If You Can’t Stand The Heat, Stay Out Of The Marriage

The meme doing the rounds is “Marriage as Restaurant”. It started as a comment by Dalrock here, was expanded on by Anonymous Reader, Hawaiian Libertarian chimed in, as did the Wild Man Project. They are all worth a read and make a strong metaphor for Marriage 2.0.

Summarizing them all into a single loose thought, Marriage is like having dinner in a rather questionably run restaurant where bad things can happen to men, and you’re potentially better off eating outside the restaurant. As far as it goes, I agree, though I have got to wonder why no one mentioned the possibility of one guy being duped into having to pick up the check for another guy aka paternity fraud. Also I would have added in the possibility of guys ordering filet mignon and being served hamburger, yet forced to pay the full price for the filet mignon. Or simply being told chef didn’t feel like cooking, and to just drink water for the next six months. Or perhaps being very obviously served someone else’s leftovers. Or catching some dreaded disease in there from the lack of basic sanitation when dealing with various “uncooked meats.”

In short, I agree that when marriage goes wrong, it goes very wrong indeed. Which is why the only bolded statement in the Primer says…

Unless you are completely confident in your choice of wife and ability t0 maintain your relationship, I advise you not to get married at all.  (Chapter 29)

…all that being said, there is a serious flaw in the “Marriage as Restaurant” metaphor. Namely, it frames the man as being a fairly passive victim of his fate. It may as well be a “Marriage as Hunger Games” metaphor, or “Marriage as a Razorblade in a Candy Apple at Halloween” metaphor. All that’s left is for the roadrunner to stick out it’s tongue at us and go “beep beep.”

What marriage is really like, is opening a restaurant with a partner. You may hope it turns out awesome, but no one gets a Michelin Star just for opening a restaurant. You earn it.

When you open a restaurant, there’s a lot to think about, because as everyone knows, quite a lot of new restaurants fail. When you start something as major as this with a partner, there’s a serious legal agreement that is entered into, and both partners bring something to the table of value. Typically that’s some combination of brains, beauty, brawn or bucks. Maybe you chef it up in the kitchen and she runs the front, but each partner has a role they need to play and if they don’t play it well, the business could simply go under. If it fails, whatever is left of the mess is divided up, but it’s not usually a net positive for either partner if that happens.

When you open a restaurant, it’s going to be a lot of work. You’re going to have good days and bad days. Someday’s it’s going to be a huge party in there and some days it’s going to seem pretty dead and you’re going to look at each and wonder why you even started a restaurant in the first place. Especially when the economy is rough and running a restaurant is harder than usual. But you keep the food fresh, the restaurant clean, the people smiling and don’t give up making a go of it… because while some restaurants fail, plenty of restaurants do pretty well and you are not without influence.

If someone else’s restaurant makes you jealous, you ask them what they do and copycat what you can. If the restaurant is struggling, blaming the hell out of each other isn’t a solution. You read up on restaurant management. If your restaurant is starting to slide downwards, you don’t just hope for the best, you seek help. If you’re in a crappy location, you pull up sticks and move.

However, you must accept that if the food you’re sending out of the kitchen is crap, the people working out front can’t save the restaurant for you. Plus the wait staff hate delivering crappy food and once they lose faith in you, it’s not long until they throw in the towel. Like it or not, the head chef is the most critical role in the restaurant.

The trouble is most guys get into the chef game like this…

When you really should be thinking about doing it like this…

So yes indeed, who you get into business with is half the battle, but the other half of the battle is you. Worst comes to worst, a top quality chef is always in demand. So keep your knives sharp.





  1. BlackCat says:

    Athol, I love your work, but I’m going to disagree with you a bit here.

    What marriage is really like, is opening a restaurant with a partner. … If it fails, whatever is left of the mess is divided up, but it’s not usually a net positive for either partner if that happens.

    No, it’s like doing it with a completely unequal partner, in terms of rights, responsibilities and payout in the event that things go wrong. The restaurant symbolizes the current legal/social/religious system, which is heavily tilted in the woman’s favor. The man and woman are not equal partners; once the marriage license is signed and registered (in some cases even before there is a marriage license), the man has essentially limited or no rights, and in the event of a split very little is “divided up,” which is the whole point that people are trying to make with the metaphor. Essentially the man loses, resulting not in a “division” but rather a highly unequal “transfer”.

