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You're Just Going Through A Stage

There was another stunning celebration of divorce culture inthe HuffPo, and as much as it turned my stomach to read it, I did.  The Mid-40s EPL divorce-a-thon is in full effect, it seems.  The tragic homewrecker in these impending antinuptials? 

“I don’t feel appreciated.”

These women are usually in perfectly decent marriages to perfectly decent dudes, and they want to split up and destroy their children’s lives and their husband’s souls because “they don’t feel appreciated”.  When confronted with this sudden and seemingly-inexplicable notification of divorce, the poor beta chumps in question are astonished.  “Why didn’t you say anything?” they ask.  “I did,” she replies, tragically, “but you weren’t listening!”

And that’s utter bullshit.

Men do listen – but not the same way women do, and for women to expect that from men is as foolish as to expect women to spend $300 shopping and then not want to show you what they bought.  Men listen, generally, but they do so in analog.  What you say is what we hear, ladies.  It’s like we’re receiving text messages without the benefit of emoticons.  Women communicate in a multi-track channel, with every communication cloaked and layered in context and subcontext and meaning and innuendo.  Men have one, or maybe (in some cases) two tracks, and one of them is probably focused on sex.  But that doesn't mean we don't listen.  The problem is that you aren't saying what you think you are saying.

Men often disparage women for sitting around and “talking about nothing” for hours at a time.  What they don’t realize is that what women are doing is actually talking about everything.  Each sentence, grunt, or expression is part of a complex and sophisticated gender-based language, highly dependent upon relevant social context and consensus opinion. 

Ten minutes of mind-numbing discussion about someone’s aunt in the grocery store can actually be a confrontation, a veiled threat, a warning, and an opportunity to share information about mutual friends and enemies within the Matrix . . . and your husband will be clueless. 

He thought you were talking about Aunt Gertrude, but because he doesn’t understand her relation to the woman in question, or how the scandal she was involved with also involved your mother’s best friend, which puts you on opposite sides of the Matrix and therefore at odds, and if your mother’s friend isn’t careful she’s going to run afoul of Gertrude’s people, and how that’s important because her daughter Eva is gorgeous and engaged to a nice young man who might not appreciate knowing about the scandal . . . you get the idea. 

Most women pick up on those subtextual signals automatically and include them into their general information stream as a matter of course.  (The ones who don't, don't usually make out well in the Matrix). That makes their discussion “perfectly clear” . . . if you know the context, the subtleties, the politics, and the common aspirations and values of all women, particularly those close to you within the Matrix.  Men, not so much.

So when you are in your 40s, you "feel unappreciated”, and you tell your husband “you weren’t listening!” what you are actually doing is holding him accountable for a conversation he had no idea he was having.  By considering divorce, what you are doing is essentially punishing everyone you know and love because of your inability to understand that men and women communicate differently about different things, and you aren’t willing to give a man you once pledged your soul to the basic opportunity to figure it out and fix it.  To make you “feel appreciated” in whatever particular way is going to keep you from killing your family. 

Because by saying “too little, too late” and calling your lawyer, what you are doing is ruining everyone’s life because you are just going through a regular, normal, stupid stage of development that will pass quickly enough.

When you were 14 and dyed your hair blue and got your ear pierced without your mother knowing, when you spent 57% of your life on the phone or on chat with your friends, your parents were indulgent of that – and your suddenly-frequent emotional outbursts – because they knew that you were “going through a stage”.

When you were 17 and had your first love, and the adults around you smiled indulgently and just didn’t understand why he was so wonderful and perfect for you, even if he didn’t have a job or plans for college or even a car, they did their best to keep your virtue intact  because they knewthat you were “going through a stage”.

When you were 21 and partying like a drunken fratboy, making out with dudes whose names you didn’t know and arriving home in the wee hours (walk of shame, optional), then your parents and your friends gritted their teeth and bit their lips because they knew that you were “going through a stage”.

