Re: You have to know when to fold.

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WAKE UP EVERBODY! It's 7 am on Saturday!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:34 AM
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Of all of my many, many friends who got married in the 1990s (when we were in our twenties), only one couple is left standing. It had been two until last month.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:35 AM
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Good morning, fellow parent!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:35 AM
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3: After adding Roberta to my friendslist, I had a dream that we had you guys over to play RockBand. I tried to tell about this "anustart" lisence plate that I'd seen online, and everyone was like, "Um, yeah, we know."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:54 AM
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I'm not familiar with social pressure to end unhappy marriages, but there definitely seems to be broad consensus that not doing so is nuts. And that you get no points for "toughing it out".

On the other hand, has "what people want in marriages" really changed all that much over the last half-century? Gender roles have changed, sure, but that's not what he's talking about.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:00 AM
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On the other hand, has "what people want in marriages" really changed all that much over the last half-century? Gender roles have changed, sure, but that's not what he's talking about.

I think things have changed a lot, although totally entwined with changing gender roles. I don't think people married in the 50's very often for a companion-style marriage, and people placed a much higher priority on his financial security and her ability to raise the family.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:08 AM
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I laugh when people say "I'll never get divorced because I will not marry someone who is willing to get divorced!"

Baaahaaaa hahahahaa. You will be mine. Oh yes, you will be mine.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:13 AM
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Oh, and you can stay married if you are just willing to do some work.

People who get divorced are people who just arent willing to do a little work.

Divorce may be somewhat socially acceptable, but most people who get divorced feel like failures and still have lots of shame. People who think that divorce is easy are idiots.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:18 AM
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Our grandparents got married because there was tremendous social pressure to do so (and stigma for not doing so

Before labor-saving devices you needed someone to do the housework. If a bachelor farmer was working 80 hours a week, when did he do his cooking, cleaning, and laundry? -- all of which were much more difficult than today (e.g., the laundress had to split wood and build a fire to heat the water.)

In factory cities boarding houses arose, where one woman and maybe a helper would take care of 5 or 10 men. More efficient than marriage by far, though the standard of care was pretty rudimentary.

Some of these boarding houses, where men slept in shifts, evolved a kind of polygyny, with a day-shift husband and a night-shift husband. One of the main functions of these husbands was to keep the other guys in line.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:26 AM
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Of course, my grandfather is your great-grandfather.

One of my beefs about reality is that when labor-saving devices were invented, instead of working less most people just raised their standards (of housekeeping, etc.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:28 AM
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In the 50s, everybody married for companion-style marriages. That's why they all got divorced as soon as the stigma died in the 70s. I think the companion-style marriage has been the dominant model in the US for the entire twentieth-century; it's just before the 70s you had to suck it up. (Also, I think the age of marriage varied a lot over the century; the 50s was a period where it trended early.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:41 AM
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In the 50s, everybody married for companion-style marriages. That's why they all got divorced as soon as the stigma died in the 70s.

By companion-style marriages, I mean marriages where your approach to decision-making is 50-50 the domain of each person, and the partners say things like "S/He's my best friend", etc. I don't think you saw that in rhw 50's like you do now.

I think they all got divorced because there's some basic, steady unhappy marriage rate, and once the stigma was lifted, those people all bailed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:47 AM
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Ah. I thought you meant marrying for love.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:51 AM
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Age of marriage has varied a lot historically, and by class. One of my friends does demographic research on early modern England, and the biggest predictor of age of first marriage is the economy. Good economy, big harvest paycheck, younger age of marriage.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:54 AM
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14: That's totally counter-intuitive. Are those results just for early modern England? Or is there some claim being made about modern times?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:57 AM
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What was pushed in the Fifties was "togetherness", where Mom, Dad, and kids did lots of things together. It was sort of a move away from sex roles and the distant father, but it coincided with a return of women to domesticity. My mother did not enjoy the transition; for at least 3 years during WWII she worked for General Electric in Connecticut, and she enjoyed the independence.

Sex-roled marriages do give both partners personal space. Spending all your time together and doing and deciding everything 50-50 can drive you nuts. Or me, at least.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:59 AM
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Why is it counter-intuitive? If there's a bad harvest and no money, obviously, Farmer Boy can't support a wife.

As to its applicability to today, I'm not sure, but I think one reason for the rising age of marriage is higher educational levels among men and women (which makes the mid-to-late twenties/early thirties the time someone thinks about getting married, not the late-teens early twenties.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:05 AM
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There seems to be a conflation of the 1850s and the 1950s going on here. I don't think that what people are looking for, at root, in marriage has changed much since the 1950s. (Although what people look for in a partner might have changed quite a bit--due in large part to changing gender roles.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:09 AM
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Yeah, I was going to mention that, too. I'd buy different, because divorce is more acceptable, living together is more acceptable, baby-out-of-wedlock does not automatically lead to marriage, and the expectation that a woman will have a career is in principle more acceptable, but I know too many guys with stay-at-home wives taking care of their new babies to think that there's been a really dramatic change.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:12 AM
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17: Right. There's also an accumulation of capital issue. I know this as a novel-reader, rather than as a historian, but for a poorish rural couple, I have the impression that long engagements, waiting for the moment when they've saved up enough to start a household (that is, wealth, not so much expectation of future income) were an early modern norm.

On the pressure not to stay in an unhappy marriage: huh. There's certainly some of that, but I think it depends on categories of unhappiness. I think if a friend told me that home life was not miserable, but their spouse was unexciting and they had fallen for someone else, I would tell them (or would want to tell them, In real life I would make sympathetic noises and not actually say much) to suck it up and stop being a baby, particularly if they had kids. If we were talking about active ill-treatment (oh, I'm not talking about just literal abuse), I probably would be rooting for the divorce. It's the difference between "Is that all there is?" and "I don't know if I can take this anymore."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:17 AM
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I'm not sure about pressure to leave an unhappy marriage. I haven't had all that many close friends who divorced yet, but the couple that did felt a lot of pressure to try to make it work. It was a situation where they had married youngish (21,22) and there was no abuse or cruel treatment, but they were both unhappy. Lots of time in counseling, then in deciding that it was irreconcilable, etc.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:21 AM
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I think Becks was onto something with this :

There is certainly pressure for people to present their marriages as happy, (unless it's someone's shtick to bitch about their marriage), and so maybe chastising someone for staying in an admitted bad marriage is a way of policing the happy marriage projection.

I think there's a sense of an unhappy marriage (or at least a short-lived unhappy marriage) as evidencing poor judgment. Like that great prank Heebie pulled when she announced her pregnancy, posting about how she and Jammies were really unhappy and they were having a baby to heal the relationship. I fell for it until I read the thread, and my reaction was "How could you be so stupid? You're not that dumb." For someone with a real life story like that, that ended badly, I'd work on being sympathetic, but I'd need to keep a serious lid on being judgmental about their lack of good sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:27 AM
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I think if a friend told me that home life was not miserable, but their spouse was unexciting and they had fallen for someone else, I would tell them (or would want to tell them, In real life I would make sympathetic noises and not actually say much) to suck it up and stop being a baby, particularly if they had kids.

We're dealing with this in my family. One family member (30-something parent) seems towant one last ride on the roller-coaster before settling down. Most of us think that they should have thought of that about five years ago, and it's causing a lot of hard feeling. I almost wrote an Ask The Mineshift


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:30 AM
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Pressure from friends (and family, too) to leave an unhappy marriage mostly comes from personal distaste for one partner.

Behind "I would totally stand up for myself, and I don't see why you are putting up with this" lies "I never liked her, and I haven't much liked you since you met her."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:31 AM
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I think Becks was onto something with this :

Tell me the front-page posters aren't sockpuppeting each other.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:33 AM
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Oh, man, sorry Heebie. I'll check next time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:36 AM
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But what if IIIII am unhapilleeee marrieed with chihilhildren? What about meeeeeeee?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:36 AM
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I'd say before 1965, people got married 1/3 of the time because the woman got pregnant. That excludes the other 1/3 that would have gotten married anyway. People stayed married because the woman could not be an adequate provider.

Contraception, abortion, feminism has made a difference.

People got married later in the 20s because of 1st(2nd?) wave feminism & contraception, and because the men were like dead (war & Spanish flu) Not sure why such a smaller factor after WWII.

(PS:A very good friend's 17-yr-old daughter hung herself Tuesday. Watched her grow up. Her 14-yr-old brother found her.)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:49 AM
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So sorry, bob. That's really awful.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:51 AM
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My parents stayed together for a number of years after their boiling mutual hatred had become visible to government weather satellites. Given my brother's and my wretched failure to make anything of ourselves in the years since, in terms of permanent relationships with the opposite sex, I don't believe I would recommend staying together for the kids.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:51 AM
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Oh, man, bob, I'm so sorry.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:51 AM
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Good morning! What's wrong with you all being up and on the internets at this hour? (I mean, I've been up since 7:02 CST, but that's because I'm a neurotic, tension-ridden, sore-necked mess)

Of all my friends who were seriously partnered (whether or not married) in their twenties, none have remained so--except possibly for one couple I haven't seen since about 1999 but who at that time seemed fairly happy. I didn't really take any relationships seriously until I was in my late twenties; it never even occurred to me to think "will I stay with this person for, like, ever?" OTOH, the late-twenties/early thirties partnerships are all holding up well.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I met a lot of women who had chosen to have a child with a partner and he'd then bailed. (They were actually part of a radical mothers' group and I met them through babysitting.) Most of them are not in serious relationships now, although one got married to a terrific guy and I expect it to last. I would never, ever have said this to anyone, but when I met them about half the time my first thought was, "What the hell? You're all in your mid-twenties and you had kids? Kids with a fellow hippie? And you expected him to stick around?" (These were hippies/Firsters as opposed to punks or marxists, not just regular generic DFH types.)

On the other hand, the kids are all turning out much better than average and after a rough few years the moms mostly seem pretty happy. If anything, seeing this whole process play out has made me pretty confident that the two-parent family isn't really necessary if you've got a large but constant and committed social circle, which most of these women do.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:52 AM
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Like that great prank Heebie pulled when she announced her pregnancy, posting about how she and Jammies were really unhappy and they were having a baby to heal the relationship.

My all-time favorite post.

Also 27 made me laugh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:52 AM
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lot of women who had chosen to have a child with a partner and he'd then bailed.

But who could blame him? He'd clearly gotten in over his head with such a large group.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:53 AM
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Wow, bob, that's awful - I'm sorry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:53 AM
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30: I'm on the other side of that one. My parents would certainly have been happier if they'd never married, and their marriage was hostile and unpleasant my whole life, but they kept a lid on it and stayed together until after I was out of college. I'm kind of screwy about relationships, and so's my sister, but it didn't get in the way of being happily married myself, and I think my childhood was better than it would have been if my parents had divorced.

(This is a selfish perspective. From a purely utilitarian point of view, I think there's a good shot that their increased happiness from getting away from each other would have outweighed any damage to my childhood.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:56 AM
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Why is it counter-intuitive? If there's a bad harvest and no money, obviously, Farmer Boy can't support a wife.

Because of the ubiquitous observation that in current times, the wealthy and educated marry a lot older than the poor or uneducated. Not that widespread economic prosperity is the same thing as comparing individuals within a fixed timestamp, but I hear the above point really often, it seems.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:58 AM
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Here is a chart of the median marriage age in the US from 1890 until recently. Post WW II to early '60s was a minimum. It would be interesting to see the urban versus rural breakdown.

Source data here (pdf). The gender age gap has about halved over that time period from four to two years.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:59 AM
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If anything, seeing this whole process play out has made me pretty confident that the two-parent family isn't really necessary if you've got a large but constant and committed social circle, which most of these women do.

This, certainly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:00 AM
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37: The mechanism is still the same. Educated people are in school and not making a lot of money. Education takes time, so they marry when they are older because when they are younger they don't have the money, or because they are not mentally marriageable (after all, one is still "in school", not ready to support a family.)

It's also true that we're talking (per 38) about a relatively small swing in ages (early twenties to mid-to-late twenties) with the low-point during an unprecedented economic boom....


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:08 AM
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Thanks everybody

I come from divorced parents, and the wild 60s and 70s. Huge extended familt, 15 1st cousins, 50 2nd cousins. I expected a lot of divorces, but I was wrong. The actual rate to date is around 10%.

I've a lot of these couples get past difficulties and periods of unhappiness (anger, adultery, boredom, money, name it) without quite understanding how or why they get past it. One couple didn't talk to each other for five years. That was 20 years ago, and they're great now. I dunno anything.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:09 AM
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Sorry, bob. How horrible.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:22 AM
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Yikes, bob. My sympathies to you and your friend and their family.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:25 AM
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I'm sorry, Bob. What a terrible tragedy.

One couple didn't talk to each other for five years. That was 20 years ago, and they're great now. I dunno anything.

yeah. I think there's a lot to the idea that marriage is at least as much about a set of shared attitudes toward committment as it is a good match.

seeing this whole process play out has made me pretty confident that the two-parent family isn't really necessary if you've got a large but constant and committed social circle, which most of these women do.

very few social arrangements are "necessary", but in general I don't think a social circle substitutes for a committed romantic partner. They are different things, with different costs and benefits.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:33 AM
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I think of the constant and committed social circle as being a lot like marriage. When it all works out, it's great. When it doesn't, it can be hell. Whether it does or not is going to depend on a whole lot of variables, none of which are completely predictable in advance, since people change.

I'm with bob, though: I dunno anything either.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:37 AM
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44: You can live without a romantic partner, though. One can, anyway.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:44 AM
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Growing up in a country where divorce was illegal kind of reduces the cultural competence I have for figuring this stuff out.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:01 AM
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And two can live together without romantic partners.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:02 AM
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You can live without a romantic partner, though.

One can, no doubt, and some may be happy to do so. But for others, this can be hell.

Going back to LizardBreath's comment in 20, while what she proposes seems generally right, it strikes me that, even if against the rules, if someone has found romantic fulfillment outside of their marriage, it may be the case that they are not easily going to forgo it. Likely this is just the self-absorbed baby boomer in me talking, but isn't the realization that sometimes what the heart wants isn't on the menu made available to it by the standard rule book part of the reason divorce rates went up in the 60's and less traditional relationships became at least a bit more accepted.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:03 AM
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Too.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:04 AM
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I envisage a whole world without romantic partners.

Just marriages.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:05 AM
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I think if a friend told me that home life was not miserable, but their spouse was unexciting and they had fallen for someone else, I would tell them... to suck it up and stop being a baby, particularly if they had kids.

I agree with this without the "particularly". But I don't see much point in marriage for people who don't have/aren't planning on having kids.

Also, I'm surprised at how how people in my social circle have gotten divorced. Way less than the average, but I suspect it's because of less pressure to get married in the first place.

Also also:

it gets harrier for me.
Harrier? Harrier? Harrier? Harrier?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:13 AM
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second how s/b few


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:15 AM
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I'm glad 52.last said it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:45 AM
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But I don't see much point in marriage for people who don't have/aren't planning on having kids.

It makes getting health insurance a hell of a lot easier.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:08 AM
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Also, many people don't want to die alone. Or live alone.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:09 AM
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56 doesn't require marriage, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:13 AM
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Neither does having children.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:15 AM
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Why would anyone get married? Why would anyone reduce their freedom? It's criminally irrational!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:17 AM
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56: Also, many people don't want to die alone.

Sucks to be them.


Posted by: Roberta Sparrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:18 AM
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There's something nice about a purportedly permanent commitment being something that can be publicly acknowledged and supported. Marriage isn't the only way to do that, but it is one of the ways that can happen.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:20 AM
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57 Communes have largely fallen out of favor, and nursing homes are expensive.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:20 AM
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My parents' marriage lasted 25 years to the very day. My first marriage lasted almost five years. I'm gonna suggest that my kids elope the first time out and save everybody the hassle.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:35 AM
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I just now realized what's wrong with harrier. Jeez I'm slow.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:36 AM
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Socialized medicine might be the killing blow for marriages.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:38 AM
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It's the difference between "Is that all there is?" and "I don't know if I can take this anymore."

Not a bright or constant line, I think. IMO, social pressure is important only insofar as it creates or constrains opportunities distinct from a married life.

Anyone who stays or leaves because of the opinion of relatives or friends seems to me so weak that any relationship is provisional. Such a susceptibility to pressure would be immediately manipulated by a stronger partner or family member on selfish impulse.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:50 AM
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Socialized medicine might be the killing blow for marriages.

Probably meant as a joke, but I think that this is largely correct-- independent individuals have much less motivation to stay together. Whether rootless independence is an improvement varies case by case, IMO.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:53 AM
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Relationships should be provisional. Have I taught you nothing?

LW's experience seems contrary to that of most. I spent six months a year or so ago trying to talk down a buddy of mine who was (literally) insanely in love with a (literally) insane woman whose chief symptom was kamikaze to-the-death relationships, a femme (darn near literally) fatale. That relationship should have been 100 times more provisional than it was.

I suspect that you're talking more of the arranged marriage / "we know what's good for you" dynamic, which is pretty destructive too.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:58 AM
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I felt the absence of social pressure to keep my first marriage together very keenly. I wouldn't have wanted either of us to be shamed into staying together, but a more explicit, concrete social expectation to do what we could to work it out would have focused us a little bit more. People were very compassionate, but they never had any expectations. I suppose that's mostly as it should be.

I'm sure my wife felt an expectation to stay together -- but a nebulous, oppressive obligation that she could rebel against rather than any kind of community engagement. (Sure, she could rebel against that, but it would have involved speaking to people, which complicates the ideas you come up with when you're all by yourself.)

In the end, I recovered and then some, and I don't wish we'd stayed together. But I think we could have addressed each other more honestly than we did, instead of mostly fucking around and drifting apart.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:02 AM
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I know a lot of youngish men (like under 30) who have an obsessive need to find and sustain unfulfilling relationships for long periods of time, often even getting married, and then bitching about how unfulfilling it is all the time. In fact, the unfulfilling part seems to be necessary to them. It's not that they want to leave their partners and find a more fulfilling single life or less annoying partner; they want to stoically trudge through an interminable unsatisfying relationship because it makes them feel good about themselves. (Like, "I'm such a good guy; I stay with this woman even though I get nothing out of this relationship.") And I can see how that would be, in a sense, a kind of satisfaction. It's not romantic satisfaction or sexual satisfaction; it feels almost like a moral good to them. I think there should be a lot of pressure on these men to end these relationships. If you think you're doing your partner a favor by staying with her pathetic ass, you're a jerk.

My ex Max really got off on this aspect of his marriage. She was flighty, lazy, insulting, frigid, etc., and this allowed him to feel like the stable, generous, thoughtful one. She left him, of course, because no one likes feeling like their partner gets off on condescendingly tolerating them.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:17 AM
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70: I know I've said this before, but you know the weirdest people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:20 AM
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I've known men like the ones AWB describes in 70. I'm tempted to say they've never grown out of it, but really I'm no longer in a position to judge.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:21 AM
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20 seems impossibly indeterminate. I don't know how you can ever look at another relationship and make this judgment one way or the other. (And I'm totally respecting your point that you'd be trying to not show judgment in either case--I just don't get what factors cause the switch inside your head to switch from "stay together selfish person" to "please god get a divorce".

A friend recently found out that her husband has been having an affair with her sister. Friend and her husband are in their mid-late thirties; sister is sixteen. (Which is the age of consent in the state in question, so there is no criminal element to this story.) Friend and husband have four young kids, and friend has no idea what to do. Should they divorce? Hell if I know. She doesn't know either. Husband says he's sorry.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:26 AM
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63: My parents' marriage lasted 25 years to the very day. My first marriage lasted almost five years. I'm gonna suggest that my kids elope the first time out and save everybody the hassle.

Looks like they'll get a good two, two-and-a-quarter years out of it. See, standardized test skills really do help you in life.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:28 AM
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When I was in college and dating an insane person, I think I felt a bit of that impulse in myself. I felt so needed and necessary and strong compared to him. He never did anything for me, other than some good sex. At some point I realized that I thought I was such a good person for staying with him, but it wasn't kind to him to do it. He got weaker and needier and more self-destructive, and at some point he realized how much my love for him was just stoical toleration. I wasn't helping him; I was just doing it to make myself feel like a good person.

I feel lucky to have learned that lesson very early, at 21, before I ended up married or something awful like that. OTOH, I'm so paranoid about the caretaking impulse in myself that I avoid relationships altogether now unless there is a guarantee that I will never be tempted to do any caretaking.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:28 AM
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70: She left him, of course, because no one likes feeling like their partner gets off on condescendingly tolerating them.

None of her other anti-qualities as you've listed them could have been factors? The person you've described really sounds like she should be in no relationships at all if she doesn't want to be condescendingly tolerated... but I dunno. There's a social cost to that. Less so if she didn't have kids with him.

I don't think the lack of expectation that people should stick it out is a good thing at all. High divorce rates means lots of broken homes, which on a societal level would appear to put lots of children at risk of abuse... which is useful to the sex industry, I suppose, but not so good for anyone else. In most cases "think of the children" is sort of a cheap rhetorical play, but when it comes the social arrangement that's supposed to facilitate child-rearing, I think it's kind of important to keep in mind.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:29 AM
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73.2: wow. I'm trying to imagine what the "on the other hand" could be that would possibly lead to her wanting to stay with him.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:31 AM
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75 sounds familiar, actually (as in, I've done that). Don't try to save people, kids! Even if they really want you to!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:32 AM
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77: I'm guessing the four young kids.

But fuck. That is messed up.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:33 AM
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I don't know how you can ever look at another relationship and make this judgment one way or the other.

Ever? This is kamikaze relativism. Even though we're all unique snowflakes, and every relationship is thus unique-squared, we can usually get some idea what's going on in others' lives.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:33 AM
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76: None of her other anti-qualities as you've listed them could have been factors?

I dunno. But she left Max for a stupid, vain pothead who really thought she was something special. It feels good to be adored rather than endured.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:33 AM
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Before reading the rest of the comment thread, I think that the stigma of being unhappily married young is a real one (in fact, I'd say there's a bit of a stigma with being married young, period, and that we're willing to make exceptions for young married couples who do seem genuinely happy).

I'll also say (as I've done before) that unlike Heebie, I don't look at friends in unhappy marriages and think they should try to stick it out b/c of personal growth blah blah. If they have no kids, I think, dude: get a divorce.* If they have kids, I think they should try to embrace the personal growth needed to figure out how to define their marriage between them in whatever way they need to remain a functional parenting couple.

*Although even as I type this, I am thinking of a couple I know in which the wife was v. unhappy for quite some time, had an affair, and yet I am glad they are still together and hope that things are better between them. But in that case I think the couple *as* a couple are very good together, and that the problem wasn't "the marriage" but rather that a bunch of other things were affecting the marriage and making it v. difficult; in fact, I think the marriage/relationship was probably the thing that kept the shitty things in check. Barely.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:34 AM
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77: On the other hand he likes ~50% of my genes.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:34 AM
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77: She's a stay-at-home-mom with 4 young kids and no real options. And, of course, the less cynical answer: she's incredible hurt and angry, but she (theoretically?) still loves him. And she generally takes the "tough it out" view of marriage.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:36 AM
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The "it makes me feel good to be the caretaker of an emotional trainwreck" pattern is so common in women it is often not even considered a problem. Sifu wouldn't have expressed surprise if you hadn't been talking about men.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:36 AM
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My wife and I were 20 when we married. In certain circles, we've definitely caught flak for that. (Most circles, actually.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:39 AM
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85: I think it's just as common in men, but since it can present itself as regular old "my wife is such a ball-and-chain" misogynistic chitchat, it goes unrecognized.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:40 AM
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Caught flak in what sense? People expressing astonishment that you married so young, or actual disapproval?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:40 AM
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85: I think my surprise may have been a product of prior knowledge and the way it was phrased. Thinking more about it, it's not so weird, really.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:42 AM
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84: is there any kind of life insurance policy on him?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:43 AM
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88: Both. Mostly the former explicitly with the latter implicit (and thinly veiled). But definitely both explicitly on occasion.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:43 AM
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84: Ouch. Not having practical options in a case like that would be brutal. That's one of the underlying scary bits about un or underemployment for women with children; the possibility of finding yourself without useful job skills and economically dependent on someone who doesn't like you anymore.

