Thursday, June 29, 2017


     When a man reaches “a certain age,” he becomes prone to reflecting on his past. In particular, he muses over his mistakes and how, “had I known then what I know now,” he could have improved on his results in the contexts of those past times. Quite a lot of what one might call one’s “historical dissatisfaction” arises from a very small cluster of absolute truths that all of us are prone to wishing away:

The Rules:

Reality is independent of your opinions.
It's also indifferent to your desires.
Every situation comes with incentives and constraints. Though you will try to maximize your harvest of the incentives, you must satisfy the constraints.
Effort put toward trying to control the uncontrollable is effort wasted.
The clock is always running; there are no "time outs."

     If “The Rules” appear familiar, it might be because you read about them here. Not only are they absolute and immutable, they’re applicable to everything, everywhere and everywhen.

     Recently, the unprecedented difficulties of contemporary marriage have been much on my mind. It’s come to bedevil American men. Indeed, marriage has become such a minefield for the contemporary man that increasing numbers of men are forswearing marriage lifelong. Dr. Helen Smith’s book has shed considerable light on the subject. However, there’s an aspect to it that tends to receive less attention than the risks Dr. Smith justly emphasizes in her book: the tendency toward “buyer’s remorse” among both men and women, as the years establish the power of two other maxims:

  • She chooses him hoping that he’ll change...but he doesn’t.
  • He chooses her hoping that she won’t change...but she does.

     Quite a lot of unhappiness has resulted from marital buyer’s remorse. Yet that remorse is avoidable much of the time, if one takes the maintenance of the relationship seriously. Today, some of the efforts involved in that maintenance are foolishly resisted by both sexes. As an appetite-whetter, please read this article by Inez Feltscher. While her focus is narrower than mine, the author shares my attitude.

     Today let’s look at his side of the thing. (Hey, I’m a man; this way I can put off the research I have to do.)

     A man first becomes interested in a woman because of her appearance:

  • Her face;
  • Her figure;
  • Her grooming;
  • Her carriage.

     Those visible characteristics have approximately equal weight for most men. However, there’s a not-entirely-visible component that deserves to be included. He doesn’t just want her to take proper care of her appearance; he also wants her – girls, hold onto your boyfriends – to care about what he thinks of it. He wants perceptible evidence that she wants to look good for him.

     Quite a number of wives either aren’t aware of this or have been persuaded that “once you’re hitched, it stops mattering.” Inasmuch as more than 70% of contemporary divorces are initiated by women, perhaps it’s not so strange that women overlook it. Yet it’s more important to averting marital buyer’s remorse than most women would imagine.

     In a simpler time, things were...simpler. She, wanting nothing so much as a protector and provider, focused on making herself someone a suitable protector-provider would willingly accept as a spouse:

     “But what about you?” she asked, and looked away nervously. “I don’t know much about men. My book says it’s easy to win a man’s heart, if you’re cute. Just be pleasant company, a good housekeeper, and eager in bed, and as long as you’re sincere about it any man will fall for you.” [E. William Brown, Black Coven]

     Quite a lot of Twenty-First Century women have begun to yearn for the return of those requirements. It’s easy to understand why. They were clear. They were simple. They appeared to guarantee, if not permanent bliss, at least an enduring degree of acceptable comfort. Perhaps most important of all, they allowed her to relax a bit about everything outside her sphere.

     His innate drives have a lot to do with it, of course. He’d like to be allowed to concentrate on his priorities: being a good protector and provider, and pursuing as far as possible the pursuits he prefers. To the extent that he can believe that:

  1. His needs and desires in a wife are being met;
  2. She’s happy with the arrangement and will hold up her end of it;

     ...he will turn his attention to those other matters.

     Would that it had remained that simple and straightforward! Toxic feminism has a lot to do with it, of course. Nor should we neglect the ways in which the Leviathan State has positioned itself as a husband-surrogate to which women are encouraged to turn. A third important contributor to the mess is the incredible expense of contemporary living – another governmental artifact – which for at least fifty years has pressed her to work for wages even though he’s gainfully employed.