    Yes, men should also take steps (i.e., MMSL, Game, etc.) to make a marriage work for them, but the point of the metaphor is that even if steps are taken, they can still get screwed, and women who take no steps whatsover can do the screwing (literally and figuratively) and not only get off relatively scott-free, but with a profit.

    Just wanted to clarify the metaphor a bit in that matter. Keep up your great work.

  2. Clarence says:

    This metaphor of yours would be fine IF there were a marital contract in the same way that two partners in a business enter into contracts.
    Unfortunately, even a pre-nup is often disregarded because marriage no longer is tied into any kind of contractual laws at all.
    Thus the first to exit – esp if they are willing to “cheat the system” has a tremendous advantage.
    The other reason this analogy fails is that partners in a business tend to gain mutual benefit if it prospers and incur MUTUAL loss if it doesn’t.
    Arguably, for almost all marriages short of two high earning spouses with no children this is not the case at all. Usually the higher earning one -esp if they don’t get custody- ends up losing big time.
    Given both of these things and the fact that “game” itself merely helps but does not guarantee anything – I don’t recommend marriage UNLESS you are willing to lose big time and unless a man wants to be a father. It’s simply too much of a risk for too little reward otherwise.

  3. Flybynight says:

    And how many new restaurants are still around in 5 years? 10years? Or change ownership at some point. Perhaps 75%. Go sell ice to Eskimos.

  4. You’re right, the metaphor does fall flat once you consider how complicated actually maintaining a marriage is. Having a meal with someone else doesn’t really demand a lot: you have to make a decision, put on some charm, and remember your manners. If that is all a marriage took, the world would be a different place.

    Even running a restaurant doesn’t really do it justice. Getting a marriage to really work is the most complicated thing you will ever have to do. Even the other grievously difficult tasks in life, like raising happy, healthy children are shorn up by your ability to maintain a marriage.

    You really do have to constantly work on yourself to become the best possible person: stable, attractive, successful, assertive, and adaptable. It can seem unreasonable, but that is the way it is. If you are not willing to constantly struggle to be better than you are, or you become complacent nobody is going to blame your spouse for pulling the plug, however just or unjust that it might have been.

    The marriage post-feminism has no safety net, nothing to fall back on, and a whole lot of extra challenges added. Some days I suspect that we are seeing human evolution in action. We are building circumstances where people can’t rely on dogma, tradition, or cultural pressure to successfully mate. You have to move a step up the cognitive ladder: think about how you think, adjust beliefs and behaviour constantly, immunize yourself against unhelpful ideas. If you do well, your children learn the approach, too. Eventually we are going to have generations where everyone on top is a metacognitive thinker, and everyone who is struggling has to learn it.

    Thanks so much for the linkage!

  5. PastorofMuppets says:

    Fantastic post, Athol. The marriage as restaurant meme is a sterling example of everything that’s wrong with a (too) large element of the manosphere, i.e. man as passive and helpless victim
    of society, and especially feminism. Not that there aren’t elements of the culture out there that are anti-male, but IMO too many use that as an excuse for failing to recognize or ignoring their own contribution to whatever their issue may be.
    Anyhow, I don’t mean to turn this into a screed, just wanted to say it’s nice to see someone who recognizes that we guys aren’t jellyfish floating wherever the currents and tides take us.

  6. fatherof10 says:

    I like this analogy. I was born into the restaurant business and spent 44 years of my life in it(I am 45). I have opened about 15 restaurants(and closed about 12), so I know a little about it. I have often said that there are few thrills in life like a really busy shift in a restaurant when things are going right, you have created a system and it is working perfectly. However; there are very few downers as powerful as the early part of a busy shift and things are going horribly wrong. You know the next few hours will get worse and there is nothing you can do about today. You simply survive the rush and start preparing for the next one. It really is a lot like marriage.

