Captain and First Officer When The Marriage is Slamming Into Icebergs

Some follow up from the last two posts.

(1)  I’ve had a small explosion of email, messages and forum comments of people vomiting their guts up about their own personal Elephant in the Room. This is all good.

(2)  I’ve also had a fair number of emails and comments to the effect of, “Okay I admit to having screwed it all up, having missed how unhappy she was. But then she did [totally inappropriate behavior]. Am I really to blame for all that?”

Too long didn’t read….  hit an iceberg and it’s the Captain’s fault.

Long answer… and please, remember this is a blog post using the broad brush…

Whether the husband knows it or not, and even whether the wife knows it or not, almost always their biology is going to assume a male Captain, female First Officer arrangement. We can fill our heads with anything we want to believe about relationships, but for almost all of us, when the going gets really tough, our Body Agenda simply asserts itself and starts making making decisions based on a Captain and First Officer model.

Or put another way…you can have a wonderful equal relationship for years on end… but when something really blows the hell up… *poof!*  suddenly you’re the Captain and she’s the First Officer.

I realize that sounds like a terrible cop out I’m handing the wives, but I’m just saying that this is exactly what happens routinely in times of relationship stress. This is exactly what women are designed to do. Women are programmed on a deep biological level to seek out and attach themselves to men who are “winners”. So when you suddenly start racking up some serious losses, women start reassessing the entire relationship.

That reassessment isn’t a hair-trigger thing. You’re not going to be dumped for one bad day or individual failure. Wives look at their husbands a little like a sports fan following their favorite team. You aren’t expecting a perfect season, but you want to at least see some sort of reasonable hope that this year you could get to the playoffs… and if not this year, at least it looks like someone made some coherent choices about it being a rebuilding season. But obviously watching endless grinding failure after failure… well it’s all hard going continuing to follow this team if you know what I mean.

So all usually goes quite well for a while, until there’s some sort of terrible screw up. If the screw up is hers, suddenly she’s the First Officer and she cries her eyes out and limps to the Captain to save the day. If the screw up is his, the First Officer thinks the Captain is an idiot and expects him to clean the mess up… and if the clean up isn’t good enough… it’s at this point she starts checking out of the marriage.

So almost always, the critical error that starts the real relationship momentum downwards, is the husband’s.

And once again just to be clear – that sounds like I’m blaming the man and giving the woman a free pass – I’m not, I’m just explaining what actually happens. I get that on a rational level as you read it, it’s insulting to both men and women.

So there’s some sort of critical incident that happens, and it’s very likely a completely legitimate “Dude WTF were you thinking?” incident, that the wife is pretty well justified in feeling hurt or angered by. Then the checking out process starts for the wife and the relationship starts to decline over a period of months, or vastly more likely… years.  During that time of decline, the wife is typically making several attempts to signal her unhappiness with her husband, but they also are typically not heard well enough for the husband to recognize and make amends.

Eventually enough attempts to communicate that go unheeded take place and the wife gives up on the relationship completely and stops making attempts to signal distress. Typically at this point the husband can mistakenly believe the relationship has improved because she stopped complaining. In fact though, it’s in a very bad place. Once the wife is fully checked out, that’s when all the truly nasty stuff that a wife who holds her husband in contempt starts happening. The lies, the cheating, the divorce papers, the gathering up the children and fleeing out of state et al. This often takes him by complete surprise because he thinks the relationship is fine.

So… let’s assign the blame…

For the husband, whether he knew it or not, he was always the Captain. He was always the one more responsible for the relationship outcome than the wife was. Just like in any other team arrangement, the team leader is more responsible for the team than the other team members are. So the totality of the marriage is more his fault than her fault. This is an extraordinarily bitter pill for a man to swallow in the aftermath of the failure of his marriage.

For the individual critical incident where the husband screwed up, well obviously that’s his fault. I think that’s simple enough to understand.

The failure of communication about her distress to him, is again his fault. It is always the team leader that is responsible for a team’s communication. Likewise if a team leader screws up something, it should not require dramatic efforts on the part of a team member, to draw the team leaders attention to the mess. My advice in my last post, How To Fair Warning a Husband That Doesn’t Listen (Before Things Are Too Late To Fix) , lays out some suggestions for dramatic efforts for the wife to gain her husband’s attention when he is ignoring her.

In terms of all the crazy, nasty, evil shit the wife did when she’s checked out of the marriage…all of that is her fault. She’s making conscious choices when she fucks around on her husband et al.

