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Anatomy of an Affair
February 8, 2006 8:52 PM   Subscribe

Anatomy of an Affair. An honest account of one man's affair and the ways it changed him forever.
posted by granted (150 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, that's powerful stuff. (I'm just past the "sidenote" post, about to read about the outcome, and I am really engrossed.)
posted by jayder at 9:19 PM on February 8, 2006


This is actually really interesting and fairly well written. The posts are not too long, they're like little chapters. I don't really have anything qualitative to say, other than I feel bad for the situation this guy and his wife find themselves in. Just more proof that getting married at 21 and saving sex until marriage are bad ideas. Get married when you're an adult.
posted by billysumday at 9:21 PM on February 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


We are so much accustomed to see married couples going to church of a Sunday that we have clean forgotten what they represent; and novelists are driven to rehabilitate adultery, no less, when they wish to show us what a beautiful thing it is for a man and a woman to live for each other.
--Robert Louis Stevenson An Inland Voyage
posted by stbalbach at 9:26 PM on February 8, 2006


This heartbreaking blog just underlines the impracticality of saving sex for marriage. Shouldn't you have some idea of what you're getting into before commiting for the rest of your life?
posted by sid at 9:29 PM on February 8, 2006


the impracticality of saving sex for marriage

I'm not often outraged, but now I am.
posted by JekPorkins at 9:43 PM on February 8, 2006


How so, JekPorkins? I also feel that "no sex before marriage," while it can to some degree be considered honorable, is impractical. There are some things you should know before getting into a marriage.
posted by jenovus at 9:45 PM on February 8, 2006


Everybody loves a big fat confession.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 9:47 PM on February 8, 2006


"The scandal presented a problem for my employer, a family-friendly company. "

What is a family friendly company and how do I know if I work for one?
That's a wierd one.

But all in all I feel sorry for the guy, we all have our crosses to bear. Sometimes you're the baseball sometime you're the bat .. etc etc.
posted by celerystick at 9:52 PM on February 8, 2006


One afternoon, we said our goodbyes and then she left. There was a feeling of finality that had never been there before. I searched through all my possessions, gathered up every reminder of Linda (pictures, letters, cards, keys, gifts), and drove to Applebee's where I threw them into the trash.

Ain't that America.
posted by billysumday at 9:53 PM on February 8, 2006


Finally, a sensible use for Applebees.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:01 PM on February 8, 2006


the impracticality of saving sex for marriage

It's like that great Onion headline: Married couple enjoys first awkward sexual encounter.
posted by xmutex at 10:21 PM on February 8, 2006


Why waiting is impractical: My wife and I had both grown up in traditional, conservative families that taught us to save sex for marriage. Somehow, we managed to make it to our wedding day with our virginity still intact. But to my disappointment, I learned on our honeymoon that Anne's view of sex was quite different from mine.

Bummer. If they had a sexual relationship beforehand, they could've either finessed it a little bit, to try to find a middle ground, or they could've cancelled it entirely, avoiding all the heartbreak after the fact.

What I see in his language, though, suggests that they wouldn't have been able to come to a consensus or a compromise; they just had completely different views of what sex is and should be. So it was, in a sense, doomed before it even began.

This is why [imo] one should have healthy sexual relationships before getting married, or even settling down with one lover.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:26 PM on February 8, 2006


I feel sorry for the kids.
posted by beth at 10:28 PM on February 8, 2006


This was a good article. Thanks for linking it.

That said, I agree with some of those who commented on the blog itself that at some points things seem like they are totally made up. Having never been in an affair, I can't comment on the veracity of that myself, but yeah... some of it is out there. Maybe it's just the writers highly articulate style that makes the reader think he's reading some trashy book rather than the sincere reminisce of a tortured soul.

Meh. Whatever. As either a work of possible fiction and certainly as a work of possible truth this is a good post, so thanks!
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:29 PM on February 8, 2006


In my experience, it's pretty easy to get an extremely good idea of a person's view of sex and their expectations for a sexual relationship before actually having sex with them. Sure, you have to actually communicate openly and frankly, but I think that communication is the issue, not sexual experience.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:30 PM on February 8, 2006


exlotuseater and billysumday: you guys are idiots. This blog is not about how his life would have been better if he'd fucked his wife before they were married. It was about how his life would have been better, much better, if he had not had an affair. You guys missed the point.

Everyone reading this knows, of course, that marriages between people who cohabit are more, rather than less, likely to end in divorce. Right? Everyone knows that, right? It's not even close. The statistics are conclusive on this point. Yet you idiots continue to argue that marriages would be better if people fucked before they were married. Idiots.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:34 PM on February 8, 2006


A lot of men approaching "the line" would do well to read this.

On sex before marriage: I'm getting married in two months, and I've talked about this a lot with my fiancé. Our relationship was 90% sex at first, but the great sex allowed us to really discover each other. Now we're totally in love. It's an unconventional path toward marriage, but I really think we have an advantage. There's a physical passion that helps smooth out the inevitable disagreements.

In my experience, it's pretty easy to get an extremely good idea of a person's view of sex and their expectations for a sexual relationship before actually having sex with them.

Spoken like a true virgin. There's no way to know what someone is like in bed with you until they're in bed with you.
posted by letitrain at 10:35 PM on February 8, 2006


peeping_Thomist: NO U.

get up on the wrong side of the bed today?
posted by exlotuseater at 10:38 PM on February 8, 2006


letitrain: good luck with your marriage, but I'd be interested in hearing what you have to say about this topic in, say, ten years.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:39 PM on February 8, 2006


Eh. JusitificationFilter. I'm okay because despite being an asshole I'm going to chronicle my assholedness on the interwebs so that everyone can forgive me.

Bah. And: humbug.
posted by trip and a half at 10:40 PM on February 8, 2006


Spoken like a true virgin. There's no way to know what someone is like in bed with you until they're in bed with you.

I've been happily married for many years, chief. I didn't say you could "know what someone is like in bed." Please read what I wrote. You copied and pasted it quite well, but clearly didn't actually read it.

And using the term "virgin" as an attempted insult is a flagrant display of sexual immaturity, in my opinion -- and no, sexual experience does not lead inevitably to sexual maturity.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:40 PM on February 8, 2006


exlotuseater: it is simply not the case that people who fuck before marriage are less likely to have affairs later on. You're using an argument that has no empirical support. That's why I called you an idiot. Idiot!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:41 PM on February 8, 2006


Oops. that should be "JustificationFilter". dammit!
posted by trip and a half at 10:44 PM on February 8, 2006


peeping_Thomist: thanks for hoping my marriage fails.

JekPorkins: OK, I'll change it from "virgin" to "experienced with one sexual partner." And no, neither of them are intended as insults.
posted by letitrain at 10:44 PM on February 8, 2006


peeping_Thomist:

Thanks for being reasonable and not directing personal attacks at anyone. Just to clarify, though, do you believe that there is no correlation between the fact this man and his wife came from conservative families, got married when they were in college, and did not have a sexual relationship before their wedding night and the eventual, insurmountable differences they felt as they matured? I just respectfully disagree with you. Getting married later in life doesn't guarantee you won't get a divorce. But you can learn some of the lessons that this man unfortunately and sadly learned, without involving kids and so forth. No need to get personal, my friend.
posted by billysumday at 10:47 PM on February 8, 2006


letitrain: I hope your marriage succeeds! Lots of marriages succeed even though the couple has done stupid things before they were married or in the first few years of the marriage. When I said I'd like to hear from you in ten years, I didn't at all have in mind the idea of a failed marriage, but rather that you, in a successful marriage, would have insight into why your current views are, well, naive. Anyway, as I already said, and really meant, good luck with your marriage! Seriously.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:48 PM on February 8, 2006


JekPorkins: In my experience, it's pretty easy to get an extremely good idea of a person's view of sex and their expectations for a sexual relationship before actually having sex with them. Sure, you have to actually communicate openly and frankly, but I think that communication is the issue, not sexual experience.

The problem is, of course, that people who haven't experienced it yet could well be flat out wrong in those views and expectations. If you are particularly unlucky, you might even end up married to someone of the wrong sexual orientation; some people don't figure it out until after they've tried it (sometimes even after marriage.) And of course, some people lie; men may downplay it's importance to them, women may fake interest they don't have.

Starting before marriage doesn't necessarily prevent these cases (I have a friend with a friend who ended up married to a woman with NO interest in it; she faked it for a time to get him married to her.) But it does give you a better chance to avoid them.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:53 PM on February 8, 2006


PAGING POLYAMORY WO-MAN! CLEANUP ON AISLE #49006!
posted by loquacious at 10:54 PM on February 8, 2006


billysumday: the empirical data on this question is in, and there is no room for doubt on the matter. You can respectfully disagree all you like, but there have been endless studies done on this topic. If you want to fuck up your chances for a successful marriage, the best thing you can do is have sex before marriage. Believe it or not, this is not something about which researchers are still arguing; it's been settled for many years.

You talk about "insurmountable differences", but that is _not_ what this blog was about. The guy had a marriage, and it had some of the problems that are typical of marriages (both the marriages of those who have cohabited and those who haven't). Instead of working on improving his marriage, he retreated to a fantasy world with his lover. And he fucked over his family and his wife and his lover and himself. And from this story, somehow, you draw the inference that people should fuck before they marry?

Did you read the same blog I did?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:56 PM on February 8, 2006


Wow, great post. Thanks. There were so many spots where I empathized with one or more of the folks involved. I haven't read the comments yet, but am curious to see if/how they change my take. Right now, I appreciate the guy's honesty; it feels authentic and relatively unflinching, as if he worked hard to keep focused on the main, very difficult, points. As a child of a couple of disrupted marriages, I also really feel for the kids.

As for having sex earlier, I think the couple's youth and inability to communicate their disappointments honestly had a lot more to do with the breakup than any inexperience at fucking. Sure, there does seem to have been a sexual compatibility issue that might have been caught and then addressed during premarital sex, but the problem issues seem to have been much deeper than that.
posted by mediareport at 11:13 PM on February 8, 2006


"Everyone reading this knows, of course, that marriages between people who cohabit are more, rather than less, likely to end in divorce. Right? Everyone knows that, right? It's not even close."