And you're right, the distinction between 'suck it up, you big baby' and 'get the divorce now' is a hard one to make, even in my own head. For one thing, I think there's at least some risk that someone who wants out because they're generically unfulfilled is going to start treating their partner badly, to the point where divorce looks reasonable from the other side, At which point, if things are going to shake out that way, cutting and running before anyone got too badly hurt would have been better. (And really this only applies where there are children; childless people can do what they like. I might think they're jerks, but not to really care about it in the abstract.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:48 AM
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For me, the suck-it-up/get-a-divorce thing makes a lot of sense. If you're capable of maintaining a narrative of futurity in your head in which the relationship continues and can get better after hard times, then great, commit to that and see it out. But it does irritate me to hear unhappily married people talk about the future with the understanding that it probably includes divorce, but not really pursuing a divorce. Once you've decided that you'll eventually probably break up but not yet, you stop having a reason to treat your partner with respect. People who imagine they'll stay together will fuck up, sure, but at least there is a mutual desire to struggle toward a better relationship in the future.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:53 AM
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Having an affair with your 16 year old sister in law when you are in your thirties sounds genuinely predatory. Without any other information, I'd immediately worry that this was part off a larger pattern of manipulative and deceptive relationships.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:55 AM
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Having an affair with your 16 year old sister in law when you are in your thirties sounds genuinely predatory.

Does it ever. I bet that 16 year old was relentless.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:57 AM
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My friends who decided to divorce found that after having made the decision, they were able to live together for a while as housemates; thinking of themselves as having made the decision resolved a lot of the tensions which had arisen about whether their marriage was going to survive.

It all went to hell once they actually filed for divorce, but I found that aspect of the story intriguing.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:57 AM
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Mostly what I was thinking of as the difference between people I'd judge and people I wouldn't is whether they're leaving because,even though their life is tolerable, there's true happiness out there somewhere if they could just follow their bliss; or on the other hand whether their marriage is an active source of suffering in their life. I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who hurt other people in service of an indefinite possible benefit out there somewhere.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:58 AM
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Brock, are any of the four kids in that marriage girls? Because if they are, I for one would be seriously inclined to get them the hell away from that guy; he may not be a pedophile, but he definitely has some seriously fucked-up ideas about the sexuality of young women.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:59 AM
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And also, having now read the thread: Bob, that's terrible. My dad found his mother dead from suicide at 13. That poor 14-yo younger brother is going to have a damn tough time of it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:59 AM
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Our grandparents got married because there was tremendous social pressure to do so (and stigma for not doing so),

That's not why our grandparents got married, and it sure as hell wasn't why our grandmothers did. Pwned by Emerson and others, but my first reaction on reading the post, so.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:00 PM
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94: Well, yeah. Obviously, we don't know details, but I can't think of a version of the story (there might be one, but I can't think of it) that doesn't make the husband a really messed-up son of a bitch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:00 PM
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97: but you're bounding tolerable fairly arbitrarily, no?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:00 PM
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102: Sure am.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:01 PM
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97: Right, plus, I admit to a real disdain for people who believe in "true happiness" and the whole soulmate idea that marriage involves finding "the right person." Mostly these people are quite young, and probably if they've married someone in a fit of True Love and then found out that gosh, that doesn't sustain, they should go ahead and divorce and then try again with a more sensible view next time. But one can't help thinking "the person you married is fine, grow the hell up."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:03 PM
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People who get divorced are people who just arent willing to do a little work.

God, I want to kill people who think this.

My hope is that divorce becomes so common that people who get divorced won't feel like failures. Of course lots of people who don't get married feel like failures.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:04 PM
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I'm getting the impression that LB knows some people with completely unrealistic expectations of reality in general, not just marriage.

Do real grown up people ever talk about finding true happiness by following their bliss?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:04 PM
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But one can't help thinking "the person you married is fine, grow the hell up."

One really can help it, as it turns out. Grow some empathy.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:06 PM
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106: Oh, I don't know anyone who'd use those words, I'm expressing my beliefs about their motivations tendentiously.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:06 PM
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I don't know too many more details myself, but there's no question (in my mind) the husband is a messed-up son of a bitch, although I think he would argue otherwise. My friend (his wife) is unsure.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:08 PM
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I'm with Kraab. Divorce needs less stigma, not more. (And while B wouldn't agree with this, there is a whole industry of books devoted to the thesis, "the person you married is fine, and if he's not, you're a bad wife who needs to change/love Jesus more/work on yourself." Those books can go fuck themselves. Being books, they might have to grow sex organs first. But seriously, I don't know anyone who got divorced on a whim or because they didn't have bliss; I suppose it's possible, but agonizing over the whole thing seems to be a lot more common.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:10 PM
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My point in raising the story though, is that it's a good example of what strikes me as a fairly extreme situation in which the divorce/don't question is still fairly unclear. In most situations, which aren't so extreme, it seems hopelessly unclear. I really wouldn't know how to evaluate someone else's decision here (even in my own head).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:11 PM
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but there's no question (in my mind) the husband is a messed-up son of a bitch

Whoa there Mr. Judgmental. Are there any mitigating circumstances here? Like, is the 16 year old crazy hot?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:11 PM
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Growing up in a country where divorce was illegal kind of reduces the cultural competence I have for figuring this stuff out.

Where was that?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:15 PM
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107, 110: I dunno, don't you guys know anyone who's had like three or four marriages and is hung up on the romance forever view of relationships, and you want to just freaking kick them?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:15 PM
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111: Huh. I would call that more a case of "all options suck" than saying that it's unclear what's advisable. Assuming the likeliest seeming set of facts, that the husband is a predatory son of a bitch, getting a divorce seems like an excellent idea, and the only problem with it is the economic difficulty of supporting herself and four kids.

If I knew her (and were in a position to advise -- very, very close friend or family) I'd be focusing exclusively on solving the economic problem rather than saving the marriage.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:17 PM
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105: God, I want to kill people who think this.

And yet in many cases, it's probably true. It's just possible that Will sees a fairly broad cross-section of these, being a divorce lawyer.

My hope is that divorce becomes so common that people who get divorced won't feel like failures.

Except since divorce comes with actual social costs in the bigger picture, we should probably not hope for this.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:17 PM
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Also re. 110: Absolutely, but I sort of have a half-baked theory that the "marriage is work, you need to change yourself/love Jesus" line and the "looooooove/life-partner/eternal bliss" line are somehow weirdly the same thing. They both seem to view "marriage" as this culmination of human experience, a sort of end to the story, rather than as one aspect of someone's life, y'know?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:18 PM
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That's one of the underlying scary bits about un or underemployment for women with children; the possibility of finding yourself without useful job skills and economically dependent on someone who doesn't like you anymore.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that read "A husband is not a financial plan".


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:20 PM
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115 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:21 PM
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117: I agree, especially because the "marriage is work" line is different than the more practical "marriage is compromise and diminished expectations."

Talking about the need for hard hard work is an especially American way of keeping expectations high in the face of brutal reality.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:21 PM
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It's unusual that by this far along in the thread no one has pointed out that, as a group, we're acquainted with a very small slice of the population and that our direct or indirect experiences are urrepresentative in many ways.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:26 PM
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105: My hope is that divorce becomes so common that people who get divorced won't feel like failures.

I'm being judgy about people who I think divorce frivolously, but I agree with you that there shouldn't be any stigma. (For one thing, off the people I know, divorces I think of as frivolous are a distinct minority. Most marriages I've seen end, one or both of the parties was behaving badly enough that the other one was entirely reasonable in wanting to get away.)

But I don't think social stigma is what makes people feel like failures any more. Having a serious relationship come to an end is a really painful thing, married or not. I don't think many people come out of serious long-term committed relationships feeling anything but terrible about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:27 PM
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121: I always wonder if that's as true as the person saying it thinks it is, though.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:28 PM
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121: unusual compared to the very small slice of all threads you've experienced, maybe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:29 PM
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Sorry to hear it, bob.

56:
Silly rabbits, everybody dies alone. You can die among people, but not with them (well, unless you do actually die with them. I suppose that would be less lonely).

My parents divorced when I was 2; my father quickly re-married a witch, because he's basically spineless and incurious, but my mother was cool and stayed on the dating scene until a few years ago (now she's remarrying). The situation was pretty great though: 2x Christmas, 2x birthday, the real availability of the threat "Living with you sucks, I'm moving in with my dad unless things change" (voice and exit?).

I won't marry, but I don't know which of my misanthropy, my introversion, or my distaste for relationships is fundamental. Maybe mutually reinforcing?


Posted by: Currence | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:31 PM
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123: wouldn't the idea be that it's impossible to know?

Add that to the inherent unknowability of somebody else's marriage and I'm totally judging y'all judgers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:31 PM
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I'm trying to think of people I know who divorce frivolously, and not coming up with much. I know one guy around my age who's on his third marriage, but the first one was an obviously terrible idea, the second one a slightly less obviously terrible idea, and the third one not obviously a terrible idea so far. It's also come at tremendous cost (both financial and otherwise) to him, so while I may not be impressed with his people-judging skills, I'm not sure I'd accuse him of frivolous bliss-following.

(Well, okay, the first marriage was definitely frivolous bliss following.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:34 PM
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Having a serious relationship come to an end is a really painful thing, married or not.

Definitely true, but in my entirely unrepresentative sample, people seem to be more ashamed of divorce. This may be in part because they have to announce it so regularly. It's revolting that so many forms ask if you're single, married, or divorced. This is relevant in only a very limited set of cases where there are potential legal issues.

In a way, it's the other side of the coin of people who had very significant relationships that ended when a partner died. "My fiance died" or "my partner died" just doesn't carry the same emotional punch as "my wife died" or "my husband died." "Widowed" is very powerful.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:36 PM
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In NJ, I think, the "age of consent" is 16, but that only means that said 16yo can consent to sex with someone up to two years older. A 30yo fucking a 16yo can still go to jail. Or am I making this up?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:38 PM
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In a way, it's the other side of the coin of people who had very significant relationships that ended when a partner died. "My fiance died" or "my partner died" just doesn't carry the same emotional punch as "my wife died" or "my husband died." "Widowed" is very powerful.

I could go two ways with this comment: a stupid joke about what a babe magnet a widower is, or a reference to a terribly sad article I read about the difficult relations between the parents and fiancee of a 9/11 victim.

I'll let the market decide, I guess.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:39 PM
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129: There are laws like that in some states (they call them "Romeo and Juliet" laws), but I don't know about NJ.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:40 PM
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129: basically, you are, yeah.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:40 PM
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123: You can't convince me that class does't matter in most of the things we discuss.

wouldn't the idea be that it's impossible to know?

That's what the social sciences are for. Is there a sociologist in the house?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:40 PM
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I see nothing wrong with stigmatizing frivolous marriage, as opposed to stigmatizing frivolous divorce. I guess I find the drive to get married to someone, anyone, rather especially insulting in our current moment when so many gay couples who have been together for so long and so desperately wanting marriage can't do it.

I don't personally know of any truly frivolous divorces. Even in cases where one person leaves for stupid reasons, it's usually a sign that the marriage was fundamentally frivolous, at least for one partner, and therefore there's nothing truly frivolous about the divorce.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:40 PM
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Man, age of consent laws are some weird shit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:42 PM
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God, I want to kill people who think this.

And yet in many cases, it's probably true. It's just possible that Will sees a fairly broad cross-section of these, being a divorce lawyer.

I assumed will was kidding and reporting the attitude that he sometimes encounters. If not, death to will!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:43 PM
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132: Aha -- ok! But I knew there was something like that in there. (Hmph.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:43 PM
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That's what the social sciences are for. Is there a sociologist in the house?

Give me five years and sixty million dollars and I'll abscond to French Polynesia get back to you with a report saying more research is needed.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:47 PM
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You can't convince me that class does't matter in most of the things we discuss.

I wasn't trying to; I was saying that our collective circle of real-life acquaintance isn't necessarily the same as our unfogged-based acquaintance.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:48 PM
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It's not that they want to leave their partners and find a more fulfilling single life or less annoying partner; they want to stoically trudge through an interminable unsatisfying relationship because it makes them feel good about themselves.

This is a particular version of the savior complex, right? My best friend from college is in a relationship like this now. He was kind of a shit to a lot of women throughout college and his immediate post-college years, and now he's dating a woman to whom he is determined to be a "good boyfriend," which means sticking by her no matter how unsatisfiably insecure and generally awful she is. We barely speak any more. He admitted to me that it's because he knows I will ask certain questions about his relationship.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:49 PM
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More helpfully, if you really want to know ...


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:50 PM
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Give me five years and sixty million dollars and I'll abscond to French Polynesia

Good call.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:50 PM
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136: death to will!

Well, he's a lawyer, duh.

You know what I'd like to see? Phrases like "til death do us part" removed from marriage ceremonies.

Better yet: marriage contracts spanning, say, seven years, with an option to renew or discontinue at the end of that time. That first seven years could be like a probationary period, with penalty-free dissolution possible at any time, maybe even with an optional mutual no-kids agreement. Once it's elapsed, a really well-matched couple renews, maybe commits to a longer contract for the purpose of raising kids (say, up to eighteen years or so). A couple that's gotten bored or distant or had a communication breakdown (or worse problems) goes their separate ways, no harm, no foul. The word "divorce" needn't even be used.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:51 PM
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better yet: marriage contracts spanning, say, seven years, with an option to renew or discontinue at the end of that time.

Also, a seasteading clause.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:53 PM
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You know what I'd like to see? Phrases like "til death do us part" removed from marriage ceremonies.

Damn straight. (But increasingly gay!)The Unitarian weddings I've been at (though of course there is no doctrinal ceremony) use "so long as life and love shall last."


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:54 PM
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143, 145: how about "until whenever"?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 12:56 PM
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Phrases like "til death do us part" removed from marriage ceremonies.

Agreed.

The 7-year renewable contract, though, meh. I say let's replace the couple-in-love ideology of marriage with a couple-for-the-purpose-of-raising-kids one. Of course, I realize that this is kind of tricky given that the marriage-as-child-factory model has such a fucked-up history of being hostile to women and used as a club against teh gays.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:00 PM
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"until the margin call"


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:00 PM
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145: My sister's wedding used this phrase. And yes, gay wedding! Yay for gay marriage, doing its part to make the institution saner.

147.2: I picked seven years because according to Some Very Sober-Looking Men in Lab Coats, that's roughly the length of time the bulk of monogamous human couples can stay that way before getting bored. Couples that successfully cross that threshold would therefore, theoretically, have a better shot at staying happily married -- and being a good match for raising kids together -- in the long term.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:04 PM
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144: I almost get the feeling you're not taking this seriously.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:05 PM
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I say let's replace the couple-in-love ideology of marriage with a couple-for-the-purpose-of-raising-kids one.

Blurgh.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:09 PM
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I say let's replace the couple-in-love ideology of marriage with a couple-for-the-purposes-of-tennis-doubles one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:13 PM
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so long as life and love shall last."

Aww, I like this. In the unlikely event that I ever get married, I'm using it.

Also, I agree with AWB (though for different reasons) that the problem seems to be frivolous marriages, not frivolous divorces. I can't think of a single frivolous divorce that I've seen in person - I can think of many frivolous marriages. (In the case of a frivolous marriage, the resulting divorce is a necessity, not a frivolity).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:13 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:13 PM
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couple-for-the-purposes-of-tennis-doubles

Hmm. Sifu knows how bad I am at tennis. Stop sending me encoded messages of doubt through unfogged threads, Sifu!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:15 PM
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I know we have to delete it and all, but I'm imagining the ToS hosting his own special version of "To Catch A Predator" and it's just totally cracking me up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:16 PM
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155: you can be my excuse for losing all the time, baby.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:16 PM
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You just want to feel good about yourself for staying with me even though I contribute nothing to our tennis game.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:19 PM
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158: to me, love means zero.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:22 PM
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Oh, the humanity.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:22 PM
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'til death (by awful puns) do us part.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:23 PM
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155-159: Knock it off - that's way too adorable for this thread.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:23 PM
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You can't convince me that class does't matter in most of the things we discuss.

I could try, at least as far as "frivolous divorce" and the stigma of divorce. I consider myself somewhat of a different class, my experience is oh 3rd to 4th quintile, 1/3 of my family have advanced degrees, no lawyers or academics but no career waitresses or construction workers either so I may not be far enough away from y'all.

But we've have looked at Red State divorce rates vs Blue State divorce rates and the Red State blue/pink collar rates are a little higher, aren't they? Would that mean there is less stigma in Red States, less stigma among factory workers than professionals? Or do they divorce despite the stigma? They are marginally more religious, but does that show up in the numbers, and does religion cut across class or not?

IOW, I would use demographic tools as well as personal experience to try to convince you that the 2nd thru 4th quintiles in America don't have strikingly different social attitudes based on economic status.

Then I might try to show that the bottom and top quintiles have more in common than they do with the middle. Or not. I mean hell, Princess Di and Mel Gibson. Is there a rule to be found?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:37 PM
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I mean hell, Princess Di and Mel Gibson. Is there a rule to be found?

Don't drive drunk?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:38 PM
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I consider myself somewhat of a different class, my experience is oh 3rd to 4th quintile...

"3rd Quintile" is the name of my band.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:50 PM
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agonizing over the whole thing seems to be a lot more common.

People agonize by themselves. Conversations that didn't start and end with "I know it's hard", but that didn't get all the way to "Shame on you" would be helpful.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:52 PM
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Sifu knows how bad I am at tennis.

shiv and I are awful at tennis. so you will make it at least 20 months. beyond that, you might want a tennis lesson.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:52 PM
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(In the case of a frivolous marriage, the resulting divorce is a necessity, not a frivolity).

This is very well put. i have absolutely done what b describes upthread (listened to someone describing how if they just followed their bliss and got divorced, all would be better, and inwardly rolled my eyes and diagnosed a massive case of magical thinking and self-delusion). But it's much better to think of it as frivolous marriage, which IME it generally is.

Per DS, there are very, very high social costs associated with divorce and I am torn between thinking that's a reason to mitigate them and a reason to try to prevent divorces. I honestly think that healthcare reform would go at least 15% of the way toward solving this problem, just because it wouldn't be quite so economically terrifying to be out there on your own.

In other news, I just spent 25 minutes answering questions from the University of Michigan's consumer-confidence study sponsored by Thomson-Reuters. I was surprised to find out that consumer confidence actually means they ask you questions about your confidence in buying things, and the prices of things.

It was really quite remarkable and fascinating. I was impressed that the survey protocol was so well designed, which must be in part because they have been using it for such a long time. The only question that was badly phrased was one on the Obama administration's handling of the economic crisis, which is obviously new.

I was also a little doubtful about their requests that I predict how much the GDP and CPI were going to go up/down in the next X time. Those were the only questions I skipped, because I haven't the foggiest idea what a "normal" rate of increase or decrease is. I really wonder how they could get anything resembling good data out of those questions. I find it hard to believe that among 305 million Americans, a substantial percentage of them are better equipped than me to gauge that, although obviously in absolute terms there are millions who are.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:56 PM
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I see that I am wrong

Here's a Paper from after 2002, no clear date, using data from 1970 to 1994, data sifted and savaged etc, that shows a very significant decrease in divorce rates for women with four years of college or better, and a significant increase for women with no HS diploma.

Scroll to the very end of paper.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 1:57 PM
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Here's a Paper...

I'm convinced that "Larry Bumpass" is a research pseudonym...


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 2:01 PM
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just because it wouldn't be quite so economically terrifying to be out there on your own.

Ok. The data from 169 show that divorces have gone up among women, who overwhelmingly are the initiators of divorce, who have less than a HS School education, which suggests they may be worse off, but less terrified. It suggests to me that both the stigma of divorce, and the relative disadvantage of divorce (the men are useless), have decreased in that demographic group.

Whereas apparently the stigma and relative disadvantage of divorce have increased for the college-educated group. Unless you want to suggest that the men have gotten better.

IOW, a two-income household is considered more important to a woman with a degree, even if her husband is screwing her 16-yr-old sister.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 2:30 PM
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I was also a little doubtful about their requests that I predict how much the GDP and CPI were going to go up/down in the next X time. Those were the only questions I skipped, because I haven't the foggiest idea what a "normal" rate of increase or decrease is. I really wonder how they could get anything resembling good data out of those questions. I find it hard to believe that among 305 million Americans, a substantial percentage of them are better equipped than me to gauge that, although obviously in absolute terms there are millions who are.
As long as their errors are evenly distributed, we can magic it away. It's the wisdom of crowds!

I assume there's a lot of self-fulfilling prophecy behind the confidence numbers, though.


Posted by: Trevor | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 2:34 PM
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it's much better to think of it as frivolous marriage, which IME it generally is.

Agreed.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 2:38 PM
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Hmmmm


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 2:51 PM
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If I'm not mistaken, too much consumer confidence led us into the problems we're now seeing.

I remember back five years ago I kept seeing articles in the same edition of a newspaper, one either gloating about high consumer confidence or fretting about low consumer confidence, and the other fretting about low savings and high indebtedness.

This country is crazy. And so is the whole world.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 2:59 PM
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They don't actually use your answer to forecast GDP. What people think GDP will be in the future is an interesting piece of information, though.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 3:31 PM
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Bob: and the relative disadvantage of divorce (the men are useless), have decreased in that demographic group.

There's the class issue; if you're going to college, you're going to wait and when you do get married, it'll be for the 'right' reasons, all very Jane Austen. If you're not solidly in the gentry class, then you're in the meat grinder with the high stressors, where people get married for the 'wrong' reasons.

The shift is from the solid marriages that last a long time from being between couples from the same neighborhood/socio-economic class and (what is now) working class, to being from the same high socioeconomic group but often very different personal/cultural experiences.

That trick only works if you have the cash to fund it.

Witt: Those were the only questions I skipped, because I haven't the foggiest idea what a "normal" rate of increase or decrease is.

2% annualized is a year-in-year-out good-for-a-rule-of-thumb rate. 1% annualized is stagnant. 3-4% is excellent, and 5% is a rampaging growth. The trick here is that, well, gosh, a rule-of-thumb-rate for the last 20 years or so is about 3-4%. Must be because of deregulation. Yeah. Couldn't have anything to do with understating inflation and overstating growth. Nope. Right now, the rate is about -6%, annualized.

I really wonder how they could get anything resembling good data out of those questions.

The point is to find out what you think, not analysis. Not knowing what's going on is part of that. They just want to know if you're going to buy buy buy.

max
['Then people who know stuff, like Larry Kudlow, can argue how you should buy now.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 3:38 PM
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Related: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW1jDjgc9w8&feature=channel_page


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 3:53 PM
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I was about to confidently assert that we haven't seen quarterly growth of (annualized) 5% since World War 2, but apparently that's wrong -- the quarter after the end of the '81 recession is the last time.

The highest recorded (positive) changes in GDP were under FDR, thus proving Amity Shlaes right about everything.

