Dance With The One That Brung Ya

On “When She’s Just Waiting For The Hammer.”

Some basic framing for Phase Four of the MAP

(1) I expect you to have a good sexual relationship with me / I expect you to be attractive as you can.
(2) I expect you to hold up your end of the marriage and be productive as a good wife.
(3) Defeatist talk about our relationship is unacceptable. I expect you to support the relationship.
(4) As long as you do (1), (2) and (3) you will never need fear that I will leave you or cheat on you.
(5) I really do have strong feelings for you.

Reader:  Numbers 1 and 2 could be a deep blow to some wives. Number 1 might be hard for someone like OP’s wife to hear because she probably thinks that at 3x a week, they DO have a good sexual relationship or at least as good as she can manage. I wonder if these requirements will actually make her withdraw more but maybe that is the point(?). If she withdraws from the demands, he is free to leave?

Jennifer, since you imply you went through this, I wonder if you rolled up your sleeves and got to work on these things right away or did you have a period of shock and dismay where you withdrew before deciding to forge ahead?

Athol:  Okay…. I got to immediately question how (2) “Hold up your end of the relationship” is going to be a “deep blow to some wives”?  If that’s a deep blow to a wife, the husband is probably going to be well rid of her.

Circling back to the original post though, the husband was hotter than the wife, and the wife was already questioning him as to when he was going to pull the rug out from under her feet and divorce her to be with someone else younger and hotter.

What you have to understand is that those five points in the frame, aren’t actually increasing the threat level to the wife. She’s already imagining much worse than that and just waiting for it to happen. What that frame actually does is reassure her that there are objective and fair levels of behavior she can realistically perform, and she won’t be dumped even if there is someone younger and hotter available to her husband.

Or put another way. If you stick to your vows, I’ll stick to mine.

Part of what caused me to stumble into the realm of Game was the desire to seduce a particular someone else a few years back. It eventually became obvious that I would likely succeed in that goal if I wanted to advance things, and if not with her, with other women if I wanted to. However in fairness to Jennifer I had to admit that she was being quite sexual with me, was basically being just fine as a wife and mother, and generally still excited about being married to me. Cheating on her would genuinely make me the bad guy. So I didn’t. I also don’t toe punt kittens.

Which is not to say that was anything other than a confusing, awkward and painful time for the both of us. We’d had well over a decade of peaceful bliss together, and I went a bit Batshit Crazy on Jennifer aka Mid-Life Crisis and we came out the other side intact. In no small part MMSL is a happy side effect of that period. Jennifer and I are happier than we’ve ever been.

So ultimately I think our agreement together runs along those lines in the frame. Jennifer is being a great wife and I’ve got a healthy dose of “Pikachu I choose you!” running through my veins as well.

Jennifer:  Points 1-4 are kind of the blueprint of Athol’s marriage expectations of me.  I’ve never been “surprised” by him springing them on me…I know that’s what he expects.  My expectations of him are very similar, with the addition of one that says “I expect you to be a good father and pay attention to the children”, and the part about being a good wife changed to being a good husband, which includes holding down a job and not making me a Star Wars: The Old Republic widow.


  1. Ian Ironwood says:

    Oh, man, Athol, you play SWOR? How is it? Better than SWG? Dying to know . . .

  2. Ian Ironwood says:

    Also, your analysis is spot on, as usual. If both parties understand the Red Pill rules (as opposed to the traditional 'till-death-to-us-part-only-not-really)of the engagement, you have a lot less problems. Ideally the OP should leverage his higher SR against her low self-esteem, guiding her away from self-deprecating behavior and language and towards a more positive outlook on the marriage.

    That would take a firm hand and a lot of patience, but it could be done. It won't be done by letting his wife linger in her comfort zone indefinitely, or using this as an excuse to plunge into a lot of attention-getting despair. Letting her know his explicit expectations, and in turn what she can explicitly expect in return, and then rigorously enforcing that is the best route to a better place. He needs to start Captaining actively.

