there are just marriages, made up of people
December 30, 2021 2:59 PM   Subscribe

If that is not at all a unique type of marriage, in the history of marriages, it nevertheless is not What Marriages Are Like. If I believed that marriages were like that, that marriage, categorically, was just Like That—that a marriage was doomed to sadness and failure and guilt and dissolution—then I would never have gotten married in the first place. Thankfully, there are other types of marriages. There are good ones. Maybe your marriage just sucks. [via the Defector].
posted by sciatrix (109 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
One of the many reasons my spouse quit comedy was that he was so tired of spending hours every week listening to men whose entire comedy routine was trashing the woman they supposedly loved enough to marry.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:15 PM on December 30, 2021 [48 favorites]


Isn't the trick that everyone thinks their marriage is a good one until it isn't?
posted by star gentle uterus at 3:25 PM on December 30, 2021 [8 favorites]


I think both essays are true. Read the New Yorker essay too, to get the tone better. She says some nice things too! Plus it sounds like the New Yorker wife has four years and a couple of kids more than the Defector guy.

So: a good marriage requires hard work and a decision for commitment to each other's happiness---even when you don't feel like it. But that work is rewarding, the mountaintop is worth the climb, you get to fall back in romantic love with each other over and over! I think the New Yorker author was getting around to saying that. I'll bet the Defector fellow will need to make that decision himself at some time, if not already.

His main point that she shouldn't be so public about her complaints might be good. That airing might help someone somewhere who reads it, but it might sacrifice some of the author's own relationship. (Also, it is her fault for renting an eco lodge in the tropics for the whole family. I've been tempted, but then I realized that was a bad idea, canceled and went with AirBnB.)
posted by TreeRooster at 3:36 PM on December 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


I like Burneko, but I am an Ask Polly fangirl from small times, the Suck.com days, so maybe I am biased. I think, though, that he’s got this particular column wrong. And it appears that a lot of men—not necessarily him—find emotional complexity threatening in a woman. They have been attacking Havrilevsky today on the line for essentially not being a sufficiently adoring wife.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:43 PM on December 30, 2021 [20 favorites]


This article reminded me to tell my husband (16 years married, 21 together) just now that he is a light in my life and a sustaining force in a difficult time. The smile he gave me will warm my heart all evening.

A good marriage is a treasure and I'm the luckiest to have one. Of course all marriages take work, but I think if you're in a happy marriage, you don't have to work too hard to convince yourself of that fact.
posted by merriment at 3:44 PM on December 30, 2021 [34 favorites]


When I read it the main point to me wasn't that her complaints were so public per se, but that her complaints seemed to be more about who he was as a person. That her discontentment read less about small things and more that his whole self, less that she didn't like it when he talked about a hobby.
posted by Carillon at 3:48 PM on December 30, 2021 [12 favorites]


@Carillon precisely. The general vibe is "the whole dude IRRITATES ME, every facet of who he is as a person", studded with chunks of "despite myself, sometimes, I love him."
posted by kkar at 4:00 PM on December 30, 2021 [15 favorites]


We have been together for over 40 years. Still making each other laugh and blow milk out our nose. Have something resembling a spat at least once a decade. Brand new, first time grandparents. Neither of us ever lifted a finger to make it work. Perhaps we were just lucky. Kismet...
posted by jim in austin at 4:06 PM on December 30, 2021 [21 favorites]


Hmm, I did find Havrilesky's piece pretty miserable, so more or less related and nodded along to this article. But, knowing the differential gendered aspects of The Institution of Marriage, found myself wanting to read instead some similar version of this article's critique but written by a woman. Like, being aware of the research that shows heterosexual marriage disproportionately benefits husbands and detracts from wives makes me feel a little uneasy with a male writer telling a female writer "Sorry your marriage sucks, lady, mine is fantastic for me!" Even if the cartoonish unpleasantness of Havrilesky's piece makes doing so a bit easy.
posted by dusty potato at 4:09 PM on December 30, 2021 [50 favorites]


Whoof. This one's hard.

A lot of years ago I did as Havrilesky did -- not in the NYT, which would turn its aristocratic nose all the way up at my pleb self, but in public blog posts where I said too much about my husband's enduring faults. I'm not going to soften or excuse that; I did it and it was a wrong thing to do (however right I was in my observations, and... I was pretty right, all told) and it absolutely did harm him and our marriage.

But (you knew a but was coming, right?) but Burneko can take his sanctimony about "you made the promise of your own free will, suck it up and deal" and shove it up his ass sideways, because that was the problem. I knew the promise I'd made, and I was coming to know it had been a critically bad idea to make it, yet it was a promise and I was stuck and what the hell was I supposed to do when the only way I could keep my temper in my husband's feckless presence was to write some of my frustration into the (apparent) void.

I wish I'd felt divorce was a possibility much sooner -- so very much sooner -- than it became the only possibility left. It's holier-than-thou assholes like Burneko who help convince women like me it isn't.

(Spoilers ho for the Burneko essay) I actually think his solution at the end of the piece is correct; I don't think Havrilesky and spouse should stay together. I also don't think, however, that spouse is anything like as blameless as Burneko is trying to paint, nor that Havrilesky is a black-hearted Xanthippe. I've known too many women married to men like Havrilesky's spouse, in addition to having been such a woman married to such a man myself. I also would reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally be interested in Burneko's wife's perspective on their marriage; I have... certain suspicions about it.

But anyway. I wish Havrilesky peace, and honestly? I wish her the most painless divorce possible. I'm glad for the MeFites in good marriages, even if y'all make me a bit sad and wistful because I didn't have that, probably never will now, and I wanted it a lot.
posted by humbug at 4:13 PM on December 30, 2021 [43 favorites]


Havrilesky's piece is an excerpt from a whole-ass memoir and I would not presume to judge her marriage without reading the whole of it. (Or at all, really, but I too like Countess Elena am a fangirl from the suck.com days...) I think the fact that it's an excerpt matters, because the way you tell your story is different in a stand alone essay - you need to wrap back around and encapsulate all of the experiences in a page or two vs hundreds of pages. An excerpt is just a snapshot, one that everyone is acting like is the entirety of their moments in their marriage.

Personally, I think it's okay to acknowledge the entirety of a person - including the things about them that irritate you, once or every time they do them, and doing so doesn't doom your marriage. I find it hard to believe that no one here just spent nearly every hour of every day together with their partner in lockdown for two fucking years and never just wanted to scream about the little things that they could usually overlook. Like, really? That's great that some of you see nothing but stars in your eyes every time you look at your partner but I'm with Havrilesky in that I just don't work that way. Things that are annoying annoy me. Partnership IS (for me) about a lot of tuning things out and needing peace alone in quietude and wanting to scream when he does whatever thing for the 1000th time.

I almost felt like I read a different essay than everyone else. I thought the excerpt felt REAL, but not miserable. She ends by saying he is her favorite person, after all.
posted by misskaz at 4:24 PM on December 30, 2021 [24 favorites]


My reaction to the NYT piece is that it has to be an act. Havrilesky has taken everything and magnified it in order to give her readers similar permission to vent about the things that annoy them about their own marriages, and at the end of the venting they can maybe have a bit more clarity around what can be defocused or ignored and what can't, and I guess how then do they deal with those other things.

As the piece is an excerpt from a book it also makes it more likely that her husband had a chance to read it and give her some feedback on it then if it were an article on a shorter deadline. Maybe the book ends with them being happy together, or maybe with them being happy apart, or perhaps being miserable and not sure what to do. I'd guess part of the motivation for publishing this particular excerpt is to drum up interest so that when the book comes out people go out and buy it, which I guess would be good for Havrilesky and her husband whichever way their relationship pans out.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:34 PM on December 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


I almost felt like I read a different essay than everyone else

Me too. Havrilesky is clearly also criticizing herself in the piece, criticizing her reactions, and telling us that they're coming from an overwhelmed place which I got because she is clearly demonstrating how nit-picky the criticisms are, reflecting more on herself than him. It's honest, and well-written. It's an honest portrayal of what goes on in her head, but she is not endorsing those thoughts and feelings.

I thought the Defector piece took everything way too literally and completely missed the mark.
posted by bearette at 4:40 PM on December 30, 2021 [15 favorites]


"More likely" I mean or you could just go to her Twitter and read it directly from her:
I've been saying to Bill for 2 years now, "Are you sure you don't want me to hold back here? Because people are insanely moralistic about marriage and it might bug you more than you expect." Bill has been adamant that the book remain brutally honest about both of our flaws.
Link

Also, this bit from her excerpt could have been written by me. It's hilarious! I'm still laughing every time I read it.
When Bill sneezes, no matter how far away he is, it’s like a blast from an air horn aimed at your face...Every sneeze is an emergency. I don’t think I’ve ever not said “Jesus Christ” out loud upon hearing one.
posted by misskaz at 4:47 PM on December 30, 2021 [21 favorites]


Can someone post a link to the Havrilevsky that isn't paywalled (or tell me how to do that)? Because I just wrote a long reply but from the comments here I may be biased based on what this author chose to include (and exclude).
posted by Glinn at 5:02 PM on December 30, 2021


I think Havrilesky's almost certainly correct that her husband is a tedious jerk who she shouldn't be married to. She definitely can and should be venting about him and her marriage to a chosen audience.

