girl talk?

This is the difference between having a happy and satisfying life and marriage, and being a grumpy old man who lives sad and alone.

Basically, in terms of your time on Earth, this is the most-important lesson there is.

You need to treat your relationship with her as you would a project at work, as you would a strategy session on the football or battlefield, as you would any of the many problems you solve all the time. Because that’s what you are. A good problem solver.

And if she says your relationship is in trouble, I implore you to believe her. It’s so easy for you to believe everything is fine because your emotional needs are fewer than hers. So, you shrug her off. Everything’s fine! you tell her. Everything will work itself out! you tell yourself.

Everything WILL NOT work itself out.

FIFTY. PERCENT. DIVORCE. RATE.

You don’t think it’s going to be you. But it is. It is you.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Because you care. You DO love. She does matter to you.

Love your wife enough to admit you hurt her by accident. Believe her when she says it hurts. Then adjust. Adapt.

And ladies, I’m begging you to accept the truth that your husband loves you and—literally—is oblivious to the pain he causes. His chemical makeup prevents him from feeling what you feel, until he gets a taste of it himself.

I did. I got a heaping spoonful of it.

Changed my life.

But usually, once you go down that road, there’s no turning back.

I don’t know how to help you make him understand the pain he causes. To help you convince him to adjust his behavior in ways that will enhance and fortify your relationship.

I’d essentially be able to print money if I could solve that mystery.

But I do know this: You can be part of the solution. Part of this effort to make the world a better place by keeping families together.

And you can do so by believing the following:

  1. He loves you. Perhaps not how you want and need him to. But in his mind and heart, he loves you.
  2. He doesn’t understand that he hurts you. All the pain he’s causing is purely accidental. It’s NOT intentional. It doesn’t matter that you’ve told him 14 million times. You might as well have been speaking a foreign language. He doesn’t know. Please operate from that place when you’re talking to him, or about him.
  3. You can be part of changing your marriage and communication overnight by working REALLY hard at not making him feel ashamed. He doesn’t have any inadequacies that every other man on the planet doesn’t also have. Our DNA is all remarkably similar. Our shittiness just looks and feels different from guy to guy. But we all lack something.
  4. There is no human on the face of this Earth with whom you won’t have conflict. The hot guy at the coffee shop. The co-worker who flirts with you and makes you feel good. The guy writing on the Internet that really seems to understand how you feel. They are all human. Flawed. Selfish. Prone to mistakes. The grass is not greener over there. It’s not.

I believe in men.

We have exceptional guys in this world who don’t need help. And we have some guys that will never learn.

But the 90 percent in the middle?

They’re just human beings learning life lessons every day like the rest of us.

I don’t believe in unsolvable problems. And part of that reason is because I’m a man.

The man in your life probably doesn’t believe in unsolvable problems either.

Please fight for him.

Because underneath all that shame is a man who wants to do something heroic.

What’s a better story?

The one about the unhappy wife who ended up remarried to a divorced guy who’s only a better man because he experienced the agony of divorce also?

Or, the one about the unhappy wife who found a way to reach her husband? To touch his heart. His mind. And helped him grow. To become enlightened. Who watched him grow into the man she believed she was marrying in the first place.

The one about forgiveness. The one about redemption. The one about hope.

The one with the happy ending.

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