Selfish is the New Good

One of the most frustrating things to those who have any concern about human relationships in the manosphere is what we call frivorce: a divorce that takes place without physical abuse, adultery, or profound abandonment of the marriage. (for instance say someone moving away from their spouse and literally having almost nothing to do with them) A common notion is what is referred to as ‘unhaaaapy’ which is a mocking way of referring to how women in particular talk about feeling unhappy in their marriages. Often you hear in such cases things like “He’s a good man, i’m just not in love with him anymore”. We seem to hear this a lot more from women than from men. And you often hear about how the woman doesn’t want sex with the man anymore, how the idea of it makes her skin crawl.

I think the worst case I’ve heard of like this comes from a writer and apparent educator called Renee Jain, who wrote an article published in the Huffington post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-jain/why-being-selfish-is-the-most-unselfish-thing-you-can-do-the-martyr-mentality-myth-_b_3438103.html

She writes:

I was young, successful on all accounts and looking at my life from the outside in. Yet, I sat in a daze as the plane taxied down the runway. “Should oxygen be needed, a mask will drop down from the compartment located above your seats. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, be sure to secure your own mask first before assisting others.” I sat, silenced, as I let the words of the usual take-off ritual sink into the depths of my mind.

 

Now my thought of this is: of course. Because you actually cannot physically assist someone else if you are experiencing oxygen deprivation, in fact you could pass out and you could both die. However she continues:

Suddenly, sitting up straight as if I’d been hit by a cue of inspiration from the unknown, the message I received was distinct and powerful. In fact, I was stirred into action. I turned to my husband at the time (whose name has been changed for the for the sake of this piece), and said, “Kal, I want a divorce.” I watched as the blood drained from his face. After several long moments, he responded, “We never fight, I treat you well, and our careers — well, they’re thriving. I don’t understand what it is that you want?”

“I want love,” I replied simply.

 

You know, when Saul was on the road to Damascus, he had an epiphany, and realized that he had been sinning against God, after he was struck blind, and repenting became a follower of Christ. This woman, told that she should look to her immediate safety before looking after others, had a revelation about selfishness. Go figure. Anyway let’s see how that cruel fellow, her husband at the time, responded.

“Renee, we’ve only been married six months. We can make this work. Anyway, we don’t get divorced,” he said with a now discernible edge in his voice. The “we” he was referring to were Indians. Like our first generation peers, we identified strongly with both our culture from India and from America. With respect to marriage, most of us erred on the Indian side. I believe “just make it work” was the unwritten rule. As we prepared for take-off, Kal continued to appeal to my sense of tradition. A protective hand found my forehead in response to the memory that now bombarded my brain as I listened to Kal desperately try and reason with my new charge.

 

Wait, what? He appealed to the traditions by which they had gotten married? He talked about how they could work together to make the marriage work? My goodness that’s…well I have to admit I don’t have words. Let us read on.

“Why did you agree to marry me?” I could hear Kal’s voice shuffle through my foggy memories. I thought about it and the answer was utterly lucid: I had put the happiness of others ahead of my own. I had been a martyr for the happiness of others. This is something we all do far too often.

This union fulfilled a dream of my parents and my culture. Although encouraging of my desires, I sensed a consistent overlay of cultural influence directing my decisions — a roadmap of sorts. Here was the roadmap: Get good grades, get into a good college, get a great job, find a great man, get married and have kids. For most of my life, I buried my own desires and followed the roadmap. By marrying Kal, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of my parents; their sacrifice to come to this country was not in vain. By marrying Kal, I fulfilled an age-old Indian tradition of finding a suitable mate and building a suitable life. Yet by marrying Kal, I began to forfeit my own dreams, values and desires as they did not align with those of my parents and culture. I thought by trading ‘one’ for another, I could still flourish.

I was wrong.

I turned to Kal and said, “I believed that to be happy myself, I could simply float on the happiness of those around me. I now see that life just doesn’t work that way. Kal, the flight attendant instructed us to place an oxygen mask securely on our own face before offering assistance to even our own children. This concept was never intuitive to me, but I now understand it. It’s a basic survival skill — a prerequisite for happiness. Before extending happiness beyond my own person, I must first offer it to myself.”

The day after the flight, I made the most difficult and most wonderful decision of my life — I filed for divorce. I was 25 years old; it was time to start drawing my own roadmap.

One thing I found bizarre about all this is that “Kal” refers to this “We never fight, I treat you well, and our careers–well they’re thriving.” And when he asks what she wants, she says “I want love”. Later on she talks about fulfilling her dream of developing a new educational program for children. it is never made clear why she could not have done this and stayed married to this man. It’s simply that she had ‘walked into the biggest mistake of her life”.

This doesn’t appear to have even been one of those cases where she was in some hidebound old fashioned tradition of barely leaving the role of wife and potential mother, since her former husband referred to ‘their careers’. It is not clear why she could not have worked on her marriage.

