THIS is why

Here’s another letter from one of my “fans.”

What a sad article you wrote.

And yes, I am bitter and angry, but more importantly I’m ready to tell it like it is to anyone willing to listen.

No, I’m not a beer swilling, football watching, fat lazy lay-around-the-house-and-pass-gas kind of guy. Quite the opposite. Not trying to brag through the anonymity of email, but I’m a good looking, college educated enterpreneur that is able to pretty much do whatever I want and when I want to, at least for the last few years. That goes for my wife as well.

By that, I mean she benefits enormously from my success. She doesn’t have to work, she refuses to work in the yard, she does minimal housework/cooking, leaving her only real responsibility in life to care for our 6 yr old daughter, who incidentally, is in pre-school the better part of the week. What a life she has. If only I could have achieved our level of comfort by doing what little she has had to do.

And there are many women in her situation, or at least in part. They have a man who provides a life of luxury (or at least extreme comfort) for them. Yet they refuse to have sex with their husband. Or at least they complain, or find an excuse, any excuse, not to satisfy their husband sexually. We’ve all heard the stories you alluded to in your articles, the jokes about how your sex life goes down hill after marriage etc. It is all true to be certain.

And the fact of the matter… women owe it to us. They owe us sexual satisfaction. Especially the women I described above.     … continued …


Yes, call me a pig, an insensitive bastard, a chauvanist… I am. Never in my life did I imagine I would share the same attitudes of my beer swilling brothers, but they are right. Polite society tells us to be sensitive to our womans “sexual sensitivities” (or lack thereof), but I’ve had it.

Look what little a woman in the situation I described above really is required to do, and how little her husband asks of her. Seriously. A little laundry, some cooking, and raising some children. All under the comfortable umbrella of a husband who asks little or nothing of his wife (sexually) because he has been conditioned, cajoled, or otherwise brainwashed into thinking he is a pig for “expecting” sex from his wife. He is called a bastard for objectifying his wife in such a way.

Well, guess what, our sexual desire is natural and healthy and part of life.

And women (our wives) owe that tiny bit of satisfaction to us when we want it, whether or not they’re “really in the mood” for it or not.

I was a little testy this morning, so I answered:

You call my articles sad, but I think the same of your note.If you think you’re “owed” sex because you “paid” for it, you are thinking of your wife as a whore, an appliance, a mere household convenience. I guarantee she knows it, too. She knows she isn’t loved and that you think you own her body. You certainly don’t want to MAKE LOVE to her, that’s clear enough. Just as you find it maddening to be refused when you think you’ve bought and paid for it, she finds it maddening to be treated as nothing more than a handy vagina you’ve bought and paid for.

No wonder she can’t stand the thought of touching you.

Your marriage is dead. Since you are not willing to make any additional efforts or try anything more emotionally challenging, and you obviously don’t love your wife, I suggest you get divorced and negotiate the price of individual sex acts with professionals for the rest of your life. You’ll both be happier.

Thanks for writing.

Julia

What do YOU think?

Comments in response to this post:
I agree with you, julia. The writer makes it sound as if there’s some sort of quid pro quo agreement, when, I think, anyone who’s been in/is in a longterm relationship understands that it ain’t like that.My wife and I have had problems, but things only get worse when one of us takes the attitude that one person owes the other. That’s even discounting the fact that sex with someone who’s not interested, and doing it merely for the benefit of the other is no fun at all. I’ve been there, and it just ends in more pain and frustration. I can’t imagine that your letter-writer really wants that. Or, maybe I’m just overestimating him, since he obviously doesn’t understand that sex is a consensual act.  

michael • 5/26/03; 10:10:25 AM 
Two medium sexual acts with two toppings(select from our list)–$999/week  

Steve • 5/26/03; 11:02:30 AM 
 Hard to imagine a better example of the situation you’ve been trying to illustrate for all us hard-of-learning guys. Once either partner falls into that “I paid, now what do I get?” mentality, finding intimacy becomes like chasing smoke, and the situation quickly becomes a downward spiral. I’d urge Mr. Can-Do Entrepreneur to be a little bit entrepreneurial about his relationship if he doesn’t want to be visiting his daughter three weekends a month for the next 12 years.  