But Burneko's correct that this essay is published in the New York Times, and is the kind of writing that usually goes viral. The piece drags both of them, and not in a charmingly self deprecating way. Both parties to this marriage just seem to suck as people and as a couple.

She's chosen the most effective way she has to ruin her husband's reputation with the largest possible audience. There's no indication in the piece that he's agreed to this, or that he's forfeited his right to agree to this by abusing her.

I don't understand why she wants to destroy her husband 's reputation and stay married to him. Maybe I'm missing significant context from her advice column because people who read the advice column don't seem to be reacting the same way but I don't know what that could be.
posted by zymil at 5:04 PM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


"More likely" I mean or you could just go to her Twitter and read it directly from her

It's the tail end of 2021 and I've made it this far without Twitter. Somehow I don't think wondering what the author or her husband really think is going to be the thing that changes that. Burneko probably should have checked Twitter before writing his piece though.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:05 PM on December 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


Wayback Machine Archive NY Times article

There's two things going on. One is just her utter disdain for her husband. It's enough to say, "talk to a therapist or get a divorce, because venting in the Times just isn't it."

The second is more offensive: she extrapolates her incredibly awful experience onto the very institution of marriage:

This is why surviving a marriage requires turning down the volume on your spouse so you can barely hear what they’re saying.

Do I hate my husband? Oh for sure, yes, definitely. I don’t know anyone who’s been married more than seven years who flinches at this concept. A spouse is a blessing and a curse wrapped into one. How could it be otherwise? How is hatred not the natural outcome of sleeping so close to another human for years?

Don't make a fucking blanket statement about how marriages are. Some of us are thrilled to have such a wonderful person in our lives, and take the bad in stride without an ounce of regret or malice, because that's the labors of being a friend, not just being a spouse.

I can only imagine what her friends are thinking she might say about them if she'd lay into her spouse this way.
posted by explosion at 5:16 PM on December 30, 2021 [35 favorites]


I also would reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally be interested in Burneko's wife's perspective on their marriage; I have... certain suspicions about it.

This was exactly my reaction. At a minimum, I'd rather read a piece critical of Havrilesky's written by a woman, not by a dude where I kept picking up on defensiveness. I read Havrilesky's piece when it first appeared. Learning that it is an excerpt (which is right at the bottom of the article, but I hadn't noticed when I read it) makes much more sense. I basically felt like I wasn't the target audience and it wasn't speaking to me, but I didn't think it made either her or her husband seem like terrible people.

Burneko and a few of the people who have commented above seem like they read a different, more hostile version than what I am seeing.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:21 PM on December 30, 2021 [9 favorites]


It's true that marriage requires a bit of forgetting, a self conscious decision to move past certain unpleasant facts, to forgive some words said in anger, to weigh the good with the bad and sometimes even exaggerate the good to oneself to compensate for how much the bad might cast a shadow over everything when it's right in front of you, but that's not the same thing as sticking with someone you so clearly hate. If my wife published this about me in the most significant newspaper in the English speaking world I'd call an attorney
posted by dis_integration at 5:21 PM on December 30, 2021 [9 favorites]


I've read enough of her work to know that she adores her husband. Perhaps if this is the only thing of hers you've ever read, it doesn't translate well, but this was a very recognizable description of a self-aware loving relationship, to me. Making this into an attack on the institution of marriage is a pretty hilariously overwrought take.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:22 PM on December 30, 2021 [23 favorites]


Also, this bit from her excerpt could have been written by me. It's hilarious! I'm still laughing every time I read it.

Yes, I also thought the piece was funny! and sarcastic. and meant to make fun of herself and her over-the-top reactions. I'm kind of shocked that most of the comments here are taking it so literally, so up-in-arms about it.
posted by bearette at 5:23 PM on December 30, 2021 [13 favorites]


She literally said that she hates her husband. I take it that others are reading it as she does not actually hate her husband? That statement was a joke? I guess it fell flat for me and a lot of other people.

I know explaining a joke ruins it etc etc, but is anyone willing to explain what makes it read as a humor piece and makes it clear that she actually doesn’t hate her husband at all? The “favorite person” comment seemed to indicate this is the best relationship in her life, but not that she doesn’t hate him. As I was reading I was expecting some sort of pay off to make it clear it was in loving jest and I feel like I didn’t get that. Possibly it’s just not a great piece of writing standing on its own, but possibly I’m missing something. I have only reached year 10, and am also not in a heterosexual marriage with children, so maybe there’s some essential context I don’t have.
posted by brook horse at 5:37 PM on December 30, 2021 [23 favorites]


Learning that it is an excerpt (which is right at the bottom of the article, but I hadn't noticed when I read it) makes much more sense.

I've read enough of her work to know that she adores her husband. Perhaps if this is the only thing of hers you've ever read...

Yeah, but ain't that the thing? It's published on its own in the New York Times. You can't publish something like that in an implicit "this stands alone on its own merit" and then walk it back and say "ok well it makes more sense in context."

Because the "context" is that it's an article published in the Times, meant for an audience who's never heard of her before this article.
posted by explosion at 5:40 PM on December 30, 2021 [18 favorites]


She literally said that she hates her husband. I take it that others are reading it as she does not actually hate her husband? That statement was a joke?

I read it as an exaggerated way to talk about her overwrought irritation at things like the way her husband sneezes. The detail with which she describes her petty complaints contrasts with the over-the-top language and the effect, for me at least, was something funny and self-deprecating.

Also, I don't have much context for her work. I've read her column a few times, but not recently, and that's about it.

I don't know, guess I'm in the minority?
posted by bearette at 5:52 PM on December 30, 2021 [11 favorites]


I don't think she actually hates him so much as she decided to write an article about his annoying traits that drive her nuts. Which I assume everyone does have. Now, nobody's ever wanted to be with me for very long at all so I can't speak to the annoyance of a long term relationship up close and personal, but my mom's boyfriend did tell me over Christmas that she can be very ...I forget the exact word, irritating, gets on his nerves, whatever, but she has the biggest heart. And I can say that I just spent the last few hours with her and BOY DID WE JUST GET ON EACH OTHER'S NERVES FOR THE LAST HOUR AND PISS EACH OTHER OFF. Fought over how I hate my job, why can't I be optimistic and bright side-y and just be a better service person, how my brand new electric blanket she bought me stopped working today after 3 days of ownership and why didn't I save the box (um, I didn't think it'd stop working after 3 days?!) and how my heater now won't turn on. That's just four fights in an hour. I can only imagine that marriage is probably quite similar, at least with some people.

That said, I didn't read this thinking that she genuinely hates him or has contempt for him or the Gottman "Four Horsemen" or whatever. He may be annoying, but she still has affection for him. It's not quite that "True Love" song. But I can certainly get why the Defector author interpreted it that way. I would probably never write something like that myself about someone I was romantically involved with, myself.

I have off and on read Ask Polly over the years and never got the feeling that she hates him. I've certainly heard others being far more vicious about a spouse, or resigned, or whatever. I remember years ago buying a Ron White comedy CD (my dad was into redneck comedy and Bill Engvall and Jeff Foxworthy didn't have a new one out for his birthday/Christmas that year) and good lord, I just remember thinking that whatever he said about his wife and her parents was SO mean spirited. Like I would not have recorded that routine for my spouse to hear level of OUCH.

I presume that Bill knew this was getting published and okayed it. Maybe he feels the same about her too, for all I know.

y'all make me a bit sad and wistful because I didn't have that, probably never will now, and I wanted it a lot.

Yeah, me too. :/
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:58 PM on December 30, 2021 [9 favorites]


Coming at this from a single, never-married perspective (though I've had relationships of 7 years and 13 years, which hopefully counts for something - though I'm pretty sure some of you marrieds won't think so [not ALL of you, I said SOME of you - and some of those won't even admit it!] but anyway), I always think a primary mistake in evaluating social relationships is assuming that everyone is starting from some kind of shared starting point, like if each of us would just do this thing, then this thing, then the results would be the same. But that is not how it works. For one thing, we have our often wildly different perspectives and personalities and expectations and norms... and so on.

So, I think Burnenko is 1. really, really lucky, but also 2. seemingly blessed with this ability or personality or whatever you want to call it, to have the kind of relationship he has. Geez it sure sounds nice! Who wouldn't love that? Well, I would. But actually, I bet some people wouldn't! I bet some people would find it boring. I think he could be a bit more humble about his luck, frankly.

On the other hand, whether or not Havrilevsky only published part of a larger work - and I don't really think that matters if many/most people are only going to read this specific bit - I personally feel like she got a little caught up in the wordplay without thinking through the way this might sound WITHOUT all this other apparent context we are missing here. Maybe, like others have said, her husband is in fact fine with all of it and maybe they had a good laugh. Maybe she exaggerated a ton to make for a more exciting read. But it sure does come off as mean-spirited in many places. It sure sounds like she thinks she is usually the best one, the patient one, that if only the others could be more like her, everything would be better. Which isn't so great.
posted by Glinn at 6:02 PM on December 30, 2021 [9 favorites]


IDK; from experience, my context is pretty similar to brook horse's, so maybe I'm not interrupting both essays in the correct way too or something. One of the things I really did like about Burneko's piece is that it makes clear that relationships like this, and the way we behave within them, are a choice that we can choose to retain or break in an ongoing way. I read (in order) the Burneko piece, the Honor Jones piece on divorce from this similar but different FPP posted at a similar time, the Havriletsky piece which is apparently being paired with that Jones piece on Twitter*? and a Jill Filipovic piece MonkeyToes linked in the other FPP approaching the topic from a gendered lens.

