Unreasonable Expectations

This guest post submission comes from BCC reader Martin.

A few years back, a man I home taught, whom I’ll call Dave, left his wife of 25+ years to pursue a younger, more attractive woman. He said he’d been having problems with his wife for years and that he simply had too much life ahead of him to waste it living the way he had.

His wife’s take? He didn’t love her anymore because she’d gotten too fat.

She was crushed. She loved Dave and had taken her future with him to be a given. In an effort to win him back, she not only hit the gym with a vengeance, but she even underwent cosmetic surgery. Too late. Dave was gone, and he wasn’t coming back.

An unremarkable story, I suppose, except that similar things were happening in other wards in the stake. The word was, men were leaving their wives for younger, more attractive women. It was an epidemic. The good women of the stake encircled their wounded sisters, and grieved. And fumed.

In response, the stake president went from ward to ward visiting the Relief Societies, gathering their thoughts and complaints, and giving counsel. My wife was in primary at the time, so I don’t know exactly what sorts of things were being said, but those meetings always went over the allotted time, and the SP wasn’t doing most of the talking.

The next skate priesthood meeting, the SP discussed with us what he’d discussed with the sisters. It was interesting. It was also surprisingly short. He’d expected us to have as much to say as the sisters, but we mostly sat and nodded attentively. He described to us the grievances the sisters had and the unrealistic expectations they felt to look a certain way. He told us that our responsibilities were to love our wives, to make love to our wives, and to make them feel beautiful. It was our responsibility not to buy into the world’s vision of what women should look like, and especially to stay away from p0rn, because these things would destroy the intimacy in our marriages. He said he was telling us the same thing he had told the sisters: if we men strayed, it was our own fault, and had nothing to do with them.

The men left the meeting relatively quietly, humbled, and maybe feeling a little guilty by association. As I got in my car, I was thinking about Dave and how angry I was at him. I’m not the best home teacher, but I did feel love for the family I felt he’d abandoned. Good Christians don’t judge, so I tried to feel charitable towards him as well, especially since in my mind he was clearly destined for hell.

But I couldn’t help but wonder. Had he really divorced his wife because she was fat? According to her, he hadn’t really looked at her in years. Had he brought up his dissatisfaction with her weight before? Likely. What had happened? Obviously, losing weight is hard, and for some people, nigh impossible. Maybe she tried and gave up. On the other hand, maybe she just ignored him, thinking it was a misplaced priority. Maybe she’d dissolve into tears over his “unrealistic expectations”, leaving him feeling guilty for bringing it up and yet seething in frustration at the same time. Maybe he just learned not to bring it up because she’d become upset and just continue to get heavier anyway. Were the “problems” they’d “been having for years” really just her weight?

Seems to me both partners in a marriage are equally responsible to make it good, and marital intimacy is obviously based on a lot more than sexual attraction. Some things are more important to one spouse than to the other, so building a good marriage requires communication, negotiation, responsiveness, and sacrifice. What if Dave’s biggest complaint wasn’t his wife’s weight, but her non-responsiveness to his complaints about her weight? After all, she had a weakness for nice furniture, and their house was loaded with it. Maybe he felt like he was providing the things she valued while she was ignoring the things that were important to him.

I do think there are a lot of people who screw up their marriages with misplaced priorities. It’s quite possible Dave had bought into the “don’t you wish I was your girlfriend” messages and images from the media. Maybe he was into pr0n. Maybe the SP one-sided words were spot on.

I’d been thinking about Dave again because of something that recently happened in my own marriage. It’s an exceptionally silly story: I asked my wife to change her hairstyle.

My wife is of the low-maintenance variety – she rarely wears makeup, never paints her nails, has no interest in fashion, and never wears earrings. Her naturally athletic body has become more matronly with age and the bearing of six children. She does, however, sport some beautiful blue eyes on a cute freckly face framed by dark wavy hair, and I’m quite attracted to her. But a few years into our marriage she changed to a lower maintenance haircut, and I didn’t like it. Like most marriages, ours hasn’t always been smooth, and getting her to change her hairstyle was the last thing I was going to spend emotional capital on, so she continued to wear her hair that way for many years. Recently, though, I suggested she change it a little, explaining what I thought would look good. She was a little annoyed – “I’d have to use a little gel for that” she said. But she started doing it occasionally, and I made sure to compliment her.

The last couple weeks, I noticed she looked extra nice, and after complimenting her, I asked her what she’d been doing. “Oh, my hair’s getting too long so to keep it out of my eyes I have to blow-dry and curl it a little. Don’t get used to it – I’m getting it cut so it doesn’t take so much time.”

I thought long and hard about what I did next. That night in bed, I asked her not to cut it. I liked it. She looked great. She said she didn’t like spending so much time on it. It takes nearly ten minutes! (an exaggeration – but any woman with children knows how valuable that time in the morning is). I said it was worth it. She grumbled something about having to put on high heels and lipstick for when her husband comes home from work. We went to sleep.

She hasn’t cut it. Yet, anyway. And every night when I come home and see her, I get a little thrill. She’s been looking mighty fine. I don’t think she realizes how similar it is to the hairstyle she wore when we dated and married, but I do.

I don’t know what she’s thinking during those “nearly ten minutes” every morning. She’s probably grumbling a bit. I can’t even compliment her now because it would just come off as pressure or manipulation. But I know how good I feel when I see her. And it’s not just because she looks nice.

Comments

  1. Interesting post-I’m a relatively newlywed whose mid 30’s husband has been working on a bit of a belly over the last few years. I wish he’d exercise/eat better but don’t want to send the “I would love you more if you looked better” message since it is so hurtful to me if he ever mentions anything less than positive about my appearance. So I say nothing but instead am very supportive of his decision to buy a bike–exercise we can do together!

  2. Been nice knowing you, Martin.

  3. aloof observer says:

    I think a lot of women underestimate how HUGE of deal it is to most men for their significant others to not be overweight. Sounds harsh and shallow, but that’s how we men are wired.

    However, I’m not justifying a man leaving his wife solely on that weight factor.

  4. aloof observer says:

    I also like the following quote from Pres. Kimball

    “Divorces often occur over sex… If you study the divorces, as we have had to do in these past years, you will find there are many reasons. Generally, sex is the first. They did not get along sexually. They may not say that in the court. They may not even tell that to their attorneys, but that is the reason”

  5. Hope you learned speed skating at that priesthood meeting.

  6. I give my two cents when it’s requested and shut up otherwise.

    I’ve become addicted to breathing – and with only daughters in the house now, if I make my wife mad I have five females mad at me. Weight and hair length? Not on my priority scale – especially I have too much and not much, respectively.

    Oh, and I like your SP, fwiw.

  7. If my husband didn’t like my hairstyle, I hope he would tell me.

  8. I think that physical attractiveness is actually the less central issue in the “Dave” story (and the other men in the stake doing similar thing), the central issue being demographics in the church. There is an abundance of never-married and previously married single women in the church who are all-around fantastic people. There don’t seem to be hardly any single men in that category. As you pointed out, there may have been other issues in the marriage, but the bottom line was that he was unhappy. A woman in that situation is almost certainly better off getting over it and staying married, because her fate on the church dating circuit is likely terrible.

  9. But if he thought I was too fat, I would want him to keep that thought to himself because chances are, I already know I’m fat. I don’t know what he thinks about my hair.

  10. … left his wife of 25+ years to pursue a younger, more attractive woman.

    There could be facts we don’t know here – things that haven’t been said, that people don’t know. But it sounds like he’s just doing what so many men have done – which is be an idiot.

    25+ years is huge investment of time and resources. Such a significant portion of a lifetime. HIS time and resources (as well as her’s). And he’s unilaterally thrown that mutual investment away. To say that kind of decision is grossly unfair is an understatement.

  11. Usually, I’m not someone given to a lot of absolutes, and easily recognize the huge gray areas in a lot of things that others see as black and white.

    But I’ll say that I really do think that our vast overexposure to all sorts of different media really has a big influence on both sexes. But men do seem to be more easily distracted by the slick marketing of sex. P0rn is a huge issue. TV is an issue. The internet is an issue. It’s not one sided, as I suspect that there will be a huge turnout by females, LDS and others, to the new Sex and the City movie (this weekend? I don’t know myself).

    I constantly have to keep reminding myself of my own weaknesses here, and have had to learn how to avert my eyes and to not pay attention to things that are constantly being tossed out uninvited.

    But the real solution is in truly learning how to truly nurture intimacy in a relationship, which goes way beyond just sexual intimacy. Looks are an illusion; neither my wife or I look anywhere near as good as we did some years ago. But we are closer than ever, and I would never do anything to mess that up.

    Martin, your compliments about her hair sound to me like you have the ulterior motive of changing your wife in some fashion. General compliments are good, but her BS detector is obviously working. Perhaps she knows that you have wondered about your former home teaching assignment, and what he did. She’s not the woman you dated; she’s moved beyond that. You, also, are not (or should not be) the same person anymore either. It just sounds to me like you are on a bit of a slippery slope herel

  12. The only place I can even pick to start would be:

    Weight-gain is almost never about just liking food. Weight-gain is almost always tied to emotions. Feelings of frustration, struggle, lack of self-esteem. Believe me, the fat woman knows she’s fat, and many women would go to great, harmful and dangerous lengths to lose weight. But when the underlying cause is not addressed, it’s like putting a band-aid on a crack in a dam.

    Armchair QB-ing without enough information:

    There is NO way under the sun that I’d buy him leaving her if her weight were the only problem. Her response to tension/stress/anger/whatever in the marriage was likely eating. His might have been pr0n/cutting remarks/avoidance/whatever.

  13. I think a lot of men underestimate how HUGE of deal it is to most women for their significant others to not be assholes. Sounds harsh and shallow, but that’s how we women are wired.

  14. There is an abundance of never-married and previously married single women in the church who are all-around fantastic people. There don’t seem to be hardly any single men in that category… He wasn’t happy… A woman in that situation is almost certainly better off getting over it and staying married, because her fate on the church dating circuit is likely terrible.

    Oh Cynthia, true true words. I’m working on a post that is the hell of being 37 and suddenly single in the church. Here’s a clue: The only men who’ve expressed interest are all older than my dad. Why is that?

  15. Amen KLS.

  16. Tracy M, KLS has the answer for that.

  17. I am interested in learning where this trend of leaving wife for younger lass is happening. Although this can certainly happen in any demographic, I am picturing a relatively affluent ward, like SoCal, Park City, or Draper. Am I right?

  18. aloof observer says:

    You’re absolutely right KLS, but so am I. I’m just stating cold hard facts.

  19. Martin- Hair is important. Carla Krupp in ‘How Not To Look Old’ (see: http://charlakrupp.com/content/all_books.asp) emphasizes that men like long hair. This is not an easy task for a busy mom.

    However a longer hair style is easier to maintain if your wife will use some good hair products. I am someone who has to spend the money and the time to get my North African hair straight in a humid climate. Essential is a really good hair stylist. A good hair stylist can advise what to use and what to buy. A good blow-dryer and flat iron is the Chi brand. These appliances will cut down the styling time. Also Keratin treatments will give the hair a straight soft texture.

    As far as the problem of men leaving their wives, we have this problem in our area going as well. Sometimes the wife is not overweight, the husband still comes up with some dumba— reason why it is the first wife’s fault “he fell out of love”. What really really gets my blood boiling, is when they marry some LDS babe they met on the internet and get sealed.

  20. I think there is something important, and often unstated, that is being missed here. And it is even happening in these comments–Men cannot, without risking serious problems, criticize or attempt to change anything about their wives. On the other hand, women are almost expected to have an opinion about, and attempt to change things about their husbands.

    For example, a female secretary in our office recently got engaged. She spent one recent afternoon discussing the way her fiance dresses in very critical terms. She has forced him to change is wardrobe at a cost of thousands of dollars. I would guess that most men in relationships have had a similar experience. If a man were to try that, I suspect he would be accused of being a controlling jerk, or as KLS says an “asshole”.

    Compare that Martin’s experience of merely encouraging his wife to wear her hair in a slightly different way. Although demonstrating extrodinary gentleness, his wife still seems to harbour some resentment about it.

    I think that women as a general matter are not as open to making changes that men want, while expecting men to comply with their every whim. Women who marry men not for who the man is but who they want him to become seems all to common.

  21. Whatever you say, aloof observer. But here’s another cold hard fact: barring medical issues, a wife in very poor physical shape is likely in very poor emotional shape. And a husband who doesn’t care as much about the latter as he does the former has only himself to blame.

  22. JMaxx, the woman in your story is an asshole too.

  23. JMaxx- In many situations, what you have stated is very true.

  24. threadjack

    everytime I see the word p0rn now, I think bl0g…

    /threadjack

  25. JMaxx,
    You might consider changing your moniker…there is another individual, well-known to the site, named JMax who you are likely to be confused for.

  26. Jmaxx, the woman in your comment just shows that the ability to be a complete ass is not a sex-limited characteristic. But an ass by any other name….well, you get where I’m going.

  27. Picture a little love nest
    down where the roses cling
    picture the same sweet love nest
    Think what a year can bring
    He’s washing dishes and baby cloths
    He’s so ambitious he even sows
    but don’t forget folks thats what you get folks
    for makein whoopee
    Another year or maybe less
    what’s this I hear? Well you can’t you guess
    She feels neglected and he’s suspected
    of makin’ whoopee
    He doesn’t make much money
    only five thousand per
    some judge who thinks he’s funny
    says you’ll pay six to her
    he says now judge suppose i fail
    the judge says budge right into jail
    you better keep her i think it’s cheeper
    then makeing whoopee

  28. The Other Brother Jones says:

    I once attended a marriage class in Sunday School taught by a proffesional marriage counselor/therapist. Something always seemed a little off about him.
    He encouraged us to buy his book and he taught from it so bought it and read it. About 2/3rds of the way through he talked about his own marriage. He did the same thing and walked away from his wife after 25+ yrs. He said he was never really in love and had been unhappy for years. So he went and married another woman (likely younger but not that much).
    I was shocked but it explained why he was always a little off. He had no more credibility with me after that.

  29. Hmm… Either my subtle point here is entirely too subtle or it’s so obvious it isn’t worth commenting on. I tried to make it in my last sentence, but that probably wasn’t enough.

    My wife’s “nicer” hairstyle isn’t what I appreciate most. It’s the fact that she’s doing it for ME. She’s not doing it out of insecurity — there’s no way I’m running off and she knows it — she’s doing it because I like it. And she wants to make me happy, and she’s willing to sacrifice to do it. It’s a simple, little, insignificant thing that for some reason makes my heart sing.

    I don’t think most men leave their wives when they’ve become less attractive simply because they’ve become less attractive. But it can send a message, justifiable or not, that the wife isn’t concerned about her husband’s wants.

    This works both ways, of course, but in LDS culture husbands and wives lead more asymmetric lives.

  30. The Other Brother Jones says:

    I would be a little concerned that the SP got the message that men were divorcing women because of their weight. Several have commented that there must have been something else deeper, but maybe these women did not see that clearly enough. Did the SP admonish the bretheren for letting their wives emotional needs be neglected to the point that they ate too much? This is definitely a complex issue. Every situation is different, and yet there are a lot of similarities. I hope we all get the right message, which is not, “Don’t tell your wife she is fat”. Maybe it is more like, “Treasure her and love her regardless. Keep communicating, etc”

  31. My husband’s been nagging me lately about growing my hair out. It’s such a hassle now that I color the gray away to have it long. It gets damaged on the ends, etc. I also think women past a certain age who keep their hair long end up looking older than they are, not younger.