Rob Salkowitz • 5/26/03; 12:08:04 PM 
 I love reading this column Julia. It makes me keenly aware of how lucky I am and my going-on thirty relationship. No, it’s not always peaches and cream but the fights (Oh the fights – Lowell George) always seem to turn out well. Because, simply, in the end, we love each other. There are better looking women out there as well the reverse, but there aren’t any more beautiful than my wife. Don’t think we’ll be divorcing anytime soon.regards – rich.  

rich pure&simple • 5/26/03; 5:01:06 PM 
I kind of lost interest in your “male fan” when he stated that his “6 yr old daughter…is in pre-school the better part of the week.” Six is a little old for pre-school, unless she was a guest speaker.  

MJS • 5/26/03; 8:22:01 PM 
Initially, I really wanted to be sympathetic towards the man. That was, after all, the situation I was in during my first marriage. I worked, she didn’t. I paid her way through college, although she wasn’t taking a particularly difficult load and wasn’t pushing that hard to finish. I didn’t mind. She was my wife.She was home most of the day. She didn’t cook, didn’t clean, didn’t do much at all. I figured that, since she was in school often enough, that it counted as being employed. So we should split chores equally.  

It didn’t work out that way, and I did most of the chores.

Our sex life was nonexistant. It had been from about the moment we moved in together. I didn’t press her, and we had sex on her schedule. I would, occasionally, try to talk about it. Or suggest various possiblities (ranging from vacations to couples therapy). She wasn’t interested, as she enjoyed her life. She had sex when she wanted it, went to college on my dime, and didn’t do a lot other than that.

Did I come to resent her? Sure I did. A little for the sex, since it seemed I was the one who was doing all the compromising. Mostly, however, for the fact that I did all the work. All the housework, all the cooking, all the money-making, all the relationship work.

I’m not so sure you’re fan is really angry about the sex. It’s possible he’s angry for the same reason I was. He doesn’t feel that the division of responsibility in the relationship is terribly fair, and is trying to “readjust it” in a fairly bad way by making sex a “Responsibility”.

He’d be better off seeking therapy for the two of them and finding a more fair division of responsibilities.

As for me, I divorced her. It became increasingly clear that we’d gotten married for all the wrong reasons, and that far from helping her (my intention) I was making things worse. I saw her through college, ensured she had health care until she graduated and got a good job, and then we parted ways. I understand she’s been far happier the last several years than she was the entire time I knew her.

I got remarried to a wonderful woman, whom I married for the correct reasons, and thankfully “My Wife Won’t Have Sex With Me” isn’t an issue. There’s a lot to be said for openness about problems and good communication.

Morat • 5/27/03; 9:11:22 AM 
The issue of who does what work in and around the house is completely separate from that of quantity/quality of sex, and trying to link the two will poison the entire relationship, especially the sex.The only way I could agree with this man would be if his wife had explicitly promised to exchange sex for a comfy lifestyle, and failed to keep the promise. Even then, that’s a lousy deal for both parties (for one thing, it’s unenforceable), and he should not have taken the bait.  

What does he have to offer his wife sexually? Have they discussed this among themselves? Does he try to please his wife when they’re going at it? Does he care about her desires and feelings?

The man’s attitude is his own fault; but that’s not the whole story here. We’re not getting the full picture.

Raging Bee • 5/27/03; 9:58:56 AM 
Did I come to resent her? Sure I did. A little for the sex, since it seemed I was the one who was doing all the compromising. Mostly, however, for the fact that I did all the work. All the housework, all the cooking, all the money-making, all the relationship work. Hey, it happens. There are plenty of clueless, lazy and selfish women in the world. It’s just that in my experience, for many men giving up on their wives is much, much easier than trying as hard as you did. Others tend to overestimate their efforts by “counting” tasks or emotional approaches that their wives never even see. That’s why a searching and honest mutual appraisal of your relationship and workloads can be so valuable.  

