Words of Power and Working As Intended (Kinda)

One of the things I’ve learning from multi-player gaming is just how hard it is to create a stable system that’s balanced for everyone involved. The rule makers can make a change for good and unintended consequences can sneak in as millions of cunning players can seek the loop holes and exploits. Today the Warriors stride the battlefield as unstoppable killing machines, tomorrow the game is patched and melee gets a damage mitigation effect reduced and the Warriors aren’t quite so spectacular. But Mages get a global cooldown removed on a minor spell. Two weeks later good Warriors are a free kill to bad Mages. Tweak this, adjust that. It’s a never ending battle of balance. Working as intended apparently.

We do the same thing to marriage law.

Once upon a time the rules were pretty clear. You got caught nailing someones little girl, you got a free tuxedo and a ride to church. That was the rule. Sex was meant to happen in marriage, a marriage license was a license to have sex with someone. A license means “being allowed to do something”. Thus sexuality was channeled into marriage. The very words “husband” and “wife” were loaded with sexual subtext. My own mother said vows of “to love, honor and obey” to my father back in 1964. No seriously, the vows used to include obey in them. In BDSM terminology that’s signing up for a 24/7 power exchange D/s relationship. That’s extremely kinky by even today’s standards. People who have the first name of “Mistress” and wear nothing but leather and latex would at least suggest a safeword for something like that. Plus the dungeon is just one room in the basement, not the whole house.

I mean that sort of thing is really really out there.

But the game got patched by the powers that be… and any adult can have sex with immunity with any other adult. As a result, a marriage license isn’t a license to have sex anymore, it’s simply one lifestyle category among many as far as the law is concerned. Sex is no longer channeled into marriage, it flows out everywhere like a tsunami wrecking everything in its path and leaving behind ruined earth that won’t grow anything of value for a generation.

I think one of the sad things about the state of modern marriage is that the very words “husband” and “wife” have been stripped of eroticism. Marriage has been defrauded of sexuality.

When I first thought up the terms Captain and First Officer, I thought I was making a clever metaphor to explain things. But as the last two years have passed, more and more I’ve come to be impressed not so much with the metaphor, but how the terms have taken on a life of their own and become erotic. I think the moment of really talking with Jennifer about Captain and First Officer and asking her to come long for my ride… and having her say yes… was a more intimate and touching moment than asking her to marry me. Asking her to marry me was planned well in advance and I knew 100% she would say yes, it was fairly casual when I asked in the end.

But asking her to be First Officer… oy… and to expect her to publicly say that I was this and she is that… nerve-wracking. When I asked her, I didn’t know what would happen. When she said yes, I felt honored and awed by her trust. Maybe I’m just older and know better what I’m getting into, but asking a woman to be your First Officer seems a more profound request than asking her to be your wife. You’re asking for her to have a higher standard for herself and for her to have a higher trust… in you.

Run the experiment for yourself if you like. Try and tell someone publicly that you’re the Captain and she’s the First Officer and see how it gets a reaction well beyond that of saying husband and wife. Some people get mad and we just say “it’s not your marriage” and ignore them. But I’ve also seen women experience sudden enlightenment about their longing and talk engagingly about it. Others just struggle internally with an inner conflict of their surprised interest and confused self-doubt… omg I’m turned on, how could I like that? Why do I like that?  Saying you’re the Captain of your marriage is a much stronger word than saying you’re someone’s husband.

Or put it this way, would you get on a cruise ship if you found out the guy running the bridge had an official title of “Husband?” And if you did get on board, would you have counted the lifeboats before you set sail?

Anyway, there’s not much question that marriage needs to be patched and rebalanced, and I’m not a huge fan of the prior patch either. But I don’t think it needs to be abandoned either. Besides… really good mods that gain a fanbase, have a funny way of making it into the full game. (wink)


  1. Really great post. I´ve noticed that when Thai women I know say HUSBAND it often has that captain feeling to it.

  2. Trimegistus says:

    The word “husband” has been ruined by decades of anti-male mockery and exploitation. It was starting as far back as the 1930s (see comic strips of the period) but the collapse really became unstoppable in the 1970s.

    My suspicion is that America and the West are due for a new mass religious/ideological awakening, sooner than we think. The Occupy movement and Obama’s candidacy show that a profound hunger exists for meaning, goals, and structure. If we’re fortunate it’ll be a renewed form of Christianity and emphasize continuity with older ideals. If we’re not . . . it could be anything. Islam, Scientology, Fascism, you name it.

  3. It it one of the great dichotomies of modern times…. How women have defanged the very system that guide posts that would make them happy. At their very core, they want to be lead and dominated by a strong, capable, compassionate and leading man.

    All this equality talk has ruined the very fabric which contributed to their everyday happiness. I’ve been told my entire life to treat women as equals, to bow to them, to get the door for the….to cherish and to put them up on a pedal When in reality I was digging my own grave.

    They want strength, confidence, leadership and stability. All the other crap you’re taught…is just that…crap.

  4. Angeline says:

    Hehe .. I’m looking for the “quote” button. Your second paragraph describes exactly why some women have trouble with the “submissive” label. (Before anyone jumps on my case, go read the post on the forum here about ‘Having trouble with the First Officer model’ – I am firmly in the camp that loves it, and lived it long before that terminology was used here) The reality for women who signed on was that they sometimes *did* lose their sense of self and ownership of their own body and psyche, to men who were not “strong, caring, compassionate leading men”. And wrote off the entire model, instead of seeing it carried out by flawed people. To submit by choice is a far better model than by fiat.