    But I’m growing it out cuz he likes it long, and I think it probably does look better that way.

    I told him he’d have to grow his hair out too (I love it when he wears his hair long)–but he just cut it recently because it was getting in his way. Lame-o.

  32. To clarify: I don’t think it’s wrong for people to have preferences regarding their spouse’s appearance. I don’t think it’s categorically wrong to make those preferences known, either. I like knowing what my husband likes, and I make it a point to please him as long as his preferences don’t clash with my own. He does the same for me. That’s how a healthy marriage works: both spouses make an effort to please the other in a variety of ways, without compulsory means.

    If your spouse doesn’t seem very interested in pleasing you, there are probably really good reasons why.

  33. “But here’s another cold hard fact: barring medical issues, a wife in very poor physical shape is likely in very poor emotional shape”

    Boy isn’t that the truth. It can be a postive-feedback situation that spirals out of control.

    In Dave’s case, his wife claimed to be entirely happy until he left her.

  34. ScottB

    Quit trying to change me damnit! ;)

  35. When my wife fell in love with me, I had long hair. Before that, people would ask me, “When are you going to cut your hair, man?” and I’d either say, “Three months after the last person asks me that question,” or, “When I get engaged.”

    When I said the latter, the question then was always inevitably, “But what if a girl won’t agree to marry you because of your hair?” I’d respond with, “Then it was never meant to be.”

    Not sure what that has to do with the OP except that my current wife doesn’t care if I have long hair. Hmm, let me try to come up with something useful. How about a quote?

    “Men marry women hoping they won’t change, women marry men hoping they will.” – Wilson, from Home Improvement

  36. aloof observer says:

    I’m not disagreeing with a thing you say KLS, and seriously I’m not trying to be combative. And I’m not defending men who leave their wives because they’re overweight or even grossly overweight. I am simply stating that women (at no fault of their own), grossly underestimate how big of a deal physical attractiveness is to a man. It’s much more of a factor for men that it is for women. That’s just biology, and men just can’t sweep it under the rug and overlook it. I don’t care how spiritual he is.

  37. Don’t people discuss expectations before they’re married?

    I married fast and young and still discussed everything under the sun with my spouse, including what our expectations of each other were sexually, financially, physically, in excruciating detail, no different than I would negotiate a hundred-plus page purchase agreement.

    That may not sound like a great romance story, but a decade later we’re still madly in love.

  38. Wants are just that: Wants. Considering backing away from a marriage because wants aren’t met? Indefensible.

    The problem is when we justify our wants as needs. We can end up with all sorts of excuses then.

    Having someone give us what we want, to desire to please us, is good (when spurred by love and not fear of rejection), but it isn’t a prerequisite for our honoring of our covenant to love with all our hearts. We can have preferences, but the lack of those preferences being honored is in no way justification for withdrawal of love, commitment, closeness, and the giving of self.

  39. 36–I’m not arguing with your point; I’m making a parallel one: men grossly underestimate how big of an impact their behavior has on their partner’s appearance.

  40. aloof observer:
    You’re wrong.

  41. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 14
    Tracy! I thought we were all set for marriage after I get turned straight in the afterlife. What gives?

    Just one observation regarding the original post: This is by no means a particularly Mormon phenomenon. A middle-age marriage crisis is almost the norm in our society these days. It’s rampant among Evangelicals and Catholics too, for sure.

    Don’t see how it can be reversed other than by a return to pre-sexual revolution-style cultural and legal restrictions on divorce, though.

    It has come up as a legal issue recently in Minnesota:

    http://www.theonion.com/video/new-law-would-ban-marriages-between-people-who-don,14401/

  42. Mike, I said married, not SEALED. You’re all mine, baby!

  43. @38 I completely agree.

    But neglecting all of a spouse’s wants is the same as withdrawal of love, commitment, closeness, and the giving of self. That might cause a spouse to wander.

  44. 43: I’m not justifying neglecting the desires and wants of a spouse, simply stating that even when that happens to us we are free, and obligated, to return love. There is no eye for an eye.

  45. “My wife’s “nicer” hairstyle isn’t what I appreciate most. It’s the fact that she’s doing it for ME. ”

    Martin, I think this is what makes marriage hard. After we’ve made all of the easy sacrifices, many couples end up the things where it is easy to feel like for one person to win, the other one has to lose. Maybe it’s trivial like hair. Maybe it’s weight or how often we have sex or how we parent mouthy teenagers or how we spend money. These are those issues where no way to “agree to disagree”–either hair is long or short, we have sex too little for me too much for you, etc.

    Those situations can be so loaded. We let a request feel manipulative or a refusal feel like rejection.

    And that is where the real work of marriage reveals us to ourselves. I think the only answer is to make our requests and then let it go and work on ourselves and to NOT take our spouse’s decision as an indicator of their love or our value.

    I think it’s ok to ask for long hair. But it can get dangerous when short hair means you don’t care-enough-about-me-to-spend-10-lousy-minutes and long hair means you-can’t-even-let-me-be-in-control-of-my-own-damn-hair. Not saying you are there. And if a spouse NEVER does ANYTHING for the other person, well, that’s an issue. But we have to be careful with using words like “sacrifice” and “manipulate.”

  46. Martin,

    Okay, so maybe I did read too much into your OP, but I’d still never mention the hair again.

    Aloof, I was going to say something about get a bigger rug, but in all seriousness, some things about our appearances are easier to maintain than others. If physical attractiveness, after a few years of marriage is the biggest deal in your marriage, there are problems lurking. Physical attractiveness is one issue, honesty another, true unconditional acceptance of each other is one as well. Unconditional acceptance doesn’t mean ignoring things, it means looking at the whole package. Marriage should create a safe harbor for both spouses, where each can let down their guard each day, and bask in each others support and love. You should each care how you look, you should equally also care how each of you feels. I’m having a hard time exactly putting this into the right words, but you should each feel safe in each others company, and not have to worry about what the other is going to say or do that may hurt or make you feel devalued. Looks are nice, but they don’t last. Shared commitment and fidelity matter more.

  47. Aloof Observer,
    I don’t know if you’re right. I think women are much more aware of how much we guys like certain physical characteristics than you suspect.

  48. I’m a big fam of David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage and Intimacy and Desire books. Lots on dealing with the gridlocked issues if anyone is interested.

  49. aloof observer says:

    Sunny, I take it that you are a woman?

  50. Scott B, that’s what I meant about learning to avert one’s eyes.

  51. 45-

    So well said. Thank you.

  52. 49- Yes. So I kinda have a right to disagree since you lumped generalities about women in there too.

  53. aloof observer says:

    Wrong about how much women underestimate? You’re right, I probably can’t justifiably make such a blanket statement.

    But I guarantee I’m right about how men feel.

  54. Kurt W. says:

    Can we all agree that it is important for both men and women to continue to try to look their best after they marry?
    In Hollywood, women get into shape after they break up with guys, and it’s called a “revenge body.” Whenever I read that, I think how sad it is that the woman didn’t value the guy enough to stay in shape while she was with him. What does it say about how much a woman values a guy’s attraction when she lets herself go? What does it say about how much a woman values a man’s feelings when she stays in great shape just to look good on her wedding day, then stops putting forth any effort to stay in shape?
    I’m in much better shape now than when I married, and I think we men need to avoid asking our wives to do anything we are not willing to do. Sure, kids will affect a woman’s body, but that’s no excuse to stop trying altogether, which is what a lot of women do, and then they call their husbands jerks for expressing any kind of disappointment. How would those same women feel if we were to stop making any effort to advance in our careers and our earning power, saying “you need to love me exactly as I am…”?

  55. aloof observer says:

    You express my sentiments exactly Kurt, but I think you just got yourself into a bunch of hot water.

  56. Kurt, you better get your kevlar suit on…

  57. Kurt,

    Two kinds of men say “you need to love me as I am”. First are the guys sitting at home on the couch with their bag of Doritos and the remote. The second are the guys who are at work all the time, advancing their careers and earning power.

  58. Steve Evans says:

    “Can we all agree that it is important for both men and women to continue to try to look their best after they marry?”

    Sure. But you should have stopped there. Also, lots of things are important. Some important things are more important than others. This important thing is comparatively speaking not very important.

  59. I know of one stake in the church where they had a several medical doctors doing what Dave did. I never understood why MD’s were stepping out, but it was for younger, more attractive women.

    I think a shallow testimony is more at the root of the problem than anything else.

  60. More seriously, this whole thing about having expectations for our significant others and also meeting their expectations ourselves is always a two way street. You learn each others expectations not through making demands or requests, but in getting to truly know each other, and learning as much about each other as possible.

  61. Yes, I think keeping ourselves attractive is very important.

  62. “What does it say about how much a woman values a man’s feelings” “how sad it is that the woman didn’t value the guy enough”

    If you are focused on how the other person’s weaknesses/weight/income are a metric of their love for you, it’s gonna be a tough slog.

    That’s why some people find these issues important and others don’t. It comes down partly to whether you believe that “when you do what I want that’s how I know you love me.” And I think if we are honest, we all do that a little, just on different issues.

  63. Happy Brother says:

    My sister was heavier-set as a child and through high school, and had essentially zero self-esteem (chicken, egg, who knows). When she hit graduate school, she decided that it was time to be a get a grip. With diet and exercise, lost a ton of weight, and frankly speaking, became a hottie by almost any typical man’s standards.

    Then…she got married. She put on 2x more weight than she ever had before, in 1/4 the time, and her self-esteem went through the floor. However, there was a difference this time–instead of a misogynist father and cruel classmates, she had a husband who is more or less the greatest man on earth, as measured by KLS’s “non-a-hole” criteria above.

    Although she continued to do what she did best–eat, sob, rinse, repeat–for several years, she made a big change. About a year ago she started walking 2 miles a day, and then changed it to jogging 3 miles a day a few months later. Now, after a year, she’s running 5 miles a day.

    And here’s the big surprise: she hadn’t lost much weight at all. But it’s entirely beside the point, because she felt like a million bucks. Then, over the past several months, as a result of her much-improved emotional health, she stopped eating so unhealthily, and the weight is starting to disappear.

    We can attribute the change to many things, but she attributes it almost 100% to her husband not being an a-hole–never making her feel bad, never looking at her poorly, never criticizing her appearance, and always loving her.

    But there is another lesson with my sister there–it takes time. Despite the love and excellent treatment from her husband, and despite an acute recognition of the problems by herself, it took 10 years. The decision and actions to change may have taken less without the interruption of 3 babies, but the point remains—it takes time.

    I have no idea if she’ll ever get down to any kind of “ideal” weight/body fat composition that she is shooting for. But, despite her life-long ability to always put a smile on, for the first time in 12 years, she’s legitimately happy.

    I’m proud of her, and I’m proud of my brother in law.

  64. Hm, so a woman’s appearance=man’s providing or earning power.

    So, I would have thought something more like:
    man’s earning power=woman’s earning power

    or, if your relationship is of a more traditional nature:
    man’s willingness to work hard to provide=woman’s willingness to work hard caring for the family while he’s at work

    or, more simply put:

    man’s appearance=woman’s appearance

    Nice to know my responsibility in the relationship is to look good and that appearance is just as important as say, providing, nurturing, etc.

  65. Kurt W. says:

    Steve (58),

    This important thing is comparatively speaking not very important.

    It can be, if a girl’s self-esteem is affected by her health choices. In some marriages, a husband’s acceptance is all a woman needs in order to feel beautiful, but I doubt that’s the case with a lot of marriages, maybe most.
    Concern over appearance can be taken to unhealthy extremes, but lack of concern for physical fitness — no matter what the excuse — is devastating as well.

  66. britt k says:

    I did ask some of the guys I married exactly how they would feel about me putting on weight. I always wanted a big family and i didn’t know how able I would be to keep losing weight…I did break up with a guy over his answer to that question. I do know of men who are idiots and have unrealistic expectations-one expected his wife (who was thin) to fit into her jeans by the time her baby was 6 weeks old. She was paranoid to gain weight during pregnancy and had early babies as a result. all sorts of wrong there.

    So many issues play into weight gain.

    you don’t learn about eternal love by leaving.

    I would hope there are complimkents about more lasting qualities that will actual aid a relationship..patience and kindness and selflessness…not akways hair length and waist size

  67. cms @45 That’s an excellent comment, and it’s very true, and fits in well with kevinf’s #59.

    But there’s just no getting around it. If something matters to you, and your spouse seems unaware of it, the only option you have is to communicate. And if your spouse blows you off, you’re going to feel rejected. And often the reason you feel that way is because it’s true.

    #60 “when you do what I want that’s how I know you love me” is definitely a trap, but there’s truth to it as well.

  68. Kurt W. says:

    Sunny (64),

    There is a ton of research to back up the fact that women are attracted to earning power and men are attracted to looks. These are the main factors that make people likely to stay in relationships where infidelity has occurred, for example. I’m not stating how things should be, just how they are. There are a host of evolutionary reasons for these things, and yes, it sucks. Our respective biological/evolutionary drives FREAKING SUCK.

  69. how many husbands you got, britt?

  70. Kurt W. (68),
    Bring citations with such statements, or you’ll be called a bounder and a cad in no time flat.

  71. MikeInWeHo says:

    “In Hollywood, women get into shape after they break up with guys, and it’s called a “revenge body.”

    Where on earth did you hear that, Kurt? I’ve lived here a decade and never encountered that expression (although I’ve certainly observed the phenomenon itself). The post-divorce folks aren’t getting back into shape for revenge, though. It’s out of panic at the loss, fear of never being attractive again, and sometimes a desire win back the ex.

    It seems like these breakups occur more often when one spouse’s physical condition changes and the other’s does not. The couple gets out-of-sync, in a sense. If the husband and wife get chubby together, it’s less problematic than if just one of them does. Has anybody else observed this? I know of one couple that added to their marriage vows a committed to encourage each other to stay in physical shape.

  72. Kurt W. says:

    Scott B. (70),

    The study I referenced was one I just heard of on NPR; I’ll try and look it up. Here’s a good article that surveys the research on the reasons behind infidelity. As far as women being drawn to earning power, I would cite every Jane Austen novel, most chick flicks, most girls’ TV shows, etc…

  73. Kurt W. says:

    KLS (39),

    I’m not arguing with your point; I’m making a parallel one: men grossly underestimate how big of an impact their behavior has on their partner’s appearance.

    Are women so weak and dependent upon males that they need a male’s behavior to be just right in order to take responsibility and work towards goals for their own well-being?

  74. This is soooo close to home.

    This year I’m divorced. I had three babies in four years, and I absolutely had gained weight during my marriage. I gained weight for a lot of reasons- almost all emotional. My divorce had NOTHING to do with my weight. I have lost a lot of weight since my divorce. I am not losing weight to get revenge, and I sure as hell don’t want him back. I am losing weight because the 10 ton albatross around my neck of addiction, unhappiness and deceit are finally loosed and gone. Thus, I am able to finally remember who I am and not spend my life putting out someone else’s fires.

    I am not unique in this. People are complicated. If my spouse had focused on my weight, I would have only put on more.- it was about protection from unhappiness. Control. Shield. Isolation.