The only way anyone can know for sure that their marriage belongs in the Dispose-All IS by making the effort to communicate and change their situation. If — being absolutely honest with yourself — you feel you’ve made make a visible and sustained effort to communicate or improve your relationship and your spouse still doesn’t respond and is even unwilling to talk about it, then you can leave in good conscience.

Think of it as something you do for YOURSELF, for your own future peace of mind.

Julia Grey • 5/27/03; 10:04:39 AM 
As I said, we went for therapy. I even went for therapy on my own. I was bound and determined to make sure that I had, in fact, tried everything. That I wasn’t making excuses to get out.One of the silver lining’s is that I learned what I needed in a relationship, and what I could offer. Honestly offer. And I found a woman who provided what I need, and wanted what I offered. Makes life a lot happier, when you act like yourself.  

Morat • 5/27/03; 1:11:38 PM 
I have a hard time believing that any parent who lived with their child past the first few years doesn’t know that six year olds are past preschool. If this writer is making up the kid, he’s probably making up the whole over-the-top story to get a reaction. Which he got. See the definition of “troll” at http://jargon.net/jargonfile/t/troll.html  

Ananda-mouse reader • 5/27/03; 4:40:02 PM 
That had crossed my mind, s.But I think he’d show up here to continue the fun if that was the case.  

I prefer to think he just had a brain fart (which is not not inconsistent with the level of anger the note was expressing).

I got a lot of similarly resentful feedback in the beginning of this blog. It tells me there’s a lot of fury and pain out there, and sometimes intellectual details/writing skills slip away from us when we’re that upset (or intoxicated).

Julia Grey • 5/27/03; 6:25:15 PM 
Hiya, jumping back in after an extended absence.I’m the anal-retentive “accountant”.  

I agree that your new correspondent is nuts if he expects to knock boots on *his* schedule simply because he’s carrying the family financially. But.

He’s definitely owed *something* he’s not getting out of the relationship, and that is respect. Taking his accounting at face value he’s getting SFA for his dime/time. Trust me, I know what minimal cooking and housework means.

Unlike his wife, mine wife is the uncompensated President of a non-profit organization, had a book published last year, and tended our son when I’m working. While she contributes comparatively little to the household, she is “working”, at least.

Your new correspondent’s wife doesn’t seem to be doing *anything* (or perhaps she’s “doing” the poolboy while the kid’s in school) and I can see the justification for his frustration.

There are two ways to devalue someone’s contributions to an organization, by disparaging them or by taking them as one’s due. His wife takes the latter course. Mine takes the former course by pointing out my failures . . . but only when she’s already angry about something.

BTW, us older folk often confuse kindergarten and pre-school – it’s a recent trend to send kids to “school” before kindergarten – and use the words interchangeably. So the kid could be 6 chron but unable, due to a post-September birthdate, to go to first grade.

Or the kid could be “special needs”

Canwechangemynametosomethingelse? • 5/30/03; 8:37:34 AM
There is a problem with the post. However, the problem has nothing to do with the man’s need for sex. The suprising part is that he feels he needs to justify his need for sex in some way.No, his right to having a sex life does not extend from his earning capacity or his role in the household. That’s just his right as a red-blooded man. And if he doesn’t feel happy with it, he should just try to work it out, or get a divorce.  

Plain and simple.

Let’s face it, monetary considerations aside, few people, including the owner of this site, would have been angry had the original poster had been female, rather than male. “He doesn’t hold me anymore.” “He doesn’t show any PASSION anymore in his lovemaking.” “He doesn’t take his time.”

Bleh. Meanwhile, said woman is sitting on her ass waiting for him to read her mind. More likely, she thinks the best way to make him feel good about sex is to buy herself some new underwear for HIS birthday.