    I agree that to submit is far better by choice than by fiat. It’s also vastly more enjoyable for both the dominant and submissive that way.

  5. ALL women wanted this? All MEN wanted this?

    I don’t think so; feminism would never have gotten off the ground if all people, everywhere, really wanted a 24/7 D/s relationship with no escape routes other than death.
    I like what Philip Longman said: “Make a woman’s options in life marriage, prostitution or the nunnery, and most of them will choose marriage.”

    Of course he said it like was a good thing… I can’t help but shudder at how incredibly limiting that actually must have been.

    Glad it works for people who enter into it open-eyed, but I think it is wholly reasonable that this particular form of “marriage” is now part of the patchwork: something freely-chosen, not something folks are coerced into willy-nilly.

  6. Goes back to what y’all were talking about the other day with ultimatums: being with someone who capitulates because she has no other reasonable options is usually going to result in a pretty subpar experience for both parties.

    Do you want someone who is with you because he/she is there of his/her own free will… because she actively chooses YOU, or because you’re a less-painful meal ticket than prostitution?

  7. And Jack, at the risk of sounding obtuse, you did *not* learn to treat women as equals if you also learned to bow and put them on pedestals.

  8. I'm a man says:

    If you watch much TV, the Husband/Wife dynamic is turned around. Often we see commercials position the Wife as the wise Captain and the children as observant First Officers. “Dad” is cast as the bumbling fool on par with the family dog. Everyone seems to delight in this family dynamic.
    ….so society has men cast as deadbeat Dads, drunken Dads, absent fathers, Man-boy and now the present, hardworking family orientated Husband/Father is cast as the family fool.

    Fathers day and the week leading up to it typically has an article or two in the paper about what some asshole Dad/Husband has done to his family. No wonder women have trouble with the “First Officer” model.

  9. Agree that men have been framed by sit-coms as the buffoon that everyone else has to cope with. That’s a huge part of the problem.

  10. I think it is more that Athol’s model is emphatically not for everyone. He has said himself it took him years to come round to it, and he usually seems to avoid pushing a one size fits all agenda with his work. I do wish that people in general had more respect for the idea that thy family life and sexuality does not have to look precisely, or even remotely, like mine. Having had this discussion to equally annoying end with both diehard egalitarians and with diehard social-cons this… goes for folks of all political and religious orientations. lol

  11. FeralFelis says:

    @I’m a Man: You are SOOOO right! I can’t STAND TV!!! I detest the way men are treated by women, the way adults/parents are treated by wise-ass children. If the situation was changed slightly, and turned into a racial thing, or if it was MEN treating WOMEN with such blatant disrespect, there would be a hue and cry across the land!! That’s but one of the reasons I gave away my TV in 1997.

    @myrtle-sorry, but if you disagree so much with what is being said, why are you here? delete.

    WRT one of Athol’s observations, I asked that the word “obey” be taken out of both of my marriage ceremonies, and both fuutre husbands agreed. I wish instead they would have said no, been stronger than me, quieted my hamster, and taught me what I have since discovered; the original meaning of the word obey is to listen, or to hear.

    obey (v.) late 13c., from O.Fr. obeir, from L. oboedire “obey, pay attention to, give ear,” lit. “listen to,” from ob “to” (see ob-) + audire “listen, hear” (see audience). Same sense development is in cognate O.E. hiersumnian. Related: Obeyed; obeying.
    (source: http://www.etymonline.com)

  12. Flipper says:

    I feel I may be approaching this talk with my wife. I simply need to continue building my business and building on the structural things. It will be interesting. I also knew my wife would say yes, but I’m not so sure she how she is going to act. Incidentally she just stumbled onto my reading this blog and was a bit aghast. I played it off as a site about marriage and parenting. Also incidentally she came home from work the other day, walked me into the bathroom and wanted me to nail her right there on the vanity. That’s only happened ever twice. So I think its working…lol.

  13. When talking to other people, I usually refer to my husband as “my husband”. Being a husband and provider, and a good one, is worthy of respect.

  14. John Q Galt says:

    Myrtle, how about you hold yoir tongie and let the grownups talk? I think Feministing or HuffPo might be more o teresting to you.

  15. horseman says:

    Agree that this lack of models has doomed the modern marriage. We are bad enough but what about our kods. We at least had the last of the 60s dads to give some maculinity. Now our kids are raised by our brainwashed peers and more and more by media as parents abdicate.
    I think thats why you see kids not interacting except thru internet and the whole grasseater movement of guys not dating …at all. Can you imagine going through high school without dating??

    And I have no answers. The mainstream media and the blue pill femenists will never easily give up their haed got gains.

    even ccidential capt 1st officer models like 50 shades of grade ade seen as a fade not the partial red pill. so what hope that future generarikns will come up with replacement role models or will marriage just enter a slow death spiral and die the death of a thousand cuts??

  16. holdingallthecards says:

    @Horseman: I think marriage will die off. If I fall in love again, I will do the LTR, not marriage. I just cannot see how getting married will improve upon a fantastic dating situation. Why do it?

    Regarding Athol’s post: the word “Captain” implies a person who has a job and works. “Husband” conjures up either the repulsive Al Bundy from “Married with Children” or the sleezy guy boinking his secretary while the wife sits at home feeling neglected.

    But one does not earn the title of Captain merely by signing a marriage license. You have to show up and WORK. Unless your wife is a nail-biting mouse who’s afraid that you’re going to yell at her or hit her for disagreeing with you*, a Captain should impress her with his maturity, dedication, involvement and interest in the whole family’s well-being.