The graph is here, if anyone is interested: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?chart_type=line&s[1][id]=GDPCA&s[1][transformation]=pch


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 4:04 PM
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I would use demographic tools as well as personal experience to try to convince you that the 2nd thru 4th quintiles in America don't have strikingly different social attitudes based on economic status.

Jumping ahead without reading the rest of the thread . . .

I don't need convincing, particularly. To say that class matters doesn't mean that different classes necessarily have different takes on divorce, just that one shouldn't universalize without thought.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 4:17 PM
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I say let's replace the couple-in-love ideology of marriage with a couple-for-the-purpose-of-raising-kids one.

I was just about to comment that I totally agree with this when suddenly it occurred to me that I totally don't. For the same reason I'm not liking the frivolous marriage vs. frivolous divorce concept. Why is is necessary at all to judge people's marriages? Why do I care why anyone else chose to get married and where is it my place to decide whether their reasons where good?

I understand that the underlying impulse here is to soften the stigma attached to divorce by taking away the judgment attached to the decision to divorce. But it probably doesn't make it *that* much better if we replace the shame of divorce with "Good thing you finally got divorced -- that marriage was a totally dumbass idea!"

I also understand that the impulse between the marriage for love and marriage for children idea is a good one -- roughly, I don't give a shit how you manage your romantic life, but ffs put the damned kids first. But, you know, you don't have to be a couple to parent a child well. Perhaps defensively, I hear in this couple-for-the-purpose-of-raising-kids ideology of marriage echos of the staying together for the sake of the children ideology which, imho, is just plain bad -- yes, yes, your decision on how to structure the family should turn on what's best for the kids, but let's dispense with this knee-jerk presumption that the two-parent nuclear family model is going to be what's best.

Finally, I skimmed the last half of the thread, but I didn't see anyone point out the chief benefit of divorce -- namely, virtually guaranteed dramatic weight loss. Sadly non-permanent, though.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 4:19 PM
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In a way, it's the other side of the coin of people who had very significant relationships that ended when a partner died. "My fiance died" or "my partner died" just doesn't carry the same emotional punch as "my wife died" or "my husband died." "Widowed" is very powerful.

Dan Savage wrote a long riff on how a marriage isn't counted a success until one spouse dies. If you're widowed, congrats! Your marriage was a success. Until that moment, it might still fall apart and be a failure. (He wasn't supporting this view.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 4:26 PM
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181: An excellent point. I suppose if we had a decent freaking attitude towards the economics of parenting and childhood, that the "marry to have kids" thing would be a complete non-issue. One could decide one wanted to co-parent and have kids with someone who one thought would be good at that job, or one could decide one wanted kids but didn't care one way or the other about co-parenting, and proceed accordingly, etc.

I suppose the consequence of a society like that is that men would have the option of easily helping someone else become a parent without themselves wanting to do so, which women generally wouldn't (egg donation and surrogate pregnancies not exactly being "easy"), but that doesn't seem terribly unfair to me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 4:36 PM
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182 reminds that when Longtime Companion came out (heh) it was such a breakthrough. Now it's tame.

I wonder how well it holds up as a movie. I haven't seen it since it debuted.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 4:38 PM
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180:just that one shouldn't universalize without thought.

Yeah, I was running with the data in 169, which I can't say I am at all happy with, and abstracting and intellectualizing away from h-g's post. A line in a book I have open stopped me short. I should probably stop now

"...they were inclined to think that there was only one way in which history could properly be written. They were much more interested in man as a social and political animal than as a thinking and feeling being." ...RW Southern

I like 181 & 183.

184:Semi-ontopic old-movie-watched this-week-note: Tina Fey made me laugh. The first time I had ever seen anything with her.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 4:57 PM
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Obviously my thoughts on all of this have alot to do with my own particular situation. First, growing up with parents who stayed together, despite their open contempt for one another, purportedly "for the sake of the kids." Yeah, uh, bad choice guys.

More recently, Rory's recent expressions of concern about my hopelessly single status. Not that it's overly dire or anything, but it is something of a struggle trying to convey to her that single is, in fact, a pretty okay status. I think we do pretty darned well mother/daughter-wise with this arrangement. And while the current dry spell is wearing a little thin at the moment, I really can't imagine wanting to bring a man into our life. I.e., a date or two would be nice, but the thought of finding Rory a stepdad is completely unappealing.

UNG's experience and attitude, of course, is quite different. His parents split before he could even speak and his dad found him a nice stepmom who truly did almost completely replace his biological mom. So UNG found himself a nice gal ASAP and requires periodic reminding that this lovely woman does not get to replace me in the mom role.

A very large part of Rory's suburban social circle is made up of nice traditional families with stay at home moms and it's rather crucial to me that she understand that those families are perfectly acceptable, but not superior.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:07 PM
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Oh, hey, bob -- catching up on the thread, really sorry for your/your friends' loss.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:09 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:13 PM
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179

I was about to confidently assert that we haven't seen quarterly growth of (annualized) 5% since World War 2, but apparently that's wrong -- the quarter after the end of the '81 recession is the last time.

The graph you link is annual growth.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:14 PM
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188: those families are perfectly acceptable, but not superior.

Forget Parenthood, get her going on the passive-aggressive suburban angst genre: Ordinary People, American Beauty, The Ice Storm, Revolutionary Road.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:18 PM
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186, 187, 190, 192:
Everything I like is nice
That's why I try it twice.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:18 PM
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Why is is necessary at all to judge people's marriages?

Well, someone has to enforce social norms. If you abdicate your responsibility it'll be left to people like Rick Warren, and we wouldn't want that. Of course there are the courts - that's why it's important for the court in divorce proceeedings to clearly say that it was the other spouse's fault - but the informal re-inscription and enforcement is also necessary.

Wasn't it Freud who pointed out that if we don't control others' sexuality that the whole foundation of civilization will collapse?

Or, you know, mebbe not.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:19 PM
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James is right; the graph is annual GDP changes. I blame my parents' divorce.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:38 PM
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193: Oh, God. That reminds me. We had a Parenthoodesque moment the other night. Rory had the sniffles and was convinced we must have children's sudafed somewhere. So she's rifling through my nightstand.

"What's this?"
"Allergy medicine."
"This one?"
"For my thyroid."
"This?"
"Vicodin -- that's the one House is addicted to." She raises an eyebrow, moves on.
"What about this?" She holds up a packet of condoms -- I'd completely forgotten they were there. Oops.
"Uh..." I could go ahead and explain... No, maybe not. "That's a grown-up medicine thing... "


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:41 PM
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To me this is just silly. You can draw the line in different places, but the idea that we should never have any opinion about other people's marriages is an absurd stretch of dogmatic relativism.

I'm apprehensive about what's going to happen with the family member I discussed about and their immediate nuclear family, and awhile back I essentially spent six months talking a relationship-survivor down from suicide.

You can't stop yourself from having opinions and ideas in such cases, and you shouldn't. "Whatever he / she /you do(es) is none of my business" can be an extraordinarily shitty thing to say.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:44 PM
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The "enforcing social norms" thing is fantasy, as though there is somewhere in reality where there were no social norms and everyone is FREEEEEEEEE!!!!

You can have bad norms, good norms, or in between norms, but you're going to have them. And in the case of the two relationships above, besides being an enforcer of norms I'm also part of the support network.

Back during my hippy days, the norm was "No one can criticize anyone else, no one can make claims on anyone else, judgmental people are always wrong, and dependent, clingy people who don't take abandonment well are always wrong too."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:50 PM
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James is right; the graph is annual GDP changes.

Because, of course, it could happen that an annual growth of 5% could be counting four quarters of sub-5% annualized growth for each quarter.

I blame my parents' divorce.

Sad products of broken homes must have inferior innate mathematical abilities. Oh well, have a beer.

max
['But please to note that one should never entirely trust the FRBStL.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:52 PM
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198: But that's not an opinion about their marriage -- it's an opinion about one person or the other being hurtful, no?

I mean, UNG was a dick, and getting out was the right thing to do. But I would bristle at anyone calling my marriage "frivolous." Maybe it's a semantics thing.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:55 PM
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Marriage has good SAT scores, but it's overrated.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 5:58 PM
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A single quarter of annualized 5% growth is more common than a year's worth. Looking at the quarterly data, it looks like there was one this decade, and multiple ones in the 90s. Yes, I am working that hard to procrastinate.

Is there something wrong with their data? I thought they just repackaged government data.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:03 PM
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I could go ahead and explain... No, maybe not. "That's a grown-up medicine thing... "

Prude!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:06 PM
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Procrastination has the lowest possible SAT score, but is underrated.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:06 PM
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Dan Savage wrote a long riff on how a marriage isn't counted a success until one spouse dies. If you're widowed, congrats! Your marriage was a success. Until that moment, it might still fall apart and be a failure. (He wasn't supporting this view.)

This is a good angle to think about it from, since it's still the model most people subscribe to.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:16 PM
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201: I know it. I so don't have a problem talking to Rory about sex in the abstract. I rationalize that no kid wants to hear about her mother's sex life. Truth is, I probably just didn't want to answer the obvious follow-up question: "Okay, but why do you have those then? You don't date... "


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:22 PM
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'Well, you don't want to get rid of the old toys you don't play with anymore, and the Little Golden Books, do you? It's called nostalgia."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:23 PM
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What I get stuck on, though, when I try and figure out how a more humane model of ending marriages, is that I can't imagine a way to end a long-term monogamous relationship that didn't (for at least a lot of people) hurt like having your liver ripped out. The seven-year contract with option not to renew? I just can't see people shaking hands and parting ways at the end of the seven years.

And if divorces are inevitably at least likely to be terribly painful, a model of marriage that sees lifelong commitment as not particularly more likely or desirable than divorce seems weird. Maybe I'm wrong -- maybe it's just social pressure that makes breakups so difficult. I can't see it, but that doesn't mean I'm right. (This didn't quite make it to coherence. I'll see if I can figure out a better way to say it, but I'm going to post this for lack of having figured it out yet.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:30 PM
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But I would bristle at anyone calling my marriage "frivolous." Maybe it's a semantics thing.

Am I allowed to refer to Britney Spears' 48-hour marriage as frivolous? That's the type I was thinking about. Beyond that, I tend to reserve judgment under the "you really can't know what goes on between two other people" rule, unless I see one person consistently being hurt by the other or where there is substantial behavior change that affects me. (Or, and I don't like to admit this, if I used to be in some way romantically entangled with a member of the couple. Then, I'm judgmental).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:37 PM
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That was to 203.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:40 PM
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I suppose I can't speak universally, but a boat load of the pain of divorce came from the messages that not staying married forever makes you a bad person. I mean, yes, I imagine it would have felt like having my liver ripped out even if there was no stigma. But going through that with people close to you questioning whether you really tried and suggesting that you are selfishly and irrevocably destroying your child's entire life by virtue of you decision...

I see the model of lifelong commitment as incredibly unrealistic. How the hell do you know what challenges a lifetime will bring. I hate the "where do you see yourself five years from now" interview questions for the same reason -- "Well, five years ago, I sure as hell didn't see myself here!" Now is what we have to deal with. Not the past. Not the rest of our lives.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:47 PM
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204: Fair enough. Although fwiw, I had one of those "parental sex life" convos with PK recently and if he's any model, her response is way more likely to be "OMG SAY NO MORE."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:50 PM
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Am I allowed to refer to Britney Spears' 48-hour marriage as frivolous?

I suppose. There, I actually see more a very troubled girl -- it's not so much frivolity as "needs help." But then, the dangers of this rescuer mentality were discussed above. I probably should learn to be a little more judgmental.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:51 PM
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the idea that we should never have any opinion about other people's marriages is an absurd stretch of dogmatic relativism.

The idea isn't that we can't have opinions; it's that we should be skeptical that those opinions are correct. Most people with opinions aren't in the position of close friends, confidants, or family.

I just can't see people shaking hands and parting ways at the end of the seven years.

Especially if one is under the impression that the other person wants to renew it, too. ("Sorry, sweetie, I know you've been at home taking care of the kids, but the new secretary is hot, and thanks to the powers of the state, we don't even have to go to court!") That is, even if there's an assumption that this commitment can end after seven years with no problems, there's still going to be seven years of lives to disentangle.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:53 PM
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210: Seriously, the kid pities me. Just watching me fill out taxes, the kid felt the need to pat my arm tenderly. "Someday, Mom, you'll find someone and won't have to check the 'single' box... "


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:54 PM
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213: Yeah, that's weird. When you first said she worries about you I thought maybe she just is being sensitive and wants to make sure that Mama isn't lonely, but that's a little over the top.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:58 PM
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206: What I get stuck on, though, when I try and figure out how a more humane model of ending marriages, is that I can't imagine a way to end a long-term monogamous relationship that didn't (for at least a lot of people) hurt like having your liver ripped out.

Well, yes. It does. I'm really not sure why people would want to model a more humane way of having this happen. It probably can't happen without extreme pain. The death of a family member can't either. I fear I'm in the inevitability camp: very painful things occur in one's life, and denial and avoidance are surely not the answer to them.

And if divorces are inevitably at least likely to be terribly painful, a model of marriage that sees lifelong commitment as not particularly more likely or desirable than divorce seems weird.

This sentence is difficult to wade through, but is the idea that lifelong commitment surely isn't likely to be more painful than divorce?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:58 PM
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That is, even if there's an assumption that this commitment can end after seven years with no problems, there's still going to be seven years of lives to disentangle.

Yeah, there's just no easy way to take two lives that have been blended as one and neatly divide them back up again. Some of the newer, more collaborative approaches to divorce (aiming to replace fighting to the death with cooperative discussions) are promising. I think that the stigma of divorce as failure makes people need to hate each other that much more -- if it's a failure, then I sure as fuck want someone other than myself to blame.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 6:59 PM
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206: The seven-year contract with option not to renew? I just can't see people shaking hands and parting ways at the end of the seven years.

I doubt it would be that simple, no. But if it's definitely not going to work, for one reason or another and for one party or another, seven years should (in theory) be enough time to find that out definitively. (In 212: the seven year scheme I'm envisioning is more likely probation before having kids. Though you'd still have to figure out who gets to keep the Barry White records.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:01 PM
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Mandatory probation? I can see how you're envisioning it, but if we're right that a seven-year contract means people are right to put off having kids ("You never should have had the baby before you renewed, you know") we're imagining a very different world. (Maybe one in where we all get married at 21 to have our first marriages fail or succeed while we're still fertile...)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:05 PM
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who gets to keep the Barry White records

They were mine to begin with, bitch. You can have mp3 copies.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:06 PM
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Maybe the initial marriage contract could be for six years. If you pass the spousal review at the end of year six you get a promotion to Associate Spouse and get job security.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:06 PM
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214: Naturally, I blame her dad. I suspect it's a message he has expressed to her. Hell, before he was even out of the house he was making remarks to me about how he hoped someday I would find someone new like he had so I wouldn't be so miserable.

Of course, I've also had the little sister of one of her friends ask me why I didn't have a boyfriend yet. So it's probably just a community norm. Which is not a norm I want Rory buying into -- falling in love is awesome, but you do not need a boyfriend to be complete!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:09 PM
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218: Yeah, this scheme probably works best with people starting young. And, you know, that may not be such a bad thing either. It goes without saying not every "probationary" marriage, maybe not even a majority of them, would last the full seven years.

You'd have... oh I dunno, maybe less than half of the probationers going the full seven years, about maybe half again going beyond that... or something? I'm completely pulling these figures out of my ass. But the point is, the minority who do go on for the full-meal let's-raise-kids-together-long-term deal have a better chance of staying together and actually providing a happy, well-adjusted environment for the kids.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:10 PM
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Let's propose an idealized world where the economic system doesn't in any way discriminate against single parents (whether they work full time or not). Then marriage doesn't have to be about the kids, at least not in terms of money, and people can divorce and sort of co-parenting without having to squabble over child support or alimony or worrying about being broke or anything.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:12 PM
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I think 4 years for the initial marriage contract is fine. If you can pass the 4 year mark without feeling that something is wrong, go ahead and have kids.

I would be willing to amend this to 3 years, but no fewer.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:12 PM
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221: I suspect that like most parenting things, regardless of what she thinks she believes now, the example you set will dawn on her at some point.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:13 PM
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This whole 7-year-plan thing is nuts. Get married when you feel ready to. Have kids when you think the time is right. And if it comes to an end, deal with what needs to be dealt with to wind things up. The breaking up part is going to suck, but the dividing things up part does not need to be such a dramatic ordeal. IME, the trauma of the divorce was a separate thing that came after the trauma of ending the relationship. You can't prevent the broken heart part. It's the rest of the crap that is unnecessarily destructive.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:14 PM
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220: There should be like, plaques and pens and stuff!

The only problem with my scheme is that it kind of starts to look similar to people just cohabiting before marriage, which rarely works. But my theory is that those relationships tend to break down because of the added social stresses of being Seen As Married, of Thinking of Oneself As Married, and my postulated Marriage Probationers would be explicitly in sort of Marriage Tryouts, not just kind of nebulously drifting along for months and then years until they feel pressured to take the next step.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:15 PM
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If you pass the spousal review at the end of year six you get a promotion to Associate Spouse and get job security.

I ain't gonna have to write more articles, am I?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:15 PM
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225: I am sure you are right.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:16 PM
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226: Oh, sure it's nuts. I just think it may be less nuts than the current haphazard state of affairs, is all.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:16 PM
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For me, the frivolous-marriage/frivolous-divorce issue is this:

When you tell people you're getting married, generally, everyone is excited. People buy you shit. You're finally considered settled or grown or whatever name you want to put on it. There's a big party. Even strangers will be delighted to see you drive down the street. Some people who know you very well may ask a few suspicious questions about the situation, but marriage is generally considered a positive thing in one's life. There are a lot of incentives to get married, including financial, familial, and other benefits.

When you tell people you're getting divorced, generally, everyone feels sorry for you. Maybe you can milk it for pity sex, but largely, it's a big bummer. Everyone wants to know if there's some way you can not divorce. People worry about you, including, often, the kids. You have to deal with a bunch of awful decisions about money, property, childcare, etc., all while losing someone you thought you'd be with forever. Incentives to divorce, other than what must be some pretty goddamn compelling reasons, are few.

I don't mean that marriages that end in divorce were "frivolous"---not at all. But I did want to suggest that there's so much external incentivizing of marriage and so much external unpleasantness of divorce that stigmitizing the latter even further is unbelievably shitty. And yeah, I think if we love our friends, we talk to them a lot before they get married, not with suspicion and downerism, but to make sure they're not just feeling caught up in some kind of "and this seems I guess like the next thing that happens and it sounds sorta OK" narrative. It happens to a lot of otherwise very smart people.

I don't really imagine that anyone blithely chooses divorce. People do it in horribly shitty ways quite often. And I'm sure it hurts horribly either way. The benefits of marriage, OTOH, can be an awful temptation.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:18 PM
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people can divorce and sort of co-parenting without having to squabble over child support or alimony or worrying about being broke or anything.

This, ime, is a big part of the acrimony of divorces. It all comes down to child support. The problem is that it's the rare ex-spouse that's completely okay with turning money for their kid over to the person they don't want to be married to. It seems to turn even relatively peaceful splits into war zones.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:19 PM
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227.2 is ... interesting. I seem to have no words. Probably better go eat something.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:21 PM
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I ain't gonna have to write more articles, am I?

Depending on your situation, you might be able to do more service instead.

But in a really elite marriage, your peers in other marriages will get letters asking them to rate you as a spouse. Is there anyone who could be a better spouse than this person?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:21 PM
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Gosh, I hope I make the shortlist. Perhaps I can get the committee to define the area of specialization quite narrowly.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:22 PM
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I think if we love our friends, we talk to them a lot before they get married, not with suspicion and downerism, but to make sure they're not just feeling caught up in some kind of "and this seems I guess like the next thing that happens and it sounds sorta OK" narrative.

I agree with AWB's said except for this. Maybe I'm an enormous chickenshit, but I've known a few people entering marriages where I thought they were a little nuts, and no way in hell I said anything other than "congratulations."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:23 PM
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I think if we love our friends, we talk to them a lot before they get married, not with suspicion and downerism, but to make sure they're not just feeling caught up in some kind of "and this seems I guess like the next thing that happens and it sounds sorta OK" narrative.

I agree with AWB's said except for this. Maybe I'm an enormous chickenshit, but I've known a few people entering marriages where I thought they were a little nuts, and no way in hell I said anything other than "congratulations."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:23 PM
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233: Love to hear yr thoughts? I've formed this theory after extensive observation of My Circle of Friends and the failed post-cohabitational marriages common among them, one of which I had the opportunity to observe up close in a few ways.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:23 PM
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I've known a few people entering marriages where I thought they were a little nuts

A friend of mine who got married almost exactly a year ago was given the "are you sure you want to do this?" talk by a couple of close friends and by her mother. She was miserable about the decision, but determined to go through with it anyway. Ack, friend weeping in my office in the middle of the day. Not good memories.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:27 PM
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What ideally you would do, is get engaged and thus capture many of the social benefits of institutionalized monogamy. Then you dither and piss about for as long as possible, and either a)call off the engagement, or b)marry, having captured an extra couple years of societal acceptance. Foolproof.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:28 PM
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237: I've known exactly one where I had reservations, and I didn't do much more than a brief "Are you sure?" talk the night before the wedding. It's a hard conversation to have, and I sort of wish I'd given it more of an effort.

Then again, exactly one person asked me the "Are you sure?" question. I lied and said yes. I'd felt like it was too late to back out, and who really wants to admit doubts about something you are supposed to just know is right?

I think it takes a long time to get to know a couple well enough to really discuss red flags etc. intelligently.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:35 PM
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: I've known exactly one where I had reservations, and I didn't do much more than a brief "Are you sure?" talk the night before the wedding. It's a hard conversation to have, and I sort of wish I'd given it more of an effort.

It may be hard because one is often having that talk with someone who...one would be having the same talk with, no matter who they were marrying. "You're just unbalanced in general, and I don't think anyone is likely to enjoy putting up with you long-term" may be an implied message, or maybe the person will hear that even if it isn't intended.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:40 PM
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Or, well, the night before the wedding is sort of a bad time to get anything productive done.... I did have a friend who expressed his reservations by offering to write the groom a pre-nup....


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:42 PM
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238:

The theory has a lot going for it. Let me work through my own case: I'm a serial cohabiter. Relationships of 7 years, 4 years, 3 years. The 7 year one was not cohabitational for the entire time, just for the last 3 years, and we were young; it ended when I was 26. For that matter, the 4 year one was cohabitational just for 2 years.

In all of these cases, we were on some level checking to see whether we wanted to be long-term (life-long), but we didn't understand ourselves to be engaged. Just a couple. In no way was there a sense that marriage was some kind of goal.

So a provisional response to 227.2:

But my theory is that those relationships tend to break down because of the added social stresses of being Seen As Married, of Thinking of Oneself As Married,

is nothing more or less than that these social stresses didn't affect me in my own case. I don't think.

I want to think about this more, as there's obviously something to DS's theory.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:52 PM
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239: She was miserable about the decision, but determined to go through with it anyway.

There has never been, in the history of the world just about, anybody who got talked about of getting married. Either they bailed on their own, or they got bailed on.

221: Of course, I've also had the little sister of one of her friends ask me why I didn't have a boyfriend yet. So it's probably just a community norm.

It's a popular community. There is a large distinct group that believes that if you aren't involved with someone (anyone), you ain't tryin' hard enough.

Which I suppose is true, but offpoint.

max
['The probably read Brides a lot.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:53 PM
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Marriage is not something decreed by the state, Parsimon. In the eyes of God, you've been divorced three times. For shame!