Well, not exactly. First of aLL, It seems there may be a "seven year itch" threshold after which cohabiting couples who later marry have the same rates of divorce as couples who didn't cohabit prior to marriage.

Meanwhile :

"Premarital sex and cohabitation, if limited to the future husband, do not increase the risk of divorce for women, according to new research by Jay Teachman, sociologist,
at Western Washington University.

Teachman’s research, published in the May [ 2003 ] edition of Journal of Marriage and Family, adds a new dimension to the long-held belief that premarital sex and cohabitation are strong predictors of divorce for women."

As for men.... who knows.
posted by troutfishing at 11:16 PM on February 8, 2006


Again peeping_Thomist, thanks for the condescension. I don't think it's necessary, but you do what you feel gets your point across the best. The fact is, you and I are coming at this from very different perspectives. My prediction is that you are coming from a very religious perspective, and I'm not. Of course I read the blog. And when I read it, I had the same reaction as exlotuseater - the same quote popped out at me as well. Please link to your empirical studies. How many of the couples who don't divorce stay in their relationship solely because of their religious convictions? For money? For status? For shame? Also, different generations approach marriage and sex differently. I don't want to be compared to my parents' generation. Of all of my peers who have married before the age of 25, a great many of them have divorced. The ones who have waited have had greater success in marriage.

You're suggesting that this man should have persevered through his marriage, and I'm not disputing that. But just imagine if getting married with someone didn't change anything at all - sexual behavior, expectations, any variable that people hope will change when they marry someone. To me, that is an ideal. I want to know what I'm getting, fully and completely, day in and day out. That way, I know that when I commit, I know exactly what I'm committing too.

I'm not trying to get on any sort of soapbox and say "go forth and make the sweet love!" If you read my first comment I mention the matter of both virginity and getting married at 21. As I read through the man's blog, I couldn't help but feel that he committed to someone before he should have. And by having an affair, he proved that he was immature and unable to comprehend the effect his actions would have on his wife and family. Sometimes it takes a person to fail in a relationship or two to become better at it. A hard truth for a lot of people. I simply think it's unwise to start a family so young. But what do I know? I'm an idiot.
posted by billysumday at 11:19 PM on February 8, 2006


peeping_Thomist, you're right that the proper conclusion to draw from his blog is how much better his life would've been if he hadn't had an affair. But what's with the huge chip on your shoulder? And can you give us sources for your surprising assertion that a higher percentage of couples who have premarital sex divorce than those who don't?

I'm not saying you're wrong; I don't know. But your tone makes me highly skeptical. Those who make assertions with such vehemence are generally not stating a fact but defending a belief that is precious to them.
posted by mono blanco at 11:19 PM on February 8, 2006


peeping_Thomist, I've been poking around for statistics that either back up or contradict your claims, and I've found that, while many believe such findings to be true, the statistics are less clear than you indicate and there's far from the universal agreement on the matter you claim, e.g.:

"Jay Teachman of Western Washington University, Bellingham, found in a study published last year in the Journal of Marriage and the Family that living together or having sex before marriage isn't linked to higher divorce."
- Demographics Factor Heavily In Divorce-Rate Statistics, from the Wall Street Journal online

Even among those who accept such statistics, there's a great deal of argument as to the reasons, such as:

"The act of cohabitation is not necessarily what causes these couples to break up ... generally speaking, people who were opposed to cohabitation (such as Catholics) might also be less inclined to divorce. People with more liberal views on cohabitation would presumably be more inclined to divorce."

In other words, one theory is that those who are against cohabitation might also be opposed in principle to divorce, which doesn't seem to me to be an unreasonable theory, but one which turns the question on its head, a bit ... suddenly, all those cohabitors getting divorced appear to be the people who don't think getting divorced is by definition such a bad idea, and it begins to seem like much less of a problem.
posted by kyrademon at 11:20 PM on February 8, 2006


On preview, shoulda previewed.
posted by kyrademon at 11:21 PM on February 8, 2006


so, troutfishing, I'm confused by this:

"Premarital sex and cohabitation, if limited to the future husband, do not increase the risk of divorce for women, according to new research by Jay Teachman, sociologist, at Western Washington University."

How, exactly, can a couple "cohabitate" if the "cohabitation" is limited to the future husband? That doesn't make any sense.

And is it suggesting that men are better off if they have premarital sex, but women are better off if they don't? So, for marital bliss, have all the premarital sex you want, but then settle down with a virgin and shun the unchaste women that were used to gain the experience? I take issue with that, on an ethical/moral level.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:23 PM on February 8, 2006


Table 21. Probability of first marriage disruption by duration of marriage and selected characteristics: All races, women 15–44 years of age, United States, 1995—Con.: (page 56 of actual doc)

peeping_Thomist: I concede that there is a significant statistical difference between those that cohabited before marriage and those that didn't: up to a twelve percent difference after 15 years of marriage.

but, since we're namecalling, you're a dick.

You say I "didn't get the point" of the blog. I was addressing a comment before mine.

My only contention, and I carefully framed this as an opinion, was that I believe that sexual compatibility is much better judged before one makes the leap into marriage, and not better hashed-out after the fact.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:30 PM on February 8, 2006


The effect of premarital sex on the success of marriages is one of those dirty little secrets among sociologists that no one wants to talk about. The idea that I should link to particular studies on it is absurd: there are literally decades of research and thousands of studies on this stuff, and it all points in one direction. The fact that people can find _one_ study that claims that cohabitation (with only the future husband!) isn't linked to increased likelihood of divorce should tell you all you need to know.

What amazes me about the response to this blog is that the guy is pouring his heart out about how he ruined his life by having an affair, and there are actually readers who are oblivious enough to the realities of married life to say "well, maybe he should have cohabited." As if cohabiting is going to be some kind of insurance against the temptation to have an affair! As I said at the outset: idiots! Do you _seriously_ think you are less likely to have an affair if you have premarital sex? There is literally zero empirical evidence to support that claim.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:35 PM on February 8, 2006


"How, exactly, can a couple 'cohabitate' if the 'cohabitation' is limited to the future husband? That doesn't make any sense."

Why doesn't that make sense? Isn't it basically saying that couples who live with each other and then get married aren't more likely to get divorced, but people who live with lots and lots of different people and then get married to someone are more likely to get divorced? No idea if that's true or not, but it certainly makes sense.

Hmm. I appear to be a statistical anomaly. How strange, I wouldn't have thought it would be so unusual.
posted by kyrademon at 11:40 PM on February 8, 2006


I seriously think a person is less likely to have an affair if they don't get married at 21 to the first person they meet and with whom they don't have a sexual relationship with, yes. Seriously. Especially among the current generation. Empirical evidence be damned.
posted by billysumday at 11:41 PM on February 8, 2006


"As if cohabiting is going to be some kind of insurance against the temptation to have an affair!"
are you listening to them? They're saying that maybe when he figured out his wife was a prude, he would have moved on - thus eliminating the need for an affair.

as for your dirty little secret - it amounts to this: hard core christians are less likely to have sex before marriage and less likely to get a divorce when their marriage fails. Is that a surprise to anyone here?

id be interested to see statistics on how children are effected in a marriage that is functionally dead, but persists due to obligation VS children involved in a divorce.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:44 PM on February 8, 2006


kyrademon, if cohabitation is limited to the future husband, doesn't that mean that only the future husband cohabitated, but the future wife did not cohabitate? I thought it took two to cohabitate (or was that to tango?). In other words, if only the future husband cohabitates, what is the future wife doing during that time?
posted by JekPorkins at 11:46 PM on February 8, 2006


Are you really that dense, or are you just putting us on?
posted by billysumday at 11:48 PM on February 8, 2006


peeping_Thomist, get a grip. Your hysterical tone is undercutting your point.

1) It's not that people can just find only one study. It's a prominent study that comes up quickly on a google search. I'll find more if you want.

2) You have linked to, and quoted, NOTHING. What you say may be perfectly true, and in fact, *other* people found some statistics that seem to support it, but your angrily jumping up and down about decades worth of studies doesn't impress when you don't bother to, you know, SHOW us any. Especially if it's something few people outside of sociology know, as you imply.

3) Why are you making such a big deal out of the fact that the study showed no problems specifically for couples who cohabited and then eventually got married? Isn't that EXACTLY WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT? What would cohabiting with someone who *wasn't* a future spouse have to do with the conversation?

4) No one has said cohabitation was insurance against having an affair. They have theorized that cohabiting (or, more to the point, a culture that encouraged sexual experimentation with prospective partners) might have kept these particular people from getting married in the first place, because they might have realized they were sexually incompatible.

5) Actually he didn't "pour his heart out about how he ruined his life by having an affair". He gave a very even-handed analysis of what drew him into an affair, the decisions he made among love, sex, and duty, and the decisions that led him to the current situation. Yes, it was weighted towards the side of never having an affair in the first place, but do note that he fell in love with the woman he had an affair with, and devoted some time to wondering if he should have stayed with her after all.

You are reading your own preconceptions into this story just as much, if not more, than the people you accuse of doing so.
posted by kyrademon at 11:50 PM on February 8, 2006


JekPorkins, you have misread that statement. I did some checking, just to be sure, and it indeed means that couples who cohabitate with each other (the future wife *with* the future husband) and then get married show no greater likelihood of eventual divorce.
posted by kyrademon at 11:52 PM on February 8, 2006


Thanks, kyrademon. That seems like a very strong argument against premarital cohabitation: It only doesn't hurt your marriage if you marry the first person you live with, but if, for some reason, your cohabitation doesn't work out the first time, you're screwed when you eventually do marry? Given that sort of evidence, I'd advise avoiding premarital cohabitation.

I seriously think a person is less likely to have an affair if they don't get married at 21 to the first person they meet and with whom they don't have a sexual relationship with, yes. Seriously. Especially among the current generation. Empirical evidence be damned.

