An Elder’s Wisdom on Mediocrity and Marriage

The always-insightful Brendan has stepped back from the Manosphere, but occasionally returns to comment on threads. He graced a recent discussion at Dalrock’s place with his inimitable, straightforward brilliance.

In response to a reader who noted that all married men at recent social events had strongly suggested he not marry, I commented thusly:

Buck’s comment is what concerns me whenever I think about the overall marital marketplace. I am guessing marriage follows a 20-60-20 distribution – about 20% are happy, 60% mediocre, and 20% absolutely miserable.

Brendan then weighed in (the remainder of the post is his words).

“I think that’s about right, but that there is fluidity between those bands and also some variety within them, especially in the middle one. That is, marriages can, and do, migrate from happy to mediocre and then possibly stay there or migrate back to happy or deteriorate further into miserable. Some marriages are mediocre from the beginning, too.

Whether they last has more to do with the personalities involved (especially of the woman), expectations and values.

Certain personas are less tolerant of mediocrity than others, even if there are some real benefits to the marriage, and will simply not be able to tolerate that situation long-term. Sometimes this is innate (think of the person who has to spend five minutes explaining to the waiter precisely how he/she wants the meal prepared or who routinely sends food back and so on), and sometimes it is egged-on (as Dalrock talks about here, as an aspect of choice addiction), but when it is present it tends to undermine the ability to tolerate a mediocre situation for anything longer than a relatively short period of time.

Expectations play a significant role, too. If you have very high expectations for the “fun” and “happy” aspects of marriage, and yours doesn’t satisfy those, dissatisfaction goes through the roof very quickly. This is, I think, a challenge for many couples today, precisely because expectations are so very high, and people generally plan to have “all their ducks in a row” before they get married — meaning that if expectations are not satisfied durably once the work and effort of getting said ducks in a row has been done, exit visas may be sought out relatively quickly to replace the situation with one that satisfies expectations and “justifies” the effort of getting said ducks in a row.

And, of course, values play a role, but probably the least significant one. Values are easily over-ridden by a rationalization hamster working for a mediocrity-intolerant persona or a person who has had his/her expectations dashed, regardless of “values”. Someone who is fundamentally dissatisfied and less mediocrity tolerant will have a much harder time sticking to their values than someone who is more “easy-going” (for lack of a better word) or more realistic in expectations will.

There are men and women on both sides of these spectra, but in my own experience, women are, very generally, the ones with the higher expectations in marriages *and* often the ones who are less mediocrity tolerant than men are. These dynamics tend to make women unhappy in the marriages *first*, before their husbands are — because their husbands are more tolerant of mediocrity and/or had different expectations going in. What happens next, of course, depends on the dynamics of the situation and the people involved, but generally once that wifely unhappiness is expressed, men tend to start getting unhappy. Sometimes this leads tro cheating. Sometimes it leads to divorce. And sometimes it leads to a kind of marital stalemate — i.e., a long-term low mediocre or poor marriage that people stay in because of values or kids or other circumstances. It very much varies in terms of the result. But the key, it seems to me, is avoiding certain personality types and certain expectation horizons when you are entering marriage, because these are the kinds of things that can lead to unhappiness very quickly in a life that is, by definition, going to be characterized by a good deal of routine and, yes, mediocrity.”

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “An Elder’s Wisdom on Mediocrity and Marriage

  1. jack

    The real trick is to separate the good girls from the screamers:

    Check out the moment of honesty at 1:40–

    Buncha chubster gals already getting ruined by alpha worship.

  2. jack

    As can be seen, the movie/music industry began aggressively strip-mining the psyches of young women with ruthless efficiency.

    The Beatles were immensely talented.

    Later, the industry would realize that talent was an optional component, and that new stars could be created more cheaply with studio production techniques and that the fame was all that was truly important to sell records to young women.

    The low standard of musical achievement could indicate that much of modern pop music is actually designed to be more of an alpha male burlesque show for women than any sort of actual musical “performance”.

  3. Opus

    Years ago I read book by Eysenck entitled ‘How to have a happy marriage’ – he having been unhappily married once was then happily married the second time. His conclusion’s were as far as I can remember, that those who were happiest in marriage were those who were the most tolerant. In other words, easy going personalities were the happiest together.

  4. Anacaona

    I think Neil Clark has a good method of screening for marriage sadly is too long and a bit complicated so it will never go mainstream.

  5. I think Brendan is probably right, both about the split and about the reasons for it.

  6. deti

    Abuse, adultery, abandonment, addiction. I won’t put up with these.

    If both parties are willing to put up with just about everything else, they can make a marriage work. It won’t be happy all the time. No marriage is happy all the time. But it won’t be miserable either, I think.

  7. deti

    I’m changing my handle to deti because detinennui32 is too hard to spell and everyone calls me that anyway.

  8. detinennui32

    Brilliant.

  9. Thanks guys.

    I do think “easy going” is a big benefit in any potential marital partner — not “slacker”, mind you, but someone with a greater degree of frustration tolerance rather than lesser.

  10. deti

    I’ve been married 15 years. I won’t put up with abuse, adultery, or abandonment. Any of those would end my marriage.