    * The feminist movement is evident from women like this. I’ve talked to a ridiculous number of women in their 60’s that are scared of their cranky men. It reminds me of the overly Beta men that come here to MMSL, who seem to be living with screaming beasts. Either way, these aren’t marriages that feel loving, friendly, or even close to respectfully equal.

  17. Most heterosexual relationship descriptors have been ruined by years of Hollywood bullshit and increased connectivity as a culture. In fact, I kind of think that a lot of this stuff is a symptom of a culture that is plugged in and rushing at an ever increasing breakneck pace- mass cultural phenomenons are much easier to spread via Facebook or the Internet at large than when most (Americans) lived in a podunk little town that might possibly get updates from family members in the “big city” and the biggest thing that went down was the barn fire of ’48 or whether or not someone had gotten a secret back alley abortion.

    Imagine, if you will, the words “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.” When my husband and I first got together in a relationship, we felt uncomfortable using the words to describe our relationship. That’s because at least 75% of the people we met who used these terms were referring to people who they were obviously not looking for long-term commitment from. And in many cases, “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” was basically the PC version of “person I’m fucking right now”….which squicked us out. We didn’t want our relationship to be based on how much we played with each other’s genitals.

    When we got engaged, “fiance” and “fiancee” were weird on our tongues. We knew people who had been engaged for LITERALLY YEARS- no wedding date in sight. We certainly didn’t want to come across like that- we got engaged in the fall and then married August of the next year- we *wanted* to be married, yet we kept running into all sorts of people who used “engaged” as basically a way of saying “this person I am fucking, well, he/she is more than a fuckbuddy.”

    When we got married, for some reason, the words “husband and wife” felt really heavy and Important on us. It was strange calling my husband “husband.” And for a couple of years, we would awkwardly use the words from time to time, but generally just refer to one another by our first names because that’s what we had been used to doing- we are PEOPLE not just ROLES.

    However, when it came time for us to have our first child, we realized that something had to change, namely, one of our last names. Now, here’s a bit of legal bullshit for you- if you get married, a woman can just change her name- start using her husband’s name and VOILA, she has a new last name. If you get married and your husband wants to change his last name or both of you want a different last name together…..you have to shell out a bunch of money, time and effort to do it. First you have to post an announcement in the paper, then you have to go in front of a judge and explain your name change- all of this stuff costs around 100-200 dollars when all is said and done. For various reasons (including the fact that my husband’s last name is one letter off from a very common Latino name and he is neither Latino nor does he like his name being misspelled, yet it kept being misspelled on everything, including his college transcript, and he kept getting Spanish-language stuff in the mail for him, despite checking the “English speaking” box in pretty much everything he’s ever applied for), my husband changed his last name to mine. Not only did everyone think that this was “weird,” but the cost and time that he had to go through was pretty intense. Needless to say, he finally got through it, and now he gets stuff in the mail in English, people spell his name correctly, and no one racially profiles him from his name alone. But why shouldn’t men be able to change their last names in marriage? It makes no sense if a woman can do it so easily and leave behind her “old name.”

    My parents are still married, so for me, marriage has always felt like a Very Important Step that you only take when you are absolutely ready for it. And yet I *do* see it trivialized a lot- out of all of the friends and family I’ve gone to weddings for, 90% of them have divorced, are separated or are in dire straights and that’s only within the first couple of years of marriage.

    In one marriage, my female friend was basically abandoned by her husband to his porn addiction and he spent so much money on porn and online gaming that they had the water shut off at their apartment. He would push her away and never want sex with her no matter what she did, and eventually, she had to go on suicide watch because he belittled her and went out with friends so much without inviting her that she basically felt like he had abandoned her. They divorced before they were married a year.

    In a second marriage, my female friend married a guy who works for Facebook and therefore makes a lot of money- he’s a really funny geeky but super beta guy- I really liked him a lot as a person and was very surprised that she was with him because she’s always been a very sophisticated person who likes fancy lifestyles, strong dominant types of guys, etc, and her husband was mostly the “stay at home and work at job” kind of guy. It wasn’t too long into the marriage before she started wanting things- the House, the Dog she’d always wanted, etc. Of course, regardless of the things she got, she never seemed to get along with her husband’s geeky friends, and seemed suffocated from the house. Within a couple of months, she was getting divorced- she’d met this super Alpha older guy at the dog park, you see, and she was totally in love with him. Instead of NEVER WANTING CHILDREN, she’d taken a total 180 and was dreamily going on about how she could “see herself having kids” with this new guy.

    My cousin is another example- she got married to her ex-Navy guy- he used to DJ, is a higher-up guy at Verizon, he’s really smart, and he’s quite capable. My cousin, on the other hand, is an emotional wreck alcoholic. She whines and wheedles at him and bosses him around. She hoards animals. And he placates and placates her because he hates drama and strife, yet she just keeps escalating it more and more. They’ve basically been separated/almost divorcing every couple of months it seems, and she’s done nothing to improve her horrible outlandish behavior (for awhile, she was corresponding with some fucking douchebag who is still in PRISON and one year she brought a “friend” who looked like he was out of a porno shoot to our Thanksgiving family dinner).

    Then there’s my best friend from elementary school- she got married within the last year or two. She actually just had a baby with her husband. But I do think that they work well together. Basically, she’s like a female version of my husband’s personality, and her husband is like a male version of me. They balance each other out- they communicate VERY well. They are a true Captain/First Officer pair. When we went to their wedding, it felt RIGHT. And lo and behold, even though they’ve had their struggles, they’ve worked through it and come through stronger than ever.