  7. I think this metaphor plays very well among men because there is a perception out there that men are more willing to work and preserve a relationship than women now a days. Women of the modern day seem to be more unfaithful, more conniving and more selfish then at any other time in human history. And i think that’s why the restaurant metaphor speaks really to the men who read it. It’s fine to go in the business with a partner you trust, but when you have 90% of the equity at risk and the other partner isn’t’ as committed as you, things can get pretty awful when business slows down. You read Dalrock’s posts on who gets custody of the kids if the marriage tanks. You read about the horror stories of having half of a guy’s paycheck sent to the ex spouse int he form of child support and alimony. You read about the infidelity that is rampant…and I think that leads to a boat load of men who are scared crapless of opening that business.

    I think you miss that point. Women now a days seem to be unbelievable cunning, manipulative and dishonest. This isn’t your momma’s dating market anymore. Call me bitter, but I have hooked up with my share of dude’s wives, girlfriends etc. I’ve been cheated on and I’ve also been the other guy. It’s a utter jungle out there. And one of the reasons things are so out of control is the unchecked female hypergamey that just seems rampant. I think me are more prone to settle and call it a day, while a woman is always looking to see if there is a bigger better deal from the point of courtship all the way to the 10th year of marriage. Who wants to play that game?

  8. I like your metaphor better, simply because it involves less passivity and whining. Looking at the Manosphere, I’m often struck at the inability of bloggers and commenters to take responsibility for their own lives. Apparently, everything is Teh Wimminz fault. It’s so, well, it’s so Omega.

  9. I know this is a blog for men, and to support men who are willing to work on themselves to get us women to be better wives, but I’m tired of hearing about how all men get screwed if they divorce their wives. Those days are long gone.

    I’m divorced, and recently. [My ex was batshit, cheated on me for years, then blamed me for not “adoring” him. He blamed me for being frigid, when he was the What Not To Do MAP poster boy. Much more, much worse, you don’t want to know.] I live in one of those states that is known to be wife-friendly. The judges we’ve seen can tell my ex is batshit. I have custody, I also have the house. I didn’t work at a career job for 20 years, though I worked my butt off running the house, raising the kids (one special needs), volunteering, and doing some side money jobs. I get 40% of his income, roughly, in child support, on which I pay tax. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not nearly enough to make ends meet. He gets 60% on which he lives by himself … he won’t even buy my kids a toothbrush for when they spend the night with him. And the support stops when the kids finish school … there ain’t no such thing as lifetime alimony any more, not for anyone under 65.

    I have friends who have it a lot worse … similar circumstances (long marriages to abusive, batshit men) who lost custody (because they left the house when their husband’s got violent), have to pay support on grad student stipends (because he won’t work and has the kids), or had to fight like hell in the court to get $400 a month. I even know one woman who can’t convince the system her ex is getting sexual with their retarded teenage son!

    I know there are a lot of women who take their ex-husbands to the cleaners, but there are lots of men who do the same. In short, DIVORCE SUCKS FOR EVERYONE!

    And Athol is right. If you can’t take the heat, if you don’t want to do your share of both the cooking and the clean-up, stay out of the kitchen!

  10. Joe Commenter says:

    If I were a younger man and not married. There is no way I would get married. I have nothing negative to say about the women of today, about marriage or men not getting custody. Like every man, I have the ability to say no.

    What these bitter sounding men and I regret tho, is that marriage has come to this. Most every man I know wants to find “the one”. Find that mate and be able to share the best stuff in life. How disappointing that men need to bring a lawyer to every interaction, lest we end up being screwed for life.

    I’ve been married for 25 years to a wonderful woman. A virgin when I met her. She works as hard as me, makes almost as much $ as me, and keeps herself looking good. Most of my buds have not had this positive of an experience.

    Truly sad.

  11. One good defense against getting cleaned out in divorce is to marry someone with your own level (or more!) of assets or potential for assets. And this is what is happening in the upper reaches of the middle class and beyond – doctors and lawyers marry each other more, not so much the doctor/lawyer and his secretary coupling of yesteryear. Why? Because there are a lot more professional women now. 75% of my DVM class was female. My experience is that those DVMs are not looking to marry anyone below them in assets/potential. This arises from the difference in what men and women look for.

    The conventional wisdom is that this will leave a lot of professional women high and dry because they won’t marry “down.” (As if marrying a good auto mechanic or rancher or oil roughneck is “down” which I don’t believe, of course, but some stupid women do.) That conventional wisdom may be true among the dismal harpies in NYC and DC who write those sad sad SAD “where have all the good men gone for fabulous professional women like me?” articles that the manosphere salivates over but it doesn’t ring true in my experience out here in flyover country.

