Cutting and Running, and Why Taipei Is Better
by Fred Reed
Mostly when I hear one of these radical feminist ladies
squawking and clucking about whatever is disturbing her system at the
moment, I don't listen a whole lot, because most of them have the
insight of flatworms and run on pure bile. But I have to agree with them
about marriage. It's probably a bad idea.
For a guy, I mean. (If you're a woman, listen to the feminists.
They'll tell you why marriage is a bad idea for women: Men are rapists.
All of us. We batter women like cannibal tempura chefs. We don't have
feelings. We're no damn good. Stay away from us.)
But let me tell you why marriage is bad for guys. If you're a young
fellow thinking about tying the awful knot, read this carefully.
Guys marry for bad reasons. When it comes to women, we have less
judgment than bugs in a moonshine bottle. Guys marry charm. They marry a
sweet smile, a perky toss of the chin. They marry clear skin and bright
eyes, soft lips, warm hands. They marry curves in a pretty print dress
and silken hair that smells like warm milk and new-mown grass. (Maybe
that's straining the language. Steinbeck or somebody said it.) Men marry
necking on back roads with crickets creaking in the woods and warm
breezes and Sally is just so unspeakably wonderful they can't do without
Men marry illusion. Sally marries a pre-med.
We males have an infinite capacity for deluding ourselves. The charm
of women doesn't last, any more than flowers in a mountain meadow. A
requirement for a marriage license should be that the guy spend fifteen
minutes thinking of Sally as twenty pounds heavier with crow's feet and
PMS and no further incentive to control it. In five years she won't want
to party. Little Richard will give way to easy listening. In a decade
she won't even slightly resemble the lissome damsel he married. She
won't like his friends unless they're boring. The fun and excitement
will fade and life will be just life.
Charm has a short shelf-life. A fellow should ask himself: Is her
mind such that he wants to spend forty years talking to her?
Maybe so. Some women are great that way. One was reported in San
Francisco a few years ago, and I know of one in Canada. (Actually a fair
number of gals are seriously bright. But Willy Bill probably won't marry
one. Anyway, ask yourself the question.)
However, the overarching aspect of marriage, the one that ought to be
part of the dictionary definition, is that Sally will get the children.
She'll get the house too, but the world is full of houses. The kids are
Women have a mysterious power to fog men's minds. I hear Willy Bill
saying, "Divorce? Impossible. Sally's adorable. Even if it happened,
we'd still be friends." There was a case of this reported too. In
central China. Pre-Confucius. Scholars debate its authenticity.
Willy Bill very likely will get divorced, which will very likely be
Sally's idea, and she will get the kids with virtual certainty. Further
(and he won't believe it in the full flood of hormonal misjudgment) she
will in all likelihood use them against him. Even if not, she'll remarry
and move to the other end of the country, and he will be lucky if he
sees the kids a week at Christmas. Willy Bill now faces fifteen years of
child support for children he will barely know. At best Sally will be
heartless about it, at worst vengeful. The courts will support her every
step of the way.
If you think this doesn't happen, regularly, think again. Think
The way to avoid the morass is simply not to marry. Thanks to the
Sexual Revolution, guys don't have to. Find one you like and live with
her. If you get along, keep on living together. Maybe you will have a
long, happy life together. It happens. However, most women give the
marry-me-or-leave ultimatum in about two years max, which means that
you'll have to find another. This is unpleasant, but then the variety is
nice. Serial monagamy isn't too bad. (I personally prefer parallel
monogamy, but it isn't real practical.)
Once you tie the knot, your house is toast. But the for-keeps
breakpoint, the one that really hurts, is children. Dead serious, guys,
watch this one. Here, Sally holds all the high cards. I talk to a lot of
men who are going crazy because the ex just remarried and went to Oregon
with the kids. They do this. All the time.
Remember that after the divorce, Sally is going to hate you. The
divorce will have been your fault. You will have failed her in every
way. You won't have met her expectations. That's the opening hand.
She will want to remarry. Fine. If you're crazy, maybe you will want
to remarry. How much do you think she's going to want you around, after
she has re-daddied your children? Is she going to tell New Daddy he
can't take that promotion in Oregon because of your rights to see your
As a rule, she won't concede that you have a right to see your
sprats, or that they have any stake in seeing their father. Her
rationale will be the passive-aggressive formulation, "Well, he's so
insensitive I just can't believe he really wants to see them, blah blah
This is Sally, remember, with the perky smile and soft lips.
Don't do it, guys. At least, don't do it unless you have a bomb-proof
pre-nup saying that when the divorce comes, either party who leaves the
region has to leave the kids with the other.*
It's a hell of a way to begin a marriage. But do it. Do it because
you can count on one thing: The courts will be absolutely on her side.
Better yet, if you want kids, go to Asia and marry. The women are
feminine (consult your dictionary), beautiful, agreeable (consult your
dictionary), and don't have cellulite.
Don't marry, guys. Stay single. The feminists are right on this one.
And when you get married anyway and lose the house and kids, remember
that weird columnist who said it would happen, and he was right.
Fred Reed's Column Page
Copyright 1999, Fred Reed
*Ed. note: Family law courts disregard any pre-nuptial custody agreement which they view as not being in the best interest of the child.