    My husband and I look at each other when we see people getting married and we honestly wonder why the hell they’re doing it. As far as I know, most of them (other than my aforementioned best female friend) are not even close to the intimacy, communication and friendship that we have together, and marriage is not just a word- it’s a partnership in life.

    I don’t necessarily think that we need to cast off the traditional names of “husband” and “wife”- nor do we need to strip them of their sexual undertones, but remember, just like anything can be framed as submissive or dominant, so too can anything be framed as “sexy” or “boring.” It’s really all in how you define it, and how your relationship defines itself. People look at my husband and I and they assume that we have some effortless relationship that just magically works. WRONG. The problem is that you have far too many people who see the word “marriage” and think that if they apply their label, that the RELATIONSHIP will follow. Like calling your sailboat a yacht is going to magically transform its worth. If you have a fuckbuddy, calling them a boyfriend/girlfriend won’t make them into a boyfriend/girlfriend. Same thing with a person who is really just a girlfriend/boyfriend and attempting to marry them to get the “weight” and “status” of “husband/wife.” To be honest, I think that many people who are in relationships that are actually fairly casual and not even close to pair bond status desire to get “instant gratification” by adding a new label, assuming that the bond will follow intuitively. In the end, though, the label is just that- a label. What *really* matters is how one behaves, and how you put yourselves across to others. My husband, for example, never gets carded, (even when he was younger than 21). This is because he dresses sophisticatedly, asks questions about the alcohol at establishments we visit, and generally appears to be knowledgable and mature. When we are together in public, we hold hands, are physically affectionate (yes, butt grabs when no one is looking is a favorite of ours). We appreciate one another in verbal and physical ways. We aren’t just this way magically- it’s a force of habit and conscious effort to treat one another with love and consideration. We *earned* our titles of Husband and Wife. We went through good and bad times, worked as a team and came out of the fire together. Other people can CALL themselves that if they want, but there’s really only a select few who can truly call themselves worthy of those titles. I suppose that the question is whether or not you know in your heart of hearts that the words are not ringing false on your own tongue when you speak them.

    But yeah, I still think that Captain and First Officer are hot as hell ways to describe a good relationship!

  18. Nanasha says:

    PS: It doesn’t matter how “smart” or “perfect” a wife appears in a sit-com. If she’s putting up with manchild/drunken/idiot/bumbling fool husband behavior, she’s also an idiot (in fact, on a sit com, I would imagine that EVERYONE is an idiot because apparently idiocy is funny but only if said idiocy is so blindingly obvious and attached to canned laughter that you’ll know when to laugh, because it assumes that you too dear television watcher are also an idiot but you just don’t know it). It’s also teaching people that they can act like the dumbass guy on a sit com and still score the perfect woman (which doesn’t work). And people wonder why I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore beyond filtering the majority out via Netflix.

    It used to be that simply by being a man who was not a drunk/obvious abusive fuckhead, a man was given the pass as a “good man” in society. Nowadays, he has to do more, and spend more time strategizing because he can’t just assume that some woman will be forced to choose him- he has to attract quality, and keep her around because there are plenty of losers and users out there-now you have to worry about it coming from the female side- there are predators everywhere. It’s a conundrum for most relationship/family minded people, male or female- they have a small window of youthful fertility to find a mate, establish a pair-bond, bear offspring and raise them to adulthood without becoming overly old and frail (and yeah, guys can impregnate up to the day they die, but their sperm count/vitality drops with age- old guy sperm has higher chances of making babies with genetic defects than young/mid-aged guy sperm).

    Simply put, women are people. When you give women the same rights and social options as men, women are going to be free to behave in similar ways as men have traditionally only had the ability to behave in the past. We work within the social frameworks that we are allowed to work with- humans are cunning creatures and we all seek to optimize our outcomes and pass on our genes in the best way possible. But the good news (even though it sucks more initially), is that you have a lot more OVERT bad female behavior that is easier to spot than a freight train bearing down on you. It’s easier to weed out the bad ones because they don’t HAVE to learn all of the complex social morays that they were forced to in the past. There are still the ones who “let themselves go” after you marry them, but most will weed themselves out long before you say “I do.” And, to some extent, this makes mate selection BETTER and more evolutionarily beneficial because it means that when hetero women are less likely to hide their true nature just to get a mate, it makes better mate selection far easier for hetero men.

    Just my two cents.

  19. @ Nanasha: I don’t often comment, but I have to let you know how absolutely right you are. The institution of marriage is not the problem. The problem is with the quality of people getting married. Two decent people with good heads on their shoulders can love life together, live it to the fullest, and get through dang near anything. The trouble is that such people are uncommon. Instead, we’ve got hordes of fucked up, emotionally damaged, psychological wrecks out there trolling for someone or something to take away the pain. There are literally legions of folks that fail to face the demands of reality. And, I realize that I may be skipping a few steps here (running the risk of an illogical leap), those folks aren’t marriage material. They aren’t fit for anything; useless. In contract law we’d say “buyer beware, there are breaches of the implied warranties of ‘marketability’ and ‘fitness for the particular purpose’.”

  20. That’s extremely kinky by even today’s standards.

    It’s weird that it’s considered a ‘kink’ when it’s just the natural order. I like to use the term D/s (and I love the Captain/FO metaphor as it captures the same thing) because of the eroticism of it and also in a (possibly vain) attempt to reclaim the Dominance/submission terminology within a Biblical context. How kinky it gets is really a matter of taste. It is erotic and that’s why it causes reactions in people, as it should.