Plus by the time the relationship is really getting bad, both parties are usually treating each other with varying degrees of anger, insult and contempt. That’s equal blame.

In terms of cleaning up the mess and starting over, that’s a whole other post’s worth of stuff to get into. Suffice it to say though, without a clear admission of wrongdoing and genuine apology for their part of the mess, it’s not going to work very well as a clean up. There’s always something for both sides of the couple to be genuinely sorry for, before major relationship drama can be gotten past and healing take place. I strongly advise NOT to try and persist in rebuilding a marriage after an affair has taken place, unless both the cheater and the betrayed spouse can understand their roles in creating the situation where an affair happened AND they make a genuine admission of apology.

Unless you can find the root cause of the affair (Often it’s The Elephant in the Room) and fix that, you’re very likely only going to have a temporary lull in the decline of the relationship.

But don’t misunderstand this point either. Sometimes so much damage is done as the relationship falls apart, that one or both halves of the couple simply cannot move past it. There may also have be serious structural changes happening that impede fixing things. Genuine apology is never a bad thing, but it’s also not a magical cure either.

That being said, I’ve seen MMSL work some impressive recoveries.

Explaining more… buy the book.  Need support… join the forum.


  1. A beautiful explanation. From my own experience, it rings brutally true. Had I simply divorced my wife after years of bitterness, I never would have addressed any of my own numerous shortcomings in our relationship and almost certainly would’ve just gotten in a rinse and repeat cycle with the next wife.

    I don’t agree with your assertion about affairs (“unless both the cheater and the betrayed spouse can understand their roles in creating the situation where an affair happened AND they make a genuine admission of apology”). If the wife is the betrayer, I don’t think reconciliation is advisable or even possible, period, regardless of her post-affair understanding. In my opinion, this can only work with a cheating husband.

  2. Good drill down, and I will be forwarding.

    Unfortunately, while 100% accurate and true, it also reinforces that marriage has no practical value to a man in 2013. Not when casual sex with attractive women is easy for the informed (red pill). Maybe commit if you want to have kids and you have really refined your filter and can wade through the 95% of skanks to get to the 5% of truly high end girls that can ever pairbond naturally, MAYBE. Reality is that there is a better than 75% chance you are going to be a single father anyway, so why give up a house and half your stuff for a statistically inevitable outcome.

    Expect fertility rates to fall further as that reality attacks hypergamistic behaiviors of the femalus Americus and men choose beer, buddies, and BuckHunter.

  3. Still not sure I accept all your premises, but I’ve got to compliment you on the post. A vast, vast improvement in cogency, tone and nuance over your previous two posts.

  4. In my first marriage I knew and accepted that it was my fault. There were no affairs or bad behavior. In fact, I turned to religion and the solution I thought would work. I “turned the other cheek” to her outbursts and just tried to be nicer and nicer (which I now know as being more beta). As I became more beta and did everything (dishes, cooking, laundry, childcare) she held me in higher and higher contempt. Her anger grew until I feared living with her as she became more abusive. I never understood what was going on until I read MMSL.

    So, yes it was my fault. but my solution was the opposite of what she needed. I am happy to say that after reading The Game and MMSL my second marriage is bliss – and I don’t have to do all the household chores I did before!

  5. So staying in a bad marriage is like continuing to be a Lions fan, great.

    Actually Athol, you wisdom has turned my marriage into a very good one and I thank you for that.

    But now can you write a book for the Lions, they really need some help from someone.

  6. He’s only repeating what he’s already said, if perhaps a bit more explicitly.

  7. This is exactly what I was getting at when I said that IF you accept the Captain/FO model, then in the end a failure is ALWAYS the guys fault. Even if he was completely unaware of the impending doom, at the end of it all it falls to HIS shoulders. It is part of the “responsibility” for being in charge.

    Think of it this way: when I manage a group at work for a project, the success or failure of the project largely rests in the hands of the people working for me. But, in the end, I am the one held to task if it fails, and I’m also the one that gets the kudos when it succeeds. As a rule of thumb, I always do my best to make sure management understands the individual contributions to the project and how the success was a shared victory, but if/when there is a failure, I simply accept it as my fault and learn from it as best as I can. IF we failed, it was because *I* failed to properly manage my people and/or the resources at my disposal. If there is a problem with an individual, it is my responsibility to fix it or replace them BEFORE the project sinks into a hole.