Uh. Whatever.

To each his or her own.

So my only message to the guy, is that you’ve got a right to be angry. But really, there should be no need to justify it based on the number of dollars you make. That might be pervceived as rude, and probably won’t get you very far anyways.

Just say what you want: sex. That’s all that need be said, really. Most of us sane folk are pretty sound with that.

moses • 5/30/03; 3:58:30 PM 
Regardless of the poster’s attitude re expecting sex in exchange for the financial and other things he has provided to his wife, a sexless marriage is generally doomed (unles you’re over 60 or something). You can condemn his reasoning all you like, but the fact is, they are finished if she won’t have sex with him anymore. And, as well they should be. No one should be expected to live in a sexless marriage.  

Matt Campbell • 5/30/03; 6:24:40 PM 
Allow me to suggest a solution to this man’s problem: a new definition of masculinityOn more than one occasion, we’ve heard the feminist criticism that men have yet to “re-invent themselves”. Women have been re-inventing themselves over the past thirty years, these critics insist. As usual, according to feminists, the problem lies solely and exclusively with men.  

Men are said to be confused about their roles, because feminism has redefined women’s place in society, but hasn’t addressed the question of what men’s role is; moreover, it’s up to men to catch up. Attempts to obtain clarification on which areas or what re-inventing one’s self actually means are generally responded to with, “men just don’t get it.” One would hope for a more sophisticated and informative response, but it isn’t forthcoming.

Since the answer to this admittedly ill-posed question isn’t going to appear out of nowhere, I propose my own answer, my own presumptuous attempt to redefine men and masculinity.

It’s all about work.

A central tenet of feminism is that women’s oppression transcends time, geography, history and culture. Whatever the transcendent notion of oppression is, it is clear that the subjugation of intelligent labor is involved, and not the labor of beasts. This connection with the subjugation of labor is perhaps one reason for the common affiliation of feminism and Marxism.

In response to the recurrent theme of the subjugation of labor, and in accordance with the popular pejorative notion that men are extremely simple, my proposed re-invention of masculinity is also simple: it centers on the notion of work.

Buddy, can you par-a-digm?

As in the “older” definition of masculine identity, work is still essential to the identity of men. As the great Zen master said, “men shut up and shovel the gravel.” There is a crucial difference, however. In the older definition, a man is someone who works to provide for others. I propose a radical shift: in the new masculine paradigm, a man is defined by his work, which must be pursued as an end in itself. Providing for others is absolutely not expected–this immediately follows from the principle that a man’s work is to be pursued for its own sake. It must not be taken advantage of or used for anyone else’s gain or benefit, in any way.

An even more radical ideal position would be to insist that providing for others is absolutely not permitted; however, I would consider this the ethos of the man’s man, according to the new paradigm.

Your independence is no one else’s business.

So much has been made about the new independence of women, that men must re-invent themselves in the way I have suggested for this independence to reach its ultimate conclusion, and for men to at last catch up to women, after thirty years of wallowing in outmoded notions of masculinity.

For contrast, here’s what Australian men’s rights advocate Richard Millicer wrote in 1997:

“That’s also why I believe that it is now Women’s turn to change, to develop insight into their sexism, to revise their supremacist self-image. We, Men have been doing that for 30 years as we slowly and reluctantly recognised our contribution to traditional cultural inequalities for Women. Contrary to popular rhetoric and repeated even within the Men’s Movement, it is actually Women who are 30 years behind Men. That is because Women do not even recognise, let alone acknowledge their crucial part in the cultural inequalities for both men and women, but increasingly men. Women still do not recognise or acknowledge the profound impact that their traditional feminine self-absorption and self-righteousness is having on interpersonal, social, economic and political events.”

Millicer’s view is less revolutionary than mine. I don’t bother to criticize women for being self-absorbed or self-righteous–they can be whatever they are. Indeed, I take the position that women’s independence is no one else’s business–virtually by definition. I simply advocate a position which, in its extreme form, would prohibit men from providing for others altogether; its moderate forms would make this a decision which is optional and which may be revoked at any time. In any case, providing for others has been removed entirely from the definition of masculinity.