    Obviously, this doesn’t factor in kids and custody. Being childfree, I don’t care much about that.

  12. This is the only red pill blog I read now, because it’s written from the point of view of a healthy empowered and happy man. Jennifer’s post scripts add credibility and humour, too.

    Those who say that women don’t invest much in their marriages fail to acknowledge the sheer volume of women who attend relationship seminars and purchase books on how to improve their relationships. Most of the women I know put a lot of effort into their relationships, making sacrifices that their partners don’t seem to notice or appreciate.

    While I don’t doubt the anecdotal evidence being given on unfaithful wives, I wonder how these poor cuckolded husbands are selecting wives. Are they overlooking glaringly obvious character failings in these women because of their beauty? Are they taking these women for granted or being abusive , and causing them to act out in some way?

    I don’t think any sex is inherently evil or untrustworthy, but the manosphere does tend to portray men as unwitting, noble victims of a conspiracy designed to enslave men into becoming cash cows and sperm donors to an evil, all-powerful matrix-like matriarchy. Those who break free of this matrix by using and abusing women (e.g. PUAs) are hailed as heroes to the cause.

    I’d like these men to examine how they are selecting women. Do they overlook the plain woman who dresses modestly, is humble, hardworking, sweet and appreciated in favour of the younger, beautiful and “hotter” promiscuous airhead who is of dubious moral character?

    Do they select women who are considerably more beautiful than they are handsome, without considering what they bring to the table to offset their own lack of physical beauty? I suspect the answer is yes, based on a lot of hateful comments I’ve read in the manosphere about women who are not world-class beauties or in their teens / early 20’s.

    Just as female hypergamy exists, so does male hypergamy. Less than stellar women who chase after the “alpha males” fall prey to “the carousel” and less than stellar men who chase after the “alpha females” (young, beautiful women) fall prey to being cheated on, used and abused too.

    What the manosphere fails to acknowledge is that while any man can jack off to magazines and videos featuring 9’s and 10’s, the average man cannot realistically attract or “keep” this type of woman in real life. Not for very long anyway. If he could, he wouldn’t be reading blogs like this, he’d be busy enjoying life with his 9 or 10.

    I’m not saying that men should chase the morbidly obese or ugly, but the red pill guy would be better served going for a reasonably attractive woman with significant inner beauty… but then where’s the fun in that? Chasing after (and being rejected by) women to whom you have very little to offer gives so much fodder for whiny manosphere blog posts and comments.

  13. I read Dalrock’s analogy and several others and something didn’t seem quite right about them. Just a tad off.
    Athol nailed it, I think, on the responsibility issue. Women can indeed be horrible. But men are not helpless victims.
    Out of the dozen or so friends we had in our 20’s, my husband and I are the only ones still married.
    Maybe things are different here in Texas, but I don’t know a single couple that has gotten divorced where the woman “took him for all he had”. It’s a no-fault divorce state and we don’t do alimony here, so maybe that’s it.
    Of course, we weren’t friends with the materialistic-type, so that could explain what we’ve witnessed, too.
    ( The friends we had that all got divorced were more like, Austin-hippie-wierdos. LOL)

  14. I think most men would be all in favor of a marriage where when the thing ends, you take what you brought to the table, i take what i brought to the table. You take what you earned post marriage, I take what I earned post marriage and we split custody of the kids 50/50. I bet if that was the deal, a few more women would think twice about abandoning ship.

    Honestly, the only thing holding together the vast majority of marriages in this country is the work that father time puts on women’s bodies and the fact that vast majority of them have little to no options in the dating market. Most women aren’t’ staying in their marriages because of love, they are staying because they wouldn’t’ find anyone else if they left. As for men, most of them stay in their marriages because they have no game and because they no they will have to shell out a crap load of their money if they bail.

    Women for the most part are only as faithful as their options.

  15. Michael Maier says:

    Liz, I wouldn’t say it’s all “Teh Wimminz fault”. Certainly idiot men in power have given the power to destroy marriages to the LESS FAITHFUL PARTNER, forget the sex of that person.