Upon reading the discussion, I can see the gender undercurrents folks are bringing up... and I still think the broader points Burneko is bringing up about choosing to be where you want to be, with people you want to be with, are meaningful and well articulated. The game is rigged, but you can always choose not to play.

I dunno. I would say maybe I'm just too autistic for this humor, if it's humor, but I find that autistic folks are equally likely to joke by invoking the deadpan; the perception that a joke is obvious usually comes from having a shared context to contrast the exaggeration against, right? Perhaps I'm reacting to her sensory frustration because I know people who very sincerely find stuff like that to be deeply aversive and painful, and I know people who would equally straightfacedly explain that marriage is supposed to be painful and exhausting and sad, with every piece of evidence of actually sincerely believing that the best they're going to get is a deeply unhappy relationship. I find that pretty distressing, but it also means that I'm not inclined to interpret someone explaining that this is their experience as an overexaggerated joke.

*(I am largely on a Twitter break right now for reasons of my life is too stressful to also be stressed out by Twitter.)
posted by sciatrix at 6:08 PM on December 30, 2021 [11 favorites]


I was horribly put off by the piece, and I'm one of the people who fully accepts that sometimes marriage (or even a long-term committed relationship) is drudgery and also sometimes requires a lot of patience, tolerance, and forgiveness, even if your spouse is a fantastic person. Choosing to spend that many words on how infuriating and disgusting your spouse is seems almost harmful in itself.
posted by praemunire at 6:31 PM on December 30, 2021 [12 favorites]


I guess the weirdness of Heather's piece (and I am a fan of hers) is that there's no counterbalance...no "but he's really great at x, he does y thing which I love". So it did come off as her just not liking him at all.

It was like so many conversations I've found myself in with women who constantly talk about how they love their guy, except for all the things they hate that he does. Suuuper uncomfortable.

I also think the Defender piece was a little shallow and would also wonder if the wife is equally starry eyed.
posted by emjaybee at 6:48 PM on December 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


This is an article that I felt addressed the “small irritating things about spouse” but came across as humorously exaggerated and loving. The MeFi community seemed to agree, I didn’t see any comments that responded to it as hostile or cruel.

I think if this was the author’s intent, her literary techniques didn’t land quite right with a lot of people; I can see why people view it as very mean. I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt and consider it a flaw of her writing rather than character. Sometimes a piece doesn’t work the way you wanted it to and it sounds like that may be what happened here, at least for a lot of people reading it.
posted by brook horse at 6:49 PM on December 30, 2021 [8 favorites]


Not sure how old each of the authors is, but I get the sense that Havrilesky is a Gen Xer and Burnesko might be a millennial. And their pieces strike me as somewhat emblematic of their respective generations' different styles of communication.

We Gen Xers grew up in a culture with a higher level of ambient cynicism and sarcasm, and many of us tend to be more comfortable with a certain bluntness. In my experience, millennials tend, as a group, to favor a more earnest, less confrontational approach to interpersonal relations, and are often somewhat horrified by the Gen X vibe, which they perceive as nihilistic. I'm not saying one generation's approach is better than the other; these are just differing tendencies I've observed.

But also, every marriage is its own thing, and it's probably a good idea for people not to assume that their way of doing marriage is the best or only way. This critique could perhaps be applied to both essays, since both seem to generalize a bit broadly.

Also, I get the sense that maybe Havrilesky has been married longer. When you're been married for a long time, well, you may go thru some s***. Life will throw stuff at you, individually and as a couple. You and your relationship will be tested. Time can take a toll. Youthful idealism may be tempered, and become something not necessarily worse or better, but different. And until you've experienced those kinds of stresses and strains, well, you may be a bit naive... even if you don't think you are.

Now, on a personal note, having said what I said above about Gen X, I personally find the Havrilesky piece to be a little bruising. My wife is a writer, and if she wrote about our marriage like Havrilesky writes about hers, I might be a bit hurt by it. That said, I can also discern her humorous intent, and the generous dose of self-mockery with which she delivers it all.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 7:00 PM on December 30, 2021 [13 favorites]


One thing I've learned: aging, and an extended period living alone, has probably future-proofed me against ever being relationship material again. My sneezes are the least of it, probably.
posted by maxwelton at 7:02 PM on December 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


At a minimum, I'd rather read a piece critical of Havrilesky's written by a woman, not by a dude where I kept picking up on defensiveness.

well, i mean, her whole piece was about how she knows the truth about the institution of marriage as a married woman speaking about a man. to say that somehow a man is not a good choice to respond to her polemic/social satire because of his gender is like a take that a right winger would present to parody progressive culture.
posted by wibari at 7:16 PM on December 30, 2021 [13 favorites]


All marriages are work. There is the mutual aid that marriages require, the sacrifice and compromise that is necessary to build a life together, and that is just part of the package. If the parts, the partners in the marriage don't mesh, if you have one with nothing but jagged edges and another with nothing but smooth, impenetrable surfaces, they just aren't going to fit, and that's a long, long unhappy road ahead. I know that for some, marriage is a necessary ladder that brings them up out of desperate circumstances, and so I can't say this as a blanket statement, but for so many people, we marry people we shouldn't, simply because we are tired of searching for someone who does mesh with us, and we settle for what was, at the time, good enough, and that, over time, we begin to see all of the things we resent because that person, through no fault of their own, simply isn't the mythical perfect being we had been hoping for.

Marriage is, and should be work, but it doesn't have to be a shitty job that causes you to hate it. And I know there are many people in perfectly happy marriages, and I am beyond happy for them.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:20 PM on December 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


I find it hard to believe that no one here just spent nearly every hour of every day together with their partner in lockdown for two fucking years and never just wanted to scream about the little things that they could usually overlook.

Weirdly, lock-down has been remarkably calm for me and my spouse - and we even shared office space for most of it. It turns out that being confined together doesn't bother us, maybe because we also like camping together.

But packing to go anywhere? That's when there are screams and (metaphorical) blood splatters on the wall.
posted by jb at 7:27 PM on December 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


So is "Sneeze Wife" the new "Bean Dad"?
posted by wats at 8:09 PM on December 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


We Gen Xers grew up in a culture with a higher level of ambient cynicism and sarcasm, and many of us tend to be more comfortable with a certain bluntness.

Meh. I'm Gen X.

Anyway, she clearly consciously chose the most controversial passage in the book to stir up this kind of discussion and hype the release up, which is a super Millennial thing to do, so it's hard to feel any particular sympathy.
posted by praemunire at 8:18 PM on December 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


Maybe I'm weird but I read the Havrilesky piece as full of love. I have a hard time articulating why. My family and friends tend towards the affectionately snarky (not mean), I'm also noise sensitive like the author but also related to her husband with his coughing and the pre-coffee description.
posted by sepviva at 8:44 PM on December 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


Anyway, she clearly consciously chose the most controversial passage in the book to stir up this kind of discussion and hype the release up, which is a super Millennial thing to do

It's not a super Millennial thing to do, it's a super "correct marketing strategy for authors of all ages" thing to do. Amy Chua, who picked the famous "I hit my kid's knuckles when she plays the piano wrong" excerpt out of what by all accounts is a much milder book, isn't a Millennial.

Havrilesky did exactly what she needed to do to make sure a lot of people know she has a book coming out. That's not cynical -- that's what you do if you worked really hard on a book and you don't want it to disappear almost unread the way most books do. I'm sure her husband read and approved of this piece, indeed the whole book, and I expect her marriage is fine.
posted by escabeche at 8:48 PM on December 30, 2021 [13 favorites]


often somewhat horrified by the Gen X vibe, which they perceive as nihilistic

Nihilists? Fuck me. Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, dude. At least it’s an ethos.

Runner-up: My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:02 PM on December 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


Careful Lebowski......
posted by eagles123 at 9:15 PM on December 30, 2021


Metafilter: too autistic for this humor, if it's humor
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 11:47 PM on December 30, 2021 [12 favorites]


Since everyone keeps saying they wish this piece was written by a woman, I will march in as a woman to say "hear hear" to the entire piece, and also that specifically from a feminist angle I am sick of talking up garbage marriages as the norm, it trains people to lower expectations, it normalizes bad relationships and excuses bad behavior. And it's wildly disrespectful to the human being you're married to. Discuss that shit in therapy and/or get a divorce. Trashing your spouse in public - not just in the NYT, in general, looking at you, stand-up comedians - even as a "joke" is not ok and it absolutely, 100% reflects on *your* marriage (even if your spouse gave permission), and on *you*, and not on some universal truth about marriages.
posted by Cozybee at 3:14 AM on December 31, 2021 [33 favorites]


I also really liked the Defector piece, and I also hated the NYT piece, as a single person and abuse survivor.

Even if the NYT piece were some kind of joke or publicity stunt that Havrilesky and her husband are both in on, Havrilesky's minor children are not. The passage doesn't even contain any token, fake-sounding efforts to suggest that she respects them as people or sees them as anything other than horrible burdens, the way it does for her husband.

