May 22, 2009

Women are unhappier than ever.

According to a new study.

That's what we get for being more in touch with how we feel — we notice it, we admit it to ourselves and others. And we get attention because of it. If men were/are sad, who would know? Who would care?

But the linked blog post, by Meghan O'Rourke, asks — assuming it's really true that women are less happy than men and less happy than they were 35 years ago — why would this be so?
[T]he drop in happiness is pegged to an anxiety caused by the plethora of choices available (Barry Schwarz's paradox of choice) and women's feeling that they have to perform well across more categories. This is not exactly the same as struggling to balance so-called work and life (i.e., children): The study's authors are quick to point out that the decline in happiness is consistent across many categories, irrespective of marital or employment status or whether you have young children....
Oh, how I loathe this liberal meme about choice and happiness! Though liberals believe fondly in "the right to choose," they also love to say that choice makes us sad — but they only seem to mean that choice in the economic sphere is bad. (Notice how it softens you up to accept the crappy car the government wants you to drive and the good-for-everybody health care system it would like to provide.)

Anyway, why are women so sad? I think it's because we think about our feelings so much and care so much about being happy.

303 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 303 of 303
Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse : Anyway, why are women so sad? I think it's because we think about our feelings so much and care so much about being happy.

Maybe because women talk about their emotions, while men DO something about their emotions. In that sense I would say men care much more about being happy than women do.

One of the reasons for talking about something is so someone else can do something about it.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Being able to talk about your emotions makes you happier in the short term, but making decisions to change your life makes you happier in the long term.

Jen said...

Pogo said, "I seriously think women have more potential to be unhappy because the sensory parts of their brains go to 11, while in men sometimes it's not even plugged in."

That's brilliant. I think you are dead on. Explains a ton.

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

Why? Because since the advent of the women's movement, men have been let off the hook for things like supporting and protecting their wives and family.

Women are supposed to be able to earn the money, manage the home, take care of everything that traditionally in the past were the roles of the men. Now, they are like additional children.

My daughter, a single Mom in her 30s, says one of the first questions a new date asks is "how much money do you make, how secure is your job, what kind of advancement opportunities." She says they are disappointed if the woman doesn't own her own home and might expect him to provide for a family.

These aren't gals looking for a meal ticket, they are young women looking for a partner, but the men don't see their role that way anymore.

I don't see it so much in men in my age range, but it is prevalent with the younger set. Also, with all the p.c., women no longer see men as their protectors.

Not that women aren't to blame for this change. The young ones sleep around and behave like sluts and don't see it that way because it is accepted now and then they are unhappy when they don't get any respect.

I blame the feministas.

My daughter is now dating a guy who she at first apologized for because he "is ONLY a plumber." She calls me all the time with "you won't believe what Steve did today!" I'm waiting for something terrible and instead I hear how shocked she is that he came over and cut her grass or fixed her broken water hose on her car without even being asked (or told).

I told her to hang on to him and quit worrying about him not having a fancy job title, that good men are very hard to find and to stop worrying about whether one of her snooty girlfriends thinks she needs a man to take care of her. And when she says she doesn't know how to respond when he does these things, I suggested that maybe a simple thank you and an offer of a home-cooked meal might be in order.

She admitted that for the first time since she has been a single Mom, she feels safe knowing she has someone there watching her back and willing to pick up the slack when her busy life doesn't allow her the time she needs to get everything done. What shocks me is how amazed she is that any man would be willing to do such things. It is a very different world today than the one I grew up in and not all for the better for women, even if they do have better pay and better job opportunities.

Kirk Parker said...

Seven,

Re: Freeman. Take a ticket and stand in line, buddy. (Though between my wife and--presumably--her husband, I figure my chances are fairly close to negative infinity, so you may have a chance after all.)

John, make that "a cute tomboy in a baseball hat"! But really, even w/o the picture, I think the personality really shines through.

ricpic said...

rh, that's a very nice photo of the two teenaged girls walking down the road. And I agree, they probably are happy. There's nothing like walking down a country road in the afternoon. The road to nowhere. One of my happiest memories was when I was 3 or 4 years old. My family had a summer cottage in Patchogue, Long Island: a beach town. Anyway, every morning or afternoon, it didn't matter which, we would walk down a sandy white "inland" road. It must have been less than a mile from the beach but to my 3 year old eyes it was a whole other world: the white road, the black-green trees, the faultless blue sky with puff clouds passing overhead: paradise. A mile down that road and a mile back. The road to nowhere. Paradise.

Kirk Parker said...

Good grief, John--why weren't your answers "None of your business", "NOYB", and--if the frown and lecture still ensued--"FOAD"???

Pogo, who's making you ask the "gun question"?

DADvocate said...

I think Instpundit hit this one on the head. - "Nothing is worse for happiness than a cultivated sense of entitlement."

Women have been told they can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and make you never forget you're a man because they're a woman for so long they think they should be able to do and have everything.

The other day I read an article about 10 great moments in women's sports. One of them was a filly winning the Preakness. Women are so desparate for validation, ego enhancement, self-esteem or something that they use friggin animals to help prop up their fragile psyches. How in the hell does a horse race mean anything to human social interaction?

Chronic dissatisfaction and unrealistic expectations lead to unhappiness. No mystery here.

M. Simon said...

Happiness for a woman comes from surrender to her man. And yes I know. That leaves out some women. Surrender does not mean being a doormat. If you have a good man he will respond in kind. Then it is honeymoon time 24/7 365.