Posted by: Opinionated Grandpa | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:54 PM
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234, 235: hott


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:56 PM
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The problem with the theory is the part that it's just plain easier for loads of reasons to have children while you are younger. So if there's all this time spent making sure you are positive that your love will last forever, you may well be 40 before you've found that lifelong commitment and by then kids may not be possible or a good idea.

I'm willing to grant you the probationary marriage program, but only if the issue of procreation is deemed completely separate therefrom.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 7:58 PM
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246: Ha! Don't think I haven't thought it. But twice, though. The third one was not really any thing.

What's odd to me is that though I've been 'divorced' twice (the truly married and divorced will scoff at that notion, with reason), I don't hate or dislike those ex-partners in the slightest. They're wonderful people. It's all attended by sadness and a smile, not by bitterness and acrimony, though the breakups were quite painful. No kids involved, obviously. I may be a model, in other words, for DS's proposed trial-marriage thing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:09 PM
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This, ime, is a big part of the acrimony of divorces. It all comes down to child support. The problem is that it's the rare ex-spouse that's completely okay with turning money for their kid over to the person they don't want to be married to. It seems to turn even relatively peaceful splits into war zones.


Agreed. It brings up disputes about whether one person should be making more than they are. "well, they could be making more if they werent so lazy." or "I've been trying to get to go back to work forever!"


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:14 PM
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Ok. The data from 169 show that divorces have gone up among women, who overwhelmingly are the initiators of divorce, who have less than a HS School education, which suggests they may be worse off, but less terrified....Whereas apparently the stigma and relative disadvantage of divorce have increased for the college-educated group.

Sounds right to me. The women I know who have less than HS or barely made it through are much better equipped to maintain their current (tenuous) economic position throughout a divorce than the women I know with bachelor's or master's, who both have higher expectations about what their economic position "should" be and are more likely to have stopped working a paid job for X time.

Emerson is right about not being able to create a world without norms.

On the topic of talking people out of bad marriages, for me it's highly dependent on how close I am to the person. Most of the time I'd just wish them the best and make no comment. There are probably only about 30 people I would really probe (kindly) to be sure they had thought through things, and even then I would never say "I don't think you should do this" except a) if asked directly or b) possibly to one of my siblings or my best friend of 17 years.

They don't actually use your answer to forecast GDP.

Yeah, I get that. But like, in comparison to some of the other questions, I just didn't get why that would be useful. If they ask me what I did with my last year's $600 federal check and I tell them (spent), and then they ask what I'm doing with this year's bit-by-bit $400 federal tax cut and ask what I'm likely to do with it (spend), I get that they're fishing around to see if people are likely to behave differently when they get a big chunk of money than they do when they get small dribbles, and also comparing my thinking last year to my thinking this year.

But if they ask me how much I think the GDP is going to increase over the next 5-10 years, first of all I think it's a moronic question because "5" is very different from "10". And second I think it's moronic because if I don't have the foggiest idea how much normal it is (thanks max and Trevor and walt and everybody upthread), so let's say I think normal is 10% and I think "well, times are bad, so I'll say 5%" -- what on earth kind of data does that give the interviewer? GIGO.

I'm not complaining; it was still interesting to be part of the survey.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:14 PM
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The women I know who have less than HS or barely made it through are much better equipped to maintain their current (tenuous) economic position throughout a divorce than the women I know with bachelor's or master's, who both have higher expectations about what their economic position "should" be and are more likely to have stopped working a paid job for X time.

When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:17 PM
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251 was me.

And on 223, I've started to get the sense from ttaM's and other Europeans' comments here that that world already exists in Europe (or parts thereof) more so than it does in present-day US. Now maybe that's just for some class levels, but it sounds as though there is marginally less terror over relationship ruptures due to a somewhat stronger safety net for public housing, healthcare, daycare. Maybe I'm insane. Any UKers awake and want to correct me?

There has never been, in the history of the world just about, anybody who got talked about of getting married. Either they bailed on their own, or they got bailed on.

Or some patient and caring friend sat and listened to them for a long time and asked a lot of questions that caused them to bail. Not exactly "on their own," then.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:19 PM
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250: And I suppose part of it, too, is the sudden recognition that, no, the ties are not going to be severed completely just yet. I'm going through this whole bitter process and still am going to have to interact with that miserable SOB...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:23 PM
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But if they ask me how much I think the GDP is going to increase over the next 5-10 years, first of all I think it's a moronic question because "5" is very different from "10". And second I think it's moronic because if I don't have the foggiest idea how much normal it is (thanks max and Trevor and walt and everybody upthread), so let's say I think normal is 10% and I think "well, times are bad, so I'll say 5%" -- what on earth kind of data does that give the interviewer? GIGO.

If nothing else, they could learn what people think is a reasonable GDP number; if people are wildly off the mark in a consistent direction, that tells you something about how their reaction to actual GDP numbers might be skewed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:24 PM
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248, and 254 by extension: The problem with the theory is the part that it's just plain easier for loads of reasons to have children while you are younger. ... I'm willing to grant you the probationary marriage program, but only if the issue of procreation is deemed completely separate therefrom.

Yes. If you need to have kids, and have them young, you will probably have to deal with this whole marriage and possible divorce and child support and acrimony aspect of the matter.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:32 PM
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Emerson is right about not being able to create a world without norms.

True - but those norms needn't have anything to do with sex or marriage. Some system like kinship may be necessary, but kinship is a slippery notion. The idea of kinship as being a system of relations by blood and marriage, with marriage defined in terms of a lifelong partnership between one male and one female, is not universal. It is very culture bound, of this time and this culture.

That's sorta why I referred to Freud - because modern thought rejects the notion that control of sexuality is the sine qua non of civilization (or, at least, of culture)


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:36 PM
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I found this idea at Rhumbarb Pie to be interesting, about why there should be at least a tiny little movement to do "co-parenting", where people join together to raise children, even just a man and a woman, without committing to love and have sex with each other forever.

Is Megan the only person on earth who would want to do this?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:37 PM
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No, no. You misunderstand. Let's take the marriage and divorce part out. Just have the kids, worry about marriage/divorce separately. A system for child support may need to be worked out, I suppose.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:37 PM
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259 to 256.

258: Sounds good to me!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:39 PM
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Is Megan the only person on earth who would want to do this?

Certainly not. It only looks weird if you are stuck in the modern western culturally imposed notion that sex defines marriage, and child rearing is bounded by marriage. Those are fairly unusual notions.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:43 PM
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258: You find that kind of setup in Germany some, especially in Berlin. For a while I was looking for a room in a big '68er co-op type place which, and lots of the places I visited had several kids being raised that way. It mostly seemed like people who'd already had their kid and then connected up along the way, rather than having planned it out beforehand.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:48 PM
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Is Megan the only person on earth who would want to do this?

Heavens! I doubt it. Might not even be the first person to think of it. I didn't go off to read the Rhubard Pie entry, however.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 8:49 PM
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242: FWIW, none of the people who I thought were entering unto unwise marriages were, themselves, the problem. And really, the other person wasn't either. It was more that I thought things were being rushed, and that maybe there hadn't been enough time to really get to know how the couple would work through real conflict yet.

There has never been, in the history of the world just about, anybody who got talked [out] of getting married.

Yeah, I think this is pretty much true.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:12 PM
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I know somebody who was married for a long time and had kids. She got remarried a while ago.

I since ran into her, and she mentioned her partner--which I usually associate with business or homosexual relationships. I thought that she might be having an affair, so I asked her whether she's still married.

She said, "No." She didn't really marry husband No. 2 for romantic reasons, but because he'd helped her with her kids. As a single Mom, she wanted somebody around, but there was almost nothing sexual, and she had her needs too.

Her youngest daughter just graduated from highschool, so none of the kids are at home. She figured she could divorce him now and do something for herself, so she divorced him. It seemed weird to go into the thing without ever having romantic feelings and then drop it so promptly. They'd only been married for four years.

Now she thinks that she's met the greatest love of her life.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:16 PM
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Focusing more specifically on DS's observational basis for his theory:

238: I've formed this theory after extensive observation of My Circle of Friends and the failed post-cohabitational marriages common among them, one of which I had the opportunity to observe up close in a few ways.

At first I was thinking that I actually don't know any longer-term cohabiters (cohabitors?) who've then gotten married, but not so: at least three couples who lived together for 3-4 years or more, and are now married with a kid. They're in their late 30s or early 40s now, and doing okay.

I suspect that the living together beforehand doesn't really register for me as unusual. It's a wise choice before making the ostensibly life-long commitment. This just doesn't seem complicated to me. A broken-up long-term cohabitational relationship is about the same as a broken-up marriage. Might as well test it before making it legal.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:18 PM
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cohabiters (cohabitors?)

Cohabitants. Or Quahogs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:27 PM
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Might as well test it before making it legal.

Well, there are pitfalls to this, too, though. When you get divorced, there are some legal protections built in to the division of property. Maybe no biggie if you rent and keep separate accounts. But if someone owns property, chances are someone is getting a better deal.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:33 PM
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253: Or some patient and caring friend sat and listened to them for a long time and asked a lot of questions that caused them to bail. Not exactly "on their own," then.

Oh, well, yeah. But if they don't ask you if they should bail, and you tell voluntarily they shoulda maybe rethink it, they get pissed. The more right you are, the more pissed they get. This applies to everything, and romantic relationships are the touchiest subjects of all outside of someone's kids. So. UMFH. If they ask you and you tell them, they'll tell you they think you might be right and then go and do it anyways.

I figure that if they hadn't fried their brain in the first place with the love bug, they wouldn't be doing it, so rationality is no help; worse, you may be wrong. Therefore, I figure you have to make you best guess, and if it is all bad wrong, then you get to do your best Horatius at the Bridge impersonation and tell 'em anyways.

251: so let's say I think normal is 10% and I think "well, times are bad, so I'll say 5%" -- what on earth kind of data does that give the interviewer? GIGO.

What Sifu said. Also, I just got Cicero (the cat), Mighty Mouser to chase the red dot of the LED pointer all the way across the room and back again, six or seven times. He was going to take a piece out of that red dot, he was, and he even caught it, but sadly, it was made of light.

They can also use the number to estimate how much you know about the real situation and estimate/calibrate individual optimism. I expect it's some kind of kludge number.

max
['Just cogs in the big machine.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:33 PM
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But if they don't ask you if they should bail, and you tell voluntarily they shoulda maybe rethink it, they get pissed.

It's a risk, anyway. For the one friend I did this with, though, I think perhaps we are closer for it. She knows I thought she was making a mistake. She also knows I am there to support her regardless. And, of course, she knows I don't judge what with the having been there done that myself. I give them maybe ten more years.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:41 PM
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258, 261, 262: I'm not surprised that it's uncommon enough that there's no infrastructure for co-parenting, where that means people not in relationships with each other having kids together. Help and support is necessary, but there are an awful lot of parenting decisions that people take very seriously. Deliberately entering a situation where someone I didn't know terribly well had equal decision-making authority over the raising of your kids is something I'd find prohibitively worrisome.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:42 PM
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267: Yeah, but! Yeah but! I've had roommates for longer! Cohabitants.

Hm, and weirdly, quite a few of my college friends (cohabitants, as we lived in a group house) who married in their 20s waited another 10 or 15 years before having a kid. This is like 5 of these college friends who had a kid when they were 38 or 40. Weird. They had a 10-15 year trial marriage before procreating. Sounds like they didn't consider their marriages to be chiefly in the interest of child-bearing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:43 PM
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I just got Cicero (the cat), Mighty Mouser to chase the red dot of the LED pointer all the way across the room and back again, six or seven times. He was going to take a piece out of that red dot, he was, and he even caught it, but sadly, it was made of light.

We call the LED cat toy "the kitten remote."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:48 PM
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Deliberately entering a situation where someone I didn't know terribly well had equal decision-making authority over the raising of your kids is something I'd find prohibitively worrisome.

Agreed, totally. But I can imagine deliberately entering a non-romantic "dating" scenario of looking to meet someone for purposes of co-parenting.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:48 PM
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274: And very civilized of you not to point out the massive pronoun confusion in that quote -- that'll teach me to edit and not proofread.

That's the thing -- I'd think finding an acceptable co-parent would be almost as tricky as finding a romantic partner. You wouldn't have to be sexually attracted, but other than that, you'd need pretty nearly the same level of trust.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:53 PM
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268: Well, there are pitfalls to this, too, though. When you get divorced, there are some legal protections built in to the division of property. Maybe no biggie if you rent and keep separate accounts. But if someone owns property, chances are someone is getting a better deal.

I imagine someone is always getting a better deal in any breakup. That's when you negotiate, married or not. Any property owned should be jointly owned. Cripe, I jointly owned cars with my exes, which some people thought was crazy, since we weren't married.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:53 PM
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Cripe, I jointly owned cars with my exes, which some people thought was crazy, since we weren't married.

See, to me that's just common sense.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 9:58 PM
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I give them maybe ten more years.

See, this highlights my own completely irrational sense that if they split up after ten years, it isn't what I generally think of in terms of what we're calling in this thread a "frivolous marriage." Like, if it functions that long, then it was functional for them on some level. And like Dan Savage says (I think this bit is from his book on marriage), it's kind of arbitrary to declare all those marriages that end in death a "success."

I'm thinking of:
1. 19 year-old who seemed absolutely enraptured in the idea of a Wedding. Marriage lasted seven months before she moved back home with her parents.

2. 50-something with three divorces behind her, head over heels with a new guy and convinced he is the man she's been waiting for her whole life.

Those are the kinds of situations that I'm privately judgmental about, when I'm watching other people get married.

But look, people get married for all sorts of strange and personal and self-delusional and common and weird and whatever kind of reasons, and I totally don't want to get into scrutinizing every one of them. I'm mostly musing on things that are for me the equivalent of comprehensive sex education and the availability of legal abortion. I don't want the government telling anyone how many kids to have or when, but I do want people to have the tools to make decisions for themselves and not feel forced by circumstance.

Similarly, I don't want the government telling anyone when to get married or how they may leave a partner (I have a friend who described the single most humiliating thing about her divorce as having to ask a judge for PERMISSION to leave her marriage). But I do want people who have the emotional, financial and social tools to make decisions for themselves and not feel forced by circumstance.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:05 PM
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I do want people to have.

Proofreading is my friend.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:05 PM
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True - but those norms needn't have anything to do with sex or marriage.

First, marriage is a norm. No norms, no marriage.

Second, why should sex be the only thing not touched by norms?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:18 PM
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I have a friend who described the single most humiliating thing about her divorce as having to ask a judge for PERMISSION to leave her marriage

That is ghastly.

But given that marriage is a legal institution, it takes legal proceedings to sever the legal relationship. This is one reason I don't see an obvious reason to involve the state in my personal affairs, short of other considerations (children, health insurance and other spousal rights). It makes perfect sense to me that a ceremony of commitment, or whatever you might call it, could serve the other purpose of marriage, to call the community to witness of a declaration to join lives.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:27 PM
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But given that marriage is a legal institution, it takes legal proceedings to sever the legal relationship.

Not disagreeing with your general point, but my state allows people to get married just by standing up in front of two witnesses and affirmatively declaring they want to be married. No judge, no j.p., no minister or officiant is required. I take the decidedly minority view that this should be a) permissible in all states, instead of one and a half out of 50, and b) couples ought to be able to do the same thing with divorce.*

*Knowing that very few would still take advantage of the opportunity.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:32 PM
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282: That is way cool, and is the way it should be.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:42 PM
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248: The problem with the theory is the part that it's just plain easier for loads of reasons to have children while you are younger. So if there's all this time spent making sure you are positive that your love will last forever, you may well be 40 before you've found that lifelong commitment and by then kids may not be possible or a good idea.

I don't think this idea would be workable in a population where the trend weren't toward longer lifespans and later pregnancies. But even given that, there's a risk that some people will indeed not find the long-term commitment during their childbearing years, which is a big reason why this kind of tradition would probably have to start younger to be viable, in order to reduce that risk. Again, I think that's a feature, keeping in mind again that a lot of probationary marriages will not go the full seven years.

It'd be up to the people involved but I expect the probationary thing would work best without the kids, because kids obviously introduce a huge complication (as Cala alluded to earlier) and in some cases (please note emphasis) become vulnerable once you're talking about successive partners, so-called "broken" homes et cetera, and one of the points of this thought experiment is to reduce the opportunities for that to happen.

I should point out that the thought experiment here is not about sepia-toned "love eternal" stuff, but practicalities: after seven years, are you still communicating, are you still relatively into one another sexually, are there any massive dealbreakers happening, are you feeling financially okay and so on. This would not of course eliminate divorce; it would just make it, hopefully, a lot less likely.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:49 PM
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270: She also knows I am there to support her regardless. And, of course, she knows I don't judge what with the having been there done that myself. I give them maybe ten more years.

I may, in fact, be really terrible at telling people that kind of shit.

273: We call the LED cat toy "the kitten remote."

Ah, but my old cats (RIP) liked string. Cicero is not much interested in string, but likes the LED. Matthew the Asshole Feral (I didn't pick the name, since I was thinking of maybe Virgil or Ovid; guess I'm going to have to name the next three Mark, Luke & John) doesn't go for it either. But Cicero is also the only good mouser I've had. WEIRD!

276: I imagine someone is always getting a better deal in any breakup.

In theory, things, both power and stuff, are supposed to be 50-50, but they never are. And never consistantly, either.

278: And like Dan Savage says (I think this bit is from his book on marriage), it's kind of arbitrary to declare all those marriages that end in death a "success."

Well, you'd think. But the standard for success is a house, 2.1 kids, lots of money, and 'forever'. People who do not adhere to late Victorian norms in any other way will still hold this out as the ideal.

282: my state allows people to get married just by standing up in front of two witnesses and affirmatively declaring they want to be married.

What they probably ought to do is just have a legal partnership (including people not romantically involved) applicable for all circumstances. Marriage would then be in the eyes of the religion involved.

max
['People want the intangible of official state endorsement though.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:58 PM
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Of course, as one gets older, if one is hellbent on a marriage that doesn't end in divorce (because divorce is terrible awful) there's always the nearly opposite approach: field every candidate for marriagability from the get-go.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 10:59 PM
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286 to 284. Tongue in cheek. It also seems that "marriagability" should not be spelled that way.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:00 PM
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286: We could have yet another kind of marriage contract, the "fuck-it-let's-just-admit-we're-both-desperate-and-get-it-over-with"! There are plenty of these marriages in real life -- I actually know someone who got married on the rebound after the collapse of a seven(!)-year relationship and is now A Reasonable Facsimile of Happy with three or four kids (I forget which it is at this point).


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:04 PM
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273. Both cats will chase the laser pointer dot until they're exhausted. Getting them to drift around corners on the hardwood floor is amusing.

I don't think I'd tell anyone anything about their marriage no matter what. Not my business. I've never seen any advice/meddling do any good.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:12 PM
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288: I'm beginning to like this idea. There can be any number of these kinds of marriage contracts: the "right, so, we're knocked up and turns out we're kinda happy about it, so we're getting hitched" one. Perhaps the "let's admit it, we've been fighting this for a long time for unclear reasons, but alright, you're the only person I'd want to marry, so let's just do it" contract.

All of this privileges marriage as an end goal. I like the 7-year (I'd still make it 4) idea chiefly because the focus is not on any eventual official marriage but on the relationship, and life itself, in that 7-year here and now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:15 PM
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284.last: I should point out that the thought experiment here is not about sepia-toned "love eternal" stuff, but practicalities: after seven years, are you still communicating, are you still relatively into one another sexually, are there any massive dealbreakers happening, are you feeling financially okay and so on.

To my mind, those practicalities *are* about the sepia-toned "love eternal" stuff. Plain old (strong and true) love, which plenty of us have, I hope, experienced, is not always enough for the longer term. That's a deeply sad thing to learn, but it is simply the case; you sometimes have to part from people you love. The seven-year scenario asks you to learn when you should let go.

Whatever DS says, his seven-year proposal is highly romantic.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-09 11:50 PM
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DS, here's something I don't get: if the seven year marriage you're talking about is probationary and can end anytime before the seven years runs, aren't you really then just talking about loosening the divorce laws? Or are you envisioning a different mechanism for ending the probationary marriage after, say, four years as opposed to seven years? Would ending things before the full term be more difficult somehow?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:00 AM
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292: 143.last is the best answer to that until DS shows up, it seems. An entirely different mechanism for ending the probationary marriage: penalty-free dissolution.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:22 AM
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OT:

If ever the "/" in "Dole/Kemp" meant "erotic fan fiction", set that fantasy aside. No more masturbating to Jack Kemp.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:22 AM
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People were talking about that in the other thread, Wrongshore.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:24 AM
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That first seven years could be like a probationary period, with penalty-free dissolution possible at any time, maybe even with an optional mutual no-kids agreement.

I just don't see, if penalty-free dissolution is possible at any time, what meaning the seven year mark has.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:25 AM
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Damn it! I opened two threads and searched "Kemp". Musta fallen off the column.

As to the topic at hand, I find that a whole lot of re-imagining marriage comes down to, "I wish I could have one life with you, and one life where I was single."


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:27 AM
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291: Awww, shucks.

292: The idea during the probationary period, I think, would be to make it relatively easy to divorce any time in that timespan. Its purpose is to give people a period in which to figure out what works and what doesn't before they try to raise kids together, not to absolutely lock them into spending seven years figuring that out.

I'm really not even sure how much modification to the divorce laws that would involve, really; perhaps not much. What I'm batting around is really more about just giving some explicit structure to the relationship beyond the one-size-fits-all category of "marriage." Something as formalized as betrothal, but with birth control added to the mix and celibacy subtracted from it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:30 AM
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296: The seven-year mark is the "finish line." You can drop out of a marathon at any time, but you have to cross a specific distance to be acknowledged as completing it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:33 AM
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299: So would there be some kind of "reward" for completing it? And stigma for not completing it?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:43 AM
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Mm, it does just sound like a formalized version of living together for 7 years before you decide to continue (get married) and possibly have kids.

People might be balking because they think that 7 years is enough to make any relationship break down, or at least wane, if there aren't kids in the picture. ?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:46 AM
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People might be balking because they think that 7 years is enough to make any relationship break down, or at least wane, if there aren't kids in the picture. ?

I'm not balking, and if I were it definitely wouldn't be for the reason you cite. I'm not sure anyone else is balking either. I'm just curious because I don't see how such a version of marriage would differ, given penalty-free dissolution, from just being a couple/living together.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:55 AM
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I'm not balking, I just still can't figure out what the heck the problem is that DS is trying to solve.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:00 AM
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302: The only difference I see is that DS wants, I think, to say that you can't/shouldn't have kids unless you've gone 7 years.

Well, no, going back to 143 again: a hypothetical 7-year marriage with voluntary dissolution also takes the stigma away from divorce. Since the 'marriage' wasn't til death do us part, it's fine if something else did you part. Yet it's still a marriage, which takes the stigma away from being (awful, awful) single.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:04 AM
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Well, no, going back to 143 again: a hypothetical 7-year marriage with voluntary dissolution also takes the stigma away from divorce. Since the 'marriage' wasn't til death do us part, it's fine if something else did you part.

But what work is the seven-year mark doing unless achieving it is some kind of honor (and thus not achieving it probably attracts stigma)?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:08 AM
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Oh, you're not renewing your seven-year marriage? That's so sad...you seemed so happy together, I hoped it would last.


