June 8, 2012

"My husband is a good person: hard-working, committed to social justice. But I’ve come to a startling truth about myself..."

"I might be happier with a less ambitious partner, someone less focused on his career and curing the ills of the world and more focused on me, actually, and the piddling details of our family life."

A striking sentence in an essay that, as I started reading it, I decided to blog with a different quote, but I switched. I rarely switch!

The other sentence was: "Sara’s bridegroom read his vows, shivering a little as he promised to always listen, to make her goals his goals, to constantly improve his mind to remain interesting to her."

77 comments:

Geoff Matthews said...

That was . . . egocentric.

fleetusa said...

You seem to be interested in this subject a lot recently.

Paddy O said...

I don't think she is using "Calvinist approach" right.

Is she confusing that with a Puritan work ethic? Or is there a use of Calvinist that is understood in broader circles that isn't how I understand it?

Also, egocentric indeed. She has a soul of shifting sand and wants someone who both is secure and utterly malleable.

I'm not sure what the source of this profound egotism is, but I've seen so many marriages break up precisely because of the woman convincing herself this is how it should be.

Maybe it is the effect of romantic comedies--where script writers have time to craft perfectly placed lines endearing us to pithy sentimentality while never having to deal with long term relationship issues.

chuck said...

All the News That's Fit to Print.

Geez, the NYTimes is turning into Bizarro Cosmopolitan.

Q said...

My husband is a good person: hard-working, committed to social justice.



You can't parody these people.

Joan said...

I feel bad for their son, although in retrospect it might be better for him to spend less time around this woman. This: If he is not going to be my husband, he is not “required” (by me) to pay attention to every single thing I say. If he is just a friend, who cares that he won’t try Zumba? just about made my head explode. Does she pay attention to every little thing he says? I'm guessing no.

Seeing Red said...

So she tacitly admits her bio clock was ticking and she chose a live one who really wasn't what she wanted.

I'd like to know if she actually met someone before him who was what she thought she wanted and let him go and her reasoning.

And I laugh to myself over the 29/31 vid Insty linked to about a week ago.

sydney said...

Anyone would shiver if they had to take a vow like that. Yikes. Sometimes you just want to shout out to the couples - "Run!"

Alex said...

I thought the personal is political? This woman needs to get with the program. Socialism erases your personal identity.

t-man said...

I honestly find it hard to believe that a person could be so self-deluded that she could write the following sentence:

My parents divorced amicably when I was 5, and I remained close to both. My father now lives jovially with his third ex-wife, who has become his roommate. My sister recently completed her second divorce and seems happier than ever. I know this may sound as if my family doesn’t respect marriage, but we care about it deeply: we keep breaking up mediocre ones in pursuit of a better match.

Ed said...

Well written, and yet depressing in the soul sucking way only a well educated nihlist can deliver it. I'm also impressed by the generational pattern of human damage her family seems to have wrought. These folks should come with a warning label (or at least a "use by" date).

Seeing Red said...

hard-working; committed to social justice. A man cannot serve 2 masters. Sometimes a master & a mistress...

Alex said...

attn Meade - Ann wants her feet rubbed more.

Seeing Red said...

Ed - I'm gonna tell my kid in a few years if she meets anyone by the name of Kennedy - RUN!

Alex said...

I suspect that people who enmesh themselves in "social justice" are the types who can never be in a real relationship. "Social Justice" will always be there, never let you down.

Scott said...

"Wendy Paris is a writer who lives in Hoboken, N.J."

Hoboken is pricey. Has she had any books published? One surfaces on Amazon.com:

Happily Ever After: The Fairy-Tale Formula for Lasting Love

In spite of her expertise on the topic, it's out of print. Natch.

The way she writes, I bet she's sold a few to The New Yorker. Icky.

And if she's living in Hoboken, she has to be doing something other than writing to pay the rent.

Freeman Hunt said...

Well written, and yet depressing in the soul sucking way only a well educated nihlist can deliver it.

Precisely.

This article would make easy fisk fodder.

Amartel said...

Ew, those vows are awful! I'm shivering right now just thinking about them. Progressive marriage: the redistribution of self-esteem.

edutcher said...

Not another, "Me, me, me"?

Peter said...

"I might be happier with a less ambitious partner, someone less focused on his career and curing the ills of the world and more focused on me, actually"

You might, but it's not very probable. Nor is "Happily ever, after we split" all that likely.

What's almost certain is that your almost whimsical, flighty choice to divorce will cause some serious pain for all involved. Including you.