See, you've added a number of important variables that I think have a much larger effect than sexual activity. And age at marriage and dating/relationship experience were not part of the studies, were they? IMHO, people are better off, empirically, not getting married at 21 to the first person that they meet, and they're better off not having extramarital sex, ever.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:58 PM on February 8, 2006


Here's a few more:

"The most sophisticated studies have found that, although cohabitation engenders somewhat more liberal attitudes toward divorce, it does not increase the likelihood of marital disruption."
- "The Determinants of Marriage and Cohabitation Among Disadvantaged Americans: Research Findings and Needs"

"The problem with this research is that it does not adequately account for selection -- people who choose to live together before marriage are not the same people who choose to marry directly. They comprise at least two different groups with different attitudes toward marriage, religion, and relationships in general. ... To attribute premarital cohabitors' higher subsequent divorce rate and non-premarital-cohabitors' lower subsequent divorce rate to the fact that they did and did not cohabit before they married is unwarranted and bad science."
- Family Process, vol. 41, no. 2, 2002

"Claims that individuals who cohabit before marriage hurt their chances of a good marriage pay too little attention to this evidence [research showing that it is likely other factors, not cohabitation, that create the apparent difference in divorce rates]."
- "Families Formed Outside of Marriage"

"The most consistent and strongest predictor of whether a given couple will divorce is not whether or not they cohabited, but the age at which they got married. People who get married younger have significantly higher divorce rates than couples who marry older.
- "Cohabitation and Marital Stability in the United States"
posted by kyrademon at 12:00 AM on February 9, 2006


Frankly, though, I think the whole argument is looking at things from the wrong angle. What the heck is so wrong with divorce? I got a divorce from my abusive spouse and never regretted it. If divorce had less of a stigma to it, maybe more people would do it before they went ahead and had kids.

I've also been happily cohabiting unmarried with my current partner for many years now.
posted by kyrademon at 12:08 AM on February 9, 2006


correlation does not necessitate cause. the end. let em fuck. jesus.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 12:09 AM on February 9, 2006


So preserving marriages is of such categorical importance that it need outweigh all other considerations? Eh.
posted by furiousthought at 12:28 AM on February 9, 2006


JekPorkins, if I was a gambling man I'd say you have been personally affected by this topic somehow. Your comments seem to be coming from your heart not your head. Be that as it may...

I'd like to see the statistics on the group of couples that you say are more likely to stay married and have not had premarital sex, in respect to how many of them cheat on their marriages. The blogger states that if he had not been reckless and gotten caught, it would likely not have ended. If it hadn't ended he would be part of the statistical group that you are touting and slapping the rest of us in the face with "Lot's of studies, can't be denied!" (I paraphrase, of course).

From reading your comments, you seem to be advocating that no one marry until after age 25 and they should not have sex before then either. I think your conviction is admirable, but I also think it is something that you should keep for yourself and not push on the rest of us who actually enjoy their lives before the quarter century mark.

I also believe that if you are going to throw out studies to back up your claims, please cite them. I am not aware of what you are referring to and I feel I am relatively well read and up on such topics.

And notice, I haven't called anyone a bad name!
posted by qwip at 1:00 AM on February 9, 2006


I'm not often outraged, but now I am.

If you outrage over something as tiny and minor as that comment, JekPorkins, then I find that extremely hard to believe.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:56 AM on February 9, 2006


billysumday: the empirical data on this question is in, and there is no room for doubt on the matter.

If there's no room for doubt, then why is the divorce rate so much higher in the Promise-Keeping red states, than it is in the licentious, heathen, free-lovin' blue states?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:36 AM on February 9, 2006


Divorce, shmivorce. I want a wife with some experience under her belt. Why should our first night of bliss instead be one of pain, tears, and humiliation. And I'm just talking about how I would react!
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:45 AM on February 9, 2006


correlation does not necessitate cause.

And divorce isn't necessarily a bad thing.

If the fact that a woman's prior sexual experience or cohabitation record gives some women the confidence to recognize that they don't have to tolerate being in an abusive or unequitable relationship, then that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:45 AM on February 9, 2006


I tell you are all a bunch of LIBERAL FORNICATORS ! I am shocked and amazed that you show so little sensibility on such hot topics.

Why do you hate family so much ? They are built as if they were brick houses on a ideal, a perfect paradigm of love, compassion
and mutual help. You should repress your lustful desire for extramarital sex , because you are letting a temporary satisfaction
ruin the job of the lifetime, the trust you build over time. Don't you think of the children ? They will suffer from your web
of lies and unpredictable behavior, they easily feel when something is wrong in the couple. You shouldn't show that, you should
maintain a poker face for their own good. That traitor and his bitch deserve everything they got because they knew all the time
that something was wrong, that it was not the way things should be done.

*Note* That is just a provocation, all the above advice is likely to make living an hell. Yet there is people that preaches that
and people that think the above is right.
posted by elpapacito at 3:44 AM on February 9, 2006


astro zombie: relax, we know about your laughable weenor.
posted by elpapacito at 4:13 AM on February 9, 2006


Gee, thanks papa. We really needed you to re-frame the current debate so it can become a typical Mefi libruls vs fundies shitfest. Way to stink up a thread.
posted by klarck at 4:17 AM on February 9, 2006


klarck: he was raised in a "conservative" environment a.k.a. the mores of your grandma must be your mores even if some or all of them don't make any more sense or never had any to being with. Plus you should be ashmed of going against the morals and NEVER change or challenge them or you will be an outkast...for no other reason that you challenged them !

That mentality ruins people, fundies or non fundies.
posted by elpapacito at 4:28 AM on February 9, 2006


"hard core christians are less likely to have sex before marriage and less likely to get a divorce when their marriage fails. Is that a surprise to anyone here?" - How are "hard core Christians" defined ?

Let's sharpen things up just a little bit :

"By: Christine Wicker
Date: 2000
Source: The Dallas Morning News

A study saying that born-again Christians divorce more often than non-Christians has raised eyebrows, sowed confusion, even brought on a little holy anger. So much, in fact, that the study's author, evangelical George Barna, put out a special letter to "our partners in ministry" trying to calm their fury and let his fellow believers know that he was standing by his stats no matter how distasteful they might be.

WHO'S GETTING DIVORCED A Barna Research Group survey of 3,854 people found that 25 percent of Americans are, or have been, divorced. Here are the percentages of people in various subgroups who have been divorced:

Definitions: People were classified as "born again" if they said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today and if they answered a multiple-choice question about life after death with "after I die I know I will go to heaven because I have confessed my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my savior." People were classified as evangelical if they met nine theological criteria.

SOURCE: Barna Research Group

The Barna Research Group's national study showed that members of nondenominational churches divorce 34 percent of the time in contrast to 25 percent for the general population. Nondenominational churches would include large numbers of Bible churches and other conservative evangelicals. Baptists had the highest rate of the major denominations: 29 percent. Born-again Christians' rate was 27 percent. To make matters even more distressing for believers, atheists/agnostics had the lowest rate of divorce 21 percent.....

In the six months since the Barna study was released, it has also drawn attacks from academic scholars who suggested that his study might measure differences in economic status, educational level and age of marriage rather than religious conviction. People who marry late, earn high incomes and are well-educated have lower divorce rates, studies show.

But Mr. Barna said that according to his numbers, divorce rates do not seem related to educational achievement or income. His study did not look at age of marriage. What about geographic region, his critics ask? Since nondenominational Protestant and Baptist churches are often located in the South, maybe Barna was merely reporting Southern divorce rates. A recent state-by-state analysis of divorce rates by The Associated Press showed that some Bible Belt states had far more breakups than other states.

But there again, Mr. Barna was ready. His stats showed that divorce was a bit higher in the South but also in the Midwest, both 27 percent, and in the West, 26 percent.......

Some have suggested that the Barna group surveyed a small group of strange people. Not so, the researchers reply. Barna surveys went to a randomly picked group of 3,854 people, enough for conclusions to be valid. Surveyors used regional quotas and did multiple callbacks. Their statistics have an error rate of plus or minus 2 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent. But sociological studies have one more hurdle to jump before serious researchers quote them. They must be backed by other studies. And this study isn't bolstered by others conducted in the 1980s, said Dr. Popenoe, a sociologist. "In general, studies show people who are religious tend to have lower divorce rates, especially if both husband and wife are religious," he said.

Dr. Larry C. Ingram also questioned the Barna numbers and had a caution. "I think we ought to replicate this finding before we panic," said Dr. Ingram, who wrote the entry on Baptists for the Encyclopedia of Religion and Society. "


That last quote made me laugh.
posted by troutfishing at 4:42 AM on February 9, 2006


What was that $h!t written on the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi? Oh yeah.

Know Thyself.

Anyone who doesn't is bound for heartache.

Anyone who tells others that ignorance is a foundation for success, is, like, uh, smokin' it.

"...before we panic." LOL. It will be a great day when statistics shape religious doctrine more than cultural norms that were established more than 2,000 years before scientific thought.
posted by ewkpates at 5:32 AM on February 9, 2006


If two people love each other and are committed to a marriage, they can overcome sexual difficulties.

Ewkpates, my husband was a virgin when I married him. He wasn't ignorant. I was very happy with him from day one.
posted by konolia at 6:01 AM on February 9, 2006


Seems to me that this is the story of someone who was unable to deal with the problems in his marriage within the bounds of his marriage and so found a way out. I feel bad for the kids. And for him as well.

Just when it seemed he was going to learn to stand on his own two feet (trying to be honest with himself about the love he had for the woman he had the affair with, etc.) ... he instead re-casts the events as a crisis of faith, and steps back to the safety and comfort of previous beliefs where he can explain away everything through lack of religion, instead of understanding his personal needs and how to deal with them.
posted by papercake at 6:28 AM on February 9, 2006


Even if the data showed that cohabition before marriage lead to more divorces, there would be types of people for whom this would not be true. You can't just take a study which concludes a result for the average person and declare that it applies to every person.
posted by spira at 6:30 AM on February 9, 2006


Thanks for the link, I quite enjoyed it, and found it both well-written and even handed enough to be worth reading.

