Thursday, March 15, 2012

Leverage and divorce

I find it odd that most of the people who discuss why not to get married focus primarily on what might happen in the case of a divorce. It seems that there are very few people who discuss the things that you are nearly guaranteed to lose in a marriage: your strength, your money, your freedom, your time and your dreams. Because of this, I think it's quite easy for people to dismiss the numerous consequences of marriage and go for it anyway, because they don't know any better. I know I didn't. Hardly anybody mentions the things they'll probably lose, and the one thing they do mention, divorce, is easily explained away as impossible:

"Oh, my husband would never do that!"
"I love her, and that'll never change!"
"We'll be together forever!"

It's sad, because people brush aside the things they should know that they'll never have again, and focus on potential divorce as an impossible circumstance. But what is marriage, really? I hear the canard "the joining of two souls" or some such pithy statements a lot, but that's not what marriage is. Mutual support, friendship, love and the like are what make up a long term relationship, not marriage; marriage is the legal contract that's signed when two people decide to stay with one another for the rest of their lives. In reality, it's three things:

- A legal incorporation in the place that you live.

Depending on where you live and your gender, this will either tilt the scale far in your favor, or against you. In America, for example, women come out on top. 90% of the time that alimony is paid, it's from a man to a woman. 70% of the time, women receive sole custody of the children, with only 10% of the time being solely to a man, which means about 70% of the time, a man pays his ex-wife child support (which is not guaranteed, or even checked, to go to the children, and not the ex-wife's luxuries). And around 70% of the time, a woman initiates the divorce, probably in part to the above "long straw" bargain a woman consistently draws.

I don't have a clue about the divorce laws here. But I have spoken to one woman about it, a tutor student who divorced a few years ago, and from her surprised reaction at the above statistics, I can only conclude that men get a better financial shake here. She does have full custody of the kids, though, which is the biggest thing that worries me about a divorce with my wife.

- The coerced caretaking of the weaker partner by the stronger one.

It's caretaking because when one partner falls, the entire marriage goes with it. It's coerced because of the oath taken when the contract is signed, and depending on where you live and who you are, the alternative (divorce) could leave you stripped of everything you have worked for.

In my marriage, I work harder, am more emotionally stable, spend more time with my son, start less fights, pay more money and sacrifice more than my wife. In every possible way, I am the stronger spouse, so she takes everything I have to offer. In return, she causes me trouble or wants more.

- The transfer of a criminal amount of leverage from a man to a woman.

The first point above shows that women often get the better deal in a divorce, and even countries of tradition the world over are giving more incentive to women to divorce, not men. A woman, when divorcing a man, will be taken care of better than her ex-husband.

Women are also more likely to be treated with kid gloves by the media. If a husband hits his wife, he's rightly called out as an abuser. If a wife hits her husband, it's funny, or because he's a loser. If a husband stops doing chores, he's a knuckle-dragging, unappreciative, lazy neanderthal. If a wife stops doing chores, it's righteous payback, or because she's overworked. In almost any case, a wife's behavior is not equal to her husband's.

A wife also completely controls her husband's sex life. If he does anything to displease her, she will cut him off until he comes around, or divorce him and receive the benefits listed above. When the ring is on a man's finger, he has no choice but to abide by a life of back-to-back sexual deserts if his wife is ever in a bad mood. And because it's social custom not to blame a wife for a divorce, unless for extreme circumstances like child abuse or murder (and even then, women can still be "depressed" or "pushed into it" instead of monsters), she faces little denigration, or even punishment, for her bad behavior.

Now put all of the points I mentioned together: a wife is under no obligation to do anything for her husband, she controls her husband's sex life, and she controls the custody of their children and the bulk of his finances through threat of divorce. She is backed up not only by the legal system, but also by society's expectations of husbands and wives. Even when she acts badly and the marriage falls through because of her actions, she is the one who is rewarded. In other words, there are no consequences whatsoever for a wife to act as badly as she wishes in a marriage, knowing the consequence, divorce, will almost assuredly go in her favor. Because after all, if someone has a gun trained on you, they don't need to pull the trigger to make you do what they want.

When a human being is offered the chance to acquire and use power, and to leverage themselves into a better position in life through consequence-free action, they will tend to use it. A good way to prove my point would be to ask a few questions:

If someone handed you a million dollars, string free, and you got to use it any way you wished, what would you spend it on? Most people would take the money and buy themselves a new car or house, or reupholster their furniture, or get a new TV, or quit their jobs and retire at a younger age. Unlike most others, though, I wouldn't. I wouldn't have earned that money, so I wouldn't feel comfortable using it on myself; it would feel like a cheat. So I would either refuse the money, or I would take it, pay the requisite taxes, give the rest to charity, then give the tax refund for the charitable donation to charity, too.

If you killed someone, and your lawyer found a legal loophole that would guarantee you to be found not guilty, what would you plead? Most people would try to beat the rap, then rationalize that they would make it up to the world later, or that the law had spoken. Or maybe they wouldn't care, and would just want to avoid punishment. I would plead guilty. I did the crime, and I would deserve to be punished for it, if for nothing else than the victim's family's peace of mind.