    Another thing is that a husband is someone who takes care of something – as in “husbandry” – not just a ruler. It is benevolent dominance and leadership; it implies responsibility and care as well as authority.

    Others just struggle internally with an inner conflict of their surprised interest and confused self-doubt… omg I’m turned on, how could I like that? Why do I like that?

    People go to such extremes imagining what 24/7 D/s means. I think the ‘24/7’ part leads people in the wrong direction so that rather than seeing it as a relationship dynamic, one that is fluid rather than rigid, they see it as a game. It’s a lot more subtle than a contrived game, but if they haven’t experienced it, they imagine being locked in a dungeon all day and night, which is of course ludicrous. The only way people would know that a couple has a D/s dynamic under normal circumstances is if they were told, unless they already know what to look for from their own experience or they are particularly astute.

    Also, be careful. You’ll be accused of being ‘obsessed’ with BDSM if you mention it too much!

  21. I wonder if marriage old style is outdated. The difference b/w now and pre-1960s is massive prosperity. With prosperity comes options and freedom. There is simply no way you were going to have an advanced industrial economy with all this wealth and think that women were going to remain chaste and settle for being just wives and mothers. Women were going to engage in economic careerism and sexual adventure. Yes, feminism and the Left have made the situation worse but we were heading for a change in sexual paradigm.

    The bottom line is that if industrial society is maintained and advanced the Beta male is going to go the way of the Do-Do. I think that the nuclear family may go that way also. A staple of Conservative thought is that w/o the nuclear family there can be no civilization. I think that will prove wrong and is why no matter how much I loathe the left, Conservatism is not the answer. Advanced capitalist society will develop ways for children to be raised w/o “till-death-do-us-part” nuclear families. Relationships will be of varying length but the old model will eventually die.

    Think of it this way, what happens if humanity should achieve 300 year lifespans? What will the sexual paradigm be then? The conservative one? No way.

  22. I’m glad to hear its so difficult for a man to change his last name. This should never happen. Screws up any family tree research. I haven’t ever met a guy that messed with his last name when he married that wasn’t beyond beta to the extreme that he was practically a woman. They are certainly impossible to respect.

  23. Christy says:

    OMG, I want the sex blog back!!

  24. I don’t know if I “disagree” so much as I think folks like to present their own models as a panacea for everyone, everywhere. That’s just bizarre. Nobody knows that the answers are. Nobody can make guarantees. We’re passing rapidly from agricultural society with its sexual/family setup, high mortality and sky-high birthrates, to the interwar period (much like ours: dropping birthrates and the rise of companionate marriage) to the postwar period where the patriarchal nuclear family had a renaissance, to the postindustrial thing we’ve all trying to figure out now. With, not coincidentally, birth rates dropping like a stone again.

    (now there is a chicken/egg question: do low birthrates free women up to do something other than wife-and-mother all their lives, or do women who decide to do something other than wife/mom just wind up having significantly fewer children?)

    Times change, the way people envision their relationships and their family lives change with them. I’m just not convinced there is one single one-size-fits-all “natural order of things.” A range of interesting possibilities, one longish life to try to live them all out– or to live one or two, as deeply as possible. I’m glad I’m married and do tend to be a lil submissive… though my husband prefers a more egalitarian, “partner” model and hates when I dither and defer decisions to him. To him it’s oppressively lazy on my end, not endearingly feminine. There is a twelve-year age difference between us… I think on some level I wanted someone to be In Charge so I wouldn’t have to be, or I knew marrying a guy that much older would actually give me a stronger position in the relationship… or something. Eh. Maybe I just liked *him.* My girlfriends were all convinced when I got married that I had “daddy issues” and maybe they were right after all. lol )

    So anyway, it seems odd to me when people insist that that is what “men” really want, as if they are 3 billion identically-reared clones. Or to insist that *all* women secretly want someone to dominate them.

    Maybe some significant percentage of them?

  25. “I don’t necessarily think that we need to cast off the traditional names of “husband” and “wife”- nor do we need to strip them of their sexual undertones, but remember, just like anything can be framed as submissive or dominant, so too can anything be framed as “sexy” or “boring.” It’s really all in how you define it, and how your relationship defines itself. ”

    Right? I was thinking about this WRT Athol’s suggestion that the first thing a guy in a flailing marriage needs to do is Hit The Gym. (which I do not disagree with, mind you! Appearance is so important in attraction: it’s funny how good people are at understanding this when they are single and how quickly they forget once they’ve settled into a relationship!)

    He frames it as sort of an alpha-caveman-big-muscles thing… but in a way it’s pretty “beta” too, because it’s changing your own physical appearance and habits– for the sake of female approval!

  26. Danceny says:

    @Dean: First, per capita GDP has been doubling since ~1820 and has stagnated for all but the elite since the 1970s.

    Second, careerist sluts aren’t the inevitable outcome of economic surplus. Women still face an inherent tradeoff between child rearing and career, cock carouseling and marriage. What made the difference was unilateral no-fault divorce, rapacious child support laws, and the welfare state bailout of single mothers. Women have all this economic power mostly because it is forcibly taken from their cuckolded ex-husbands or from the productive AFC population in general. There was even an academic paper that analyzed all the factors in women initiating divorce and concluded that it comes down to their expectation of getting sole or primary custody + child support.

    This legal revolution in the early ’70s was a necessary (though not sufficient) cause of today’s sexual dystopia.

