The Starter Husband

The Starter Husband

Pope John Paul II was a prophet diagnosing the ills of the modern age, seeing that the trend was toward objectifying and using others, treating them as objects of self-gratification, instead of persons created in the image and likeness of God.

The latest exhibit comes via Dr. Helen, who points to and excerpts an article at MSNBC entitled “The Starter Husband.”

An article on MSN entitled “The Starter Husband” caught my eye this morning, mostly because the caption addressed to women seemed so ridiculously misandric: “You’d never buy a car without test-driving it first right? So why settle into a lifelong marriage before trying one on for size?”

The article, as one can gather from the title, is about women who marry in their 20’s for practice and see nothing wrong with taking a guy out for a test-drive and dumping him off at the curb once the sheen wears off—here are some highlights from the article…

Read the article and a glaring omission will hit you right between the eyes. Almost entirely absent from the discussion is … love. Unless you count inordinate love of self. In this world, people marry for all kinds of reasons but not for love or commitment or selflessness and they don’t do it with honor and responsibility.

I’m not talking here about everyone who divorces. People divorce for many reasons, some of them understandable even if ultimately regrettable, my own parents among them. No, in this instance, this is a purely mercenary “use them and lose them” attitude. Disgusting.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
15 comments
  • The article was interesting, but to be honest, I don’t think I know anyone, male or female, who has this attitude towards marriage. Dating, perhaps, but marriage, no. I think that people still enter into marriage with all the ideals that people have always had upon entering into marriage. I would guess that the percentage of women who take guys for a “test drive” marriage in their 20s is about the same as the number of men in their 50s and 60s who dump their aging wives for younger women – it happens, but I believe only rarely. That said, I also agree with Dom that honor and responsibility don’t figure very prominently in alot of marriages.

    I think that a much larger contributor to divorce than the “starter husband” mentality is that women ignore red flags and tend to believe that guys will change into what they need emotionally after marriage. WHY some women continue to believe this is beyond me. It might have to do with not having had great examples in their own lives of what a good husband/man is – what struck me about this article was how prevalent the “child of divorce” theme was. It might also have to do with what appears to me to be alot of women’s desire for financial security or the desire simply to have a man – sometimes at the expense of integrity and character on his part. I would think that the “rewards” of security or having a guy eventually pale against the reality of being with someone who can be a jerk or simply isn’t the right person. I think that sometimes divorce happens when women come to be honest with themselves and admit that whatever trade-off they made wasn’t worth it.

  • Joanne,

    I don’t think it’s so much that such attitudes are commonly expressed in public now as it’s an indicator of where we’re going. I think a lot of people have these attitudes, perhaps subconsciously, going into marriage with the expectation that if they get bored or otherwise unhappy, divorce is a ready option.

    While many people still have some modicum of shame over divorce, I think the stigma is declining rapidly, especially in urban areas. This is just the leading edge of it.

  • It might have to do with not having had great examples in their own lives of what a good husband/man is … I would think that the “rewards” of security or having a guy eventually pale against the reality of being with someone who can be a jerk or simply isn’t the right person. I think that sometimes divorce happens when women come to be honest with themselves and admit that whatever trade-off they made wasn’t worth it.

    It just might also have to do with a secular decay in patience and perseverence in a certain subset of the population, manifest in a tendency to brand other human beings with ordinary human flaws ‘jerks’ and apply cost-benefit analyses to covenant relationships. (And in a disinclination to be honest with themselves about their own deficiencies).

  • Domenico,

    I am surprised to hear you speak in a condoning tone about divorce:  “People divorce for many reasons, some of them understandable even if ultimately regrettable.”

    I thought divorce was always wrong and sinful, even when those close to us choose to go down that path.

    Rick

  • Divorce in and of itself is not objectively sinful. A woman who leaves a husband who hurts her or her children and/or threatens their well-being, for instance, is not committing sin.

    It is divorce and remarriage (or entering into any kind of intimate relationship with the opposite sex) that is sinful. Civil divorce is just a declaration by the state, not a church matter, just as the Church does not recognize second marriages after divorce.

    As I said it is ultimately regrettable, which I think clearly indicates that I think it is wrong and only acceptable under the principle of unintended side effect.

