Monday, August 18, 2008

How David Got Manipulated into Marrying

The client who just left my office--we'll call him David--said that his girlfriend--we'll call her Vixen-- got him to marry her with such statements as:
  • "The problem is your fear of commitment." In that ploy, Vixen pathologized David's decision, which invoked in him a sense of insecurity and guilt. In fact, as David and I discussed things, it became clear that his not wanting to marry had nothing to do with "fear of commitment." He had committed to many projects and people in his life. David was reluctant to marry because he knew it offered little benefit but in a divorce, under California law, he'd likely be taken to the cleaners, forced to support an ex-wife for years.
  • "You're unwilling to progress." Why is it progress to get a piece of paper (marriage certificate) that increases your chances of impoverishment if you break up. But David, who is a pleaser, felt guilty that he was "unwilling to progress."
Vixen took that ploy right out of liberals' playbook: Liberals--with the media's help-- converted the term "liberal" to "progressive," knowing that the term "liberal" implied big-spending, but who could be against progress? Would anyone prefer to be a regressive? Vixen's ploy made David feel guilty that he was being against progress.
  • "You're just not willing to plan for the future." A marriage certificate doesn't increase your ability to plan for the future, but like the previous accusations, this one can make a guy who was moderately insecure to begin with, feel the need to cave.
And David did cave--with a $40,000 wedding. And while David is not unhappily married, if, at some point, he joins the 58% of married couples who divorce, he'll have to support the woman he divorced for years afterwards.

Dear readers, I'm not against marriage. Indeed, I've been married to my wife for more than 30 years and don't regret it. My daughter is happily married (and now pregnant for the first time.) But marriage should be a decision made with open eyes, not coerced by manipulative ploys.


Anonymous said...

And not only open eyes, but a true desire to spend your life with a person that you love, despite the increasing odds stacked against a lasting marriage.

As soon as David heard the blame put squarely on his shoulders, he should have been out the door. And if Vixen found David unwilling to give her what she wanted, she should have left to find somebody who wanted to marry her, without coercion.

I hope they at least love each other.

Grace said...

Benjamin Franklin said, "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards."

Marriage doesn't solve problems in a relationship, but brings them to the forefront.

Vixen is manipulative, but David has no backbone.

Dave said...

People no longer take their wedding vows seriously. In the US, about 75% of divorces are instigated by women. This is why I have become increasingly wary of women. I don't want to raise children in a broken home. I would never want to do that to a child.

And $40,000 on a wedding is a terrible waste of money. My parents married in a Brooklyn church. Four people attended the wedding, and the wedding car was my father's '67 Dodge Dart. I guess I take after my parents.

Anonymous said...

The biggest reason "why men won't commit" is that men want to be sure they're ready for marriage. If a man doesn't think he's ready with respect to money, career, life experiences, etc. he's not going to commit.

Despite PC claims to the contrary, men absorb most of the financial hits from marriage, not to rehash the point.

Vixen should have assessed David's readiness level BEFORE thinking about more than a casual dating relationship.

Anonymous said...

1) How old was David when he married?

Marriage is TOTAL BULLSHIT FOR MEN. Thanks for having the balls to say it, Marty.

Marty Nemko said...

I wouldn't go as far as to say "marriage is total bullshit for men." I am glad I am married. I have a wife who is attractive, intelligent, down-to-earth, low-maintenance, we give each other a lot of space, she fully pulls her weight in contributing income to the family (She's Superintendent of Schools of Napa County), and our marriage is strong enogh that we will not be in that 58% that get divorced, so it feels good to know that we have a fellow traveler to go through all of life with.

But I do believe that unless you're quite sure that your wife will be pretty wonderful not just now when she's trying to get you to marry her, but for years to come, yes, men should think 3 times before marrying.

David was about 30.

Grace said...

Does no one else see David's role in this? Why can't we see David's reluctance to stand up for himself as one of the contributers to this unfortunate situation? Manipulate me once, shame on you. Manipulate me twice, shame on me.

If this truly is a man's issue, let's focus less on complaining about women, and more on empowering men to display as much confidence in relationships as they do in the workplace.

I also want to give my endorsement for marriage. It is not for the weak, but if you can weather the storms, it is extremely rewarding.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like excuse making on David's part. He should have known better and if he was "coerced" into a decision as important as marriage, makes me think he has other problems.

And a $40,000 wedding is just ridiculous, and another example of poor decision making on David's part.

Actually, assuming marriages stay together, the women is the one who gains - gain an average of 7 hours more housework, even if they both work equal hours outside the home.

No, life is not fair, nor is it equal, nor do we all have the same chances, some are smarter, some are more attractive, some are um, better decision makers.

I do like reading your site and blogs, but...just as you rail agaist general society's misguided, heavy-handed, and unfair attempts at making things fair - don't become a victim of that same modus operandi.

Marty Nemko said...

He was not complaining. He was oblivious to the ploys.

Re the $40K wedding, again, she guilt tripped him: "It's my one special day. How can you be so unromantic?!" Relentless doses of that can coerce even a quite thrifty guy. (The theme of Father of the Bride is based on this reality.)

Your statistic about 7 hours more total work is overstated. If I recall it's about 2 hours. More important, an hour is not an hour: an hour in the stresses of the typical man's worklife is greater than a hour of cleaning the house, food shopping, or driving your child to soccer.