  27. Danceny says:

    @Athol: It wouldn’t be that hard to create a MUCH more equitable marriage system. We need to kill no-fault divorce. Divorce only at-fault (cruelty, adultery, abandonment, insanity, incarceration … that’s about it) or by mutual consent. Otherwise, wife can walk away, but she can’t take the kids or any of the martial property beyond what she came in with.

  28. @Danceny – that would require a 24/7 police state to prove some of those things to a jury/family court. Also women will now have to have husbands they wish to be rid of killed or otherwise tricked into illegal activity. Imagine all the false rape claims on husbands once you take away no fault divorce.

    Personally I think some of the solution lies in mandatory paternity testing. I believe the marriage laws are going to become increasingly fluid over the next 20-30 years.

  29. Danceny says:

    @Athol: The whole reason for the “no-fault” revolution was the lack of a provision for divorce by mutual consent. And yes, you’d have to show cause in court to initiate divorce — I don’t see the problem. AFAIK there weren’t tons of false marital rape accusations before 1970. There was a cottage industry of lawyers who would coach couples on mutually fabricated abuse stories, etc. when both husband and wife wanted out, esp in California, where the first no-fault law was enacted in 1969. The system needed one tweak: no-fault divorce *by mutual consent*. What we got instead was *unilateral* no-fault divorce — followed swiftly by punitive child support, WIC, VAWA, etc.

    Is marriage going to be a serious legal contract, or just a legally fictitious pretext for a Princess Dress-Up Party?

    Divorce was traditionally not a means of breaking a marriage contract but a legal recourse for the aggrieved spouse when the contract was already broken via adultery, abandonment, etc.

  30. holdingallthecards says:

    @Danceny: the big picture of marriage and divorce is that you should not be forcing someone to be with you that does not love or like you. Whatever the laws are of your state, don’t you want a happy, loving spouse? What is to be gained by being a tyrannt insisting on death till you part? Certainly not sex. Just a pillpopping, drinking wife trying to cope with her prison.

    Revisit your wedding vows for the spirit of the contract.

  31. Nanasha says:

    Well, if we want to be fair, then perhaps all marriage licenses should come with an entire list of things that can and will happen if people divorce, just so you know what you’re getting into. Then no one can really complain if they get screwed out later- they were given the facts and they didn’t listen. Also, give more power to pre-nups and give them legal teeth (or just make them mandatory so everyone has to do them to get legally married. No one *has* to get married, and in fact, there are a lot of people who purposefully stay unmarried just to avoid the legal bullshit.

    I’m not trying to say that I have no sympathy for women or men who get screwed in marriage (I know a bunch of guys who got screwed, but I also know of situations such as my mother-in-law, whose husband got her into over 20,000 dollars of credit card debt, took the house because he didn’t have a job so she had to move out into an apartment, and the only reason he didn’t get full custody of my husband in the divorce was because he was already 18 by the time they actually did it. They garnished her wages for years afterwards too.) It’s all about the person who makes more money in the relationship and brings more tangible assets to the table, which is why ideally you should both make comparable amounts of money and be similarly minded when it comes to career and family stuff (I highly agree with Athol about the whole career SAHM/SAHD thing- it is a potential hazard that really requires your relationship to be on Elite Hyper Trust Level).

    And as for the whole name thing- why should men be forced to pay more money and spend more time to do something that women don’t have to go through at all? I find that to be very sexist against fully grown, adult men who can decide whether or not they want to change their last names after marriage with the same ease and comfort as a woman (if your name is Assbutton, for example, that might be a good idea). Many a woman has been able to cast away a hated birth-surname away with marriage, so why shouldn’t men have the same option?

  32. @holdingallthecards The spirit of the contract isn’t the actual contract. Not in marriage law or any other branch of law. When push comes to shove, only the actual contract is of any meaning.

    A spouse can ride completely roughshod over the spirit of the contract, yet stay within the bounds of the actual contract. A wife for example could totally refuse a sexual relationship with her husband, and have multiple affair partners and it would all be completely legal. Nor would she be “at fault”.

    The intention of allowing no fault divorce was to allow cases of mutual agreement to divorce go ahead without forcing either of the parties to do something stupid/horrible/illegal. The unintended side effect of this “good idea” has been the rise of the divorce culture. One of the main points of the post is that rule changing is a very difficult thing to do to create a stable system.

  33. @Nanasha You would think you had to take a class or something wouldn’t you.

  34. In my state, as I understand the matter, divorce is no-fault but division of assets can take fault into account. Seems pretty reasonable to me. Having to prove fault seems like it would drag the proceedings out forever. Division of the assets is where the rubber really hits the road!

    I don’t know about divorce-by-mutual-consent, sounds interesting but does that not kind of take away from say, running a MAP? You can’t be like, okay, get off your ass, get a real job, drop those extra 80 lbs and start participating in this relationship, or I’m (unilaterally) filing and there will be nothing you can do to stop me.

    Some people honestly excel at doing the absolute bare minimum.

  35. Draggin says:

    RE: “the big picture of marriage and divorce is that you should not be forcing someone to be with you that does not love or like you. Whatever the laws are of your state, don’t you want a happy, loving spouse? What is to be gained by being a tyrannt insisting on death till you part? Certainly not sex. Just a pillpopping, drinking wife trying to cope with her prison.”

    Is this what they call a strawman argument? It reminds me of the “Women shouldn’t have to stay married to wife-beaters” argument. Few people dispute that people that loathe, mutilate and maim each other should be able to divorce. However, this is not the reason that most women are choosing divorce these days. The biggest divorce model right now is the “I love you but I’m not in love with you” marriage death sentence.