    It’s like the parable of the sun and the wind arguing over who can blow the cloak off a traveller. The wind bets the sun he can do it quicker, and he blows and blows and whips the cape- and the traveller only clings tighter. The sun then shines, and within moments the cape is willingly removed. Love and acceptance will do that to a person.

  75. Oh hell Kurt. You just keep digging.

  76. The study I referenced was one I just heard of on NPR; I’ll try and look it up.

    No worries, then. For the liberal lunatics that populate BCC, NPR is more reliable than the scriptures, Wikipedia, or the New England Journal of Medicine.

  77. Kurt,

    Are women so weak and dependent upon males that they need a male’s behavior to be just right in order to take responsibility and work towards goals for their own well-being?

    Please don’t make me put you in the calm-down chamber for your own safety. Please re-read that statement, and understand that, no matter _how_ valid or correct your point may be (not saying it is!), that is some pretty insensitive phrasing.

  78. “If something matters to you. . . the only option you have is to communicate.” Agree 100% on that

    “if your spouse blows you off, you’re going to feel rejected. . . . because it’s true.” Maybe.

    Sometimes we feel rejected when we’re not–our spouse disagrees. Or it’s hard to change. Or what seems little to me is big to them. Or it’s a habit.

    My husband loves his ipod. He walks around with one earphone in all the time. Drives me nuts. I spout off my opinions before he’s done talking. Makes him crazy. Are we rejecting each other? (I’d say no, we’re just human.) Is weight the same deal as with p0rn? How many men say this isn’t about you, it has nothing to do with how I feel about you. And—maybe that is true. Maybe stopping is hard and sometimes has little to do with love.

    I’m not disagreeing with anyone. But we have to check ourselves. Is not living up to expectations a rejection? Is it a measure of how the other person feels about me? Am I making a request because this issue is important or because I feel insecure and want my spouse to “prove” their love? Am I pointing out how they don’t do XYZ for me because I want to prove how much more loving/holy/self-sacrificing I am?

    Not saying we should be doormats. Just that these issues are hard and we have to be careful when we decide we are being rejected. Sometimes we are, and there comes a point when we have to leave and protect ourselves. But sometimes. . . we have work to do ourselves.

    But y’all keep on with the “women are so weak and dependent” and “we’ve just evolved this way” comments. Those are way funnier to read.

  79. I gotta’ check out (not that I’ve been indispensable or anything), but I’ve got a few parting comments:

    1. Although physical appearance was the vehicle for the post, it was circumstantial to the point.
    2. Lest anybody get the wrong idea, I am in no way excusing Dave.
    3. When I suggest my wife may not appreciate more compliments on her hair, she does seem to really like the way my pupils dilate when I see her. :) (it doesn’t just work for vampires!)

  80. Kurt W. says:

    Scott B. and Tracy M.,

    I really don’t care if I’m “digging” or not; I just don’t think it’s a male’s responsibility to make it possible for a woman to set goals and take charge of her own well-being. If my spouse is addicted and unhealthy, I can simply choose not to be. If we work towards each other’s well-being, then that’s the ideal marital situation we all strive for. But if not, then my spouse and I don’t need some kind of validation from each other to make our own healthy decisions and set our own goals.
    I don’t believe men and women are different in this way, either. I have seen plenty of examples where the husband is an overweight, gaming- or TV- addicted couch potato, and the wife is making radically different choices for her health, keeping in shape simply because she wants that for herself.

  81. It means a lot to me that my wife spends that 10 minutes on her hair every morning, just for me. And who can argue with the results?

  82. Kurt W. says:

    CMS (78),

    But y’all keep on with the “women are so weak and dependent”…

    That is not my argument; in fact, I reject it, because I think women are perfectly capable of making choices for their well-being, independently of what their men are doing. Please don’t mischaracterize my position.
    As for the evolution argument, some of us are open to the idea that some of our behavior is influenced by evolutionary drives. If you reject that, then fine, but is there something funny about that assumption?

  83. Kurt, let’s just start with this gem of a statement:

    “Are women so weak and dependent upon males that they need a male’s behavior to be just right in order to take responsibility and work towards goals for their own well-being?”

    Are men (natch-the men you are talking about) such narcissistic assholes that they are oblivious to how their behavior effects those around them?

    I guarantee a woman with actual self-esteem is not going to look to men who put her down for approval in taking charge of her life. One of the problems is this is a vicious cycle. Quite often, the men who focus on the appearance of their wives to the detriment of their mental health are big enough jerks that only a woman with low self-esteem would have married them in the first place.

    The observation earlier was spot on: “…barring medical issues, a wife in very poor physical shape is likely in very poor emotional shape. And a husband who doesn’t care as much about the latter as he does the former has only himself to blame.”

  84. Kurt W.,

    Fair enough–I don’t care if you’re digging a hole either–you are a big boy. I care about the tone with which you dig that hole, so let’s all just be sure and play nice.

  85. Naismith says:

    “I’m in much better shape now than when I married,”

    And how many times have you been pregnant?

    “Sure, kids will affect a woman’s body, but that’s no excuse to stop trying altogether,”

    Well, yeah. But it does get discouraging when nothing works, and I can well understand why women would give up.

    I am your typical fit-but-fat middle-aged mother. I cycle 14 miles a day and do aerobics for fun, and do strength training 3 days a week to keep up muscle mass and protect the bones. I track my calorie consumption with the iPhone, and it is always under the target for weight loss, yet I am still 5 pounds above the top end of normal.

    I am grateful for the iPhone program, because it finally proved to my husband that it is not a simple matter of calories in/calories out.

    I am in much better physical shape than my husband is in many ways. But I don’t want to nag about it.

    We were engaged for quite a while, but it never occurred to me to discuss weight problems back then. I’d struggled with not weighing enough during my time in the military, and it never crossed my mind that I would be dealing with this. And it was 30 years before I had much trouble.

    I think everyone has a second marriage once the children are older. It’s just a matter of whether you are married to the same person or not.

  86. I think you have to remember that for women in the church, so many things are emphasized above appearances and sexual attraction. The ideal Mormon woman has lots of kids, and gives up many of her personal desires and ambitions for the family.

    In practical terms this often means putting on a lot of weight in a fairly short amount of time, and not having much time, money or energy to devote the gym, makeup, hair, and a stylish wardrobe. When you have a family, there are always a thousand better, more altruistic uses for your money than looking good.

    I think this enhances the sense of betrayal that a lot of Mormon women feel when they get dumped for a younger woman–after all, they were just trying do what’s right and their bodies and hairstyles were part of the sacrifice. No woman wants to look frumpy, it just sort of happens in the chaos of having kids and being a mom.

    So yes, married people should try to be attractive for each other, but each should be grateful for the other’s sacrifices to make a home and family. They should also be sensitive and moderate in asking each other to make changes in their personal appearance.

  87. [edited by Admin]

  88. #87. Whaa?

  89. When I was a teenager, our stake saw a huge burst of divorces in a short period of time, all seemingly due to the husband leaving the wife of many years for a younger woman. I want to say the number was 8-10 families, but I’m not sure if I’m remembering all the people affected. One husband was in our bishopric, another was a high councilor. To my knowledge, most of the women are still unmarried, and still living in the stake.

  90. Kurt W. says:

    Tracy (83),

    Are men (natch-the men you are talking about) such narcissistic assholes that they are oblivious to how their behavior effects those around them?

    Yes, sometimes men can be. But to ask men to not focus on appearances at all? How would we not, when women use appearances to such a great extent to woo us in the first place?

    All of you are correct that I have not had children, but do you know any women who have had 5+ children, then set fitness goals and achieved them? I know more of these women than I can count, and several have achieved their goals in spite of a loathsome spouse.

    Naismith (85),

    I cycle 14 miles a day and do aerobics for fun, and do strength training 3 days a week to keep up muscle mass and protect the bones.

    Regardless of whether you look exactly how you want or not (I don’t), what you do for your body each week is absolutely amazing, and those lessons in goal setting and self-discipline can spill over into other areas of your life. I will probably never look how I would like to, because I just don’t have a bodybuilder’s frame. But I have always exercised, and when we got married, my wife introduced me to the South Beach Diet and it has made a huge difference for me for many years. I think we should all make the most of what we have, which is certainly affected by genetics.

  91. Haven’t read all the comments but #13 so far made me laugh.

    And Tracy is wise, as usual.

  92. oudenos says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments, but assholes are getting a a pretty bad rap. I don’t mean jerks, I mean the holes in asses. I like a butthole as much as the next person and it makes me sad that the asshole is being co-opted by the profane and slanderous. Respect the asshole, please!

  93. Couple of thoughts:

    1.We come into relationships with preconceived notions of things, many of which translate into preferences. We might have ideas/preferences regarding dividing of responsibilities, intimacy, money (earning/spending), and appearance (what value it has as well as what physical attributes are important).

    Realizing that many of those preferences won’t match up identically there’s got to be some give and take. If both parties are stuck in the mode of declaring their preference more important, there is gridlock and hurt. To say that my spouse should honor my preference in order to show love is to deny them access to that same meaning of love- we can’t both have our way, so when getting our way=love, someone has to go without love. Point is, honoring a preference can be done out of love or kindness, but not honoring that preference does not necessarily equal refusal to love. We can ask, but after that we honor their choice as much as we’d like them to honor ours. Neither of us is more important than the other.

    2. As far as men causing women to feel a certain way and vice versa, I think what we really do is *invite* responses in others, not determine the response. No matter how my spouse treats me I have a choice in the way I respond, in the way I view that treatment and his intentions. That isn’t to say that others don’t do crappy things, but those things don’t decide my emotional state or my behaviors afterward. Others’ behaviors and attitudes may invite all sorts of things from me, but in the end, I am the one with agency over my thoughts, feelings, and actions.

    If I were to spend more time thinking about what my actions and attitudes may invite in others, versus focusing on what I think their actions and attitudes say about me, then I think I would find that A) A lot of things that seemed really important start to fade when I consider another’s experience around those same issues and, B) I will most likely invite in the other the same kind of consideration, instead of resistance and heel digging.

    A lot of gridlock is alleviated when I allow another’s experience (their hopes, dreams, fears, preferences, etc.) to matter to me as much as my own.

  94. mellifera says:

    Martin,

    My first thought is to gently inquire as to why those 10 measly minutes tend to be such a speed bump for your wife. As mentioned in #86, Mormons (especially the mom) are supposed to sacrifice for their kids. (I’m assuming you have kids here, and if not, then this can certainly go for those that do.) That means a huge shortage of personal time– and spending time on your looks is personal time. If she’s hassled in the morning, and most moms are, asking her to spend 10 more minutes on a whole ‘nother task is not exactly going to tickle her funny bone.

    When I was growing up my dad pissed and moaned a lot about how my mom was overweight and she basically lied to him about how their marriage was going to be by being all cute at first and then letting herself go. He never seemed much impressed that she raised his two kids by herself while he was in the Navy, while she was laid flat by PPD and our 12-month-long fits of colic. Who’d be able to lose baby weight with that going on? After the Navy he spent maybe 15 years mostly working long hours, coming home, eating dinner, and going down to work in his workshop until bedtime.

    The point is, he pissed and moaned for years about how she didn’t take care of herself. Yet did he do much of anything to give her the most important ingredient in taking care of herself– TIME? You know, time to go running; time for haircuts; a little time to spend on her own interests, instead of having the only thing she could do for herself be eating chocolate? Nah. Heaven forfend we think about any reasons WHY she might appear to be in poor health and happiness, other than “Oh, it’s because she doesn’t love me like I deserve.” That SOB rode her hard, put her away wet, and then complained that she didn’t look good afterwards. Here’s the world’s smallest violin, Dad. It’s playing just for you.

    He’s grown up a lot now, for those currently wincing in pain. : )

    Anyway, dear reader, before feeling all sorry for yourself about how your wife looks, do both of you the courtesy of asking yourself if she really even has the time resources to do better. I think for a lot of Mormon moms it’s very much a time issue. That’s something their husbands absolutely can do something about.

  95. If my wife were overweight, I might offer to take over some of her responsibilities if she will agree to devote that time to exercise instead. Preferably, exercise that is done together.

  96. I’m going to post this in spite of #76.
    I heard it years ago on Prairie Home Companion, and haven’t ever been able to find it again, but it’s partially posted on the web. It’s a fictional letter from a guy in Lake Wobegone who decides to have an affair on a business trip.

    ‘I thought, so this is what adultery is like: simple. I sat down in the front yard under our spruce tree and waited for her to pick me up. I believe that men and women can part for many reasons, including the lack of love and appreciation. I left my parents for my wife because she appreciated me and they didn’t. Twenty years later, I sit in my own front yard, waiting to join a woman who appreciates me more. But in five years, or six, or eight, will I go to a higher bidder? What happens when I’m older and my grade falls? Who do I choose when I’m old and can’t run fast and nobody chooses me?

    ‘I sat there in the front yard and thought, so this is what adultery is like: it’s just horse-trading.

    ‘As I sat on the lawn, looking down the street, I saw that we all depend on each other. I saw that although I thought my sins could be secret, that they would be no more secret than an earthquake. All these houses and all these families, my infidelity will somehow shake them. It will pollute the drinking water. It will make noxious gasses come out of the ventilators in the elementary school.

    ‘When my wife and I scream in senseless anger, blocks away a little girl we do not know spills a bowl of gravy all over a white tablecloth.

    ‘If I go to Chicago with this woman who is not my wife, somehow the school patrol will forget to guard an intersection, and someone’s child may be injured. A sixth-grade teacher will think, ‘What the hell?’ and eliminate South America from geography. Our minister will decide, ‘What the hell? I’m not going to give that sermon on the poor.’ Somehow, my adultery will cause the man in the grocery store to say, ‘To hell with the health department, this sausage was good yesterday; it certainly can’t be any worse today.’

    ‘I just leave this story there. Anything more I could tell you would be self-serving. Except to say that we depend on each other more than we know.’

    The part about infidelity and horse-trading stuck with me, and I’ve always had to find this by googling “prairie home companion” “adultery” “horse trading”. It’s been incorporated into several sermons online.

  97. Ah, found it!
    [Garrison Keillor, News from Lake Wobegon, “Letter from Jim,” on the first of four compact discs, a Prairie Home Companion recording, 1983, PHC 15377.]

  98. #93 ” As far as men causing women to feel a certain way and vice versa, I think what we really do is *invite* responses in others, not determine the response. No matter how my spouse treats me I have a choice in the way I respond, in the way I view that treatment and his intentions. That isn’t to say that others don’t do crappy things, but those things don’t decide my emotional state or my behaviors afterward. Others’ behaviors and attitudes may invite all sorts of things from me, but in the end, I am the one with agency over my thoughts, feelings, and actions.”

    absolutely!! when my husband treats me as though i were stupid, it does not make me stupid. it does not even make me feel stupid. it merely makes me feel that he is rather obtuse. when he communicates to me that i do not matter to him, it does not make me feel that i do not matter, merely that i do not matter to him. his loss. it is interesting being married (28 years now) and communication is certainly important, but one cannot assume that what one has communicated (sent) is what has been communicated (received).

  99. Sorry, Admin, but I really didn’t think my comment was that bad. Martin freely admitted it’s not just about the appearance of the hair, and I think in a culture with such a problematic history of male control of women, it’s an important question to examine. There’s a fine line between being flattered that someone cares enough to make an effort, and enjoying submissiveness in an unhealthy way.