    That's different than just "being Captain". It's one thing to establish rules and order in the relationship and enforce them. It's another to use your establishment of order to encourage your wife to change her behavior by challenging her and holding her to account. There are a lot of different ways to do this, depending on how you run your relationship. But reassuring her of your commitment on the one hand and pushing her to not just honor hers, but rise to the challenge is going to take an artful hand.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This comment/question is more for Jennifer, if you don't mind.

    I am really curious as to how she handled your mid-life crisis. Like you two, my husband went through a rough "bat shit" crazy period and I really thought he might leave. It was nothing to do with me personally as we were good in all areas of our marriage. He just didn't feel "satisfied" in life in general anymore. He started going out with friends and even having some mildly inappropriate relationships with a few ladies from work (emotional not physical). I tried to give him his space but holy shit it killed me. Previous to this incident I was just head over hills for that man and he had every piece of me. We got through that period of time and things are fabulous now but a piece of me continues to hold on to that memory. I can't fully give myself over to him (I want to, I just don't know how). I feel like if I ever let him back in like he once was, that I could just have my heart ripped out again. On the other hand I hate not having what we once did. Any advice?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Have you ever told him what his mid-life crisis did to you? Not in a judgemental, shrew-ish way (which some people do) but in a "I need you to know this, and I need a promise that, if I hold my end of the bargain up, you won't do that to me again."

    No one, male or female, can be expected to read minds. Just explain it to him – the internet is not the best place.

  5. Jen aka The Wife says:

    For us, when he had his "midlife crisis", what he needed was for me to step up and say, "cut it out! You're mine, I'm not letting you do crazy shit, so get your act together!". I'm not real good at that, so it was very hard for me to be "confrontational" like that and make it strongly clear to him that this was not acceptable.

    Once I did, he reacted well to it and we were back on track. It helped that he was very apologetic, and that nothing physical ever happened…and that I understand that this is in a way "normal", even if it's not acceptable to me in my marriage.

    I did have occasional flashes of "oh no, what if it's happening again" for a year afterward, but you eventually have to just trust. He also offered multiple times to let me review his text history, read his emails from work and home, etc. so there was full disclosure whenever I was nervous for any reason.

  6. Athol Kay says:

    Never played SWG, just WOW as an MMO.

    There's an obvious WOW influence in SW:TOR, and a little bit of an adjustment to be made after eight years of WOW, but seems slightly less complex gameplay.

    That being said the storyline experience is utterly vast. Quite amazing.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Anon 9:37pm…That is my question, too. 4 and 5 are what you promise when you get married. So, if you are doing 1, 2, and 3 and he goes through a period where he becomes infatuated with another woman (women), what do you do? The marriage recovers, but how do you put your heart out there, knowing that biology/circumstances willing, he could do it again? After all, he promised he wouldn't when he married you and he is promising again, that he won't. How do you learn to trust once the trust has been broken? How do you fully give yourself to someone you don't fully have faith in? As first officer, you have the welfare of the ship and passengers (marriage and kids) to consider, and are always on high alert, fearing the captain will steer towards the next iceberg, rather than away for the good of the ship, crew and passengers. It is a less than comfortable way to live, but less painful than being blindsided again. It is as though if I keep that part of me back, he can't hurt me as much if he strays again. I love him and miss what we had, but just can't get back to that place where I had belief in his word.
    Jennifer, how did you get over the first episode of bat shit crazy? Any advice for those of us having difficulty restoring the trust? What would you do if Athol goes bat shit crazy again? Your world must be changing with the publicity for the books and the success of the blog. Do you worry about his exposure to the temptations he will be faced with? Do you have absolute faith nothing will happen? Is there a line in the sand that if crossed, will sink the ship?


  8. Anonymous says:


    There are a lot of books out there about recovering from infidelity, but IMO the best ones are by M. Gary Neumann.

    But if you have run your own MAP and are getting hit on by other guys because you're happy and fun to be around, I would consider the circumstances of why you got married in the first place. If you got hitched because you got pregnant or because of family pressure, or because you'd already been dating for 5 years, the marriage isn't based on love but obligation. So it's easy to see why he's torn because he finally did find someone else to fall in love with.