Posted by: Aunt of the future | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:12 AM
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303: I talk about that upthread a bit. Basically the final outcome should be that the longer-term marriage commitments will be fewer in number, but more stable on average and with lower divorce rates, ergo better for the whole family.

The seven-year mark is just a) proof that you've been able to go seven years with someone (for whatever that's worth), and b) the point at which you know you're going to decide if you commit to the longer term with this person or take a shot with someone else.

It's not that different from just being a couple living together, as I said upthread, except that there's a definite timeline and social construction around it that ad hoc cohabitations don't have. (Maybe that's a trivial difference and maybe not. I lean toward thinking maybe not.)

If this kind of arrangement became normal, of course there will be different kinds of social stigmata that ripple out from it. What exactly they'd be would depend on a bunch of different factors (which is a wordy way if saying I haven't thought it through to that point).


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:18 AM
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I'm not sure about the seven-year mark. But it really is brilliant: it also takes the stigma away from that pesky shacking up that the kids these days keep doing, sex out of wedlock and all that, which you keep having to make excuses to the relatives about.

We already think of living together as a step that people take, but not everybody thinks of it that way, and indeed many people still avoid it in favor of jumping straight from serious dating to engagement and marriage.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:20 AM
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you keep having to make excuses to the relatives about

People over 25 are doing this?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 4:43 AM
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This seven-year mark thing is pure magic numberism. I read a while ago that stuff like foreclosing stays on your credit report for seven years. Why? Because foreclosing is like breaking a mirror? It's fascinating to see such nonsense embedded in the machinery of credit scoring and similar. But of course people are rational.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 6:52 AM
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310: I'm sure for another five years and sixty million dollars you can add a yacht produce a comprehensive report specifying the time periods which optimize the chances of achieving the desired societal outcomes for each case.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 7:21 AM
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7 yrs is from the same study which i read somewhere that relationships fade in 7 yrs unless a kid is born, then there is revival
DS's proposal sounds like mine which i think i wrote some time ago, except it was arranged marriages not natural ones
so one goes into an arranged marriage, which can last 3-4-7 yrs however long one likes or it is agreed upon the contract, if 3-4 yrs then one could enjoy benefits of in average like 10 different marriages in one's lifetime
if after its expiration date a couple would want to stay together, then no restrictions or obligation to end it
and because it's arranged marriage and people don't know each other at all there is also the initial getting to know each other, keep it interesting side of the relationships/dating present there
win-win-win
sure the candidates should be like selected very carefully so that it wouldn't end in 40 days
could be used as a business plan for the dating services


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 7:45 AM
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282: , but my state allows people to get married just by standing up in front of two witnesses and affirmatively declaring they want to be married

Brought to mind the following exchange during a meeting on the availability of move benefits for those affected by a large-scale corporate relocation.
EMPLOYEE: What if you just live together?
BENEFITS DUDE: Are you married? (quickly) Be careful how you answer that.

But with a bit of research* I'm sure that was referring to Pennsylvania's then common-law marriage** (gone as of 2005 although you can be grandfathered in).

*During which I discovered that in 1888, apparently New Jersey, and Camden in particular, were playing Nevada and Las Vegas to PA's stricter marriage regime, another infant industry in Pennsylvania which needs protection—protection from the pauper ministry of New Jersey.

**A number of states still have it, however. And somewhat to Goneril's point (emphasis added):

THE MYTH: There is a common misperception that if you live together for a certain length of time (seven years is what many people believe), you are common-law married. This is not true anywhere in the United States.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 7:47 AM
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People over 25 are doing this?

Yup.

I never get over being astonished at how different life can be in various social classes and subgroups. I just had cause to go through it again last week -- made the stupid mistake of thinking that someone else shared my values and priorities, and paid dearly for my wrongness.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 7:51 AM
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310: This seven-year mark thing is pure magic numberism.

Hey, Serious Men. Lab Coats. Scientif... esque numberism at the very least!

Yeah, it's an actual claim in a study as read says, though how old the study is or how reputable it is or where I read it, couldn't tell you. Could be four years or three years would work just as well. But seven just... feels right, you know? (Oh, look out, black cat!)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:00 AM
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315: It's weird, though, that the number determined in "an actual study" is the same number given in a Billy Wilder movie circa 1955.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:15 AM
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Mm, it does just sound like a formalized version of living together for 7 years before you decide to continue (get married) and possibly have kids.

This is it. I'm not sure how it would differ from living together, and quite a lot of our ideas of marriage are tied up in the idea that it is at least theoretically a permanent commitment. Kids are a big part of that, but lots of long-term goals and decisions are affected by the idea that the couple is supposed to be together for the long-term. (Off the top of my head: student debt, student loans, decisions to go back to school, decisions to move, joint ownership of property.) I don't think the change to an easy seven-year endpoint is a neutral change, or one that's only a non-neutral change if there aren't children involved.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:22 AM
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People also used to claim based on similar actual studies that all the cells in your body were replaced every ... guess how many years.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:31 AM
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The only difference I see is that DS wants, I think, to say that you can't/shouldn't have kids unless you've gone 7 years.

So, every relationship has to start over again with the 7 years? I had a serious relationship in my mid 20s that didn't make it to the 7-year mark, but from which I learned a lot about myself and about relationships in general. Maybe I can get credit for various types of self-reflection and experiences? Someone could make up a chart.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:32 AM
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318: One of Leibniz's contemporaries argued that there were only seven planets because there were only seven orifices in the body.

So, every relationship has to start over again with the 7 years?

Or do we start the clock with marriage? That makes me 35 before I'm "allowed" to have kids. (We normally think this is one of the drawback of the tenure system, but on spousal tenure, this is a plus!)

I'm thinking of DS's proposal as just like ordinary marriage, but one that has to be re-upped explicitly after seven years, like a mad cell phone plan. (I think it has to be this way, to distinguish it from living together.)

I am thinking of the decisions my friends have made who have married, most of whom are under the seven year mark. Several have kids, most have jointly purchased property. Some have quit their jobs, some have gone back to school or pursued higher education. In almost every case, if the seven years were up tomorrow, there'd be a fair amount of property to split and someone would be worse off for having put their life on hold for their partner. (e.g., I'll live in this city where I can't work while you go for tenure... usually its the woman who is worse off) And no one waited seven years for kids.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:40 AM
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The idea of codifying provisional commitment in a 7 year marriage sounds good, but there's still something missing...

Oh, wait, I know! Every couple should keep a commitment-o-meter. Each partner marks their level of commitment from 1 to 100, and then the machine projects a minimum relationship duration for planning purposes. The projection could be modified to take into account certain contingencies, like prolonged unemployment or disfiguring accidents. This way people can have some of the security of a long term relationship, but less of the stigma that comes from the breakdown of those relationships.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:42 AM
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318: Age interval in the Seven Up films. And I suspect 21 as age of majority is originally linked to being 3x7 (but of course a lot of status change also happens at 18).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:44 AM
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Right. I'd be 39 before I'm "allowed." Given the lower divorce rates for people who marry when they're older, maybe that can be factored in to the time you have to wait before kids. Also, my parents aren't divorced, can I get some small dispensation for that? And we're getting married in Massachusetts, which has one of the lowest divorce rates. Surely we can factor all of these things in to determine at what point it will be safe for us to be allowed to have a kid.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:45 AM
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321.2: Or display it real time like during the debates.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:46 AM
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And we're getting married in Massachusetts, which has one of the lowest divorce rates.

Boston should pick up on this trend and build a bunch of unitarian chapels and become Vegas for commitmophiles.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:49 AM
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Now I want one of those dials. "shiv, the commitment-o-meter drops sharply when you leave your socks on the floor..."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:49 AM
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You have to know when to fold, Cala. Fold socks, that is.


Posted by: Crypic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:52 AM
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It sounds like shiv is the one who needs to learn to fold socks.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:54 AM
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Living up to the norms of online communities your spouse participates in—one of the key elements of the modern marriage.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 8:56 AM
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316: What can I say? Billy Wilder knew his shit.

Remember one of the provisos for this to work is people would have to be started on it fairly young. If you're already in your thirties it's obiously not practical, unless you're planning to adopt. This would be something we inflict on The Children as a hellish social experiment, not something we do ourselves.

And no, apart from the formalization it wouldn't be that different from living together, so a lot depends on how big a deal the formalization actually is. There would also probably need to be some kind of process in place for if people do decide to discontinue at or before the 7-year mark. (Lawyers, ahoy! This is also an economic stimulus plan!)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 9:04 AM
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(I love that seven orifices thing. Astrology? I wonder what the upshot of that fascinating data point was supposed to be.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 9:08 AM
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330: This is also an economic stimulus plan!

Also, a lot of opportunities for niche marketing ( and targeted self-help books). In your sixth-year? Time to buy xxx luxury item to make the final impression.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 9:13 AM
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True fact: one of the first pornographic films ever made was the Hungarian "Dance of the Seven Orifices." A partial print sold for $1.2 million a few years ago at Christie's.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 9:17 AM
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regarding natural occuring marriages, i recalled a proverb, Russian
's milum i v shalashe rai' which means 'with a loved one life in a hay tent is like in heaven'
i think it's true, and many socks folding people would confirm, b/c without that feeling one never folds socks of the other imho i mean willingly
so one just has to find the other complementary one and then all the external other things would be like irrelevant, the useful hint is facial semblance perhaps, though attraction's of course that, subconscious
ST&B look like siblings btw, SK&MM also look pleasantly resembling each other, lucky them
my next hypothesis would be DW&W, geography aside, it's a pity Eb&B ignore each other though i predicted them like multiple times
well, but b/c it's pretty difficult, almost impossible to find that absolute match people resolve to have what they have and get called their marriages frivolous/bad/unhappy/for kids or stay single
['7 yrs of arranged marriages for everyone!']
7 though is too long 4 would suffice like presidencies


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 9:31 AM
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the


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 9:32 AM
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but the arranged marriages should be of legal age and self-willing, with strict criteria to choose the participants
otherwise it's too easy to misuse the concept and it's like open to all kinds of abuse, human trafficking etc
i thought about all that and already think it's a bad idea, let's them people manage themselves however chaotically


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 9:49 AM
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||

I'm not sure what, if anything, this says about painting, portraiture, women as subjects, the male gaze, or anything else, but it does say that computers are cool:

500 years of women as subject of art in 3 minutes

|>


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 9:52 AM
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337: Pretty cool. There's something really fascinating and vaguely creepy about the way the expressions change as the image morphs from one face to another.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:02 AM
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so beautiful
so people don't watch my utube links :(
coz i posted that when it had the viewcount less than 1 mln iirc or maybe i posted it somewhere else
the only objection there someone expressed was that it's all the western art
or perhaps it says that the western style of painting prefers as a beauty standard only the white faces


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:07 AM
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337: wonderful.

There's no eye contact with the viewer until 0:44 or so, then it's so more often than not for a spell. Then, when abstraction kicks in, it disappears until the final frame.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:26 AM
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Yes, no eye-contact and a sense of sadness. Interesting.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:31 AM
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||

I wrote another post, but it's another serious-let's- contemplate-moral-issues post, which I personally find sort of wearying. Should I wait on it, since this marriage thread is still vrooming? Or are you guys hungry for something new?

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:33 AM
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Selfishly, heebie, I need to drag my ass out to run errands. So I say wait until later so I don't miss a minute of the thread!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:34 AM
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You have to know when to hold, heebie.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:37 AM
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A 6.1 earthquake just hit Guatemala near Quetzaltenango, the second-largest city. That can't be good.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:40 AM
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Posting incontinence is common in postpartum women.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:40 AM
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It sounds like the masses want me to sit on it. I'm your remote-controlled poster.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:43 AM
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I love that seven orifices thing. Astrology? I wonder what the upshot of that fascinating data point was supposed to be.

IIRC, understanding or describing the organizing principle of the universe.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 10:54 AM
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337 is cool, but it's really unnerving when they suddenly jump across a few hundred years. The jump between Dürer and Reynolds was like, wha? Very beautiful, though, and I especially like how the eyes move really slowly between one pose and the next.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 11:23 AM
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Not a natural eyebrow in the bunch.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 11:25 AM
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this one is more like diverse and i like it ends with something like a death mask
or maybe it's a famous painting and i don't know it


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 11:28 AM
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Not a natural eyebrow in the bunch.

Guess none of them could model for American Apparel.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 11:30 AM
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Guess none of them could model for American Apparel.

I thought those were implants.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 11:35 AM
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353: Speaking of which . . . .


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 11:41 AM
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354: It's funny. If you mouse over Uma's picture, in which you can see about three square inches of fabric near the bottom, it says that it's a $3,900 dress. Fashion shoot!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 11:49 AM
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330: This would be something we inflict on The Children as a hellish social experiment, not something we do ourselves.

This is making me laugh. Of course I'm sold now.

Seriously, though, having slept on it, the 7-year (4-year, whatever) plan makes sense only if you think that divorce/separation is a very serious social ill that must be diminished -- which is where the thread began. DS's proposal takes the ills associated with divorce/separation as a given and works from there, rather than addressing the ills through social measures like increased support for single parents (universal healthcare, daycare, more generous family leave) and for, particularly, divorced women attempting to return to the work force.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:32 PM
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This is all fine in terms of an airy theoretical discussion, but I want to bring up a more practical matter that shows DS's proposal in its best light. What would happen to the institution of marriage if humans became immortal? Will anyone want to be married forever then? DS is just warming us up for our transhuman future.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:45 PM
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357:

If a Struldbrugg happen to marry one of his own kind, the Marriage is dissolved of course by the Courtesy of the Kingdom, as soon as the younger of the two come to be four-score. For the Law thinks it a reasonable Indulgence, that those who are condemned without any Fault of their own to a perpetual Continuance in the World, should not have their Misery doubled by the Load of a Wife.

Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:47 PM
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I'm hoping some people are still reading this thread, for I have an OT bleg:

I have a friend who's bi, but chiefly gay (lesbian), whose 16-year-old daughter just came out to her as gay herself. My friend is having a tough time in her grief over the difficult life her daughter is going to have, wants and intends of course to support her daughter in every way, but right now is fretting quite a bit about the loss of heterosexual privilege her daughter will experience, the constant threat and projected diminishment (of her worth as a person, as a woman, as a professional) she'll receive in the course of her life, and so on.

If there are any gay (or straight!) people reading, do you know of an online discussion place where parents in this position talk through these matters? My friend really wants to talk about it, pick through these threads of her own reactions, and is obviously feeling bewildered by her own grief. Her word.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 12:53 PM
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Her daughter will surely not experience the kind of discrimination her own generation experienced though, right? One of the hardest things to watch for a previous generation who had a difficult time of it is getting used to seeing the next generation not have to struggle in the same ways they did. Her daughter will of course still have a rough time, but she will probably be able to marry, will be protected by anti-discrimination policies during the early stages of her career, and will have more freedom to be "out" about her relationships. Can she see it as a blessing to know that although her daughter may not enjoy all the fruits of hetero privilege, she will be able to grow up in a time that is more caring and open toward queer lifestyles than when she was going through the same process?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:03 PM
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I agree with AWB. Not to get all super-therapist-babbly, but it sounds like she's unresolved with her own experiences of discrimination. Perhaps she could talk to black parents who find out their teenagers are black?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:08 PM
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I hope that didn't come off as glib. Accepting that your kids will not have every advantage in life is tough. But they are who they are, and things are happening to make life more normal and free for non-hetero people.

I myself am not totally open with my parents about my sexual identity or experiences, but they do know that I'm probably not going to get married or have kids, and that I've had sex with several partners. And my mom's response has been interesting to watch. She's worried about my "reputation" and how it will affect my success. And I say that people don't judge women like that in the same way they did when she was my age. But she keeps trying to create in me the kind of shame she experienced when she was younger. It's not a conscious decision; it's just the only way she knows how to react to it. It's hard for her to imagine living my life without that kind of fear, so she keeps trying to make me afraid of judgment and loss of privilege that I don't actually experience.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:11 PM
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360: Yes, I've emphasized that, and my friend wants to believe it, intellectually, but I think feels (knows?) that it's still going to be a very rough road. One reason I asked for a recommendation for a discussion list is that I'm not a parent. My friend is having strong parental pangs, wants to protect her daughter against all enemies, and she suddenly sees that there are going to be a lot more of them out there than she realized.

But yes, you're right, I can at least ask her to breathe.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:13 PM
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361: Yes, she knows that she's unresolved about her own issues, and that's part of what's so upsetting. She's a real-life person who's about as complicated as any of us is.

Funny, though, I thought as well to analogize to being black (though, you know, it's not the same, and it's actually not funny at all). I have white friends who adopted a black baby, in full knowledge that they were potentially setting up a difficult life ahead for the child.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:20 PM
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I didn't mean to sound like I was trivializing your friend. Sorry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:25 PM
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I guess I just fear that the "my child deserves every advantage in life" position can in itself constitute the harm the child experiences. The kid at my college who jumped off a roof because he got a B in Chemistry left a note saying he knew his parents would "kill" him for not getting into med school. Presumably, the parents wanted him to go to med school because they were so eager for him to have a good income and a successful life, but their fear that he'd have anything less than a perfect life was the threat that led to his death.

Or a much milder analogy:

When I cracked my forehead open (accompanied by some of my friends here), I got a little scar on my forehead. It's not a big deal and most people can't see it. My mother, who just wants me to be as easy for someone to love as possible, flipped out that I had ruined my face and would no longer be pretty enough to be loved. I have in no way experienced anyone telling me my scar is ugly except from my mother, who is so terribly afraid that it is ugly that she has made me feel ugly.

Does that make sense? I.e., the best approach to these situations seems to me not to tell the daughter over and over how hard her life is going to be because she's gay, because she's either going to experience discrimination or not, but to tell her she's loved and support her enough that she'll know that anyone discriminating against her is not "normal" but crazy.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:27 PM
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YES I VIOLATED THE BAN.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:27 PM
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Maybe parsimon can clarify, but from parsimon's description, it sounds like the friend is surprised by her reaction, and that she's not about to sit down and tell her daughter that she's sorry she's gay.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:33 PM
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Parsimon, I was thinking about writing a post at my blog about this sort of thing. Would you mind if I included an abstracted version of this story? I promise to keep it respectful toward the parent in this situation.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:35 PM
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368: Clearly, she's thinking this through, which is great.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:36 PM
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FWIW, I've never thought about my own experiences relating to being gay, coming out, and dealing with homophobia as a particular burden, except when I was just on the verge of coming out to myself: "I can't be gay! That's like, I dunno, having childhood leukemia or something -- just too horrible to contemplate." But since then, although there have been challenges, I've really had the strong sense that these challenges are just part and parcel of what constitutes my life and history, and I really couldn't imagine myself without the whole experience of being gay, the good and the bad.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:38 PM
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Yeah, the friend's response sounds perfectly understandable and also kinda crazy, and it sounds like she's working through her feelings.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:39 PM
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371: I felt the same way coming to grips with being devastatingly handsome.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:46 PM
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368: Right. She's not going to tell her daughter she's sorry she's gay, or recount to her how hard it's going to be. Her daughter has already watched her own mother addressing things in her own life. Her mom is gay and quite fully proud and out about it.

I think they're just both biting their respective lips and grimacing a bit. Walt's exactly right that my friend is freaked out by her own reaction of sadness.

If anyone eventually might have a recommendation for a discussion list about these things, email me off-blog?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:51 PM
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359: "grief over the difficult life her daughter is going to have"

Mmmm-hmmmm...

Well, she'll have to work through that, I'm taking off my Mister McJudgey cap. There are some good support organizations out there, they'd probably be helpful for your friend.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:53 PM
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374.1 puts it in a different light, too.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 1:55 PM
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369: Okay, but I'm not sure what you mean by "this sort of thing." But, abstracted, please. I've already abstracted and depersonalized a bit from the actual case, attempting in particular to leave aside speculation about the complications in my friend's mindset (the shame any victim might find herself feeling).

I'll be honest: I wouldn't want to see a post that focused on the way in a which a gay parent might make her gay daughter ashamed of herself. If that's the post you wish to write, I'd prefer that my friend's case be left out.

I'm not even sure why all of this is disturbing me so much, except that my brother's gay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 2:00 PM
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377: Writing it now, and your friend's case is not in it, though I'm glad you got us thinking about it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 2:12 PM
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I've heard* deaf people say similar things about their deaf kids. Torn between joy that they will share so much more culture and experience, grief that the kid's gonna have to hoe a hard road. But I don't have anything else smarter to add because my parents aren't deaf and I don't have any children.

*Ha ha ha!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 2:27 PM
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375: Thanks, DS.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 2:35 PM
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379:My intention is not to be a little bitch, but merely to perform a public service*:

It's rows that get hoed (i.e. rows of plants on a farm or in a garden), not roads.

*But you know what they say: the row to hell is paved with good intentions.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 3:40 PM
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I've heard* deaf people say similar things about their deaf kids.

Plug here for the film Jenseits die Stille/Beyond Silence. Hearing child of deaf parents grows to be a musician. Just a really good movie.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 3:52 PM
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Speaking of good movies, we saw Adventureland last night, and loved it.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 3:54 PM
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381: I'm sure it's harder to hoe hard roads than it is to hoe hard rows. You have no imagination at all, M/tch.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 3:55 PM
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I find that leaving off the closing italics tag is the surest sign of a lack of integrity.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 3:56 PM
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We loved it so much we no longer worry about frivolous things like closing tags.

Great soundtrack too.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 3:56 PM
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Well, except for the imagination involved in the movie Adventureland last night, and loved it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 3:57 PM
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When communists come to power anywhere, the first they do is ban the proper closing of tags.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 3:57 PM
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384: Au contraire. A hard road, for example a paved one, needs no hoeing, as there's nothing, weeds included, growing there. A row chock full of weeds, on the other hand, is a very hard thing to hoe.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 3:59 PM
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389. Snort. Alright. You probably live in some place where there are no weeds 'n' shit growing up through cracks in the roads, but leaving that aside, hoeing a hard road is freakin' Sisyphean, okay?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 4:06 PM
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381. Sometimes. Not always


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 4:08 PM
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but leaving that aside, hoeing a hard road is freakin' Sisyphean, okay?

So leaving aside weeds in the road, what exactly is it you're hoeing on this hard road?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 4:16 PM
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392: I have no idea. I find myself unable to press the metaphor any further, and have gone off into a semi-reverie about the weeds in the road up in New Hampshire, how charming they are, and how so many people find it impossible to believe that there's such a thing as a frost-heave.

Sorry. Hoeing garden rows is hard work. I know that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 4:33 PM
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Not hoeing, but cultivating today. Torn skin on the palms of both hands. Gardening is not for the weak.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 3-09 5:08 PM
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115 et al.: obviously the conversation has moved on (and subsequently died altogether), but I'm just catching up on this. I guess I don't know what to say other than to repeat that this doesn't seem obvious to me at all. I mean, the guy's an asshole, or at least did something extremely assholish, but lots of people are/do. I mean, is divorce necessarily and obviously the right call for anyone whose spouse visits a prostitute? (I'm directing this question towards LB only because I know her views on prostitution. I'm *not* trying to reopen a debate on that issue.)

I mean, sure, certainly no one's going to blame her if she decides she wants to divorce. But it's not clear that's what she wants (even if she were entirely free of economic constraints). And it's also not clear to me that should be what she wants, in contrast to, say, an abusive situation. I won't think she'd made the wrong choice if she stays. (Again, this is all complicated enormously by economics, but I'm abstracting away from that).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 7:39 AM
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I mean. I mean. Come on Eileen.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 7:40 AM
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395: Putting aside 'necessarily and obviously' (there can always be bizarre special circumstances), and talking only about what your friend's situation sounds probably like to me (I obviously don't have enough information to give her individually advice, nor do I have the sort of relationship where that would be appropriate):

This one seems like an easy call, because it's well beyond ordinary infidelity on two axes. First, a man in his thirties screwing any sixteen-year-old girl, whatever the legality in their state, is (probably, there's always individual circumstances) doing something predatory and abusive toward the sixteen-year old. You really don't want to be married to someone where you're in a position of worrying about his potential victims, or feeling responsible for the bad acts you've condoned by tolerating them.