When you were 24 and certain that your life would only have meaning if you applied yourself to your career and focused on building a secure future, your parents may have sighed with relief because they didn’t know what you did on the weekends, but they didn't worry too much because they knew that you were “going through a stage” . . . and were probably past the risk of accidental pregnancy and on reliable birth control.

When you were 27 and met the man you knew would be the father of your children, if you chose wisely enough your friends and family and especially your parents gave a collective sigh of relief because they knew you were finally “going through a stage” they could brag to their friends about.

Ditto three years later, when you gave them grandchildren and they started criticizing your parenting.  If you were smart, you put up with it with graciousness and good boundaries, because you knew that they were just new grandparents “going through a stage”.

Your own experience as a parent of an infant likely introduced and thoroughly covered the entire idea of developmentally “going through a stage”, and you have pictures of the poop on the wall to prove it.

When your husband turned 40 and started looking at sportscars and bikini models and started working out a little, you rolled your eyes and kept them peeled for potential rivals, but you probably weren’t tooworried because every woman’s magazine in the world has prepared you for your husband’s midlife crisis – you knew he was just “going through a stage”.

But now - suddenly - because of your “pent up frustration at not feeling appreciated”, you decide to ditch him, split up the household, permanently scar your kids, and strike out on your own where, presumably, you will find this elusive feeling of appreciation you are willing to nuke your family over.  You feel you have given everything to the marriage and the family, and you have gotten nothing in return (except for love, support, security, but nothing as important as your "feelings of appreciation").  

It's understandable, kind of.  You feel the last dregs of your youth draining away and want to “enjoy life” (without really knowing what that means for you) before you die . . . and your schlubby Betazoid chump of a husband (who is acting the way you have trained him to act, and respond the way you have trained him to respond) is suddenly just not the dashing man of passionate adventure that would make you feel appreciated.  You can do better, you think.

Bullshit.  Let me say this slowly and loudly, so you can understand the full weight of my words:

You Are Just Going Through A Stage.

Acting on this impulse (or even long-thought-out wallowing in the cesspool of your own emotional turmoil) is like your husband being drunk, on the road, and getting hit on by another woman.  Consider it like that. Yes, it feels right.  It’s exciting and alluring.  It has all the promise of a grand adventure and a change in your life.  Finally, you can truly feel appreciated – for who you are, not just what you do for other people.  Someone out there really likes you, independent of your spouse or family or job.

All he had to do was nod his head, or make a bad joke she could laugh at, or give the slightest indication he was open to the idea, and he could have gone there.  He might have even been able to get away with it without you ever knowing.  

But just as your husband (presumably) waved his wedding ring under her nose and said, “sorry, it’s flattering but I love my wife”, you need to look at that wedding ring on your finger and consider something: if you could go back to that 17-year-old version of yourself and give her guidance about her tragic boyfriend situation, would you tell her that yes, indeed, her hope of a happy life was truly over without this loser . . . or that she was just young and horny, he was cute and well hung, and she was just going through a fucking stage?

Then consider this: if your 70 year-old self could come back and advise you about your present situation, would she tell you that yes, you aren’t really appreciated by the man whose children you bore or even your offspring, and you will be far, farbetter off on your own . . . or will she tell you that your sudden longing for new places and new experiences and a man who “truly appreciates you" in the approved romance-novel fashion will lead to a miserable existence of a slowly decreasing circle of old women who lean on each other for support because no one else values and appreciates them any more? 

Will she tell you that far from being sorry you left him and genuinely repentant about his poor management of your marriage and his relationship with you he’s going to find a woman ten years younger who treats your kids like gold and raves about what a devoted husband he is, and how foolish you were for letting him get away?  Will she tell you that the fertile pool of handsome, well-educated men eager for a life with a 40-something woman does exist . . . and is in its 70s?  Will she tell you that men your own age will politely decline your attempts to flirt without hurting your feelings, while younger men look at you as either just another horny old cougar or a pitiful old wreck . . . if they see you at all? 