Now who teaches this stuff to women any more?

Pogo said...

Someone wrote a book on what men want?

Was the text more than one page?

Did it have a fold-out poster?

Was it mostly hollow, within which to secret some scotch?

Seven Machos said...

DAD -- I saw the headline for that article. Didn't read it, but it seemed to be about women participating in men's sports.

Hilarious, I thought. Isn't the subtext clear? Women so rarely are able to compete with men athletically that it deserves an article.I'm waiting for the article about the men who compete in women's sports. When's that one coming out?

Seven Machos said...

I don't know about that, M. Simon. That seems like an odd statement.

Pogo said...

"... who's making you ask the 'gun question'?"

It's on a list of questions to ask patients. We are also instructed to ask about abuse, falls, and alcohol.

The disapproving look we give takes lotsa training.

Kirk Parker said...

"So if you are 28 years old...and plan to marry her..."

And the reason you can't just go ahead and get married is?

As far as your office scenario--good grief, no, why would I do that? That's completely different from someone asking your advice, and from talking about principles.

Kirk Parker said...

reader,

I'm certainly willing to believe such a book exists, but I'll bet a fairly large sum that there aren't a lot of words in it.

Therefore, the claim "nobody ever wrote a book..." still stands. :-)

Harsh Pencil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harsh Pencil said...

Something weird is happening with the comments.

Seven Machos said...

Kirk -- Marriage is not a covenant for sex. It's a covenant for raising children in the best possible way and the orderly generational transfer of property.

Sex has nothing to do with it.

Kirk Parker said...

Pogo,

OK, but whose list is it? Who's instructing you to ask this? Your state medical association? Some specialty board? Or...?

EnigmatiCore said...

There are more women unhappy now than when I was single.

Correlation? Causation?It can't be just a coincidence, can it?

Jeremy said...

rhhardin said..."Another dog, same breed, as soon as possible. So you can pick up more or less where you left off."

At one point in my life I had five Weimeraners, one after another (stolen, hit by cars, died of old age), and I named every one of them Ghost (I,II,III,IV & V).

I would get a new one so fast my friends could never keep track of which one it was.

Every one looked exactly the same and also acted the same.

Now I'm on my 2nd and 3rd Lab.

EnigmatiCore said...

Mr Forward wrote, ""Women...less happy than they were 35 years ago — why would this be so?"

35 years ago I was single."

Mr Enigmaticore shakes an angry fist his way.

Kirk Parker said...

Seven,

Oh, really? That seems fairly dismissive of some huge swatches of human culture, both past and present.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I wonder what kind of questions they asked to determine the happiness level?



"Nothing is worse for happiness than a cultivated sense of entitlement."

Women have been told they can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and make you never forget you're a man because they're a woman for so long they think they should be able to do and have everything.

I agree with this. Young women are told that they must have everything and deserve everything. They expect their "man" to be perfect, their lives to be perfect and that these things should be effortless.

When this pipe dream doesn't come true they are very dissapointed and upset.

Also. Agreed that working with other women is hell on earth. That's why I don't do it. Women drive me insane.

Seven Machos said...

Kirk -- If your marriage means something different to you, that's fine. But you are wrong.

Let me give an example. Virtually every corporation has a mission statement. To make the best shoes possible, say, or to offer low prices and great value, or to provide the most luxurious and perfect hotel experience. Nevertheless, a corporation is really just a shell that limits liability and provides other benefits to both the State and the owners.

Marriage is the same way. Your marriage and my marriage may have totally different missions. Fine. But the thing itself is just a shell that allows children to be raised in a stable environment and provides orderly wealth transfer.

Flexo said...

The more that utilitarian-existenialism has infected society, the more that relativism has infected society, of course the more that people will be increasingly unhappy.

It is the dictatorship of relativism, and dictatorships ain't fun.

Pogo said...

http://www.washingtonpediatric.com/WPANewQ.pdf a typical one. I have no idea where this practice arose. I can guess (*cough* JCAHO *cough*)

"SOCIAL/SAFETY HISTORY
If YES, please describe: _____________________________
Is there old peeling paint inside/outside the home?
NO YES
Cigarettes/alcohol/drugs used during
Is there a working smoke alarm on each floor? NO YES
the pregnancy?
YES NO
Are there any guns in your house?
NO YES
If YES, please describe: _____________________________
If yes, are all firearms securely locked up? YES NO
.
Was your baby born?: On Time Late Early/Premature
Do you know the hottest water temperature
Was your baby delivered?: Vaginal C-section Forceps
in your pipes?
YES NO
Vacuum
Is your child always buckled into a securely fastened
Baby’s birthweight? __________________
carseat/seatbelt while riding in the car?
YES NO
Any complications with the baby?
YES NO
Do all other family members buckle up?
YES NO
If YES, please describe: _____________________________
Does your child wear a helmet when bike riding,
roller blading, or skateboarding?
YES NO"

Kirk Parker said...

Seven,

Your solipsism on this point is kinda surprising.

Am I just misunderstanding you? It sounds like you are saying, not just what marriage means to you and those in your circle, but that your meaning is the only right one? That's nuts, you can't really mean that...

Synova said...

"So if you are 28 years old and unmarried and have been dating a woman for year and plan to marry her, you still shouldn't have sex? Really?"

Really.

If you're planning to marry her, why aren't you married already? Huh?

What you waiting for?

Meade said...

Pogo said...

"...popcorn..."