Also:
Am I missing something, or does premarital sex =!= cohabitation? The quick condemnation of the idea that people should have sex with each other before marrying by tarring it with (apparently non-existent) studies about cohabitation seems strange. But perhaps I'm missing something.
posted by OmieWise at 7:21 AM on February 9, 2006


Konolia, treasure, yeah, see, poor thinking skills.

He was a virgin, which I thought meant he hadn't "known a woman" in the biblical sense.

Wait, but "he wasn't ignorant". Which means... uh... what?

Lastly - the question is not whether or not you are currently happy with him. The question is... over the course of your marriage will his curiosity regarding sex with other people ever be, acted on or not, something which contributes to your collective unhappiness?

You can't answer questions about the future. You don't know what will happen. My point is, he was ignorant when you married him. If you are lucky, he'll stay that way (in a sense).

I read this book once, called, like, "the Bible." In this book, there's this couple that live in a garden. They are so totally ignorant! But they like get all curious about this knowledge and stuff. They are so curious that they get into trouble.

Could be a clever insightful commentary on human nature. Who knows? Ignorance has worked so well for us so far...
posted by ewkpates at 7:31 AM on February 9, 2006


The quick condemnation of the idea that people should have sex with each other before marrying by tarring it with (apparently non-existent) studies about cohabitation seems strange.

It isn't strange if you factor in religiosity. I am not attacking religion, merely stating that this "no sex before marriage" thing is basically dogmatic / boilerplate "One must not do x".

Disagreeing with it does seem to cause a pretty strong (almost knee-jerk) reaction though, and my sense is that this feeling is so visceral that people feel a need to defend it using any means possible, including "a kajillion studies over 827567826 years that show. . . what everyone knows already, and I don't have to provide to back up my assertions."

I even took the time to do a little research and apologized to my intellectually lazy detractor upthread; he's right that there is a statistically significant difference in divorce rates between those that have co-habited and those that haven't-- but really, the difference is negligible when viewed alongside other variables, and certainly isn't the most influential variable, as he stated.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:16 AM on February 9, 2006


My very religious parents didn't live together before marriage and have now been married over 40 years. They rarely talk and don't even sleep in the same room. But they're still married. They have both said, independently, that they are just hanging out, waiting for death, when they can each go to heaven and everything will be great. But they're still married.

There are worse things than divorce.

/ Also, fuck you fucking fucktard, I'm fucking right, you're fucking wrong, you fucking idiot fuck you.
posted by LordSludge at 8:51 AM on February 9, 2006


peeping_Thomist: Everyone reading this knows, of course, that marriages between people who cohabit are more, rather than less, likely to end in divorce. Right? Everyone knows that, right? It's not even close.

And cohabitation has exactly what to do with premarital sex? (BTW, the average birth of a first child as recorded in church records in Puritan New England was about 6 months after marriage.)

When I said I'd like to hear from you in ten years, I didn't at all have in mind the idea of a failed marriage, but rather that you, in a successful marriage, would have insight into why your current views are, well, naive.

Well, after 12 years of a successful marriage, I don't regret my earlier relationships, nor do I regret the fact that my partner and I had sex on the second date. And yes, we had both cohabitated with previous partners as well. I've even had sex with both men and women. So I've heard it from all sides regarding my ability to maintain stable and happy relationships.

As if cohabiting is going to be some kind of insurance against the temptation to have an affair! As I said at the outset: idiots! Do you _seriously_ think you are less likely to have an affair if you have premarital sex? There is literally zero empirical evidence to support that claim.

I suspect that there are quite a few more important factors involved than cohabitation or premarital sex.

exlotuseater: I don't see that correlation as unreasonable. People who have strong taboos against premarital sex also have strong taboos against divorce and remarriage.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:16 AM on February 9, 2006


Both sets of my grandparents have been together for 50 & 56 years without a marriage license, so that's a lot of pre-marital sex & cohabitating goin' on. One set believes in god, but not religion the other are athiests, both sets are very happy with each other. My biological parents have lived together for 25 years, 5 before government licensing, and 20 thereafter. They don't believe in god, they're quite in love with each other. My great uncle was with his same sex partner for 62 years, 'til death did part them, this was a very happy relationship, both were agnostic. My boyfriend's parents have been together for 22 years, are born again christians and haven't slept in the same bed for 15 years. They live in a house big enough that they have his and hers wings and go for months without speaking face to face, one of them had an affair with a married person from their church, their son and daughter are pretty screwed up. But they're still officially married & that's what counts, right?

Even if the data showed that cohabition before marriage lead to more divorces, there would be types of people for whom this would not be true. You can't just take a study which concludes a result for the average person and declare that it applies to every person.

That about sums it up. So does the "know thy self" comment made earlier in the thread.
posted by zarah at 9:37 AM on February 9, 2006


My very religious parents didn't live together before marriage and have now been married over 40 years. They rarely talk and don't even sleep in the same room. But they're still married.

Clearly, if they had had sex before they got married, they would now sleep in the same room and talk all the time. *tears hair out*
posted by JekPorkins at 9:41 AM on February 9, 2006


papercake said what I was feeling, but was not able to articulate, when I read this story.
posted by jayder at 9:41 AM on February 9, 2006


JekPorkins: Clearly, if they had had sex before they got married, they would now sleep in the same room and talk all the time. *tears hair out*

Exactly who is making this claim?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:49 AM on February 9, 2006


JekPorkins, you're missing the entire point. Maybe they WOULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN MARRIED IN THE FIRST PLACE.
posted by kyrademon at 9:51 AM on February 9, 2006


JekPorkins:

1. I said nothing about sex before marriage, but okay let's add that to the mix, as it appears to be your dog in this fight.
2. If they'd shared a bed and home before marriage, they may well have never gotten married in the first place. Test drive, no thanks I'll pass, richer for the experience, hopefully meet somebody more compatible.
3. Most importantly, if they weren't so constrained by the same ruleset of taboos that prohibited "co-habitation", pre-marital sex, divorce, and re-marriage, perhaps they could move on and seek happier relationships. (But, no, death + heaven sounds pretty spiffy...)
posted by LordSludge at 9:53 AM on February 9, 2006


kyrademon: I suspect the point is that you can't always predict the long-term health of a relationship by such things as pre-marital cohabitation or sexual activity.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:53 AM on February 9, 2006


what kirkjobsluder just said.
posted by JekPorkins at 9:57 AM on February 9, 2006


Heartfelt. Good reading. Good post.

Still, I think the guy is a pussy.
Seems to me he has very little sense of identity. If he had any character he would have talked about it to his wife. Worst case scenario he’d get divorced. Which is a shame, but not as bad as having an affair.
I suppose you can’t pick your background, it’s nice to see he’s learning.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:04 AM on February 9, 2006


LordSludge: I disagree. I'm certainly happy that L. and I became sexually active early in our relationship. But a couple's sexuality can change over time, and there are frequently some major curve balls life will throw at you that you can't predict during the "test drive" period.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:04 AM on February 9, 2006


KirkJobSluder - I wasn't necessarily saying I agreed with the statement, simply that I thought JekPorkins was misinterpreting it.

I'm personally sitting in the "why, exactly, is divorce such a problem?" camp here. For that matter (and speaking as someone whose spouse had a long-term affair), I also think affairs, while they can be extremely painful at the time, are generally viewed as being far worse things than they actually are.

So, that makes me not really care that much whether couples screw happily for years and then break up, or never touch each other and stay together forever, or vice versa, as long as they end up happy with their choices ... who cares?
posted by kyrademon at 10:16 AM on February 9, 2006


In that instance JekPorkins I believe the poster was saying that a non-religious couple would be more likely to divorce and that this is a bad thing. The religious couple will stay together regardless which is great for statiscally proving marriages last if you withhold nookie beforehand, but not a very good predictor for marital happiness.

Basically - which would you rather have; happy individuals or an unhappy couple?
posted by longbaugh at 10:26 AM on February 9, 2006


on preview - Kyrademon wins the cleverness lottery and shows me for the fool I am.
posted by longbaugh at 10:27 AM on February 9, 2006


peeping_Thomist: I call bullshit. The chance of an affair occuring is not solely predicated on whether or not pre-marital sex was involved.

Also, a friendly sociology prof tells me you're full of it. I smell "eau d'Agenda."
posted by illiad at 10:54 AM on February 9, 2006


Jek, I like how you get all mad when someone guesses your reaction to a topic based on your religious views, but oh ho ho - turns out those guesses are correct. It's okay to say that you don't like pre-marital sex because of your faith and not based on any logical reasoning. :)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2006


It's okay to say that you don't like pre-marital sex because of your faith and not based on any logical reasoning. :)

But that wouldn't be true, so why would I say it?
posted by JekPorkins at 11:23 AM on February 9, 2006


Because you haven't given any rationale for your view that pre-marital sex is harmful to relationships.

IMHO, people are better off, empirically, not getting married at 21 to the first person that they meet, and they're better off not having extramarital sex, ever.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:58 PM PST on February 8


Even humble opinions should be backed up by reason.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:46 AM on February 9, 2006


It's a fairly well written piece and I think provides some insight into the thought processes that go on in a man's mind to try and justify his behaviour after an affair. Unfortunately, the insight that is presented just shows how ill-prepared and delusional most western people are when they enter into what they believe will be a partnership for life. Most people wouldn't open a bank account or join a gym without doing more research than they do in selecting a spouse [Oh, that's a nice bank, very shiny work surfaces, and what a nice clock they have, and they're so polite, every time I come in I really feel valued, I think I'll sign up an account with them for the next 50 years ...]

People should realise that the first flush of love doesn't last for ever and that they should look forward to what comes after - it is probably such maturity that suggests waiting before getting married.
posted by daveg at 11:57 AM on February 9, 2006


I'm sure this won't get read because it's so far down the page, but my wife and I stayed virgins until we got married and after being married for 4 years (not that long, I know) we still believe that there is something you really rob from yourself if you have extramarital sex. The argument from the other side tends to be "you'll never know what it's like with any other woman" -- but the argument on the side of those who wait is : "You'll never know what it's like to give *all* of yourself sexually to one and only one person and what bond that creates that someone who *has* had sex with someone else cannot have to the same degree."