Will she tell you that after the split your kids just kind of stop calling?  That they’d rather spend their holidays with their dad and his fun new wife than with you in your dreary “economy single’s condo”?  Or that when they do show up, it’s out of a sense of obligation and filial duty to let you spend time with your grandchildren while they suppress the rage they feel toward you over how you ruined their childhoods because you “didn’t feel appreciated?”

Will your future self tell you that getting a divorce and becoming a single career woman at your age puts you competing with 24 year-olds who have far more experience and understanding of the emerging technology needed to get even an entry-level job that doesn’t involve a spatula – and they have perky tits?  Will she tell you how those same young women, primed for combat in both their personal and professional lives, will betray you in an instant and keep you from advancing while trashing you behind your back?

Will she tell you about your rapidly-declining professional and romantic market value?  About how the dreams you have today of “feeling appreciated” rapidly turn into a series of concessions and compromises that see your standard of living decline to a low plateau?  About how your circle of girlfriends and the occasional pet will be the only real support you have through your declining years . . . while your husband’s second wife is faithfully standing by with YOUR children at his side in his hours of need? 

Will your 70 year-old self tell you that making a decision like this based on “going through a stage” is the moral equivalent of getting married at 19 because you’re “in love” with some uneducated goober?  Will she tell you that the hours of “me” time you fantasize about now will all-too-soon become endless stretches of loneliness and solitary despair?  That the guilty pleasure of reading or watching movies or gardening you covet now will become the essential distractions of the next thirty years to keep you from dwelling on your solitude, your bitterness, your regret for the decisions you’ve made and the knowledge that you will most likely die alone?

Think about it.  Think about it from your 70-year old self’s perspective for a moment.  Look around at the women you see in their 70s, and count happy faces.  Now count wedding rings. 

Because the feeling that “I don’t feel appreciated” is notjust one of spoiled, solipsistic selfishness that we would shame our children for displaying, it’s also a repudiation of your own claim to adult status, the responsibility for making the adult decisions you did and living with the consequences.  You didn’t get married and have kids to feel appreciated, or you did it for the wrong reasons.  You did it to bring more love into the world.   Leaving a marriage because you don’t feel appreciated is, likewise, the wrong reason.  And all it will do is bring more suffering into the world . . . yours, included.

Oh, the first few years will be fine.  After you get through the nasty process of divorce, settle your differences with your ex-husband, try to repair the relationship with your kids, and mourn the loss of that which you killed,  you’ll have a little money in your purse, your own car, your own apartment, and it will be like college again – just you and your girlfriends, your very own Sex In The City.

You’ll initially delight in the prospect of sampling the exotic adventures implicit in a new man, and you’ll pore through the MEN SEEKING WOMEN section of half-a-dozen dating sites with unabashed glee.  There are men out there who know how to make you feel appreciated – you just know it.  All you have to do is find them.  If Bob the Ex-Husband wasn’t appreciative enough, then certainly the successful 45 year-old executive you can’t BELIEVE has a body like that will be . . .

. . . only he doesn’t answer mail from anyone over 30.

You’ll go to singles’ nights with The Girls, just a bawdy gang of cougars on the prowl.  You might even get lucky, and seduce some hot stud with the remains of your feminine charms.  But the next morning you’ll find him gone, and you’ll find the contact information he gave you is bogus, and then you’ll discover a few months later that he took naked pictures of you while you were asleep for his internet “MILF Trophy Room”.

You’ll carry on, meeting one balding loser after another, your heart sinking even as your girlfriends encourage you to try a new hairstyle, a new look, new shoes . . . a new bar.  A new dating site.  But every time you go forth looking for adventure and – yes! – appreciation, you go home a little sadder and a little more frightened.

And then someday, sometime, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night, the terrors of your subconscious breathing down your neck, your whole body covered in sweat as you wrestle with some primal fear from the depths of your brain.  You’ll sit bolt upright in the darkness, your eyes wide, your body wracked with chills, panting with imagined exertion and very real fear, your mind reduced to the whimpering incoherence of a terrified child.  

