Surprise? Men Are Reluctant to Write About Marriage

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Gint Aras

Gint Aras has two decades of experience teaching, over ten of them in a Chicago-area community college. He writes a weekly column, True Community, about young men and education. His writing has appeared in St. Petersburg Review (forthcoming, 2014), Antique Children, Criminal Class Review, Curbside Splendor, Dialogo, Šiaurės Atėnai and other publications. He's a photographer and the author of the cult novel, Finding the Moon in Sugar. Check out his website, Liquid Ink and follow Gint on Twitter @Gint_Aras.

Comments

  1. Well if they won’t write extract meanings and language by devious means. Apparently that’s what happens in marriages anyway! I wouldn’t know as a single pouf! P^)

    Ten questions about marriage! Ask them all – get the answers – reveal the truth as required and as you manage to extract it – even like impacted wisdom teeth removed with pliers a shot of bourbon and some camaraderie.

    Why not have people suggest the questions they would most like to ask married men and get an honest answer to. Anonymous Honest Men. I can see a book deal in that one!

    Ask the guys what they would do if they had ten wishes to make their marriage perfect – and having Angelina Jolie as a house maid – cleaning lady – blow up doll could be an option – no holds barred – but they can’t just say Angelina Jolie as a house maid and walk away – it’s 250 words minimum and they have to give reasons why it would work … for everyone in the marriage.

    Maybe the first thing is to ask the guys to give a definition for the word marriage. I don’t assume that people understand that word the same way – and I don’t assume that men and women or even Husband and Wife understand it the same way … or that it keeps it’s meaning over time!

    But ultimately if the guys are just not willing to put out it just means Marriage is a none topic for guys and it is less important than if Daniel Craig has a shaken of stirred 6 pack in the latest Bond – Skyfall. If reality has to play second fiddle to a 44 year old six pack which is only there due to clause 6 in the $20 million actors contract… well It’s time to close up shop and emigrate.

    Anyone fancy Bora Bora? P^)

  2. Juuuuuuulia says:

    I think I can kind of explain this. I think at the start of a relationship, you and your partner start out being really good at communicating about feelings, so they become the person you communicate in that special way. But in the middle or problematic parts of a relationship, where you can see problems and craziness, and communication starts to break down, you realize that you communicate better with the Greate Internet than with your partner. And that feels like betrayal.

    I realized earlier that I can only talk about relationships after they end, at which point I have really precise characterizations for how and why they started and when they went wrong and then how and why they ended. but that moment between knowing that there are large, gaping issues that cannot be addressed without some sort of large, changes that are maybe a break-up, you feel like a traitor for being able to communicate those to the world better than to the person they affect the most.

  3. Two factors that keep a man from speaking on any issue are fear and shame. The writers seem to be ashamed of admitting difficulties in their marriages and/or fearful of their wives’ wrath for exposing them to outsiders. So the secret is out that the state of marriage is not really as blissful as it is made out to be. The real problem is that men enter marriage expecting one thing while in reality it turns out to be something else. The feel really conned and most men do not want to accept that they are foolish enough to have been conned. They are both ashamed for being conned and afraid of thei ego being hurt by admitting to the difficuties in marriage.

    • I don’t think most men are conned into being married. I think most men don’t know what marriage means. Some think it’s a never ending festival of sex, companions to parties, and someone to do their laundry.

      The truth is that most marriage advice is catered to women, because women seek it out. I ran a blog about being a good husband for nearly three years, and you know what, nearly three-quarters of my readers were women.

      The most common comment on the site was, “This is great. I’m going to get my husband to read this.”

      The second most common was, “My husband is addicted to porn/video games. What do I do?”

      Women look for help because they care about their relationships. Men refuse help because they are too prideful or scared to admit that they need it.

      • Women look for help because they care about their relationships. Men refuse help because they are too prideful or scared to admit that they need it.

        I can’t agree with that one. When men and woemn ask me for help I keep finding that men are looking for one thing and women another. Now I know that it’s seen as totally wrong to point out the there is strong evidence of gender differences – because it imperils the One Size Fits All Advice Trope that keeps on getting pushed out.

