Huffington Post Divorce: Relationships, Capital and the Sudden Bachelor

This recent article posits that divorce is bad for the economy because of the resulting depletion of human capital.  Inarguable.  But after two failed marriages and being under financial pressure ever since, I have come to focus on another kind of capital– relationship capital. Yes divorce costs massive financial capital on a personal and, according to the article, societal level.  Some of end up paying for it for decades.  But more fundamentally, divorce is the result of a loss of capital in the relationship itself.

For those readers still in a relationship– albeit maybe hanging by a thread– or those contemplating (or fearing) plunging into new ones (that’s right I used that metaphor, deal with it), the punch line of my cautionary tale is the formula: relationship capital = time X (mutual love and respect).

Now, let me backtrack from being formulaic to say- if we marry young, it’s  likely we picked
wrong.  How likely?  50% likely.  Oversimplified?  Yeah, so?  It makes my head hurt less.  If you pick wrong, the above formula doesn’t apply.  Instead you’re in a half-life situation.  The relationship has a half life since infatuation, great sex, whatever drew you in, will serve as glue for just so long until ultimately, you become rubber, she becomes glue and the relationship lessens in romance at a rate of 50% per year (that’s right, makes my head hurt less) until all that’s left is a teeny tiny thread of connection which eventually is broken by a butterfly or rose petal alighting on it.  And then, after two years or ten, after two kids or maybe just a Bassett hound, you bite the bullet, possibly so big you break a tooth or bank or two, get set back like 10 years in every way possible, and chalk it up to youthful inexperience.  Actually, forget that, you will probably blame your spouse, because who wants to blame ourselves?

But lets say you picked right.  Well, for starters “right” is not absolute here.  Nothing is, except the sky, global
warming, the fact that Mitt Romney will say anything and its opposite to get elected, the fact that everyone we know will die someday.  That’s right, die.  Buzzkill?   Read on!  Right means you actually thought about it when not having an orgasm.

The Bachelor and The Sudden Bachelor- Not Far to Go?

This year’s season of The Bachelor is over. Courtney got the rose from Ben to everyone’s shock and disdain.  The news emanating from this show—on internet news outlets, in newspapers and magazines, at times put the latest Ben headlines right up there with tsunamis and market crashes.  What is the pull of this show?   To me, it seems so blatantly artificial…but then do I really think reality television has reality
in it?
I liken reality show love and marriage to a butterfly in a jar. Nice to look at, but will it live and breathe as real love and especially a durable marriage, which can dodge the divorce bullet?  What are the odds?

My reflexive conclusion about this made-for-TV method of spousal selection:
it has to be more likely to result in divorce than the ‘usual’ methods
mentioned below, college dorms, online dating, people met at dodgy dungeon like
clubs (JK- for me anyway)…  I mean, how ridiculously artificial, all
these suitors vying to bed the bachelor(ette) like sperm cells trying to
penetrate an ovum, and doing it in front of an audience of millions.  It
seems like a cross between gladiatorial bloodsport and chick flick audition,
but not real dating or relationship building.  If the odds of a ‘normal’
marriage ending in divorce are 50-50, then wouldn’t the odds of a
Bachelor(ette)-manufactured marriage ending in sudden bachelorhood be closer to
like 100%?

Not so fast.  For one thing, who is a twice-divorced guy to say that a
highly artificial method of choosing a spouse is more likely to lead to divorce
than what we consider to be more ‘natural’ methods?  The ones I have used in the past, like meeting people at college, in bars, through friends or online dating, all result in the
coin flip divorce stats we now contend with, so no need to get all huffy about
seemingly arbitrary methods.

And another thing- people of my parents’ vintage, as well as people in
arranged-marriage cultures, have frequently married under at least as
artificial circumstances with less knowledge of their spouse-to-be than the
Bachelor had of his suitors.  50-year marriages have been founded on a
few dates, or the fact that the families knew each other, or were the “right”
families.  Marriages have often rested on pretty slim reeds and guess
what? There’s not much evidence, at least to the naked eye, that an “artificially”
generated marriage has a worse shot at longevity than one borne of love and/or
passion (that’s right, two different things).

My takeaway? Bachelor(ette) is a hokey show and a worse premise for a
marriage, but what is a better foundation for a marriage to beat the divorce stats? Marriage and selecting your spouse is like that ubiquitous Churchill quote about government: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”  Same for how we choose life partners.

I won’t let the statistics I hear about Bachelor(ette) marriages
(significantly less than 50% make it apparently) deter me from my point, which
is: marriages based on romantic notions likely rest upon a foundation almost as
sand-like as artificially based marriages.  If true (it does beg statistical research), then maybe we need to think about what really is the least likely divorce-generative scenario unclouded by overly romantic notions or, on the other side, overly artificial or practical goals.  Sure. We can do that.  My start down that road:

•           Marry when you’re thirty and less likely to succumb to passion or sex as the dominant motive, both are unreliable indicators of longevity.  Make that 60.