Second, and I think less likely to be ameliorated by individual circumstances, he was screwing her sister. That's beyond "Whoops, I'm a flawed human being and I was really tempted," and into an attack on the wife's emotional/familial network of support; it's hard to imagine how the sister can be anything but an enemy now, her parents are either going to be forced to intervene or the relationship there is going to be strained by a giant tense secret. I have a hard time picturing an affair with one's wife's minor sister as not evidencing an abusively hostile attitude toward the wife that probably isn't going to stop there. Anyone who would do that sort of thing to me or my family, I'd be afraid enough of what was going to come next to devote all my attention to figuring out how to get away.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 7:58 AM
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Hmm. Well, yeah, me too re: devote all my attention to figuring out how to get away. But it's not obvious to me that she's making the wrong choice if she elects not to do that. (And of course it's not clear that she won't divorce him. I think she likely will.)

And I think her relationship with her sister is pretty well fucked, perhaps irreparably, but I don't know that her staying or leaving is going to change that one way or the other. Although it will probably be easier to forgive her sister eventually if she disentangles herself from her husband (in which case she might be more easily able mentally to blame the whole thing on him).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:09 AM
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Speaking of good movies

I watched the documentary Small Town Gay Bar this weekend, and it was excellent.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:12 AM
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As for: That's beyond "Whoops, I'm a flawed human being and I was really tempted," and into an attack on the wife's emotional/familial network of support

Being charitable to him (difficult to do, but), I'd note that I do think it's the former and not the latter. In my understanding (surely imperfect), it wasn't as if he sought out an affair with her sister with the intent to hurt his wife. Her sister was around their house quite a lot for various reasons, and they'd become good friends, innocently at first, and I do think the affair was exactly sort of just a tempted-and-flawed-human-being event. I mean, it's inforgiveably bad judgment, but not intentional cruelty.

Again, I could be wrong about this, but that's my impression.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:16 AM
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It's not about saving the relationship with the sister, so much. It's that he screwed her sister knowing what it would do to her and her family; he's demonstrably willing to hurt her directly and individually, and there's no way of knowing what he's going to do to her next.

Ordinary infidelity, a possible plea from the cheater, wanting to save their marriage might be "I was wrong, I shouldn't have done it, but it wasn't about you or our relationship, it was just a loss of control in the face of temptation." This guy can't say that -- there's no way screwing his wife's minor sister is purely about having been uncontrollably horny. It seems inconcievable to me that it's not aggression directed at the wife, at least in part.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:18 AM
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It seems inconcievable to me that it's not aggression directed at the wife

This may be one of those things that's inconceivable to most women and perfectly plausible to most men.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:20 AM
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I think it's very, very unlikely that it's aggression directed at the wife.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:22 AM
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401 crossed with 400. I'm not there, I don't know them, but the 'it just happened' seems absolutely implausible to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:23 AM
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402, 403: Seriously? Honestly, men teach high school, coach teams, and so on all the time, and build friendly relationships with their students and athletes, most of them avoid screwing sixteen-year-old girls; when they do, we treat that as importantly bad behavior. Yeah, yeah, men are all uncontrollable horndogs, except they're not: most men do have moments of conscious awareness where they actually think about the consequences of what they're doing.

Someone who ends up screwing not only a sixteen-year-old girl, but his wife's sister, seems to me either to be acting aggressively toward the wife, or to be absolutely indifferent to her interests in a way that would scare the crap out of me if I were her.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:32 AM
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when they do, we treat that as importantly bad behavior

But not as behavior directed at a third party.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:34 AM
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Someone who ends up screwing not only a sixteen-year-old girl, but his wife's sister

Okay, see, this does not seem to be necessarily a contributing factor to his motivation at all. One would assume that this is a guy who generally encounters zero attractive young women who would ever conceivably want to have sex with him on a yearly basis, and that this has been the situation for the last, say, ten years. Now, that number has gone from zero to one, an increase of infinity percent.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:40 AM
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The thing is, even if you're right about this guy, sleeping with the wife's sister was totally about his desires and not at all about her, that's just about as scary. "Hi, I just broke your family because I completely didn't give a damn, the thought of considering how it would affect you never crossed my mind. Tune in next week while I spend your retirement money and drain the brake fluid from your car without telling you; no malice, it just didn't occur to me that not having brakes would be a problem."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:40 AM
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You don't have to convince anybody that's it's both shitty and grossly irresponsible, LB. I think we're all on board with that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:43 AM
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drain the brake fluid from your car without telling you; no malice, it just didn't occur to me that not having brakes would be a problem

Your tone doesn't sound as if you're joking, but I'm having a hard time reading this as serious. This seems similar to you? (In any way?)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:46 AM
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As for teachers and coaches, a guy in that situation encounters lots of attractive young women, and is used to ignoring their attractiveness.

Correct me if I'm wrong about the "zero per year" thing, Brock. It just seems like it's harder to resist something that is a unique opportunity that will likely never come again. Of course resisting it is obviously the right and necessary thing to do.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:47 AM
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I have no idea how many attractive young women who would ever conceivably want to have sex with him he encounters on a yearly basis. As far as I'm aware, there's no reason to believe he seeks them out, which is what LB seems to be implying.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:51 AM
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It's not just that it's shitty, it's that it's shitty in a way that indicates that he's unusually unworried about damage to his wife. Even if injuring her isn't a goal (and I'm having a hard time buying that), not injuring her is something that he's demonstrably unusually either bad at or unconcerned with.

Infidelity is a shitty thing to do to your spouse, but it's the kind of thing that does happen all the time, and it can mean different things in different relationships. This is unusual; and attributing that merely to bad luck (he might have been tempted by anyone, it just happened to be his wife's sister) rather than to something about his attitude towards his wife seems unsupported to me.

If I knew more about the specifics, I might change my mind. But I don't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:51 AM
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410: Yes, it does seem similar to me.

Jesus, just look at the effect on the economics. Part of what makes this a bad situation is that she's economically dependent on him. So if she wanted to get away, she'd have to turn to someone for help. Normally, that'd be her family. Whoops, that's going to be a problem now, isn't it?

He simultaneously fucked around on her, and fucked up her relationship with the people she should be able to support her when she's having problems with him. That could be just accidental bad luck, but it really, really fucks her over and limits her options.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:55 AM
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LB, I think I said this upthread, but he seems to be genuinely remorseful, and admits it was a shitty and selfish and irresponsible thing to do. Not that remorse absolves him, of course, but it's not as if he's just entirely indifferent to his wife, or to the damage he's caused.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 8:57 AM
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415: I can't evaluate that without knowing him. I could be wrong, certainly, everyone's different, there are always special circumstances.

In the abstract, though, "seems to be genuinely remorseful" isn't terribly persuasive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:00 AM
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Yes, it does seem similar to me.

One is attempted murder, LB. Your interpretation of this scenario is so radically different from mine that I'm not even sure how to talk about it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:01 AM
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Way back to 395: And it's also not clear to me that should be what she wants, in contrast to, say, an abusive situation. I won't think she'd made the wrong choice if she stays.

Were this someone I were close enough to that it were appropriate for me to offer advice: eh, people have to make their own decisions, and take the risks that they decide are appropriate. Nonetheless, if she stayed with him, next year when he did something else as bad or worse, I would be sympathizing while sitting on the impulse to ask "What exactly did you expect here?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:04 AM
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417: One is attempted murder, LB.

No, no, not that he was trying to kill her, just that he needed the brake fluid for something else, and draining it out of her car was easier than getting it elsewhere. That wouldn't be attempted murder at all, just thoughtlessness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:06 AM
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I think that analogy only works for siphoning the gas.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:09 AM
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The point is that fucking with someone's family is a significant injury. Whether the husband did it purposefully or recklessly isn't terribly important in terms of how scary he is going forward.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:12 AM
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Having been close to a somewhat similar situation myself, I'm with LB that there was almost certainly more to the husband's actions than pure horndoggery. Hostility toward the wife would be my guess as well. IME, men's actions with regard to sex stem from emotions every bit as complicated as women's.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:13 AM
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Nonetheless, if she stayed with him, next year when he did something else as bad or worse, I would be sympathizing while sitting on the impulse to ask "What exactly did you expect here?"

Does she have another sister? Her mom maybe?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:15 AM
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if one can't respect the other anymore, there is no meaning to stay together even for the kids, b/c it would be like soul corrupting for the kids to witness mutual hatred and loathing of their parents
the guy himself first will start to hate his wife for forgiving him
the only way to preserve some self-respect for him is perhaps to divorce and marry the sister
and i wonder why the wife even tells this kind of very sensitive family matters to the outsider, even if to her best friend, perhaps she too has a lot to blame herself


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:16 AM
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422: I'd agree that it's likely more than pure horndoggery--but that's true of almost all affairs, right?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:20 AM
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Brock, out of curiosity, how long have this couple we're speculating so freely about been married?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:23 AM
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425: Sure, it's true of almost all affairs, but what 'more' it is depends on the individual circumstances. Under the facts as described, I'd find the 'more' implied by a decision to screw his wife's minor sister to be something that would worry me a great deal if I were the wife.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:27 AM
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I've got nothing invested in this argument, but there seems to be a great deal of question-begging going on here. The affair with the sister is evidence of hostility toward the wife because having an affair with your wife's sister is evidence of hostility. Sexual impulses are always complicated things, but so far, the one proposition for which absolutely no evidence has been offered is that he has some hostility toward his wife.

People do wildly self-destructive (and outwardly destructive) things all the time, and *especially* around issues of sex.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:28 AM
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I don't know if it's part of the dynamic here, but I bet the little sister looks quite a lot like the wife did in the beginning of the relationship, before four kids took their inevitable toll on her looks. Quite likely they have at least some similar mannerisms. It's the kind of thing that can tap into a very deep vein in the psyche.

The guy's still a stone bastard, and IMO the wife should DTMFA with extreme prejudice. We all have our horrible little weaknesses and moments when we utterly fail to live up to what we want to be, but that doesn't define the totality of who we are. His actions may be unforgivable, but they are not incomprehensible.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:28 AM
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426: eight years.

And, regarding the 'speculating freely' bit, I am actually feeling a bit bad about this. It's obviously very unlikely anyone involved will end up reading this, but wow would I feel like shit if they did. (I mean, I haven't said anything that I haven't said in person, but, you know, 424 really sucks.)

Not asking that anything be deleted, just voicing my anxiety.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:30 AM
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428: The "hostility toward his wife" thing needn't be the explanation, but people committing adultery generally know they're doing something bad. Sleeping with your wife's sixteen-year old sister is an order of magnitude beyond just having an affair, one has to admit, and is bound to invite speculation about what profoundly fucked-up thing could have been going on in your head.

LB's characterization of it as an attack on "her family" seems to assume a rather large amount of gormlessness on the part of the family in question, but... such families are known to exist, I guess.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:33 AM
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The affair with the sister is evidence of hostility toward the wife because having an affair with your wife's sister is evidence of hostility.

No. It's because having an affair with your wife's sister will injure your wife's relationship with her family members in a completely predictible way, and will therefore cause her more pain than having an affair with almost anyone else would have.

That's the point of the brake fluid -- if you take the brake fluid out of someone's car, you're either scarily malicious (because you tried to kill them) or dangerously clueless (because you didn't think of how it would affect them).

If he thought about how this would affect his wife, he's hostile. If he didn't think about how it would affect his wife, he's unusually and frighteningly indifferent to her welfare.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:34 AM
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430: I will hereby contribute no further to the free speculation.

(Eight years, hmmm? Billy Wilder and I are duly taking note that that's seven... plus one. The Plan is taking shape...)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:36 AM
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The thing is that there are a lot of moments to get off the train before it wrecks, or to steer it on to a different track. Not heading the yellow flags, or not having the internal moral compass that raises them, are big issues across situations, so if I were the wife I would be worried about the future.

If somebody can't accurately identify, "Gosh, I'm spending a lot of time sharing emotions and jokes with my wife's sister...maybe we should tone it down a bit," then I wouldn't be terribly confident in their ability to identify, "Gosh, this co-worker of mine has called me three times on my cell in the evenings at home this week...maybe we should tone it down a bit."

Otherwise you end up with a Dan Savage-esque "Oops!" moment, except this is "Oops! How did I end up having an affair again?"

None of which is a commentary on this marriage in particular; as everybody keeps noting, there are all kinds of specifics we don't know. And beyond that, everybody has their own categories of what is tolerable vs. intolerable.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:37 AM
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well, that's my opinion and why it should suck any more than other opinions is kinda strange for me
what would you like to hear, forgive him he was not knowing what he was doing, it's the basic male instinct to screw whoever is willing
everybody has weaknesses, stay together for the kids, and everybody would be happy? etc
why do you ask then even if the answer is already that clear for you and your friend


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:38 AM
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I will hereby contribute no further to the free speculation.

Oh, I wasn't saying that. At this point it is what it is. And obviously I'm the one who brought it up. I just forget sometimes that the internet isn't really a purely private space.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:39 AM
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Heading s/b heeding

Also, I just want to register my extreme distaste for this: before four kids took their inevitable toll on her looks.

Not cool.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:39 AM
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435: I think the two things that you said that would be hard for the woman involved to read were "the only way to preserve some self-respect for him is perhaps to divorce and marry the sister" and "perhaps she too has a lot to blame herself." Speculating on her possible wrongdoing seems unnecessary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:41 AM
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I guess it's not inevitable that having four kids would take a toll on someone's looks. There must be at least one counterexample.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:41 AM
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will injure your wife's relationship with her family members in a completely predictible way

Only if it is revealed, and this is key to almost 100% of all extramarital affairs. Very few people go into an affair thinking anybody will find out and it's more often the case than not that nobody else ever does (or, at least, not the original partner).

Driving without brake fluid will absolutely get revealed 100% of the time because the car won't stop.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:43 AM
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435: Sorry, read. I shouldn't have criticized your comment indirectly like that--that was rude. You opinion is as welcome as anyone else's. But your statement that "perhaps she too has a lot to blame herself" struck me as pretty insensitive. I think we might just be approaching this from very different perspectives.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:44 AM
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God knows my three kids have taken a toll on my looks.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:45 AM
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440: Usually, though, people making that calculation are in a situation where the adulterous partner is (1) an adult and (2) not closely involved with the adulterer's spouse. "My spouse will never figure out that I'm screwing someone at work" is a very different belief than "My wife will never figure out that I'm screwing her teenage sister who spends a lot of time at our house," don't you think?

And even if it hadn't come to light, the sister, obviously, knows, and it's going to fuck with the sister's relationship with the wife regardless of whether the wife knows what's going on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:47 AM
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I BLAME THE SISTER

SOMEONE HAS TO


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:48 AM
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442: Stop fishing.

And I agree 100% that people don't go into affairs thinking their partner is going to find out, but IME somebody usually does. It's very often not the partner, sure, and it may be somebody who has no stake in the game and doesn't care much one way or the other, but somebody (or several somebodies) tend to know.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:48 AM
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443: My point is that there is not necessarily an overlap between stupid/self-deluded and hostile.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:49 AM
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her possible wrongdoing
sharing the family secrets i think is her wrongdoing
if she was to forgive, she should have kept everything private perhaps, then their relationship could have become stronger if it's of course possible
once it is out there shared, with friends, there is only the right and the wrong to choose from to keep that, decent appearances


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:50 AM
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443: And my point is that while everyone's stupid and self-deluded to some extent, there's a point at which stupidity and self-delusion become as scary as hostility.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:51 AM
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I think LB and Apo's debate here is kind of like medical malpractice. Apo is saying that the doctor is only liable (that is, he's only being "hostile") if he did something affirmatively bad to the patient. LB is saying that to behave as he did is negligence of care, and thus counts as malpractice even if it was more of a passive side-effect than an affirmatively hostile act.

Yes?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:53 AM
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437: Is it controversial that time and kids take a toll on one's looks? There are plenty of people who have had kids and manage to be sexy, but when you have a bunch of kids it's a hell of a lot harder to find the time and energy required. Elide "inevitable" if you want, but I don't think the claim is hard to support.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:55 AM
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WHAT ABOUT THE SISTER

HOW COULD SHE DO THAT TO HER OLDER SISTER, THE ONE WHO TAUGHT HER AND TOOK CARE OF HER


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:55 AM
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449: Kind of. I'm not particularly interested in judging the guy, just in treating his behavior as diagnostic of what to expect going forward. And on that front, he seems to at best have hit a level of 'negligence' that's as worrisome as malice would be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:56 AM
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444: well, I certainly don't think she's blameless. She's only 16, so obviously her culpability is very much mitigated, but at the same time I think she was fully aware of what she was doing. To me, if we're talking about hostility driving the affair, it seems to me that's much more likely to have been sistert-to-sister than husband-to-wife.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:56 AM
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449: I'm not making a liability claim here. I've said it's shitty and grossly irresponsible.

448: I can agree with that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 9:57 AM
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454.2: Comity!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:11 AM
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I think that analogy only works for siphoning the gas.

I think LB and Apo's debate here is kind of like medical malpractice.

The ghost of the analogy ban roams the Mineshaft, moaning and clanking its chains.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:11 AM
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452: I completely agree. I've had multiple instances where cheating on a partner would be easy and very unlikely to be discovered. In all cases it was clear that the possibility existed and that I needed to take steps to minimize contact or channel it into avenues that defused the sexual tension. Only one regret on that count, but it was mostly due to the fact that we should have broken up a year earlier.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:11 AM
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sharing the family secrets i think is her wrongdoing

The wife doesn't necessarily have any control on whether or not the affair stays a secret. Especially because someone was blabbing for her to find out in the first place.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:12 AM
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Especially because someone was blabbing for her to find out in the first place.

This is exactly right, although only for a peculiar usage of "blabbing" to mean "having sex in her house when she came home unexpectedly."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:16 AM
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459 to any claim that he could have reasonably expected her not to find out. Jesus.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:18 AM
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402 403

I agree.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:24 AM
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James agrees! Case closed.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:25 AM
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How reasonable you consider his expectations in retrospect doesn't actually affect whether he held them, y'know.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:27 AM
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Well, heck, maybe there is something to the idea. Brock, tell her that if she's sure he's really sorry, she's got a responsibility to commit to the marriage and stay with him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:27 AM
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463: Again, who knows what was going on in his head. But he's demonstrably unreasonably bad (whether from stupidity or malice) at protecting his wife from being injured by his actions; in her place, I'd be doing whatever I could to decrease my vulnerability to injury from him in the future.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:29 AM
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452

Kind of. I'm not particularly interested in judging the guy, just in treating his behavior as diagnostic of what to expect going forward. And on that front, he seems to at best have hit a level of 'negligence' that's as worrisome as malice would be.

If you want to predict future behavior I think you should look at his whole life up to this point and not just this incident. It seems possible that if his wife had had a young brother instead of a young sister they would have lived happily ever after. Of course a single instance of extremely bad behavior (even if it was in some sense unlucky) does increase the probabilty of bad behavior going forward but I think the rest of his life is still relevant.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:30 AM
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464: I will. I'll also be sure to let her know that this sort of thing tends to happen when you share sensitive family matters with friends, so really she's as much to blame as anyone.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:31 AM
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Has anyone noted that the younger sister in question was eight years old at the wedding? Creepy.

Wait, let me try that again:

CREEPY.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:32 AM
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465

Again, who knows what was going on in his head. But he's demonstrably unreasonably bad (whether from stupidity or malice) at protecting his wife from being injured by his actions; in her place, I'd be doing whatever I could to decrease my vulnerability to injury from him in the future.

Suppose he had accidently shot her while cleaning a gun?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:34 AM
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Eddie the gun safety Eagle would be very cross with him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:36 AM
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Suppose he had accidently shot her while cleaning a gun?

MMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNN


Posted by: OPINIONATED ANALOGY BAN GHOST | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:38 AM
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454: Right, you did. Sorry. I guess that's why we have the analogy ban.


Posted by: witt | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:39 AM
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469: Suppose he accidentally shot her while vigorously cleaning a brand-new assault rifle that her sister had stolen for him from her father's gun rack?

There's got to be a way to work a trolley problem into this.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:49 AM
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What if it was a really busy day, and he was sure that he had zipped up, but he was kind of distracted and not in his normal routine, and then suddenly he looked down and realized WTF? He was having sex with her sister!??!!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:52 AM
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473: What if he'd been faced with the choice of having sex either with her sister, or with five of her first cousins? Second cousins? A girls high school basketball team with no actual relatives of hers, but at least one girl with a strong resemblance to her at sixteen?

What if the orgy could be averted by pushing a fat man off a bridge into it, thereby allowing him to escape while the fat man had sex with the basketball team?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:57 AM
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Don't mind me. Just testing out a new phone...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:57 AM
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WHY DO ALL THESE SISTERS-IN-LAW KEEP SUCKING MY COCK?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:58 AM
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Don't mind me. Just testing out a new phone...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:58 AM
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What if the orgy could be averted by pushing a fat man off a bridge into it, thereby allowing him to escape while the fat man had sex with the basketball team?

This doesn't strike me as a difficult moral dilemma.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 10:59 AM
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475: There we go!

And the ethical thing would be to save that basketball team from having sex with that horrible fat man, obviously.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:00 AM
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Well, what if the fat man was going to sprain an ankle or something?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:00 AM
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Then the SOB should get to a gym more.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:02 AM
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Suppose he had accidently shot her while cleaning a gun?

If you know what I mean.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:07 AM
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481: I'm having trouble figuring realistic circumstances in which all the parts of the dilemma you've set up would be true, so it's a little hard to say for sure, but this still doesn't strike me as that difficult. I think the fat man would want to be pushed. Certainly, if it later turns out he didn't want to be pushed, I think he'd at least understand your reasons for pushing him, and not hold a serious grudge.

Maybe if he was going to break both legs in the fall. That would be a more difficult choice. But then he probably wouldn't end up having sex with the basketball team, so the hypo sort of comes unglued.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:08 AM
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458 i don't know i would be more sympathizing with her if she would even like pretend that she doesn't know even if everybody else knows
but if it happened when she saw it herself and if she's going to stay with him even after that b/c of her all forgiving love or for the kids sake, still that is not for sharing with friends
if she's not going to stay which is more natural, then no any questions to tell to others or not b/c it wouldn't matter, though even then the kids don't need to know that their father is stupid or amoral
about the sister, she's of course to be blamed, but from whom one would expect more responsibility, from a teenager or one's own grownup partner


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:10 AM
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484: But what if the fat man was Ron Jeremy? Then he would totally wind up having sex with them, and they'd regret it for the rest of their lives. That's the scenario I was working with.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:11 AM
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Okay read, that makes more sense. I think maybe there were language barriers with your previous comment. FWIW, she hasn't told many people. I don't think her parents know, for example, although that in particular is going to be a difficult one to work through whether she stays with him or not.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:14 AM
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Dikembe Mutombo, 16-year-old sister-fucker dude and Ron Jeremy walk into a bar full of high school girls basketball players.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:18 AM
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I know we've moved on, but I had this half-written before I had to go do something, and apparently I gotta send it, I just gotta!