    It is no different IMO than managing a marriage. My wife is basically my ‘project crew’ and together our job is to make our marriage successful. When that happens, I make sure we both get to share in the glory. But, when it fails, I take it upon myself to figure out why and how, and to make sure it doesn’t happen again. That includes discussing it with my wife if she played a part in that failure, but I DO NOT assign blame. It serves no purpose, and weakens her trust in my ability to fix it and move on.

  8. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    “Maybe commit if you want to have kids and you have really refined your filter and can wade through the 95% of skanks to get to the 5% of truly high end girls that can ever pairbond naturally, MAYBE.”

    %95 of women are skanks and they are unmarriable… Really?

    “Reality is that there is a better than 75% chance you are going to be a single father anyway, so why give up a house and half your stuff for a statistically inevitable outcome.”

    Not even %75 of blue pill men become single fathers… Red pill guys are much more likely to understand the necessary steps to save the marriage and to not go through divorce.
    And why don’t you pick a woman who makes just as much as you in income? You pick a SAHM, then you complain about how unfair it is for men after divorce.

    I get that marriage isn’t exactly the most enticing route to take for a young man who knows game. Heck, marriage isn’t probably even worth it if you don’t want kids,. But when you select your FO carefully and you have the information to run the marriage smoothly, is it really that terrible a deal some make it out to be? I don’t think so.

  9. The problem with modern marriage is not the fault of the Captain, if you want to use Star Trek as an example, the problem rests with the training from Star Fleet Academy. Truth be told most of us Captains are not dealing with FO’s , we are dealing with Ferengi, particularly the 16th Rule of Acquisition:

    16. A deal is a deal…until a better one comes along.

    Remember the 16th Rule, put a sticky note quoting it on the bathroom mirror, the fridge, have it engraved on your favorite ring, chant it at dawn everyday and the world is yours……….

  10. “16. A deal is a deal…until a better one comes along.”


    imagine if the majority of men practiced this once they discovered how to interact with women properly and weren’t in starvation mentality. Imagine if they were just as sexually successful as women are by default.

    You get cads/pua’s/pump n dump artiste’s!

    The only difference is time. One will leave you after a year, the other will curb you before sunrise.

    Marriage is only worthwhile if you can drill down a woman into the class of redpill/self reflecting/introspecting/empathic/aware of her own hypergamy/non feminist influenced. When i meet a woman im interested in, i usually don’t want to waste any time so i will rapid fire a checklist of quick verbiage at her to determine if there is cause to continue a conversation.

    – Are you a feminist > Yes > end conversation
    – Do you think men can get sex easily > Yes > end conversation
    – Explain hypergamy to a woman. Does she bitterly fight the explanation? > Yes > end conversation
    – Ask her if she gets mad when she hears ‘make me a sammich’. > Yes > end conversation.

    If you’re planning on marriage, it behooves you to marry ONLY women who are marriage worthy. Dalrock made a great checklist of his own (too lazy to dig up the link) that you should run past a future potential wife. Otherwise, stay a bachelor. Too much risk out there.

  11. You’ve taken the captain/first mate model too far. The model fit better several decades ago before no-fault divorces/financial rape in court and before women had fewer options to be self-sufficient in the work force. For this model to hold true, there has to be some consequence for insubordination by the first officer. Currently the first mate can mutiny if they don’t get their way and the government will give them half the ship for their behavior. The captain can be a very good leader with no major screw ups, but without rules and consequences to keep the “crew” in line the captain is limited in his ability to run the ship thus is also limited in responsibility when things go bad. Rare is the crew that is willing to be led by a good leader without real authority. Most require real authority to back up the leadership and unfortunately this is no longer a feature of today’s marriage system. This is why is it even more critical now to either avoid marriage all-together or really find the right woman who has a submissive spirit.

    Just because men have a greater tendency to accept responsibility and blame doesn’t mean they are the most to blame. You give women a pass by saying they are merely following what they are designed to do:
    “This is exactly what women are designed to do. Women are programmed on a deep biological level to seek out and attach themselves to men who are “winners”. So when you suddenly start racking up some serious losses, women start reassessing the entire relationship.”
    Men are evolutionarily designed to seek strange and fresh pussy. Just because the wife gets old, fat or dry (note: even if she is still young and perky she is still the same pussy day after day) doesn’t give the husband the right to act on his instinct. His has a duty is to the marriage that trumps instinct. In the same way women are to blame when they give in to their instinct and abandon their duty to the marriage. Regardless of the leadership given by the captain, in marriage the women is signing up to serve with her captain. If she distances due to failure or poor leadership it is her choice, her dereliction of duty, and her blame.