    That’s the problem. I have two women in my office that recently are being/have been dumped by their husbands. Neither says they wanted the split but there’s nothing they can do about it, any more than wrong men could.

    The main difference I can see is that the blame cast upon women that initiate their divorces is far, far less than when men do so.

  16. Poester99 says:

    Apparently, everything is Teh Wimminz fault. It’s so, well, it’s so Omega.

    *LOL* I love it
    Most of us take responsibility for our lives, it’s the lives of you and your sisters “teh Wimminz” (those that think like you) that we *refuse* to be responsible for in any way shape or form.

  17. BlackCat says:

    I find the contrast between the various comments absolutely hilarious.

    The vast majority of men point out, like I did above, that Athol’s take on the analogy was a bit flawed, and that the legal/social system is currently broken and needs to be fixed. We want marriage, too, but given the current risk-reward ratio, it just doesn’t make sense, and we are pointing that out.

    In contrast, the comments by women are essentially shaming “Man Up” comments, as is the comment by PastorofMuppets (“pastor” heh, tradcon!).

    This contrast reveals precisely the situation alluded to by original the metaphor. Good luck with that, ladies. Let us know how the growing marriage boycott works out for civilized society.

  18. Höllenhund says:

    Z says 2:43 pm

    Alright, so you have custody, the house and 40% of his income, and then you complain that 40% isn’t enough to cover your expenses – expenses that you largely demanded for your self by filing for custody AND the house. What amount of booty would you’ve found sufficient? 50% of his income? 70%? 100%?

    I think when you cheat on your wife, you run an obvious risk of being divorced. When one income families split, it’s never like either half of the couple ends up better off finanically.

  19. Highlander says:

    Well, based on what I’ve been through in the last year, all the books I’ve read and some 20,000 posts on dozens of forums it won’t matter if you’ve been running a five star restaurant, have all the charm of George Clooney and are built like fitness model, all bets are off when your wife hits perimenopause. I suggest all men spend some time reading some of the many menopause forums online, it will scare the hell out of you what a woman is capable of going through during this hormonal storm.

    It’s no coincidence most marriages falter when women hit their 40’s, from accounts in journals some of them have kept online, you can watch as they go from talking about strange feelings of discontent, even though they can find no serious problems in their marriage. Six months later they talk about hating the very sight of their husbands, blaming them for everything and actively looking for another man. Today one of the most reported reasons for divorce by women ( and about 68% of all divorces are filed by them) is “Being unhappy” or ” Not having my needs met”. So I’d suggest marriage is more like an apple cart than a restaurant, very easily upset and you are left to pick it all up on your own.

  20. Draggin says:

    There is a lot of “man up” coming out in the comments. Those views are based on mistaken beliefs and the wrong perspective. I agree that men need to take responsibility for their lives, but realize that most men are actually being responsible from their blue pill perspective. They are performing the correct actions according to the rules that society has broadcast, such as Keep Momma Happy, Aim For Equality In All Things, Defer To Her Feelings, etc. These men only seem passive from the red pill perspective.

    Many men would have acted differently if they had known they were to disregard what they been taught about women growing up. They blindsided by a divorce and are bitter afterwards, once they learn the truth. It doesn’t help that people try to keep them in the dark afterwards as well. As an example, look at the comment from Lysa above i.e. it is always the man’s fault because he chose the wrong woman. If you take her theory and combine it with a divorce rate of 50%, she is implying that 50% of women were never worthy of marriage. I doubt she actually believes that though; she is simply trying to put all of the responsibility on men and allow women to avoid it altogether.

  21. Vikingquest says:

    I agree with Lysa that women put a lot of effort into working on their relationships in the sense she is talking about like reading books on communication etc. The problem, besides that the advice given by mainstream sources are usually bad, is that this effort is generally put in to make the man change. Whenever any of my male friends has had a talk with his girl or they have “communicated”, the end result is always more change for the man. The reality in my friends relationships are that the men is doing most of the actual work on changing themselves and working on the relationship. I see the same thing when I see people write about their relationships in online forums. “Communication” for me has become a code word for talk session where women indirectly give commands to their husbands. It can work differently but in reality “communication” has become women’s number one betaization tool.