Sometimes the fault, dear Wendy, lies not in our spouse but in ourselves.

Synova said...

OMG, imagine if a woman were expected to pledge that!

I pledge to make your goals my goals, your ambitions my ambitions, move to the West Coast if you have to move for work, support you with timely meals, and promise to always improve myself and not get fat, so I remain interesting to you.

Brilliant!

Beta Rube said...

Does anyone know a working definition of "Social Justice"?

Aren't all decent human beings interested in justice? How and why has this concept been co-opted by the mushy minded left.

sydney said...

I know this may sound as if my family doesn’t respect marriage, but we care about it deeply: we keep breaking up mediocre ones in pursuit of a better match.

This is precisely the beef I have with so much divorce. In most cases, it isn't that one spouse is unfaithful or abusive, but that one spouse has convinced themselves they could do better with someone else. The problem is, the mediocrity is in their perception, not the reality of the marriage or their spouse. They inevitably end up disappointed again.

traditionalguy said...

Paddy is right. She needs to learn that Calvinism means the opposite of working for your acceptance, afterall it has all been predestined as complete.

And after living a long life, I do not buy her "brave new world of singleness" story. She most likely has new romance with a new man, or a new woman, in mind.

Actual Divorce is like a death. And the marriage covenant is designed just to prevent that kind of surprise death. The covenant requires both the man and the woman to declare that they have died to their old life and from then on will live out a new life through their spouse. It is not a car that you can trade in when the model is out dated.

This lady just wants to test drive some sporty new men.

Ed said...

A long time ago, while an undergrad at Columbia, had a date with a social justice type from Barnard, when we started talking about the gay community at Columbia. I admitted physical abuse of someone on the basis of their sexual orientation was wrong, but I felt uncomfortable in close social gatherings where a certain ethos predominated (stranger in a strange land feeling at that age). The date ended shortly after that admission as I was perceived as being to much of a neanderthal for further socializing that evening.

Moral of the story: Avoid dating people who require you to pass some type of test scored against their internal formulation of "social justice" (ironically, they also seem to lack a sense of humor).

Fen said...

"My husband is a good person ...committed to social justice."

ie. he gets away with shit because he BELIEVES! in Swirled Peas.

Liberalism. The Indulgence of douchebags.

Crunchy Frog said...

What kind of a spineless jellyfish would a guy have to be to say vows like that?

What kind of a woman would want a guy like that?

Sickening.

Ann Althouse said...

"attn Meade - Ann wants..."

This post is completely not about me identifying with that author's attitude toward her marriage... but I do identify with her presumed disgust at that groom doing the vows she paraphrased.

AllieOop said...

Most succesful marriages are when both partners come to the realization that you can't have it all, and accept it for what it's worth.

People with intense professions don't always have the capability to give all of themselves all of the time. My husband was a Pediatrician, if I had expected him to be there to hold my hand every time I needed him, I would've been very dissapointed many a time.

DADvocate said...

Another self-centered woman only caring about what she wants. Why not give full custody of her son to her husband? At least her son will have a roll model who can care about somebody else. Greedy bitch.

Pogo said...

"...this may sound as if my family doesn’t respect marriage, but we care about it deeply"

Ted Bundy had a similar respect for small animals and, later, women.

Michael K said...

I've been divorced twice and am on good terms with both ex-wives. For a few years they were very hostile. I kept my cool and eventually it became peaceful and finally friendly. When you think about divorce you have to say to yourself, "Would I rather be alone?"

This woman is delusional.

Fen said...

Why not give full custody of her son to her husband?

She wants her child to have the same Daddy issues that she does.

Ed said...

More irony: most women do not remain attracted enough to a man to maintain a long term relationship if the basis of that relationsip is "he is a good person" (beta, beta, beta). Of course if she believes what she really desires is someone focused on her I think she'll find herself back in the same pool of smouldering contempt which ended this marriage. Sort of a gender replaying of the old Groucho Marx line, "I wouldn't want to belong to a club which wanted me as a member". A man has got to have game.

Pogo said...

Social justice is a hell of a lot easier to be committed to than is marriage.

Her mistake, their mistake, is that the marriage was not more important than either of them or their impotent self-written vows.

That's not Calvinist, it's Calvinball:

Permanent Rule: You may not play Calvinball the same way twice.

Primary Rule: The rules are subject to be changed, amended, or deleted by any player involved. The rules are not required, nor necessary to play Calvinball.