  • The Church in fact requires divorce before it will proceed with considering a decree of nullity. So divorce can’t be per se sinful

  • Thanks Gents.

    It’s an interesting point.  On the one hand divorce is clearly “wrong” and on the other hand it is something the RC Church will “require” in certain circumstances.

  • Not “wrong” in the sense you seem to be using. It is regrettable and to be avoided when possible. Using it can result in objective grave moral evil, but not always.

    Killing someone is “wrong”, but it can be necessary in times of war or in self-defense or defense of the innocent. God has even required it in certain circumstances. That doesn’t mean that there is a contradiction.

    I would think a lawyer would understand distinctions.

  • I appreciate your explanation, but can you please leave out the bitchy comments?  They don’t help the discussion.  Does it make you feel good about yourself?  And I don’t understand why you often refer to my profession when it’s not a topic on the table.  Are you prejudiced against lawyers or do you wish you were one?

  • I was no snarkier than you, which is to say that I was not snarky at all, although I suppose one could interpret it as such. I genuinely wonder why a Catholic lawyer would not understand such a distinction.

    And discussions of civil divorce are indeed related to the legal profession since it is a legal proceeding after all.

    Incidentally, I have detected snears and an undercurrent of disdain for orthodox Catholic teaching in many of your comments in the time you’ve been posting on my blog.

  • This lawyer understands the distinction between your first statement, “I would think that a lawyer would understand disctinctions,” and your revised statement: “I genuinely wonder why a Catholic lawyer would not understand SUCH a distinction.” You are a professional writer (yes, our professions are now on the table if we are parsing word choice) and you know that the former statement implies that I don’t understand ANY distinctions, and is a bitchy comment.  You should at least own up to it. 

    back to the point –

    Perhaps “wrong” was too broad a word for these purposes.  I should have stated that your condoning tone seems to be at odds with the Catechism, which lumps divorce together with polygamy and birth control: “Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its “supreme gift,” the child.”

  • I stand by what I wrote. There is no difference in the meanings of what I wrote. My first statement was not as broad as you interpreted it. You’re a guest on my blog, act civilly and watch your tongue. More insults will result in you being unwelcome.

    Without knowing what the Catechism says in the original Latin I would have to suspect that the issue is one of translation and popular understanding.

    The commonly understood meaning of divorce is one of a civil legal arrangement that dissolves the bond of marriage and allows remarriage. The Church sees the civil proceeding as dissolving only the civil, legal bonds, leaving the sacrament intact. Unless of course, the Church later makes a determination that no such sacramental bond existed in the first place.

    I suggest you buy Ed Peters’ book “Annulments and the Catholic Church” as I’m certain he addresses all this in the book.

  • I am certain that there is a meaningful difference between your two statements.  Your first statement needs the word “such” for it to refer to a specific distinction as opposed to all distinctions or any disctinction.  Coupled with the reference to my profession, I took offense at it.  However, I will give you the benefit of the doubt if you’re telling me that you meant no offense.

    Similarly, I apologize if you feel I’ve insulted you somehow.  I intended no insult and don’t see how you could see one in my responses, but respect that you feel insulted and am sorry for that.

    Thank you for the reference to Mr. Peters’ book.  I will look into it.  It is a topic of great interest to me, given that the sanctity of marriage is such a hot topic in the world right now.

    I appreciate participating in robust debate on blogs such as this one.  Like many Christians, I struggle with reconciling my faith with what I know or believe to be true from logic, science, etc.  Is it possible that what I would call a healthy skepticism you would call disdain for orthodox Catholic teaching?

  • “manifest in a tendency to brand other human beings with ordinary human flaws ‘jerks’”

    This may be true in some cases, but it doesn’t change the gist of what I wrote – whether the dissolution of a marriage happens because someone is a “jerk” or simply because one party has ordinary human flaws that the other doesn’t want to accommodate, or because as I noted above, one person doesn’t satisfy the other in some way, the person is who he or she is BEFORE marriage. All the signs have to be there. As I said, I can’t for the life of me understand why people don’t heed them.

    A lack of patience and perseverance I’m sure does contribute to the failure of some marriages. Either way, if a person has taken marriage too lightly, he or she will have to account for that ultimately, as will we all of course have to render an account of our words and actions.

    Interesting discussion!

    Take care –

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