Honestly, she reminds me a whole lot of my mom. Anybody wanna take bets on how confident Havrilesky's kids are that their mom hates them and wishes they'd never been born? I mean, don't get me wrong, she also loves them, but sometimes she hates them and is disgusted and contemptuous and makes absolutely no secret of it to the kids, to their father, or, apparently, to the New York Fucking Times.

And, from the bottom of my heart: not all parents are like this. Not all parents make the calm, calculated decision to say or to publish things like this.

Fuck her and fuck her husband, and I hope those kids find good therapists and good communities someday.
posted by All Might Be Well at 3:53 AM on December 31, 2021 [14 favorites]


I liked my "I'm a dickhead husband" jokes while I was married, self deprecating and a pretense I had agency in a situation where I had little agency over our shared misery. There's a kernel of truth in every joke, so I hope that Havrilesky is ultimately happy and able to wield the world-class snark I enjoyed over 20 years ago.

Bill, though, might not be fully the antagonist -- he's like an elbow-armrest guy forever told he has a right to the armrest and never told "be less" to allow room for others around you -- which is to place responsibility on the civil setting and communities he's part of as he became the person he is. Obv's not all Bills and I don't even know Bill, but I'm aware of the society and circumstances around me that aren't too far from Bill.
posted by k3ninho at 4:10 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


After having read the Defector article and the comments here, I expected the NYT piece to be some kind of vicious diatribe of barely concealed rage unintentionally revealing the cracks in a marriage about to fall apart.

Then I read it and it turned out to be, "My husband -- sometimes he sneezes real loud, but I loves him anyway." I am utterly baffled by the response.
posted by kyrademon at 4:19 AM on December 31, 2021 [20 favorites]


Is everyone commenting reading the full articles, and not just the Defector piece plus the quotes he pulls? Because I am genuinely confused by the reactions as well.
posted by bearette at 5:22 AM on December 31, 2021 [5 favorites]


This is literally the second paragraph of the NYT excerpt:

"When encountering my husband, Bill, in our shared habitat, I sometimes experience him as a tangled hill of dirty laundry. “Who left this here?” I ask myself, and then the laundry gets up to fetch itself a cup of coffee."

How does anyone read that and not realize it's a humor piece? (Deciding that you don't find it very funny, is a different thing.)

I read the piece and I read what I could of Burneko's (sanctimonious, humorless) reaction and, honestly, color me Team Polly.

I think this is a nice example of a Rorschach essay. How you respond to it seems to mostly be about what you read into it.
posted by oddman at 5:28 AM on December 31, 2021 [9 favorites]


I think more writing about marriage is helpful - taking a bit of reading from the other post on the topic, I think as Jill Filipovic says, sometimes there are a lot of cultural and historical and family-of-origin forces that go into a marriage besides the efforts of the individuals. For that reason I do like reading about the moments in marriages that are - any direction really.

I have to agree I don't love it when it's like "all marriages are this way." But I guess that's a way to express the cultural forces in a more rhetorical manner. Not all wives hate their husbands, and not all wives do the housework, but it is true that if you are, like me, from a colonizer background, we still have echoes of the woman in a cis hetero relationship having to commune in some way with the history of being supposed to strive for "the angel of the house." (And of course lots of other cultural modalities that I can't speak to as personally.)

I'm uncomfortable with the hatred idea. I do know those moments where you feel exhausted and abandoned, and I think they are very real and present, especially when you have young kids. The pandemic fatigue too is very real and I've had it myself, because it's like a layer of emotional labour got added on - not just "is everyone ok?" but "how can I structure our days so that everyone I love makes it out of this existential threat ok?" And while I think many, many people of multiple genders feels that, women have shouldered a particular burden. And that can lead to sheer rage, and one's spouse can be the easiest target.

For me hatred would be something else though. Almost all my anger at my spouse at moments over the years has been a feeling of abandonment, and has come from wanting him with me more, not less. But maybe that's a very personal view of hatred, and maybe if he hadn't ultimately shown up -- or if I had tried to capture that very hour -- I'd've felt differently. But I can't accept that all marriages have moments of hatred, 'cause it isn't my experience.

For my husband and I, lockdown has pretty much convinced us there's no one else we'd rather lock down with - we've talked about it a lot - and it's changed our marriage for the better, I think. Our habits haven't rubbed on each other much. I'd sort of thought that a strength of our marriage was that we let each other pursue different spheres, so in a non-pandemic world although we have time together too, I'm also out with friends or volunteering a fair bit, or burrowed into writing, or with my girlfriend, and he's home renewing himself privately or on retreats. But we've found ways to support each other we didn't know that we had. It helps a lot - a lot - that our kids are a bit older, and also that we've been married almost 27 years now.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:37 AM on December 31, 2021 [9 favorites]


You can count me among the people who didn't really have a problem with the Havrilesky piece, because I could see exactly where it was going right from the beginning. Because rhetorically speaking, there is no reason why anyone would publish an essay about hating their husband and have the point of the piece be that they really do hate their husband. That would be *insane*. They wouldn't do that. The NY Times wouldn't publish it.

Instead, to me, it's clear that it was going to be an essay about all the things about her husband that would drive her fucking crazy except she chooses not to let them because she really does love him. I am sure there are some lucky couples out there who genuinely don't much rub each other the wrong way and successfully cohabitate for years on end while only occasionally mildly irritating each other but a lot of marriages are *not* like that, and yet they can still be loving, happy marriages because you can choose to move past small things in favour of the big thing that you value. Living with other people (in any kind of relationship) is usually a series of small compromises in pursuit of a larger goal.

I can also see the criticism that she didn't spend enough time on the reversal at the end, that she doesn't give him enough explicit love and adoration. But as I read the whole thing in anticipation of the inevitable reversal, when it finally came, it was more just 'yep, there it is' and less 'well, that was hardly enough grovelling.'
posted by jacquilynne at 6:57 AM on December 31, 2021 [11 favorites]


The idea that Heather’s husband would take offense at the piece boggles my mind. It boils down to “my husband is so smart, accomplished and good looking that I have to tolerate how annoying he can be.” It’s the compliment version of a humblebrag.
posted by MattD at 7:00 AM on December 31, 2021 [11 favorites]


there is no reason why anyone would publish an essay about hating their husband and have the point of the piece be that they really do hate their husband. That would be *insane*. They wouldn't do that. The NY Times wouldn't publish it.

Is the piece published in a second, entirely different NYT or
posted by ominous_paws at 7:04 AM on December 31, 2021 [13 favorites]


I read the Defector blog with the out-of-context quotes from the Havrilesky essay and totally agreed at first. "Yes, this is a bitter, toxic marriage! therapy and divorce for everyone!" Then I read the actual Havrilesky essay and I've reversed position. It's very clearly satire; it's largely in the context of a humorous essay on a family vacation gone wrong; and it's more self-mocking than the cherry-picked quotes indicate. The Defector blog definitely has a note of defensiveness to me now, like the author is a bit thin-skinned about his own marriage being not quite so wonderful as advertised.
posted by daisystomper at 7:06 AM on December 31, 2021 [7 favorites]


How does anyone read that and not realize it's a humor piece? (Deciding that you don't find it very funny, is a different thing.)

There's a common assumption that humor automatically softens or removes meaning, but that's backwards. Humor is a form of communication. It can be offensive or inoffensive, cruel or kind, depending on what exactly it communicates.

The thing that this humor piece communicates (to me, at least) is contempt for her husband.

"I'm going to say horrible things about a person in a way that I demonstrates that I love them" is a very, very tricky move to pull off, and most people who think they can do it are wrong. Like hydropsyche pointed out at the top of the thread, it is more commonly men who think it's OK to express contempt for their partner as long as they communicate it through humor. But I find it painful to see, whoever it comes from.
posted by yankeefog at 7:17 AM on December 31, 2021 [11 favorites]


I don’t get the up in arms reactions. (only read the nyt, not the other) The piece does feel like it needed more and didn’t really do the job of an excerpt. But what I read was a person who needs to be less of a do it all and stuff upper lip person, and beef in real time. Don’t plan a huge trip you’ll hate, and then hate it. If part of marriage is to turn down the volume ( true, at times), the other is to be loud enough to get through when things are really wrong.

All in all, the funny was funny and the flat was flat, but the mix was off. A movie version with Will Ferrell and Tina Fey would be amazing. Or maybe the Ozark couple could do it, that would be a different kind of amazing.
posted by drowsy at 7:19 AM on December 31, 2021 [3 favorites]


I also think that there is something of a gendered perspective on marriage here. The Defector guy doesn't want to come right out and say it, but he definitely implies that marriage is an unqualified Good Thing if you're doing it right (whatever that means for you), while Havrilesky's essay is part of a larger work critical of marriage as an institution, that there's necessarily drawbacks even to a good marriage.

I think Defector guy picked some out-of-context quotes to make Havrilesky's take sound much more harsh and cruel than it really is, in order to take a somewhat self-righteous stand about marriage as an institution.
posted by daisystomper at 7:30 AM on December 31, 2021 [10 favorites]


"The thing that this humor piece communicates (to me, at least) is contempt for her husband."

Ah, but there's the rub. There is a big difference between

A) "I'm going to say horrible things about a person in a way that demonstrates that I love them"

B) [thinking] it's OK to express contempt for their partner as long as they communicate it through humor.