And then you’ll instinctively reach across the bed for the warmth and comfort you once had, that you promised you’d keep forever, and the bed will be cold and empty. 

You’ll realize that you have no one to talk to about your nightmare.

Then you’ll realize that no one would really care about it, anyway

Such things are inherently intimate, not for “girls’ night” or even the whispered confessions between “besties”.  Only a sister, or a parent, or a husband is capable of soothing fears on that level.  Someone has to reassure you that Everything Is Going To Be All Right . . . otherwise you’ll know everything isn’t going to be all right.  Then you’ll think of your ex-husband’s second wife, clinging to the comfort and the strength of the arms that you accused of making you “not feel appreciated”, and there will be a bitter pang in your stomach and a fierce, savage psychic wail of despair as you – at last – realize what a tragic mistake you’ve made.

Oh, you’ll dismiss me as a doomsaying misogynist, and that’s your prerogative.  But I’m notwrong.  Surf the internet any way you choose.  The number of divorced women living a “fabulous” lifestyle is dwarfed by the number who are living with an increasing state of despair over their bleak futures.  Divorce is good for men, you see, not women . . . even if women initiate 70% of them. 

You’ll find plenty of accounts of women who regret their rash decision, who recognize – now – that they were “only going through a stage”, and that their desire for appreciation was actually a desire for a deeper interpersonal connection with and attention from their husbands . . . or someone.  They are bitter about their decisions, even as they recognize that they must live with them.  Even the Eat, Pray, Love lady ended up with a trollish dud who just wanted a green card. 

There’s even a name for these women, these divorced past-the-Wall women that men walk past and don’t even see anymore: Plankton.  That’s what some of them call themselves, for obvious reasons. 

Sure, your girlfriends want you to do it.  Hell, the ones who took the plunge first want you to do it to validate their own decisions, and the ones who are considering it want to live vicariously through your experience – and how is a happy marriage anything to gossip about at brunch? 

But what you don’t want to admit to yourself is that part of their encouragement isn’t out of friendship and sisterly loyalty, it’s out of spite.  If they didn’t get Happily Ever After, then you shouldn't have it either.  And some of them will even be very, very supportive of your divorce . . . and be boinking your ex before the ink is dry on the divorce papers, if not before.  When abuse or neglect aren’t involved, when your girlfriends encourage you to divorce because “you aren’t happy” or “you don’t feel appreciated”, then it’s functionally the equivalent of them telling to get your hair cut off short because “it looks so cute”.  When, in reality, it really doesn’t. 

But standing next to a chick with a bad haircut always makes you look good . . . and they know that.  Standing next to a woman who voluntarily pulled the self-destruct on a perfectly good marriage makes you look good . . . and they know that, too.  

So sure, they’ll tell you to divorce, and go after everything he’s got.  They’ll let you lean on them, cry, grieve,  and bond and be like sisters in your hour of need.  

And then the catty bitches will stab you in the back, just like you knew they would.  Things start to erode.  The friendships you relied upon to get you through the darkest parts of your divorce are, you discover to your horror, rarely as stable or as permanent as you thought.  The rowdy group of divorcees tearing up the local scene breaks apart, breaks down, get new boyfriends and husbands, move away, just stop returning your calls.  And then it's just you.  Alone.

They want to tell you that everything is great on The Other Side of divorce, how self-fulfilled and happy you’ll be on your own.  They tell you that your husband is stifling you, your family is holding you back and keeping you from being everything you want to be.  They’ll tell you that the world is full of interesting, handsome, successful men, that your kids will be fine, that you’re only cheating yourself if you stay in your gloomy, unappreciative marriage.  Their divorce was the best thing that ever happened to them, they’ll assure you.  It’s a non-stop party, and now you’re old enough to enjoy it. 