  12. M3 , I used to believe that, hell I didn’t get married until I was almost 34 and my X checked off all the good stuff off the list better than anyone I’d ever met. The problem is there is no check list that will do anything more than screen the woman you are dealing with right now. People change over time, a lot of people lose themselves at middle age and do things that would have horrified and disgusted them just a year before. I’ve watched solid women who wouldn’t say shit if their mouth was full of it hit middle age dump their entire families and kids to shack up with serial cheating men with pregnant wives. So, in a lot of cases we are not dealing with logic or a set of rules to go by. Rule 16 is about as close as any ironclad one you are going to find useful long term

  13. While I have no doubt the men you talk to, being American Men, are quite horrible people, the women are even worse because they are horrible people with the laws backing. As for your point, it’s as true as far as it goes. And it doesn’t go far in marriage. Biologically, body-agenda wise, a male should cease to allocate resources to a woman once she is passed breeding age. So practically speaking, if everyone wants loaded guns, then everyone should get loaded guns and have a wild time.

  14. Athol,
    I think going into advice for wives (Married Woman’s Sex Life) is a good idea, but you need to start with the first stages. Despite what women say, many of them don’t know how to complain. In fact, I’ve been looking back on my relationships to see how to advise my daughter’s so they don’t make the same mistakes the women who loved me and lost me made. Some things:
    1. If he doesn’t do what you expect, he probably didn’t expect the same things you did; ask him about it.
    2. Sex is either No or an enthusiastic Yes; not an nenthusiastic yes.
    3. If you try to introduce jealousy, you have to do it so he believes he is still number1. If you and he are on different pages with this, it will blow up. I see now that several women expected me to take charge when I saw myself as trying to steal them from thier boyfriend.

  15. Yes, struck ice berg – captain will get the blame. His job is successful navigation of the waters.

    First officer decides she does not want to work for the Captain anymore, and that is his fault too? First Officer decides that the best way to show the Captain her desire to work her own boat is by running the ship aground, setting fire to the engine room, and offing all the passengers that would side with the Captain and this is his fault too?

    The problem begins when the first officer has a problem, then she goes to the captain, and if it is something the captain can’t fix, even though he had no hand in causing the problem, she checks out and its his fault.

    again, you are missing where the problem starts.

    sabotage starts in the heart of the saboteur, not the captain of the ship.

  16. @GLH: “First officer decides she does not want to work for the Captain anymore, and that is his fault too?”

    If he doesn’t address that there’s a problem, yes. That’s Athol’s point.

    If he addresses it, fixes what he can fix, and she still doesn’t get on board, that’s on her.

  17. FlybyNight says:

    Great. My job and responsiblity is to manage the emotions of an 8 year old. I think I will take a pass.

  18. I was always ready to take the blame for my relationship failures. That didn’t accomplish much when I had a false concept of what was wrong. So I think the current emphasis on blame is of little help.

  19. Why would anyone Captain a ship where they get all the blame even if they aren’t steering? Unless you are a Christian, I don’t see anyone taking up this job offer. Good advice for those already signed to a contract

  20. “16. A deal is a deal…until a better one comes along.”

    And because women take that attitude way too far…they have ruined marriage throughout most of Western Civilization.

    They can enjoy their cats, I will enjoy the decline.

  21. Fred Flange says:

    This isn’t about “it’s all the menz fault”. But if you’re the Captain, and like on the Exxon Valdez you’re asleep/drunk in your cabin or otherwise unaware, then that faliure IS your fault. Doesn’t let the FO off the hook, of course, I get the sense from some comments that FO’s are getting a free pass, they are not. And sure you can only steer to the best of your ability. If a Russian meteor hits you, you can’t plan in advance for something like that; if you have a saboteur on board, likewise.

    I like that Rule 16 though, that should be in the new book, it does sum up all modern relationships really. Not being cynical. Going into a marriage can still be a good deal, but it has to be faced squarely and thought through. Obviously there is no guarantee of eternal bliss, not that there ever really was one, settling down was just what people were “expected” to do. Now we know women have lots of options; men need reminders that they do too, and should choose them wisely. Which includes not marrying or committing to a family PERIOD unless you have consciously decided that is what you want to do, and accept those risks.

  22. @wifey

    Again, both of you are missing the point. It all begins with HER PROBLEM and HER INABILITY to solve it and HER NOT TAKING OWNERSHIP.