This is a typical story, but it stands out for me because for once we have input from the husband. This is a good example of why we condemn frivorce. There was no physical abuse, there was no adultery, heck there was no obvious reason why she could not have said “I’m not happy with my career”. In fact there is no clear notion that she’s even unhappy with this guy in particular.

However I read something else by her where she was talking about the importance of grit–which she doesn’t seem to apply to this particular story–and said that she had been a lifelong quitter, afraid of failure, and learned through a workshop class how to see things through.

I wasn’t so much interested in what she has achieved since as I was interested in that. I think it is a good example of how we need to carefully examine the character of someone we get married to. In this present and likely in the future marriage laws are unlikely to change to something more traditional–it is too lucrative for the current system and for the women who benefit from it to change it. What men need to be aware of is that a woman can use her emotional state as justification to end a marriage regardless of what is actually happening in the relationship. So we need to learn as Christian men to be more discerning about the character of women. I’ve made this point before–I’m making it again.

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21 thoughts on “Selfish is the New Good

  1. I understand, and I do believe that once you marry, you need to do everything you can to make it work – what she did to him was unfair, but their cultural expectations are also somewhat unfair. I worked in research with a 24 year old Indian woman that felt strongly for all the traditional roles she had to play out in her life. She was under immense pressure to get married soon (almost all her friends and family were displeased that she hadn’t already) even though she didn’t even have a boyfriend yet. I truly think if you marry a normal person (not sociopath) you can make happiness with them, and create a beautiful life together. But I really do feel like it’s wrong to put so much pressure on sweet kind women like her, it’s too easy to marry someone that could not care about her goals or dreams, men get married for the wrong reasons too, like for security or status, to put a check in the box. She told me that her parents were going to start setting up arranged dates for her, with men that they pick out, because of how worried they are that she’s getting so old.

    But I totally agree that selfish divorces are bad for everyone, especially if there are children involved.

  2. If you read the responses to Matt Walsh, linked at dalrock, when he slams frivorce and juxtaposes it to gay marriage you get a feel for the fact that, sure, men may marry for the wrong reasons, but that is not really relevant to what happens later. Later, generally (in the statistical sense) men stay, women frivorce.
    All the talk about being careful, choose the right mate, etc., is true but lacks utility. The rubber meets the road at the filing of divorce. Dont file…..shazam….no divorce. But Walsh’ blog comments are filled with these platitudes from men and women

    Its not divorce thats the problem, its sin thats the problem
    Its not divorce, its how we treat each other
    The divorce happened long ago, the papers are a formality

    We have lost the ability to communicate. We have bent the language to fit the comfy chair of our worldview. What the woman in the blog above said is just a slice of her take on conventional wisdom.

  3. The divorce happened long ago, the papers are a formality

    If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard or read this…

  4. Going to make myself unpopular here. A cry of unhaaapy within the first year of marriage is not aiming for cash and prizes. She and her husband came from a culture where neither man nor woman is expected to feel that strongly about each other for themselves, but if the aunties have done their homework and the community is around, they’ll stick together and come up with a workable way of living for the whole of their lives. Obviously, if you expose such a marriage to modern Western mores, it’s going to dissipate as soon as she’s taking home a check and continually re-evaluating her potential. I think she’s correctly using selfishness in the sense of taking responsibility for her future behaviour.

  5. Yes, it is of utility. It’s of utility for anyone contemplating how to go about getting married.

    Look, misunderstandings and disappointments will happen. I actually believe it is goodwill, not communication skills that win the day though their development is important. A person of good character is less likely to frivorce. I’m saying this because we need to recognize that our social structure is no longer a sufficient motive to make people hesitate before considering it.

  6. @Elspeth: I was talking in Bible study this week about how women tend, like Eve to not believe that they are justified in sinning, which is how men tend to do, but that they tend to believe they are genuinely right. This is why I believe the Church needs to start teaching women that their sins are sins, not lack of self esteem, and that the response should be a life of righteousness. Not you go girl.

  7. Soj.

    I got lost in your wording. Are you saying men tend to sin and think we are right? Or that women do that? I say men do not convince ourselves we are right, we may convince ourselves that whatever pleasure the sin brings is worth the consequence, that we can hide it from others, that sort of thing. Women thinking they are right is the hamster and its as powerful as The Cracken when its released

  8. What I mean is that while a man may say ” War is a sin, but I see no alternative.” a woman is more likely to say, “God wants me to do this because it feels right.”

  9. “Going to make myself unpopular here. A cry of unhaaapy within the first year of marriage is not aiming for cash and prizes.”

    You seem like an OK guy by the shape of your font, so I wouldn’t worry about popularity. But neither the motivation or the action is right in this case. The action is divorce, the motive is selfishness—whatever her motivation, it was wrong.

  10. Empath:
    I can guarantee that the people who screech loudest about this kind of ‘selfish utility’ are the least tolerant whenever somebody else exercises it. What do you suppose this bitch would be saying if her husband dumped her—for exactly the SAME reasons?