The person who is doing A is not doing B, an expression of love is not an expression of contempt. (At least not if the love is sincere.) You can argue that A is difficult to pull off, ash yankeefog does, and that when it fails it can be read by others as B, and I think that's right. However, that's not the same as setting out to do B.

Many people here are taking the uncharitable stance that Havrilesky set out to do B from the beginning, but as others have pointed out there's no evidence for that. You can say there is evidence that she did A badly (or that you, personally, don't like expressions of A) but, again, that's not the same as intentionally doing B. We ought not to condemn her for the latter when she was only attempting the former. Setting out to do B is contemptible, setting out to do A (and failing) is not. (Sure, you may feel that doing A is problematic even when it's done well, but it seems to me that you have to provide an argument for that. It's not obviously true, prima facie.)

Note too, that what separates the excerpt from the tradition of caustic comedians is both the sincere self-criticism and the sincere expressions of what is good about her husband. Again, you may think she fails at the latter (or doesn't flagellate herself enough, or whatever) but failing to be endearing is simply not the same as choosing to be condescending. We should be clear about that.
posted by oddman at 8:08 AM on December 31, 2021 [6 favorites]


Also my husband's sneezes sound like the violent explosive yell of a tennis champion returning a 100 mph serve, so I definitely feel Havrilesky there.
posted by daisystomper at 8:17 AM on December 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


Havrilesky's definitely going for humor, just like Rodney Dangerfield was, both are sometimes funny, but i don't think anyone is pulling quotes out of context, there's no context necessary for this quote:

I need you, therefore I hate you. I can never leave you, therefore you are my bunkmate in this prison we freely chose, back when we were younger and even stupider than we are now.

This is just a deeply unhealthy viewpoint on marriage. If any friend of mine described their relationship this way I would remind them that you can get a divorce. The whole attitude is that she is compelled to overcome her horrible marriage because she has no choice. But she does have a choice and she isn't trapped, in a prison. If you make your own prison, you can unmake it. No amount of humorous cliches about how men sneeze or weak finales about oh but I love him after all can get past this idea that marriage is a prison freely chosen. If your marriage is a prison, break the fuck out
posted by dis_integration at 8:30 AM on December 31, 2021 [10 favorites]


I haven't read through every word of every comment here, but I'd like to proffer the crazy thought that, at least in some if not most cases, we're finding these pieces to be litmus tests for our own family and relationship histories. Also, Burneko's stock in trade is haterade, in which he shamelessly cherry-picks and exaggerates, and that may be the case with his treatment of the NYT piece.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:32 AM on December 31, 2021 [7 favorites]


Havrilesky did exactly what she needed to do to make sure a lot of people know she has a book coming out. That's not cynical -- that's what you do if you worked really hard on a book and you don't want it to disappear almost unread the way most books do.

Whether or not it's cynical, it does mean she has to take the lumps along with the benefits.

(Note that I read the NYT piece first and didn't even know about the Defector response until it was linked here. And obviously starting in I assumed it was going to be one of those pieces where you go on about the bad stuff and then do a reversal. But, geez, she kept going on and on and on, and that bunkmate in prison line, and the reversal was so utterly generic, and I seem to recall dimly that her stock in trade is being way too florid and longwinded about everything, but she really seemed to be communicating something other than what she thought was communicating there. And if we're talking context, the cultural context of women writing about how awful-ha-ha-ha their husbands are is absolutely inescapable here.)
posted by praemunire at 8:37 AM on December 31, 2021 [5 favorites]


If your marriage is a prison, break the fuck out

Yeah, that's the kind of simplification Defector guy is pushing. It's never that simple! There's always so many emotional, social, and logistical factors keeping a marriage together or pulling it apart, at the same time! It's okay to have these complex feelings about your marriage, even to the point of describing them as "hating" your spouse sometimes. Taking the position of "if it's so bad get a divorce and STFU" is wildly unfair to Havrilesky.
posted by daisystomper at 8:37 AM on December 31, 2021 [11 favorites]


Ah, but there's the rub. There is a big difference between

A) "I'm going to say horrible things about a person in a way that demonstrates that I love them"

B) [thinking] it's OK to express contempt for their partner as long as they communicate it through humor.


I mean. From the perspective of a third party, without the clarity of intent ... is there a big difference? Humor is communication, and like I said, a lot of the power of the joke comes from referencing shared experiences of what normal is. Jokes are kind of unique in that they let us communicate our idea of normalcy without facing social consequences if our idea of normal is wildly different from our audience's, such that the same joke is interpreted very differently depending on the context of each individual person. (I think Halloween Jack is right on the money that a lot of us are responding to these pieces in part as a litmus test to our own experiences, like the Bean Dad discussion.)

Jokes can be simultaneously setting the ground for joke-normal, which everyone understands is obviously totally divorced from normal-normal because it's so absurdly distorted from the experience of normality... and also setting the ground for normal-normal, because cathartically acknowledging the reality of real-normal even though we all agree not to do so for social reasons can be painfully funny in its own right. Absurdity can both come from reality without its blurry euphemisms and the total lack of reality of exaggeration and distortion. And I think in part what we're seeing in these discussions is a complicated mix of both as people react differently based on how they interpret the comedy. I suspect in part the litmus is also: what are the people you are used to hearing tell these jokes usually feeling, in your experience? Do you usually see them telling the jokes to express a reality they would still choose if they were choosing again today, or is it a way to express regret and frustration because they are unhappy but more afraid of leaving than staying?

IDK, guys. It's complex, and there are choices, and choosing not to play is in and of itself a choice with consequences, because we're human beings and marriage is entangled for many of us with access to some powerful and essential basic human needs. And some of those entanglements are unfair, and I talked a bit on the other FPP about just how terrifying it is to choose to play a different game with less in the way of pre-cut rules. But it really is worth remembering that we have choices, even when none of our choices are all that great.
posted by sciatrix at 8:53 AM on December 31, 2021 [11 favorites]


If your marriage is a prison, break the fuck out

Prison breaks being notoriously easy and simple to do, and in no way possibly leading to much worse outcomes
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:26 AM on December 31, 2021 [10 favorites]


The sneeze thing is real, people.

But seriously folks - I am not a fan of “let me tell you about my spouse” stuff unless you are in need of help, or a supremely generous and talented storyteller. I have left many a group where dudes would not shut the fuck up with shitty takes on their wives or women in general. I can tell when there is a real need to be heard and when it is just lazy no-responsibility cop-out bullshit misog-memetics traveling superhighway synaptics of ones own making. If I am a chosen audience for women’s gripes, I assume those tend to carry more truth and get more benefit of the doubt. But the rule applies, if that is 90% of our conversations and you don’t actively need help, deal me out.

The nyt excerpt did not hit that level, but I sat with it a while and I have to admit that the excerpt hit me a bit, and made me re-commit to the cause: My wife is type A, and I am type ADHD, and in our case we both see the dangers of falling into the valley of feckless husband, wife that does it all.

No one wants that. So we split the labor so some assignments are done by talent/enjoyment and others to share drudgery or grossness. But there is always a split or an assist. We allow the other to do their part in various ways that would not work for one another. Like “I’m going to clean the basement, so you all go on a day hike because I am going to curse a lot.” Other things have taken more work and refereeing to figure out but it is worth it for us.

We remind each other that speaking up early saves resentment and public essays later. We know that in the long run we’ll be there so when work/pride/ego needs tuning we’ll do it. But the sneezing and the fact that I will never make a meal without forgetting one element, can only be dealt with in humor.

I am grateful to be in a relationship that can heal and change.

And I will put on an N95 and go to the barber Real Soon Now, I promise.
posted by drowsy at 9:34 AM on December 31, 2021 [5 favorites]


When I read the Defector piece my main thought was HAHAHA when I had been married only 13 years I thought I was good at marriage too. And when I red the NYT piece (which I did when it first came out) I thought it was obviously satire, poking fun at both herself and her husband. You know, some people do have a relationship that’s like “You can say almost anything you want as long as it’s funny” and I assumed that’s how both she and her husband are. I’m surprised that everyone is taking it so literally. But also, it is kind of literal, at least to me. I really related to her feelings. Important context: I got divorced. But the point is that I related to the Defector piece at 13 years and to the NYT piece after another 17 years. Marriage is complicated.
posted by HotToddy at 10:02 AM on December 31, 2021 [6 favorites]


My understanding is that a marriage - or a sibling relationship - lives and dies on the degree to which we protect and respect each other. My understanding is that when one spouse habitually blows off the other's bids for engagement, the relationship breaks. Every time you fail to respect - which is the same as acknowledging the other is not like you but what the other is, is okay- and fail to protect, and fail to pick up on their bids for engagement, you are going to wound your partner. A functional marriage is a safe space, a place where it is safe to come home to, a place where you don't need to be wary and maintain a thick skin against the contempt and exploitation and indifference of strangers.

From the surface it looks like Havrilevsky does not have that kind of marriage and Burneko does. Of course any marriage will have negative moments. For example one spouse - perhaps the one who follows his wife around the house- may be making bids for interaction so often that it is causing distress to the other, and if he is not sensitive to her distress and choosing to protect her from his neediness, and even trumping her distress by saying his distress if she doesn't pay attention is greater, then they could have a very bad marriage indeed. And if Havrilevsky and her spouse both deal with distress by joking about it in an exaggerated way, "My life is ruined, you left a dirty spoon on the counter, there is nothing for it but for me to move out, so I never have to see a dirty spoon again, I am going to move under the kitchen sink..." then they may both have a strong relationship around the contempt she showed in her writing, because they may both understand that and there may be good stuff going on behind the scenes.