    That is where the problem begins – if that part did not happen, then the Captain’s subsequent actions would never come into question because HER INITIAL FAILURE did not take place.

    I’ve been aboard military ship as enlisted crew and I clearly recall the First Officer not letting anything go all the way to the top and having the responsibility of fixing it before it got to the Captain’s ears.

    ‘Athol’s point” misses completely the fact that when the First Officer comes to the Captain with a problem HE ACKNOWLEDGES HIS IN ABILITY TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM.

    “Skipper, I think you ought to see this.” “Cap, we have a problem with one of the generators.” “Sir, the waste matter has colided with the mechanical air moving device on the flight deck.”

    When a woman screws up to the point that is could shift the marriage paradigm (in “Athol’s Point’), she has no responsibility to acknowledge her short comings, nor her mistep in whatever this problem is, nor even to alert the Captain.

    In “Athol’s Point” the First Officer knows there is a problem, but waits until the alarms are sounding, the boat goes into the trough and the bridge is full of smoke and then, if the Captain can’t put the fire out, repair the steering, and get the engine started all by his onesy – TO HER SATISFACTION (per “Athol’s Point”) – SHE SCUTTLES THE SHIP AND JUMPS INTO A LIFEBOAT AND SAILS AWAY IN SEARCH OF ANOTHER CAPTAIN!

  23. @GLH

    While it feels like we may be carrying the C&FO analogy too far, much of what GLH wrote is why Athol’s last 3 posts have felt a little out of left field and need more clarification/re-writing. Here is what (I believe) Athol is saying:

    The FO has gone crazy trying to get the Captain to help/fix a HUGE MASSIVE ENTIRE-SHIP-ON-FIRE problem. The captain’s continued response has been nothing or LOL, etc. Athol then writes a post saying, blame that idiot captain, always the captain’s fault.

    In that case, it’s true. How did that captain get to be… you know… the captain to begin with??

    So what would have helped Athol’s post? Details about what sparked his irritation. Back story. What kind of captain are we supposed to blame every time? The one who diddles while the ship IS OBVIOUSLY BURNING UP AND EVERYONE IS SCREAMING AND DYING.

    I mean, that makes sense, right? I’d blame that fool every time. Many MMSLers have been (or are on) that kind of ship. Self-selected, I know, I know.

    Here’s the kicker—some of us were NOT EVEN CLOSE to that kind of dumbass-captainy crap. I’ve been hugely helped by MMSL, but when I read something like the “blame/flame all the captains” post without the much-needed back-story and where-is-this-coming-from detail… then it feels totally out of left field, and obviously out of line with the tone of the past 2.5 years of MMSL. (Yep, I’ve read all the way back to summer 2011 so far. Good stuff.)

    The great thing about MMSL is the sense of personal responsibility that pervades almost all its posts. The “men” Athol has been referring to in the last three posts…. well, I suspect that most of us would never even think to call them men. MMSL convinced me to work out with Mrs. DJ every day of the work week, and hugely cut back on drinking calories (juice, soda, my beloved whiskey, etc.). Throw in a few sexy moves, the classic answer to “do these pants make my ass look fat?” question, and surprise surprise, sex at least once a day.

    If my wife had found MMSL a few days before me and dropped nukes left and right…. I would have called her mother and an exorcist, because it wouldn’t have made sense at all.

  24. Trimegistus says:

    A lot of the commenters here are talking about fairness.

    Biology doesn’t give a shit about fairness. Is it fair that women can use their men as an emotional support, but for a man to do the same makes him look weak and unattractive? No, it isn’t fair. It’s biology. It’s as fair as the fact that men can’t get pregnant no matter how hard they try.

    Athol is describing the way things really are. Not the way they should be, or the way we would like them to be. If you don’t like the way things are, move to a different universe.

    Fact: the male-female relationship is horribly unfair. It’s also the only game in town.

  25. Biology doesn’t give a shit about fairness. Is it fair that women can use their men as an emotional support, but for a man to do the same makes him look weak and unattractive? No, it isn’t fair. It’s biology. It’s as fair as the fact that men can’t get pregnant no matter how hard they try.

    So when a woman is past breeding age, I should discard her. Oh wait. Yeah. Fairness matters there. Awesome.

    You were rambling some insane nonsense about “fairness not mattering”? How is that going now that I took you seriously?

  26. Trimegistus says:

    Whatev: You still don’t get it. You’re still trying to frame this as being about fairness.