They want to tell you all of this because if they tell you anything else, then the tissue of rationalizations that is the only thing staving off unmitigated depression about the mistake they made in divorcing their kind, decent, loving, and largely clueless ex-husbands would evaporate.  They’d have to admit that they made a mistake.  That they should have rode out the stage and hung on for another year or two, and then everything would have been fine.  They’d have to admit that they burn with savage jealousy when they see their ex’s new wife or their new baby.  They’d have to admit the number of times they've been lied to by men who used them for sex and then disappeared or the fact that the men they want don’t want them

They’d have to admit that they were wrong.  And that their lives are, indeed, their own fault.  And they can’t have that.  That would involving self-accountability, and that kind of stark and blunt introspection is as far from their nature as a NASCAR service pit.  The divorced women can’t tell you about the night terrors, the pervasive loneliness, the sense of despair and depression and isolation, or they would have to admit that they made a tragic, terrible mistake that they now have to live with.  That way madness lies.

So they tell you how great it is, and watch with glee as you destroy your own life and the lives of those around you because of your “feeling” of not “being appreciated.”  And they don’t tell you the one piece of advice that would actually be of use to you, about now:

“Relax.  He really does appreciate you.  Far more than you realize.  If you don’t feelthat, then you have to consider that part of the problem is with your expectations, and not with his performance.  Your attitudes and perspectives will change as you mature, and a better understanding of yourself and your husband will – ultimately – allow you the space you need to feel the appreciation you crave, and that has been there all along.  This is perfectly natural, perfectly normal.  This will pass.
 “You're just going through a stage.”

Here in the Manosphere (a foreign and dangerous place for most ladies – Here There Be Draygons), particularly in the Red Pill areas, we understand what’s happening better than you do.  We've seen it, discussed it, and understood it until we can pretty much predict exactly what is going to happen, based on thousands of case studies which support the underlying theory:

You aren’t feeling appreciated because you simply aren’t attracted to your husband anymore.  

That “yearning” for “something more” is actually – pardon the crudeness – a desire for romance, passion, and big thick meaty dick attached to a big, strong, masculine- yet-sensitive man.  We understand that at this stage of your life, your body is telling you that – reproductively  speaking – you are at the end of the road, and you have but a few scant years of youthful bloom left.  Biologically and psychologically you have passed through the Maiden stage, beyond the Mother stage of life, but are not yet ready for the Crone.

So you examine the source of your unhappiness . . . and the best you can come up with is “I don’t feel appreciated.”

And the reason you don’t feel appreciated is because for the last decade or so, you haven’t desired appreciation as much as getting shit done: your career, your household, your children, school, work, family, house, cars, insurance – you’ve probably spent the last decade of your life trying to be a grown-up, and likely felt you dragged your husband into that state with you kicking and screaming.  

Finally, when you got him to a point where he was doing more or less what you wanted him to do to keep the trains running on time, you fell out of attraction with him because, well, he was just this boring dad dude who spent all of his time and passion keeping the trains running on time, and not adoring and cherishing his wife.

Yep.  I said it.  It’s largely your fault.

Sex was in there.  Youlike sex.  Hell, you love sex.  Sex with hubby used to be awesome, a tantalizing delight you looked forward to with undisguised enthusiasm.  Now, it’s a dreary chore made banal by endless repetition and an utter lack of innovation or inspiration.  Yet when your husband tentatively suggested exploring other possibilities, you shut him down – subtlety, perhaps, or maybe you did it in such a way that humiliated and shamed him to the point where he would never dare bring it up again.  But if your hubby’s a dud, remember who trained him to be that way.

When it comes down to it, that’s what “I don’t feel appreciated” means.  It means “I don’t feel vaginal tingles when I look at my husband, I feel a slightly disturbed sense of resentment with maybe a side of loathing.”  

When the only time you feel possessive of him is when another woman admires him, and the rest of the time you just kind of wish he would have an affair to demonstrate some signs of life (or at least give you a convenient escape clause from your “unappreciated” life) then yes, you have fallen out of attraction for your husband.  You may still love and care for him deeply, even respect him as a man and a father.  But your unvoiced and subtextual screams for attention, many of which he actually heard but did not understand, have left you with a monster of your own creation.