This does have the consequence that no man could claim to be better than any other man on account of his ability to provide for others. This is because work must be pursued for its own sake. A demand that work should be pursued for the sake of others is to impose a kind of servitude on others–and that may be un-American.

Mars • 6/1/03; 1:20:47 AM 
After several visits, I have managed to work my way through this whole thread. And, “work” is certainly the operative term here. Compared to contemporary marriage, even the most onerous job begins to seem like a cakewalk.On the one hand, it does seem to me like you are out to do an essentially “good thing”. (with a nod to Martha). If men are out to find ways to entice their wives to have sex with them, then it makes perfect sense for them to have to pander to women in the ways which you subtly suggest.  

However, for those who don’t fall neatly into the stereotypes of men wanting and women witholding, it seems that the fundamental nature of the marriage relationship is being perverted. Wendy Dennis wrote a book a few years back called “Hot and bothered: love and sex in the 90s”. She devoted an entire chapter to the long haul, and made the incredibly perceptive statement that in marriages that last, the partners understand the need and value of “this one’s for you.”

You seem to take great offense when a man expresses the sentiment of having “bought and paid for” sex. In one of your essays, you mention the section of the old marriage vows to the effect of “with all my worldly goods endow.” What this translates to is putting everything one has into the marriage for the sake of the marriage. Holding back and keeping too close books is extremely poisonous to a close relationship.

Under that structure of marriage, providing for her husband’s physical and emotional needs was just as much a part of the woman’s role as providing for her physical and comfort needs was part of his role. In the partnership version of marriage, a woman saying “I’m not going to have sex with you because I’m not in the mood” is the exact equivalent of a man saying “I’m not going to go to work today to make the money to provide for your needs, because I am not in the mood.”

The mysticism which surrounds sex makes it possible to treat it entirely differntly than any other form of human activity. On any given day a man may absolutely hate and dread the thought of going to work, may hate his job so much that it gives him ulcers and other stress induced diseases, but continues to do it because it is the means of living up to his understanding of a commitment he made. The more obnoxious he finds his job, the more of a statement it is of how much he is trying to do for her by persevering at it – shutting up and shoveling some gravel as the poster just above describes it.

This afternoon I passed a magazine rack and had a look at the current issue of Glamour magazine. One of the cover stories was “getting the kind of sex you want.” Each of the several segments of the article was titled “You want more ________ ” And that certainly fits with my perception of women over the past 3 decades or so – no matter what they HAVE, they always seem to want more.

I had the thought of adding a very evil tag line to the name of your blog – “Why your wife won’t have sex with you, but is harassing the shit out of me to have sex with HER.” Call me Al Bundy – my years since middle age have been spent fending off predatory wives looking to trade up when it comes to husbands, and using sex as the bait. My cynical side comes out when I feel like suggesting to men that if his wife won’t sleep with him, then just sleep with some other man’s wife who has soured on her husband and have him sleep with yours.

All in all, reading your blog has made me want to take some advice my doctor offered me several years ago. When he asked me if I was married, and I said no, I wasn’t, he said “ever morning and every night get down on your knees and thank god.” He was just going through his second very ugly divorce, at age 69, and was just coming to grips with the fact that no matter how much he wanted to make the concept of marriage work, that it just didn’t seem to any more.

But, reading your blog has made me truly thankful that I stubbornly resisted being shamed into marriage by all the man-bashing about “men can’t make committments.”

zed • 6/1/03; 5:31:28 PM 
Funny how “owing” sounds an awful like “owning.”Any etymologist around here by the way?  

julien • 6/1/03; 5:49:01 PM 
Uhm, Julia?Grow up.  

For a majority of people alive today, marriage is prostitution. For an overhwelming majority of all the people that have ever lived, marriage has always been prostitution.