  9. Ian Ironwood says:

    I've studied a fair amount about the male mid-life crisis, and even gone through something like Athol describes. It might be helpful to explain a few things.

    Some men go through a deep psychological component– depression, introspection, brooding — which most often involves their relationship to their father (or lack thereof). The closer the relationship, the less pronounced this aspect often is. YMMV.

    But the sexual component . . . think of it as Evolution's reward for living too long. In the Time Before Writing (and Muffins) men usually died before they were 35. Surviving past that age made his genes that much more valuable to the over-all gene pool. If he did live that long he probably had already built a family unit and reproduced while he was young. And by 35 his early-life mate was likely past her own prime reproductive years.

    So Evolution gave him an additional shot of testosterone to enliven him and encourage him to go out and double-dip his wick with a younger model. Hence the tendency for men in their 40s to suddenly become health-conscious and more competitive. Sure, fear of death and age is part of the equation, but there is definitely a primal drive that makes you want to nail everything in a skirt — even worse than the normal Buzz. I'm not excusing inappropriate behavior, merely providing context for understanding it.

    When it hit me, even though I had a decent marriage I did not feel appreciated by my wife. I didn't understand Game back then, of course, but I was struggling my way through it. Nor did I come close to having a physical affair, but the allure was certainly powerful. I was far more sensitive, my own Rationalization Hamster was going at full speed, and I had highly conflicting emotions.

    How'd I get through it? I told Mrs. Ironwood that I was going through a difficult time, that I appreciated her understanding about my moodiness, that I felt unappreciated and secondary in our relationship, and that it would be terribly helpful and productive of her if she was to start putting out like a fiend to distract me from all of that.

    Once she realized that I was serious, that I was really worked up about this, she decided that a lot more sex (however inconvenient for her) was a pretty low price to pay to ensure domestic harmony. I didn't demand it, I just told her it would be helpful, and she agreed. So for the last few years, if I've felt too much pressure building up in that direction, she helps me handle it without (usually) judging me for it. Yes, it's a pain in the ass for her sometimes, but it's far preferable to worrying about her husband straying.

    I do have to admit that the allure of a mistress for me was the validation sex brings, not an attraction to glamour that some men feel. Once you've worked in porn a few years, it's hard to look at a “7” at the gym and not think "You know, I've seen better boobs . . . today." The other up-side of my job was that I understood and could fulfill my need for novelty without straying. I just wanted to have sex with my wife. A lot.

    For me, like for Athol, honesty and communication were key to getting through that difficult period, but it was only with the understanding of Mrs. Ironwood that I did. Had she been less open to hear me, or had she been more concerned for appearances or her independence or anything other than "my husband needs me!" the outcome may have been different.

    Do I feel guilty about my desire to stray? No, but I was lucky in a lot of ways. If your man went through this dangerous time, understand that it wasn't an inherent character flaw, it was Evolution's dubious reward for his fitness. And in turn, hopefully he will extend to you the same understanding as you go through menopause. The two are similar stages of life, with different presentations, but both need the understanding of your spouse if your marriage is to cope with it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    You had your Mid-Life Crisis, even though Jennifer was "being quite sexual with me, was basically being just fine as a wife and mother, and generally still excited about being married to me."

    What did Game bring to the relationship that you didn't already have pre-MLC, if Jennifer was already all those things? What difference did it make to both of you?

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is what I appreciate about the conversations here at MMSL.

    At so many other Game blogs, if a woman were to describe going through the emotions that Ian describes, commenters would accuse her of saying "I'm not haaaaaaaaappy" and blame radical feminism.

    But here, we can have frank conversations about how men *and* women reach a fatigue point in their marriage for whatever reason, how to help their partner address and cope with it, and how to repair the relationship with understanding rather than blame.

    Keep up the good work, Athol!

  12. Anonymous says:

    If he cheats then you should just move on. There are plenty of men who wouldn't have affairs, emotional or physical. Why stay with a man who would. Cheating is a sign of a serious character flaw, and ladies most of the time a man would not tolerate that particular flaw in you.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Ian, so maybe what you're saying is that a promise made by a man in his 40s is pretty dang solid. At least, that's how I read this.