        As soon as i saw “This is great. I’m going to get my husband to read this.” my heart sank. It may be great fro her and make the whole universe sing, and be of no use what so ever to him except to show that a rather large gulf exists.

        I deal with on-line security – Harassment – Cyber Stalking – and there are massive differences in how men and women react. Oddly there is no difference in the frequency of men and women being harassed and stalked on-line – The high risk age ranges for women are 20 to 40 and men are 30 to 50. Equal numbers or victimised and when to comes to the stalkers equal numbers are men and women. In so many ways it’s a real gender and sex neutral activity.

        But – when you look at victim responses – the highest concern for women if physical safety and for men Damage to reputation – after that it’s very much the same – loss of money – affect upon others – loss of your job – having to move house.

        So when I have a person who tells me they fear for physical safety it’s real – and when another is worried about Damage to reputation they get advice and help on that issue. I don’t swap the advice around or make it all the same because that is about some’s dogma and not the victims needs.

        I wonder where is the basic research into how man and women view marriage – even over time – and if by any chance there are some marked differences which are getting missed and even ignored due to some dogma which may need to be removed.

      • Mr Supertypo says:

        ” Women look for help because they care about their relationships. Men refuse help because they are too prideful or scared to admit that they need it.”

        Well if that is your opinion, is no wonder that men dont seek your help. I would n either.

        • Well, I’m not a therapist or counselor, so that’s okay. ;)

          In all seriousness, though, I don’t mean to come across as callous, this is just what I noticed after running a blog about marriage for more than three years.

          I constantly had men attacking me for making common-sense suggestions about marriage, like put your wife first, don’t watch porn, and spend a little less time playing video games. Women were beating down the door looking for help, while men were…not.

          • Hmm @Cory Huff. – I get asked for advice literally daily – and I advice individuals, not them as a Mass Gender – Mass Group – Mass Noun. I can’t help but notice that your language is quite polarised, genderised and generic. Women This – Men That. The truth is – Due to Common sense ….etc. It has that hallmark of Block Quotas and Ring Fencing.

            I get it the use of language to be pithy – get an idea across quickly – but when the brevity becomes fixed, and even fixated and supposedly connected to the word advice …. sorry but it stops being about advice and becomes just personal opinion and personal dogmas.

            Evidently there is a polarisation around the one size fits all ideal for advice – which quite subtly gets missed, because that Idea is built upon the trope of All Men And Women and Equal In Everything and are to be seen and treated as equal in all things. If there is gross over-generalisation in thinking about the world, it does come out as gross over-generalisation in how people speak about the world – pithy or otherwise.

          • soullite, you’re reading far more into what I wrote than what was intended. I never told any men to “STFU and do what their wife wants you to do.”

            A long term, healthy relationship demands give and take on both parts. Both men and women must be willing to do things that make their partner happy. Sometimes, for women, that means being cool with guys going out have a drink or play video games with their buddies. Sometimes, for men, that means forgoing a night of gaming to listen to his wife talk about what’s troubling her and show her he cares.

            I’ve been married for 10 years, and my wife and I are both very happy. What works for us may not work for everyone, I know that – but I’ve never told any man to just kowtow every whim his wife has.

      • I sure as hell feel conned and if that’s the way you talk to men… no wonder your audience is women.

        • I’m sorry you feel conned. I’ve no doubt this can happen for some people, but I don’t think it’s the norm. I saw your comment about friends getting married. I also have many friends who were married in their 20s and early 30s. Many of them are truly happy.

          I would love to figure out what the difference is, wouldn’t you?

      • @Cory Huff.

        It is a total lie that women care about their relationship and men don’t. The only difference is that Most often, men men favour logic over emotions while women do the opposite. The kind of relationship advice on the Internet and even all those counselling and therapies are crap. No wonder men never seek out those things while women grab anything labeled “a relationship enhancer.”

        As for the fact that maority of your readers are women, it makes me suspect that your advice usually cater to the whims and fantasies of wife. Why would a woman read a blog about being a good husband??? Certainly it is not for her. A woman making her husband read certain blog about being good husband is indirectly making a demand to her husband.