    In the case of your example: consider that a great many men do just what you describe. They have a “midlife crisis” in their 40s-50s (when their wife is hitting her middle age drop in attractiveness). They pick up a younger, hotter second wife. Some men even manage to do it a second time in their sixties, getting yet another younger woman as the replacement ages out. Is any of that fair to the women he ditches? No, but it’s biology at work.

    Athol’s trying to give us the facts about how our brains work, so that we can make use of that information as we see fit. If you want to preserve your marriage as you’re hitting middle age, you need to be aware that your brain will start throwing out rationalizations for cheating or ditching the first wife. You also need to be aware of how your wife’s brain works, to keep yourself attractive to her so that she’ll be working toward the same goal you are.

    Bitching about unfairness is counterproductive. You can’t make the universe decide to be fair.

  27. PastorofMuppers says:

    FWIW, what @Trimegistus and @whatever are debating is social conditioning, not biology. There’s nothing in one’s biology that suggests a woman can use a man for emotional support but a man seeking the same from a woman is seen as weakness. It’s seen as weak because of evolved (and evolving) concepts of masculinity, not because of how our bodies work.
    People love to rationalize all sorts of bad behavior by blaming it on misinformed concepts of biology or what’s “natural.”

  28. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    I think a man letting a woman “use” him for emotional support is weak.

  29. Athol is describing the way things really are. Not the way they should be, or the way we would like them to be. If you don’t like the way things are, move to a different universe.

    So, Triggy, you 100% okay with men dumping their wives when they hit menopause or not? Maybe if those women don’t like it they should “move to a different universe”. I predict that Triggy will once again pretend to not get my point.

    As for that poor male teacher who discovered his degree was worthless and all his job experience worth nothing at +40 in the midst of the greatest Depression in the last 70 years… almost living memory… and was trapped in a marriage with a woman he did not choose, well, near menopause girl could have sucked it up. I know the little tramp expect man animal to fix it, but it’s time for her to put on her big girl pants and realize it isn’t fixable. The absolute best she can do is encourage him to get some job in something he likes no matter how low paying. And I don’t mean that like the 80 year old Greatest Whore who never worked a day in her life telling a young male animal to “get a job, any job”.

    That WAS her only option, unless she wanted to be single for the rest of her life. Which apparently she did. Choice made.

    For the non-mentally retarded, whore-girl isn’t the only canny slut who bailed on one of the 20% of all men of prime working age who are unemployed. Oh no. She is one of many. So there will be plenty of unemployed men for her to choose from. Now, the number of employed, unmarried, actually interested in her men compared to the number of single women (including those who dumped their loser husbands)?

    Well, that ratio is pretty bad. It is, in fact, stupidly high. Giggles high. Hee-hee high. I laugh at her suffering. And I mean that in all seriousness.

    Thanks for listening to this game of “talk the stupid slut down, talk the man up”. I know that is not the way things are SUPPOSED to be, but I believe turnabout is fair play.

  30. I’d also like to add,
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    “Precious egg”
    just in case you haven’t heard it before.

  31. One of things which can result of this lack of listening and responding correctly as an alpha vs a beta response can be depression in the wife also. She gives all the hints that she’s got issues and just needs support and proper tough love. The captain doesn’t listen and work to fix. She knows the wall, has kids she doesn’t want to leave, has a need to honor the marriage vows and a tendency towards depression. All this adds up and overwhelms her turning into even more triggers into depression.

    I have seen this in a couple wives I know. Based on my experiences running the MAP as the Captain some of this depression can be countered with strong captain/alpha direction. Not all.

  32. I dig Athol and he deserves much respect. We’re cutting a wide swath here though…it often happens in the business world that the underlings have no real clue what their boss really does. The boss could in fact be 1) a moron or 2) someone who lets you know only what they need to know as they navigate the BS landmines of upper mgt that you are incapable of understanding. My boss does this and clues me in ….btw she is a woman. And I know there are morons in senior upper mgt but they are not morons about everything. You never know until you sit in the big chair yourself.

    So yes the FO could come up to the Captain while he’s playing World of Warcraft and the sump pump could be spewing sewage all over the widows and orphans as they head right for an iceberg…and he could be like “whatever”. Or the FO could run up to the Captain after he has just McGyvered-up a solution that stopped the bridge from blowing up which will enable him to manuever past the the iceberg and the FO complains the refrigerator went out and her Perrier isn’t cold. And if the Captain reams her out, he is a heartless prick for not understanding her feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings.