It's such a huge thing, but it doesn't make sense to this culture. Oh well.... honestly, I think the rest of the culture is missing out, and that's not just because I did it this way.

We'll see if I still think all these same thoughts in say, 10 years.
posted by psychotic_venom at 2:42 PM on February 9, 2006


Frankly, psychotic_venom, your argument doesn't make any sense to me, but if it works for you, that's great!

I'm coming at this from a polyamorous perspective, so I think most everybody is nuts anyway. :)
posted by kyrademon at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2006


Oh, I wouldn't tell anybody they shouldn't remain a virgin until they're married.

Unless, of course, I find them hot.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:28 PM on February 9, 2006


psychotic_venom: The argument from the other side tends to be "you'll never know what it's like with any other woman" -- but the argument on the side of those who wait is : "You'll never know what it's like to give *all* of yourself sexually to one and only one person and what bond that creates that someone who *has* had sex with someone else cannot have to the same degree."

It just astounds me that one cannot make an argument for the way you live your life, without making some pretty insulting and IMNSHO, profoundly unwarranted claims about the bond that I've created with my partner over the last 12 years. I don't know you from Adam, what the heck gives you the bloody gall to make claims about what L. and I have or cannot have have?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:07 PM on February 9, 2006


illiad: I overstated my position when I said that "if you want to fuck up your chances for a successful marriage, the best thing you can do is have sex before marriage". Obviously there are a lot of other things you could do that would be more likely to cause marriage problems. E.g., if you have serious drug or alcohol problems, you'll probably have problems when you get married. My point, which I agree I overstated, is that premarital sex does not tend to promote successful marriages. That's not something about which there's disagreement. There literally have been thousands of studies on this.

Anyway, the reason we're talking about this is that some people were hijacking this thread to make it about this poor guy not having had sex with his wife before marriage. That really is an idiotic reading of the story we're supposedly discussing.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:18 PM on February 9, 2006


I'm amazed that people read that account and only got out of it that you shouldn't get married to young or be a virgin when you do. That's not the conclusion he came up with as to why his relationship failed, nor, will I think you find a study anywhere that will validate that line of reasoning.

His affair happened because he focussed on what wasn't there, and that magnified in his experience, and he started to fantasize about getting what he wanted elsewhere. Lather rinse repeat.

then he met the perfect storm, Hurricane Linda.
posted by prodigalsun at 5:28 PM on February 9, 2006


prodigalsun: "His affair happened because he focussed on what wasn't there, and that magnified in his experience, and he started to fantasize about getting what he wanted elsewhere."

That's exactly right. And the same process that led to him having an affair can happen in any marriage, whatever the age at which they married and whether or not there was premarital sex involved. However much or little "research" you do before you get married, however great a fit you think the two of you are, eventually there will be aspects to the relationship that are to some extent unsatisfying. And at that point you either go down the path this guy's blog describes, or you get to work improving your marriage.

I've known tons of people who have cohabited for years before they married, and then divorced just a few years after they married. I've known lots of people who married very young, had unrealistic expectations, and didn't last very long. I've known people who waited to marry, and by the time they did marry, they were so set in their ways, and more importantly used to not having to consult with anyone about how to arrange their lives, that the marriage did not last very long, or devolved into a kind of partnership of people who share expenses and sometimes a bed and that's about it. I've known people who were virgins before they married who, like this guy, ended up having affairs.

Nothing you do before you marry is going to guarantee a happy marriage. Getting married before you're mature enough is correlated with unhappy marriages, as is cohabiting and premarital sex, but those are just tendencies. (As is the tendency of people whose parents divorced being more likely to divorce.)

One thing we haven't talked about in this guy's story is just how imprudent he was in the weeks and months before the affair started. He talks about there being a "line", and talks about his crossing over the line. But the fact is that he was messing up his marriage long before he "crossed" that line. Married men don't have any business pursuing intimate friendships (the sort that can turn into affairs) with other women. I'm not saying you can't ever have female friends, but there has to be a reserve there that keeps in place the appropriate barriers to having the relationship go in that direction. This guy set things up so that, by the time he got near what he calls "the line", he was already disposed in such a way that he could not realistically keep himself from crossing over it.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:11 PM on February 9, 2006


peeping_Thomist, I was totally with you on your last post until you got to:

"Married men don't have any business pursuing intimate friendships (the sort that can turn into affairs) with other women"

Couldn't disagree more.

I will admit my attitude comes in part from being in a relationship where sleeping with other people is considered OK. And also, perhaps, because I am bisexual, which means your dictum essentially states that I can never have close friends except for one chosen partner.

If that is the cost of a marriage, I think it is too high, at least for me. I am glad mine does not come with such a price tag.
posted by kyrademon at 6:52 PM on February 9, 2006


kyrademon: I will admit my attitude comes in part from being in a relationship where sleeping with other people is considered OK.

I guess that would significantly affect one's attitude!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:12 PM on February 9, 2006


There literally have been thousands of studies on this.

And there have been literally millions of studies on people referring to vague and imaginary studies that support their argument.

peeping_Thomist, as the others have said, please, back up your claims with hard data. So far, what I've seen posted in this thread is that the studies go either way. And you haven't posted a single source to back up what you're espousing. Surely if there were thousands of studies, you should easily be able to track ONE down.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:09 PM on February 9, 2006


I'm just astounded that:

1) So many people think "cohabitation" and "extramarital sex" are synonyms. They aren't.

and

2) Some people think that correlation always indicates causation. It doesn't.

But props to the people who have noticed and pointed the two out.

psychotic_venom: "You'll never know what it's like to give *all* of yourself sexually to one and only one person and what bond that creates that someone who *has* had sex with someone else cannot have to the same degree."

Before I say this, I should point out that I'm happy for you, and don't mean to bag you or anything, but: you are making a big assumption that "someone else cannot have to the same degree". I could say, equally without foundation, that you, psychotic_venom, will "never know what it's like to give *all* of yourself sexually to more than one person and then give it all up except for one single person, and what bond that creates that someone who has *only* had sex with one person cannot have to the same degree."

Sure, that may seem nonsensical, but that's what your statement seems like to me (again, not that I think premarital sex is better than no premarital sex, just that "I, who do A, have experienced B, which is something that people who C will never experience" could just as logically be countered with "I, who do C, have experienced D, which is something that people who A will never experience")

prodigalsun: I'm amazed that people read that account and only got out of it that you shouldn't get married to young or be a virgin when you do.

Er, who are these people who only got that out of it? There's plenty of people who are discussing that topic, but that's because it's an interesting topic. I'm not getting the impression, however, that there is anyone here who only got that out of it.
posted by Bugbread at 9:16 PM on February 9, 2006


Oh yeah?! Well, my anecdotal evidence is better than your anecdotal evidence! And those who eat their cake will never know what it's like to never eat their cake, while those who never eat their cake, will never know what it tastes like. So there!
posted by JekPorkins at 9:23 PM on February 9, 2006


peeping_Thomist, as the others have said, please, back up your claims with hard data. So far, what I've seen posted in this thread is that the studies go either way.

And, note, again, that the claim is that there are studies that show that people who cohabit divorce more than people who don't cohabit. The claim is not that cohabitation makes one more likely to divorce. By the same token, I could easily commission a study that shows that people named Jesus speak Spanish better than people named Englebert. That does not mean that if you name your kid "Jesus" that he will be a fluent Spanish speaker. Correlation does not necessarily indicate causation, so "thousands of studies indicating that couples who cohabit are more likely to divorce" still doesn't indicate that "cohabiting makes couples more likely to divorce".
posted by Bugbread at 9:23 PM on February 9, 2006


JekPorkins: Well, pretty much, exactly. The "I've never had sex with other people, and there's a special feeling in that which people who have had sex with other people can never feel" type of statement sounds to me pretty much the same as "I've only had chocolate cake in my life, and you people who've had chocolate cake, angel's food cake, strawberry shortcake, and other cakes will never know the special feeling that comes from only having tasted one kind of cake."

That sounds silly, right?
posted by Bugbread at 9:26 PM on February 9, 2006


After reading the blog and then reading everyone's comments here, I really think the issue at hand is that you shouldn't keep yourself tied to a sexually unsatisfying relationship. It was unreasonable for those two to stay married forever when a huge part of their relationship was going nowhere.

Now, some of you may argue that bad sex isn't important enough to end a relationship and I would counter that you likely don't give a lot of stock to a good healthy sex life - or at least a compatible sex life. If this guy and his wife both were OK with having a mediocre sex life, then he wouldn't be where he was. I am of course including the emotional component of a sexual relationship as well. He felt extremely unfulfilled. We don't really know what she was feeling.

Now, there is a lot of debate as to whether or not having had previous partners or at least having slept with your future mate would have helped these two out. I am of the belief that it would have. It likely would have been clear that they had different ideas about their own sexuality and expression. Regardless, it all comes down to the fact that if either partner becomes unfulfilled, their is going to be either cheating, depression, resentment, or all of those things. I personally think it is reckless to commit to a life long relationship without knowing if you are sexually compatible.

I married for the second time when I was 39 and my wife and I both feel that we are better partners and better lovers because of all our previous relationships. It was easy to know what was important after finding out what was missing in the past relationships. We doubt that we would be as good for each other without having both experienced our separate lives the way that we did.

If there are people here who took a shot and found the exact right person on the first go, I applaud them. I wasn't able to know that kind of stuff before being in a relationship. I also know that my current marriage takes little effort to make blissful. I can't say that for my first marriage (which was also one of my first serious relationships). I suppose I could have ultimately made my first marriage work, but why? It was always a chore and it would have sucked the life out of me if I kept at it. But I learned so much, I don't regret a minute of it.

As to psychotic_venom: The argument from the other side tends to be "you'll never know what it's like with any other woman" -- but the argument on the side of those who wait is : "You'll never know what it's like to give *all* of yourself sexually to one and only one person and what bond that creates that someone who *has* had sex with someone else cannot have to the same degree."