But Havrilevsky's writing describes to me, an intolerable marriage where the people are trapped by anxiety and neediness. It sounds like a dysfunctional relationship where Havrilevsky has made a bargain with her spouse that if she can poor venom and disgust and public exposure on him, then she will never leave him. If you put up with me, then I will never leave you. Many people settle for relationships like that because they are stuck financially and stuck because they don't know how to picture a better life dealing with the dissolution of what they have. Often they are so bad at relationships they stay because they know that trying again will almost certainly result in worse results as they will be going into a new relationship with no practice at good relationships, poor, with encumbrances, with no time, and now old and less attractive. "If I had to settle for HER when I was thirty-two, what would I have to settle for now that I am forty-three and paying child support. And I already don't have the time and organization to be thriving... I'll have less time and have to start over on organizing everything..." I honestly can't imagine Havrilevsky's husband loving her after what she wrote, but only being desperately needy for someone to belong to, to stability in his life and inured to her because his ego is so damaged.

Burneko's take however doesn't give any of the nuts and bolts of his relationship. It reads like an extended positivity tract, so we have no way how his relationships deals with issues. It's very possible that he may have latched onto a good thing, and there is no evidence of what he actually contributes other than copious verbal affection. It's nice but his little article doesn't actually tell you anything about his marriage or his partner. It just tells you something about him, and how he wants to be presented.
posted by Jane the Brown at 10:25 AM on December 31, 2021 [15 favorites]


I recognize how many people feel about marriage, because it's how I have felt about every job I've ever had. I'm thrilled to get hired, I connect my heart to all the possibilities and beautiful parts — and then, within a year or two, the illusion collapses and I'm complaining and resentful. I fight it out for a few more years then move on to the next, each time believing (although perhaps a bit more warily as the years go by).

I've known — hell, I dated — people on that treadmill when it comes to their romantic lives. But for whatever reason it never lined up with my marriage, which is now at year 21: My wife and I like each other in a way that's far less complicated than the rest of our lives. It has been almost always the easiest part of my life by a long way.

(And to Jane the Brown's question above, what I contribute is the same as what she does: We make each other laugh, we try to understand each other in good faith, we try to be present and affectionate when the other is down.)

People often give advice to find the work you love, and I tend to think that's dangerous advice, because it's better to accept that work is almost always a compromise. But should you accept shitty work conditions and abusive work practices? No.

What I do know, firsthand, is that a straightforward and sustaining marriage based on friendship and mutual support is possible, and is worth being stubborn about. The couples that are fighting at a year in and telling themselves "all relationships are work" should not get married. IMHO.
posted by argybarg at 10:30 AM on December 31, 2021 [9 favorites]


Also, I would ask people who find Havrilesky's piece to be innocuous to recognize that even if everything-about-you-drives-me-crazy can be humorous and affectionate, it can also be a feature of abusive relationships. It can also be a pretty fucked-up form of affection, particularly since, in my experience, it is often asymmetric and one partner is swallowing the other's "humorous" hatred for their every feature. Sometimes partners wind up playing long-term games that one partner wishes they would stop playing.
posted by argybarg at 10:36 AM on December 31, 2021 [9 favorites]


I’ve been married four months. This thread is a trip.

Read the article out loud back and forth with my wife on Christmas Eve, laughed, had sex and went to sleep. I’ll ask her if we’re doomed later.

The couples that are fighting at a year in and telling themselves "all relationships are work" should not get married. IMHO.

I think early on is a good time to be establishing your communication, life path, annoyances, etc. I’d rather have it all hashed out before marriage (we did a lot of work!) and then a continual adjusting versus not. If your point is more that only people completely in sync on all things should get married so they never need to work on disconnects, that seems pretty hard! Woof. Also, my wife and I contain multitudes and the world goes Womp and whoom and SLAP SLAP SLAP at a persons sanity these days that… is anyone the same person they were a year ago? Two? Five?
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:37 AM on December 31, 2021 [3 favorites]


The pandemic has introduced weirdness that never was in our marriage before, although 97% of is has been us as individual stress emitters and not any real decline in how our marriage functions. But yeah, we had to have our first-ever "how are we doing?" discussions last year, just because our individual stresses were overwhelming. Still, our marriage functions basically as it did since we first became a couple.

I think the function of a couple is there in the first day, maybe the first 10 minutes. You'll feel if it's good or not. That was my experience, including more protracted relationships prior to my marriage that didn't quite work — they never did, really. My wife and I had our guards down with each other pretty much right away and have never had to put them up very much.

I know I'm saying things that will make people want to slap me, or find out that I'm wrong and my wife disagrees. I get that. Sometimes this great part of my life, which has otherwise had real struggles, feels unreal.
posted by argybarg at 10:46 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


I wish I'd felt divorce was a possibility much sooner -- so very much sooner -- than it became the only possibility left. It's holier-than-thou assholes like Burneko who help convince women like me it isn't.

Given that you’ve described exactly how I felt at the end of my rope in my own marriage, I think it’s tragic that you frame this as an instrument of male oppression, rather than something common to the institution itself.
posted by Calibandage at 10:58 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


apologies, missing context for my comment:

… that was the problem. I knew the promise I'd made, and I was coming to know it had been a critically bad idea to make it, yet it was a promise and I was stuck and what the hell was I supposed to do…

I have deep compassion for this experience
posted by Calibandage at 11:04 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


Finally, in telling people that I have a marriage that feels great and keeps going without much work, I don't mean to imply that marriages that don't function in that same way are lesser or wrong.

I do think the advice that "marriage is work" is hazardous for its ability to run away with itself and normalize unhealthy relationships that do more harm than good. I also do think that basic agreements on decency and kindness are a necessary precondition for a good long-term relationship.
posted by argybarg at 11:09 AM on December 31, 2021 [4 favorites]


My two brothers have wives who are bored with them and have resorted to lying, heavy flirting with other dudes, and possibly cheating. Huge fights have become common in their marriages. Both brothers have quit drinking, while their wives drink heavily and stay out late with other guys. I've been advising them both to get marriage counseling, and to do their best to find compromises, create an environment for trust and sincerity, try to learn what they need to improve as a partner, work a lot on communication, etc.

Meanwhile I'm married to a traditional Asian woman who is intensely jealous, never drinks, and strenuously avoids any possible appearance of having flirted with another guy. I try to encourage her to loosen up, feel free to talk to guys who aren't me, have a drink now and then. Our relationship has other types of problems that also create huge fights and difficult feelings. But she's adamant that she will stay together with me for life, as it's a key part of her culture. That feels great and secure to me although I'm a leftist/feminist and I see the harm (mostly to women) in traditional cultures' marriages. In any case, we still have plenty of work to do on ourselves and our relationship.

My point is that yes, it takes work, and sometimes one person is more willing to carry the water than the other person. Sometimes one partner takes on the self-work they learn is needed, while the other one is somewhat blind to their own shortcomings and doesn't want to introspect much. But if it's possible to save the marriage and fix it, better times may be down the road after the difficult work is done. I think people in Western cultures may see a marriage as a trial period or as disposable, as I used to (I'm twice divorced), and not worth making much effort to fix or keep. Why compromise one's happiness and comfort, when one could simply switch out one partner for another?

On the other hand, in cases of abuse, violence and toxic environments where there appears to be no possibility of reform, it takes courage (and often money) for the victimized person to get away, and it's not easy. Above I'm mostly referring to the marriages where there is some semblance of equality in terms of power.

Sorry that none of this is about the article, but just wanted to share some of my thoughts on marriage, as I'm on my third time thru the journey and hopefully the last.
posted by TreeHugger at 11:14 AM on December 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


Keep in mind that when the marriage service was codified to have the responses me "I will," the word will did not mean making a commitment as in "I will bring it to you," but a desire as in. "If it be thy will".

Similarly the word will meaning the document setting forth how someone wants their property distributed, also stems from the original meaning of will as what someone desires.

So the original marriage service, "Do you Jane the Brown take this woman to have and to hold, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish..." etc was answered with "I want to". The purpose of the vows was to show that there was no coercion and give either party the opportunity to change their mind before it became regarded as promise.
posted by Jane the Brown at 12:13 PM on December 31, 2021 [5 favorites]


A lot of years ago I did as Havrilesky did

You did not. She wrote a book, which took months or years, and her husband knew what the content was, because she reports that she was transparent with him.

Part of what’s going on here is that people are pretending this is something she just … dashed off, and not a piece of considered public writing.
posted by sock poppet at 12:46 PM on December 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


Also absurd is this wild projection onto how someone in her life would feel, her husband and … her friends, people who know her and who you don’t know.

I can only imagine what her friends are thinking she might say about them if she'd lay into her spouse this way.

How you would feel about something that did not happen to you is irrelevant.

It’s fine not to like it. But the hostility toward her is wild and absolutely not related to the thing she wrote. “Fuck her and her husband”? What? She’s endorsing abuse? What?
posted by sock poppet at 12:49 PM on December 31, 2021 [3 favorites]


Part of what’s going on here is that people are pretending this is something she just … dashed off, and not a piece of considered public writing.

Is that all it takes, to turn a piece of writing into a perfect reflection of what you want to say, and only what you want to say? I'm relieved to hear it!