10:13 AM

Popcorn has created more happiness in more women in the whole history of women and happiness than has any other single entity in the entire history of entities.

This is a well-known inarguable historic fact that anyone able to type can look up on the internet for herself.

Or, try this experiment of one: Pop popcorn. Eat popcorn. Observe instant happiness.

Now participate in this scientific Instant Ecstasy Survey: Ride your bike, pet your dog, and kiss your boyfriend or girlfriend. Pop popcorn.

And then report back to us.

Thank you.

Quayle said...

Though women have made gains in every area over the past 35 years—from education to their place in the work force—these gains do not appear, by the study's measures, to translate into actual contentment. Nor do women's gains in the marketplace translate into zero-sum declines in happiness for men, as some have speculated.Just wondering: how much more of this kind of thing do we have to see until we stop using the word "gains"?

I guess it all depends on what you want in life.

But is sure is starting to appear that if you follow the social engineering gurus of the leftist feminist movement, you could wind up gaining yourself right into abject misery.

Seven Machos said...

Kirk -- Let me try again. Marriage, the thing itself, exists for raising kids in a stable environment and generational wealth transfer. Those are its universal purposes.

If you wish to bring other purposes to your own marriage, that's fine. I may do the same. But it is wrong to attempt to universalize other purposes into marriage.

Going back to my corporation analogy, there are shrill, scolding leftists who wish, for example, to make all corporations better serve societal interests, such as the environment or the needy. This is wrong in the same way. Naturally, corporations are free to serve those interests without compulsion.

Pogo said...

"Survey: Ride your bike, pet your dog, and kiss your boyfriend or girlfriend. Pop popcorn. "

Can I do them one at a time, or is this like a one-man-band deal?

I mean, I have trouble tying my shoes without tipping over.

Seven Machos said...

It never ceases to amaze me how old people who have long lost any real sex drive want to tell young people they should wait to have sex, or not have sex at all until a religious or legal figure allows it.

Synova said...

"Maybe because women talk about their emotions, while men DO something about their emotions."

The old advice to work out anger by hitting something really doesn't help (according to studies - and I agree) because it reinforces the anger.

JUST LIKE talking forever over some sadness or upset reinforces the upset.

OTOH, active things really do help, and sometimes that can be hitting something. I feel really great after sparring in a way I don't after a regular karate class, but even the class makes me feel good in a tired, sore, sort of way.

And I did like mountain biking when my husband and I went for a while, even if I was inept at it. I'd get my toe clip stuck and fall over (not "wipe-out"... fall over) at least once every trip.

And I did like playing Air-Soft when we did that, even though I was just as unathletic and inept at sneaking around in the woods and shooting people with a BB gun as I was at mountain biking.

Getting out of the house is *good*. Getting blood moving is good.

chickenlittle said...

@Meade:

Women really love popcorn on the cob.

Check out this how-to-info-mercial and how happy and excited she gets!

EnigmatiCore said...

"you still shouldn't have sex? Really?"

Really."

Maybe you shouldn't.

But you are missing out if you don't.

Further, how else are people to find out if there are sexual compatibility issues if both haven't experienced sexual life? Purely on imagination or faith?

What if you are a guy with normal drives and it turns out your wife has practically no libido and never noticed before? Just accept that you turned over crap hole cards and accept that you never, ever in your entire life will have a happy sex life? Or prepare for years of combat in your marriage, that could have been avoided, trying against all hope and odds to convince someone who does not desire something that they should desire that something at least enough to find a way to desire it more?

And that's just one single sexual compatibility issue that could be lurking.

In the days before contraception, and in the days before the risk of disease could be managed (note- not eliminated) with care, the cultural norms against premarital sex made sense.

There is no doubt in my mind that the sexual revolution pushed things way too far in the other direction, and that the slide down the slippery slope has continued despite some push-back. That said, the idea that people should wait for marriage before having sex is a recipe for more unhappy marriages followed by more divorces with all of the pain and financial devastation that follows.

Kirk Parker said...

Seven,

I'll try once more, too, and then stop (as I suspect this is getting us nowhere.)

You either think God died and left the job to you (so you get to define "universal purposes" for everyone else) or else--far more likely--you've come down, quite unexpectedly, with as bad a case of is/ought confusion as has ever been seen outside the loony left.

Seven Machos said...

But, Kirk, you have made my point. Everyone doesn't believe in God. Whole countries and civilizations didn't reject Him; they haven't even been exposed.

We, in this country, are a melting pot -- a great people from everywhere and nowhere that governs itself. We have staked our whole civilizational claim on the right to be free from all manner of tyranny, especially including the tyranny of religion.

Today, as Enigmatic pointed out, there is no practical reason to compel people to limit their sexual partners unreasonably. So let's not.

If you want to, though, go ahead.

Big Mike said...

@Sara, good points, and I hope for the best for your daughter.

Single motherhood must be tough -- there were many times when my wife and I were stretched to the limit raising our kids, and I have no idea how a single mom could possibly cope.

I only add one small point to what you said. We weren't let off the hook by the feminists; in many cases we were thrown off the hook by the likes of Gloria Steinem (whose fish, I presume, now has its very own bicycle). Some of us think our job is to be partner, lover, and protector to our wives, and good colleague, boss, or subordinate to our female coworkers. But then I'm coming up on my 35th anniversary, so I'm a bit of throwback -- as is my wife.

(BTW, she expects me to be partner, lover, and protector, so it works just fine.)