I don't think you can honestly make that assumption. Since by your own admission you haven't experienced anything else, you have no idea if it could be better in a subsequent relationship. I believe you feel it is as good as it can get, and I am very happy for you. But you just honestly can't predict how good it could be if you both had other relationships as well. You just might find that having experimented a little and then giving your remaining "all" to just one person is even more blissful. Who knows? I just think it is reckless for you to judge before having any understanding of the alternative at all. Cast the first stone and all that...
posted by qwip at 9:29 PM on February 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm backing myself into phrasing that doesn't reflect what I really believe or am trying to say.

psychotic_venom, when I say that what you said seems silly to some people, I don't mean to say it's wrong. Maybe there is a feeling that single-sex-partner-till-now people feel that multiple-sex-partners-till-now people don't feel. I just mean that: since you've not experienced what they've felt, and they haven't experienced what you've felt, that there's no way to state that as fact.

Also, keep in mind that anyone who was a gullible young-un and believed that they'd grow up and marry the first person they had sex with has also felt that feeling, so a lot of people who have had multiple sex partners may have experienced that "giving yourself to only one person" thing, as, until they had a second sex partner, they had in fact only given themselves to one person.

Also, the guy who committed adultery also felt that "giving yourself to only one person" thing up until the point where he had his affair, so, as wondrous as the feeling may be, it apparently isn't wondrous enough to prevent everyone from giving the feeling up in exchange for the experience of a second sexual partner.
posted by Bugbread at 9:42 PM on February 9, 2006


who are these people who only got that out of it? There's plenty of people who are discussing that topic, but that's because it's an interesting topic. I'm not getting the impression, however, that there is anyone here who only got that out of it.
posted by bugbread


Thanks. Evidently there are those around here who think that discussing one particular facet of a situation = hijacking, and prefer to act as arbiters of what's 'important' or 'what this is all about'.

There are other conclusions that I have drawn from reading both the blog and the comments here; thanks to those that commented in a level-headed and polite manner.

I could not agree more that he shouldn't have put himself in a situation [that is, letting it get that far...] where he was clearly going to cheat on his wife- but I also think that, as I pointed out earlier, they were probably doomed from the start.

posted by exlotuseater at 10:01 PM on February 9, 2006


qwip: If there are people here who took a shot and found the exact right person on the first go,

I think it's an illusion to imagine that there is such a thing as "the exact right person", and hence a mistake to think (what seems to follow) that one is therefore justified in abandoning a marriage because one "discovers" that one's partner is not "the exact right person". That kind of thinking almost guarantees that at some point in the future you will "discover" that the new person is not, after all, "the exact right person". As I see it, none of us is the exact right person for anyone else, and no one else is the exact right person for any of us. It's great that right now your marriage is blissful with minimal effort, but there may come times when it will require more than minimal effort, and if you leave yourself the option of "discovering" that this new wife really isn't "the exact right person" for you, how will you rationally decide whether it makes better sense to put in more effort rather than to "discover", as you did with your first wife, that she wasn't the person you thought she was? (I'm not directing this at you personally, but just at people generally who have left one spouse after "discovering" they weren't the "right" person, and then moved on to another spouse believing that now they have found the "right" person.)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:20 PM on February 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


exlotuseater: they were probably doomed from the start

I don't see what in the narrative supports this idea. If you only mean that they had issues from the beginning that had the potential to develop in ways leading to divorce, I agree, but that's true for every married couple I have ever had personal knowledge of, or even heard of. What I'm missing is the evidence for inevitability (or "doom") that you seem to see.

You said first post in this thread that you didn't think they could have moved toward consensus and compromise. Why not? It's not as though one has to sleep around in order to learn how to communicate with one's spouse.

This couple had three children. Their sex life, never great to begin with, really started to rankle him. Instead of taking stock of his actual situation and working with his wife to figure out how to make it better, he started fantasizing about something completely unreal. The narrative of the blog describes nothing to suggest that that bad choice was in any way inevitable, or that the marriage would have failed if he hadn't made that bad choice.

So far this thread has not said much about his children. He and his wife had three of them. Divorce does real damage to children. (This, like the correlation between cohabitation and divorce, is not something about which there's a lack of studies. Right now the party line for defenders of divorce is that, yes, divorce is bad for children, but it's not as bad as critics say, and bad marriages, though not as bad for children as divorce, are also bad for children.) So far our discussion has been about a man in an unhappy marriage whose eye wanders. But it's a story about a man who has started a family with his wife and now has three children, who then goes on to betray his children by betraying their mother. Because all he can see is that his needs aren't being met. When you start having children, you give up the right to make your needs your central concern.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:42 PM on February 9, 2006


qwip: After reading the blog and then reading everyone's comments here, I really think the issue at hand is that you shouldn't keep yourself tied to a sexually unsatisfying relationship. It was unreasonable for those two to stay married forever when a huge part of their relationship was going nowhere.

I think there was quite a bit more going on than just "sexually unsatisfying relationship."

And lets be entirely realistic here. Most people at some part of their lifespan are going to run into medical, psychological, time or financial issues that will make it difficult to create "sexual satisfaction." Some of my great-grandparents were separated for months or years at a time due to the great depression, and my maternal grandparents carried on a very intense love affair separated by the Battle of the Atlantic. So I tend to look at the pop psychology notion of long term relationships as centered around passionate nookie three times a week for the next 50 years to be rather nuts.

kyrademon: And also, perhaps, because I am bisexual, which means your dictum essentially states that I can never have close friends except for one chosen partner.

Good point, should I, like, limit my intimate friendships to inanimate objects or plants? I have a nice winter squash in the cupboard that might make a good confidant. But the corn has ears, and I don't trust it to be discrete.

bugbread: Maybe there is a feeling that single-sex-partner-till-now people feel that multiple-sex-partners-till-now people don't feel. I just mean that: since you've not experienced what they've felt, and they haven't experienced what you've felt, that there's no way to state that as fact.

I think you are being much too polite here. I've been around the block around this rhetoric enough to know that what is really being said is, "your relationship isn't as valuable as my relationship because...." And for some reason, I'm not feeling charitable this time around. We've navigated enough sickness and poorer over the last 12 years to not have to deal with this shit.

peeping_Thomist: The narrative of the blog describes nothing to suggest that that bad choice was in any way inevitable, or that the marriage would have failed if he hadn't made that bad choice.

I think this is a great observation. In addition, he suggests that the marriage could have been salvaged after the affair was revealed. I think that if it was a dead-end relationship, two years would have been enough time to express profound relief at having the affair as an escape hatch.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:26 PM on February 9, 2006


peeping_Thomist,

Fair points, and fairly agreed, but I suspect that not many people have said much about the children because most people pretty much agree that cheating on your wife and getting divorced has a bad effect on kids, so there isn't much to discuss. At least, that's the way I'm interpreting the silence on the issue.

Regarding the party line of defenders of divorce: well, from what I can tell, the Divorce Party generally doesn't assume that all marriages include kids, so there isn't really an official Party Line. Besides, it really depends what type and what level of "badness" in the marriage we're talking about. Irreconciliable musical tastes? Better for the kids to stay in the bad marriage then suffer a divorce. Dad's hobby is drilling holes in mom's forearms and rubbing vinegar into them? Better for the kids to suffer a divorce than stay in a bad marriage.

I guess I just don't see there as being much of a party line when it comes to which is worse, bad marriage or bad divorce. Too many variables.
posted by Bugbread at 11:27 PM on February 9, 2006


peeping_Thomist: I think it's an illusion to imagine that there is such a thing as "the exact right person"

I think you are right. The point I should have made is it is easier to discern the "exact wrong" person. There are lots of shades of right, and you can enjoy all of them differently. But all the wrong ones should be cut loose, even though I suppose you could enjoy all the many facets of wrong too - but who'd want to?

KirkJobSluder : I think there was quite a bit more going on than just "sexually unsatisfying relationship."

Agreed. That's why I included the point about the emotional component as well. These two were emotionally distant and sexually incompatible. If we take his account to be accurate, then his wife was not comfortable changing her feelings and actions regarding their sex life. She would always fall back to not enjoying it and doing it as a "duty". Add to that her lack of emotional support. These two were beating a dead horse and passive-aggressively attacking each other. From that standpoint, it was probably best that they divorced - for the children. Kids don't need to grow up in that kind of environment. Sounds like they have a chance at a healthy dynamic with both parents now (then if they stayed married). The issue I have with this guy is that he should have ended his marriage and then pursued his happiness. He was a jerk for wanting his cake and eating it too. I see how he got there, but that to me was the big mistake.
posted by qwip at 12:31 AM on February 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist: You said first post in this thread that you didn't think they could have moved toward consensus and compromise. Why not? It's not as though one has to sleep around in order to learn how to communicate with one's spouse.

Please understand that I am in no way suggesting that his cheating was anything but reprehensible, esp. given the existence of children.

This 'bad choice' that he made wasn't inevitable-- but the tone, coupled with things like "At some point, we had stopped loving our spouses..." and "a few times when Anne tried to be sexually creative. . . .not because she had any personal interest in experiencing a kind of intimacy that was more pleasurable for both of us", gives me a sense that even therapy couldn't fix the relationship- I certainly could be wrong.

Sounds like the communication could have been better, but it sounds like there were fundamental differences in their expectations.

They would've been better off either having a better idea of what each wanted, or never having married in the first place.
posted by exlotuseater at 1:28 AM on February 10, 2006


Hmmm...well, I guess it sounds to me like Ann was trying to spice things up...but he wasn't really trying to meet her halfway. Instead, he turned away and put his energies into finding what was missing in the relationship.

"Sure, she brought in the kiddy pool and the midget, but she didn't really seem to enjoy it."

It all comes down to what is important to you. In the end, for this guy, it doesn't seem that sex was the be all and end all, and he knows where he went off course. It starts with a thought. What we focus on expands in our lives. If he had focussed on what was working, what he did appreciate, where they did connect, that would have expanded.
posted by prodigalsun at 6:22 AM on February 10, 2006


Here's a far simpler explanation that doesn't need studies or faith or anecdotal evidence: he's an asshole.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:16 AM on February 10, 2006


prodigalsun: What we focus on expands in our lives. If he had focussed on what was working, what he did appreciate, where they did connect, that would have expanded.