    Unfortunately, society gave women unilateral divorce, which has screwed them over by giving them short-term happiness, control, and a false sense of independence by handing them a whack of cash and multiple offers of sex. Society would do much better to give people the message that marriage takes hard work and to get their expectations in line with reality. Maybe even point women to the study showing that if they stick it out a couple more years (and do a bit of work on themselves) that their greatest chance of LONG_TERM happiness is right where they are.

    @danceny: Thank you for pointing out that the biggest problem with no-fault divorce isn’t the no-fault part, but the unilateral aspect of it. I needed that spelled out and I will find it useful. It will make debates around the campfire a lot cooler as there will be fewer strawmen to throw on the flames.

  36. What is so horrible about “I love you but I’m not in love with you?” It is honest. Sometimes you can do something about it and sometimes it’s too far gone.

    Keeping the facade in place when the spirit has died is not necessarily a horrible choice, depending, but it’s not necessarily admirable either. And… when you are stuck with someone who is content with a whitewashed facade, how do you motivate her/him to start doing something about the dying spirit within?

    As to money, if it is true that in a marriage all the money is “our money” then how does that stop being true at its termination? I had children and stayed home with them, sacrificing career and such, not to become a secondclass citizen permanently in hock to my husband, but because that was a division of labor that kept us both from running ourselves ragged. We agreed to it back then, and when I thanked him the other day for “buying me a new corset” he said, “you know, it is your money, too, not just mine.”

    If our marriage ended, I would not expect to walk away completely impoverished just because I was not working while our kids were babies. If that were how it worked, you’d have to be seriously brainwashed and/or stupid to ever sacrifice your career for your kids.

  37. And my goodness, Draggin, sometimes sticking it out “a few more years” helps, and sometimes… it does not. I’ve been googling that study about how waiting five years often improves a marriage for four years now. lol Any day now, right! ;) Prosperity is just around the corner.

    If it is true that a woman’s sexual marketplace value is precipitously ever-declining, then maybe she ought *not* mark time too awful long, assuming what she really wants in life is a great sexual/romantic partnership.

  38. Draggin says:

    “What is so horrible about “I love you but I’m not in love with you?” It is honest. Sometimes you can do something about it and sometimes it’s too far gone. “”

    The honesty part is not horrible. Saying it on the way out the door is. If it is said as an introduction to “Let’s see what we can do to spark the attraction again, then it can be a very good thing to hear.

    Really though, ILYBINILWY is about false expectations. Society leads women to believe that the way you can tell that you are “in love” is that you have a constant tingle in his presence, whereas we now know that is just a cycle of hormones that nature has given us to bond us together long enough to raise an infant to childhood, averaging about two years. Now, knowing that, can you expect to be 100% all the time “in love” with anyone ever? The answer is no. You will go through cycles of that “in love” feeling though. You get to decide if you want to do that with the same person or try it with someone new. google “ILYBINILWY” and spend a couple of months reading if that doesn’t cover it for you.

    For example, my ex and I went through that “in love” phase several times, but then time, stress, and real life would kick in. That was before I learned everything I know now, so looking back I actually did pretty well despite my upbringing. We recognized those cycles but on the last downturn she decided that she needed to try it with someone else and I quote “before I get too old for anyone else to want me”. She is supposedly happy in her new relationship but guess who is upset that I don’t want to be her beta anymore and sends me emails above how she misses a lot of our life together?

    “Keeping the facade in place when the spirit has died is not necessarily a horrible choice, depending, but it’s not necessarily admirable either. And… when you are stuck with someone who is content with a whitewashed facade, how do you motivate her/him to start doing something about the dying spirit within?”
    Short answer. Read more MMSL. Ask your specific questions in the forum and follow the advice you get.

    No one ever said to keep up a facade or stay with someone indefinitely that is unwilling to change for the better. That is disingenuous. Almost everyone in our society will either tell you to try something to fix your marriage, or push you to divorce. If you still love him, choose to grow that instead of taking the easy way out and hunting down a new tingle. Yes, you do have a choice in how you are going to act. Don’t stick around waiting for something to magically happen. You need to make it happen or go down trying if you don’t want to live a lifetime of regrets.

    “If it is true that a woman’s sexual marketplace value is precipitously ever-declining, then maybe she ought *not* mark time too awful long, assuming what she really wants in life is a great sexual/romantic partnership.”

    True. Except you need to realize that your SMV has already declined and odds are that you won’t be able to get a better man than you got the first time. If he has declined in SMV/MMV and is incapable of improving, then you might indeed be better off leaving him and rolling the dice again. But remember, all the good guys that you might want are still married or have been burned by walk away wives. Even the feminists are bemoaning the lack of good men these days….

  39. @Dean: First, per capita GDP has been doubling since ~1820 and has stagnated for all but the elite since the 1970s.

    Agreed. But what you could do with the same dollar is alot more now than it was in 1970. There were no cell phones in 1970. Wealth has increased.

    Second, careerist sluts aren’t the inevitable outcome of economic surplus. Women still face an inherent tradeoff between child rearing and career, cock carouseling and marriage.

    Agreed. At least at this level of technology. But 200 years from now given there is no civlizational setback?

    What made the difference was unilateral no-fault divorce, rapacious child support laws, and the welfare state bailout of single mothers.