        • You need to re-read my comment. I didn’t say men don’t care, I said that men were too scared to ask for help. There’s a big difference.

          I know men care. I lead a men’s group for my church, and we discuss a lot of this stuff pretty openly – but in very small groups where the risk factor is much lower, and there are no women there to hear what we say.

          My experience tells me that men care deeply about their marriages – but fear and shame prevent an honest discussion of the issues.

          • So any ideas as to the source of that fear and shame?

            • Thank you Danny – I had lost track of that little industrial diamond in the gem strewn field. What it may lack in carat weight it does make up for in Obfuscation. P^)

              So we have the men are not speaking due to Shame meme? I get bemused by this use of the word and the Men-Shame Dynamic and Model. It seems that if a person does not communicate as others require it is caused by “Shame” – which makes me wonder about all those shame filled Foreigners who are just so filled with shame they can”t be bothered speaking English!

              I also have to wonder why so many anglophones are shameless when they go abroad and can’t be bothered learning any of the local Lingo! Is it that there is a fear of Foreign Tongues?

              This men = fear-shame trope is wearing and actually sexist. If the same negative tropes kept on being applied to women, over and over, there would be outrage, but there is this endemic negative trope that being negative about men is to be accepted!

              It’s got that knee jerky defence built in too – It’s sexist – No It’s not Only opressors can be sexist – patriarchy rules all men are patriarchs ( Don’t you contradict me or I will beat you into submission you jumped up little man you) – so you as male are oppressive and sexist and no one can be sexist about you – we have decided and those are our rules … and no you may not go to another play ground with other rules … you get back here now… girls we have a live one…. CHARGE… wax him now…wax him and we shall chant over him as we wax to reprogram and brain wash… and make sure you pull that wax strip off slowwwwwwwwwwwwly… Mad cackling sound stage left! P^)

              Sometimes the only way to get people to recognise their own knee jerking is by Gross Satire – but of course Satire is just the truth expanded and made comically extreme.

              I do laugh, being an out loud and very macho proud pouf, at the tropes of us queer guys being effeminate and great at shopping. I often joked that all i was useful whilst shopping was lifting heavy weights and playing pack horse, general beast of burdon, to madams shoe fetish. Have muscles will lift shopping! So demeaning.

              There is also another male trope that keeps coming up – the Feminist Guy, who’s shameless and fearless and can’t but help use language that is in keeping with his chosen gender identification and association.

              I have an interesting dynamic being a pouf of a certain age – I joke often that I was born a criminal and have seen the world change so much. I went from criminal to proud activist – to everyone’s favourite oppressed group and cause – to uber fashion and everyone has to have one – to yeah you are main stream now – to yup you can be families and you can get married and yup you are now BORING…. and No those sequinned hot pants are just not to be brought out any-more. I knew it was all over when I got an email asking me to contribute to GAY History Month and an eternal rainbow archive of real lived experiences to be held on-line for future students to study across eternity – and we have a facebook page too!

              But you see, I have many straight friends who are now the same age and many I have known for heading on 50 years. We talk and there are even kids and grand kids involved. We talk about all sorts in so many ways, and there is no Shame and no lack of Feelings and no bloody Fear. One thing that does arise often is how some keep lecturing other people an how they are supposed to be – to act – react – speak – not speak – the latests fashion in so many areas including relationships. I even hear so much about people being lectured at – spoken at – and subjected to the Gross Presumption of some people who have bought into the latest radical toy and meme and have to apply it to everyone they encounter by any means.

              It’s like door to door sales men and every house should have one – I’ve bought into the latests meme and I have chosen to sell it door to door – new and Improved MEMO. To get my quota and reward from head office I must present my latest product as Universal … so here we have new Improved, Guaranteed to not fade, can be washed at home and even comes with the ability to drive away vampires as a free added Bonus – I present to you the latest new and improved Male Shame! Agree to buy Male Fear at the same time and get a free gift trope to tie then together ( normal price 96 trillion dollars of incredulity and sanity) .