Grace said...

"an hour in the stresses of the typical man's worklife is greater than a hour of cleaning the house..."

My mother liked to cook. But she wasn't always happy about the chore of cooking - the never ending aspect to the job. She organized a meal for our family, 3 times a day, for 40 years - even when she was working and my father wasn't. On those rare occasions when no one was home, she would just make herself a piece of toast and delight in the break.

Hectic "stressful" work can be tiring but can still bring job satisfaction. Never ending household duties can often be very stressful in their repetition and monotony.

Dave said...


Ask any homemaker if she would be willing to trade places with her husband. The vast majority of housewives are not willing to take on the responsibilities that lay beyond the curb.

The author of this blog graduated from a 'Big Ten University' and has a law degree.

She is a stay-at-home mother who homeschools her children.

Grace said...

Funny, I happen to know some women. I also happen to be one. I work a full time job and two part time jobs. My husband stays at home. I am responsible for 90% of the household duties, and most of the childcare when I am home.

My friends who are "stay at home" moms also have part-time jobs. They are also responsible for 90% of household/childcare duties (including home maintenance and repairs). As I have said in another post, many husbands are not willing to free up some of their wives' time that would make increasing outside work hours possible. My friends have to work when their husbands get home and kids go to bed. Sometimes they feel like Cinderella - they can go to the ball, but not until the chores are done.

Kids are the big thing holding my friends back, not housework. I think they would happily sacrifice the pristine ideal home for a vibrant career. But, the kids need care.

Woman want responsibilites outside the home. If only they could be free of it a bit more.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that both Dave and Marty didn't noticed (or choose to ignore) that in my comments I was talking about BOTH spouses working, not a homemaker.

Regarding David I hope he doesn't have children, as a parent he needs to be immune to such whining/guilt tripping - it's part of being a confident, mature adult (male or female).

Marty Nemko said...

Gimme a break, Anonymous. Because I take one day to respond to a comment, I'm ignoring you? I'm very busy.

Your posts ignore the reality that, ON AVERAGE, despite feminist-movement protestations to the contrary, the wife is far more motivated to have children, care for them, than is the husband. ON AVERAGE, the husband is more motivated to be productive at work.

So, to insist that the man be as participatory in parenting, housecleaning, etc., is as wrongheaded as a man would be to insist that his wife be as interested in home repair.

Grace said...

There has been a lot of talk about women taking advantage of men. I know a lot of men who work for their 8 hours and then come home and sit in front of the TV/computer, while their wife, who has also worked a full time shift outside the home, continues working.

When I say household duties, I'm including things like maintenance and repair. If both the husband and the wife contribute equally to tasks, whether in the house, yard, or car, that's great.

In a 24 hour day, let's say the husband puts in 10 hours at work. Let's say the woman puts in a 6 hour workday. She comes home and does 4 hours of housework. Fair. But, when the work day is done, does he get to put his feet up while for her the childcare/household duties continue? That would be unfair.

When my son was born, my husband worked outside the home. I was the one to get up through the night with our son, for my husband needed his sleep - he had to go to work the next day. When my son was 18 months old, I went to work and my husband stayed at home. I was the one to get up through the night, for my husband needed his sleep - he was the one that had to take care of our son all day. Double standards are everywhere.

Just because I get more job satisfaction from the work that is related to our home/children than my husband does, this should not excuse him from participating, just as I should (and do) also take responsibility for house/car repairs and yard work.

In my workplace, there are tasks that I don't like doing, but I understand that they go with the territory. It is the same in the home. And every parent, male or female, needs to divide their home/family duties in a fair way that matches their preferences, honours their partner, and meets the complete needs of their home life.

Dr. Susan Bernstein said...

I love that you're pointing out, Marty, that blame is a powerful way to manipulate. I'm actually angry at David's wife for not coming out and saying what she wanted. Instead, as I see it, she acted like a villain, lauding her power over him, and David became the victim, feeling like he needed to address her accusations. What would have been more authentic is for his then-fiancee to have said, "You know, David, I really want to be with you. Do you want the same?" Sure, that would be vulnerable, but it would have been real. Instead, I feel like she snared him.

I don't like to see marriages starting off with veiled desires and hidden needs. How much more genuine and connected David and his wife might be if they could both discuss their desires and concerns (including David's other ones, like a $40K wedding...if he didn't want that, there are other options, certainly).

Instead of accusing men of not progressing, women ought to say "I'm ready for marriage and I want to be with someone else who is ready, too." Making accusations is a behavior that researcher and psychologist John Gottman categorizes as indicating a greater likelihood of divorce. Yikes.

I hope that David and his wife learn to talk more openly with each other.

Marty Nemko said...

Thank you for your helpful comment, Susan.

Stephen said...

I get the feeling that all of this bean counting of who does which chore around the house could end up causing a lot friction.

Men and women should celebrate the things that make them different. They will hopefully enter a relationship knowing what those differences are, and not expect that they can change the other person's ways. Hopefully those differences can become a source of strength, and not always be looked up as a source of problems.

I think it's safe to say that most men have far different standards of what a clean/neat house should look like. Left to my own devices, I'm willing to get by in a place that looks more "lived in" than "museum display piece". I'm more interested in actually using the things in my house than I am in organizing them and dusting them off.

The ideal of devoting an extended block of time to cleaning everything from top to bottom can be a tough act for many to follow.