Balfegor said...

My husband is a good person: hard-working, committed to social justice.

When I read that, this is what flashed through my mind. But actually, the husband comes off as a dull, stolid, reliable sort, the kind of chap who in former years would have been the villain in some hysterical melodrama in which the heroine abandons her husband and children to go find herself. Or something.

Seeing Red said...

--Does anyone know a working definition of "Social Justice"?--


America has to pay for being successful, self-sacrificing & generous.

Rusty said...

Honest to God I thought this was a SNL skit.20

Fred Drinkwater said...

@Pogo: Did I miss a mention of the mandatory masks in there somewhere?

Marriage, oh boy. Now 26 years in. The only thing requiring more long-term commitment than marriage is raising kids. Getting an income / having a career? That's child's play by comparison.

Pogo said...

"Committed to social justice"
is a dog whistle for the left.

It's shorthand for 'one of the collectivist elites'; The White Woman's Burden; One of Us.

On the right, it requires air quotes and a roll of the eyes.

Erika said...

I wonder if she teaches her son that the way to live honorably is to abandon his commitments the moment he gets it into his head that there might be more entertaining circumstances available to him.

Pogo said...

@Fred:
My wife plays Calvinball with Where things go.

The replacement spot for scissors, for example, is seemingly random, to be put back in "Zones that may appear and disappear as often and wherever the player decides."

がんこもん said...

Goodness. This woman is feckless to an astonishing degree. Let's recap: she has a husband who by her own admission is reliable, safe, caring and seemingly very involved with their child. But who is not Brad Pitt. So she is willing to tear up her marriage and inflict unnecessary pain on both her (soon-to-be-ex) husband AND her son - just so she can go chase some will-o-the-wisp Peter Pan fantasy.

Marriage is SUPPOSED to be a journey and no one ever said it was easy - especially with children involved. But when you have irresponsible narcissists like this smug ninny, you can but hope that you avoid them. For they can never accept that they must sacrifice - it's always all about what they are owed.

n.n said...

Geoff Matthews:

Exactly. Progressive corruption follows from dreams of instant gratification, including ego. Paradoxically, as he sought to resolve the problem, he was also contributing to its perpetuation.

Social justice or injustice begins at home. He should have concerned himself with the primary social structure: the family.

Tim Wright said...

Do you really think she was disgusted by the groom's vows? I think the first level was disgust -- we're expected to scoff at something that ridiculous. But second level that's the kind of husband she wanted.

Dear Lord these Times people are wretched. They've ruined the newspaper I grew up on and deeply respected.

tim w.

n.n said...

Of course, if her expectations as recorded in their vows are to be interpreted literally, then they do not represent a reasonable compromise between two individuals, each with their own dignity and ambitions. It's likely that in the end, both contributed to the demise of their relationship.

Q said...

the husband comes off as a dull, stolid, reliable sort


I don't know. By her (admittedly biased) description, he is the sort of person who is more concerned with "social justice" than with his own family.

Being a Times writer she can't come right out and say "Screw social justice, I want more of your attention".

But reading between the lines, that is what she's thinking. She'd be much happier if he mouthed the platitudes but did not take them seriously. I suspect people like that make up a significant slice of the progressive movement.

ricpic said...

Idealism is such a strain.

Pogo said...

A marriage to Thistle would be a lot like this one.

Balfegor said...

Re: Q:

I don't know. By her (admittedly biased) description, he is the sort of person who is more concerned with "social justice" than with his own family.

But the reference to "social justice" and some blather immediately after about "curing the ills of the world" are literally the only things that suggests he's that kind of person.

The big tension between their visions of marriage seems to be that he views it more traditionally and functionally, whereas she has the very modern vision of marriage as a vehicle for romance and mutual personal fulfillment.

She refers to his cold stoicism ("squelching") and complains that he's not sufficiently obsessive about her. She does gloss his view with modern buzzwords (e.g. "looser, more independent") but the concrete details she chooses to illustrate his personality ("driving responsibly, hands at 10 and 2, as always" and his giving her his jacket in the rain) make clear that whatever his superficial political commitments, he's not some kind of rebel who flouts social convention.

In contrast, she's all about "deeply united, soul-mate-style connection," wants someone "more focused on me, actually," and expects her husband "to pay attention to every single thing I say."

Yes, he goes along with her ideas about divorce when she initates it, but there's no indication that he was ever going to push for it. Whether intentionally or no, the whole piece gives the impression that he's been the adult in the relationship, and going along with her desire for a divorce is just part and parcel of that.

n.n said...