              I’ve seen a lot of socially dynamic change and just how people love to join in – make themselves important – Oh the Allies badge has to be collected by so many – and just how it changes over time. I actually see the same behaviour with those who are grabbing the Feminist Drag because that’s what the supposedly cool kids are all doing in the playground. It’s all so Kewel! Feminist drag is the new black – it’s the must have for your loved one – the new flavour for stuffing your turkey so you can give thanks in a whole new way!

              It’s odd to see social change in progress – the fag hag and queer husband tropes are so last century (never mind last season) and it really is not good to be seen to promote, support or have anything to do with them in your closet. Hell, it’s even so unfashionable it’s bad fancy dress .. and that really is a sign of cultural change when you have ended up as such a parody of yourself that you’re just Bad Taste! P^)

              And yet the fancy dress and feminist drag of All Men Bad – Shame – Fear – Oh how disgusting it needs to either be gotten rid of or waxed into submission …. well that whole bucket-load of oppressive stereotyping is loved by so many, and yet not seen for the bad taste it shows!

              I have also noted an odd correlation between those who have lost street cred cos the Good To Be gay Fashion trope is over, and they just can’t live without being in vogue – hey presto it’s feminist drag.

              Feminist Drag is so comical to watch and we have seen it so often, even down to the It can’t be true because it shows women in negative way or it shows male in positive way …. It can’ be allowed and it does not match me rind-stone encrusted feather bower! Nay – Nay – Neigh – Thrice Neigh! I don’t like you so I will run away! I can’t risk having my latest drag infected with your silly and oh so unfashionable views. Now look at what you have done – made me ladder my Pantihose.

              Odd that – you made them do it as you stood still – stood your ground and they ran! One aspect of the feminist drag artists is they are always telling others they are the one’s responsible, and don’t take responsibility for their own negative and blaming views of others.

              Maybe once it’s just stops being fashionable and the fashion victims have found something else to crusade around ( I hear that panda bears are the new oppressed) there may be some sane use of language. Until then so many will just have to put up with the feminist drag artists – and I fear they have no shame in the terrible performances they give. (It’s so Ethel Merman – Tits and Teeth, Tits and Teeth.) P^)

              Please note – no real people were harmed in the making of this advert – they were simply ignored, kept behind closed doors, in third world sweat shops and ignored because they were just too lazy to bother using English – blogging for others convenience … and they hadn’t bothered to friend anyone via Farcebook! They also had forgotten how being used by others for consumerism is not a right of the users – Black Friday is not a feminist holiday, even if the prices that some go for get dropped way down.

            • That’s a great question Danny. I’m sure it varies, but I think for many men, there’s a fear of being wrong about what it means to be in a relationship.

              For me, there was a deep sense of shame because I thought I knew what it meant to be married, but I really didn’t. For the first couple of years of my marriage, it was a real struggle. I had to learn how to care for my wife’s feelings, which I didn’t know how to do. I’m still not perfect at it, but we’re happily married after 10 years now.

            • Odd that – so it took you ten years to find out about how to relate to your wife and her feelings .

              Normally there are two people in a marriage – has your wife managed to learn yet or was there no need from the outset?

            • I would say that I am still learning to relate to my wife and her feelings, just like she is still learning to understand me. I think marriage is an evolving process of discovery. You’re never done learning about each other, because you both continue to grow and change as human beings through different life experiences.

              I would say that from the beginning my wife was better at understanding emotions than I was – but she would tell you that she is still learning as well.

            • So your marriage was broken and dysfunctional from the outset and still aint fixed – or am I using the wrong language to speak about it due to possibly making incorrect assumptions ? P^)

              You may need to look more closely at how you use language, especially in general, when addressing other people’s lives.

            • I’m sure it varies, but I think for many men, there’s a fear of being wrong about what it means to be in a relationship.
              Possible.

              So I guess then I wonder some other things:

              1. What exactly did those men have wrong?

              2. Where did that get those things from?

              3. What force(s) drill that shame into men’s heads to keep them from speaking up?

              Men feeling like they know that it takes to sustain a relationship, finding out they were wrong, and then being unable to speak up about it doesn’t just appear from nothing and I’m not convinced that the answer will always be some sense of entitlement.