     But perhaps it needn’t be that way. Take it from a fairly typical man of the times: the comforts and pleasures of a happy home will more than compensate for most of the material goods with which so many of us distract ourselves from our miseries.

     (What’s that you say? A Certified Galactic Intellect has no business representing himself as “a fairly typical man of the times” -- ? BALDERDASH! We brainiacs don’t spend all our time unscrewing the inscrutable. There’s far too much love to be made, too many books to write, too much good music to be listened to, too much chess to be played, and far too much wine to be drunk. Priorities, man!)

     Quite a great deal of contemporary unhappiness of all varieties arises from the displacement of the pleasures and satisfactions of home and hearth by the pursuit of material gain, whether it’s propelled by a lust for particular goods or a quest for “security.” In Which Art In Hope, the first novel of my Spooner Federation Saga, I had a professor of sociology declaim thus:

     “When Earth's regard for families and their most fundamental function deteriorated, her people ceased to enjoy the sorts of ties that had held them together throughout the history of Man. Without families, and especially without children, they groped for other things to fill their time, whether to give them a sense of purpose, or to distract them from the waning of their lives. Some invested themselves in industry or commerce, but without the sense of the family line to be built up and made prominent, those things failed to satisfy. Others immersed themselves in games, toys, fripperies, and increasingly bizarre forms of entertainment, which palled on them even faster. Still others made a fetish out of sex; there was a substantial sex industry on Earth, though it tended to operate in the shadows and was seldom openly discussed. They needed emotion and substance, but all they could contrive was sensation and novelty, and they pumped an ever greater share of their effort and wealth into seeking them. That's my thesis, for what it's worth.”

     It’s difficult to distinguish the causes from the effects. Toxic feminism, which strove from the Sixties onward to persuade her that she had to have a remunerative job, started its explosive rise at about the same time as Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and its ever more aggressive exactions from the American pocketbook. As Hans G. Schantz wrote in The Hidden Truth, governments found the shift in her priorities agreeable to their own ends, for the work she’d been doing in keeping a home and rearing children wasn’t taxable, nor was it malleable by the social engineers of the Left:

     “The women’s rights movement had three goals. First, it got women into the workplace where their labor could be taxed....So, with more women entering the workforce the supply of labor increases and wages are depressed....

     “Now couples need to have two careers to support a typical modern lifestyle. We can’t tax the labor in a home-cooked meal. We can tax the labor in takeout food, or the higher cost of a microwave dinner. The economic potential of both halves of the adult population now largely flows into the government where it can serve noble ends instead of petty private interests....

     Maybe it wasn’t planned that way, but governments and Leftist propagandists have certainly exploited the opportunities her separation from her husband, home, and family has offered them. The concomitant diversion of her attention from keeping her husband (and therefore their home) happy is entirely coincidental...I think.

     The time has come to learn what we can from those whose marriages were sturdier and whose homes were happier than ours. That will necessitate both learning from the experiences of our forebears and disabusing ourselves of many illusions fostered by contemporary society. Part of what we must recognize is that simplicity is more available than we’ve been led to believe. Another major lesson is that simply because a custom or pattern of life is old doesn’t mean that it’s obsolete and inapplicable to our lives today.

     That’s all for the moment, Gentle Reader. I expect I’ll do her side of things tomorrow. Until then!

1 comment:

PolyKahr said...

I am an old fart, so remember when a lot of this was still new. It was all predictable. And yes, a lot of men have gone on strike, as it were, because the risks of trying to have a family life are just not worth it. 55% of marriages end in divorce, and 70% of divorces are initiated by women. The women usually feel somehow abused (often with some reason, but then they don't look at their own part in that abuse) and harass the man for all they can get out of him. In the process they become hateful and resentful. It is a truly sad situation.