  100. I’m a little late to this discussion, but a few thoughts:

    1.) My ex left me, but she often claimed I was upset with her being overweight or fat. Far from it – while I kept myself in good condition, I honestly and truly loved her and her body regardless of whether it fit some ideal. I never pushed her to lose weight – in fact I never brought it up, because it didn’t occur to me to bring it up. However, she would bring it up often – even interjecting “you think I’m too fat! You wish i would lose weight and become a skinny minny” in conversations and arguments that had nothing to do with weight (in retrospect, I’ve decided it was her way of ending a discussion she felt she was “losing” by forcing me to spend the rest of the time reassuring her that I found her attractive and all that. Her obsession with her weight came from her mother, who always told her growing up that she was too fat and if she didn’t lose weight, she’d either never get a husband or her husband would cheat on her. Of course, my ex is now living with her parents, so she apparently prefers that to whatever I did wrong.

    2.) JMaxx in #20 has hit it on the head, even if he has been mostly ignored. My ex told me one reason she was leaving me was that she was tired of trying to train and mold me into the husband and father she wanted me to be. Yet, in discussions I’ve had with others, it’s pretty much “well, why didn’t you do what your wife wanted you to do.” Well, I often tried, but she often was never very clear on exactly what I needed to do. However, any hint on my part that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with her or anything she had done was considered sexist or retrograde. Our culture pretty much enforces the idea that wives must train their husbands and husbands must obey, but husbands better never ever ask their wives to ever change.

    3). As for the sub topic about earnings – well, on my blog I linked to a study that showed women losing their jobs doesn’t affect a marriage, but me losing their jobs is a disaster (it says “The empirical results show that unemployment seems to be an important factor behind marital instability. However, only unemployment of the husband has an effect, and this effect is immediate.”)

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/p032v031h8052672/

    Since my wife left me right after I lost employment, and even mentioned that she didn’t want to be hurt by my lack of income (going so far as to hint that, hey, if she divorces me the courts force me to pay her anyway, and now she doesn’t have to work on our relationship anymore).

    Anyway, the SP mentioned in the post bothers me, because too much of our rhetoric in church seems focused on how the men need to shape up, but the women are just fine and don’t need to change.

    4). This Dave dude, if he did leave for such shallow reasons, is a creep. And there are creeps. But in everything I’ve read, women leave men much more often then men leave women (some figures have it as high as 80% of divorces are caused by the women leaving the men). So why are we so focused on what losers the few men who do the leaving are?

  101. Ben,

    Thanks for posting that. Again, weighing others’ experiences as much as our own can really change our perspective.

    Great story.

  102. twiceuponatime,

    #100,

    But in everything I’ve read, women leave men much more often then men leave women (some figures have it as high as 80% of divorces are caused by the women leaving the men). So why are we so focused on what losers the few men who do the leaving are?

    This is probably the case because women have more freedom these days to leave their deadbeat husbands than in the past. I can’t blame my mother for leaving my father. He was the abusive one, not her. She was perfectly in the right to leave him.

  103. Daniel –

    and? You fit my point. You immediately assume the men are pretty much always at fault, and the women are justified in most cases.

    Stats also show women and men abuse each other at equal rates (though clearly, men usually do more physical harm since they tend to be stronger).

    So why jump on the “men stink” bandwagon? Some men do, but are you really going to claim that in 80% of divorces, it’s because the men are such deadbeats?

  104. I really appreciated a conversation I had with some friends over the weekend last weekend. We were talking about a couple some of my friends knew at BYU. This couple recently divorced, leaving my friends shocked because they knew them well and couldn’t understand what happened. One of my friends commented that when it came to a marriage, she could not judge harshly what happens between the couple because life really is hard. Marriage is hard. If it were easier, guys like this David wouldn’t be leaving the woman he had invested years with for some younger woman.

    Sometimes I appreciate having had an abusive father who didn’t treat his wife well because there’s no chance in hell I would ever come close to repeating his mistakes. I love my wife and the relationship I have with her.

  105. Twice,

    #103,

    I don’t assume much in life, dude. Assuming makes an ass out of you and me. I thought your point was a bit harsh, which is the only reason I commented on it. You are criticizing women for leaving, and weren’t commenting on whether women were more or less abusive than men in their marriages.

  106. Kurt:

    I think women are perfectly capable of making choices for their well-being, independently of what their men are doing.

    Of course they are. You’re entirely missing the point: a woman who’s in poor enough shape to disgust her own husband probably doesn’t care about her own well being. Maybe she got fat because she hates herself; maybe she hates herself because she’s fat. She’s not going to change until she cares about herself and others enough to do the necessary hard work. Who’s accountable for her level of caring? Ultimately, she is (as Sunny said so well in #93). But her husband has a great deal of influence on how she sees herself, and vice versa.

    Spouses form a symbiant circle. If you hate something about your partner, chances are you’re significantly contributing to the problem.

    do you know any women who have had 5+ children, then set fitness goals and achieved them?

    Yep. Myself, for one.

    I know more of these women than I can count

    (bullshit)

    and several have achieved their goals in spite of a loathsome spouse.

    And a necessary step in that success is actually wanting to achieve those goals.

  107. #104 –

    well, that’s one thing I learned from my divorce. I was never very judgmental, but I always had a vague sense that divorced people in the church just didn’t try hard enough or had some other problem.

    Now, I have a lot more empathy and understanding for those who are divorced. If there’s any good, I’ve become a lot less judgmental of others. Not that I’m perfect in this regards, but I came to the same conclusion. It’s just hard to tell (also, you can’t trust anyone’s side of the story, usually – even mine. The process of divorce distorts the whole thing, so that all parties involved not only have different sides, they’re both probably wrong on many details. I try to keep that in mind – one reason I won’t even use my first name. I’m not interested in trying to prove myself right. I just think there needs to be more understanding and less judgment for the Mormon male that’s gone through a divorce).

  108. StillConfused says:

    I am a woman but I tend to support the men in situations like this. I hear lots of women (LDS) complaining about having to have sex with their husbands. My answer is always “Don’t worry, his next wife will love having sex with him.” The point is that if you don’t fulfill your man’s basic needs (men are pretty easy to figure out that way), after a while, don’t be surprised if he goes with someone who does.

    As a funny aside, when I was first married to my first husband, he said “If you ever get fat I will leave you.” God must have heard that because while I never have had weight issues, he struggled with being overweight the whole time.

  109. Starfoxy says:

    One thing that I think is important to remember in discussions like this is the notion of a threat point- the point at which a relationship stops being worth it to you. In general, and especially among groups where women sacrifice careers in favor of children, women have a higher threat point than men. And after divorce women most frequently experience a decline in their standard of living, while men experience an increase.

    All of which is to say that while I don’t think it is exactly fair that women can get away with complaining about their spouse in a way men cannot, there is actually a fairly good reason why this is.

  110. LDS people tend to marry early and quickly and I think that’s
    part of the problem. An eternal choice at age 20 when you barely know yourself let alone whether this person is a good match for you–there are going to be some mistakes made.
    Instead of just accepting it as a commitment covenant-wise
    and enduring it to the end, many don’t especially if they’ve met
    someone who they feel is a better match for them. It’s awful when you’re the spouse who’s been left behind for
    obvious reasons. We marry thinking that our spouse is part of our family now and forever and family doesn’t leave
    you. But spouses do. I think it’s hard to keep living a
    marriage that’s a pretense and that may be why they leave.
    They see a chance to make an eternal union that they know they want (at least for now!) Older men always prefer younger women. Women always want a man who
    is a good worker and provider. When GA’s marry a second time, it’s always to a younger woman who hasn’t
    previously married. They could marry for time to a woman
    more their age who has been sealed but widowed herself.
    But they don’t. People marry who they are attracted to.

  111. Just wanna say, it’s an anthropological imperative for men to seek younger women. Youth and health are qualities associated with fertility. It is a basic survival instinct that all men are born with to snatch up young partners and spread their seed. (Most animals as well.) Long term monogamy and marriage are antiquated and misguided establishments. The only benefit is it prevents the spread of STDs. If you truly love your partner that’s fine, but most marriages are not so pure and were born of a myriad of pressures and misconceived ideas. It is in the interest of the species that men abandon their partners when their usefulness has run it’s course.
    All that said, I don’t condone the Dave’s action of marrying the woman in the first place. If there was no emotional investment he should have not committed himself to her. But if they did not share love, goals and the moral and political views necessary to keep a marriage alive then Dave’s only crime was not leaving her sooner giving her a chance to find a partner with whom she could share her life with.
    I sound harsh, but that’s because I’m too lazy to blatantly interject compassion for Dave and his wife and their obviously dysfunctional relationship. (Yes Dave too. It takes two unhappy people for a marriage to fall apart. Perhaps Dave is simply a shallow ass, but I highly doubt that.) I do hope both find happiness, but trying to convey my sympathy gets in the way of plainly stating the fact that Dave and his wife are equally to blame for their failed marriage. Dave has been, I believe, wrongly demonized and his wife has been given too much sympathy. They share equal parts in what happened, as I have stated before, and therefor have earned equal amounts of blame and sympathy.

  112. Thomas Parkin says:

    “it’s an anthropological imperative for men to seek younger women. Youth and health are qualities associated with fertility. It is a basic survival instinct that all men are born with to snatch up young partners and spread their seed.”

    Fortunately human beings, unlike hippos, dogs and, uh, rats, have some higher functioning. Even males of the species. Some males of the species. Even some females of the species.

    I’m with ya in most of the rest, Kate.

    I always assumed that if you love a person well, and they are giving back to you, and you’ve got whatever that circular kismit thing is going on, that you are going to find them attractive. My SO, if she weighed 280 lbs and I had to push her around in a wheel chair I’d still be into her – because, after having known her my entire adult life I’ve come to the conclusion that she is, frankly, the coolest person in the universe. But then I’m a long way passed 17, and maybe spreading my seed just for the sake of it isn’t quite the biological imperative that it used to be! ~

  113. Ben, Prairie Home Companion is sacred to me. I don’t know you but I probably love you.

    Beth is right on when she says:

    I think you have to remember that for women in the church, so many things are emphasized above appearances and sexual attraction. The ideal Mormon woman has lots of kids, and gives up many of her personal desires and ambitions for the family.

    In practical terms this often means putting on a lot of weight in a fairly short amount of time, and not having much time, money or energy to devote the gym, makeup, hair, and a stylish wardrobe. When you have a family, there are always a thousand better, more altruistic uses for your money than looking good.

    I think this enhances the sense of betrayal that a lot of Mormon women feel when they get dumped for a younger woman–after all, they were just trying do what’s right and their bodies and hairstyles were part of the sacrifice. No woman wants to look frumpy, it just sort of happens in the chaos of having kids and being a mom.

    So yes, married people should try to be attractive for each other, but each should be grateful for the other’s sacrifices to make a home and family. They should also be sensitive and moderate in asking each other to make changes in their personal appearance.

    Also, I want some of these men to know a couple of things about women’s health:

    Having children is extremely hard on a woman’s body. Fluctuations in hormones contribute to weight gain. Our metabolisms generally slow down during pregnancy and pregnancy is often so miserable that all intentions to stay slim and pretty fly out the window. I was pretty worried before each of my pregnancies that I would gain weight but then by the second trimester I just didn’t care. I couldn’t care.

    Having children is very stressful, obviously. Our bodies use cortisol from the adrenal glands to deal with stress. Adrenal fatigue is very common in women. The adrenal glands work with the thyroid and I’ve been told by my doctor that everyone with a thyroid problem has adrenal fatigue. Once you have a thyroid problem, hypothyroidism being most common, you usually have a weight problem.

    And, hypothyroidism is one of the most undiagnosed diseases in America. I believe it’s estimated that one in ten women has it and doesn’t know. [Scott: Ultra Metabolism by Mark Hymen, M.D.] Blood tests can be run for years without it showing up and you can still have it.

    I have always been very slim without effort. Suddenly, at age 28, I put on about 30 lbs in four months, without my diet changing at all. I changed my diet, cut out all sugar, ate more frequent smaller meals, lifted weights, did cardio… nothing happened. Massively disheartening.

    After pushing for thyroid medication despite my blood tests being normal, and after supplementing with iodine, I suddenly lost nearly all of the weight just recently, two years later. (And finally my blood tests registered I have a bad case of the disease.)

    Lots of women have a thyroid problem, don’t know it, and cannot lose weight despite their best efforts. Chances are good that someone here or someone’s wife has it.

    And if you want your wife to avoid it, for many reasons more important than weight gain, minimise her stress as much as possible.

    Blah, blah, blah. Done.

    What I wonder is how many of these men would care about their wives’ extra weight if their wives were giving them frequent and great sex? I would think men care more what you do with your body than what it looks like? I mean, I’m sure there comes a point where it gets hard to not mind….

  114. (That should have said “if you want to increase her chances of avoiding it”.)

  115. Some principles I think I learned from this post…

    Women (and men) should view their body as a temple, which means they should to their best to keep it clean, pure, and well maintained. But not for the sake of flaunting it, and it doesn’t mean it has to be bubble gum eye candy.

    Men (and women) have a tendency to be consumed with what “the other” -should- do (just like I’m doing) and derive some kind of all important meaning by getting fixated on it.

    Principled solution: Show some charity and repent. Become the kind of person you would like to be and and approach the situation as Christ would by providing the inspiration and support necessary for you and your spouse to be more Christ like. Turn your self and your marriage over to God and become one together, by both loving God first and not your appearance and your bodies.

    I fail to see how an honest and sincere (and long suffering, as it takes enduring) approach to putting God first in the marriage would not allow you to overcome all of these problems in the end.

    It sounds like some are quick to put appearance/sex/desires, etc. no matter how righteously held they are, before God, which may help if you can both happen to be on the same page, but often will hurt, and in any case is far from ideal.

  116. Some men focus on the weight issue to such a degree that it becomes ridiculous.

    I recently heard about a man in one of the singles wards here – the word going around is that he said he won’t date women who weigh more than 120 pounds.

  117. Peter LLC says:

    It’s called raising the bar, danithew.

  118. Kurt W. says:

    KLS (106),

    I’m in a ward with a huge primary, and at least half the moms in my ward are in the same shape they were in pre-baby. My wife joined a fitness group with a bunch of other moms out of state, and they set goals (exercise, no sugar, etc.,) and worked towards them in a collaborative system, and between them they all lost a huge amount of weight. I know other women doing triathlons, marathons, etc. after kids, so I’m not sure why this concept seems so outlandish to you. Maybe you live somewhere with a high concentration of turdbucket husbands and self-esteem-deprived overweight wives? I say that half-jokingly, because I think there are geographic areas where you have a lot of families that are more active and fitness-oriented.

    Natasha (113),
    I think you took the right approach in looking at thyroid after doing all the right things in diet and exercise. Thyroid problems are definitely widespread, yet, as others have pointed out, you have to have a basic sense of motivation to even try and find out what’s wrong. I just don’t buy into the “my husband’s a jerk, so I’m incapable of taking care of myself” line of thinking.

    Kate (111),
    Thanks for backing me up on the anthropological imperative. I definitely have the imperative to spread my seed as far and widely as possible, and if I didn’t have the Gospel, I would be doing just that- assuming I would have willing partners, which admittedly may be a stretch.