  4. A reason that occurs to me why people don’t write about their marriages more is that they assume their marriage is unique, that few if any readers would find something there that resonates for them. Maybe the guy on the couch assumes all other married men are happily sleeping in their marital beds.

    I think my marriage is strong, but what if writing about it uncovers its weaknesses? Just as writing about ourselves comes with the risk that someone else will see what we don’t in the patterns of our lives, it could happen to our marriages, too. Not only does my partner risk having his secrets outed by my writing about our marriage, but what I think makes it work could be revealed as flimsy.

    This is why we need to read honest accounts of other people’s marriages: to know their real variety, like those books of vaginas and websites of flaccid penises (penii?) are meant to show us the real thing as it exists in nature, not the photoshopped, scripted version we’re shown on TV and in movies. And why it takes such courage to do so.

    • Some of my friends married young (mid 20′s) and most got quickly divorced. Some of my friends married after 30 and few seem really satisfied.

      Writing about it seems futile to me. I suspect it might to them as well.

  5. Gint-

    As someone who wrote a piece for GMP about my marriage and work-family juggle, I can explain why it is often awkward for me.

    I happen to be married to an amazing woman and my marriage is really really happy. This also means, at best, it is boring to anyone who isn’t me or my wife, and, at worst, it pisses people off because it comes off as bragging.

    That’s my pet theory as to why those in happy marriages don’t talk about it nearly as much as those in bad marriages. This lack of representativeness skews the conversation.

    PS- no one “conned” me into getting married. I’m sorry you’ve been hurt, but please don’t generalize so much.

    • I think you may be right that men who have happy marriage don’t share their experiences as much. I think that’s unfortunate.

      How in the world are we supposed to know what a happy marriage looks like if our elders don’t talk about them, especially if, like me, your parents didn’t have a happy marriage (or any marriage…) ?

    • That’s my pet theory as to why those in happy marriages don’t talk about it nearly as much as those in bad marriages. This lack of representativeness skews the conversation.

      LOL – I’ll back that 100%. The skewed demographics advice – who supposedly seeks advice, how and when and even where do leave men slightly out in the dark. There is the overly well developed gross trope of only women are influenced by Marketing and so make all purchasing decisions … inlcuding advice shopping.

      That’s why so many advertisers represent men as negative and stupid to make women look better and buy the product. It’ the lazy way out in advertising.

  6. What has hppened to trying to be honourable.
    Men don’t want to write about their marriages because those relationships are private and it means talking about their spouses, people who should be able to confide in them.

    • Agreed.
      The highs and lows of our relationship is of relevance to my partner and me only. It’s nobody else’s business.

    • Exactly.

      • So, just out of curiosity, how are we supposed to know what a good marriage is if people aren’t willing to talk about their experiences? How do we know how to fix it?

        • Cory I love the negative way you speak about men. “How do we know how to fix it?”

          To require fixing, something has to be broken or dysfunctional. So many just fail to grasp how they keep using language in indirect negative ways and are as fixated upon the negative even when supposedly saying it a nice way!

          You say “How do we know how to fix it? – and so many ask “”How do YOU know it is broken?”

          Some also wonder at the incessant use of the “WE” as if it magically includes everyone by default – and so implies that anyone who disagrees is included but just broken and that is why they are not getting the WE meme! So old hat and so last years debating club!

          I know that when it comes to Blogging and making a buck off social media and getting published you have to be generic and generalise massively to alienate any reader. That’s fine on Feminist R Us, but it may need fixing when it comes to addressing men. Physician heal thyself comes to mind – Fixationist Fix Thyself.

          I was chatting earlier today to a neighbour about his marriage ( as I also do with his wife ) they are dealing with a lot of change, they have recently retired from running a business together ( a small grocers shop) after some 30 years. It’s affecting them in different ways and they are coping with the changes in different ways .. and I have even been chatting with their son and daughter who are finding it interesting to adjust (Such as the loss of whole sale prices for some stuff in the run up to Christmas), but the Guys have no problems with feelings – shame – guilt and they sure as hell aint broken and don’t need fixing!