I agree, and it seemed clear to me that this was the main thing the guy's blog was trying to say. That's why I responded so harshly when people immediately took this story as an opportunity to say that their marriage would have been better if they'd slept together before marriage. The problem of not focusing on the appropriate aspects of your marriage is something that absolutely anyone can fall into. Premarital sex is no guarantee against it, and the fact that people who have premarital sex divorce more than people who don't should be pretty conclusive evidence of that fact.

Some people seem to think that if you do enough "homework" before you get married, your marriage won't encounter serious strains later on. That really is idiotic. KirkJobSluder does a great service by pointing out that completely external influences can and traditionally have put strain on a marriage. It really seems that large numbers of people have lost a notion of marriage that would be able to sustain a relationship through such hard times (war, economic catastrophes, etc) as most people in most places and at most times have had to deal with. I wonder what the people on this board who've said the things I called idiotic would have done if they were married during the Great Depression and had to be away from their families for years at a time. Nothing I've heard suggests that they would have the wherewithal to make it through such difficulties.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:29 AM on February 10, 2006


I must idly wonder, though, peeping_Thomist, why the loss of that notion is necessarily a bad thing. If neither person *wants* to sustain their marriage through being away for years at a time, why is that so awful?
posted by kyrademon at 9:23 AM on February 10, 2006


kyrademon: If neither person *wants* to sustain their marriage through being away for years at a time, why is that so awful?

Assuming there are no kids involved, perhaps nothing is wrong with it. But the social point of the institution of marriage has to do with safeguarding children. Children have a deep psychological need to see themselves as coming from the special love between a particular man and a particular woman who, for the child, stand as representatives of what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman. If you've ever been in the home of a family that has lost the father due to illness or war, you notice that the father is still a presence in the home. The child knows that his own existence is rooted in the permanent ("til death do us part") bond between those two people. This is true even when the widow remarries. Divorce undermines that.

Marriage is not primarily about what the two people want. That may be what brings them together in the first place, but the reason marriage exists as an institution, and why society has an interest in preserving that institution (as opposed to having it be a completely private matter), has to do with the needs of children, and the requirements for a society to keep itself in existence.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:10 AM on February 10, 2006


Children have a deep psychological need to see themselves as coming from the special love between a particular man and a particular woman who, for the child, stand as representatives of what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman.

How do you feel about the gays?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:47 AM on February 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist, I suspect your views are far to influenced by the particular society in which you live, and not so much by eternal verities. Children weren't raised by two parents for a good portion of human history, and in many parts of the earth, they still are not.
posted by kyrademon at 11:21 AM on February 10, 2006


I like cake.
posted by illiad at 1:09 PM on February 10, 2006


Children weren't raised by two parents for a good portion of human history, and in many parts of the earth, they still are not.

Which really says nothing about whether they ought to be raised by two parents. People have done a lot of dumb and ineffective things for a good portion of human history, and in many parts of the earth, they still do.
posted by JekPorkins at 1:35 PM on February 10, 2006


But that fact does, however, make me question whether there is a "deep psychological need" for children to be raised by two parents, one male and one female. There's a deep psychological need instinctively implanted in the depths of the human psyche for something which has only been going on for a few hundred years?
posted by kyrademon at 1:51 PM on February 10, 2006


peeping_Thomist, after reading your recent posts, I must say that I'm pretty impressed by your complete refusal to listen to anything that other people who don't agree with you are saying.
posted by billysumday at 5:50 PM on February 10, 2006


Children have a deep psychological need to see themselves as coming from the special love between a particular man and a particular woman who, for the child, stand as representatives of what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman.

I suspect that what is probably true, peeping_Thomist, is that you have a deep psychological need to see yourself as coming from the special love between a particular man and a particular woman. In other words, it sounds like a personal problem. But if that's what works for you, more power to you.

I would bet that there is no scientific or sociological study you can point to that would bear that out. What children have a deep psychological need for, as far as I have been able to determine (both having been a child, and having had a child), is love. Deep, unconditional, consistent love. Discipline, kindness, and consistency are important, too, but one could argue that those are the natural extension of parental love.

That love could come from divorced parents who are mature enough to remain friends and put their children's needs first, even though they realize that living in the same house is no longer in either of their best interests. That love could come from the new spouses of divorced parents. That love could come from a single parent, or a gay couple, or grandparents, or adoptive parents. I don't believe for a minute that any child has a "deep psychological need" to see him or herself as coming from "the special love between a particular man and a particular woman."

Children need to feel that they are loved, period. Everything else is highly individual and varies from child to child, even within the same family.

And JekPorkins, just because children haven't always been raised by two parents (one of each sex) doesn't make it all right, but it doesn't necessarily make it wrong, either. I find it sad and disturbing that American society insists on a single best (or even only) way to raise a child. I think there's plenty of evidence that the traditional nuclear family doesn't guarantee happy children.
posted by jenii at 6:44 PM on February 10, 2006


That's why I responded so harshly when people immediately took this story as an opportunity to say that their marriage would have been better if they'd slept together before marriage.

Who said that? Someone may have, and I may have overlooked it, but from what I remember of the comments above, nobody said (or implied) that the marriage would have been better if they'd slept together before marriage, they're saying (or implying) that the marriage wouldn't have happened in the first place if they'd slept together before marriage.
posted by Bugbread at 7:02 PM on February 10, 2006


kyrademon: when I described the deep psychological need that children have, I wasn't assuming monogamy. There are lots of societies that have polygamous arrangements. I haven't here been assuming the superiority of monogamy over polygamy. I've been arguing that there need to be stable relations between parents, which is true.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:03 AM on February 11, 2006


they're saying (or implying) that the marriage wouldn't have happened in the first place if they'd slept together before marriage.

Bingo.
posted by quantumetric at 3:55 PM on February 11, 2006


quantumetric: so then why do people who sleep together before marriage divorce at a higher rate than people who don't? If sleeping together before is such a great way of avoiding unhappy marriages, why do more people who sleep together get divorced?
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:23 AM on February 12, 2006


My guess is that [as a few pointed out upthread] those people who are willing to have sex pre-marriage are also more predisposed to terminating a bad marriage-- those find pre-marital sex unacceptable also find divorce unacceptable, and are more willing to either try to stick it out, or just suffer quietly. I don't think that one can define neat lines of why this is so, but I'd bet that it has a lot to do with religious background. [The difference is only a few percentage points anyway- statistically significant- that is to say, measurable, but negligible when it comes to applying it to real people's individual situations.]
posted by exlotuseater at 11:10 AM on February 12, 2006


quantumetric: so then why do people who sleep together before marriage divorce at a higher rate than people who don't? If sleeping together before is such a great way of avoiding unhappy marriages, why do more people who sleep together get divorced?

Because getting divorced is the second-best way to avoid an unhappy marriage.
posted by kindall at 12:11 PM on February 12, 2006


so then why do people who sleep together before marriage divorce at a higher rate than people who don't? If sleeping together before is such a great way of avoiding unhappy marriages, why do more people who sleep together get divorced?

peeping, I think you are stuck on equating staying married as being the same as staying happily married. The difference in divorce rates are not large enough to be making the case you are making and their seems to be some strong anecdotal evidence that most of those who do not sleep with someone before marriage are strongly religious. These same people would likely stay married in a dead relationship more so than someone who does not have these same convictions.

So, the case you have made is that you should stay a virgin, marry, and then suck it up for the rest of your life if it is incompatible. I'm sure there are a huge number of religious folk who share the same point of view. I don't know that that is something to strive for or be envious of (staying in a bad relationship to avoid divorce). Certainly there are plenty of people who follow this tack and have great marriages, but it really is not apples to apples to compare divorce rates when not including the happiness of the marriages that avoid divorce.
posted by qwip at 3:04 PM on February 12, 2006


qwip: it really is not apples to apples to compare divorce rates when not including the happiness of the marriages that avoid divorce.

Happiness is a hard thing to measure. Just like most parts of life, most marriages have good aspects and bad aspects. People who commit to marriage only on the condition that they remain "happy" are less likely to stick with the relationship long enough to figure out how to make the relationship work. My view is that as soon as you have kids, you don't have the option, morally, of breaking up the marriage in pursuit of happiness. (To escape physical and other kinds of abuse, yes, but that's another question. The guy who wrote this story basically strayed because he and his wife didn't have the sex life that he somehow felt entitlted to. He's an asshole.)
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:54 AM on February 13, 2006


peeping: Now you are making a case that people should remain married "for the sake of the children". But what if that is the worst thing possible for the kids? You are equating children of a bad marriage as better off than children of a divorce. That is patently wrong. What is best for the kids should be whatever is best for the kids. It is wrong to assume that staying married would be best for anyone. It might be, but it might not be.

I agree that people should attempt to fix bad marriages, especially those with kids, before divorcing. Divorce should never be held off *just* because there are children. But as many people have pointed out, the best way to avoid getting yourself into this situation is by getting as much information up front as you can before you marry and especially before having children.

And I again have to point out that even having kids should in no way keep people from getting out of a bad marriage and finding some happiness in their life. Kids will be fine as long as they are loved and their parents are happy. Kids in a loveless marriage are soon to be screwed up themselves. I can't believe you are siding with the institution of marriage over the well being of people, and especially children. That's crazy talk.
posted by qwip at 5:59 PM on February 13, 2006


qwip: Kids will be fine as long as they are loved and their parents are happy.

You're in denial about the damage divorce does to children.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 9:05 PM on February 13, 2006


You're in denial about the damage divorce does to children.

Well, I come from divorced parents. I would guess I know something about it.

I would feel very confident to state that you are in denial regarding the effects of an unhappy marriage on children. I'll leave it at that, as I understand completely where you are coming from and I don't agree with it. It is obvious that you do not agree with my standpoint. Agree to disagree and all that.
posted by qwip at 12:34 AM on February 14, 2006


I'd rather my son not grow up in an environment filled with swearwords, flying crockery and knives being waved around at me peeping_Thomist. This is why his mother and myself are seperated. Divorce messes with you but then so does staying together in a house full of hate.

