Roissy recently wrote a post comparing careerism to infidelity, and while some of his critics panned him for it, I think it was an uncommonly astute observation, especially considering he’s never even been married. While he approaches the issue from personal experience with individual women and the sexual angle, I see it as more of general trend with broad implications for which plenty of exceptions exist. However, I think we can get to the root of this, and offer some convincing proof that he was correct from a look at the realities of the modern marriage and workplace.
The seminal issue is authority (and the concomitant sense of security it engenders), which has been seen as essential to marriage across cultures throughout the ages until very, very recent times. I’ve previously argued that authority is not something men always aspire to, and is often a burden only grudgingly accepted, but it’s undeniable that in general terms it makes a big difference in the success of marriage. A man without authority over his wife cannot be said to be a full husband, but rather something between that and a child (is it any wonder that American women are so fond of referring to husbands as “childlike?”). Today, a husband has negative legal authority over a wife, so he starts out at a disadvantage as soon as he signs the marriage certificate.
On the other hand, a boss has a great deal of authority over employees, whether they be male or female. A woman who displeases a supervisor cannot threaten to “divorce” him; the best she can do is threaten a lawsuit. These days that trick has run out of steam as HR departments run interference for the company, preventing such offensive measures in the overwhelming majority of cases. She cannot spend the company money without being subject to prosecution. She cannot quit and claim ownership, nor can she expect to continue to receive monthly funds. When a woman’s relationship with her place of employment is terminated, her support is severed and she is on her own.
This guarantees that women who want to continue to receive support will behave themselves and follow instructions. They may often be grumpy about it, and sometimes they complain, but for the most part that’s all it amounts to, and in fact they tend to derive a great deal of satisfaction when praised for doing a good job. They also enjoy the security afforded by employment, and look up to their superiors. The fact that there is an authority figure at work comforts most women. It comforts them a great deal more than it does men, who are far more likely to strike out on their own and start their own businesses or go freelance. From this, we can conjecture that women tend not to make it to the top ranks of management not because they are being held back, but rather because most of them prefer being under authority more than most men.
Now, let’s take a look at the contemporary marriage. A husband has no legal authority over his wife. If anything, the opposite is true. A man who attempts to exert authority over an unwilling or insubordinate wife is subject to dispossession and possibly arrest. If the marriage is dissolved, the ex-wife is given civil and sometimes criminal authority over the husband; judges will order him to provide for her whether he wants to or not. A husband, therefore, has a position in marriage that is even lower than a common employee, and is more accurately compared to a bondsman.
Under such a setup, a man cannot have any meaningful authority over a woman, and in many – if not most – cases a wife will come to feel a great deal of contempt and resentment. How can such a humble, lowly man possibly provide her the comfort and security she craves? He is barely better than a child, and doesn’t even begin to compare to a superior at work.
Therefore, many working women will instinctively feel more attraction for their superiors at work, and it is not uncommon for affairs to ensue. In the United States, it is only strict sexual harassment laws and corporate (and military) non-fraternization policies that prevent this from becoming an outright epidemic.
For most men there is little that can be done about this, and the ordinary man can only hope that his wife has enough common sense and decency to overlook his degraded position as husband — a feeble consolation at best. However, for some it is possible to restore some authority, but only by merging the office of husband with that of employer; in short, one must hire one’s wife in order to establish something approaching the natural definition of marriage. Although this may seem like an odd solution to contemporary ears, some of the best marriages I have ever known of employ exactly this method, and it is far closer to the old definition of marriage than what is currently seen as a “normal” marriage.
Unfortunately, in the current norm of wage slavery, cubicle farms and massive corporations, it is not an option open to most people, but perhaps a bit of reflection on the natural relationships between men and women as analyzed from the universally understood paradigm of the workplace can help us move toward a more realistic appraisal of marriage. Maybe it can even help us edge a little closer to sorely-needed reform of the institution of marriage itself.