@Professor Althouse, I'm sure you expected a degree of snark you posted this, but did you expect quite this much?

Hope you and Meade have a happy Memorial Day weekend.

Pogo said...

"...and left the job to you (so you get to define "universal purposes" for everyone else)"

Actually, He left the job to me.

The universal purpose of marriage is...

"Mawidge...mawidge is what bwings us togewer today...
Mawidge, the bwessed awwangement, that dweam wiffim a dweam...
"

Kirk Parker said...

Seven,

You need to work on your reading skills--who said anything about compelling this? Certainly not me.

Synova said...

"the idea that people should wait for marriage before having sex is a recipe for more unhappy marriages followed by more divorces with all of the pain and financial devastation that follows."

You'd think.

And the bit about seeing if you're sexually compatible is logical enough.

But does it really work that way?

Because what I hear is that women who want sex all the time suddenly stop wanting it once they are married. And having sex before marriage doesn't seem to have done a blessed thing to bring the divorce rate down.

In other words... I just don't see the empirical evidence.

On the contrary people who have waited report more satisfying sex lives. Now, that could be because they don't know any better, but I doubt it. And I *don't* think that it's *because* they waited, either. I think it's probably for the same reasons that they were willing to wait and also because sex changes the mate selection dynamic. The criteria for "who will I have sex with" is several rungs lower than the criteria for "who will I marry" and when the polish supplied by awesome sex wears off in the day to day stresses of real life people find themselves married to someone they simply don't *like* very much.

Seven Machos said...

Moral compulsion is similar in many ways to legal compulsion.

Seven Machos said...

Synova -- Very few people I know married the person they had the most mind-blowing sex with.

Big Mike said...

@Synova, good points in your post.

Kirk Parker said...

"Moral compulsion is similar in many ways to legal compulsion."

Well, yeah, except for the compulsion part. How many divisions does the Pope have, again?

John Lynch said...

Having to take responsibility makes you unhappy.

It's not choice, it's responsibility for the choices that causes unhappiness. The fear you did the wrong thing, rather than trusting other people do it for you.

rhhardin said...

Sign of a happy woman today.

It slipped down, the bottom says Dad 40.

Jeremy said...

Seven - "Going back to my corporation analogy, there are shrill, scolding leftists who wish, for example, to make all corporations better serve societal interests, such as the environment or the needy."

So you think it's only "shrill, scolding leftist," and not the overwhelming majority of American corporations that strive to "better serve societal interests?"

C'mon...

Pogo said...

I'm with Synova.

Because the ecstasy is followed by the laundry, waiting takes advantage of bonding.

Men are often seeking ecstasy without any laundry. Nice work if you can get it, for a guy.

Seven Machos said...

Kirk -- I am not Catholic. If I was, though, I might choose to pay a $500 fine, say, rather than get excommunicated.

Thus would I break one law and not another.

Big Mike said...

@rhhardin, it would be nice if her husband knew how to use a screwdriver and adjustable wrench to tighten up the flag. Maybe a can of (bright) red Rustoleum, too.

rhhardin said...

Her husband, being a guy, doesn't see anything wrong with the mailbox.

It holds mail.

Eric said...

Count me in the "I blame the feminists" crowd. Forty years ago a series of social contracts were shattered, contracts many women at the time viewed as shackles but were instead armor against the suckitude of life.

I think men are probably lees happy as well, but they aren't allowed to admit it. I went to my doctor once with a drug interaction problem which was causing me to sleep, like, fourteen hours a day. He simply would not believe it wasn't the result of depression.

Apparently there are a whole lot of clinically depressed guys walking around out there who feel they aren't allowed to admit their depression to anyone, least of all themselves. So they try to sleep their lives away.

Michael said...

Some quotes on happiness:
"The University of Maryland analyzed 34 years of data collected from more than 45,000 participants and found that watching TV might make you feel good in the short term but is more likely to lead to overall unhappiness.
"The pattern for daily TV use is particularly dramatic, with 'not happy' people estimating over 30% more TV hours per day than 'very happy' people," the study says. "Television viewing is a pleasurable enough activity with no lasting benefit, and it pushes aside time spent in other activities -- ones that might be less immediately pleasurable, but that would provide long-term benefits in one's condition. In other words, TV does cause people to be less happy."
and seperately (I forget who said it originally):
Happiness is a byproduct of engaging in virtuous, productive activity and living your life according to good standards. Trying to pursue happiness as it's own end is folly.

Pogo said...

Peter Drucker's concept of corporate social responsibility included only those endeavors profitable for shareholders, not some dreamy notion of "stakeholders".


"...the first responsibility of business is to make enough profit to cover the costs for the future. If this social responsibility is not met, no other social responsibility can be met....the proper social responsibility of business ….is to turn a social problem into economic opportunity and economic benefit, into productive capacity, into human competence, into well-paid jobs, and into wealth.

"That such objectives (social responsibility) need to be built into the strategy of a business, rather than merely be statements of good intentions, needs to be stressed here. Those are objectives that are needed not because the manager has a responsibility to society. They are needed because the manager has a responsibility to the enterprise.
"

Pogo said...

"Apparently there are a whole lot of clinically depressed guys walking around ... So they try to sleep their lives away."

Or they have sleep apnea.

jjv said...

Gee, what could have happened in the last 35 years to make women more unhappy then they were? Easy and acceptable divorce. Abortion on demand. No societal expectations of men providing for the family. Come on, unless you believe in feminist premises sight unseen this is an easy question to answer.

