Sunday 18 May 2014

Women’s forgiving failed marriages and unforgiving motherhoods

“Mistakes will always be made, and corrective measures are available. 
But sometimes the doctor will not prescribe, or the medicine is no longer on the shelf.”

A woman at work in her mid 30s has recently commenced a year maternity leave in view of her impending second child.  Her husband is the typical hard-working and providing nice guy.  When you see pictures of them when they met 10 years ago, he was punching above his weight by a good 30% in physical attractiveness terms.  She told me about the jerk she dated before her current husband - who was on drugs and stood her up on one particular New Years Eve.  After the jerk broke her heart, she made the current husband take her on inundated non-sexual dates, as she told him the time wasn’t right.  She realized he was “right” when on another date with a man who attracted a woman sitting by the next table.  This woman gave my work colleague’s date her number.  From that day on, she realized a reliable, low-maintenance man was what she needed for the future.  Don’t you just pity poor fools who are happy to be second best?

In irony of how life plays, 10 years on has brought about a pronounced shifting of the guard.  The physical rating imbalance, whilst still in her favour, is by no means what it was.  I’d say the once 30% leverage on her part is no more than 10% today.  The husband in this dynamic is earning well, and although he’s never going to be a head turner, he does style well in clothing respects.  If 10 years ago would have left him thinking he won the lottery in securing what he then had in her, I bet not many days go by when he wonders what could be today.  And in the way she looks at me, I can tell there is still a nagging feeling in her reminisced mind in respect to the guys she was involved with in her wilder days.  But love conquers all, right?

During her last couple of days prior to departing, she made an interesting point in response to a comment I made about birthing children being the most important days of someone’s life alongside the wedding day.  She said that having a child with someone is a far more important choice, as a person can leave a marriage with no particular required tie, yet kids will be with you forever.  It made me think a little further, and she makes an excellent point.  But when I replayed the words in my head once more, it became a little clearer to the meaning behind it all.  Ultimately, and in general terms, a marriage is a greater risk to a man than a woman.  Having children, in general terms, is a move that implicates more on women, than men, if things go horribly wrong.

I always remember when I was a kid at the time my parents separated.  It appeared such a big deal 20 years ago, as nobody else in my friendship network had gone through this ordeal.  It was as if a stigma was attached to divorce, and the failure reflected on the whole family.  Surely only divorces happened in the movies?  Once my brother lived with my Mum, and I stayed in the family house with my Dad, the dust did slowly settle.  In retrospect, Mum had moved on well before she left per se, but in truth, Dad (god bless his soul) never recovered from losing the woman he loved.  They were both to blame as much as each other, but if there is one thing I will never forget it was how my mother and older brother brainwashed me into thinking it was all my late father’s fault.  I forgive them both for their misdemeanours, but erasing it from my mind is a far more difficult task.

Nevertheless, what cannot be denied is that the perception of divorce has most certainly changed.  It is almost a given in this day and age, and to say it is a flip of the coin for a marriage to work out is being generous to optimists.  The odds are on it not working out.  So many people dive in due to the concerns that time is running out, but would an extra year getting to know each other better really have been such a sacrifice?  Then again, would it have made any difference to the overall outcome?

When all is said and done, and people from both sides can argue with weak reason, a wedding day is usually a female inclination and a male acting like a lapdog with a cheque book.  Sure, this is a broad statement, but with the exception of daughters belonging to extremely wealthy parents, I’d stake a large amount of money on the assumption that the majority of weddings in the western world are primarily funded by the man.  Let’s face it, most men believe the best way to lock down a woman, especially when he is with a better looking woman, is to give her what she wants.  What she wants the most is a wedding day to show off to the world.

Many couples get carried away with the wedding, and in turn they take a certain level of oversight to the fact they should, in theory and in vows, be spending the rest of their life as husband and wife.  Then we go back to the consequences of a failed marriage, and the repercussions for women are more forgiving than for men.  Women may bemoan that they cannot afford to leave a man because she would have to downgrade their lifestyle and living arrangements, but this is a poor argument.  A woman will very rarely come out of a divorce worse off in financial terms than before she met the man she now can’t stand the sight of.  A man, on the other hand, will at best come out no worse off, but more likely he will have to give some of his share in protection of her not pursuing legal (but not moral) rights to his pension fund or savings pot. 