•           Marry with concrete goals in mind, not romantic ones. Yeah, I know.  Believe it or
not I’m a romantic.  But in my only slightly jaded view, the place for romance is in the bedroom, not at the altar.

•           Marry your best friend, not your best girl or boyfriend. Yes they should be attractive at least to you; yes, you should have great sex.  But I submit that friends
with benefits are better than benefits without friendship, even if there’s romping, fantasy-worthy sex involved in the latter equation.

In other words circling back to the question, what is the spousal selection
method least likely to line the pockets of divorce lawyers?  Damned if I
know, but at least let’s try and jettison our kneejerk pre-conceptions?

Huffington Post Divorce: Divorce – Independence or Enslavement?

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post’s Divorce section as part of our regular contributions to their site. Keep checking back for more Sudden Bachelor on Huff Post.

July 4 prompted thoughts of whether divorce is a declaration of independence or a form of slavery.

Whether we wanted divorce or not, if we are getting divorced I submit the goal is independence, at least from our ex. I don’t mean excommunication. In the best divorces communication and cooperation are possible or even necessary if you have kids. Even friendship is attainable if exes are willing to swap amity for antagonism. Easier said than done.

And it’s easier said than done for divorce to be a move toward independence rather than an enslaver. As in most things human, the answer in how you slice it. Factors to consider if you have a will to move your experience of divorce toward independence and away from slavery:

• Are you the ‘dumper’ or dumpee? If the former you may indeed be declaring independence and feel liberated. If the latter you may be enslaved by anger and unrequited love. Or legion injustices may have taken place within the marriage which led to the altar of divorce. There’s no easy fix for these imbalances any more than there is an easy fix for relationships where one partner loves more than the other. This is where one of my divorce mantras comes in: therapy! If you’re a thinking feeling human, divorce sucks whether you’re the instigator or an unwitting victim, whether wrongs were done to you or you were the inflictor of them. If you have any money left, get therapy. Once it’s over (see Huffington Post’s It’s Over: Readers Share The Moment They Knew to help identify the end, amazing and scary!) what you need is independence from the marriage and the tangle of emotions surrounding its end. If there ain’t no cure for love, there is a partial cure to love’s end–therapy. That may well include anti-depressant or mood elevating drugs dispensed by a therapist if needed or useful. Fall back on your friends of course. And meaningless sex if available and tolerable. Formulate a goal to be free of the emotional slavery to the end of the marriage, and treat the path to that freedom like you would a task at work or as you would evaluate a long ago war in a history book. Independence is a right and privilege you will have to work hard for, start with therapy. Continue reading

Huffington Post Divorce: Socratic vs. Accepted Wisdom and Divorce

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post’s Divorce section as part of our regular contributions to their site. Keep checking back for more Sudden Bachelor on Huff Post.

A lesson I took away from my two divorces: learn to flip the accepted wisdom, no matter how accepted or instinctive it is. Socratic wisdom is the best and hardest kind: knowing what you don’t know. Try hard to choose that over accepted or instinctive choices. Here’s a start:

• Accepted wisdom: Get the best lawyer you can afford and come out swinging, especially if your spouse did something bad like cheat or lie.
• Real wisdom: mediate, mediate, mediate. No matter how aggrieved you are you will feel worse if you drag yourself down into bitter expensive litigation to ‘punish’ your spouse.
• Accepted wisdom: You must get the best divorce deal you can.
• Real wisdom. Overpay. Overgive. As long as you don’t seriously impair your ability to live, good will between spouses especially with kids involved, and avoiding the emotional turmoil of a protracted battle, is worth more than any money or possessions you would take away by haggling hard.
• Accepted wisdom: My pride has been crushed, screw that $%#% I’m mad as hell and I’m going to ride that puppy– because I have no choice.
• Real wisdom: Be more Gandhi than Genghis. Yes your anger is like a freight train if infidelity or other misbehavior is involved, and yes no words and no logic can right that any more than words or logic would have stopped you from loving and marrying the wrong person. But the scorched earth battle you need to fight is against your own instincts, not against your ex. You will be happier for it.
• Accepted wisdom: Divorce is failure and one or both of you should be ashamed of yourselves.
• Real Wisdom: Divorce is evolution. Whatever makes us think we can correctly make lifetime choices like marriage or career when we are, like, babies, even at 30? Without experience of being married the Catch 22 is it’s real hard to choose who to be married to. Admit life is trial and error, move on, evolve. Heresy I know but facts are stubborn things.
• Accepted Wisdom: The kids will get used to it, and are arguably better off without experiencing and ultimately modeling a bad marriage.
• Real wisdom: The kids will hate it. Even in extreme cases of spousal abuse the shattered marriage shatters their sense of stability and home. Does this mitigate against divorce? Yes but ultimately you have to make a very tough decision, whether to put your life and happiness before theirs, it’s that simple and heartbreaking. It’s not wrong to choose that. Just be aware that you will have to put a ton of effort into making your kids feel even marginally ok about it.