Eric said...

Or they have sleep apnea.

Sure. We pay doctors big bucks to sort that all out :)

reader_iam said...

7M, just getting back from the art-lesson run:

Screw it (not you, "it"), too much is going on & I'm writing too long anyway. So I'll just dump it out and you can ignore or read as you wish.

From the so-called "right," I have experienced and/or witnessed busy-bodied scolds on such topics as how/whether children were taught about evolution and creationism; including gay people in certain activities; exposing children to certain people (largely gay, but not only); raising children vegetarian; homeschooling (yes, there ARE conservatives who disapprove, folks); the dressing of kids and, especially, teens; including unmarried-but-living-together couples in certain activities; supporting civil unions, or whatever you want to call it, for all in secular society (even if opposing religious marriage rites for other than one man, one woman); music; art (even in private homes); abortion and birth control; and a host of other things, petty and profound.

By the same token, I have experienced and or observed busy-bodied scolds from the left on such topics as guns; guns & children; recycling & other eco-related stuff; religious training; abortion & birth control; homeschooling; the *fair* teaching of religion [as distinct from belief][ in schools even in the context of the arts, philosophy and history; language use; and a host of other things profound and petty.

My intent is not to bore, nor to complain (most, though not all, of this stuff I ignore or let roll off, IRL). It's to say that people are people--or, at least, the people both in my extended family and in the environments in which I spend the most time outside of my own home. Maybe they're just especially opinionated. Maybe they feel they can say anything they want to me (in the cases where commentary has been directed to me). Maybe I have bad timing (in the cases where I'm present when others are the target).

Whatever.

In any case, the majority of people I know in real life, regardless of their politics, DO mostly MTOB, at least in terms of direct confrontation or commentary. Or they're easy-going about the differences. From what I can tell--again, based only on my own experience, not dictating anyone else's--it's the zealousness of individual people, the personality of individual people, that seems more predictive of their releasing their inner busybody scold than their politics.

I do appreciate your challenge, Seven Machos, especially for the following revelation I had in thinking about all this as I was doing other things:

The libertarians (right-leaning and left-leaning) in my extended family and other environments, even if zealous about libertarianism, DO NOT seem to be prone to similar busybodyism or scolding. At least, I couldn't think of an example, from my own direct experience, as opposed from impressions online, or whatever. Food for thought (for me, anyway.

And no, I do not include myself in that group, so I'm not including myself in that compliment, either. Alas.

reader_iam said...

Kirk Parker: What Men Really Want, by Herb Goldberg (224 pages); )

I suspect RH Hardin would say it's really a book FOR (and therefore A ABOUT) women, and he could be right, for all I know. Don't own that book, haven't read it and don't want to. OTOH, don't own books like that about women (which are also FOR women), either, don't read them and don't want to.

EnigmatiCore said...

"But does it really work that way?"

First, I like that this discussion is happening, in the way you are conducting it with me. Thank you.

I would answer- sometimes yes, sometimes no. With all of the changes that are constantly happening in society, pinpointing which caused what is really difficult.

I believe that the prevalence of premarital sex is a net-negative for society. My eyes tell me that. I also believe that premarital sex can be a positive. Logic and my own experience tells me that.

Admittedly, things could have happened that might make me look at my own experiences were a fluke and that overall if everyone behaved as I did that things would be much worse than if everyone acted chaste. But I don't know that, and other than through faith you do not either.

"Because what I hear is that women who want sex all the time suddenly stop wanting it once they are married."

The odd thing with this, though, is that I hear the same thing-- both from the people who were promiscuous and from those who were either mostly or (at least claiming to have been) totally chaste. It may just be a common thing that happens with many, or even most(?) women.

Which to me suggests that having a really healthy and vibrant sex life when one can is really important- so much so that making sure your spouse and you are going to be on the same page during the years where you build up the marriage equity that will get you through the inevitable hard times and the inevitable erosion of passion is so important.

"And having sex before marriage doesn't seem to have done a blessed thing to bring the divorce rate down."

True. But I would argue that the passage of no-fault divorce laws has had so much more of an impact that it would be impossible tell if the loosening of sexual mores regarding premarital sex has helped or hurt things. And no-fault divorce laws and the loosening of sexual mores regarding premarital sex aren't the only changes that have happened that could have, and undoubtedly have had, an impact on divorce rates. We simply have no way of knowing, beyond faith and logic.

rhhardin said...

Catty women is what Maxine does at her best.

She points out some detail as not quite right, where not quite right means to be completely wrong.

The Althouse marriage is certain to have the wrong silverware.

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

It never ceases to amaze me how old people who have long lost any real sex drive want to tell young people they should wait to have sex,Oh phooey! I'm old, probably old enough to be your grandmother and my sex drive is every bit as strong as it was when I was a young and dumb 20 something.

It is called self-respect and not giving away something I hold special to some jerk who does not appreciate the gift of self that making love should be. If all I want to do is get off, I have great electronics that will do that trick.

reader_iam said...

Pogo: There's a reason I love our pediatrician (aside from the most important: his medical competence). He DOESN'T keep a straight face when he asks all those mandated question, or at least not when he asks them of us. We all--he, I and my husband--get along like a house on fire. And my son likes him too.

I only wish he'd change over and become a GP.

EnigmatiCore said...

One last thing...

"On the contrary people who have waited report more satisfying sex lives."

