Let's Stay Together?

Sometimes you read a study and say "duh!" That was pretty much my reaction to a British Study just released that suggests that when men help with the childcare and housework, couples are less likely to get divorced. Gee, that's a shock. You mean women don't love soloing on the toilet cleaning?

Meanwhile the divorce rate in the US and Canada has fallen, due to the recession. Tough times simultaneously put a lot of pressure on a marriage and also create economic incentives to stay together. This can be both good and bad - no one wants to see people in violent, abusive or destructive marriages staying together for economic reasons. At the same time, my guess is that less mobility in partnership is likely to be a result of harder times and this isn't wholly negative either. But it seems worth asking, if lightly, what is the upside?

I get asked for marital advice surprisingly often, but I don't claim to really have any. I look on Eric as a case of getting far better than I deserve, and frankly, I have no idea how one duplicates this. But given that I've had a spate of requests for advice to the lovelorn, I offer you this humorous version of "why stick it out." It goes without saying that I am not here trying to offer advice to people with real and serious marriage problems - but presumably you are all smart enough to know that you should talk to someone else about that stuff anyway.

I wrote this years ago for a friend, momentarily frustrated with her spouse who demanded on reason why she should put up with him through the apocalypse, when he's so annoying now. I gave her 12 reasons for sticking it out in tough times, for better and worse ;-).

1. Gives you something sustainable to do during those rolling blackouts (sex and fighting would probably both fit the bill, actually.)

2. You can't afford dinner and a movie, much less romantic gifts for your mistress or new sweetie anyway. You might as well stay with someone whose expectations have already been lowered by exposure to the real you.

3. Lowered economic expectations mean that even if you are no longer motivated by staying at home for the sake of the children, you still need to stick it out for the sake of the pets - kibble is getting pricey.

4. Loving partners will often pretend interest in things like the rate of oil extraction in the Ghawar and the carbon impact of driving vs. flying when others begin yawning and wander off.

5. Romantic evenings with spouse may already consist of offering to be the one to cook dinner *and* do the dishes.

6. Newly met potential partners are often turned off by birth control discussions that require low budget home vasectomies or or craft-your-own condoms.

7. The only new people you are meeting are collection agents in Bangalore, and you can't afford the flight.

8. Huddling together for warmth with a damp spouse who has just come
out of the barn is marginally more pleasant than huddling with a damp dog who has just come from the same place. Usually.

9. Since he's already spent tons of money restoring his bike or collecting the complete back episodes of some anime series, you can legitimately tell him to piss off when he complains about you buying bulk toilet paper and dried beans.

10. When your unbearable sister in law and her three obnoxious children move in because of the crisis, the only person who will put up with them is the person who knows that if he/she doesn't, his/her demanding, drunken parents will be out on their behinds. Moreover, the absence of cable can be much compensated for by lengthy discussions of whose relatives are more horrifying.

11. Spouses/partners who truly love you, may come to find your true hair color/hairy legs (face?back?)/chronic allergic snoring/tendency towards simultaneous wrinkles and zits endearing after you can no longer locate or afford products intended to conceal them. One hopes.

12. Once the peak comes, you know that you'll have each other forever, though thick and thin, good times and bad, through all the great exigencies of life. After all, divorce is too expensive and you are conserving ammo.


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I think I'll give this to my husband for our 6th wedding anniversary next month. I know he's not getting me anyway. Like you said, lowered expectations.

So familiarity breeds contempt in prosperity and is a comfort in disparity.

I get that.

On the other hand I have had to sit through my share of domestic abuse dockets waiting to get a judge's signature on this or that.

The judges work crossword puzzles while women in slings or with eyes nearly swollen shut try to perjure their husbands out of county jail so that they can be at work on Monday.

It won't matter for all the wrong reasons.

If the DA doesn't prosecute and the Judge doesn't convict he will kill her next time and that will look bad next election cycle.

If this is happening every where already, all day every day, I shudder to think about what is coming.

Sorry to be a buzzkill.


In lighter news I have been enjoying the schadenfreude of watching my some of my ridiculously coddled over-privileged high school classmates being taken off of allowance.

It's 20 years too late, but their seventy something parents are looking at their ravaged portfolios and deciding that there is probably just enough to keep them in the style to which they should not have become accustomed for the next ten years.

Anyone want to buy a big boat or a slightly used luxury SUV?

The Bride has been filing the divorces for their spouses right and left as people are realizing that they were married to their in-laws the whole time and have been recently abandoned.

I remember the day The Bride discovered how much my parents were worth and immediately began asking questions about why I worked so hard.

I showed her a drawer in my mother's house that contained every rubber band from every newspaper mom had received since 1960.

"There it is." I said (That's what living through the depression looks like.....you want to try asking her if you can have some of her money?"


By Prometheus (not verified) on 19 May 2010 #permalink

Men "help" in their own house or to care for their own kids?
Its not about soloing but about basic responsibility - yours, mine or ours? If I "help" you it's your responsibility, not ours.

Thanks Sharon, definitely ROTFLMAO.
In a {slightly} more serious vein, I highly recomment Lois Bujolds "Sharing Knife" fantasy series. She's the only author I've encountered who addresses alternative methods of sexual pleasure without the overutilized "contraceptive herbs" so beloved of modern female Euro-American fantasy writers who, reasonably, but unrealistically, can't imagine a world without the convenience of "the pill". Of all the products of the technology of our time, I think that's the one I'll miss the most when it's gone. Of course, my wife should be done with menopause by then...


Hahahahahah it's true. We can't afford my razors anymore, but hubby says he loves his hairy wife. And I love him best when he's not cutting his hair for work every month.... dark, curly, sexy hair. :-)

I know he's used to it when I come home from the farmers market with a crate of something. And he's totally down with bulk toilet paper. :-)

I am trying to figure out what all this has to do with 41% of American babies being born out of wedlock.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 19 May 2010 #permalink

Three conjectures.

1) Husbands helping with housework - because more married women made better choices of partners adaptable and engaged enough to include the home in their terms of self-definition.

2) The divorce rate is dropping because more couples are living together long term without a wedding. It keeps the lawyers out of it, and the courts.

3) With a good self image, you should be deliberately surrounding yourself with people of good character, respect, honor, and trustworthiness. You should be striving, regularly, to live up to good people's expectations. And you should make several very good, close friends of your own gender, before considering evaluating a partner-prospect. And don't date until you confirm, through networking and trusted friends, that he/she is a suitable prospect for partner and co-parent.

@Brad- I agree with your #2 conjecture, but after a couple has lived together for 6 months, aren't they considered common-law/defacto anyways? Then if they split up, the courts and lawyers would still be involved, right? That's my understanding, at least.