  119. I’m late to the discussion. Every time I’d read a comment and think I had a response someone else addressed it. Great discussion, giving me thoughts of making my marriage even better (not thinner).

  120. Kurt, what’s outlandish is your exaggerated claim. You don’t even know “more women than you can count,” let alone women with more than 5 kids, let alone women with more than 5 kids who are in good physical shape. Your hyperbole undermines your point and implies that these women fall into some kind of obvious majority, which they most certainly do not–and for good reason. The greater the demands of your family, the harder it is to carve out the time to take care of yourself. Those who do are strongly motivated to please either themselves or someone else or society at large. Consider the possibility that some of these (numberless) hot women with 6 kids you know are literally running scared, and that the evolutionary imperatives we’re so fond of referencing produce fat women just as predictably as they produce men who reject fat women.

  121. Natasha said: What I wonder is how many of these men would care about their wives’ extra weight if their wives were giving them frequent and great sex? I would think men care more what you do with your body than what it looks like?

    An excellent point. (Although I’d change “giving them” to “enjoying,” because I believe the wife’s own pleasure is an oft-overlooked variable in a couple’s sexual satisfaction–the husband’s as much as the wife’s.)

    Let me emphasize once more that I hold husbands and wives equally accountable in every respect for the success of a marriage. There’s a pretty clear gender-based division in method (as others have pointed out), but a woman who mistreats her partner is just as culpable and reprehensible as a man who does the same. “What goes around comes around” is not a condemnation of asshole husbands but of asshole partners. (Sorry, Oudenos.)

  122. Dave P. says:

    I’m a bit late to this discussion as well, but this was very much the reason why I broke off my engagement last summer: she had too many unrealistic expectations of me in that she thought, once she got married, life’s troubles would be over and I would be the one to shoulder every single burden and responsibility in the house. Not only that, she tended to turn her friends’ problems into her own and those would have gotten passed to me as well. So rather than let myself get crushed under the burden and risk breaking covenants after I’d made them, I broke it off.

    After that she told me she never intended to keep the temple covenants after getting married due to her dissatisfaction with the church (because of her lousy ward that I know full well hardly ever even acknowledged her existence), so I really felt like I dodged not only a bullet, but a missile.

  123. Dave P. says:

    #121

    That reminds me of some articles I recently read condemning the divorce courts for their bias against men, even when the men are the ones who are the victims of abuse and other tragedies at the hands of their wives. Women are fully capable of committing abuse and domestic violence, but people just have a hard time believing that.

    My poor cousin’s wife left him despite him bending over backwards and trying to do everything he could to satisfy her demands.

  124. “I think a lot of women underestimate how HUGE of deal it is to most men for their significant others to not be overweight. Sounds harsh and shallow, but that’s how we men are wired.”

    aloofobserver: Um. I think most women are more than clear on how high a priority men are capable of making physical appearance. As a matter of fact, we are inundated with the that message our whole lives. What’s more, we’re told in so many ways from so many sources that how we look and how worthwhile and valuable we are are directly related. So. Yeah. We get it.

    Aside from that, your biology here is wrong. Men aren’t specifically wired to value one type of body type over another. What type of body you find attractive has a lot more to do with socialization. This isn’t to say that spouses shouldn’t be working on being fit and healthy or on fueling mutual attraction in their relationships. Rather, it’s to say this whole “biology made me that way” business doesn’t really add up so simply in a lab and sure as hell not in life. It’s not any kind of excuse for any behavior or thought patterns (talking to Kate and Kurt here too – though I guess both of you should note that you are using ‘anthropological’ when you mean biological).

  125. Naismith says:

    “Instead of just accepting it as a commitment covenant-wise
    and enduring it to the end, many don’t especially if they’ve met
    someone who they feel is a better match for them.”

    I also think that the lack of comfort with opposite-sex friendships in LDS circles, oft-discussed here, contributes to divorce/remarriage.

    Some may think that if they are that close to someone, that they should be married. When in fact, they could just have a good friend of the opposite gender for years and years, while both still being happily married to other people.

  126. Jenn i. Fer says:

    Gogo, #124. Amen and amen.

    Case in point, Mauritania. http://subalternate.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/gavage-in-mauritania/

    Obviously I am an anthro-nerd who was irrationally bothered by the misuse of the term anthropological instead of biological.

  127. Aaron R. says:

    I agree with Natasha’s point about sex and the body, though I wonder whether the pressure some women feel concerning their body-image creates a preemptive barrier which inhibits their ability to engage in the type of sex you mention.

    Also, I said ‘engage in’ because surely the type of sex you speak of is surely not just something women can give to men.

    As an aside, Nietzsche said that we can’t promise to feel love for someone forever but we can promise to treat them as if we love forever. I think there is some truth to this but wonder whether people would be happy with such a situation now. I have met many couples in the Church who struggle with this exact problem, i.e. their partner treats with love but does not actually feel that love for them. They stay in the relationship because of their covenants and because it is the Christian thing to do. I am not condemning this but rather just suggesting that sticking it out is difficult as well.

  128. Just a comment on the multiple children thing…I am currently expecting my 9th child. I have been married to 1 husband ( ;) kls)

    I do still set fitness goals and meet them. Although at 36 weeks pregnant I am definitely great with child, I do yoga almost daily. I am not fat. I have lost my baby weight after every birth-though it takes a while and lots of effort. I struggled the most after twins-I had gained almost 70 pounds and caring for newborn twins was challenging -took almost 2 years-and I did keep the last 10 pounds until after the next birth.

    I do it for my health and because exercise is a HUGE stress release for me. My husband appreciates it and exercises with me for his health-we like to play volleyball together and be active. He has never said word one about my weight.

    We are not these independent creatures…it’s a marriage. His actions affect me and mine affect him. We support each other…it’s a part of love to actually selflessly see the other person as God sees them….then we work on the Tevye principle…if you want to change yourself CHANGE, if you want to change your spouse PRAY. God changes people’s hearts a lot more affectively than our words do. That doesn’t mean we dont’ communicate what we want or need, it just means we frequently let things go and take care of them ourselves or pray. ANY person is more likely to change in an environment of love-unconditional and eternal-than in a pressure situation.

    The thing is physical health is such a small part of marriage and what makes it work. Emotional health, spiritual health, mental health…And body size doesn’t = poor physical health.

    We live in a working class area…lots of people working two jobs, both spice working, and still money stress…and it’s the south so food an fried and lots of fried food is a part of life. There are quite a few overweight people in our ward who have no clue how to cook or eat or the time to learn…then exercise is for people with spare time and not enough”real” work to do. There is a definite lack of knowledge and a stress induced lack of motivation. At the same time there is a different attitude about marriage-you don’t leave. first of all it’s expensive to support two households, it’s very impractical..and it takes time to woo someone else (and money).

  129. You go, Gogo.

    Men aren’t specifically wired to value one type of body type over another. What type of body you find attractive has a lot more to do with socialization.

    Absolutely right. Still, whether a man is socially conditioned to love super-fleshy women or super-bony ones, the strong drive to claim an attractive mate (or several) seems to have a biological component–although socialization certainly plays a role there as well.

  130. “I’m in a ward with a huge primary, and at least half the moms in my ward are in the same shape they were in pre-baby.”

    It’s not the first or second or even third chlid that often wrecks a mother’s per-baby shape – and I’m sure at least half of the women in your ward aren’t having their fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, etc. baby.

    Also, most importantly, pre-baby shape and mother shape just aren’t the same shape for many women – and it’s incredibly narcissistic and sexist to assume they should be. (That’s the nicest way I could think to say it.)

    Kurt, that’s the underlying assumption that comes out of your comments – that women “should” be the same shape post-childbirth that they were pre-childbirth. That’s just wrong and ignorant on too many levels to even try to list.

  131. Good point Ray…unless you have seen all those women in your primary naked, you haven’t the slightest idea about their shape (pre or post baby). You haven’t the slightest clue whether they have stretch marks all over, what their bras are holding up or what is actually going on where.

    health doesn’t equal a particular body shape.

    Even without babies, at some point a woman will age. Must she then also maintain that wedding day shape?

    Why would it be more important that she keep the same respect, love and caring gentleness she had?

  132. anonforthis says:

    Back to the original point- I think its highly doubtful that “Dave” left his wife just because she put on a few pounds. That was her reason given, not Dave’s, but its probably a distraction, or cover, of what was really going on in their marriage. That SP meeting with the women in the stake reminds me of the South Park episode about Tiger Woods. Why on earth would anyone ever want to have sex with younger, more attractive women?

  133. “unless you have seen all those women in your primary naked, you haven’t the slightest idea about their shape (pre or post baby). ”

    Kurt, if you are the OB-GYN for all the women in your ward (or having affairs with all of them), I apologize. I shouldn’t have assumed you aren’t.

  134. Something else we haven’t even touched on here- while it may be more socially acceptable for a man to be heavier- it’s also just as healthy. He may not pop out a baby or five, but take a look at just about any wedding picture, and then look at the man 20 years later- most of the time, his figure is no longer svelt and suave either.

    It’s just this is not as socially anathema to a man as it is to a woman. Generally. Broadly general. And that’s BS too.

    Keeping oneself healthy is just as important for a man- but as has been pointed out, his cache is not depleted nor is his worth undermined by having a spare tire. The cost is simply too high for an LDS woman to “trade-in” her model for a newer one.

  135. “It’s not the first or second or even third chlid that often wrecks a mother’s per-baby shape – and I’m sure at least half of the women in your ward aren’t having their fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, etc. baby.”

    It was #3 for me. Now I totally have that pouch that my husband used to comment that he thought he was funny looking on moms. Thank goodness he’s not 23 anymore, since I’m not 20. He tells me it’s cute and that my stretch marks just remind him that I was willing to give up my perfect body in order to make three new perfect little bodies. So he loves me more because of them. He may not be quite as strongly attracted to me as he used to be, but love is stronger than attraction, right? Sadly, motherhood takes very different tolls on different women. I have friends who look almost exactly the same except tummies aren’t quite as tight and hips are a little bigger. But others whose bodies are dramatically different and have had major skin changes and composition changes that have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not they worked hard enough to get back into shape. My feet grew two sizes for goodness sake. I can’t exactly work them back down to my cute little size 7. If a man wants his wife to have the same body throughout their marriage, he should probably find someone who doesn’t want kids. :] Oh, and, I hate sideburns and facial hair and my husband likes them, but he keeps clean shaven because he knows how I feel. He likes my long hair and I much prefer short, but I keep it long because he likes it. Those kind of things are just little, but it’s nice to know the other cares.

  136. Peter LLC says:

    his cache is not depleted nor is his worth undermined by having a spare tire.

    The kids I hang out with rank spare tires right up there with male pattern baldness and hairy backs.

  137. Wow. I read this last night and most of the coments then, too, and I had to go away and shake my head.

    I know not all marriages are perfect, but many are really good. Pr Kimball taught that in great marriages, spouses look out for one another. It’s not a 50/50 proposition where we each give up half of what we “want”, but it’s a case where each spouse looks out for the needs of the other. Where this happens (and there isn’t emotional blackmail along the way), it produces a great marriage.

    I doubt that a choice to leave can be distilled to one fault (or flaw or source of dissatisfaction) in the partner. Nor can conflicts be resolved just be checking everything off on “the List”, whether it’s weight control or help with the kids or more sex or less sex.

  138. Peter- lol.

    In the horrendous dating waters I am just now wading into, middle-aged men with more than spare-tires seem to think hitting on women 15-20 years younger is their right. When the 50-somethings are all fishing in the 30-something pool, it’s a weird dynamic. The men closer to my own 30-something age are all fishing in the 20-something pond.

  139. Aaron R: Oh, absolutely our pressure to be slim affects our comfort in the bedroom. My point was that if women knew that men cared more about what they did with their bodies than how they looked, maybe the women would also care less about how they look. Problem is, you have to be somewhat original and convincing. You can’t just say, “No, really, I think you look sexy and I just want to bonk your brains out!” It will take more than that. I think it’s more in the eyes and in the desire and in the gushy love appreciation.

    Natasha said: What I wonder is how many of these men would care about their wives’ extra weight if their wives were giving them frequent and great sex? I would think men care more what you do with your body than what it looks like?

    An excellent point. (Although I’d change “giving them” to “enjoying,” because I believe the wife’s own pleasure is an oft-overlooked variable in a couple’s sexual satisfaction–the husband’s as much as the wife’s.)

    “Giving them” was a stupid way to phrase it. Agreed. Did you happen to notice the hour I posted that? Stupid o’clock. I was being all nonchalant. However, how can it be great sex if she’s not enjoying it? It was implicit.

    Gogo is awesome and totally right in that men don’t all prefer one body type. Some men like a bit of meat. Skinny people feel yucky under the hands and body. And if a woman is so muscle-y that there’s no little belly bulge under the belly button, what fun is that? Women are supposed to be soft.

    Some men like huge breasts and some find small breasts really sexy. Some men like big bums and some see no problem with a totally flat bum if it means that the rest of her is totally skinny too. Some men like long painted nails. Some men are just stupid. Blame it on biology if you want but you still come out stupid. I’m just saying. This probably doesn’t reply to YOU. *wink*

    “I’m in a ward with a huge primary, and at least half the moms in my ward are in the same shape they were in pre-baby.”

    LOL. LOL. Okay, I thought it would be really easy before I had kids, too. Because being thin has never been a problem for me. Then I had kids and it blew my mind how hard it was to stay thin. And what someone else said about subsequent pregnancies is so true: I had zero stretch marks until the last two weeks of my fourth baby. It gets harder each time for MOST women.

    Also, income plays a role. It’s easier to stay in shape when you can afford healthy food especially healthy convenience food.

    And you know, I wonder how many of these men that we’re talking about, whoever they are, lift weights themselves. Are they only slim because they’re men? You know that every lbs of muscle burns about 50 calories, right? So, men have an advantage in having good metabolisms. If you’re a man who’s reading this and you wish your wife was slimmer and you think it’s just an easy matter of priorities and you don’t lift weights yourself and you tell yourself that well, you WOULD lift weights if being a chubby suddenly became an issue for you, I call bullshit on that. You start getting some ripped shoulders and just watch your wife feel motivated to get into shape to better “match” you. It may not happen but I know of cases where it has. I know as my husband lifts weights and looks hot, I am more inclined to look hot for him, too.

  140. #122 (dave P.) – she had too many unrealistic expectations of me in that she thought, once she got married, life’s troubles would be over and I would be the one to shoulder every single burden and responsibility in the house.

    Good thing you found that out before the marriage. We had a fairly long engagement, but I didn’t discover this until after the marriage.

    My ex once actually said “I thought getting married would make me happy.”

    Since she decided she wasn’t happy, it must have been my fault. Which it partly was, I’m sure – but not all. Her father actually once said “well, you didn’t love her enough to keep her happy, so you deserve this divorce.” Maybe I did, but our four kids sure didn’t.

  141. Tracy M, when one of my friends invites me to go fishing, I’ll have to choke of laughing out loud after your # 138! About the only consolation I can give you is that the 50 year olds can probably afford better bait.

  142. (And I’m really, really tired right now because I was up late (as previously mentioned) and was awakened much earlier than expected. So don’t jump all over my individual words or tell me that it’s horrible and judgmental for me to that women are supposed to be soft because now naturally skinny women are upset. Assume the best and all that.)