The people who waited until marriage have other characteristics in common with each other beyond just having waited until marriage to have sex. The very attitudes which led them to abstaining may be what leads them to the more satisfying sex life, assuming that they are not just blissful in ignorance (having sex that isn't that good and not just realizing it- I am of the belief that if they are having bad sex but thinking it good then it IS good since they are happy).

My point being, even if polls say that people who wait to get married to have sex have more satisfying sex lives, and even if those polls are accurate, which is always a dicey assumption, that would not mean that waiting caused the increase in satisfaction. Correlation does not imply causation.

EnigmatiCore said...

One last thing...

"when the polish supplied by awesome sex wears off in the day to day stresses of real life people find themselves married to someone they simply don't *like* very much."

On this, we completely agree.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Very few people I know married the person they had the most mind-blowing sex with."

Yeah, stop rubbing in that your wife married you and not me, will ya?

AlgonquinS said...

Every month you bleed, and don't die. Do we complain? No! No we don't!

EnigmatiCore said...

One last thing...

I can't count nor can I stop commenting today, for some reason.

chickenlittle said...

Gee, what could have happened in the last 35 years to make women more unhappy then they were?

The Pill and the decoupling of sex from pregnancy shook everything up starting about 50 years ago. Society hasn't fully adjusted yet.

Pogo said...

"...when the polish supplied by awesome sex wears off"

That's why I swear by Lemon Pledge.

EnigmatiCore said...

That's just wrong, Pogo.

Waxy buildup, and all that.

reader_iam said...

Synova wrote: JUST LIKE talking forever over some sadness or upset reinforces the upset.

Boy, I really do think there's something to that, even if I'm not so good at implementation.

Years ago, when my husband and I first got together, we were among one of those groups where it seemed as if half were pairing off and getting ready to marry. In fact, within about a year and a half, my now-husband and attended six weddings, plus had our own.

Almost 15 years later, just three couples are still together; most of the others dissolved with 4-5 years. My husband once observed--I hadn't noticed the connection myself--that the ones that broke up were the ones that seemed to have an awful lot of relationship discussions, even public "relationship arguments" (as opposed to arguments on a topic not specifically related to "the relationship").

You know what? His observation was dead on ... and I've tried, for the most part, to keep that in mind, ever since.

EnigmatiCore said...

Reader, I definitely think there is something to that, but as is often the case with me, I think there is virtue in the middle.

Always talking about every grievance merely makes things predominantly contentious, reinforces the negative, and makes things worse. Hell, simple motivation theory suggests this would be the case-- bitch about something, get results, have it reinforced that bitching gets results, ergo more bitching about more things.

However, ignoring problems does not make things go away and resentment does build.

The key is figuring out what things really are important to have those relationship discussions about. To have those discussions infrequently and only about the important stuff, the things causing someone real emotional pain. And yet, despite having those conversations infrequently, being adept at them as if you are the most experienced in the world so as to make them a path towards a solution and not an avenue towards a blow-up.

It is easy to never bite your tongue. It is easy to always do so. And the easy ways don't work, which is why my mother always said- marriage ain't easy.

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

"Because what I hear is that women who want sex all the time suddenly stop wanting it once they are married."I went thru a period like this after I was first married. I finally realized that the difference was that when we were living together, sex was voluntary on my part, but with the marriage, I got it into my head that I HAD to do it as my duty. My husband didn't help as his attitude was that one of the perks of marriage was a woman always available when HE wanted it. It made me feel like a cheap whore.

It took some time to work thru this, but we did and once I felt back in control over my own body, I found that I no longer resented the sex and began to look forward to it again.

I'm not saying it works for everyone, but one suggestion is for the man to back off "it is your duty" thing and give the woman a chance to be the initiator or aggressor.

EnigmatiCore said...

Sara--

I think the key there is that different things work for different people. If something isn't working, try something different!

Long story made short- our sex life was really bad for a long time. Pushing for a solution didn't work. Sitting back and waiting to see if things would change without 'pressure' didn't work. Turned out to be primarily a medical issue. One that might not have been found without the pressure of me insisting that we find out what was wrong, be it physical or psychological.

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

EnigmatiCore:

Oh I agree 100%. The first thing to check is if there is a medical reason. Many women find intercourse quite painful or do not reach coital orgasm due to medical reasons, most of which are correctable. Sometimes the introduction of a good lubricant or a change in position will do the trick, but there are times when minor surgery is necessary (a girlfriend went thru this). And sometimes there is a psychological block, such as I had, or digging deeper, a bad first experience that set a tone that carried over to married life.

Shoot, I had a friend who said she avoided going to bed because she hated facing having to make love with a guy who couldn't even bother to take his socks off, so she always felt like he was ready to get up and bolt out the door. (I figured that the loss of sex drive was the least of this couple's problems :).)

The biggest complaint I hear from older women is dryness and the loss of confidence in their appeal because they are no longer the hard body they were when they first married. And men should look at themselves too. A guy who was "God's gift" physically in his younger years and now sports a big ol' belly and beer breath might find his wife less than excited about the prospect of having sex with him.

Roman said...

What my late dear grandmother who was always busy and always doing things for the family said after living through WW II Europe and seeing the ravages of that war on much of the worst places: spoiled.

However it occurs doesn't much matter. But the sense of entitlement about everything is where much of the problem lies. This is probably more true of the urban dweller than the rural one where all kinds of media propaganda over decades have been spoon fed to them since their early anorexic/bulemic years.