Hell, forgiveness is a complicated thing, and there's absolutely no general answer that should apply to every case of an infidelity like the husband's. They may well have the kind of relationship that simply does provide the wife with the mental and emotional space to forgive him and move on, and for him to forgive himself. I don't find it extremely difficult to imagine such a marital relationship (though, frankly, I'd expect it more in a longer-lasting marriage than just an 8-year one).

Anyway, it's not just forgiveness, but also trust, that's in play. No longer trusting your partner is the mind-killer, makes you into a nervous wreck, and if the wife finds that she no longer trusts the guy, that's pretty much it. The end. Only the wife knows whether she can retain, or regain, her trust in her husband. There's really no "ought" here, just what the wife finds herself capable of. If she can't do it, she can't do it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:22 AM
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I just gotta!

It's a good comment. We all project our own histories, fears, and insecurities onto these sorts of scenarios.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:27 AM
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I have noticed LB tends to be hardline about this sort of thing and I wonder how much of that is based on enforcing social norms rather than belief that a hardline position is always individually best.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:36 AM
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We all project our own histories, fears, and insecurities onto these sorts of scenarios.

Hey! Now who says I was doing that? (But, of course; history, anyway.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:37 AM
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Huh. Perhaps the dozen or so comments where I noted that knowledge of the individual circumstances would be necessary to really know what to say about this woman's situation were too few. I could say it another couple of times if that would help?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:39 AM
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489: I'd expect it more in a longer-lasting marriage than just an 8-year one

Yes, I think 2 terms 14-years is about right.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:40 AM
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493: maybe bold and all-caps?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:41 AM
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489: Not that I've seriously thought about it or been tempted (or, TBH, had the opportunity), but the possibility of my infidelity is greatly diminished by the emphasis AB has placed on trust. Not like this is some rare thing to value in a relationship, but she's been so explicit about it that it has this huge primacy. AFAIK there's no damaging history there, but it's just huge for her. Huge huge huge.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:41 AM
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I'm thinking of calling it the "Seven-Year Hitch" plan, BTW. I think that would look pretty good on the cover of a self-help book.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:42 AM
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KNOWLEDGE OF THE INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD BE NECESSARY TO REALLY KNOW WHAT TO SAY ABOUT THIS WOMAN'S SITUATION


Posted by: OPINIONATED LB | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:43 AM
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497: Might make people think of that movie.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:44 AM
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The ceremony of long-term committment that tied a couple together after they'd completed the trial term could be called the "Seven Year Stitch".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:45 AM
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"Limit marriage to just seven years' urges twice-divorced politician turned dominatrix"

hmmmm.....


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:46 AM
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+'


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:47 AM
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475 nearly had be bust out laughing while my students were taking a test.

A little later it occurred to me how many ways sex with a women's basketball team would be appealing: they are used to working closely together in strenuous physical activity, they likely to be tall, etc.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:48 AM
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they likely not demanding of good grammar


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:50 AM
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495: You have to know when to bold.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:52 AM
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500: The ceremony of long-term committment is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst.
Are full of passionate intensity


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:53 AM
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500: Nice!

I'm not sure whether to think Gabrielle Pauli is awesome or to be pissed that she beat me to the idea. Nah, I'm going with awesome.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:55 AM
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507: When you try to sell your idea to a publisher, you can call it "The Seven Year Pitch".

Or maybe your idea will only work for a select group of couples: The Seven Year Niche.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 11:58 AM
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Congratulatory gifts and cards on the occasion of your transition from trial marriage to permanent marriage would probably be characterized by Seven Year Kitsch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:00 PM
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I suppose people who make fortunes marketing specifically to the Seven Year Niche would be the Seven Year Riche.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:02 PM
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Of course, if it doesn't go well, and you want to complain...


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:03 PM
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And memorialized on Seven-Year Fiche.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:03 PM
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496: the emphasis AB has placed on trust. Not like this is some rare thing to value in a relationship, but she's been so explicit about it that it has this huge primacy. AFAIK there's no damaging history there, but it's just huge for her. Huge huge huge.

Rightly so. I'll tell ya, an ex of mine (the 7-year relationship) had a one-nighter with my best friend once, this is years and years ago, and my visceral pain over it was very clearly due to the lie, or lies (of omission), they told me for a while before I found out, rather than the affair itself. That was odd, but quite clear to me as the source of the pain.

I must say that I have a relationship agreement I insist on now for any relationship that's becoming serious: don't intentionally hurt me -- because you have the power to do that now -- and don't lie to me, and I commit to the same. Lies are just a no go.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:03 PM
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You could toast with Seven Year Kirsch!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:04 PM
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Sir Kraab is worried about the approaching Seven Year M/tch.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:04 PM
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How long did it take BitchPhD to get her final degree?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:05 PM
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I'm still not clear the the details of the proposal, though. There was a suggestion upthread that you'd be making divorce harder to obtain during the trial period. And I'd worry that someone might get stuck in a Seven Year Ditch with a Seven Year Witch. And if that's the case then I'm going to refer to your whole scheme as the "Seven Year Glitch".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:05 PM
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Failing to confront the problem can result in neurological symptoms such as the Seven Year Twitch.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:08 PM
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If you're trying to swear off relationships, they now have the Seven Year Patch.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:08 PM
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493

You are correct, "always" in 491 should have been "generally".


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:09 PM
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517: A suggestion, you'll note, from someone who was not me. A Seven Year...

... taking a break to figure out a term for "red herring" that rhymes with "itch"...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:10 PM
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522

... "Small, Oily Fish"? No...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:11 PM
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Ok. The data from 169 show that divorces have gone up among women, who overwhelmingly are the initiators of divorce, who have less than a HS School education, which suggests they may be worse off, but less terrified....Whereas apparently the stigma and relative disadvantage of divorce have increased for the college-educated group.

Sounds right to me. The women I know who have less than HS or barely made it through are much better equipped to maintain their current (tenuous) economic position throughout a divorce than the women I know with bachelor's or master's, who both have higher expectations about what their economic position "should" be and are more likely to have stopped working a paid job for X time.

College educated women file for divorce way more than college educated men. Something like 90% of divorces between college educated people are initiated by the women. To some extent, this may be due to the men sister-fucking the women into filing, but I don't think that is the whole story. In general, college educated men want to stay married more than non college educted men.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:12 PM
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I must say that I have a relationship agreement I insist on now for any relationship that's becoming serious: don't intentionally hurt me -- because you have the power to do that now -- and don't lie to me, and I commit to the same. Lies are just a no go.

This seems like a fairly obvious relationship rule, like it shouldn't need to be said. And yet. Sounds like an excellent stock line for a new relationship. Lots of things hurt, but lies really do make it worse.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:13 PM
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Solzhenitsyn's original title was Seven Years in the Life of Ivan Desinovitch, but his wife's 16-year-old sister complained that it was too long.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:14 PM
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Bait and switch?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:16 PM
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523: I'm guessing it's as simple as college-educated men reap a disproportionate share of the benefits of being married and thus have more to lose from getting divorced.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:17 PM
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525: What do the original title and the sister-in-law's base flattery have to do with each other?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:17 PM
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Whoever spilled the beans about Brock's friend's situation was the Seven Year Snitch.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:18 PM
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526: Closer... closer...

528: Only years later did the novelist realize that she was actually talking about his nasal hair.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:21 PM
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523: College educated women file for divorce way more than college educated men. Something like 90% of divorces between college educated people are initiated by the women.

I don't know anything about this, but I'd be very hesitant to take 'who files the papers' as a strong proxy for 'who initiates the divorce'. For one thing, child support is much more likely to flow husband to wife, meaning that the wife is more likely to have a financial interest in getting the legal formalities taken care of. And even without that, filing the papers is a bureaucratic task, not the announcement that the marriage is at an end; I don't think a lot of people find out they're getting divorced when they're served with papers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:21 PM
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524: This seems like a fairly obvious relationship rule, like it shouldn't need to be said. And yet. Sounds like an excellent stock line for a new relationship.

Shouldn't need to be said, right, but it's kind of interesting what happens when you do say it. I wouldn't use it as a stock line, though. Reserve for serious cases only, kind of like that conversation about how everybody should get tested for sexually transmitted diseases now, so let's go to the the clinic, and yeah, I'm serious. I figure this is just normal grown-up stuff.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:32 PM
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513

I must say that I have a relationship agreement I insist on now for any relationship that's becoming serious: don't intentionally hurt me -- because you have the power to do that now -- and don't lie to me, and I commit to the same. Lies are just a no go.

So what do you do when the truth hurts?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:47 PM
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before four kids took their inevitable toll on her looks.

Eh. This seems to be spotting him his twenty-five-year-old body, for one. "Kids take a toll on your looks" ignores that everyone ages, puts the blame on the wife for not being hot and buys into lots of unpleasant ideas that, were they offered as excuses, would be bullshit.

All of which is to say that my mom is hot, and that if shiv were to cheat on me with one of my sisters "but she looks like a younger you" is something he would not get a chance to say on account of being calabatted. (I am Seven Year Bitch.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:50 PM
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533: This is easy. If the truth hurts but is necessary to prevent greater hurt (as when vaccinations hurt but keep you from getting polio), tell the truth. If the truth hurts and serves no purpose (eg., damn, you really are kind of ugly), then say nothing.

And with the case of the boyfriend who cheated with the best friend, the really easy solution is don't do anything you'll have to lie about later.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 12:56 PM
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my mom is hot,

Ack, the whole family is hot!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:02 PM
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535

... If the truth hurts and serves no purpose (eg., damn, you really are kind of ugly), then say nothing.

513 talked about lies of omission. And you don't always have the option of saying nothing (as when asked a direct question).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:07 PM
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537: LOOK DUMBASSES, IT'S NOT HARD. ALWAYS LET YOUR MOTHERFUCKING CONSCIENCES BE YOUR GUIDE!!!

AS FOR THAT "GIVE A LITTLE WHISTLE" THING, THAT'S BULLSHIT. I WAS PAID TO SAY IT BUT YOU CAN JUST CUT THAT SHIT OUT NOW. NOONE WANTS TO HEAR YOU WHISTLING.


Posted by: OPINIONATED JIMINY CRICKET | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:12 PM
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Surely when asked a direct question, you tell the truth, James. You may tell them you don't want to answer it, or feel like they won't like the answer, but it's their option to push it or not, not yours to decide for them.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:14 PM
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540

"The truth" is overrated.


Posted by: George Washington | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:18 PM
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541

After my best friend and ex-boyfriend got together, I completely locked them out of my life. I remember parsing it as the people in my life either need to be loyal to me, or too moral to betray a friend on principle. They'd shown they were neither, so they were too dangerous to continue knowing.

(I suspect a lot of that is rationalizing, because what I really couldn't stand was that their leg of the triangle would become the strong one, and they'd arrive at brunch all happy and recently-fucked and discuss in bed their friend Megan's foibles. That was intolerable.)

Anyways, I understand LB's take that the husband is now in the confounding and dangerous category.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:19 PM
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I must say that I have a relationship agreement I insist on now for any relationship that's becoming serious: don't intentionally hurt me -- because you have the power to do that now -- and don't lie to me, and I commit to the same. Lies are just a no go.

I have used this a number of times, and have found it is ineffective. In fact, it seems like the more that, at the beginning of the relationship, I explain that this is very necessary for me, the more likely the person is to do all of this---lie, hurt me, etc. I am not sure if this is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it might be.

Also, I feel like the men who hurt me tend not to hear clearly what I'm saying. I say that all I really need is honesty and a lack of intentional cruelty. Just keep the communication lines open. So dude starts sleeping with someone else. He's terrified of telling me, so he just ignores me and pretends that we don't know each other, after a month of extremely serious dating. I didn't ask for fidelity or any kind of commitment at all; I just want to know when it's over. But what he heard is "Don't hurt my pwecious feewings."

And just recently, I had started seeing someone, to whom I made it extremely clear that all I want is honesty and a lack of pressure to have a romantic relationship. So he immediately started lying to me about his circumstances and staring endlessly into my eyes. When I broke the relationship off (nothing added up about what he said, I'm not into the stare-and-coo thing, etc.) he could not understand why. I told him, and he was totally baffled. Wow, he says, I didn't realize I was doing that! I lied to you a lot, didn't I?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:20 PM
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I don't know why people bother to reply to Shearer, actually.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:21 PM
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Shorter 542: Truth cannot possibly hurt as much as avoidance, disingenuity, weasely self-absorption, and outright mendacity. Just fucking tell me what's going on and stop treating me like a little girl.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:24 PM
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541: He was already your ex when it happened?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:28 PM
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541: Because your blog doesn't have comments, the northern hemisphere mnemonic for the moon is:

Fair moon how thou deceivest me
Thou art not crescent when a C,
Nor yet declining when a D.

(I think I'm missing a line -- it should be a quatrain. But the last couplet is all you need.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:29 PM
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Wow, he says, I didn't realize I was doing that! I lied to you a lot, didn't I?

Ouch.

This is why the conversation about not lying and so on should be reserved for truly serious relationships, when the other person might actually understand what you're saying in saying it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:31 PM
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This is why the conversation about not lying and so on should be reserved for truly serious relationships, when the other person might actually understand what you're saying in saying it.

Oh Jesus. PASIIP.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:32 PM
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544

Shorter 542: Truth cannot possibly hurt as much as avoidance, disingenuity, weasely self-absorption, and outright mendacity. Just fucking tell me what's going on and stop treating me like a little girl.

Maybe in the case of an ongoing deception that is bound to be found out eventually.

But I have found if a woman asks you whether she did the right thing in some past incident with other people she generally wants validation and support not your honest opinion.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:36 PM
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550

548: Oh. Okay. I didn't realize.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:36 PM
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541: He was already your ex when it happened?

He was already my ex when it happened and I don't think there was overlap of attention/attraction between them and my relationship with him. If I wanted to tell a story that would let me forgive them, I could construct one.

But I don't.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:36 PM
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550: Then I'd work on that. Hard. It's not like this is an isolated occurence.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:37 PM
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If I wanted to tell a story that would let me forgive them, I could construct one.

But I'm not sure I understand what needs forgiving?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:39 PM
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PASIIP???


Posted by: DICOMBOBULATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:39 PM
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555

LB, that's wonderful. I'm going to put it up right away (quoting you, of course). But how come I can't find it on Google? I want to know more about that phrase!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:39 PM
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549: I had no idea you'd had a musical career, Shearer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:39 PM
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Well, it's your story to construct as you will, of course, but I have trouble seeing that as any sort of betrayal or issue of loyalty that would call for forgiveness. But feelings are what they are really, my cows.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:40 PM
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554: RTFA!


Posted by: OPINIONATED, BUT HELPFUL | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:41 PM
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In my mind, it was a betrayal of their friendship with me. My relationship with him was over, but I felt like I still had a claim. Given the rest of the thread, it is mildly funny to me that one of the things I said in the endless hashing out right after was that it was even more creepy for him to date her, since we were closer than sisters.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:42 PM
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555: I don't remember where I got it. "Crescent when a C" gets literally one hit on google, and it's a blog without a source.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:43 PM
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Yes???


Posted by: apostropher's cows | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:43 PM
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I don't think Parsi was being particularly pointed at me there. I just think that semi-casual relationships can and should also respect honesty. In fact, when love or commitment is involved, I can see why people are tempted to lie to preserve the relationship. But when a relationship is still fairly new and the goal is to remain friends no matter what happens, as was the case in both of those relationships, honesty seems sort of key. I've been able to remain friends with the latter guy, but the former continued to lie in ways that were horribly painful, and it's made running into each other very awkward and unpleasant.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:43 PM
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My relationship with him was over, but I felt like I still had a claim.

Those are not the rules I am familiar with. Maybe that's a West Coast thing.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:45 PM
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552: M/tch, let it go. You're a harsh lad sometimes. Peace, and everything.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:46 PM
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557

... as any sort of betrayal or issue of loyalty ...

Well it suggests the friendship wasn't very important to the friend.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:47 PM
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566

After 558, I still don't understand how 548 applies to 547. I mean, chalk me up as someone who thinks "don't lie to me or intentionally hurt me" is something that should be implicit in establishing the relationship in the first place, but still.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:47 PM
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I also say that she went into the relationship with him knowing that it would hurt me. So she's a person who will do things knowing that they would hurt me.

Eh. It has been seven years and after the first couple I stopped thinking about it every single day. I'd say my righteousness and fury have largely ebbed at this point. But I still don't want anything to do with them.

(All I ever did to them was sever all contact. I always count this as restraint and good behavior. Other people seem to think good behavior would be, like, affirmatively generous and friendly treatment. But that's nuts.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:49 PM
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568

In my mind, it was a betrayal of their friendship with me. My relationship with him was over, but I felt like I still had a claim.

< flyby >
Hey all! My (computational) machine is borked. So I'm de-lurking while it gets looked at. Don't tell anyone. ssshhhh.

Anyway, some front poster should expand on this point of Megans: "How soon is too soon?" (to date your friends ex). Does it change things if they are really, really hot? (with link to MLish column).

Of course, I'll probably miss it.

< /flyby>


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:49 PM
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566: I think the implication was that, since none of my relationships are "truly serious," I don't deserve honesty from the men I date. I doubt Parsimon actually thinks that.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:51 PM
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It's not a west coast thing, Apo. The midwest honors it, too. Not that it's never permissible to hook up with your friend's serious ex, but (if you want to preserve the friendship) best to make sure s/he'd be okay with it. This may be a women's thing?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:51 PM
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571

My relationship with him was over, but I felt like I still had a claim.

Those are not the rules I am familiar with. Maybe that's a West Coast thing.

Better would be, "I still wanted to have a claim."


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:52 PM
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566: "This is why the conversation about not lying and so on should be reserved for truly serious relationships" doesn't strike you as, oh, a wee bit condescending? It certainly did me, and in a very characteristic way.

But maybe I misjudged and parsimon wasn't saying, in effect, "UR DOIN IT RONG, using that conversation on your unserious relationships!"


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:54 PM
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Which is imo complete bullshit, by the way, AWB. You deserve basic honesty from everyone, including the people you date. This is possible to achieve.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:54 PM
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For the record, I'd dated him for seven years. She was my best friend for twelve, during five of which we lived together (intermittently). They got together nine months after he decided not to marry me.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:55 PM
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Megan, go ahead and construct the forgiveness narrative. Nursing resentment is like trying to kill rats by eating rat poison.

That said, there isn't any particular reason to seek anyone out or to be aggressively nice to them. Just don't let it eat you up, even a little niggly bit.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:55 PM
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497 i didn't say anything contradicting my previous comments
not saying to the parents is wise of her, to not grieve them like doubly
but isn't it like scary to be that confidential a friend, i wouldn't want to know a friend's secrets at all
i think it's different, that east-west attitudes like, how much different are the roles of one's family and friends in one's life, for us one's family is the most important and friends are more like for spending leisure time together perhaps, or maybe it's just me
i can't say for other people
the same thing when i first learned about senpai-kouhai relations in Japan, our friends are more like classmates, neighbourhood friends of the same or closer ages, in Japan it's older person-younger protege like relations which are more important, surprisingly and not that many close friends of the same age, they are all considered like competitors perhaps


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:55 PM
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In assessing the propriety of dating your friend's ex, some critical issues are:

(1) Who broke up with whom?
(2) Did the ex hurt your friend (either in breaking up with her or causing her to break up with him)?
(3) Does your friend still have feelings toward her ex?
(4) Would your friend unreservedly give her blessing?

Note, best not to even ask #4 directly unless you are very confident it will be a yes.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:57 PM
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575: Writing people off is ok, too toglosh. It's a reasonable choice sometimes. Life is short.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:57 PM
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572: it didn't strike me that way at all, although I can certainly see the reading. (It's a fairly uncharitable reading, though admittedly some history exists that could support it.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 1:58 PM
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Megan, go ahead and construct the forgiveness narrative. Nursing resentment is like trying to kill rats by eating rat poison.

See, you can let go of resentment without forgiveness. I'm unresolved as to whether in the ideal world forgiveness should be freely given. But in the here and now? Forgiveness requires a proper apology and appropriate efforts to repair the harm.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:00 PM
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Oh, I don't think you did anything wrong, Megan. Just trying to understand the reasoning is all.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:00 PM
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577: add (5) is the lover more important to me than the friend?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:01 PM
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583

"How soon is too soon?"

If you're talking about an ex-serious relationship, they're off limits for good unless they're worth sacrificing the friendship. Realizing that is Friendship 101, but there are some people who don't. (Real friendships and real romantic partnership material can both be hard to come by, so someone who actually falls in love with the ex in this situation is between a rock and a hard place.)

If you're not talking about a serious relationship, well... it's kinda case by case. I think that people who want to declare fleeting and non-serious exes off the table -- I know one of these, in fact, who wants to declare off-limits a woman he's been on one awkward date with and who was never interested in him anyway -- are abusing the Friendship 101 rules and should expect people to eventually lose patience with them.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:01 PM
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How about just ignoring resentment and gradually not thinking about it very much? But still harboring a banked coal of vindictive anger?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:02 PM
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Forgiveness requires a proper apology and appropriate efforts to repair the harm.

Not according to Jesus, it doesn't.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:02 PM
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577: I'd add a (5) What's more important to you, the old friendship or the new relationship?

Put that way, it sounds like only a schmuck would ditch the old friendship, but I mean it as a real question. I'm sort of with Apo's implication that you don't have any moral right to veto power over who dates your ex, but OTOH it's the kind of thing that it's perfectly reasonable to expect is going to hurt your feelings pretty badly. Which means that the new couple is in the position of having deliberately done something (whether they had a moral right to or not) that was going to hurt you. Anger and cutting off contact is a reasonable response at that point.

And this sort of thing is really, really, really dependent on individual circumstances.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:03 PM
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Wrongshore pwned.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:04 PM
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573: I agree! I think the problem is that when you have the "please don't lie to me" conversation, it sometimes doesn't communicate "no, actually, really truly be honest with me, even at the risk of hurting my feelings," but "I am a very hurtable person whom you should treat like a child; i.e., lie to me whenever it is the easiest thing to do."

But what I think I've learned from this recent bit is that some people are not particularly aware when they are lying. They don't have a clear sense that they're being disingenuous; they just feel they're being truthful about how they feel about our relationship at that moment. Sometimes one gets carried away by the feelings one has about a particular person and isn't thinking about whether that has anything to do with the rest of the circumstances of their life.

I don't do this because I can't imagine that preserving a relationship is ever more important than being honest, and because of that, I can be rather hurtful at times. (I don't mean that I say mean things, but I don't lead people on when I know I have reservations.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:06 PM
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But still harboring a banked coal of vindictive anger?

Who are you harboring it for? Seriously, while I think sometimes it makes the most sense to walk away from friendships/relationships with a clean and complete break, if you carry it around inside it's neither of those. At some point it become all about you, not them. I'm not saying one should never remember things, or that it doesn't effect your life going forward at all.

And of course it's a process, and these things take time to work through. Getting caught up in endless (seeming...) resentment and bitterness is something we do to ourselves, not something others do to us.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:06 PM
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But still harboring a banked coal of vindictive anger?

That's more or less my approach.

Not according to Jesus, it doesn't.

No? Maybe this is just a Catholicism add-on, but isn't the confession required? Anyhoo, when I'm the human incarnation of divine perfection, then maybe forgiveness without remorse will make sense to me. But as a mere mortal, forgiving someone who isn't sorry is just setting yourself up for a world of hurt.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:08 PM
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So tempted to go presidential on this, but what the hell, the statute of limitations is up for college misbehavior: scant weeks after finally agreeing to date Bad Old GF exclusively, I kissed her best friend while the 3 of us were on a couch together and BOGF had fallen asleep. In my (slight) defense, BOGF had told me that this would be a good idea but, as she later noted, if I really thought she was serious I wouldn't have waited for her to fall asleep to do it. Certain other activities followed in another room.

