MRAs of Savage Love: “For Better or Worse”

Correction: Philophile is a woman. The double standard inherent in her opinion of what this put-upon mother of two should do remains strangely vindictive. Corrections have been made in bold. – ID


Good Morning, everyone. Now that my hickey is healed, and I got myself four new ones, I’m ready to start blogging again. Let’s introduce today’s Savage Love Letter; titled “For Better or Worse”.

To Have And To Hold (or THATH, for short) is a woman of an age with two young children. She has been married to an alcoholic man for nearly two decades. In this time, his drinking problem has only worsened; making him worse than useless in bed. In THATH’s own words, he

has no sexual urges and never—NEVER—responds to me any more… There is no foreplay; he is not actively engaged. We don’t even kiss deeply. It has become progressively worse with every passing year.

Wow, that sounds terrible. Staying married to this guy sounds like picking up after him all day, every day, while he “drinks until he passes out.” In her letter, THATH notes that she’s taken over the family finances because her husband was evading “creditors and the IRS”; if that’s not picking up after your man I wouldn’t know what is. And to THATH’s credit she’s preparing to take the kids and go unless her husband makes some big and unlikely changes.

The issue which THATH is concerned about it that she found someone else, and is seeing him on the side. In her letter, THATH writes:

I go to Al-Anon and have been secretly seeing another man. We met online; there are no strings and no future so it’s casual and refreshing. The sex is very good—he’s enthusiastic and grateful—and the conversation is even better. I know this makes me a CPOSbut I am so desperate and lonely. He makes me feel strong and beautiful and worthy of love.

Dan, I just want your opinion. I made this bed—do I really have to lie in it? Does “for better or worse” mean that I have to stand by a selfish bastard of an alcoholic? Am I a hypocrite for attending counseling with him, knowing that, unless he has some enormous turnaround, I’m going to leave him? – THATH

Dan’s advice: You’re not a CPOS, and you’re not required to stay married to your husband.

JJinAus’s amusing advice:

Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnn!!! Now! This train wreck is only starting, it’s going to get worse.

Other advices: THATH should get a lawyer, not a boyfriend; and start making moves towards divorce. But today’s guest, Philophile has a slightly different opinion of what’s going on here; that THATH’s “dishonesty in counseling” totally “defeats the point”. Of what, I’m not sure. But let’s read:

"If that's the only way he can have sex with her, then didn't she abandon the sex life... otoh If they agreed to see other people he may discover he likes sex again too. And dishonesty in counseling does defeat the point, I don't think this is giving him a last chance."

“I don’t think this is giving him a last chance.” – Philophile, pitying a drunkard for driving his wife away with his heavy drinking.

Philophile seems to think that because THATH could get some miserably boring-sounding sex out of her husband a few times a year, that’s the “way he can have sex with her”, and it’s really THATH who’s pulling away, not her husband.

“If that’s the only way he can have sex with her, then didn’t she abandon the sex life…”

-Philophile, implying there’s only one way this man can has sex.

Translation: if THATH’s hubsand can has sex with her with the vigor of a piece of dead wood then THATH should be trying her mightiest to right what’s wrong in their sex life. And maybe, Philophile writes, the problem is THATH:

“if they agreed to see other people he may discover he likes sex again too.”

-Philophile, blaming THATH for her husband’s poor libido.

In Philophile’s reckoning, THATH may be miserable, but her husband is miserabler:

"I fail to see how trying to end a marriage or ending an unfortunate sex life is a last chance. With the lying on top of that... Why hold him back from moving on anymore? He sounds miserable." - Philophile, dispersing blame onto THATH.

“Why hold him back from moving on anymore? He sounds miserable.” – Philophile.

Um, Philophile; I don’t think THATH is “holding [her husband] back” from anything other than blackout intoxication or financial ruin. I’d even say she’s propping him up; although THATH says he “covers [his drinking] up well”, I wonder if THATH helps him keep it covered up by staying married to him. But to Philophile, all this is secondary to getting THATH’s unsexual husband out of the house for some “outside contact.”

At least she could give him permission for outside contact and pass the second check, while still continuing to lie about her affair, failing the first check.

-Philophile, perscribing “outside contact” for THATH’s husband’s perpetual whiskey-dick.

Ew. “outside contact”? As a synonym for “extramarital sex”, that’s laughably sexist. Philophile makes it sound like THATH’s husband has been kept in solitary confinement for 17 years, and that if he was only allowed “outside contact” his sex drive would blossom again, like a rose at the prison gates. If THATH’s husband is in a prison, it’s a bottle-shaped one, and the warden ain’t THATH.

