Photo Credit: McCain Blogs
When Barack Obama suggested that if Americans would only inflate tires and get tune-ups we would save as much oil as all new drilling I did not bother to ridicule him because I believe it is not fair to make fun of unhinged lunatics. To me it is the same as urinating on homeless drunks - too easy and too demeaning to the person dispensing the urine.
First of all, is it even in the realm of any intelligent person's expectations that a large body of Americans, enough to make any difference, would all suddenly change their habits and daily check their tire pressure? According to the Department of Energy [PDF], 1.2 billion gallons of fuel are wasted yearly due to under-inflated tires (out of 130 billion gallons used in 2005). If we were somehow clever enough to persuade 50% of Americans to check their tires often we could save 600 million gallons of fuel annually: less than two days worth of gasoline consumption in this country. What a great plan!
So even the illusion that we can make people change their habits by pleading with them leads to false expectations that somehow all that effort will result in more than a day and a half worth of fuel.
It is false illusions and unreasonable expectations like this, that people can change or be changed, that has led to the high divorce rate in this country. Yes, I know you will find listed in various websites many supposed causes for divorce but I maintain that they all devolve to failed expectations.
Here is a list of 13 such 'causes' (in no particular order):
- Poor communication or lack thereof.
When they first started going out our adoring couple could finish each other's sentences. Their minds seemed in sync. They knew what each other wanted from the relationship. They expected to be able to communicate as friends and lovers forever. Now they rarely even grunt at each other. Uncommunicated resentments grow, fester, and one day explode.
Failed expectation of endless, uninterrupted, telepathic communication between each other as they had when "they were in love".
- Religious, racial, cultural and intellectual differences.
Many American women have great relationships with Muslim men and then after marriage they find out that he treats wives differently than concubines. After marriage these women go through Not Without My Daughter, when their husbands transmogrify from American-cultured, decent human beings to Muslim fiends who treat them like Muslim women, which is to say, like junk-yard dogs.
Their failed expectation: that religious, racial, or cultural differences are not important. Once they are over being ga-ga over each other and actually converse, they realize how unacceptably different the other really is.
As for differences in intelligence: before marriage these are usually ignored and the expectation is that the difference won't matter that much. After marriage the smart one will be frustrated with the other's "stupidity" while the less intelligent partner will be mad at being made to feel "stupid". Once they are over being ga-ga over each other and actually converse, they realize how smart and stupid the other really is.
- Financial problems.
Failed expectation that two can live as cheaply as one. The only way that can happen is if one of them doesn't eat. Or failed expectation that one of them will always have that job down at the auto plant or hairdresser shop.
This is the most common cause of divorce and is itself caused by some of the others in this list, such as failure to communicate financial habits before marriage: how much debt each has, bad spending habits, actual salary made and so on. Some couples fail to inform each other about who should and should not be the bread-winner or if one of them expects both partners to work after marriage.
- An unusual or extreme change in behavior.
She asks, "Why are you suddenly playing video games, or why did you start playing poker with your friends every Wednesday night?"
Actually, he always played video games or poker but only put them on hold while he was courting you. His failed expectation was that he would be able to resume his previous activities later in the marriage without problem. Wrong!
Her failed expectation was that her lover boy would adore and worship her every single day and never let his eyes wander off her face. Wrong!
- Flaws in character or bad habits. Husband is not ambitious enough; wife is overbearing; he's lazy; she's bitchy. He leaves clothes all over the place.
Things we failed to give weight to before marriage or simply ignored thinking we could either eliminate their flaws or improve their character. This is like expecting substantial numbers of motorists to inflate their tires because we convinced them that it's good for energy independence. One can convince someone of the right thing to do and yet fail to persuade them to action.
- Addiction (alcohol, drug, porn).
He may be drinking because she's a constant, whining bitch who spends every penny on herself and he never expected her to be like this; or she's not at fault at all but Joe Sixpack has a alcohol dependency she expected to change him out of.
- Abuse (Physical, Sexual or Emotional).
He or she never expected to be hurt by the person who previously adored them.
- Differences in personal and career goals.
Actually the longer the two people know each other before marriage the greater the expectations. Over the course of years before marriage the couple can make unrealistic plans for the future which can lead to failed expectations of career goals. These failed goals can lead to financial problems. I married my wife 90 days after we first met. Neither of us had any expectations of the other. This Friday we will have been married for 33 years and 3 months. No expectations - great thing.
- Different expectations about household tasks.
Before marriage dishes were magically done, the house cleaned itself, there was rarely garbage to take out. Actually before marriage the couple shared tasks without thinking about it or lived apart in households where their parents did the chores. Joe didn't mind doing the dishes while courting because he thought it would make him look thoughtful; now that he's married he has expectations that she would do all the grunt work. She has expectations that he would remain thoughtful after marriage. My wife and I share household tasks without discussing them or planning.
- Sexual incompatibility.
This one is easy: failed expectation that the sex will always be great or, for couples who waited for the wedding night, that they would be great together.
- Mental Illness.
One expects his or her partner to always be normal. If one partner becomes mentally ill then it's time to get out before the abuse begins.
- A lack of commitment to the marriage.
Sometimes one marries not for love but to get some kind of "deal" out of the marriage. When the deal fails to meet expectations, the commitment to "Until Death Do Us Part" fails rather quickly. There is no intention to wait that long.
The obvious failed expectation here is that each partner will be faithful to the other forever.
Although the order of alleged causes for divorce is randomly selected, I did pick infidelity as last because being unfaithful is usually the worst violation of the expectations one has in marriage. Indeed society itself has few expectations in the arrangement such as whether one of the couple has good habits or not; however society does expect that there be fidelity.
I should mention that it is well known that partners who simply live with each other but not in marriage tend to have more unfaithful episodes than married couples. I attribute this to the fact that couples who live in this distorted version of marriage have already been disappointed in their expectations of commitment to a formal marriage.
He said, "If you want to be married for a long, long time all you have to do is have sex four or five times a day."
My wife stopped him right there and said, "Oh no you don't - we're not cutting back on sex for anybody."
That's my girl.
Patterico's Pontifications, Guest post by DRJ, 14 8 2008, FactCheck.org: Obama's Tire Pressure vs. McCain's Offshore Drilling
Obama's plan depends on full participation from America's drivers, something that is unlikely to occur. McCain's offshore drilling depends on full participation from profit-motivated oil companies, something that is likely to occur. Thus, McCain's proposal is more likely to produce the desired results than Obama's plan.
This has been a Thursday 13 post [# 38] and is updated on certain Thursdays.