Yes, she found out, and yes it was ugly, but no it didn't stave off 6 years of wasted effort. If only LB had been around to set her (or me!) straight.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:09 PM
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587: But yours was well-done.

Real friendships and real romantic partnership material can both be hard to come by, so someone who actually falls in love with the ex in this situation is between a rock and a hard place.

Towards the end, my ex had a long-lasting, reciprocated and never consummated crush on a dear friend that I'd always suspected but never asked too closely, preferring to just enjoy the implicit flattery in their affection for one another. There's a way in which it would be less angering to me if they were to wind up together in a semi-permanent way than if they were to have a fling. Although I don't think I'd really hang out with them if it happened.

That I think of this at all, with no evidence that it's likely to happen, three years on and happily remarried, is evidence for the initial proposition that serious exes are permanently off the table for serious friends.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:09 PM
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If only LB had been around to set her (or me!) straight.

Not likely. I'm judgmental in the abstract; in the specific I tend to assume I don't know enough about what's going on to push people around.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:11 PM
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588.1: The simpler version here is that there are some dudes who simply don't believe women who tell them they want honesty, and who therefore would not be honest no matter what you said or didn't say on the matter.

There are also some dudes who don't really process when they're lying. I believe we'd call these the "compulsive liars," or maybe the "extreme narcissists." I mean, I'd think for most who don't fall into this category and were asked "are you sleeping with anyone?" and they have been but answer "no," they may rationalize the decision to lie in some way (usually "it would be needlessly cruel to compound my iniquity by telling you how iniquitous I am") but they know perfectly well they're lying.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:11 PM
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592 s/b "Towards the end my ex confessed to me that she had a ..."


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:11 PM
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Maybe this is just a Catholicism add-on, but isn't the confession required?

Well, there's what the Catholic Church says, and there's what the Bible says. So often different.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:12 PM
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At some point it become all about you, not them.

That's sort of the point, I think. Whatever "they" did to lead you to generate that banked coal of anger, it was about them, not you. The banked coal is sort of the symbol that says, hey, I matter enough for this to be a problem.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:12 PM
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Just trying to understand the reasoning is all.

The reasoning is that I WANTED (drawn out long and whiny) them to love me (romantically and platonically) more than each other. (And, I suppose, also that they knew what state I was in and knowingly chose each other.)

They are still together, six years later. He is reportedly waffling on proposing to her. She's a year older than me; if he can just hold out another year or two, I have high hopes that he can entirely ruin her chances at having children.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:13 PM
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was about them, not you.

AWB had a post not too long ago about how maddening it can be to have your friends blow it off when someone's treating you badly by saying "It's not about you." I was thinking of that upthread, in the discussion about the affair -- if you're not allowed to take your husband screwing your little sister as being on some level 'about you', how unimportant do you have to be in the scheme of things?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:15 PM
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598: I must say that he sounds like a real piece of work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:16 PM
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he can entirely ruin her chances at having children

Heh. Now that's funny.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:17 PM
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She's a year older than me; if he can just hold out another year or two, I have high hopes that he can entirely ruin her chances at having children.

Awesome.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:17 PM
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consensus


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:21 PM
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he sounds like a real piece of work

I'm hoping for consistent. Mostly he can't make choices and it kills him to commit to an option that closes off other options. It isn't malice, more paralysis.

(This conversation is, btw, as much as I've thought of them in ages.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:21 PM
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578: My take is that writing off someone you loved for seven years is writing off a piece of yourself. Diff'rent strokes and all, but I've written off only one person I loved, and that was because the alternative was having an emotional leech permanently attached.

584: What works for you works for you. Something like that always leaves a scar, and how you deal with it is personality dependent. For me it helps to actively work on letting go.

That said, dating a friend's ex requires special circumstances, among which is that the previous relationship not be too heavy. A high school type romance requires ~4 weeks delay after breakup. Divorce a year. Fiancee is right out - IMO that's the worst type of breakup.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:21 PM
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569: 566: I think the implication was that, since none of my relationships are "truly serious," I don't deserve honesty from the men I date. I doubt Parsimon actually thinks that.

Sorry to be seeing this late, but no, of course I don't think that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:23 PM
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596: I think you're talking about forgiving others, and Di is talking about what an individual must do to deserve/receive forgiveness. There's some split between the Protestant and Catholic traditions on the latter (I think your "what the Bible says" is sufficiently open to interpretation as to not be a meaningful standard here)--Catholics require confession to a priest, whereas Protestants just want confession to God, but both do place heavy emphasis on personal repentance. And I don't actually think there's any Catholic/Protestant split on the former at all--both encourage free and liberal forgiveness of others, regardless of their desert (or lack thereof).


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:23 PM
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599: I think various things are getting confounded here. To take an abstract version of Megans problem. If I have an ex (let's agree serious enough/recent enough/whatever that we can all agree I'm involved) and a good friend who decide to get together without discussing with me and knowing it might be an issue for me ... well, that's obviously about them but also about me. They can't reasonably pretend it isn't an issue. And maybe the best thing to do then is just part ways, in some combination depending on the specifics --- the dynamics of the three of us just aren't going to work anymore. Fair enough, we move on.

If, however, years later I'm bitter and resentful about this to the degree that it effects my life often (rather than, say, just making me a bit skittish about friends and exes hanging out), then that is really got nothing to do with them. I'm doing this to myself.

I agree there is a difficult to define line there, where the process of accepting something and moving on has to be worked through (and what's the right amount of time).


The thing is, this is still true even if I'm not the person left out. If my friend drops the ex in favor of staying friends with me, I don't get to hold that over their head indefinitely --- eventually it becomes me being in the wrong.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:24 PM
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Consistent in that he dated me for seven years (22-29) and couldn't decide to marry me. They're at six years. I have to say, bad as locking up my twenties was, locking up her thirties may turn out to be the greater sin.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:24 PM
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572: "This is why the conversation about not lying and so on should be reserved for truly serious relationships" doesn't strike you as, oh, a wee bit condescending?

I should point out that one of the examples AWB was specifically about a relationship that she didn't want developing into anything serious romantic-wise. The point could have been put better but I don't see how it was sweepingly invalidating all of AWB's relationships as un-serious.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:25 PM
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(All I ever did to them was sever all contact. I always count this as restraint and good behavior. Other people seem to think good behavior would be, like, affirmatively generous and friendly treatment. But that's nuts.)

This is why I love Megan. 95% of the time it's all engineering-based hippy love and community, and 5% of the time it's stone cold bitch.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:25 PM
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there's what the Catholic Church says, and there's what the Bible says. So often different.

Just like a protestant heathen.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:25 PM
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I don't know anything about this, but I'd be very hesitant to take 'who files the papers' as a strong proxy for 'who initiates the divorce'. For one thing, child support is much more likely to flow husband to wife, meaning that the wife is more likely to have a financial interest in getting the legal formalities taken care of. And even without that, filing the papers is a bureaucratic task, not the announcement that the marriage is at an end; I don't think a lot of people find out they're getting divorced when they're served with papers.


I got the 90% figure from Wikipedia. I thought the number came from this hard to track down article:
http://www.family-men.com/WEB%20DOCUMENTS/Why%20Wives%20File%20for%20Divorce.pdf
But it doesn't.

I edited the Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Divorce_(United_States)&diff=287912830&oldid=283723928

This paper has the break down of a survey of divorced people over 40:

http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/general/divorce.pdf

On the who initiated question (women/men/both):
the men say 39%/41%/18%
the women say 66%/21%/12%


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:25 PM
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I should make clear in 608 that I don't think Megan is doing this (dragging it out), I was abstracting the situation so I hope it doesn't come off as judgemental.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:26 PM
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And 583 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:26 PM
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609: oh, that sounds like a fun consistency.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:28 PM
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I had a dream, a few months ago, in which I encountered a friend that I haven't seen for years IRL, and we offered forgiveness to each other.

In real life, I'm not entirely sure whether there's any reason for contact, let alone what forgiveness is needed or appropriate. We weren't particularly close friends, and we just drifted apart. Before that, however, we had been living in a house together, at a point in our respective lives when we were both miserable and terrible roommates.

I feel guilty about having been a terrible roommate, but mostly I feel guilty about the fact that, not to long after I moved out, my life started getting better, and I ended up in a much improved psychological state. At the point that I lost contact he was still in a tough state.

I just with that I had gotten my shit together a couple months earlier so that I could have been some sort of positive presence in his life before moving out.

It hasn't been a large weight on my conscience, but that dream packed a surprising emotional punch.

I was reminded of that by this thread.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:28 PM
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re 583: yeah, I should have added another variable or two in how serious the relationship was, and how/why the breakup.

I actually know of counterexamples to the never-date-serious exes that worked out really well, but both are unusual and both had a lot of communication before the fact.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:30 PM
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Also, I'm all in favor of banked coals of vindictive anger. I'm still kind of chafed at L/ane V/gnola, and that was 23 years ago, and the whole thing transpired in less than a week. We have a lot of capacity for anger and hate, and I think applying that capacity to actual human beings who have harmed us (as opposed to abstract groups whome we imagine to mean us harm) is fine, as long as one neither broods nor acts upon it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:30 PM
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619: seriously, to what end? do you feel like if you don't do this you'd need another outlet for it? Like you have some amount of hate/anger built up and it needs a target?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:31 PM
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605: It's sometimes quite reasonable to write off a loved one. If I tell you that I was best friends with the guy who took my virginity for eight years afterward, and that we've each met each other's families, spent entire weekends visiting each other and laughing, and for a long time considered one another a replacement sibling for estranged ones, you'd think I was a monster for dropping him.

But he was also physically abusive, both hurting me himself and abandoning me in situations of physical danger, sabotaging my other relationships, accusing me of terrible things, extremely bitter when I wouldn't lie for him (even though I didn't even know I was supposed to), and also a pretty dangerous off-and-on drug addict.

Of course I miss him, and he's terribly hurt that I cut off our friendship. It was a cruel thing to do, especially because he depended on me so totally for love and support. But I was sick of having my life destroyed on a regular basis and feeling paranoid that anything I said would be used against me.

Sometimes I think we'll be friends again someday; sometimes I think we'll never manage it. But just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to put up with them treating you like shit, intentionally or not, for the rest of your life.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:32 PM
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593: I feel certain that, if either of us had laid out the facts in 591 to you at the time, you would have had the sense to say, "JRoth obviously doesn't want to be with BOGF. Get out!"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:33 PM
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5% of the time it's stone cold bitch

This is so true. I really do have a relentless vicious streak that doesn't match the Golden Retriever-like rest of me. A friend called me "Old Testament" one time, which seemed right to me. I figure that keeping it bound fulfills my duty to be a good person. I couldn't tell if he was joking or not, but Emerson seems to have noticed it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:33 PM
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I matter enough for this to be a problem.

This is the flipside of the issue. When you are genuinely wronged maintaining awareness of that fact is a matter of self respect. I tend to be a bit too far towards the "forgive and move on" side of the spectrum for my own good sometimes. It's good to be reminded of that every now and then.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:33 PM
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But just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to put up with them treating you like shit, intentionally or not, for the rest of your life.

So true.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:37 PM
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togolosh in 624: there's a "don't forgive, and move on" side too


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:38 PM
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I had a dream, a few months ago, in which I encountered a friend that I haven't seen for years IRL, and we offered forgiveness to each other.

She's been in a few dreams since. A couple times we were close and talking like we used to and I could not look my fill of her beautiful face. Other times I had incredibly powerfully euphoric dreams of beating her and breaking her bones.

One of the reasons I don't want to see her is that I am not a hundred percent sure I wouldn't kill her, and I don't need the hassle.

So, you know. Totally mellow banked coals that don't infringe on my life.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:39 PM
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Hmm-- I've been all three vertices of the partners+ friend nookie triangle. I think it depends on the style of friendship-- I could see trying for forgiveness in case the friendship is deep, but I generally do not have friendships like that myself. I guess that my friendships are mostly cases where friend+I enjoy each other's company, trust is great when it happens, but being friendly means not testing.

In the case where I was the cheatee (not an ex- but an ongoing partner), I stopped enjoying the friend's company. Some sense of betrayal too, but more just a soured pleasure.

vicious streak

So many balancing acts to live well. 0 is wrong for this trait, though.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:40 PM
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One thing I was taught to do as a child when I was so interminably angry at someone that I couldn't forgive them or just write it off and move on with my life was to very slowly and carefully write their name on a piece of paper, and then slowly draw a line through it.

I've only done this twice in my life. I have a few people I should do it to now, but the results are kind of scary. Like, I stopped recognizing them when I saw them on the street. Dead to me. I don't think I've hated anyone that much in six years.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:41 PM
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607: The Catholic thing was a joke, of course. But (and maybe this is vestigial Protestantism, I dunno), I think the important scriptural message is that forgiveness is really all about the person doing the forgiving, not the person being forgiven. So the idea that somebody has to *earn* forgiveness is really quite counter to Jesus' teachings, as I understand them.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

If your friend bangs 491 of your exes, then you can be as resentful as you want.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:41 PM
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One thing I was taught to do as a child

Pray tell, bear, by whom?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:43 PM
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593: I feel certain that, if either of us had laid out the facts in 591 to you at the time, you would have had the sense to say, "JRoth obviously doesn't want to be with BOGF. Get out!"

Given that almost every story you tell about her features your attempts to sin grievously enough that she would end it for you, I think that is probably true.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:44 PM
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631: My incredibly creepy and Old-Testament-vengeful father.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:44 PM
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633: Just curious: Can you recognize him in the street?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:46 PM
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619: seriously, to what end? do you feel like if you don't do this you'd need another outlet for it? Like you have some amount of hate/anger built up and it needs a target?

Well no, not seriously. I've never actually constructed that way - "We have a lot of capacity for anger and hate," etc. - so I don't know how much I believe it. In practice, I've spent the last 8 years directing most of my anger and hate at Bush and the Republicans, so I don't know if it's a fixed amount, or if it's been useful there as opposed to directed towards people I haven't seen in 19 years.

I'm kind of thinking that it is true that people, as a general rule, "have some amount of hate/anger built up and it needs a target." Some apply it towards "personal enemies," some towards sports rivals, some towards Other groups. Seems to me that you have two healthy options: try to erase all hate from your being, or apply that hate in ways that will harm no one.

For the record, if I actually ran into L/ane V/gnola, I would surely be happy to see her and would gladly catch up - she was a very nice and charming girl, and it wasn't like I hated her for the remainder of HS. But she jilted me in a pretty shitty way, and it's done me no harm (that I can see) to have a little coal of anger banked away.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:46 PM
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If your friend bangs 491 of your exes, then you can be as resentful as you want.

You can, but you're probably too busy too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:47 PM
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634: Haven't done it do dad. Wouldn't. But it was amazing how much relief I got out of the two times I did it. They were both people who latched onto me as someone who would always always take care of them no matter what, and who betrayed me nastily many times. The problem wasn't that I was actually feeling anger, really, but just endless resentment and "Why would they do that?? To ME???" It was awful. That's really the feeling that I can't shake sometimes. I just can't understand intentional cruelty, and I really brood about it in unhealthy ways.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:51 PM
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635: Ah, ok. I think part of the problem is in how we define these things for ourselves. I don't think I am capable of packing away anger and ignoring it, the way I think of it: it's either something I can leave behind or something I need to act on before I can leave it, so I will.

Certainly there are people in my past of whom I might so "oh, so and so is such an ass, they did X", but that's in the context of explaining so-and-so, or whatever. Not that I'm carrying around "X was done to me" as an imbalance with the world or whatever.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:52 PM
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Soup and togolosh, I've been really liking your comments. I did think a lot about the nature of forgiveness for a while, although I didn't make good progress with it. Thinking about whether "X was done to me" creates an imbalance in my world is a good insight.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:57 PM
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It's never fun to realize that someone not only expects unconditional love from you, but is hellbent on testing for unconditionality.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:57 PM
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Given that almost every story you tell about her features your attempts to sin grievously enough that she would end it for you, I think that is probably true.

That obvious, huh? And there's at least 1 doozy I've never told here.

For the record, I went 4 years (out of 6) without sinning grievously*, during which time she pulled plenty of shit. But I don't bother talking about how she was shitty to me because, you know, water under the bridge. It's not interesting to me (and surely not to you all) what was wrong with her, but rather what I did wrong.

BTW, in an interesting contrast to Megan's 609, both BOGF and I had kids within 4.5 years of the breakup. IIRC, we were both with our current partners within 6 months. Part of what made the whole situation so absurd. "Oh no, don't go, how can I live without y-- Hello, who's that?"

* I'm claiming an exemption on fooling around with a hot Brasiliana while on a trip to Brasilia (and BOGF was back home). And she sure as hell never found out about that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 2:57 PM
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And there's at least 1 doozy I've never told here.

Not for long. Ante up, yo.

We can all pretend we didn't see you president up.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:00 PM
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638: Whereas I've never acted on anger (outside of the moment) in my life. I'm very short-tempered, but also get over it very quickly. Scares/worries AB because she's not like that at all, but it's just how I am. Since the temper rarely has any real effects*, I've never worried about it too much - it's not as if, every time I lose my temper, I need to go around making amends.

* note that this has changed with the arrival of kids, and is thus something I now think about more


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:02 PM
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642: Objectively it's not nearly as bad as 591, but there's a twist that makes it pretty egregious.

But I'm waiting for the right thread.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:04 PM
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Whereas I've never acted on anger (outside of the moment) in my life.

Ooooh, me too! I mean, when I've gotten very, very angry, I've consciously shunned someone. But even then I didn't raise a voice or badmouth that person or expressed the anger except as severance.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:06 PM
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643 is the opposite of me. Very, very slow to anger, but when it arrives it sticks around for days. Ex was quick to anger and quick to cool off. Just one of the things that made us wrong for each other.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:14 PM
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646: Huh. I'm like you, and Buck's like JRoth, but we do okay. Of course, that's largely because I almost never have any reason to be mad at him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:16 PM
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there's a twist that makes it pretty egregious.

It was her sixteen-year-old sister!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:18 PM
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Each time I reload this thread, I briefly see the first post, and each time it makes me think of the Most Unwanted Song, special holiday edition, which jumps right in with HEY EVERYBODY, IT'S CHRISTMAS TIME!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:22 PM
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Certainly there are people in my past of whom I might so "oh, so and so is such an ass, they did X", but that's in the context of explaining so-and-so, or whatever. Not that I'm carrying around "X was done to me" as an imbalance with the world or whatever.

In my experience this is a pretty fundamental divide between people, and greatly affects how long they hold on to hurts and wrongs and grudges.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:23 PM
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It was his sixteen-year-old sister!

(Just trying to see if we can get the cork to pop out.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:23 PM
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648: If it were, I would totally have told the story here.

My HS GF, whom I dated for 2.5 years of college, has a 1-year younger sister who looks quite similar. It wasn't until after the GF dumped me that I suddenly noticed that the sister was at least 20% more attractive. Talk about swirly-eyed love.*

647: Yeah, that's me & AB. I've only made her mad twice IIRC, and I had no idea how to deal with it (partly for lack of practice, and partly because it's so different from me). Conversely, she gets very offended if I get angry with her (which isn't often, but more often than that).

I think I said that, when we first started dating, we said we'd wait either 1 year or for our first fight before we'd get married. So I proposed on the anniversary of the day we met. We get along absurdly well.

* No, seriously, that might sound like resentment, but it's just true.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:28 PM
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647: There were compounding factors. One of the ways I (we, really) missed the fundamental issues is that they were really a big collection of mutually reinforcing issues that love goggles transformed into an independent collection of individually minor issues.

I'm not surprised at all you are the same way. I'm beginning to suspect you might be my mirror-universe evil twin. Too many times you've mentioned some personality quirk I have, only you claim it's *your* quirk. I'm onto you, and as soon as the Quantum Recombobulator is finished I'm sending you back to your own timeline.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:31 PM
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I too have a quick mercurial anger, but I fall well short of my father, who although generally more even-tempered, once broke a toe kicking a televison set (in the '50s, when a TV set was a serious opponent) due to something that happened in a not-very-consequential sporting event.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:36 PM
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I had a sore toe for about a year due to kicking a cookbook. A very thin cookbook. But I was wearing shearling slippers, which evidently give as much support/protection as nothing.

I think I only explained vaguely to AB what had happened, since I didn't want her to scold me for my temper.

Ahem.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:42 PM
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I'm beginning to suspect you might be my mirror-universe evil twin.

That explains this otherwise inexplicable goatee, which really doesn't look good on me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:44 PM
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654.last: Sometimes this sort of quick anger is it's own reward. Assuming, that is, one can keep it directed away from other people.

I can't remember if I've mentioned this here before, but a friend of mine once punched a brick wall in a fit of anger --- with the same hand that he had broken a while before doing something similar. He still had at least one metal pin in holding a bone or two straight.

I can still see the look on his face (I was feet away at the time) as the realization of what he had done came over him before the pain did.

The hand wasn't pretty, either.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:44 PM
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657.1st to 655 too, apparently.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:45 PM
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Shunning the brick wall is clearly the superior choice for your friend. I myself have not forgiven the train tracks that led to the bike fall that led to one of my broken arms. That's how hard core I am.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 3:53 PM
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To be fair to my friend, it was a completely different brick wall. And he was sorely pressed.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 4:06 PM
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657: Sometimes this sort of quick anger is it's own reward

An interesting dynamic (noticed in both me and my father) is that our outbursts come with built-in post-outburst sheepishness where people can have their way with us. I recall one discussion on appropriate attire with a girlfriend in college ending with me yelling "Well then, fuck the shoes!" while throwing the pair in question out a third-story dorm window. Was I a compliant and respectful date that evening? You betcha! (But it irks me that I can't recall what shoes I ended up wearing.)

At work I channel these into various grooming tics and the like (fooling no one), following one meeting a colleague said, "I thought you were going to rip the top of your socks all the way up over your knees!"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 4:07 PM
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And he was sorely pressed.

Well there you go.

The only significant physical injury of my adulthood came from a burst of overexuberance: I leapt over a hedge, not knowing that there was a curb on the other side. Foot landed on curb, ankle sprained (mildly), and I was unable to participate in the "adventure"* triathlon for which I had been training and which occurred the next morning. That moment, right there, represents the absolute peak of physical fitness in my life (I've occasionally been a better runner or cyclist, but never both plus the paddling).

Being mercurial hurts, people.

* ie, no swimming, just kayaking


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 4:20 PM
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I myself have not forgiven the train tracks that led to the bike fall that led to one of my broken arms. That's how hard core I am.

Remember that big derailing in Sacramento a few years back? Yeah, that was after Megan wrote that rail's name down and then crossed it out. Union Pacific was baffled (the hobos, however, were unsurprised).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05- 4-09 4:23 PM
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what I really couldn't stand was that their leg of the triangle would become the strong one, and they'd arrive at brunch all happy and recently-fucked and discuss in bed their friend Megan's foibles. That was intolerable.

I totally get this.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 05- 5-09 4:57 PM
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One assumes that it happened anyway, in some context somewhere. But I didn't have to witness it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05- 5-09 5:19 PM
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shovel.


Posted by: shovel | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 11:04 PM
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icepick


Posted by: icepick | Link to this comment | 05-15-09 11:40 PM
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are there ever unhappy marriages that stick it out and become happy?


Posted by: apples | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:06 PM
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