The lack of good male-female order is also adding to the confusion. Feminists of course are easily the most miserable of the lot.

The dour puss that becomes a permanent scowl is easily seen on the visage of a feminist's face. Having suffered Gloria Steinem at a Darfur rally several years back (before it was the in thing) I can safely say that age does not mellow them, merely embitters them more.

Cosmo sold women a bill of goods a while ago. This idea you can have it all is the biggest canard going. I've had more than one friend say to me, "I didn't get married to become a monk." Somehow their wives were oblivious to this until other problems yanked them to reality.

They were absolutely clueless because they were so fixated on fulfilling themselves.

Xanthippas said...

Oh, how I loathe this liberal meme about choice and happiness!Because clearly, things were better when women were not welcome in board rooms or better, could not vote.

Please, try not to be so trite. It's also just as easy to imagine that women are not armed with the tools to take full advantage of the choices available to them, or have not yet learned how to deal with an array of choices. And even if women are less happy because of "choice" I sincerely doubt that if you asked them, many would be willing to go back to a time when they had less of them.

As for choice in general...I'm not sure that liberals argue that more choice necessarily equates with greater happiness; rather, it is that more choice offers the potential for more happiness.

EnigmatiCore said...

"I'm not sure that liberals argue that more choice necessarily equates with greater happiness; rather, it is that more choice offers the potential for more happiness."

I don't think liberals believe this any more than conservatives believe this. My friends on both side of the aisle firmly believe their side offers a philosophy that is more about personal autonomy and choice.

Except, obviously, where it doesn't, which tends to be about abortion or drugs on the right or economic issues on the left.

Simon Kenton said...

AJ Lynch wrote:

"I believe re-cycling is a hoax."

Here, the garbage persons sell you special bright yellow bags. You have to fill them and not fill them with the correct stuff. Newspapers and aluminum in one, plastics labelled /2\ in the other (which means you have to take the lids from the plastic bottles and keep them separate, and you better not defile the bag with /7\ or /3\ or even excessively greasy /2\s). When the truck comes, they sling the yellow bags in, upend the regular garbage on top of it, and trigger the great pistons that power the crusher. It moves irresistably forward, rupturing all in its path. When you call and say, "What is this bogus shit? We separate all this crap, and then you crunch it all into one reeking bolus and claim you're recycling it?"

And they assure you that down at the secret transfer station there are gloved sorter persons who comb through the stinking piles and separate out the yellow bags, which survive the crusher devolumed but unscathed, and so they really do recycle, and would you like to buy some more bags at more than a dollar each?

I guess the word here is "precatory." We all act as if we're doing something, and congratulate ourselves on how sincerely we're acting, and the combination of faking it and commending it makes it just like it really happened. Now I know some commenters here are pickled in the acids of cynicism, and will see in our local 'recycling' a parallel with modern politics. As a happy person of the person gender, I see no such thing. In fact, we in Boulder are national leaders in recycling (unlike you).

Allison said...

Sadness is not the opposite of happiness.

Women are unhappier than ever because they've stopped doing things for other people and now spend most of their effort doing things for themselves.

Humans are happiest when they strive at things for the sake of others.

But women aren't sad. They are miserable. Sadness does not preclude joy.

bill-o said...

Isn't it possible that more choice actually has bad consequences? Do you reject this idea prima facie?

I wouldn't call it a prima facie rejection, but what I would say is that more choice would only have bad consequences to those that cannot accept the idea that they must choose. If women have bought into the "you can have it all" meme then perhaps this is the problem.

bill-o said...

Isn't it possible that more choice actually has bad consequences? Do you reject this idea prima facie?

I wouldn't call it a prima facie rejection, but what I would say is that more choice would only have bad consequences to those that cannot accept the idea that they must choose. If women have bought into the "you can have it all" meme then perhaps this is the problem.

bill-o said...

Isn't it possible that more choice actually has bad consequences? Do you reject this idea prima facie?

I wouldn't call it a prima facie rejection, but what I would say is that more choice would only have bad consequences to those that cannot accept the idea that they must choose. If women have bought into the "you can have it all" meme then perhaps this is the problem.

bill-o said...

Isn't it possible that more choice actually has bad consequences? Do you reject this idea prima facie?

I wouldn't call it a prima facie rejection, but what I would say is that more choice would only have bad consequences to those that cannot accept the idea that they must choose. If women have bought into the "you can have it all" meme then perhaps this is the problem.

bill-o said...

Isn't it possible that more choice actually has bad consequences? Do you reject this idea prima facie?

I wouldn't call it a prima facie rejection, but what I would say is that more choice would only have bad consequences to those that cannot accept the idea that they must choose. If women have bought into the "you can have it all" meme then perhaps this is the problem.

Seven Machos said...

Xanthippas -- You have the point turned laughably upside down.

But carry on. Amuse me.

D-Day said...

JAC asked why women have been increasingly sad over the last decades. Women's unhappiness trackes with the unprecedented historical increase in women's buying power. Unhappy women buy crap. Purveyors of consumer products are trying to make women unhappy. The worse you feel after reading Cosmo, the more crap you'll buy from the advertisers.

Fashion magazines, Oprah, Lifetime movies - most of this crap is for middle class moms. Not a coincidence that that's who makes most household buying decisions.

Has there ever been any substantial social forces stoking women's misery for its own sake the way there is today? I can't think of any. Doesn't bode well for the long-term viability of our culture.

Synova said...

"...but what I would say is that more choice would only have bad consequences to those that cannot accept the idea that they must choose."