    Both men and women do stupid stuff in their 20s and 30s. My ex-MIL told me (incorrectly) that we come into our own in our 30s and settle down. My 30s were the worst!! And because of it, i'm spending the first part of my 40s picking up the pieces. Good thing is that i've learned how to be honest with myself.

    Go aging!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Jen, did you actually review his txts/emails? Did it give you any satisfaction at all? I mean, my husband has three unused cellphones that could easily be activated without me ever knowing it.

    I mean, it seems like just the offer is enough, or checking would give you false hope, anyway.

  15. I disagree that "cheating is a sign of a serious character flaw". I'm no longer married and I didn't cheat. But, I know men and women right now who struggle with really bad marriages who do cheat; feel horrible and guilty for it and stay in bad marriages out of obligation even when their spouse isn't fulfilling # 1 and 2 of above post. Is is a greater character flaw to cheat or to withhold sex from your spouse? Culturally cheating is a BIG bad one. People can see evidence of it or get caught. Withholding spouses NEVER get caught. I am a lot less judegmental now when I find out someone has cheated. No amount of "game" makes someone responsible and hold up their end of a marriage. Athol? Do you think you can change an inherently lazy (physically, emotionally) person with "game?"

  16. Anonymous says:

    I think that withholding sex and cheating are violations of wedding vows. Both spouses are at fault. Both are probably emotionally damaged from the other's actions, too.

    That said, I think most women who stay with philanderers are scared to death of venturing out on their own, especially if they are a SAHM. If they have no college degree or past work experience, they're really screwed in this job market. And judges expect women to find work if they're under 50 (the horrors!).

    Fear, insecurity, laziness, sky-high attorney fees, worries over money; all reasons/excuses to cover for him and stay.

    And don't you know it? The husband knows she's so desperate to stay married that he can get away with it over and over and over…


  17. Athol Kay says:

    Jen, did you actually review his txts/emails? Did it give you any satisfaction at all?

    Jen says she didn't look, but very much appreciated that I was aware of her concern and was being open about things. "Which isn't to say that I wouldn't have looked if I thought you were pulling further away."

    She can still get into anything she wants to as well.

  18. Athol Kay says:

    We were having an "Unconsciously Happy" marriage, then went into flux, and now have a "Consciously Happy" marriage.

    I think Game explained a great deal of what was going on at the time, and understanding is three-quarters of the way to forgiveness.

    Plus now we better know what turns each other on and the transition further into a Captain and First Officer relationship has been good for both of us. We're happier now than before and a more productive couple as well.

  19. Athol Kay says:

    Jennifer, how did you get over the first episode of bat shit crazy? Any advice for those of us having difficulty restoring the trust? What would you do if Athol goes bat shit crazy again? Your world must be changing with the publicity for the books and the success of the blog. Do you worry about his exposure to the temptations he will be faced with? Do you have absolute faith nothing will happen? Is there a line in the sand that if crossed, will sink the ship?

    Actually I'm totally pigeon-holed by the blog and books. If I ever cheat on Jennifer it will eventually get out and not only will my marriage suffer greatly, I believe 95% of my loyal readers will turn into angry trolls 0.2 seconds after they learn about it.

    Also all it would take for Jennifer to sink me is cheating on me, or even just casually mentioning that the sex isn't that great. So I must always stay in her good graces too.

    In terms of at the time Jennifer learned what was going on, it was because I told her. So as crappy a moment as it was for her, it was relief in a sense and the begining of the end of my attachment to the OW.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Ahhhh… Ok, so you continue to share passwords. That *does* tell me that it's over.

    Doesn't keep you fromm starting new accounts, but, I see the key here as that feeling of pulling away. She very much knows what that looks like. Hm. That's the upshot of having lived through the MLC with you.

    Thanks for answering that.

  21. Cheating is a symptom, not the problem. Sometimes the problem is lack of character, sometimes neglect, perhaps lack of communication or understanding.

    I don't believe cheating is ever the right answer and certainly makes a situation worse, but I can understand how one can get to that point.