    P.S. I’m going to send you an e-mail before long to update you on something I wrote you about while you were in India; but have held off on because you’ve been so busy—man—has THAT story taken a weird turn! LOL

  11. Robert:
    If I follow you correctly, I think what you’re saying is that our dysfunctional society is bringing this kind of problem on itself. While I can sympathize with that perspective, I think that our society is largely too far gone for that kind of ‘logical consequences’ to have any corrective effect on it. That’s where I disagree with a lot of PUAs too, who think that giving ‘liberated’ women what they deserve will change their attitudes: it won’t—it will reinforce their bad attitudes.

    What will stop this kind of thing from happening is for men to exercise their own freedom and punish feminist women—by withholding things like sex and marriage from them. Go MGTOW or pursue non-feminist women—those are the kinds of consequences they’ll understand.

  12. Articles like this make me want to go back to bed…

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/angela-bonavoglia/for-pope-francis-a-todo-l_b_4709129.html

    After praising Pope Fannie for denouncing capitalism, Femihags lecture the pope about adopting the following policies:

    1. Please stop talking about the role of women in the church

    2. Recognize women’s God-given moral authority

    3.Study feminist theology

    4. Bless the use of contraception

    5. Leave behind the Virgin Birth

    6. Appoint a woman to the College of Cardinals

    7. End compulsory celibacy

    8. Hold your brethren accountable

    9. No more meetings about women, without women.

    Which if Pope Fannie—who’s rapidly approximating the prophesied ‘Black Peter’ every time he opens his mouth—actually adopts ANY of these proposals, it should swell the ranks of Islam proportionally.

  13. OK, sojourner we agree, I couldn’t parse it out the way it was stated, my fault.

    Eric, Please do let me know, I think I tried to scour for something helpful and came up short. That was, after all, September
    I agree about culture. Whether its the or A problem doesnt matter. Like the economy is comprised of the amalgam of billions of transactions, culture is too. Like the economy has spend thrifts and thrifty, culture has good bad ugly and beauty, and evil. We are individual actors, behind the guilded cage….all that….but saying its culture is a throw away like its sin, its how we treat each other, its thatr we do not know how to love….whatever.
    No. Divorce happens when someone files. Cause and effect.

  14. girlwithadragonflytattoo: “…But I really do feel like it’s wrong to put so much pressure on sweet kind women like her, it’s too easy to marry someone that could not care about her goals or dreams,”

    But its ok to force careerism on girls ?

  15. This is why I believe the Church needs to start teaching women that their sins are sins, not lack of self esteem, and that the response should be a life of righteousness.

    I agree Sojourner. Women need people around to call it out when we do things like this, and it needs to start young.

    I still tend toward it when I’m not deliberate, and I see it in my girls, that tendency to point out all of the things that made their actions “okay”, even in the face of logic and a clear explanation of why their actions are sinful.

    Not that boys don’t deflect, but they seem to *get it* sooner when the truth is laid out.

  16. @Eric: no one is making anyone be a Christian. If people are adults and part of a church whose historic doctrines or dogmas don’t work for them…my view of it is go join another church that ordains women or whatever.

  17. “This is why I believe the Church needs to start teaching women that their sins are sins, not lack of self esteem, and that the response should be a life of righteousness. Not you go girl.”

    I had to go through this with my wife as she blasted me with all the “This is your fault” attack she usually get at when things aren’t going her way. Jesus saying “They know now what they do” keeps going off in my mind as I write this but women tend to stick with what other women say and think a man is always saying the opposite of what he’s trying to get at. A logically conversation isn’t applicable to some as trying to tell them they don’t need ‘that’ purse since they have like 20 others already at home or a closet full of shoes.

  18. But _______________ has that purse….got it for Valentine’s Day.

    Funny, called home today at lunch, wife sounded stuffy nosed, said she felt a little bad, I knew I was off the hook for leaving home on such a day.

    Another V day, avoided!

  19. @Ahmad – no I don’t think it’s ok to do that either lol. This girl is brilliant, she’s already discovered little new things and on her way to an amazing enviable career in cancer research. She’s so talented, after working with her for months I could see it comes naturally for her!

    I just don’t agree with the pressure put on her to marry so young (and I sound like a hypocrite because I myself married at 20, my parents were so angry when I got engaged they kicked me out, they wanted me to pursue my career first, so it’s funny that you brought that up)! 🙂 I’m so happy I married my husband when I did. But in her culture where her parents are so involved in picking the “right” man and put so much pressure on her to do it quickly (when she clearly wants to focus on scientific discovery) it’s like what mine did to me just backwards.

    Overall I think marrying young is good. But this girl’s brilliant! She’s also quite beautiful too, so I’m not worried about her finding a good man, I’m worried about her being pressured to get married to someone who doesn’t care about her abilities.

  20. Let your wijfe know that you need to talk about your marriage and set up some
    private time where you won’t be interrupted by kids or i
    – Phones or other stuff. Being open to yor partner shun away
    misunderstandings and eventual fights. I knokw that she does the ironing so much better
    than me, if the truth is known, but that’s not the issue.
    It happens to most of us, but most of uus bounce
    back sooner or later to a more “normal” level of
    well-being.

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