What I’m saying in a word is: flip flopping is a bad thing in politics, not necessarily in divorce. If you find a way to flip your natural reaction and the accepted wisdom about divorce as you go through it, you have a better shot at ending up, if not overjoyed, at least not destroyed.

SB News: How Anthony Weiner Might Save His Marriage

We can’t get enough of Weinergate! The big question around these parts is – will Oscar Meyer end up a Sudden Bachelor? Here’s a post with some tips on how he can prevent the world of SB:

Condemning is easy; fixing is hard.

If Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin came to my office this is what I’d do: First, I’d listen closely as they talked about how their marriage had been shattered by Mr. Weiner’s forays into salacious photographs and suggestive texts. Perhaps Ms. Abedin would express shock and betrayal, rage and sorrow. Mr. Weiner might talk about his guilt and shame. And the way the press was on a witch-hunt.

After conveying my sadness for their misery, I might tell them that in my clinical experience I’ve seen relationships where one partner has deeply betrayed another fall apart, and others be repaired. I’d ask them if they wanted to remain married. If Ms. Abedin said “It’s over,” Mr. Weiner might be disoriented, crestfallen, and even desperate.

“I think there are two kinds of “It’s over,” I’d say to Ms. Abedin. “In the first, it is over — one or both people have given up on the relationship and nothing can be done to save it. All bridges to reconciliation have been burned and hopelessness sabotages any wish to preserve the relationship.” Read the full post here.


New Words For SB: Pinking

Pinking- Penis thinking

No news here.  We know guys think with their penises, leading us down the road to ruin again and again from the launch of a thousand ships to Weiner’s wiener.  Here’s the thing- Weiner’s approach to penile cogitation is an object lesson- on HOW TO DO IT!  In other words how to avoid sudden bachelorhood notwithstanding the waggish ways of your wiener.

What Weiner did was harmless.  Lying about it was not.  As is so often the case in courtrooms and careers, it’s the lie that does you in, not the act.  So men who are married and being led astray by your wiener?  Try virtual sex.  Openly.  Ideally with spousal permission.  In at least some marriages, if virtual sex substitutes for actual a couple nights a week it may be a welcome respite from nightly sexual expectations from horny husbands?  Or- it may be a good predicate to hot sex, you shop online but you buy at home?  Whatever that saying is.

Will you get spousal permission to have virtual sex?  Probably not, because no one can accept that the wiener will have its way regardless of what we say.  So the alternative- if the choice is between an actual tryst or a virtual one (i.e. you are just another guy with weak will when it comes to the wiener) is the virtual one.  If you get caught, own up immediately.  Is this worse than jerking off with a copy of penthouse?  Yes, but not all that much.  Am I engaging in pinking?  You bet.

Guest Post: Six Things Your Kitchen Should Never Be Without

Editor’s note: This post comes from our pal Katie, who is a marketing coordinator for Food Service Warehouse.

When it comes to cooking, you may be miles away from being the next Wolfgang Puck. And let’s be honest: your friends (and any lady friends in your life) probably prefer it that way. Still, as an emerging, independent and self-sufficient adult male, the ability to hold your own in the kitchen is one of those things you can’t afford to put off forever. As awesome as it sounds to live off of Top Ramen and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for the rest of your life, those days should have ended after you left college.

This guide offers six must-have kitchen supplies to get you started on the right foot. We promise that these simple items will give you the opportunity to start cooking up meals like the pros…or at least a little better than you were before.  And hey, you may even impress someone along the way.

1. Chef’s Knife

Every kitchen needs a reliable knife, and a chef’s knife is a good place to start. A good chef’s knife has a blade at least eight inches long made of carbon steel or stainless steel, or an amalgam of the two. Choose a forged knife over a stamped knife, since it pays to invest in something that will last—especially if this is your only kitchen knife. Be sure to hand-wash your chef’s knife to keep it in prime condition.

2. Cutting Board

No use for a chef’s knife unless you have the right surface to cut on. Cutting boards help save your countertops from nicks, and they also provide a food-safe surface that can extend the length of your cutting utensils. Cutting boards come in plastic or wood varieties of all shapes and sizes. Select wood if you prefer a heavy board with a natural look. However, plastic cutting boards are generally easier to clean and less likely to harbor bacteria. It is even more preferable to select several different cutting boards that you can use for different types of foods, which will go the extra mile to prevent cross-contamination. No salmonella here! Continue reading