In the interim period between jettison contemplation and divorce paper signatures, there is nothing to stop a woman going out with the ladies to find a more suitable man.  If a hunted man finds a married woman physically attractive, he isn’t going to let the wedding ring stand in the way of a sexual adventure.  She will know early on that her marriage will not last long term, and deep down she will have probably known this as she walked down the aisle.  But the big day, and exploitation it brings, is a bigger prize than the risk of the marriage not working out.  And whilst it has been referenced on this blog before, remember that the majority of divorces are initiated by women.    

So if women are the big winners out of marriage, why are they the big losers out of failed relationships with children involved?  As mentioned above, a married woman with quality will still be desirable to other men.  Personally speaking, I would always choose an unmarried woman over one sporting a ring if all else is equal, and I’d be confident in predicting this applies to nearly all other men too.  However, I would pick a married woman who made my balls hard over a single woman I was indifferent about.  But then throw kids into the equation and I would expect most men, like myself, start to think a little differently about the whole proposition.

There’s no way of hiding from reality, as once a woman has a child she is no longer as desirable to as large a pool of men in comparison to prior pregnancy.  Even if she is as hot as hell, she still will not have as many members of the opposite sex considering her as long term girlfriend potential.  Not only does a man have to deal with the natural father being in his face every weekend, but the likelihood is less sex, less money, less time and less appreciation as a ramification of venturing in with a single mother.  Unless I’m missing something in my life, I don’t see many high quality men - with options in women - settling down with current mums.  The men I do see taking this route are usually low in confidence and choices, along with high belief that they can do no better.

But why doesn’t fatherhood negatively implicate on a man’s future dating success in the same way it restricts a woman?  Folks, it’s all been said before on this blog.  Basically, women are attracted to pre-selected men, and a man with a kid proves to other women that he must be worth taking.  They also thrive on fighting for a man’s attention – something that is not easily given to her due to his parentage commitments.  At worst, a man’s array of female followers decreases in small amounts.  More likely is the avenue to a wider range of admiration.

Fundamentally, women crave for the big wedding day, and they are less at risk to the consequences of a marriage break-up.  They are the winners if a marriage fails and children are absent from the relationship.  Once married and with kids, women will still gain financially in comparison to before meeting the respective man, but this will be relative to the ex-husbands wealth.  If he is high earning, the better off she is.  If he is holds down dead end jobs, she will be no better off, almost to the point where it could be harder to survive than when with him (although the UK benefits system makes sure this rarely is the circumstance).

In terms of future relationships, women need to tread more carefully once children are within the bond.  Some young women think that having a kid with a sought after jerk will ensure he has to settle down with her, but this seldom has a happy ending.  Being a father isn’t going to make him stick around in its entirety, and it never seizes to amaze me how less admiring these girls are of the once appealing bad boy when nappies and sleepless nights are the new life.  Simply put, the need for challenge, drama and social proof to external parties – that were the primary motivators in tracking down the jerk - is negated when a baby is puking on her or waking the house up in the early hours of the morning.

Although you do find women, by and large, are more forthcoming in becoming a parent than their male partners, there is no doubting that you will come across occasional couples where the man is pushing forward and the woman is holding back.  Sometimes this is because the woman is of genuine career orientation, but just as probable is the fact she isn’t sure the man she is with is “the one”.  This can even be after the two have become man and wife. 

If I was that man, and my wife was giving me excuses from cloud cuckoo land, I’d be wondering what her motivations were in being with me.  But then again, I’m a clued up guy when it derives to women’s emotional opportunism and cunning plans.  I’d know that a woman can make a contingent decision to marry a man who has never once given her butterfly feelings, yet she will reserve having kids with him because of this identical reason.  She will know a status of “Mrs” doesn’t necessarily hold her back in life, but the crying of “Mummy” will do so.  Lucky for you ladies, for the sake of your ego but not your ultimate happiness, very few suckers men quite see it through the same peripheral vision…


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