Do you download movies, music or video games from the internet, knowing you probably won't get caught? Do you treat clerks and waiters at stores and restaurants rudely, knowing they can't fight back? Do you misrepresent yourself when trying to get a date, knowing your partner won't find out until you've gotten what you want from them? I don't do any of those things either, but I bet most of the people reading this would admit to at least one of the above instances, where they would choose using strength for selfish or hurtful reasons at the expense of others.

It's human nature to try to maneuver ourselves into a better position. And because women are offered the opportunity to behave as badly as they wish in a marriage, only to be rewarded for it in the end, the only thing stopping her is her moral code. And how many people have one of those, much less rigidly adhere to it at all times? For a man to avoid being put in the position that I mentioned in my Spectator post, to be given only negative-negative decisions, then he must avoid getting married. It doesn't matter what his girlfriend is like before he marries her; people change. It only took my wife a year after we moved in together to go from supportive, sexual and fun, to controlling, demanding, rude, lazy and frigid. To avoid choosing between:

- Taking a trip and losing sex, or not doing what he wants and having sex
- Working a job he wants and losing his kids, or working a job he hates and having his kids
- Winning a fight because he's right and accepting passive-aggressive revenge and possible divorce, or losing a fight even though he's right and pleasing his keeper

...or anything similar, a man must avoid marriage at all costs.

If my wife and I divorce, I will lose access to my son (and hurt him for the rest of his life). In addition, she'll probably move back in with her mother, where he'll be exposed to the destructive impulses of my in-laws. And this is where the leverage of my wife over me lies: she knows that I'm a good man and I love our son, and it's better for him to be with us while we're together, so I'll never divorce her. And that's why she can, and does, treat me like garbage: because she knows I'm not going anywhere for our son's sake.

Compare that to the woman she was when we were dating, when she knew that if she caused me too much trouble, I would have dumped her. After all, there weren't only the dozen or so women who were chasing me during that time, but millions of other women in the country, and hundreds of millions the world over, who I could have been with. She had incentive to behave in our relationship, because if she didn't, she would have lost me. As a result, she treated me with respect. It's the same respect she offers her friends, boss and extended family now, because if she ever treated them like she treats me now, they would leave her. It's the same respect she seldom ever shows me now. If you want to maintain strength and leverage in your life and relationships (and ideally to use that strength and leverage to treat the people around you with kindness and respect), then avoid marriage.

I find it odd that many people dismiss, or are ignorant of, the things that happen in a marriage, which are the many weights that bury me in my purgatory. Equally odd is that these same people ignore or explain away the horrors of divorce, but to me, it's conceptually a good thing. What better way to prove your commitment to someone than removing that contract from your relationship, and showing through your action, not through financial or social mandate, that you want to be with them? What better way to show your love than to allow your partner the opportunity to leave if they find that the relationship is unfixable and not what they thought it would be, and not force them to stick around despite their wishes?

For men, though, divorce would seem to be a disastrous end to an unfulfilling marriage. Having his children taken away, alimony, poverty, it all sounds like a nightmare. It might be a surprise to know that, apart from losing my son, I really don't care about that stuff.

I disagree with child support, because if someone has custody of the children, they should be paying. It's the same reason I agree wholeheartedly with equal, joint custody, with heavy penalties for proof of interference from one ex-spouse on another. But I'll pay if I have to. I also fundamentally disagree with paying alimony for more than three months, because it seems like a tacit way of saying to women that they can't support themselves, and that they need a man to take care of them. And this act seems an effective way of disempowering women by offering them an attractive, but ultimately self-destructive, life of co-dependency and irresponsibility.

But for me, as a man, who really cares if I lose all of my money and then some for several years, if I can get my life back after the divorce is over? It's not the divorce that matters as much as it is the marriage, which is a life of subservience that awaits anyone who gives up all leverage over their life to another human being, who by nature is wired to utilize that strength to put themselves in a better position, even at the expense of their partner.

How much would you pay for your life and dreams?

If you answered anything less than "everything I have right now," then you have no idea how much you've lost in the prison of marriage. Divorces cost men a lot, yes. But they cost a lot because they're worth it. Coast through decades of moderate to severe mediocrity, boredom and/or suffering, or pour alcohol on the wound, let it sting for a couple of years, then be back to awesome in no time. It's up to you.

But to those people out there who are permanently mired in marriage because they have children, like me, I'm sorry you've made the one and only decision in life for which there is no solution or escape that doesn't end in destroying someone.


  1. Thank you SO MUCH for this blog! BTW, I did a post telling my readers about you, and I provided links to the blog and your "Fights" post. This is GOOD STUFF. Thank you!

    1. Thanks a lot for reading and linking; I hope my blog keeps you out of marriage, or provides you the tools you need to put your wife in the second command position where most wives should be.

      It's also good you mentioned that you support the message I have here; I've had two or three place link back to my blog over the past month or two, and almost every case was a bunch of namecalling, strawmen and moral relativism. I've gotten so tired of hearing the same put-downs and logical fallacies that I developed a policy of not clicking on trackback links, knowing what most of them are going to be. But I'll happily check out yours.

    2. Just checked, and your blog is right up my alley. Everything you said in the post is true, too; it's all great until you get married, and stays miserable until you strengthen your pimp hand, at which point it becomes barely tolerable.

      Now that I know the case, stay unmarried, brother; you are in a unique position to have the red pill before you tied the noose, and are the kind of person who likes to travel. Get abroad, learn the languages, and don't stop exploring life as an honorable, strong and free man until the end.