  22. Thanks, Athol.

    As I said, my ex is batshit. He cheated on me for 10 years, while blaming me for not being turned on by him. [Read Athol’s posts on the fact that women are responsive. My ex gave me nothing to respond to.] He demanded I treat him like a Captain, then he’d constantly ask for my approval. He had a violent streak that came just short of my calling the police several times, and I actually did just before we split. I have full custody because he’s not safe for the kids to be around.

    Meanwhile, I tried everything I could to get him to “man up.” I bought sex books and toys, but he “wasn’t in the mood.” I read every sensible “save your marriage” book I could find. I would have run the MAP if I knew about it. Athol, I wish you started this blog 5 years earlier.

    Höllenhund, this particular man is an ass. When I hear about the men who got taken to the cleaners, I get mad at their wives. I assume those men were good, honorable people. My ex was not.

  23. Vikingquest says:

    I should add that this often misplaced will to work on the relationship can be turned around to be very positive once women understand what is actually good for the relationship through advice like on this site. Once they do they can change the effort from a betaizeing communication effort towards effort that increases feminine masculine polarity. Then women’s will to put in work becomes a very valuable tool.

  24. I think two different issues are being conflated.

    Issue #1: Is marriage / divorce law broken?

    Well, maybe, maybe not. It depends on how the law is written and how judges tend to enforce it in your area. Do some research and see what it’s like where you are. If what you find isn’t to your liking, write your representative. Pissing and moaning about it on the Internet is unlikely to effect change.

    Issue #2: Given the state of marriage / divorce law in your area, is it a good idea for you to marry?

    That depends on A.) the results of your research above, and B.) the person you’re considering marrying. Also technically C.) how much work you’re willing to put into making sure it doesn’t come to divorce, although given that you’re here reading Athol’s advice, you’re likely to be covered there.

    The point is, you examine your options, you make your choice with your eyes as open as you can pry them, and you live with the consequences. Do you feel that marriage law in your area is skewed toward women? Find the risks of a messy divorce too high? Then don’t get married. Still want the benefits of marriage despite the risk? Then minimize the risks as much as you can and then go for it. Nobody’s got a gun to your head either way.

    You want fair, take up chess. That’s nice and fair and even and you get all your pieces lined up in a row opposite the other guy’s pieces. This isn’t fair, this is life. You can get angry and bitter and complain about it, or you can suck it up and deal with it as best you can.

  25. I completely agree with you on the movies lol. Too many guys go into marriage all herp derp. Half the guys complaining about how they got “cleaned out” by their wives were probably terrible husbands and are just bitter complaining on the internet. Awesome Muppets reference =)

  26. Doug1111 says:


    I think most men would be all in favor of a marriage where when the thing ends, you take what you brought to the table, i take what i brought to the table. You take what you earned post marriage, I take what I earned post marriage and we split custody of the kids 50/50. I bet if that was the deal, a few more women would think twice about abandoning ship.

    Yuup. Agreed.

  27. Doug1111 says:


    I find the contrast between the various comments absolutely hilarious.

    The vast majority of men point out, like I did above, that Athol’s take on the analogy was a bit flawed, and that the legal/social system is currently broken and needs to be fixed. We want marriage, too, but given the current risk-reward ratio, it just doesn’t make sense, and we are pointing that out.

    In contrast, the comments by women are essentially shaming “Man Up” comments, as is the comment by PastorofMuppets (“pastor” heh, tradcon!).

    This contrast reveals precisely the situation alluded to by original the metaphor. Good luck with that, ladies. Let us know how the growing marriage boycott works out for civilized society.

    Completely agree.

  28. Doug1111 says:

    Michael Maier–

    The main difference I can see is that the blame cast upon women that initiate their divorces is far, far less than when men do so.

    Exactly. And she can make what little blame their is go away by hinting darkly at abuse. Divorcing American women consider loud arguments by men abuse these days often enough, by never when done (as it much more often is today) by women.


  1. […] Married Man Sex Life – The Most Interesting Man in The World, If You Can’t Stand The Heat […]

  2. […] morning Athol Kay of Married Man Sex Life put forward his thoughts on the Marriage as Restaurant meme. (props again to Dalrock) He did an amazing job of discussing […]

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