    I would (and have) tolerate just about everything else, as has my wife. You have to be willing to enjoy the “ups” and ride out the “downs”. I’ve put up with from her, and inflicted on her, all of the following: Deceit. Seemingly intractable fights and disagreements. Money problems. Not getting along for days on end. Illness. Bitchiness (quickly corrected). Serious medical problems. Work fatigue. Had it “up to here” with everything. Shouting fits.

    Good times.

  11. Arch

    I think this is just another example of instant gratification culture. People just want what they want when they want it and how they want it and don’t particularly care if its realistic or not.

    So you might say instead of going for “easy going” women, you are looking for “realistic” women who understand that life isn’t a continuous up and relationships are just as much about clinging to each other during times of stress as they are about enjoying each other’s company when things are easy or exciting. “Realism” in this instance would just mean internalization of the reality that no matter how bad you want it or how much you think you deserve it, sometimes you just don’t get your way in life.

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  13. Lovekraft

    Feminism’s big lie is EQUALITY, that the genders are interchangeable and to disagree is verboten. But anyone with a brain knows that, apart from glaring exceptions (think Serena Williams), men and women have different priorities, outlooks and desires.

    Feminism didn’t think that by outlawing gender differences it would invite major domestic/relationship strife. Equality means what exactly? How can one really compare working a full-time job with child-rearing?

    So unless a couple can find their ‘groove’ and ‘territory’ in a sense, the conflict will persist. Unnecessarily. And in a home where the woman subscribes to this theory, power-struggles, arbitrariness, alienation, playing children off the other etc eventually wear the man down to where he either becomes resigned (beta chump), or bitter.

    My suggestion is for men to abandon any and all PC/feminist influenced thinking that may have creeped into his subconscious and lead his wife by example. She will bristle and him not fighting her little battles, but his emotional health will be markedly improved upon.

  14. this post was of interest to me. especially considering i’ve never been married. that’s why i like when my married (looking at you Deti) reader’s comment.

    my mother is a SAHM. if anyone ever suggested to her that she didn’t have a job……i’d punch them in the throat.

  15. deti

    danny:

    The most important thing here is every man has to have boundaries, even with a wife. She has to know what the boundaries are.

    She gets a wide berth. but the lines which shall not be crossed are: abuse, adultery, abandonment. She crosses any of them, we’re done.

    I did not always think this way. I do now. It took me a long time to reach that point. But I can say I would walk away if I were maltreated like that. There are a few things that would mortally wound my marriage, and those three above are it.

  16. NMH

    Thanks for posting his comment. I agree that LTR’s are best satisfied by easy going people but how often are you going to find a woman so willing to give up tingles to become accepting of an easy going man? Alpha men who generate tingles are usually not easy going.

  17. Hope

    My husband and I have had some really bad times after getting married. It’s hard to have a happy marriage when medical problems hit you left and right, plus losing two babies, several infections, visits to the ER and two hospital stays. I don’t really know “easy-going” I am, because I had to tough all this out on willpower. It sucked tremendously. Nothing about any of it has been “easy.”

    But we are still happy with each other. We still never had screaming matches and always hold our tongues when either or both of us is stressed and/or pissed off. Sometimes I find it almost ironic that although we don’t have to deal with most of the “ordinary” issues people go through, like fights, arguments, cold shoulders, power struggles, fundamental incompatibilities, abuse/adultery, etc. we have the crazy issues that strike only maybe 1% of people.

    We both subscribe to the idea of “we create our own problems.” So we go out of our way not to create those problems. Just about all of the things that have gone wrong with our lives have been outside our control. Within our control: not getting into arguments about dirty socks on the floor when there are so many bigger issues abound… like, hey, I almost died there, if not for a visit to the ER and a hospital stay.

    I guess we learn the lessons we’re equipped to handle. Learning how to love and be a good loving couple together was too easy for us. We had to get all this extra crap thrown on and still remain in love and try to have a happy marriage. Who’s jealous and wants the extra challenge? :Pbad times after getting married. It’s hard to have a happy marriage when medical problems hit you left and right, plus losing two babies, several infections, visits to the ER and two hospital stays. I don’t really know “easy-going” I am, because I had to tough all this out on willpower. It sucked tremendously. Nothing about any of it has been “easy.”

    But we are still happy with each other. We still never had screaming matches and always hold our tongues when either or both of us is stressed and/or pissed off. Sometimes I find it almost ironic that although we don’t have to deal with most of the “ordinary” issues people go through, like fights, arguments, cold shoulders, power struggles, fundamental incompatibilities, abuse/adultery, etc. we have the crazy issues that strike only maybe 1% of people.

    We both subscribe to the idea of “we create our own problems.” So we go out of our way not to create those problems. Just about all of the things that have gone wrong with our lives have been outside our control. Within our control: not getting into arguments about dirty socks on the floor when there are so many bigger issues abound… like, hey, I almost died there, if not for a visit to the ER and a hospital stay.

    I guess we learn the lessons we’re equipped to handle. Learning how to love and be a good loving couple together was too easy for us. We had to get all this extra crap thrown on and still remain in love and try to have a happy marriage. Who’s jealous and wants the extra challenge? :P

  18. Hope

    Not sure why but my comments keep doubling. Please delete the extra.

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  20. Good insightful post on the mediocrity of marriage in the western hemisphere to be exact.

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