          There is a Feminist Drag Fixation on All Men Are Broken in some way and Need Fixing – all the presumed damaged types mean it’s OK to speak in generic negative ways by any means, because the Feminist Drag artists are all wearing Florence Nightingale Caps and Mary Seacole Capes and are here to give the universe first aide. It has been ordained by the great Fiaxtion on the Sky!

          Before fixing and demanding that spanners, screw drivers and goddess knows what else are dragged out to supposedly be used to Fix the Presumed broken men of the planet earth, would it be possible to ascertain that the brokenness actually exists – how it manifests – and that it’s not just gross wishful thinking and squinting at the world the wrong way by some folks who have control issues and a bad grasp of basic literacy?

          So I do wonder – can you address the fixated language you keep using and fix the way you talk to and about men? Maybe if that was to happen you may find that Guys are talking about all sorts and you have opened your ears and mind to a great discourse and dialogue that you have shut yourself out of by fixating on demands that there are things to Fix ~(AKA BROKEN) ~ and you keep missing the boat.

          You may also need to consider are the supposed memes of shame- fear – etc not just boredom and disinterest at the ongoing misuse of spanners and screwdrivers by those fixatedion all being broken and subject to immediate disassembly and reconstruction upon speaking? That Fixation with negative language could well be just the tip of a very big iceberg or even a very icy memeburg. Of course anyone with even basic knowledge and experience of memeburgs is you navigate away… and so the memeburg has bad environmental experience to judge reality from!

  7. David Whitehead says:

    It seems that what is often lacking when men do openly discuss their marriage or love relationship is their definition of marriage or even love. Furthermore, when such a definition is offered it is not really discussed in and of itself: What are the implications of such a definition, for you and your partner? If you find yourself disappointed with your relationship, why? (btw, disappointment= unrealized expectations, something to think about). When I do try to discuss such things with other men I find myself quickly dismissed, as if actually “thinking” about such issues is pointless. If we are to be good men, we should begin with doing good thinking, because these rather basic questions apply to the many facets of our lives, from personal relationships to professional decisions and political views.

    It seems to me that, particularly when it comes to personal relationships, emotions need to be discussed, but our emotions often arise from how we think about a person/relationship/situation. Despite the supposedly more openness we have in our society, men are not open with their emotions, because we have still lurking in our society a rather old stoic view of manhood: that to feel is for females, or is feminine; hence the still persistent uncomfortableness of many heterosexual males with homosexuals.

    So, to aid us in thinking about our defiintions of love and marriage, maybe the basic question we should revisit together is the premise of this website: How do you define a good man?

    • That gay men are somehow female or feminine is a stereotype, one we continue to battle.

      Rather than set gay men apart (along with women) as people that “old school” or traditional men can’t learn anything from, consider that the keys to freeing your relationships from tired gender stereotypes rely upon learning from people who are somehow different from yourself. If you can only learn from one another to the degree that you closely model the stoic patriarch, you limit what men can learn about feeling and expressing emotions, the kinds of work men can do, what men can reasonably expect to find in a potential partner (what if you don’t want the femme-bot counterpart to the male stereotype?), and how relationships are defined.

  8. David Whitehead says:

    I agree that there is a sterotype regarding gay men; what I meant, in thinking that there is a stoic model lurking in our culture, is that that particular model does nothing but feed these stereotypes as well as creating one for what it means to be a man.
    Here is the general view of which I am referring to: A man is not supposed to express fear, or doubt; is supposed to suppress tears; and is supposed to be striving towards a certain physical condition; all of which make the man “tough”. I find this particular model of a good man rather concerning, because I have a hard time seeing where a fulfilling relationship, for both people invovled, can be had when living as this kind of man.
    My wife does not want a silent, “tough” guy. She wants to know what I am thinking and how I feel about many different issues, including our relationship; I want her to share the same. Without this information, neither of us can possibly provide the other person with what they need to be healthy people in a healthy relationship.
    Without knowing what the other person’s expectations are we can not possibly hope to meet those expectations, which is why I think it is so important for us to really slow down and think what expectations we have as individuals when entering a relationship, and what we think it means to be a good man (person).

Trackbacks

  1. [...] continue to wonder why men are reluctant to write about marriage, even after they have divorced or separated and feel free to “live as they have always [...]

Speak Your Mind