A woman's husband had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet she had stayed by his bedside every single day. One day, when he came to, he motioned for her to come nearer. As she sat by him, he whispered, eyes full of tears, "You know what? You have been with me all through the bad times. When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When I got shot, you were by my side. When we lost the house, you stayed right here. When my health started failing, you were still by my side. You know what?"
"What dear?" she asked gently, smiling as her heart began to fill with warmth.
”I think you're bad luck."
No, luck is not the reason for staying single. I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in facts. Many things have changed that make the idea of traditional marriage somewhat obsolete. Women continue to fight for equality with men, although they have already won the battle. More women graduate from college now than men (“Within each racial/ethnic group, women earned the majority of degrees at all levels in 2009–10.” National Center for Education Statistics). For the most part, women get equal pay for equal work and, at a minimum, equal opportunity (in some cases they are even given preferential hiring consideration). In other words, the historical barriers holding women back have fallen. Unfortunately, what was once a quest for equality has morphed into something rather unfortunate for men—the pendulum has swung. Here are some anti-men facts that will make my point—the reasons men should no longer consider marriage.
a. The “taxation marriage penalty”—you pay less tax if you remain single. The combined income of married people bumps the couple into a higher tax bracket, so the two pay more together than they would if they were single.
b. The “healthcare marriage penalty”—you receive a greater government offset if you are two single people vs. a married couple (an Obamacare feature).
c. Of course, there are the traditional “male oriented” reasons for avoiding matrimony. I haven’t listed them here because most women would find them offensive or “selfish.” You can go read them for yourself if you like. http://www.askmen.com/top_10/dating/top-10-reasons-to-stay-single_9.html.
e. Q: How many men does it take to open a beer? A: None. It should be open by the time she brings it… Okay, if you liked #1 through #10 above, here are another 11: http://www.avoiceformen.com/sexual-politics/marriage/11-more-reasons-for-a-straight-man-to-avoid-marriage/
f. Scientists have discovered a food that diminishes women’s sex drive by 92%. They name it “Wedding cake.” That’s part of it, but there is also “Media/Court Room Bias.” This one is serious, and I encourage all men to read it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/helen-smith/8-reasons-men-dont-want-t_b_3467778.html. With the “war on men” in full swing in US courts today, a man would be out of his mind to consider marriage for almost any reason. While being married forever sounds like a cool concept, most marriages fail. It’s a crap shoot, and when it ends badly, men suffer. I have only been divorced once, but that was enough. I lost 100% of everything I worked 25 years to obtain… and still get to pay my ex $2,500 per month for life. What a deal! Was 25 years with my ex worth it? In retrospect, I think not.
So, why am I married…again? Despite all the reasons for not doing so, there are a couple of reasons I jumped in again. I dated my second wife for 11 years before we married and have been married to her for another 11 years. We avoided the tax penalty, which could have cost us a bundle. We both had medical insurance through our jobs, and we both were committed to retiring in ten years. If I learned one major thing from my first marriage, it was that a man needs a partner, not just a mate. This time I have a partner. We laid out a financial plan before we committed to each other…and we both sacrificed to achieve it. We share everything. She cooks; I do the dishes. She dusts; I vacuum. We both do the yard work. She shops; I repair things. There is balance in whatever we do…an explicit fairness in the relationship. That is hard to find, and I wanted to keep it. From past experience, I can tell you that a relationship with lopsided responsibilities and rewards will not stand.
I am also older now. This might sound trite, but sex doesn’t matter as much as it once did. I like the calm understanding between a mature woman and a mature man. It’s comforting. We enjoy our individual hobbies and mutual friends. I write; she sews. I write; she plans outings with the grand kids. We spend a lot of time playing together. We dance several times each month, shoot together, enjoy boating together, visit children, and spoil the grand urchins. Life is good. At this point in my life, I believe being single would be lonely. I don’t like being lonely.
The key is the extended time I dated my second wife. I got to know her well. She knows the value of a dollar, and proved that over time. That was important to me because my first squandered everything...and appreciated nothing. My second wife is also a full partner in every decision…and an excellent decision maker. A man needs to respect his wife’s mind. I respect hers. Beware, though, because adult children can be an issue. Some will require more time and resources than others, and children don’t get less important as they get older. Both parties must agree in advance on how children will be handled. If two people cannot resolve how to handle them, the marriage will probably fail. A long period of commitment should point out any weakness in this area. If you do marry, don’t rush into it.
While an extended period of serious dating is important, there are warnings associated with “living in sin” too. For one, the courts are aware that many men are waking up. Just yesterday the Georgia court ordered a “marriage-like” settlement against a man living with a woman for a protracted period of time: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/12/07/georgia-court-orders-man-pay-one-time-fiance-50000-for-breaking-promise-to/?intcmp=latestnews. What this means is that men must be very careful not to commit in “contractual” ways. There is also a second reason for being “commitment shy.” In some states, simply presenting yourselves as married couple in any capacity, even if you are not, is enough to cement a “Common Law Marriage.” My current wife and I researched that before we began living together as a “team.” Know the rules; obey them.
Now that you’ve read my somewhat jaded view of marriage and relationships, you will probably conclude that my Miss Havana character is based on an unfavorable past relationship with a woman. Not so. Miss Havana is based on the most devious retired USAF general officer I have ever encountered. His level of deceit and cunning were so pure and invasive, that I believed it only right to celebrate his evil nature with the novel, The Substitute. The book is outrageous and laugh-out-loud funny in many ways, but is probably not fair to women. Most women aren’t that bad. Therefore, over the course of Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana!, The Training Bra, and The Trophy Wife, I tried to bring Miss Havana’s character to a more socially acceptable level.
Here is a quick view of Miss Havana from the devil’s point of view (excerpt from The Substitute):
Don’t get me wrong, Miss Havana did not present herself as “holier than thou.” Under most circumstances I would have overlooked her, assuming the poor girl simply wanted some privacy, but some things about Miss Havana’s life tempted me to the extreme, being simply too juicy and too dicey to ignore. I soon found myself as breathlessly infatuated as one of her students, drawn strongly to her convoluted nature, giddy with delight, and totally intoxicated by her antics.
You see, Miss Havana did not always return to Chicago on weekends as she intended everyone to believe. In fact, her deviation from her expected path approximately five years ago so intrigued me that I have been involved with her ever since. That weekend Mrs. Dianna Wansworth publicly attended the funeral of her second ex-husband, the late State Representative John T. Fry. Mrs. Wansworth shed prolific tears over Mr. Fry’s passing, each one captured by the many cameras present, but her current husband, State Senator Thomas R. Wansworth, shed none. No, he held down the fort at home, where there were no cameras at all, except those discretely hidden by Miss Havana herself—capturing images worth far more than a thousand words.
Like flies to honey, powerful men at all levels of society easily succumbed to Miss Havana’s wile. She not only collected men, but as an independent entrepreneur with keen insights for survival, she kept evidence to prove it locked away securely in a safety deposit box. After all, her lavish lifestyle in the city of Chicago had to be purchased by someone, so why not those most susceptible to her charms? To her, it seemed an acceptable trade, the pleasures of the flesh for cash because the life she led when not in the classroom could not be accommodated on a substitute teacher’s meager salary.
A quick reminder: my paranormal comedies make great gifts, especially for males.
Thanks for reading,
James L. Hatch