    I’m a minarchist libertarian not a conservative so I’m tired with conservatives bitching about no-fault divorce. The gov’t shouldn’t be involved with marriage except to enforce legitimate contracts and provide non-egalitarian default rules. I agree that the welfare state has been a nightmare and it HAS affected the sexual market.

    Women have all this economic power mostly because it is forcibly taken from their cuckolded ex-husbands or from the productive AFC population in general.

    Half right which is actually worse than being totally wrong. Yes there has been a MASSIVE redistribution of wealth because of the egalitarian ideology at the heart of modern liberalism (which conservatives are powerless to stop b/c they could never challenge Christian ethics). But if you removed the redistributive welfare state you would have an economy ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE greater than ours. What would women do in THAT society. Pine away to be mothers and wives. Doubtful. IT IS WEALTH which is PRIMARILY responsible for today’s sexualized culture. Remove the welfare state and the regulatory state and we would only be that much wealthier.

    There was even an academic paper that analyzed all the factors in women initiating divorce and concluded that it comes down to their expectation of getting sole or primary custody + child support.

    I don’t doubt it. But the problem there is the egalitarian assumptions that the LEFT has worked into marriage law. Egalitarianism has replaced Christianity as the dominant religion of the West. In fact it is essentially a secularization of Christianity; ie Christianity without god or if you like a Christian heresy.

    This legal revolution in the early ’70s was a necessary (though not sufficient) cause of today’s sexual dystopia.

    It was part of it. But the dystopia is the result of post modern philosophy and of Leftist progressivism. BUT, you were still going to get a breakdown of the nuclear family with WEALTH.

    That is the point I was making.

  40. There is a twelve-year age difference between us… I think on some level I wanted someone to be In Charge so I wouldn’t have to be, or I knew marrying a guy that much older would actually give me a stronger position in the relationship… or something.

    Just wanted to comment on this. 12 years is not “much older”. 15+ is older. 20+ is “much older”. Women should be marrying men 10-15 years older on average. That’s the perfect setup.

  41. @Myrtle- when someone generally says “I love you but I’m not in love with you” it’s not because they don’t actually love that person (unless they’re just using it as a lie to break up with you gently- I have encountered a version of this from a guy I dated in high school who used the “I’m not ready for a relationship” line and then went and dated some girl who cheated on him with his own brother in a week or two of getting together with her then dumped his ass), but it *is* a symptom of stagnation in the relationship.

    One of the things I often suggest to people who tell me “I don’t feel feelings of love towards my spouse/significant other but I still feel close to them and care about them” is to consciously work in three things each day:

    1) Spend at least 15-20 minutes facing one another in conversation about something meaningful and interesting to both of you that isn’t just work/kids/household crap. Extra points if you’re laughing/ at ease. Super extra points for having a meal together and not having TV/Phones/Computers distracting you.

    2) Touch one another for at *least* 5-10 seconds every time you see each other. Hug in the morning, stroke their arm, hold hands, kiss with tongue. Make your touches meaningful, not just routine.

    3) Do a physical activity together and make it into a routine. A short walk around the block, sex, Wii Sports, etc. It doesn’t have to be an hour, just 20 minutes at the most.

    All three of these behaviors help to release positive bonding and love feelings if the question is just people taking one another for granted and getting into lazy relationship coasting mode.

    But it first takes the strength for the person who is being all “I love you but I’m not in love with you” to actually take RESPONSIBILITY for their feelings and not just blame it on their spouse and try and take the lazy way out by acting morally superior like they have nothing to do with their own feelings.

  42. @Draggin: Nice posts. I’ve never argued against no-fault divorce without getting clobbered with one straw man after another. And notice that even the system I propose favors women, since it wouldn’t let a man legally opt out on the grounds of “sexless marriage”. His wife would have to grant a divorce and thus it would be on her terms with respect to custody/child support.

  43. Oh, I don’t think I would ever want to remarry. A nice FWB kind of thing would suit me fine in my dotage. Less pressure. Or a vibrator, lol. Even less pressure.

    I think my current marriage is actually decent on the whole… I’d rate it a solid 5 on the seven point scale. Could be better, could definitely be worse! Worth holding onto for da kids, at any rate.

    But my baby making and rearing days are very hopefully over, and without that, why marriage? I am firing up my lil MAP in hopes of improving things at home, and barring that want to be sufficiently independent not to NEED a man.

    I do think twelve years is probably a bit too much of a spread, depending. My husband seemed so young, vibrant, funny at thirty,four, but his forties have been pretty hard on him. A small taste of what is to come, I expect. Something to remember for anyone thinking of picking a partner with a significant gap.

  44. Anyway, my arguments here have little to do with my relationship. More in general, I think it was always a pretty crappy idea to force people to stay together just for the sake of not defiling a social institution. Make the women’s labor valueless so she will have to value the man she married at eighteen? I guess I don’t get why some people think that is desirable.

  45. Anyway, apologies for the serial posting. It is surprisingly difficult to talk about marriage in general, relationships in general, accurately describe my own marriage AND explain how my personal experiences and observations color my views of the subject generally. In small posts, no less! I have been married a mere nine years and a whole friggen novel written by an omniscient narrator would not capture the entirety of that relationship.

    So kudos to Athol for doing it well, and respectfully.

  46. I totally disagree with Dean that women ‘should’ be marrying men 10-15 years older. i daresay some young women want to be married to much older men, but I never did, and I am sure that many young women nowadays don’t want to be married to older men either. I always liked men close to my own age. There is no ‘should’ and if women want to marry older men, good luck to them. But I always liked them young and lusty myself.

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