  143. Tracy, I think it’s the case that it takes men that long to know a good woman when they see one, especially if this post is any indicator. ;-) If men in their 40s are marrying young chippies, maybe it takes until their 50s for them to get their heads screwed on straight.

    (Here’s the irony in my comment: My husband is 46 and I’m 30. Ha ha ha.)

  144. Beth’s #86 is right on.

    I’ve heard various versions of the unrequited love axiom “men love women, women love children, and children love puppies”, and I think this is especially true amongst Mormons. Many Mormon women focus 100% on their children and view their husbands as supporting partners. Instead of the face-to-face relationship they had when they married, it becomes a back-to-back arrangement to accomplish the goal of the team — raising the children. Since the man typically faces employment, the woman typically faces towards the home, and gets the brunt of the work there. She’s busy. She expects her husband at her back — she doesn’t want to have to turn around and see if he’s there. When he’s not at work, he should be something for her to lean against and maybe even rubbing her shoulders, because her work never stops.

    Mormon men are pretty much taught to expect this pattern as well, and I think by and large we embrace it. But we also miss the face-to-face relationship our wives seem too busy for.

    Mellifera asked in #94 why the measly 10 minutes would be such a speed bump for my wife. Why indeed! She’s very busy and very focused on what she should be doing. She doesn’t need her partner acting like another child with a bunch of needs for her to meet.

    I do have her back. I even come around and work side-by-side with her whenever I’m home (and she’d agree with this statement).

    But I’m also like a small child. I too have needs that only she can meet. I need her to face me sometimes.

    That’s why I’m not convinced Dave left over his wife’s weight, exactly. It’s far bigger than that.

  145. I just met this guy – he’s in his mid 50s. Single but loaded. He’s marrying a 20 something hottie from Mexico.

    The reasons older guys hit on younger women? Because they can. There are enough women (even in the church) looking for sugar daddies, that this will continue.

    Me, I’m single again, but not really interested in younger women (also, only in my 30s). Also, I’ll never be rich enough to be a sugar daddy (at the very least, the financial devastation of divorce ensures that. Also, university lecturers make very little anyway) so none of those younger hotties will have any interest in me anyway.

  146. StillConfused says:

    It is all an interesting matter of perspective. For instance when people speak of weight gain from having babies, I am completely at a loss. I spent the first three months of my pregnancies barfing my guts out and the last three months with a stomach that was the size of a string bean. Then nursing takes about 1000 calories a day. It seriously took me 10 years to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight after my last was born.

    My husband does not have a flat belly. Personally, I think six packs are gross. We all had them growing up — it was called “hard labor and hunger”.

    My husband has a huge fetish for women who look “natural”. (Just let your mind wander on that one). So we all have unique desires.

    The important thing to remember is that there isn’t a generality which works here. Just give your all to your relationship and leave the stereotypes outside the door.

  147. StillConfused, I believe that nursing takes up 500 calories, on average, last time I read La Leche League’s Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. And for some women, for some reason I don’t know, they hold on to the weight while nursing and suddenly drop it all when they wean. That was true for me and for a few friends of mine.

  148. xenologue says:

    twiceuponatime,

    I married my husband when he was in his 30s, divorced, and a university lecturer. I was in my late 20s. He’s now a full-time professor, and when he says something sad about not ever being able to provide a large salary for us, I remind him that it was always my dream to marry a university professor (and to be one myself, too).

    I hope some young hottie will have a similar interest in you someday :)

  149. Thomas Parkin says:

    “Women are fully capable of committing abuse and domestic violence, but people just have a hard time believing that.”

    Not that I want to get into this, at all. But this page points to 271 studies showing that women are as or more likely to instigate domestic violence than men. (So much, once again, for our supposed host of angels.) Viewed as a whole: women are more likely to be injured in relationship violence (not surprisingly), but men are more likely to be victims.

    http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm

    Good news is that women are in need of the Atonement, too. ~

  150. StillConfused says:

    #147 – If the norm is 500 calories a day then I was definitely at least 1000. I was a milk making machine. I used a double pump to get it all out.

    I am working from home today. I am sitting at my computer at the dining room table just doing my work thing. My husband makes me a good breakfast and brings it to me — complete with a little banana garnish. I didn’t ask for it. Frankly, I would have skipped breakfast without thinking twice. But that little bit of thoughtfulness goes a very long way.

    Nice gestures really do go a long way. I think most everyone wants to feel like someone cares for them and thinks about them.

  151. mellifera says:

    For those still ruminating over what “biology” “demands” that we do, I highly recommend “Sex: A Natural History” by Joann Ellison Rodgers. I am a biologist. Again, I recommend this book. Did I mention there are artistic nudes on the cover?

    General summary: although there are some general trends, the vast variety of ways that people deal with adult relationships and providing for children, across the globe and throughout time, indicates that human beings are nothing if not flexible. If somebody’s telling you that your biology “compels” an exciting gene-spreading strategy (ie promiscuity) over a sometimes boring but time-tested strategy (ie monogamy), that person just might be trying to sell you something.

  152. There are multiple reasons a nursing mother would not loose weight…lack of sleep greatly changes your metabolism and hormones greatly influence your metabolism. If you combine that with a lack of time to exercise and prepare nutritious food. Also nursing requires a lot of energy-if you exercise too much you may loose your milk-this is more challenging with age.

    Ironically with twins my increased hormones combined with the lack of sleep and loss of milk if I exercised made it difficult to even begin loosing weight until I was past 1 year post partum.

    Everyone’s body is so different in how they react to childbirth…

    my first stretch marks were from surgery recovery before marriage-

    It really is such an upperclass concern-this body shape thing. Health is an every class concern, but the amount of time and money available to spend upon it is so drastically different.

  153. This was touched on a bit earlier with the thyroid issues, but what about a spouse who has health concerns? Would you just ditch someone because their skin got yellow because they had liver problems? What about losing their hair to cancer? Weight gain because of meds they take to treat another condition such as Rheumatoid Arthritis? I got runner’s knee in both knees after my 4th baby. No more running = lbs.

    I also vote that there was more going on in the divorce situation than a few extra pounds. It is disappointing for a SP to think that was really the issue. Wouldn’t his years of dealing with those seeking forgiveness of serious sin teach him that?

  154. Stephanie says:

    Martin, as I was reading the OP, I wanted to kick you. Then when I got to the end, I wanted to kiss you. I totally hear you. On the one hand, I expect loyalty from my husband no matter what. On the other hand, I do want to please him. I do want him to find me attractive, and I don’t mind doing things within reason that appeal to his tastes. (He also likes long hair, so I wear mine long.)

    Amen to #86 and #94. All of the demands we as women face in our Mormon culture drive me nuts. Here they are in a nutshell:

    1. You must drop out of school to marry young and support your husband while he gets his advanced degree.
    2. Then you must have 6 children in 10 years and be back to pre-preg weight at the end (because, as Kurt so kindly pointed out, all the other Mormon women can do it – why can’t you?)
    3. Throughout all that time, you must not complain while your DH works and is gone for callings and you never see him. Instead, you must be happy and cheery and have a clean house when he is home. Because . . .
    4. Your survival depends on his income. You gave up all your earning potential when you quit school. You must keep him happy with a skinny body, lots of sex, clean house, etc. Otherwise, he will just turn you in for a newer, younger model. (And as we have seen, many men do because it’s just not that big of a deal. It’s relatively easy to walk out on your wife and 6 kids.)

    It drives me crazy. Of course it doesn’t help that my dad left my mom after 6 kids. That created all sorts of complexes for me. And, surprisingly, I still made the same choices (except that I got an education). I have to say that I think faith has to be the only reason I made these choices because from a raw costs/benefits point of view, I think our Mormon way of doing things screws over way too many women and children.

    Ray #130 – can I kiss you, too? Yes, it is not the first or second or third baby that cause the most changes. Sometimes it is hard to keep a straight face talking to women with one or two children about these things. For me, #4 had a dramatic effect by throwing my thyroid into turmoil (the stress of doing all the other things I was supposed to do as a “good Mormon” woman didn’t help). And as bad as post-partum after #4 was, #5 was worse. I gained 20 more pounds with #5 than I did with any other pregnancy. And this was while eating healthier and exercising! I’ve lost it all but 6 so far, but my body is SOOOO not the same. My wrists are fatter. I can’t wear my watch on the same hole. There is fat under my chin that is not going away! There is fat on my back! How can only 6 pounds cover so much body area? All of these are new problems that I never dealt with. It is aggravating. (It’s also really unfair that doing what you are “supposed” to do as a “Mormon woman” has such crappy consequences – shouldn’t there be blessings like 5 pounds lost per kid or something?!?!) Anyways, I am looking at myself in the mirror realizing that “matronly” is really the best way to describe me now. WAAAHHHH! There is no going back.

    And I think the thing I deserve and demand the most from my husband for that is loyalty.

  155. Stephanie, I agree. Our Mormon way of doing things screws over too many women and kids.

    Also, I hate to say it but you may have also lost muscle which is why you only SEEM like you have 6 lbs of fat. It might be more. And I totally feel your pain, as I explained earlier. Have you tried weight lifting?

    StillConfused, just in case you have more babies, it might be helpful to know that by pumping to “get the milk out”, you were stimulating more and more production. The system works on supply and demand. On the plus side, great weight loss strategy! You should write a book!

  156. Stephanie says:

    Natasha, oh yeah, much less muscle and much more fat – that’s a given. But it still kind of blows me away that the difference is only 6 pounds on the scale. (And did I mention RS arms?!?!?)

  157. Cynthia L. says:

    Everyone in this thread needs to put She-Devil at the top of their netflix queues, stat!

  158. Stephanie says:

    Related to this is an article in the Ensign that really got under my skin recently. Its purpose was to encourage mothers who are suddenly single to go back to school. It starts like this:

    As a youth, Stephanie (names have been changed) had anticipated a life as a stay-at-home mother. Her plans seemed to be well on track when she married Shawn, a returned missionary, in the temple. After 20 years of marriage, however, Shawn announced that he was filing for divorce, leaving her for another woman.

    Beyond the heartbreak of the divorce, Stephanie was faced with the very real issue of economic survival. For the past 20 years she had been focused on marriage, family, and home. With no outside job experience and no education beyond secondary school, how would she support five children as a single parent?

    The thing that bugs me is how nonchalantly it addresses her husband leaving. “After 20 years of marriage, however, Shawn announced that he was filing for divorce, leaving her for another woman.” Well, golly shucks darn it! Hate it when that happens.

  159. Stephanie says:

    Re 157 – it’s actually pretty sad that that is comic fodder. Yes, I notoriously have no sense of humor. But, I honestly don’t think I could get through something like that. I hate it that the “fat” or “boring” or whatever wife who gets dumped for the new woman is always the butt of the joke or the bad guy or whatever. So messed up.

  160. Trader Joe says:

    About 10 years ago, there was a rash of divorces in the AZ stake where I grew up, but they were totally different than what is being discussed here. Almost all of the cases involved the wives leaving the husbands after the kids were grown and the husbands had just been released from prestigious callings. Most husbands and wives remained active and temple-going throughout the divorce and after. The general narrative was that the wives wanted out after 25 years of being identified solely as some important guy’s wife. In most cases, the women remained supported financially by their well-to-do ex’s. I was close with one of the husbands, and he was devastated, unable to understand how this was his reward for faithfulness and hard work.

  161. 154. EXCELLENT post – you captured so well a lot of the angst that my wife and other women face. Some of this is cultural, and others is mis-focused attention.

    The point in mormon culture a higher value was placed on the amount of food storage you have over the importance of a woman’s education was unfortunate IMO.

  162. Cynthia L. says:

    159–have you seen the movie? The abandoned wife is treated very sympathetically. The joke is on the husband when he has the same kind of “this leads to never-ending horse-trading” epiphany as mentioned above from prarie home comp. Granted it has been like 15 years since I saw it so take all my recollections with a grain of salt.

  163. Stephanie says:

    No, Cynthia L, I haven’t seen it. I just googled it. But, like I said, I have no sense of humor. :)

  164. Stephanie,
    That’s wonderful considering this gem in the article, “It turns out Stephanie may have worried needlessly about the effect her entering school would have on her children. A study conducted by the Economic Self-Reliance Center at Brigham Young University, in partnership with the Single Mom Foundation in Salt Lake City, found that single mothers who return to school report the same time spent with their children and the same parental satisfaction as working mothers who do not return to school.2 Years later, Stephanie’s son would tell her that her returning to school set an example that motivated him and his siblings to take their education more seriously and helped them to become better students.”

    When will the day be that the Ensign features a mother who goes back to school before there is a divorce, death, or impending doom upon her family?

  165. Stephanie says:

    But, mmiles, it only works for single mothers . . .

    Actually, I was very impressed with the Ensign that was about the PEF last year. It featured a few women who were mothers who were using PEF loans.

  166. Stephanie says:

    Natasha 155 – DH just walked in with a Bowflex (free from someone he is helping move). Do you think that will do the trick?

  167. The general narrative was that the wives wanted out after 25 years of being identified solely as some important guy’s wife.

    I can imagine quite a few details to go along with that general narrative, just as I can imagine there was a lot more to Dave leaving his wife than just her being fat. And my imagination isn’t that wild.

    No one knows what really goes on in a marriage except the two people who are in it–and even then, sometimes one or both of them doesn’t see what the real problems are.

  168. I think Beth (#86) and Stephanie (#154) make great points about the sacrifices of body and earning power women are expected to make in the Church. The ease with which people can get divorced, and the way the result is almost always beneficial to the man and harmful to the woman (in financial terms, at least) suggest that women unequally make these sacrifices but the benefits disproportionately go to men. I don’t see a way around the biology that women bear the children, but certainly it seems like there could be more done to equalize the disparity in sacrifice of earning power to have a family.

    I also really like what kevinf said in #46:

    Unconditional acceptance doesn’t mean ignoring things, it means looking at the whole package. Marriage should create a safe harbor for both spouses, where each can let down their guard each day, and bask in each others support and love. You should each care how you look, you should equally also care how each of you feels. I’m having a hard time exactly putting this into the right words, but you should each feel safe in each others company, and not have to worry about what the other is going to say or do that may hurt or make you feel devalued. Looks are nice, but they don’t last. Shared commitment and fidelity matter more.

    I really like this vision of marriage as ideally being mutually supportive where you can really let your guard down with your spouse. That’s why, at least for me, it feels like a little bit of a betrayal for me to express preferences to my wife about how she looks. It forces her, I think, to consider herself as being “on stage” in some sense even with me; and I worry that if she doesn’t feel like she can let her hair down with me in terms of appearance, she won’t feel like she can let her hair down emotionally either and we will lose some level of intimacy. So even if I do have little preferences for her hair this way or that or bits of her appearance, I feel like the cost of expressing them is far far higher than the benefit could ever be.

    I’m not sure if it generalizes, but that’s how I think about it anyway.

  169. Wow — the OP, while thought provoking and interesting, was like jerk bait. The truth is high expectations are just premeditated resentments. If we look to our spouse to fulfill some ridiculous fantasy whether it be looks, fame, fortune, happiness, we are hoping to be disappointed. And then it’s their fault we want to get the h— out of there. Fear of abandonment, rejection. Rest assured, Dave (OP) has many dreams that his new wife won’t fulfill either. I’m with Tracy — I think the body that bounces back after a dysfunctional relationship is over is the one that has finally been freed from some sort of oppression, whether his or her own.