After enduring ridicule from the commenters, Philophile writes back rather forcefully:

"I call this a cowardly ending, not a last chance." -Philophile, saying fighting words.

“I call this a cowardly ending, not a last chance.” -Philophile, with fighting words.

What a lot of mansplaining (or womansplaining, if you will -ID) that is! I’ve put things that I think are abjectly wrong in bold.

Yes she’s somewhat dutifully “enduring” their problems. A last chance is a last effort to solve problems, not waiting for him to change while secretly moving on herself.I call this a cowardly ending, not a last chance.She hasn’t given him an opportunity to work it out WITH her, but she might stop cheating and start having sex with him again if he suddenly changes himself.

-Philophile, somewhat painfully “belaboring” THATH’s responsibility to fix her husband.

Philophile; why the “somewhat”? Why the scare quotes around “enduring”? Because after 17 years of waiting, and helping, and initiating, THATH finally got fed up and had sex with someone who actually wanted to have sex with her? How long should she have stayed and endured the rejecty-sex? Another three years? Another ten?

And I wouldn’t blame her for leaving at all from how she tells it. But I think it’s silly to call what she’s doing “giving her marriage a last chance”. I’d call it scavenging to salvage what she can from a sinking ship before jumping overboard, I don’t see any evidence she’s working to plug up the holes in the hull anymore. 

-Philophile, wielding nautical metaphor

This is why Philophile is an MRA. She doesn’t blame THATH for leaving her husband, she just compares her to a sailor deserting his post and “scavenging” the ship for valuables; and says what THATH’s doing is a “cowardly ending”. That ain’t blame: it’s more of a paternalistic reminder that THATH’s husband is really the hurting one here. After all, THATH’s husband is the ship (or possibly the captain) in this metaphor; and THATH’s just a lowly sailor charged with “plugging holes”.

Oh God; there’s more:

Philophile, changing the topic to BDSM.

Philophile, changing the topic to BDSM.


@41 FFS. You’re going to tell a sub hubby that he doesn’t need sub sex, he has vocal chords and can man up and dom his wife if he wants sex?

If the only sex on the table is occasional wife-initiated style, and she decides to take it off the table because it’s occasional, there is no sex left on the table.

– Philophile, belaboring the table.

Why do the Savage Love MRAs always explain their chauvinist bullshit with BDSM? I don’t think Philophile’s a kinkster, based on her hackneyed 50-Shades understanding of what subs are. But SLMRAs love using BDSM to justify or model non-BDSM relationships; Adversary did it to normalize murder play last week, and this week Philophile’s using BDSM to normalize an asexual husband who sounds more frigid than “submissive”. (Yes, I just accused a man of being frigid.)

But to Philophile, what’s important here is that THATH took the boring rejecty-sex off the sex table, and now because of her, there’s no sex on the table at all! It’s as if Philo can’t accept that THATH’s husband is/has been totally uninterested in having sex with her, and that THATH didn’t do anything to deserve it. She goes on:

Eek. The letter doesn’t say that the only sex on the table was wife-initiated, actually. Conceivably he could initiate the successful sex encounters although he has “no sexual urges” and is “not actively engaged”. I think. My bad. I still think that abandonment is not usually one sided. 

– Philophile, reminding us “it takes two to [ruin a marriage with alcohol]”

In the world of Philophile, she’s right even when she’s wrong.

Concieveably THATH’s husband has a sex drive and initiates, because THATH doesn’t explicitly state that he doesn’t. (Even though she does state that their sex life “has gotten progressively worse each year”.) And even if this guy doesn’t have a sex drive (which Philo is so invested in him having) “abandonment is not usually one sided.”, which is just another way of saying “it takes two to tango”, or “THATH probably did something bad she isn’t telling us about”.

The double standards are strong in this one; and I’m past due to be working on my novel. But I’ll leave you with this. When an MRA says that they mean “it’s at least 50% the woman’s fault, if not more”; because to folks like Philophile, a woman is always to blame.

[Ironic] Update: Breaking News! Philophile makes defensive @replies, and a sex life DIES.

-Philophile, centering the discussion around himself. Let's hope he likes the attention I'm giving him.

-Philophile, centering the discussion [and attention] around herself.

I’m not going to quote this. Philophile, you’re welcome to “yes, but…” and mansplain yourself (or enforce sexist double standards while being a woman yourself – ID) over here if you like, but one of the things that makes you incredibly tiresome is your need to bogart the thread with your wife-blamey bullshit when eight different people have explained it to you already. You seem like one of those women IRL that if I said your nose was generally in the center of your face you’d ask me if I’d heard of Picasso.


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