Sunday, April 18, 2010


Over on my blogroll you'll find "Sex with the Wife." Mr. B, as he goes by, posed an interesting question the other day about gratitude, specifically "should a wife be grateful to her husband for not cheating on her." He went on to make it gender neutral, but later in the post it appears that the question should more aptly be phrased "should a husband/wife EXPECT their spouse to be grateful that they didn't cheat on them."

It's a nice short post so rather than recapping it, I suggest you give it a read here. I was going to add my thoughts in his comments section but soon realized it was turning into a post so I moved it over here.

The short answer to his primary question is "no." As he said, to insist someone else be grateful because one party simply held up their end of a deal is silly for all the reasons he gave. It's simply honoring the deal you made in the first place. I don't walk around giddy when people don't lie to me; but depending on the severity of the lie, my relationship to the person, and the harm done to me, I'll vacillate between being disappointed and enraged depending on the situation.


His question had to do specifically with sexual fidelity and I have to admit, when Vince and I were having our dry spell (6+ years worth!), I was and still am extremely grateful he didn't cheat on me. Now to be fair, it wasn't like we were communicating all that well about sexual issues at that time and that's a huge part of our growth as a couple over the past few years. In addition, I am an outstanding wife on all other fronts. We've never lacked love or overt appreciation for the other, there was no hostility, resentment, or animosity; we just weren't having sex.

I would not have been surprised -- and I would have been tremendously hurt -- but in hindsight, I would definitely see how my behavior, our circumstance, etc. could have contributed to the situation. So, in spite of provocation, my husband honored his vow to me, and for that, I am indeed, grateful. That's how I feel, but even if I didn't, he would still have no right to expect it from me.

You see the idea of one person expecting their spouse to be grateful to them for simply not being a dick or a bitch is arrogance at its worst. For example, should you expect your spouse to be grateful if you don't call them names, if you don't hit them, if you don't ignore them? Should they be happy that you don't yell at the kids or kick the dog? If that is how you truly want to behave, feel you deserve to behave, and you are graciously holding yourself back, then you, sir or madam, are an ass.

And that is where I think the idea of expecting people to be grateful for anything falls apart. You see, I've seen this particular line of thinking all over the blogosphere. It usually comes from a man or woman who feels they are being unreasonably provoked by their spouse (he/she doesn't understand me, he/she isn't giving me enough sex, he/she is actually a bitch/dick but I "can't" leave them because of the kids/money/morals/inertia/disruption/whatever the fuck have you) and they actually deserve to lie or deceive their husband/wife but for some reason, they aren't. Yet. But they sure as hell are thinking about it.

But the final paragraph of Mr. B's reasoning concerned me quite a bit because to me it falls under the "future payoff" paradigm -- you honor your vows to remain sexually faithful now because in the future you may actually need this person to do something unpleasant for you.


Now let me go on record and say that I've read almost every post Mr. B has on his blog and I DO NOT think that Mr. B in any way lacks integrity. In fact, he appears to be the guy that finds himself in a position not unlike my Vincent did a few years ago, only Mr. B has his blog as an outlet, and my Vince had only me, his damaged but loving wife.

That said, (and I'm going to keep with his husband/wife scenario just so the prose won't be gender tortured but yeah, it could go either direction) let me offer my take on the final paragraph a phrase at a time:

"Here's a newsflash guys: there will come a time when she may be in a position of advantage..." That's "game" thinking. This isn't a fucking game: it's your wife/husband, your personal integrity, his/her heart, your combined life, your children's lives, your past/present/future, etc. Also, it implies that the cheater is in a position of "advantage" now. An opportunity to cheat is no more of an advantage than an opportunity embezzle.

"When you are 70 years old and committed to a wheelchair and need your loving wife to help you wipe your ass...." A) 70 ain't that old. B) Now you need her to help you?! Now?! How about when you were younger? Did you need her then? To give you love and guidance? To help you achieve your dreams? To help you build a combined life for two not a one-man show and his support staff? If you really don't need her now, then man-up, do both of you a favor, and get a fucking divorce.

" will be very grateful that you stuck with her ..." No, you'll be grateful that SHE stuck with your sorry, resentful, entitled, frustrated ass because SHE didn't have to either. More likely though, you'll simply devolve into the battling-Bickermans, sniping and griping your way to the grave.

"...when you didn't have to." If you lack the integrity to honor your commitments then no, you didn't "have to." Furthermore, if you lack the ability or willingness to communicate with your spouse, if you lack the courage to make changes or sacrifices for the person you claim is "the one" then no, not only do you not have to, you probably aren't able to either.

" runs in circles..." That almost always shows up in a "just you wait, you'll get yours" context. Does anyone ever think "Hey, I'm reaping some pretty bad karma now." Do any of these people ever think that the current unhappy circumstance they find themselves in is because of some effort they failed to put in before? Any of them?

"...and if you jump for greener pastures at a moment when you think you can get a nicer deal..." That's just it, they don't think they can get a nicer "deal," they aren't terminating the deal they have. They are trying to keep their spouse from dissolving the deal (i.e. the marriage) so they can have something else in addition to their existing deal. "I want my married life, AND I want, nay I DESERVE, pussy on the side." Oh fuckin' please.

" may find yourself dumped when you are in pretty sorry shape..." Let me see if I understand, you're saying she's the type of woman who would put up with decades of resentment and blame for whatever his frustrations are THEN decide to leave? Also, it's a pretty specious assumption to think she's going to be some spry septuagenarian at the same time he's failing on all physical fronts. She may have her own reasons for staying with him.

"Just stick it out and don't get too full of yourself for doing so." Seriously, if it truly is that bad, don't stick it out. If what you are lacking in your marriage and in your life is that important to you, if it is that crucial to your joy and happiness, MAKE A CHANGE. Accept the (hopefully) temporary hurt and disappointment you are going to cause. The chances are, if it really is that bad for you, it isn't all that great for her either.

I know, because I lived it, how painful sexual difficulties between a husband and wife can be. I also know, because I lived it, how wonderful it is to finally grow through it, as a person and as a married couple. I married a good man.

So yes, I'm grateful to him that he is a good man.... and that's completely different from being grateful that he isn't a bastard.


  1. Also very well thought out. I enjoy how you analyze the end part. Maybe you two should point counter point some more.

  2. The only part I disagree with is what you have to say about karma. But I think of it in a positive light- I think of it as a pay-it-forward kind of thing.

    Great post!