Not too many people live in the First World where people are wealthy enough to pretend it isn’t. For everybody else, marriage is legal, socially acceptable, long term prostitution. Both partners offer sex in exchange for goods and/or services.

The deal works out something like this. Women get food, shelter, a (relatively) stable and secure place to raise their children AND sex in exchange for maid service, child rearing, AND sex. Men get maid service, child rearing AND sex in exchange for providing food, shelter, a (relatively) stable and secure place to raise their children AND sex.

That makes both partners prostitutes. Women want sex, need sex, crave sex, and require sex as stongly if not more strongly than men. Your anonymous responder’s problem may be that he’s lousy in bed. If that’s the csee he’d better learn how to be a better lover. If that’s not the case, then she’s ripping him off.

The question isn’t whether this poor guy married a prostitute, he did, and he’s one as well for that matter. The question is: did he marry an honest prostitute?

If it’s the case that he’s an adequate or better lover, then the answer is no. She’s ripping him off and he has every right to be angry about it.

On the other hand if he’s awful in bed, then he’s the one that’s in breach of contract and his anger is totally misplaced. There isn’t enough information presented to make that determination.

Your chastising him for being angry over the situation simply demonstrates what a chauvinist pig you are.

Waldo • 6/1/03; 10:43:57 PM 
Wow. See, had you asked me to define my marriage, I would say “Well, it’s two people who enjoy each other’s company living together and raising a family”.Sex life fits under “enjoying each other’s company” (one of many ways). Chores, bills, and jobs fit under “raising a family”. She didn’t marry me for the money, and I didn’t marry her for easy sex. We married each other because we were far happier together than we were apart.  

Morat • 6/2/03; 1:26:05 PM 
I think I’ve said this before, Morat, but you are a very wise fellow.smile  

Julia Grey • 6/2/03; 2:44:54 PM 
and a LUCKY one.  

zed • 6/2/03; 4:56:47 PM 

Comments Elsewhere

After I posted “THIS is Why,” a now-defunct men’s group had a discussion of my May 26th posting of the email in which a man whines that he isn’t getting what he paid for because his wife won’t provide wet vagina on demand.

The cold-blooded macho swaggering there was very entertaining (in its own sick and useless way). My answer to Resentment Man was characterized as “FemiNazi crap,” even though they went on to almost unanimously agree with my contention: if all a man really wants from marriage is a quid pro quo that guarantees him sex when and where he wants it in return for room and board, he really should spare himself the hassle of finding or staying in a relationship. He’d be happier if he simply bought his satisfaction from pros and didn’t trouble himself — or amateur women — with any of this love, trust, intimacy or life-partnership nonsense.

Since they agree with me, I guess they’re FemiNazis, too. Weird.

Here’s a general reply to the equally furious public comments  on the “THIS is why” post, above:

As I said earlier, there’s obviously a lot of pain out there being translated into red-hot anger and hostility. I’m sorry about that, guys, but I have to keep speaking the truth as *I* see it, too. And the truth I’m seeing is that these expressions of cynicism, this rage, and that everlasting kicking with your poor bruised bare feet at the brick walls of interpersonal erotic reality will get you exactly nowhere. It won’t get you sex, it won’t get you love, it won’t get you respect. It will get you precisely N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

Notice that these guys insist that women are asking too much these days because they are now openly telling men what they need in sex and relationships. Yet at the same time these mopes are insisting that women should be, believe and behave the way they want them to. If wishes were horses….

Again, the question they should be asking themselves is whether they can step up to the challenge of being the kind of man women want to have long-term, satisfying sexual relationships with. If they can’t measure up to those standards of attitude and behavior by which many of their fellow men happily sustain their marriages to all us “impossible-to-please” females, that’s a shame — and I am sorry that these poor angry men are going live their lives hugging nothing but the cold comfort of being In The Right — but frankly that’s not my problem.

I really wonder who needs to “grow up” here.


Anger-related posts: Anger : Comments on Anger : THIS is Why

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