There's another problem. Either the groom was unaware of his bride's expectations or he was capable of overcoming his "shiver" with sufficient incentive. Perhaps he thought she would change to meet his own expectations.

Well, another divorce due to irreconcilable differences.

What are people doing before they commit to each other that they fail to identify such unreasonable expectations?

Balfegor said...

Sorry, not in the rain -- it's just cold in the opening scene.

Balfegor said...

re: n.n:

There's another problem. Either the groom was unaware of his bride's expectations or he was capable of overcoming his "shiver" with sufficient incentive. Perhaps he thought she would change to meet his own expectations.

It's not clear to me that the husband's expectations were being frustrated. Look at the reaction of their friends -- she thinks their reaction is going to be

“Finally,” they would say to themselves. “They’ve been frustrated for years.”

But it totally is not -- people suggest to her that maybe she's just frustrated in her career. One gets the strong impression that she is the only person who is strongly dissatisfied with the status quo. If her husband is dissatisfied, it really seems like he'd have been happy to continue working at it, if she were willing to continue the marriage. I mean, she describes his attitude as:

We took a Calvinist approach to our union, as if “hard work” could yield a better match. Or he did.

Which (apart from questions of whether "Calvinist" is really the correct adjective there) seems like more or less the attitude most people took back when couples didn't get divorced because they weren't personally fulfilled.

On the other hand, though, I'm not married, and I will admit that in marriage meetings, a girl going on about romance or deep soul-mate style connection would be an immediate deal-breaker, since that seems to me an obvious flag that she's going to want a divorce sooner or later.

LarsPorsena said...

Well, as long as he is working for social justice in a progressive manner, while empowering her and recognizing diversity and both are living a sustainable lifestyle, it will all work out.

(Did I miss anything?)

Balfegor said...

It's also an indicator that maybe her parents shouldn't be setting up marriage meetings for her, since she clearly wants a love match.

dbp said...

"...as he promised to always listen, to make her goals his goals, to constantly improve his mind to remain interesting to her. "

I don't think she was disgusted by this, I think she was jealous of it.

"I might be happier with a less ambitious partner, someone less focused on his career and curing the ills of the world and more focused on me, actually, and the piddling details of our family life."

Lawrence Person said...

For a while I thought NYT printed these profiles of rich, shallow, narcissistic New Yorkers as a means of battlespace preparation to make their readers loath rich people just in case Romney ran against Obama. But no, they just really are that tone-deaf and clueless about how these things play outside the Burroughs. To an NYT staffer, the writer seems like a perfectly normal person.

K said...

"Sara’s bridegroom read his vows, shivering a little as he promised to always listen, to make her goals his goals, to constantly improve his mind to remain interesting to her. "

Oh. My. Dear. God.

madAsHell said...

Does anyone know a working definition of "Social Justice"?

It's just like Critical Race Theory. It ain't just until I say it is. Until then, you have to keep trying.

Chip S. said...

"Social Justice" = Welfare-State Socialism + Extreme Environmentalism + Racial Quotas + Gay Marriage.

No substitutions allowed.

jill815 said...

After the divorce, it'll all be roses and unicorns - until he marries someone younger and prettier and starts his second family.

The author gives me the creeps. Self absorbed pouty little bitch. I'll bet she'll be a heap of fun at PTA meetings.

Firehand said...

Beta Rube, I've asked a number of people that, and either
A: They don't really want to answer, because they either don't know exactly what it is they're demanding, or
B: They don't WANT to answer because it boils down to "The government takes what you earn and distributes it as has been decided is fair", and they know how that'll go over.

jeff said...

"This coolheaded stoicism, often squelching in marriage, felt reassuring and uplifting when contemplating divorce. He wanted us to focus on the good parts of our marriage and consider it a success that had run its term.

“No one else seems to see it that way,” I said.

“This is really between you and me,” my future ex insisted. “It’s not really their business.” "

Yeah, He knew. He most definitely wanted out of that.

Kevin said...

That last part has a typo. It should be "sniveling," not "shivering."

David said...

Stay away from this woman.

David said...

Here friends are actually saying "this is the best you are ever going to do."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I feel very sorry for this woman. She is never going to allow herself to be happy.

Erika said...

It makes me sad that this spoiled, silly adolescent is breaking up an apparently functional family for no other reason than she's convinced the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. What did she expect from marriage, anyway? Did she expect it to be a thrill a minute, perpetually? Did she expect her husband to sit across the table and stare adoringly at her forever? Did he expect to be able to dip in and out of his family, as time allowed around his commitment to social justice?

