Recently a blogger named Seth Adam Smith made a post about marriage that went viral. Very viral. It’s been re-posted by women so many damn times that it’s been plastering my personal Facebook and Twitter feeds like some kind of insane malware. You may have been unlucky enough to see this depressing piece of beta culture yourself.
It’s about how “marriage isn’t for you”, it’s about the person you married and your family. Going into a marriage for yourself, he contends, is selfish and wrong. It’s all about the other person.
Before we get into what he said, we have to put it in context, which none of these re-posters are doing. The author of this marriage article:
1. Is devoutly religious (Mormon).
2. Has only been married for a year and a half.
Obviously both of these things are going to strongly and incorrectly color his beliefs about marriage and push them well into Disney zone. Regardless, my argument is not with him specifically. Like most beta males the guy means well, and he will not figure out until much later in life how inaccurate a lot of his premises are, regardless of what anyone tells him right now.
No, my argument is with the thousands of people who are re-posting this article all over the friggin’ internet, completely out of context. Let’s examine the lunacy.
He talks about how he was getting cold feet before his wedding, wondering if it really was the right thing to do. He went to his dad for advice. His dad, who I would bet real money is also a devout Mormon, told him this:
My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.
No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”
But Blackdragon asks, “Does it work?”
One of the many reasons false Disney Societal Programming is so compelling to so many people is because of how wonderful it sounds. Like communism, Disney sounds really terrific on paper. It really does. Just find the right woman, love her unconditionally, be a good, strong husband, and everything will work out. Because you’re a good person who works hard and you deserve it.
I don’t care how cynical you are, but that does sound pretty nice, doesn’t it? Of course it does.
The problem is when we take this wonderful fantasy and apply it to the real world. The real world isn’t governed by feelings or fantasies; it’s governed by laws, specifically those of man, physics, biology, psychology, and cause and effect. Up against these forces, Disney fantasies cannot be sustained.
You can sustain them for a while, sure. Like two or three years, perhaps a little longer.
You can also sustain something that might look a little like Disney but really isn’t. That can work also.
But to sustain Disney literally for the rest of your life, for 45 years straight, in the modern era with people the way they are in the western world…your odds are less than 13%, and that’s if you have a very low sex drive and marry someone who’s the same.
Like millions upon millions of people in society just like him, Smith is looking at the world, trying to determine a path for his life, and asking these two questions:
“What sounds nice to me?”
“What have I been told?”
Instead of thinking, he’s feeling. He “feeling” about what sounds really good to him. A beautiful, smart, fun woman who I can be with for the next 45 years of my life who I will love forever, who will never leave me, and who will never have sex with any other man but me. Wow! That’s sounds really good!
Then he looks at what he’s been told. His father, his church, and his social circle have all told him his entire life that not only can he have that, but if he doesn’t get that, he’s being selfish.
The fact that none of this works in the modern western world is completely irrelevant. So he boldly ventures forth in the exact wrong direction. And like almost everyone else, years later he suffers things like drama, conflict, cheating, divorce, child custody battles, hurt feelings, financial upset, depression, etc.
It gets even worse. After going through a divorce or similar, instead of seeing the light or re-evaluating his approach, he just doubles down like this guy. After all the problems and divorce, he says, “Well, my dad couldn’t have been wrong! After all, HE’S still married to my mom! And I still want Disney, so I guess I just married the wrong person. Now I’ll go find the RIGHT person and try again!”
And the cycle of doom repeats.
When I make a major decision for my life, I ask a very different question first:
I start not with what I want or what I’ve been told, but with what works. Even if there is something my emotions want badly, I take a very hard, cold, objective look at it and make damn sure that it works in the real world. I make my decision based on:
- How human beings really behave in the real world, how they in movies, fairy tales, or holy books.
- How the current laws of the land are actually applied in the real world, not what I think is fair, and not how the original laws were intended to work, and not how the politicians say they’re supposed to work.
- How people behave in current culture, not how they used to in the 1950s or 1800s or middle ages.
- What people are doing right now that is working, not what worked for my parents 40 years ago.
- Statistics and odds. If something only has a 15% chance of working, I’m not going to pursue it. I’ll chuck it and focus on something with better odds. I generally like to see odds of success of at least 70% or so.
- My personal ability to influence the outcome. This is a big one many pro-Disney or pro-monogamy people like to ignore. There are many areas where our personal ability alone can dramatically increase the odds of success, like starting a business or losing weight. There are other areas of life where this is not so, where much of the odds of success are determined by factors completely outside of your control, like getting married and expecting it to last forever harmoniously. As the saying goes, even if you are the perfect partner in a marriage, you’re still only 50% of the equation. Of course you have an influence over your spouse, but you can’t control them. She can still eventually leave (or cheat, or become a bitch, or cut back on the sex) even if you’re the perfect husband doing everything right.
Once I determine if something can actually work in the real world, then, and only then, do I ask the next two questions above that Smith was asking.
If I determine something can’t work, or has very low odds of working (even if I do everything perfectly), then I work on achieving a modification of the item to fit within real-world constraints.
For example, I know that traditional monogamous marriage doesn’t work any more, barring the statistically scarce exceptions to the rule. (The argument could be made that it never really “worked”…go watch an episode of Mad Men sometime for a reminder of how marriage worked in the “good ol’ days”).
That doesn’t mean I throw my arms in the air and declare hopelessness and swear off love or women like a lot of jaded, divorced guys do. Rather, using real-world information from people who have blazed a trail before me, I modify the concept of “relationships” and “marriage” into new concepts that work much better in the real world, as I have already done. The same could be said with other areas of my life, such as business, lifestyle, finance, travel, etc.
Smith goes on…
It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.
Again, that sounds great. There is nothing wrong with any of that on a philosophical level. I’ve been in love a handful of times myself, and yeah, the feelings described above feel really fantastic.
But does that work? And will it keep working long-term? Completely disregarding your own happiness, and devoting your entire relationship life to the goal of making one particular woman happy all the time…does that work? Will it really make her happy long-term? Will she stay with you forever? Will you want to stay with her forever?
Does. That. Work?
Most people reading this already know the answer, even if you’re reluctant to admit it.
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