    PS. I’m sorry — but there is no way Kurt is really married. And if he is, why is he checking out half of the women in his primary? If really he is, I think we should all go in on a giftcard to Ben & Jerry’s for his wife.

  170. Stephanie says:

    I worry that if she doesn’t feel like she can let her hair down with me in terms of appearance, she won’t feel like she can let her hair down emotionally either and we will lose some level of intimacy.

    Great point, ziff.

  171. 1) From what I’ve seen at my Sunday meetings over the years: Mormons as a whole probably have about 120 million pounds that we could stand to lose (20 lbs X 6 million domestic members). My guess would be that the guys, by raw tonnage, have significantly more to lose than the women. So lets start with the “should” now, and we can worry about the “why” later.

    2) Most guys don’t want their women to look the way that their women think their men want them to look.

    3) If 4+ kids seems to be the breakpoint for women’s bodies, and we have an epidemic of men leaving women for their bodies, wouldn’t it be a good manegerial decision for the church to de-emphasize having 12 kid families? You know, for the children?

  172. Maybe that’s because without booze/ drugs/ smokes, food is the only legit (?) addiction that you can harbor.

  173. Now that my tongue-in-cheek response is out of the way. I liked this post alot. Like most things in life, I think moderation and communication play huge roles. I think its ridiculous for men to expect their wives to look like Megan Fox. I think its just as ridiculous for women to attack men who suggest that their wife could make a couple improvements to her looks.

    Also, all marriages are different. For some men, looks may not be that big of a deal. Good on them. For others, it means the world, and if the wife knows this going in, caveat emptor. Now when kids becomes a factor, obviously you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Probably a discussion that should take place either before marriage, or definitely before having kids is “would you like a super-hot wife, a couple kids and an attractive wife, or do you want to be Abrahamic in your spreading of seed and have a wife that reflects this abuse.” There is an opportunity cost to having a lot of kids. I think discussion and realistic expectations (like the post title portrays) play a HUGE role in this. And hopefully these discussions can take place before marriage, and maybe some bad matches don’t happen as often.

  174. Stephanie says:

    “would you like a super-hot wife, a couple kids and an attractive wife, or do you want to be Abrahamic in your spreading of seed and have a wife that reflects this abuse.”

    The problem is, I don’t think that I realized the opportunity cost of having a bunch of kids. I think I had pretty unrealistic expectations myself. Why is that?

  175. Molly_MW says:

    172 – a close friend of mine who has had a lot of contact with the church over the years says it never ceases to amaze her how Mormons go completely crazy for sugar. They say everyone needs a vice of some kind.

  176. Stephanie says:

    Denial, maybe? I mean, I can’t realistically picture myself saying to myself, “Okay, Stephanie, do you want hot bod or kids?” Of course, I can’t choose hot bod. That would be selfish, right? From the Mormon perspective I am familiar with, I must choose as many children as DH and I can “handle”. Is there room for a hot bod in that equation?

  177. Just for fun- the men who’ve viewed my profile and/or sent flirts this week on LDS singles are: 63, 48, 52, 59, 49, 48 and 52. Several of them are grandfathers with grandchildren the ages of my children. I’m 37.

    Think of me when you go fishing, kevinf.

  178. Stephanie says:

    Are Mormons really any heavier than the general population? I used to wonder where all the overweight people I keep hearing about are, and then I went to the Texas State Fair . . .

  179. I should add- I have no problem with dating an older man. I just want to illustrate a point. I DO have a problem dating a man the same age or older than my father.

  180. I sort of get your point, but its lost in the anger that is bubbling up inside me. How did Dave look? Had he gained weight since his younger days? Did he have wrinkles? Grey hair? Receding hair line? Age spots? Its just not fair. Women are expected to maintain a 20 year old body and face, and men can let themselves go.

    You just don’t get it…its not that its “just 10 more minutes”. Its 10 more minutes on top of an already lengthy maintenance routine. Does your wife shave her legs? Pluck her eyebrows? Moisturize? Dye her hair? Even minimal makeup takes 5-15 minutes. If I add up all the time I spend making myself even halfway ‘up to standards’, it’d blow your mind. Its ridiculous. You men just have no idea. You shower, comb your hair and you’re done.

    Have you ever paid attention to the commercials on TV? How many are targeted towards women and their appearance? Do you know how it feels to be overwhelmed with images of perfect, young women almost 24 hours a day? On every commercial, every movie, every TV show, every billboard, every ad, every magazine. Compare that to how many “perfect” men you see splashed all over the place.

    I am SO TIRED of being told my stretchmarks, wrinkles, under eye circles, hair, private parts, body is gross and needs to be managed with whatever product. I am SO TIRED of feeling pressured to undergo surgery to compete with some unrealistic picture of perfection.

    Do you have any idea how many of my friends have gotten breast implants because their husbands wanted them to? They risked death and had their bodies cut into and mutilated because their husband wanted bigger boobies to play with. They risked their wife’s life and the well being of their children for sex. Its disgusting.

    Your stake president was SPOT ON in saying those things to the men. You don’t see the same numbers of women in the church deserting their husbands for men 20 years younger than them, do you? Exactly. How many men in your stake still have a washboard stomach and a full head if dark hair? Yet many of their wives still love them just the way they are?

    Maybe if you were home more and helped out more with the kids/house, she’d have more time to spend on herself. Or maybe you could realize that your wife isn’t 20 years old anymore. Quite frankly, unless your wife is morbidly obese, you have no room to talk, in my opinion. Your wife’s body, style, etc is going to change. Period. I’m willing to bet you don’t look like the day you were married either.

  181. #168 Ziff
    he ease with which people can get divorced, and the way the result is almost always beneficial to the man and harmful to the woman (in financial terms, at least) suggest that women unequally make these sacrifices but the benefits disproportionately go to men.

    Pardon the pun, but that’s totally divorced from reality.

    Men have to pay the child support, the alimony, and often their exes lawyers fees (not to mention their own lawyers fees). Also – any debt, even if run up by the women, is put on the man.

    As my lawyer put it: “The state doesn’t care whether you starve to death or have to file for bankruptcy multiple times. All they care for is if you pay what they order you to, whether you have a job or not, whether you even earn enough to pay what they order.”

  182. Do most men expect their wives, after several children to look like they did when they were 20? I’m willing to believe it, but it certainly clashes with my experience. But I’ve come to realize that much of the description of mormon culture on these blogs is a culture very, very different than the one I live in far from the intermountain west (most of the women in my ward are employed, etc. etc.).

    In this apparently different culture that I live in, most of the men I know like their wives to look nice, but it wouldn’t be too much to say that they are proud of some of the “physical evidence” of childbearing in their wives. They would never intend, by encouraging a spouse to wear longer hair, for example, to make her feel like she has to look like a 20 year old model. I wonder, if as noted above, their is a huge, huge, gap between what many men mean when they say appearances matter, and what many women hear when that is expressed.

  183. 180 – I would have agreed with you 15-20+ years ago. Today? Not so much.

    I’m not disagreeing with the point you’re making about there being too much emphasis on women’s looks. What I am disagreeing about is the perceived disparity. The gap is closing, and we men are being made to feel pretty inferior as well for having receding hairlines, spare tires, grey hair, etc. We’re not yet equal to women to the degree in which we are judged by our looks, but I promise the gap is closing quickly. Steroid usage, liposuction, men’s hair dye, and Men’s fashion in general . . . we have our equivalents to breast implants, make up, etc.

  184. 178 – I can’t find any study that breaks down obesity rates by religion, so its hard to say.
    Utah fares pretty well on a state-by-state breakdown, but not nearly as well as its neighbor Colorado. We do have a fairly large population of non-Mormon outdoor enthusiasts that could easily skew the results, so state analysis is probably near-useless.
    Statistics aside, and without comparing us to the world, I think there’s a decent number of people in our church that could benefit from a healthier diet. I mean whats the point of not drinking/smoking if you’re just going to eat fried chicken and cheeseburgers? Seems like a waste of an almost perfectly healthy lifestyle.

    176 – I think you have a really valid point here. I don’t have a personal answer other than moderation. Moderation in child-bearing might not be something we’ve heard taught in Sunday School, but if there truly is an “epidemic” (I don’t know that there is) of men leaving their wives for newer models, maybe its something to consider on a macro scale to mitigate the problem.
    FWIW I DO believe that there are women who decide they want more and more kids despite the desires of their husbands, and IF thats the case, I don’t know that its much less selfish than a husband wanting a hotter wife. Different desires in marriage.

  185. twice (#181) obviously I’m not familiar with the details of your situation. I believe that on average divorce tends to make men better off and women worse off. That, of course, does not deny the reality that men sometimes get the shaft too.

  186. Kevin Barney says:

    I skimmed through the comments, and I was trying to think of any cases in my ward over the years of a man leaving his wife for a younger woman, and I couldn’t think of any (although I admit I’m not sufficiently plugged into the stake to have a wider perspective; obviously it happens). So there’s no epidemic where I live. Maybe on top of being Mormon it’s our solid midwestern values!

    I also tried to think back about any dynamic like this in my marriage, and I’m coming up with zilch. I’ve never asked my wife to change anything or thought she needed to. The only thing she’s ever mentioned to me is to get rid of shirts that I’ve worn so long the edges of the sleeves are fraying, but I value that kind of observation because she has much better taste than I do and so I kind of rely on her when it comes to clothes.

    I’m very good about working out consistently, but my wife has never said anything in that vein to encourage me; I’m just trying to stay healthy, and I do feel a (completely) self-imposed obligation to try to be attractive for her (yeah, I know, a losing cause!).

    And I think my wife looks pretty much the same as the day we got married (it will be 30 years ago this August 15). But that may just be a quirk in my personal way of seeing; I tend to mentally perceive people as looking the same way they looked when I first got to know them well, even if the current reality is far different. So anyone who knew me when I was young probably has an advantage with me as far as my gift of seeing goes.

  187. Never posted on this site before, but I occasionally visit just to get an idea about what some people in the Church are discussing.

    Here’s my take. Leaving a spouse just because we are more physically attracted to another is a violation of the law of God. The marriage relationship is sacred and holy and even if there are difficulties in the marriage relationship (which there inevitably will be to one degree or another), we are accountable before God in regards to how we treat our spouses. I think it is the height of selfishness to walk away from a spouse, especially one with whom you have entered into the most sacred covenants, just because they don’t look the way you would like them to.

    What about charity, longsuffering, sacrifice, and plain old common decency in the way you treat another person? Latter-day Saints are called to be Christlike, and this kind of behavior is the complete opposite. “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and also gave himself for it”

    I am not saying there are no grounds for divorce — I believe there are, but not for what is being discussed here.

  188. “wouldn’t it be a good manegerial decision for the church to de-emphasize having 12 kid families?”

    Are you FLDS?

    Maybe I’ve been sleeping through General Conference, ’cause I’ve missed that emphasis somehow.

  189. 187: I agree.

    186: No epidemic here, either, but then I’m also in the midwest…

  190. 188- Oh, I’m probably just crazy. You’re probably right, Mormons aren’t known for having huge families at all. Ward members don’t judge couples who don’t have children, or couples that don’t have “enough” children. That stuff never happens.

    And there’s no undertone of the idea of having a lot of children in any of these talks:

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=cd6561cb2b86b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=f51a425e0848b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=67acfd758096b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    or in Doctrine of Salvation, or things like that.

    BTW, I’m not saying the church should de-emphasize large families, it was just a thought if this problem depicted in the story and a number of the comments truly is a problem.

    And I know that the church as an institution has backed away from talking about things like family planning, birth control, etc. But its still taught fairly often within the walls of the church and around the dinner table, from my experience.

  191. Stephanie says:

    I know couples who have gotten divorced in my past two wards (very few – two that come to mind), but I don’t know anyone in those wards who has left their spouse for someone else.

    However, in the stake I grew up in, there was an epidemic. At around the same time my dad left my mom for another woman, a whole bunch of men left their wives. One couple ended up getting back together. One woman remarried soon after (while I was still a teen). It really was astonishing how many marriages fell apart.

    I would be interested in some type of research about this. Do these things tend to happen in clusters? What are the causes?

    twice 181 – it’s not divorced from reality at all. I know many, many women in financial ruin after divorce (even with child support), and few men in ruin (oh, sure, maybe not able to keep up the standard of living they were hoping for since they have to give a bit of money to care for their kids, but definitely not ruin). Ziff was spot-on. Getting married and having children is disproportionately more risky for women than men.

    Men have to pay the child support, the alimony, and often their exes lawyers fees (not to mention their own lawyers fees). Also – any debt, even if run up by the women, is put on the man.

    As my lawyer put it: “The state doesn’t care whether you starve to death or have to file for bankruptcy multiple times. All they care for is if you pay what they order you to, whether you have a job or not, whether you even earn enough to pay what they order.”

    Cry me a river. Men are also generally the ones who have any kind of income, and it is generally a good income. Contrast that to the woman who has been a SAHM for 20 years. Where is she supposed to come up with the kind of money to pay a lawyer? Making minimum wage while she raises her six kids?

    This is exactly what my dad said after he walked out on my mom. Somehow he expected her to suddenly generate enough income to support a family out of thin air. Oh, and he left her with a $40K credit card bill she didn’t even know was in her name. Add that to the $40K lawyer bill it took to fight for custody of her kids and she was $80K in financial ruin before trying to raise her kids on $1500/month child support (kind of hard when your mortgage is $1200/month).

    My dad just thought he could walk out and she would just make a bunch of money herself and he could move on with life. That’s basically what he did, but what a #($U@$U%&.

    Alimony is supposed to compensate a woman for her loss of earning potential. I’m glad our society cares enough about women to (kind of) enforce it. I wish we cared MORE.

  192. Stephanie says:

    Maybe you need a new lawyer, twice. Try these guys: http://www.cordellcordell.com/

    Of course, I happen to feel they are the spawn of Satan. But, they will likely provide a different perspective than your current lawyer.

  193. nat kelly says:

    Stephanie, well said.

    Statistically speaking, and despite the whole wide range of divorce laws meant to protect women and children from the last 60 years, women still divorce to be poorer, and men divorce to be richer.

    Alimony, wah. I want to see a man who had a SAHW pay her all the wages, $25 an hour, for the housecleaning services she provided during that time, while putting him through school and career. There is often someone getting financially screwed in divorces, and it’s not usually the man. Just sayin’.

  194. BRuss, nice response to what I never said. However, your last paragraph supports my comment, which I appreciate.

  195. In Twice’s case, he is the one who got the shaft. Sometimes a woman can have more power than the man, but it is usually not the case. Every situation is different.

    Twice, I hope you receive peace in the future.

  196. Well, Stephanie, that was quite hostile. Well, you’re clearly colored by your experience, just as I am colored by mine, but I have student loans, all the credit card debt, and my ex lives rent and utilities free with her parents. She has no car payments. She also has work experience and a college degree. I had no job for a year – I’m deeper in debt than ever, and she has no debt.

    But you illustrate my problem – there’s too much outright hostility toward men who are divorced, when in fact we often get the shaft. People like you just attack us as though we are scum and that women are just victims all the time in nearly every case. It just ain’t so.

    I’m sorry your father was such a jerk, but why take that out on all us divorced males and act as though we’re loser scum and then belittle and attack us this way?

    And the fact people say “well said” to such blatant and uncharitable hostility just shows how deep the trouble is in our culture.