Sooner or later, she's going to realize that she threw away a perfectly good husband to chase a mirage, and that an aging, spoiled, self-absorbed single mother isn't quite a hot property on the dating market, and she's going to wind up alone and bitter.

John Lynch said...

"I’ve always had an optimistic view of divorce. My parents divorced amicably when I was 5, and I remained close to both. My father now lives jovially with his third ex-wife, who has become his roommate. My sister recently completed her second divorce and seems happier than ever. I know this may sound as if my family doesn’t respect marriage, but we care about it deeply: we keep breaking up mediocre ones in pursuit of a better match. "

There's the relevant paragraph. Before marrying anyone find out what they think of divorce.

John Lynch said...

Finishing this up, it seems like more pro-divorce propaganda.

"hy were my friends so reluctant to let my marriage go? Because they like my husband and care about me. But also because not many people in our circle are divorced. In fact, I live among one of the nation’s least-divorcing demographics: for educated couples in the Northeast who married after age 35, the divorce rate is often cited at around 7 percent. And even though divorce has changed in the last 20 years — improved, as has so much in our private lives — negative assumptions persist. "

If I was drinking anything it would be all over the monitor.

Sure, it's better for you, but what about everyone else?

Of course wealthy, professional women would like divorce to be easy so they can keep their options open. This is like saying that wealthy men would like to have girlfriends on the side without consequences.

GT said...

How does this fit Ann's theory about the Times? As I recall, she posits that the Times is designed to make middle-aged women feel superior.

James Brazier said...

Interesting. I absolutely did not perceive any disgust on Ms Paris' part in response to those rows. Instead, I read a distinct enviousness that her friend was marrying into the kind of relationship Ms Paris had always wanted. What a sad, pathetic story.

Also, is it possible to link to these NYT articles in a single page format? Clicking on your NYT link gets me to the first page for free, but clicking to page 2 uses up one of my 10 free articles for the month. In this case, it was a waste of a click, but sometimes I really do want to read the whole article.

Valentine Smith said...

I do believe she's left out a large part of her story.

She's on a quest for orgasms. Hence her words all sound hollow as if yelled in some deep cavern where the meaning's been absorbed by the distance to the reader's ear. Depression.

She wants a soulmate. Because the older writer she met in that Hoboken Cafe gave her a glimpse. Surely he does light her up like a pinball machine but he's inappropriate, his age and all, and he's married too and his kids need him. He's the nanny. Besides, he won't leave his 3rd wife for her. There's always the chance she can find someone who offers a combination of the excitement and solidity offered by both these men.

Only it's a delusion. The failed older writer's profligate couplings as a sexual alpha has bled his soul of meaning, rendering him as the runt of his artsy litter. A social omega, you might say.

Daddy issues indeed!

Meanwhile, soon to be ex hubby's been plowing the fields of one or more of his earth-mother clients, those fecund women of color in desperate need of social justice. "I'll give pant pant you some social pant pant justice pant pant you whoooore arrrrgghh!!!!!

MarkD said...

Was he wearing a leash and does he wag his tail? You can get what she wants, but not in the man department.

SGT Ted said...

SHe doesn't give a shit about her kid, she has a positive, empowering divorce to wallow in to sooth her shallow self.

RAFIV said...

As someone who makes his living in the hallways of the family courts, this woman's cavalier attitude towards the emotional, financial and social trauma of divorce is all the more sickening because she is oblivious to the damage it will inevitably wreak upon her child. She did not dedicate a single sentence in this self-absorbed screed to an examination of how her child would react to destruction of the family he has known or how she and her husband could restructure their now separate lives for the child’s benefit. She does not seem to comprehend that the end of her marriage does not constitute the end of the family she and her husband created. The three of them will always remain a family: the child’s family.
Divorce should not be approached lightly. The process is nothing less than the complete restructuring of your economic, social and personal life. Whether divorce is a welcome relief from an awful marriage, or an unwelcome rupture in what a person thought was a good life, it is soul wrenchingly painful. And when there are children, people must stay focused upon the child’s needs, whether that means keeping a child away from an abusive parent or finding a way to overcome the petty obstacles placed in your way by a difficult spouse or getting over your own ego.

Swede said...

Jesus, no wonder these people are broken.

When you turn dysfunction into normalcy, what other option is there?