I think this is right.

When I begin to feel dissatisfied or unhappy about my life, it's usually when I let myself dwell on the roads not taken.

And the thing is... you have to choose and actually take a road... you can't take them all. You really just can't.

Seven Machos said...

Reader -- Points taken.

Albert A Rasch said...

Pulled in too many directions, without an immovable anchor would be my guess. And a far more sophisticated and nuanced world view as opposed to men.

Uhhhh, I think...

Regards,
Albert
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.
I Ieview the Nikon Monarch

Kev said...

LTTP, but I had to comment on a few things:

Having the ability to pick any doctor I want, based on whatever criteria is important to me seems like a better option than having one picked for me by a bureaucrat I don't even know.

Agreed. I don't want a bureaucrat making any decisions on my behalf; in fact, as I noted on another blog a little earlier today, it wouldn't break my heart if the vast majority of them wound up unemployed, or at least back in school to learn how to do an actual job. The salvation of this country will come through growing the productive class and dramatically paring down the unproductive class (and its unfortunate subset, the parasite class).

Being able to decide that lower mileage is worth it to have a safe vehicle for my family (or vice versa in my particular case) is better than a government mandated econo-box.

I agree with this as well; I don't think the government should be making that choice for anyone either. But let me break out of my usual box for a moment and pose a thought: If everyone drove a similar econo-box, wouldn't we all be safer? If, say, a Honda Fit (the Kevmobile of choice at the moment) collided with a Ford Expedition, the Fit's occupants might well be in a world of hurt. But if the Fit collided with a Toyota Yaris, the damage might be considerably less to all concerned.

(There would be the problem of trucks, but the econo-boxes-for-all scenario might also have to be complemented by an idea that should have been implemented when the Interstate system was first designed: Separate, parallel roadways for trucks. Something that big which is often driven in a hurry should have never been required to mix with cars on the same highway.)

Kev said...

And a few more things...

rhhardin: I noticed that every picture you post has your dog in it. Do you consider that your trademark, in the same way that every KLAATU album has the sun and a little mouse in it?

Beth: Let me join the chorus of those wishing you well on your upcoming surgery. I have knee surgery in my near future, and I'm not exactly looking forward to the immediate aftermath, though it will be nice down the road to walk normally again.

And I have to say that this may be one of the best Althouse threads I've ever read. There's disagreement all around, but nobody's come unhinged or anything. Kudos to all!

Ralph said...

Men get more exercise than women, which releases endorphins to make us feel better. Also, it gets us away from women.

Last weekend, I got to listen to my step-mother bitch about her relatives. She can't figure out why her sons keep marrying bitchy, neurotic women. I tried not to laugh in her face.

Random Numbers said...

'Seven is a good lawyer.'

Compliment or insult?
Oxymoron

srfwotb said...

It's because we feel fat.

(Let's not overcomplicate this.)

ken in sc said...

I suspect that many women are unhappier now because they don’t get what they want.

What do women want? In my life, the answer to this famous question has been revealed. The women in my life want me to figure out, without being explicitly told, what they want to do, and then tell them I think they should do it. If it works out, fine. If it doesn’t, then it is my fault. They want absolution from responsibility.

Today, most women have more responsibility than ever before. It is definitely not what they want. Therefore many are unhappy.

kentuckyliz said...

Doesn't Dr Laura have some book out about keeping your husband happy? Or some such thing?

I am happy because I have always been true to myself no matter what anyone else thought about it.

I am happy because I decided to be.

I think hormones do complicate things. Women tend to get happier as they age past nubility and their hormones decline.

Women take hormones a lot more than they used to 35 years ago and that probably has something to do with it. Also explains the breast cancer epidemic. Long term use of contraceptive hormones and HRT...it's bad for your health and lifespan (morbidity and mortality) and your emotions and judgment and body. No one tells women this of course because round the calendar sexual access is a convenience that is worth the tradeoff of decreased health, disease, and a shortened life. Hot cha cha cha!!

Heck, I've had cancer three times and maybe a fourth (large tumor on right ovary, having a total hysterectomy & oopherectomy myself) and beyond just adapting to a new fact, it's never got me down. I'm even joking about this potential cancer #4 even as I wait to find out the definitive results.

"People are about as happy as they decide to be."
--Abraham Lincoln

"joyful participation in the suffering of life"
--Buddhism

"desire is suffering"
--Buddhism

The Orthodox call cancer the divine disease, and it's true. I have a greater zest for life, cannot be bored, and the smallest ordinary pleasures delight me. My sky is bluer than yours. pffft

Methadras said...

"John said...

For the record, every straight guy or gay woman wants to go out with Freeman. Who doesn't love a tomboy in a baseball hat?"

Just a wild guess, but her husband?

kentuckyliz said...

So women are not as happy as 35 years ago. Let's think about this.

35 years ago I was 8 years old and the "help wanted" ads in the newspaper were still sorted into male jobs and female jobs.

35 years ago women were made some crazy utopian promises by feminists about what sort of world was dawning upon us, and Roe v Wade seemed like the next step to utopia. We aren't slaves to biology any more!

Fast forward 35 years later. This utopia hasn't arisen, and the promises of the feminists ring hollow, and we get to live with the consequences of 35 years of Roe v Wade and an even longer cultivated contempt of female fertility (treated as a disease and now even a sin against Gaia). The social engineering failed and we get to live in the wreckage. Fun fun fun.

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