How you would feel about something that did not happen to you is irrelevant.

How is this compatible with writers like Havrilesky having an audience?

It seems odd on the one hand to evoke "considered public writing" and on the other to deny people the right to react to it, as one might if one were simply overhearing someone's personal conversation.
posted by praemunire at 12:54 PM on December 31, 2021 [9 favorites]


Is that all it takes, to turn a piece of writing into a perfect reflection of what you want to say, and only what you want to say? I'm relieved to hear it!

This is disingenuous as hell and I’m sure you know it. I didn’t say that at all.

I’m not saying people don’t get to comment. I’m saying the parasocial reaction is weirdly violent, a reaction I’m also allowed to have. Many things in this conversation are sexist. That intensity is one of them.
posted by sock poppet at 12:56 PM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


This is disingenuous as hell.

Why? People's reacting as if this piece is unkind to her husband or seems to reflect deep antipathy for him is hardly incompatible with a belief that she wrote with intention--it's pretty hard not to do so and end up published in the NYT.

Trying to use "parasocial" as a scare word is also...not the best, nor the most accurate (who is making comments that indicate they think they have a personal relationship with Havrilesky, or have an investment in her actual, personal marriage?).
posted by praemunire at 1:01 PM on December 31, 2021 [7 favorites]


A scare word? That’s bad faith. I don’t have anything to say to that or care to be spoken to that way. Happy New Year!
posted by sock poppet at 1:01 PM on December 31, 2021


Hey, sock poppet, I'm not a mod, but editing your comments significantly for content after they're posted is generally not done around here, as it confuses the conversation.

And if all you've got is "disingenuous" and "bad faith," I guess that's it.
posted by praemunire at 1:03 PM on December 31, 2021 [7 favorites]


How on earth is "I would feel terrible if this were done to me" an assumption? That seems like, y'know, a statement.
posted by sagc at 1:14 PM on December 31, 2021 [4 favorites]


that is fair and I can see it’s not quite communicating what I’m observing and/or objecting to. I think there’s an assumption there that is what is happening, that the thing you (one) would feel as a betrayal is what is happening, and I don’t think it is—I don’t think this just popped up to her husband’s surprise, and I think it’s written hyperbolically, not sincerely, and I think that matters to how we put ourselves in the equation.
posted by sock poppet at 1:19 PM on December 31, 2021


And people are saying that, if their partner wrote a hyperbolic description of how much they hate being married to them, it would give them cause to worry about their relationship. That's all.
posted by sagc at 1:22 PM on December 31, 2021 [4 favorites]


praemunire, I did go through what you said to point to what I found disingenuous, but I guess it was deleted, which is fine. I’m not sure it matters to you either way.

I’m getting out of the thread now.
posted by sock poppet at 1:22 PM on December 31, 2021


Wow, I can't remember the last time I was so completely at odds with most of a MetaFilter thread.

Maybe it's because I've read some of her other writing? But to me Havrilesky's piece is almost entirely exaggeration and self-depreciating humor. All of the things she says that you think are horrible? You're supposed to think that. She's talking about her own ability to be completely unfair to her spouse, to only see his flaws, when she's tired and irritated.

And that when you live with someone for a decade, there are harmless but irritating things you have to tune out. But you also see their genuine flaws. And that you can greatly admire someone for their virtues and accomplishments and it's not incompatible with seeing all the times they are being ridiculous and full of shit.

And it's possible to be so un-threatened by acknowledging your flaws that you can encourage your wife to write candidly about them in the New York Times.
posted by straight at 1:22 PM on December 31, 2021 [17 favorites]


The couples that are fighting at a year in and telling themselves "all relationships are work" should not get married.

Another thing is that families and cultures and relationships can have vastly different practices and perceptions about what constitutes "a fight," how much resolving conflict involves hashing everything out vs. letting go and moving on. How much time people need to have alone vs. together. Whether talking about all your worst feelings and irritations and dealing them with self-aware humor feels like genuine intimacy or toxic waste.
posted by straight at 1:45 PM on December 31, 2021 [3 favorites]


I think they key is if the fighting distresses the participants.
posted by argybarg at 2:03 PM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


I've experienced all kinds of relationships in my time so far and one thing I've learned is that not everyone expresses or receives love like I do. I have a lot of couple friends who express their love for one another by being relentlessly "jokingly" cruel with one another. That would not work for me. If someone I were married to said these kinds of things about me I would leave them and I would never recover. But for some people, the currency of love is joking cruelty. Not my thing, but it's definitely a thing.
posted by twelve cent archie at 2:17 PM on December 31, 2021 [5 favorites]


That goes with friendships too. Some friendships are based on more or less constantly breaking balls. I like some but not much and not pointed or cruel; I don’t like to give it or get it. The key is who can adjust and who can’t.
posted by argybarg at 3:28 PM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


welp, this is it for 2021. for the strongly negative reactions to Havrilesky's piece--I mean, therapy for her children?--I just don't get it.. You really hate it, okay. I could not read the Defector piece in its entirety, tone is insufferably treacherous and just gross (to me). I think we all need a break.
posted by elkevelvet at 4:44 PM on December 31, 2021 [4 favorites]


Hey so,

Since March 2020, six of my real life friends have ended their relationships. Three, of those, married, have filed for divorce and one broke off an engagement. These are weird times, people. I don't think most of us are made to have only ourselves for company all the time. and marriages that "work" when there are places to go and things to do outside of a 750 sq ft apt are different when that 750 sq ft apt is everyone, "in sickness and in health" be damned.

I'm a single person, part circumstance and (increasingly) choice. I have complicated preferences. I'm the product of several generations of divorces (my great-great grandmother evidently was the first person in her VA county to--notoriously-- leave her husband back in the day) so I'm out of the gate with zero confidence that most relationships are built to last past. I'm also a romantic and an big softie and all that so--of course--whenever I end up in whatever/if-ever I end up in a thing, I am well night guaranteed to be as holier than thou, #notallrelationships as that Defector dude.

But, like, the best relationships I know are eye rollers. Like, "I love them but" marriages. And what makes them so great is that the "I love you but you sneeze like a goddamn animal and I want to die a little whenever you scrape your fork across a plate" is out in the open and the rest--the moments of tenderness, the empathy, the surprising moments where everything is sweet and wonderful and romantic AF--kind of balances it out. I mean, the people I love most in the world drive me crazy a lot of the time and yet, YET, I would not trade them for anything, because I love them purely and truly and pretty goddamn unconditionally. And when I write about them, especially when I write about them for public consumption, I make sure they know.

Since March 2020, six of my friends have ended their relationships. Of the three that actually divorced one has asked their spouse to return (they declined) and the other has allowed an ex-spouse to move back in. The third is doing quite well on their own.

Relationships are complicated. Especially now. I'm not mad at anyone.
posted by thivaia at 5:18 PM on December 31, 2021 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter: just … dashed off, and not a piece of considered public writing.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:28 PM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


This thread has been a complex conversation on a fraught subject and 99% of the posts on all sides have been thoughtful and respectful, and in the rare case where somebody crossed a line, they generally apologized and/or stepped back. I think it's been a great example of how we can disagree without treating each other unkindly.

I am on the side that thinks the NYT article expressed hurtful contempt, but I want to acknowledge that this is the only Havrilesky piece I've ever read. Those of you who know her work can put this excerpt in a broader context that I can. It's certainly significant that everybody who knows her work read this as affectionate.

Still, I can only react to what I've read. If you want to know why that reaction was so visceral (and why I'm starting my brand new year by posting about this fershlugginer essay), I think it comes down to two things.

First, Havrilesky isn't just telling me that she understands her own marriage. She is telling me that I don't understand mine:

“Well, speak for yourself. I don’t hate my husband,” one of you holier-than-thou marrieds might announce, folding your hands primly in your lap. Do you think I can’t see your left eye twitching ever so slightly, as you resolve to never let each little irritation add up and move into your conscious mind like a plastic bag floating out to sea and then joining the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

She's not just contemptous of her own spouse; she is contemptuous of me, for not being contemptuous of my spouse. If some of the reactions have felt parasocial -- if it as seemed as though some of us have wanted to make this article about us-- it's because Havrilesky turns to the reader and makes it about us.

Second, I think this is the rare Metafilter thread that can actually have an impact on people's lives, for good or for ill.

I have witnessed people stay in unhappy relationships for complex reasons that no outsider can magically fix. But I have also witnessed people stay in unhappy relationships simply because they do not believe happy relationships exist. Because they believe (as Havrilesky puts it) "Love and hate are birds of a feather. I need you, therefore I hate you."

And if somebody is reading this thread who believes that, I just want to report that it is not true. I can tell you, without eye twitching or prim hand-folding, that after 24.5 years of marriage, I love my wife, yet have never hated her; that I need her, yet have never felt contempt for her. And insofar as one human being can ever know another, I believe she would say the same thing about me.

Maybe I'm kidding myself. Maybe year 25 is the year when it all falls apart. But even if that happens, I've still had 25 years of being happy. (Or, at least, 25 years of thinking I'm happy, which is functionally the same thing.)