    My guy hasn't cheated, but he won't close the door completely on his ex. It was a serious relationship, one she left and very nastily too. I've never felt threatened by any woman the entire time we've been together, but I am with her. It feels like a dark could hanging over my head. Sometimes I wish he would just cheat and be done with it or leave her alone.

  22. Athol Kay says:

    Oh and we're GPS tagged on each others phones as well. Which would be creepy if we didn't love each other lol.

  23. Anonymous says:

    What was going on at the time with you? What did Game provide as a framework in terms of answers that you didn't know before? (Forgive me if you've already written about this previously…)

    If Jennifer was basically just being fine as wife and lover, what was missing? Ian didn't feel appreciated and was secondary in his marriage…was it the same for you?

  24. Athol Kay says:

    Mid-life crisis = subconscious desire for more children + spouse that isn't going to help/be a good match/to old for having kids.

    Jennifer didn't want more kids, mentally I didn't want more kids, but I could pull interest from younger women.

    Realizing what was going on inside me was extremely helpful and the Game / evo psych stuff was very helpful for that.

    To a lesser extent I didn't feel Jennifer admired me due to my career choices and income and someone else did. That's pretty hard to not enjoy when you get it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    "I expect you to be attractive as you can."

    How long should one give their spouse to lose 60-80 extra pounds?

    Do you call them on their lack of effort, even though they say they are trying really really really hard to lose weight and are working out really really really hard? Even by "really hard" they are still pretty much eating the same and still only exercising 1 or 2 times a week for a few weeks and then zero for a week.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Hm. Ok, so I can't imagine asking my husband if I can track him via gps. Then again, he hasn't strayed. And you didn't, technically, either. My ex had me tagged without me knowing it. But I should have had him tagged, apparently.

    I'm struggling with how to protect myself after being cheated on, vs. trusting this new person who has zero track record of being unfaithful to *me*.

    I need to learn to put this to rest. GPS tagging isn't going to ease my mind in this case. Learning to trust will.

    Thanks, again, Athol.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I have GOT to get my husband to read this stuff. Somehow. I'm in hell right now; he loves me, probably too much, and that is both not enough and too much. Suddenly I see why. The inability to make a freaking decision, even over the seemingly simplest things, the excess forty, fifty pounds, the directionlessness in his career… I've tried to be supportive and properly subordinate but it's like that just makes it worse. Nagging would only make things SO much worse so I don't. But the attraction is disappearing, FAST. I am actively holding my tongue! Oh, and the baby-talk. Look, once in awhile is ok but it's like that's his default mode when talking to me now. It is embarrassing.

    I mean, 15-20 lbs over, I can overlook, sure. I'm not looking for Adonis. but it's rapidly getting out of hand. Then the way he comes onto me for sex, it's like, here, I'll feel your tits. Ready now? Uh, I guess!

    Then his coworker shows up… I'm sure you know where this is going. Other guy kisses like he means it, like his entire body and soul mean it. and those eyes! My god, the look in his eyes is killing me. He never blinks. Then touches my face. omg.

    I want to make it stop. OR, really, the rational, logical side of me wants to make it stop. The side of me that just wants to live doesn't care whether living ends tomorrow, or sixty years from now.

  28. Anything faster than 1-2lb per week is essentially unsustainable. Do the maths. 30-80 WEEKS. That is to say seven to 19 months. Not this week, next week or next month. Next year. Or some time the year after that.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Did Jennifere really feel like your career choices/income were an issue? Or was this something that was projected?

    I ask because there are times when my husband says something along the lines of I am sorry I can't do more. I think he is crazy. We have a nice house, plenty of room, two cars, happy healthy kids, a little extra money to go do fun things, a savings account and very little debt. I don't really know what else that he thinks he can provide. I am very happy with what we have and I really don't have needs and very little wants.

  30. Buy the primer and give it to your husband. Never see that guy again. Don't talk to him at all, no email, no facebook.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Bah! I know you are right. It's going to be like quitting heroin, though, I swear to God.

    Sobriety sucks.

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