You can fix it.  You can fix it a lot less painfully and a lot more easily than you can get a divorce, believe it or not.  Your husband is a perfectly decent man – just ask any of the thousands of women ten years younger than you who see him not as a schlubby Beta chump but as a proven and reliable provider, an experienced lover, and a huge prize at the altar worth bragging about.  

And while you might think “you can have him!” now, I assure you that in two years you will be sobbing into your pillow over what you have given up.  When you realize that a little re-assessment and education could have prevented your tragic mistake, and kept a devoted man next to you in bed to confide your deepest terrors to, you are going to feel like the biggest fool in the world. 

And then you’re going to come up with all sorts of rationalizations why you “did the right thing”, “it was for the best”, and “we’re really better off as friends.”  You’regoing to be the one singing the praises of divorce, even as you realize how hot your ex suddenly is now that he has other women chasing after him . . . and you’re only getting hit on by losers and pervs. There’s a reason why so many people cheat with their ex.  Once you dump him and destroy his family, your hubby’s going to work out like a fiend, become more professionally driven, and essentially become the man you desperately wanted him to be before you dumped him. Congrats.  You finally changed him.

When the man you loved for years – and once had a wild sexual infatuation for – suddenly presents himself as a mature, confident, successful stud, you’ll feel that tingle again – hell, it will ROAR back in a foam of regret and sorrow.  He will be nearly irresistible to you.  When he shows up to a scheduled meeting looking good and smelling good and with that serious look in his eye, your attraction to him will start to grow again . . . and the first time you see another woman in his arms, it will drive you insane.  When you hear how much she raves about him, you’ll feel bitter.  And when you rationalize some damn good reason why trying to sleep with him one last time – for “closure”, for “old time’s sake”, because “I never stopped loving him”, you’ll feel that tingle of excitement once again.

There he will be – the man you wanted.  Ready to appreciate you, finally. If he can stand the sight of you after what you have put him and your children through,if he tries to “be friends”, you’ll even start dreaming of some romantic reconciliation where he finally understands and appreciates you.  In the back of you're mind, every romance novel of reconciliation you've ever read and every bad chick flick about damaged relationships will give you the hope that maybe -- if everything works out right -- then you will end up back with the man you started with, 2.0, better and more devoted to you than ever.  So devoted that you feel appreciated . . . finally.  One look, one wink, one kiss, one quick screw, one rendezvous at "your" old spot to "finish up some business" that leads to a hotel room nooner.  One spark to rekindle your old flame into a roaring, passionate blaze, and Happily Ever After.

But it probably won’t work out that way . . . because he probably really is a stand-up guy.  If he stood by you all of those years, through all of your flakiness and put up with all of your crap and didn’t leave your ass or cheat on you, then you can expect him to give that same level of devotion and love to his next wife or girlfriend.  He’ll probably reject you, brutally. 

Best case scenario, you’re the “other woman”, destined to ruin his life all-over again. 

So ladies, future ex-wives, please take more than a few moments to consider what you are doing.  Step away from the Rah-Rah Sisterhood of divorce cheerleaders.  Stop seeing divorce as a regrettable but inevitable feminist rite of passage, a means of proving your independence as a woman.  It's not.  It's a callous and selfish indulgence of pettiness that demeans every marriage.  "I don't feel appreciated . . ."  Investigate what really happens to women your age after divorce, and go talk to a bunch of them.  Hell, have a few cocktails – get them liquored up and let them tell you how life really is when you're divorced after 40.  And 50.  And 60. And 70.

And if you believe that it's the grand escape and adventure you think it is, then go ahead.  Call your attorney.   Clearly, if you value the inherently selfish idea of appreciation more than you value the love, devotion, and – yes, passion, if you can inspire it, of your husband and the family you have built together, then you do not deserve the man you are married to, and you should call your attorney. 

Because your husband’s next wife is eagerly standing by.

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