And I would not have had those years if I had believed that sporadic contempt was the best I could hope for. I never want to be the smug married person who pops into a thread about romantic misery and says, "Well, I'm happy." But in this one specific case, to anybody who is staying in a contemptuous relationship because they think it is the only kind on offer, I want to say this: There is such a thing as a liking and respecting the person you love, and being liked and respected in turn. And as a human being, you have every bit as much right to it as I do.
posted by yankeefog at 2:46 AM on January 1 [28 favorites]


I like Yankeefog's post, particularly about the tact and kindness on display in the thread.

I also kind of suspect the actual litmus test here (& people are right to identify one) might be something like "ambient experience of the world" rather than anything about marriage?

Havrilevsky describes a marriage where you really do often feel deep frustration with someone, even a deep sense of despair about the whole thing but it's still better than the alternative. The people (like me!) who find this a totally incomprehensible position are, I think, mostly unable to empathise with this kind of... free-floating bad time, rather than anything about her experience of love in particular. My marriage was much better than that - we never fought, I almost never felt frustrated in any way whatsoever, the other party had a huge amount that was loveable about them, and nothing that was hateful at all - yet still I left, and it was the right decision! Being single is much better than that.

Meanwhile I think lots of people are reading this article as narrating a totally normal level of everyday irritation, and thinking - 'well, that's just love, isn't it?'. And for them, it really is - I actually *do* read this article as her being fond of her husband. It just means something very different from what it would mean for me.
posted by wattle at 5:10 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]


From "Ask Polly" a few days ago: "That’s the moral of this excerpt of my book that just ran in the New York Times: All of the things that drives me crazy about my husband are closely related to what I love so much about him. Loving someone for years necessarily includes acknowledging and accepting your ambivalence and grumpiness and theirs — and celebrating all of it, as much as you both can."
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:02 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Just because someone’s your favorite person, it doesn’t mean you can’t absolutely loathe them from time to time.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:56 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Also, surprised there isn’t more discussion of how having kids completely changes the entire equation of “How do I feel about this relationship as a long-term thing?”
posted by gottabefunky at 11:00 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Hey fellow commenters, you will probably find interesting Havrilevsky’s extended commentary on the whole kerfuffle.
posted by HotToddy at 9:46 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Here's a more direct link to the response HotToddy referred to. Her thoughts about the discussion of her marriage article start after the first *** mark.

After reading that, I think I can articulate some things I was thinking about this discussion:

1. Havrilevsky believes that many people repress and deny feelings about their relationships out of shame. She thinks it's healthier to recognize and articulate what you're feeling, even if you aren't proud of those feelings. She thinks many feelings people are ashamed or afraid of are not incompatible with having a good marriage.

2. There are also people who repress and deny that they are in an abusive relationship out of shame. People who don't recognize their own behavior as abusive and also people who don't know they could have a relationship without being abused.

3. Havrilevsky uses different language for her feelings than some people do. Her use of the word "hate" describes thoughts and feelings that other people also have but which they would not describe that way.

4. People have significantly different inner lives. There are people who genuinely don't have the same feelings that Havrilevsky describes in their relationships. Or the magnitude of feeling is different; things she describes in detail others would think too trivial to talk about or dwell on. Whether or not she's accurately describing her husband's feelings, I think there really are people whose reaction to their spouse publishing something like her article would genuinely be "DUDE, WHO CARES WHAT PEOPLE THINK?" And there are also people who would feel hurt and betrayed by what she wrote.

The combination of all these things means it can be really hard to judge whether someone is in a healthy or toxic relationship based on how they write about their feelings. I think you can more confidently make some judgments based on behaviors, but how people report and describe behavior is also subject to all these differences.
posted by straight at 11:37 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


She writes:
I’m here to defend flinty personalities and bad days and marriages that aren’t music videos, that’s all. That’s not the same thing as promoting resignation and contempt. The New York Times excerpt of my book isn’t about how terrible my husband is, it’s about how hard it is to be a conflicted mortal chained to another mortal. If you can’t tell that I’m the irascible nightmare in that picture, just keep reading! Trust me, it’s crystal clear by the end of my book. I’m not promoting hatred, I’m promoting acceptance of your flawed self, which makes it possible to accept other people’s flaws and the deeply flawed universe outside your door.
posted by straight at 11:42 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


After reading other comments, Havrilesky's response, etc

Some people talk about having been raised to expect marriage as a happily ever after perfect music video. Or at least, I was constantly told about all those people who are raised to expect marriage as a happily ever after, and how they don't get what marriage is.

If those messages existed, they somehow bypassed me. The messages I absorbed, over and over, was that marriage was hard work. Haaaaaaaaard work. So hard. So very very hard. And those were the positive messages. The negative messages were more like marriage being where love goes to die.

So, uh, I was reluctant to get married. To put it lightly.

I am grateful to the woman, married fifteen years, who told me that the best part was ahead, that her love grew so much after marriage as she and her husband stood together through various things and also learned to navigate their various "stuff". I'm also grateful to that one poem about a marriage ending in divorce not being a failure, because a relationship isn't just it's ending.

So I did go ahead and get married.

And then spent years anxiously wondering when the hard part would start. When was the hard part? When was the hard part coming? Was this the hard part yet? Was this the hard part yet? Everyone said marriage was so hard! Was I still in a delusional honeymoon phase? Was I in denial? Why wasn't this hard yet? How would I know my relationship was real and not a fantasy without the hard part? Was I so deep in denial I didn't even know I was twitching as I claimed my marriage was wonderful?

Even as I write this, the narrative about marriage being hard and anyone not having a hard time being a clueless naif means I feel the need to preemptively apologize that maybe I just haven't been married long enough. Surely the hard part is coming and I will look back with patronizing condescension at myself of today, posting this.

I remind myself of my 80 year old biology teacher who said she never fought with her husband of 50 years. She was very visibly happy every time she talked about her marriage. (I had another teacher who spoke with us very frankly about the therapy she and her husband went to and how hard it was, and they were also visibly happy. But only one got the "haha she can't be serious" reaction, and people assuming she must be downplaying the truth.)

So I think the original article is too combative in tone. Maybe your marriage is fine, it doesn't suck, you know better than I do and there are all kinds of happy marriages out there. But I am still really sick of:

>Do I hate my husband? Oh for sure, yes, definitely. I don’t know anyone who’s been married more than seven years who flinches at this concept. A spouse is a blessing and a curse wrapped into one. How could it be otherwise? How is hatred not the natural outcome of sleeping so close to another human for years?

>“Well, speak for yourself. I don’t hate my husband,” one of you holier-than-thou marrieds might announce, folding your hands primly in your lap. Do you think I can’t see your left eye twitching ever so slightly, as you resolve to never let each little irritation add up and move into your conscious mind like a plastic bag floating out to sea and then joining the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Being the accepted marriage wisdom we all have to kowtow respectfully to, even while pretending it's something edgy and new and shocking rather than the dominant ambient message about marriage. And any voice raised in objection is clearly a man who is horrible to his long suffering wife and oblivious to it, or a newlywed, or a sanctimonious preacher.

The message I get over and over from these articles is how dare I be uncomplicatedly happy in my marriage, I'll get what's coming to me, oooooh. One day I'll see what a fool I've been for thinking that, well, actually I've been married for more than seven years and do, in fact, flinch at the thought of hating my husband, blanch at describing him as a "blessing and a curse"?

Anyway I guess time will tell. Maybe the hard part is still coming.
posted by Cozybee at 9:08 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]


One of my friends on Tumblr summed up my problem with this essay pretty succinctly. An excerpt: "She's structured the whole piece basically around amirite, folks? But she's not. She's framed what could have been a sharp, darkly funny piece about her own interiority as a Common Human Experience, and openly scoffed at people who dissent as liars."
posted by merriment at 10:35 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


Thank you, straight, for the better link. I should have checked how that would show up.
posted by HotToddy at 11:28 AM on January 4


This set of articles and thread has been a really, really interesting ride. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

While it’s clear to me that the original Havrilesky piece is humor, and that it’s intended to be dark, I just don’t think it’s funny. It feels dated, from an era when women comics were beginning to be paid for Why Men Suck jokes in addition to ye classic I’m A Dumb Slut jokes and gentle Lady Observational Humor. Some humans suck, and stories about sucky humans can be really funny - especially when, as part of the laugh, we have a flash of insight that WE, too, are capable of sucking.

But to me, un-self-aware #husbandsamirite humor doesn’t feel much different than the generations of male comedians whose jokes were built out of misogynist garbage about the nagging ice-queen golddigging let-themselves-go women they were married to. They’re cheap laughs - they work by confirming something people already think, rather than inviting them to challenge what they think. I’d love to see dark humor that humanizes “ flinty personalities and bad days and marriages that aren’t music videos“, but (for me) this ain’t it.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 3:32 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Excerpts from Havrilevsky's article and the response article have started bouncing around on Tumblr. (Or maybe they've been there for a week or two and I've just now started seeing them, whatever.)

And I immediately thought back to the emotional labor thread, and wondered: How much of her married life has been focused on "how do I make everyone happy or at least content so things don't explode for all of us?"

And saw that the "rebuttal" article is by a man, who loves his wife, and loves being married; marriage is the best thing that ever happened to him; his wife agrees that they have a good marriage! So Havrilevsky is wrong when she says all marriages are like this.

(Of course they're not! Why, I can name at least three M/F marriages of more than 7 years, that have kids, where as far as I know, the wife never thinks sometimes I hate my husband.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:19 PM on January 8


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