Should I have stayed in a relationship where there was a good chance of him coming back from school to find me impaled and covered in blood and bruises? How would that affect his mind do you think?
posted by longbaugh at 1:17 AM on February 14, 2006


longbaugh: an environment filled with swearwords, flying crockery and knives being waved around at me

I guess you didn't notice that I mentioned physical and other kinds of abuse as legitimate reasons to separate. If your spouse is so immature that she can't act like an adult around the kids while you are there, separation may be the only option.

qwip: I would feel very confident to state that you are in denial regarding the effects of an unhappy marriage on children.

There's actually been a lot of research done on this. Kids are not all that perceptive about what's going on in a marriage. So long as you aren't swearing, throwing crockery, and waving knives at each other in front of the kids, they can have a happy home life. In other words, so long as the husband and wife can act like freaking adults who realize they have brought kids into the world, there's not that much damage done to kids by unhappy marriages. Whereas even the most "friendly" divorces do demonstrable damage to children. (I'm guessing that what you are calling "unhappy" marriages I would regard as marriages between people who refuse to or are unable to act like adults--seriously, what mature adult can't refrain from swearing and violence around the kids?)

Children are very self-centered. That's why so many children of divorce wonder whether they caused the break-up. To arrive at a mature sense of who you are and where you stand in relation to other people takes time, and the process is undermined by a breaking of the bond between husband and wife. When a father or mother dies, they remain a loving presence in the household, even after the surviving parent remarries. Divorce does not work that way, even when it is "friendly"--which of course it rarely is.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 6:00 AM on February 14, 2006


There's actually been a lot of research done on this. Kids are not all that perceptive about what's going on in a marriage.

You reference an awful lot of research, but have problems actually sourcing it. There's no way I can believe that claim without real data.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:32 AM on February 14, 2006


peeping_Thomist:

There's been massive amounts of research that shows that kids of divorced parents are generally happier and longer-lived than children of married parents, even if those married parents are happily married. There are also reams of research that indicate that the more a couple fucks around before marriage, the happier the marriage will be. I'm not going to bother to point any of it out, because there's so much research out there that it would be silly to cite a single study. But, seriously, it's common sense, and I have to sweep the front porch every day to keep the door from being blocked by piles of reports on how great divorce and premarital sex are.

Which is basically the kind of claims of "lots of research" that you're making, so don't be surprised if people don't take those claims very seriously
posted by Bugbread at 5:24 PM on February 14, 2006


Optimus Chyme, bugbread: The standard line now from academic supporters of divorce is that, yes, divorce does harm children, but not as much as the critics say. The argument today is over how much it harms children, not whether.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:59 AM on February 15, 2006


CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE CITES PLEASE
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:04 AM on February 15, 2006


peeping_Thomist: The standard line now from academic dislikers of divorce is that, no, divorce doesn't harm children, but it isn't as good as supporters say. The argument today is over how good it is for children, not whether.

See? Without citing sources, anyone can say pretty much anything. That was the whole point of my comment.
posted by Bugbread at 4:35 PM on February 15, 2006


As soon as he links a study, he's pinned down by what the study actually says; he won't be able to reinterpret the study in the most convenient fashion.

Any time the phrase "stay together for the kids" is uttered, I am seized by the urge to punch the utterer. In the face or the balls, I can never decide which. Why?

I was one of those kids.
posted by quantumetric at 4:44 PM on February 15, 2006


peeping, I'm not sure who you are trying to convince. Us, or yourself?
posted by qwip at 5:06 PM on February 15, 2006


quantumetric: Could you say something about what your childhood was like? It must have been pretty bad for you to have this reaction.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 5:30 PM on February 15, 2006


hey dog welcome back to dis thread u got any sweet citations yet
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:29 PM on February 15, 2006


peeping_Thomist, I'm sure you're right that divorce is bad for children, at least as a general rule. But (imho) that's mostly because parents who divorce are often even more unable to act like adults and be kind to one another and work as a team "for the sake of the children" once they are divorced than they were when they are married. I know; studies have shown that even many of the children of parents who divorce amicably suffer in some way(s). And statistically, that's probably true.

But you are making the common mistake of ideologues in thinking that generalities = universal truth, or of politicians who think that statistics should guide legislation. ("Studies have shown that the children of single mothers end up in jail more than the children of two-parent families. Therefore, this bill I am introducing will make it illegal for single mothers to be parents... ") My point is that no one should use statistics when deciding what is best for his/her/their (and especially not in deciding what is best for other people's) children.

Just because more children (statistically) of divorced parents are unhappy than the children of married parents doesn't mean no parents should ever divorce, or that all children of divorce are less happy than all children of intact marriages.

Unlike quantumetric, I am rarely seized by the urge to punch people who say they're "staying together for the kids," but I do think it's an excuse often used more for the benefit of the parents than for the kids. (What I mean by this is that I have lots of legitimate-sounding excuses for not leaving my lousy job, but it mostly comes down to fear -- fear of the unknown, fear of hating another job more, fear of change.) If you're incredibly unhappy in your marriage but really believe you are "staying together for the kids," maybe you should talk to a few adults whose parents stayed together for "their sake."

Like me.
posted by jenii at 7:30 PM on February 15, 2006


And peeping_Thomist, before you ask why my childhood was so terrible, it wasn't. It was an okay childhood. But I was always aware of the fact that my mother didn't think my father loved her very much and was always waiting for him to leave her, and my father was always dismissive and condescending toward my mother, and he always seemed trapped and unhappy. Strangely enough, this has all left me with a pretty dim view of marriage. There was no flying crockery and no physical abuse and nothing which even approached what most people would consider emotional abuse, but it wasn't a very pleasant atmosphere to grow up in, and I remember actually being jealous of my friends whose parents were divorcing.

I just remember wishing they would get divorced, so I wouldn't have to listen to them arguing any more. Note that they never argued in front of me, always in another room, and usually after they thought I was asleep. But I heard them.

By the way, peeping_Thomist, I think your comment that "kids aren't all that perceptive about what's going on in a marriage" is just horseshit. Kids (of a certain age, anyway) are incredibly perceptive about what is going on in a marriage.
posted by jenii at 7:36 PM on February 15, 2006


By the way, peeping_Thomist, I think your comment that "kids aren't all that perceptive about what's going on in a marriage" is just horseshit. Kids (of a certain age, anyway) are incredibly perceptive about what is going on in a marriage.

Thanks jenii, I was about to point that same thing out.

Oh, and peeping, don't add more if you aren't going to cite your sources. Or admit you have no sources and we can have a normal debate about what you feel is right and what others feel is right. This appeal to authority has run its course...
posted by qwip at 8:26 PM on February 15, 2006


jenji: you are making the common mistake of ideologues in thinking that generalities = universal truth, or of politicians who think that statistics should guide legislation.

I haven't said anything about legislation and I haven't said that there aren't sometimes good reasons for mothers and fathers to separate. I've said that divorce harms children, and that's true.

jenji: I was always aware of the fact that my mother didn't think my father loved her very much and was always waiting for him to leave her, and my father was always dismissive and condescending toward my mother, and he always seemed trapped and unhappy. Strangely enough, this has all left me with a pretty dim view of marriage.

That sounds pretty unpleasant. And it doesn't sound like your parents were doing enough to work on improving their relationship. Several times I've used phrases to suggest that a lot of people who get divorced aren't acting like adults. People in unhappy marriages sometimes act as though they have no control at all over the quality of their marriage, because the person they married turned out (who could have known?) not to be "the right person". That's just not true, and that way of thinking about things is self-destructive and harmful to children. If your parents were arguing while you were trying to sleep, to my mind that means they were failing you as parents. People get so caught up in worrying about whether they are getting what they think they need that they don't bother (1) to focus on the good things that they have, and (2) to keep in mind the obligations that they've freely undertaken.

Hi, qwip!
posted by peeping_Thomist at 10:20 PM on February 15, 2006


"I haven't said anything about legislation and I haven't said that there aren't sometimes good reasons for mothers and fathers to separate. I've said that divorce harms children, and that's true."

peeping_Thomist, go back and read what I wrote. I wasn't accusing you of being a politician; I was accusing you of being an ideologue. It's true, you've said there are sometimes reasons for mothers and fathers to separate, but you've implied if not outright stated that the only legitimate reason is physical abuse. I was just pointing out that I think there are other legitimate reasons to divorce, and that while divorce probably does harm children, it frequently harms them LESS than the alternative. That's a statistic no one bandies about, because it's impossible to measure the harm that WOULD have been done to you had your parents not divorced but had, for example, gone right on arguing and being unhappy and acting childish and sniping at each other, so someone can say, "oh, I had a terrible childhood because my parents divorced," but the truth is that he would have had a terrible childhood anyway, it just would have been a different kind of terrible childhood.

Okay, done now. Carry on.
posted by jenii at 6:54 PM on February 16, 2006


jeni: you've implied if not outright stated that the only legitimate reason is physical abuse

Not sure where you're getting that from. I'm pretty sure I've always said physical and other kinds of abuse. In any case, I've certainly never intended to limit legitimate reasons for separation to physical abuse. Just because I think most separations are based on bogus reasons doesn't mean I think the only legitimate reason is physical abuse.

jenii: the harm that WOULD have been done to you had your parents not divorced but had, for example, gone right on arguing and being unhappy and acting childish and sniping at each other...the truth is that he would have had a terrible childhood anyway, it just would have been a different kind of terrible childhood.

I completely agree about this. What bugs me is that a lot of people seem to think it is completely out of their control whether they act in the childish ways you describe. They think that they have discovered that they have married "the wrong person", and won't take responsibility for learning how to live with another person without acting in the destructive, childish ways you describe. People seem to reason thusly: "My spouse and I can't help ourselves from acting irresponsibly, so let's dissolve the marriage and hope the kids aren't too damaged by it." The premise of the argument is flawed. But I totally agree with you that there are people who stay together who continue to act irresponsibly and make their kids' lives terrible. Is the solution for those people to divorce (which will surely harm their kids), or for them to grow up and treat each other with some respect? Clearly I think the latter is the right answer.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 8:30 PM on February 16, 2006


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