  197. Scott B. says:

    Twice, Stephanie–

    I don’t care who started it, but l will stop it if you two can’t play nice! ;)

  198. JA Benson –

    thanks for the support, but I’m not sure I agree that this is “not usually the case.”

    Since the divorce, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with reading everything I can on divorce, and the one thing I’ve discovered is that family law in this country is distinctly anti-male.

    I guess I can see how a woman who has only been a homemaker, has no real employment experience, and has focuses exclusively on raising kids might be at a financial loss, whereas a man with marketable skills might just be better off because of all the incidental costs associated with having kids around the house.

    But I can go to jail (or worse, become ineligible for the temple) if I lose my current job and can’t make the payments, whereas she’s guaranteed income. And if my income goes up, the courts order me to pay more. If my income goes down or vanishes, there’s not much I can do.

    I also have a pretty good attorney – she’s supposedly the second best one in the county. But my ex got the best one, so there you go. I also really can’t afford to utilize my attorney much. Just calling her up on the phone costs 50 bucks. However, since I had to pay my exes attorney fees, she loved to have her attorney file for all sorts of crazy things during the proceedings.

    Anyway, I’ll stop whining for now.

  199. Stephanie says:

    Sorry, twice. I apologize for being so hostile toward you. I’m obviously very colored by my mother’s experience. And when I see the same thing happen to other women over and over again, it just makes me crazy angry. I shouldn’t have taken that out on you, and I am sorry.

  200. Stephanie –

    it’s all good. As I said, I’m colored by my experience, and I’m not even sure my version of the divorce can be trusted.

    Ask my ex, and I know you’d get a wildly different picture. (One probably just as distorted and unreliable as mine, but containing more truth than I’d like to admit. Despite my finances, I did splurge a little for some counseling, which has helped me cope).

  201. Martin, “But I’m also like a small child. I too have needs that only she can meet. I need her to face me sometimes.”

    I am not trying to attck you, and I’m not sure how to word this, but I really honestly don’t understand this perspective. Maybe it’s naivety on my part…

    It seems to me that if you are looking to someone else to meet your needs you are always going to come up short. People will fail at that. The only place you can turn to for (self worth, happiness, fill in the blank) is to yourself. In relationships, in general, isn’t it more important to learn to accept others for who they are? Period? Then the goodness that they enrich your life with is just icing on the cake…

  202. Can we really say that “great sex” is an expectation within Mormonism when Mormons are so horrible at educating our young people on how to cultivate it? Mormons tend to follow a set pattern: thoroughly shun pre-marital sexuality and then expect the newly married couple to “figure out how it works” (because, since it is now in the “bonds of marriage”, it is beautiful and worthwhile), often with terrible results, like women who never have an orgasm throughout their entire marriage (which I think is a true tragedy, to be so divorced from one aspect of your self and never seeing it bloom [or boom, depending on what metaphor you want to use ;o) ])! Female sexuality does not have to be the mystery that so many men claim, but that would require delving into that sinful sexual material to learn techniques of how to approach it, develop sensitivity (for the man and the woman), and perhaps even use sexual aids to further enhance lovemaking (heaven forbid!!!, though, seriously, heaven never has forbidden using such things, though Puritanical sexual mores have). When there’s such important (nay, eternal) things like baby-making in the running, who has time to have fun?

    Sorry, but this is a sore point for me as sexual dysfunction was a big part of my own divorce, coming to learn later that one of the biggest things I love about intimacy is helping the woman experience great pleasure, which simply wasn’t happening for my ex (which was also a tragedy, though I believe she’s worked through it now, which makes me very happy for her). Mormonism needs a truly educational pillow book for its newly married couples, one that isn’t afraid of delving into the details rather than leaving the couple with vague and, thus, ultimately confusing information…

    Please, women, delve into your sexuality!!!! It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing!!!! Also, please, men, delve into female sexuality so you aren’t so clueless and you can assist your partner in creating a fulfilling and rich sexual life together (and perhaps also learn that great sex for a man isn’t just about genital stimulation)!!!!!!

    [Steps down from his erotic soap box...and hoping I didn't make too many people uncomfortable, but it's important!]

  203. And this thread makes me think we should have a BCC dating site :)

  204. Twice, I don’t know your experience, but I’m sure you are valid in your perceptions of your life. We all through the lens of our experiences.

    My divorce was final in February, legally separate since last October. I lost my fancy house, my X blasted through our savings and ran up credit cards I didn’t know about.

    In my divorce, we were to split the lawyer fees half and half. He has not payed a penny, even though I borrowed money to pay my half. Guess who the lawyer is calling for the balance? He was ordered to pay <$900 in child support for his three children, of which he has not paid a dime. My rent is $950. I gave up my career in 2000 when we began our family. I cannot find a job that will even cover child support, let alone other bills. His creditors are calling me now. There is little I can do.

    No one lining up to put him in jail. No one is doing anything to him- except not letting him see his kids. That's his only punishment.

    I guarantee my story is more common than yours. That doesn't mean your isn't valid or real- it only means it's not the rule.

  205. “I too have needs that only she can meet. I need her to face me sometimes.”

    There’s nothing difficult to understand about this statement. Of course he has needs that only she can meet. We all have needs that can only be met by a partner. If not, we would all live alone. His need for her to face him is neither complicated nor sinister–especially since he only expects it “sometimes”!

  206. Having actually been divorced with young children, I can pretty much guarantee that in 99% of cases, men are doing just dandy after their divorce financially. I get less than $400 a month for my two kids…and that’s more than it used to be. It used to be only $280.

    Seriously? That’s NOTHING. The women is almost always the one who keeps the kids during the week, and is responsible for 75% of their clothing, most of their school and food expenses, etc. And putting utilities and a mortgage on top of that? Forget it.

    Most divorced women are living under the poverty line. My parents were divorced, too, and it was awful for us kids.

  207. I think most people are missing here that women’s bodies are subject to AGE, GENETICS and GRAVITY, whether they have children (1 to 12) or NOT.

    I know women who have 6 kids and from behind they are mistaken for a Young Woman. I know women who have no children, and they’ve gained 50 lbs since marriage. I know women who have 1 child and couldn’t lose the weight. I know women who had 4 children and diet and work out every.single.damn.day and just can’t lose the lbs. I know women who have 4 kids and never watch what they eat or work out and are the same weight as they were in HS.

    I know women who breastfed who have amazingly perky breasts. I know women who bottle fed who are already sagging. I know women with stretch marks from 1 child. And women who have 6 children and never got a single solitary one.

    I also know women who manage to live up to society’s standard of beauty, and it costs them thousands of dollars a month, not to mention time away from home and family. (how do you think they manage to always have their nails done, hair coiffed, dyed, trimmed, nice clothes, tan, etc? That lots of TIME, boys).

    Maybe instead of focusing on what they could be doing with their time, you should be asking yourself what they already do.

    Do they try to have the family sit down for dinner every night? Do they write primary talks? Do they help with scouts/YW/primary? Do they sew prom dresses and trim little girls’ bangs and help with homework and buy new Sunday shoes for all the kids? Do they buy the baby shower gifts, and the wedding shower gifts, and the Mother’s Day gifts (for your mom, too)? Do they plan the kids’ birthday parties and arrange the family reunions? Do they do the finances? Clean the house?

    I mean, seriously…does your wife not have anything BETTER to be doing than trying to look like the day she did when you got married???? I mean, how old are you? In your 40s…50s?? And you expect your wife to still have long, flowing locks? Well, buddy, she probably wishes you still had a head full of dark hair, too. But she doesn’t expect you to maintain an hour a day routine to get it. Because that’s how long it takes to wash, condition, untangle, dry, straighten, curl, do long hair.

    All for the lovely experience of having it ripped out by babies, food smeared in it by children, and being hot and uncomfy all day long with it being down your back while you try to clean and cook. Sounds fun, eh? All so you can get your groove on once a week.

    UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  208. and by the way…I happen to have long hair and 4 kids and weigh less than I did in HS (by sheer luck of genes and youth, not because I work out).

    But I think this post SUCKS. I’m in my late 20s…heaven forbid I can’t maintain this in my 30s, 40s, 50s. What a life to look forward to. I just can’t wait till I have wrinkles and age spots to add to the mix.

  209. And speaking of sexuality…how many of you men are regularly helping out with the kids and chores so your wife can relax? How often does she get to go out the girls? (It should once a month AT LEAST). How often do you wine and dine her? (again, once, if not TWICE a month AT LEAST). How often do you give her a back massage? And um, it should be just as long, and just as frequent as you expect sex to be, if not longer and more often. How often do you hold her hand, or cuddle next to her on the sofa? Do you walk in the house after work and sweep her into a loving embrace and kiss her and tell her you’re glad to be home? Do you tell her she is beautiful…WITHOUT her having to fish? Do you compliment her in public? Do you remember her birthday and anniversary?

    Because these are the things that turn women on. You can’t expect to just roll over in bed and start feeling her up and expect your wife to put out. You need to get her in the mood, yes, that’s YOUR job. And it takes preparation and time. You can’t just wait until the moment it strikes your fancy. Unfortunately, the way we women work, it takes lots of time before we are able to feel sexual. It takes a lot of effort to get in the mood, and if we’re tired, stressed, feeling unattractive, haven’t showered, feel unappreciated, etc. Its not going to happen. It just can’t. Its looming over our heads and makes it impossible.

    Until you men learn this, you have no leg to stand on. If you’re not getting as much as you want, take a look at what YOU’RE doing (or not). I can promise if you step it up and start taking care of wife’s needs, she’ll be a lot more likely to put the effort in.

  210. Kurt W. says:

    Ugh,

    I do all of those things, and despite what people here may think of me (it looks like I’ve become the villain of this comment board- bwahahaha…), I’m happily married. I just don’t buy the lame train of thought that women are powerless to take care of themselves because of X, Y, and Z. I know way too many examples to the contrary.
    And yes, cnl (169), I notice women at Church. And at work. And at the store. My wife notices men in all those places too, and we have a healthy enough relationship to be able to talk about those things and laugh about it. My wife does not look like she did before kids, but she is not overweight to the point of being unhealthy, which is what I really care about. As a mom, she has enough to worry about without dealing with the inflammation, joint issues, fatigue, etc. that come from being unhealthily overweight.

    No, ladies, not all of us are like Ray. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though- Ray is not Ray. He’s really…Edward. That’s why you love him so much.

  211. ugh,

    I’m truly sorry you are having such a hard time with these issues.

  212. Stephanie says:

    No, Ray’s the real deal. And his wife is amazing, too.

    Kevin Winters, why do you assume that ugh is upset because she is having a hard time with these issues. Can’t she express frustration and anger for other women she knows experience these things but may not talk about them?

  213. Stephanie,

    It’s obvious that thinking about these issues brings up a good deal of stress in ugh. It could be because she is currently having a problem with it, but it could also be because she did have issues or knows others who are having/have had issues, etc. The tone of her posts shows a great deal of stress, as opposed to just being passionate, so it seems obvious that, as I said, she is “having…a hard time with these issues.”

  214. Kevin, thinking about these issues brings up a great deal of stress in most women. We are subject to these pressures to look good from girlhood on, and by the time we reach maturity, a great many of us are just done. It’s a hot button issue, whether you are currently dealing, have dealt, foresee your future, or are empathetic to your sisters. It’s a big deal.

  215. These issues also bring a great deal of stress with men.

    I did pretty much everything ugh wrote about in #209, and my ex still divorced me. I was stressed out – we barely had sex, I was trying to finish my dissertation whilst applying for 100+ jobs (and getting letter back saying that due to the economy, they weren’t hiring after all), while still making sure I was home by 6 every night (whereas the other husband/father grad students in my ward often stayed on campus till the wee hours of the a.m.)

    I did household chores, gave backrubs, never pressured her for sex (which she said she liked, but she also like ice cream, and the ice cream didn’t need any pleasure back), took her on dates (except she started refusing to go on dates a few months before she announced her intentions), constantly took the kids so she could hang out with her female friends, I often and spontaneously told her she was attractive, that I loved her, etc. etc. etc.

    Yes, some men are jerks. Oddly, many of those men are still married, often because they make lots of money.

    But she still divorced me. In the end, it was for shallow reasons – I didn’t have a job, but she knew the courts would guarantee she got money, whereas if she stayed with me, we might have had to tough it out for a bit (and she’d have to work on a relationship with me, which is also hard work). Now, she’s in a great financial place, and I’m not.

    So please, ugh and others, I get that you are stressed and/or have strong feelings about this. But why lapse to the default position that men are total losers. Why attack us with such vehemence.

    What’s needed is more charity and understanding and trying to see it from everyone’s point of view. Men actually sometimes have good reasons for the things they do (or don’t do) that their wives don’t like, Yet the default position here is that if the wife disapproves, the man better change or else.

  216. I think we have two separate issues that have morphed into one huge, unsolvable issue. There are women’s body-issues (yes, men have them too, but to a lesser degree) and the issue of the hornet’s nest of divorce and what it brings.

    Twice, I don’t think I’ve said men don’t have good reason or intentions- there are obnoxious, self-centered women as well as men. I know a lot of great men who are wonderful human begins , husbands and fathers. I just didn’t happen to be married to one of them.

    BTW- when I divorces, my husband was not working, so my child support was based on what he got from unemployment. He made 5 times that when working, and when he starts working, my child support will remain the same for at least two years from the date of my divorce, and if I want to have it changed I have to take him back to court. As I already said, he hasn’t paid a penny of the lawyers fees he was supposed to, and I would need to find a new lawyer. All while I solely support our three kids. He’s not paying even the measly amout of support he was ordered.

    So divorce sucks. Sometimes for the man, often for the women. There are exceptions to the rule, or course.

  217. Anon on family topics says:

    “Now, she’s in a great financial place, and I’m not.” (215)

    Sorry to have to point this out, but you did say that your wife is living with her parents. No adult who is living with parents is “in a great financial place.” How is her 401(k)? Pension? Social Security benefits? Home equity? Credit scores? Who is providing health insurance? Life insurance?

    You also said you’re in counseling. I know it takes time to work through these issues, but can I suggest in all kindness that you may need to find a better counselor?

    I hope things get better for you and that your children will do well despite the divorce, since although it’s tough for the divorced husband and wife, the children are often the ones who get the shortest end of the stick in a divorce.

  218. anon –

    well, considering I have no life insurance, retirement, home equity, etc. I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I have all the debt. She does have insurance – yes, it’s through the government, but I don’t have any health insurance at all, so she’s better off there as well.

    She’s living with her parents because they have been pushing her to leave me ever since they found out I wouldn’t be making six figures like her daddy does (there’s more to it than that, but it’s part of it).

    See, again, it’s that casual assumption the man stinks and is a loser. You assume too much anon. My I suggest in all kindness that you’re too judgmental and willing to believe the worst about divorced men?

    Tracy M. –

    different states have different rules. In mine, she can file for increased payments whenever she wants. I’m sorry to hear you ex isn’t paying.

    I personally don’t mind paying child support, because they’re my kids. I do have a problem with the alimony, as she has no expenses (what with her rich parents paying all the bills) and marketable job skills.

  219. C Jones says:

    twice- I’d just like to in all kindness suggest that you’ve made your point and anyone interested in hearing more can click through to your blog. Thanks.

  220. aloof observer says:

    I think ya’ll should read this
    … ’cause it’s true!

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