    So it’s a power poker game. Maybe I am at fault for not steering the ship as best as I could for my ex; she made her calculation. Let her play her new hand of single mother in her 40s without a husband (whether I am a jerk or a saint, let whoever decide).

    I will play my hand as a 40s single male with a good job, armed with Game and a better understanding of the female hamster. And without a shrew going on about her not being haaaaapy.

    Do you want my cards or hers?

  33. @Athol – I believe you touched a nerve here.

    Personally, I agree with you and it played out just as you wrote in my marriage. Me (as the captain) just got tired and worn out. But being the Captain, I couldn’t just relinquish my duties, I had to soldier on, work harder – but once on a bad path and headed into the wrong direction – it’s can be difficult to get back on course. For both the Captain and the First Officer. Death a relationship, regardless of who is responsible, is still death.

  34. I agree with the broad brush strokes that Athol is painting with. Some commenters seem to be using the “Yes men do that but what about the women?” debate style to distract from the main thrust of the post, which is that men need to take responsibility for their own happiness, even if that means constantly learning how to keep your marriage on the rails. Whether or not you can nitpick over some minor details, he is 100% correct with the frame you need to have in your marriage and in your life. That is what acceptance of leadership and self-determination looks like.

    Men need to take charge of their lives. That means increasing their awareness of how the world works and continual learning. That is why you are reading this site. Trust But Verify applies to all of life, not just sexual fidelity.

    If there is an ONGOING problem in your marriage, that is your fault.
    1) Even if she initially caused it, it is still up to you to see that it is fixed. Blaming her, ignoring it, or expecting that she will fix it is passive and submissive. You need to work on a plan with her and make sure it is implemented and have consequences outlined so that it never happens again. If those consequences were clear in the beginning, the problem never would have happened.
    2) If you caused it. Your problem. Fix it.
    3) If you have tried to fix it but it can’t be fixed, get out of the marriage. Problem solved. Yes I know it is hard to implement consequences with marriage and kids. I am going through a divorce myself. I didn’t want it and did everything I could to make it work. We had our own elephant. I made all the changes I could see but she still wanted a divorce. She felt she didn’t want to put it in the work to fix the problem. At that point, I realized that I couldn’t fix the problem on my own and that if a marriage is not salvageable, it is almost always to advantageous to get out earlier rather than later, once the divorce strategy has been implemented.

    My bias is that my life turns out the way it does because of choices I make. If I am going to make choices, then I will assign the consequences (and blame) for those choices at my own feet. With my marriage, I understand that is my fault because I chose her, whether or not I had enough information on how woman act at the time. Trying to deny that I made that choice and assigning the blame of that poor choice to fate or society’s lies just keeps me stuck in a helpless, passive victim role. I reject that. Instead, I realize that although I didn’t realize how naive I was, I did choose to make a choice (and am to blame for that choice). That mindset allows me to learn from the consequences, to make new choices, and to realize that I need to always be questioning and never get complacent again. After all, I had several uncles that were married two or three times. I could have asked them what the hell was going on, but chose not to. Looking back, the warnings were in front of me and I chose not to follow up on them.

    On the other hand, if you don’t make choices, don’t think the outcomes of choices you do make matter, think that you have no control over how people treat you, and don’t think your life can be given direction by your actions, then you probably don’t need to bother reading MMSL in the first place. It won’t help you.

    Realize that the only person you can change is you. Other people will change in response to your actions. Once you achieve any sort of personal agency, trying to blame someone else for your life is counterproductive to your goals. Either you are leading or following. If you choose to be a follower then you don’t get to complain when your leader ultimately goes a different direction than you hoped. Yes, as a leader, someone may have thrown the result of their poor decision in your path. Now you need to deal with the problem or complain about it. Dealing with it is much more effective. Sometimes that involves a quick workaround. Sometimes it involves long-term consequences to the person that caused that problem.

  35. Let’s get one distinction clear in this tortured analogy: adultery isn’t an “iceberg.”

    The “iceberg” is something like, e.g., the husband as breadwinner losing his job unexpectedly, with no savings, just after signing a big mortgage. That’s the Captain’s fault — he should have anticipated it, had savings, held firm on a smaller house/mortgage/keep renting, had a backup income contingency, etc. I accept that’s 100% the man’s responsibility, and a man who then wants to blame his wife for “insisting on this big house” or whatever, is a pussy.

    OTOH, a wife committing adultery because she’s Cock Carousel alum, cum laude, and now “unhaaapy” because her husband is flunking shit-tests, isn’t an “iceberg.” It’s the FO mutinying and purposely crashing the ship into the iceberg. And it’s usually a conscious plan carried out long-term (months to years) via lies and misdirection.

  36. The “iceberg” is something like, e.g., the husband as breadwinner losing his job unexpectedly, with no savings, just after signing a big mortgage. That’s the Captain’s fault — he should have anticipated it, had savings, held firm on a smaller house/mortgage/keep renting, had a backup income contingency, etc. I accept that’s 100% the man’s responsibility, and a man who then wants to blame his wife for “insisting on this big house” or whatever, is a pussy.

    Such a totally stupid animal. Don’t worry, having anything at all will be over very soon, as you so richly deserve.

  37. Richard Cook says:

    Draggin – why go through marriage at all? Everything is your responsibility and the FO assumes no fault. Marriage is tough enough but with the legal battlefield so heavily titled against men? I cannot see the reason. I was married for 16 years until my wife literally went insane and I did what I could to save the marriage but it was legally easy for her to continue on the path (including false domestic battery charges and forging a quit claim deed). The legal sysem just said ‘next’. My attitude now is fuck em and leave em. Less liability exposure for me. And Daceny – fuck you. Your mental capacity is that of a toddler.

  38. I’d add too that women have a demonstrable cuckolding strategy (sweaty t-shirt experiments, etc.). So the husband may be doing everything all right and the wife starts creating “problems in the marriage” anyway, in response to an extramarital attraction. In retrospect, the husband (or even the wife herself) points to a mistake he made around that same time (since no human is perfect, he can always find one) and “realizes” that THAT was the initiating event, unaware of the exciting new guy who’d just started working in her office. Michelle Langley documented this.

    So basically yes, I think you’re giving cheating whores a free pass in this post. Of the cheated-on husbands I know personally, I can’t think of any who fit the “unemployed WoW-playing obese slob” caricature you keep bringing up. (I know of one like that, but his wife left honorably with fair warning, didn’t cheat.) All were busily working at nerd jobs, being good dads, etc., when their wives betrayed them. In other words, Betas.

  39. Heh, looks like my “hypothetical” hit a little too close to home for certain readers.

  40. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    I have to agree with Danceny. Cheating is a different topic. Once she starts feeling an attraction towards another man, it’s a slippery slope.

    But isn’t there stuff that’s obviously at the hands of the man? It could be that you failed to recognize a problem that made her resent you and detoriorated your marriage. It could be that you didn’t show off enough Alpha traits to keep her attraction. It could be you married someone with previous infidelity history or broken family.

    You can always blame the other person in the marriage. (They were batshit crazy, they were golddigging sluts etc) Or you can do whatever you can and be a man with a purpose, a man with a plan and best of all, a man with options.

  41. Richard Cook says:

    And it could be that she just changed. Its pretty obvious that you don’t build your life around someone. That said, you always have to be prepared to live life anew should it go south. You cannot solve her problems, only make suggestions because ther are limits on what you can do. After the problem has been brought to her attention (assuming it is a dealbreaker should it not be addressed) and suggestions made to remedy the problem the clock starts ticking. You have to set the criteria on progress, benchmarks, etc. toward solving the problem and reestablishing a stable and thriving marriage.

    Again, if you are a man with a purpose, a man with a plan and a man with options WHY MARRY? In the current cultural and legal environment it does not add up.

  42. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    I do believe that if you’re not going the having children route, marriage is not the best the way for a man to go.

    But… obviously a healthy marriage has its benefits. Men in healthy marriages are wealthier, healthier, happier and live longer. You could do the exact same stuff with a live-in girlfriend though, minus the whole giving money to lawyers and mediators for divorce if you decide to break up. But then again, some states obviously have started to grant alimony if you have lived together long enough in a provable fashion. So men are fcked either way. :)

  43. Richard Cook says:

    Gotcha sn. My point, boiled down is that the post seemed to place everything on the man when, in reality it is a team effort. The happiest marriage I know is between a black man and a serbian girl. He’s my best friend of over 35 years. They work and thrive as a team and I take some pride in convincing him to hang in there when a girl broke his heart before he met her. Told him ‘in 6 months you’ll meet her’. 4 months later they met. And its been heaven for them ever since.


  1. what to do? says:

    […] left because I didn't feel like I did anything wrong. I just read this piece only the other day: Captain and First Officer When The Marriage is Slamming Into Icebergs | Married Man Sex Life and it totally opened up my eyes. Even if a marriage is supposed to be 50-50, the husband as the […]

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