[edit: After submitting this post, I was informed by a friend that it came across as snarky, jaded, and presumptuous; three decidedly non-Big Dick attributes. After thinking about it, I accept this criticism as valid.
So let's return to the original Big Dick question: What would I do if I was in charge? Rather than criticize, I would use this as a teachable moment. I don't expect Seth Adam Smith to ever read my critique, but I'll be glad to share some pointers just in case he ever does]
Apparently, I don’t spend enough time on Facebook. I was blissfully ignorant of the viral blog post “Marriage Isn’t For You” by a wonderful young man names Seth Adam Smith.
So, my good friend Brian, who is a couple of months away from getting his name taken off the blog for lack of participation, asked me to read the post and comment about it.
Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.
Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.
I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for 10 years until… until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are now entering the Friend Zone
Dear Seth, I want to start by telling you that I know where you’re coming from. I’ve been in your shoes and I completely understand why you feel like this is a model everyone should follow. I also understand that you are going to find that it isn’t the utopia you desperately want it to be. But I can help you with that if you care to listen.
So, have been in love with Kim since you were 15 years old and Kim thought you were a good friend. My first question for you is this; Why do you think it took so long? It’s easy to look back and convince yourself that those ten years were magical, but my guess is, the reality was a little more bleak.
At fifteen, I bet you were ready to devote yourself to her eternally. Why? Because I’ve been there, that’s why. You were attracted to her physically, as a fifteen year old boy should be, but she wasn’t, was she? She thought of you as a friend. You were safe because you never hit on her. She could tell you about her stupid boyfriend, you know, the jerk that actually got to make out with her.
And you listened, because that’s what friends do. And the whole time, you told yourself that you could treat her better. But you didn’t tell her that, did you? No. And I know why. Because you’re a Nice Guy.
Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?
I want to focus on the last question. Why were you so worried? This was the woman of your dreams. The girl you pined for and fawned over for a decade. You was about to get everything you ever wanted. What could go wrong?
Well, a couple of things. Did you ever feel like Kim found you attractive? I mean, get your heart racing, blood pumping, aching to hold you attractive? Like the way you felt about her?
After reading the timeline on your announcement, I’m going to guess the answer is no. And I have to imagine that that revelation caused you some concern.
You’re a 25 years old Mormon, which typically means virgin. That isn’t a criticism. Your timeline says you two barely kissed so I’m going to assume that you weren’t going further with anyone else during that ten year span. Your about to make a life long commitment to the woman of your dreams, but deep down, you probably know that she isn’t really attracted to you.
For ten years, you’ve been thinking about sex with this woman. There’s nothing wrong with that. It would seem more strange if you weren’t thinking about it. But if she isn’t that attracted to you, how interested is she going to be in sex? Yes, that ought to be a scary thing to consider.
I want to be clear about something. If Kim wasn’t physically attracted to you, that wasn’t her fault. As a Nice Guy, you just don’t exude those qualities that women find physically attractive. How do I know? Yep, I’ve been there.
Number two, you had a decade to think about how wonderful this girl was. I can imagine that you had a very idealized image of her in your mind. But really, how could she ever possibly live up to these expectations. There is nothing scarier that someone telling you they think you are perfect. Why? Because you aren’t and you know it. And one day they will know it to. What happens then? A lot of times, bitter disappointment.
Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.
Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.
My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me.
I’m sure your father was a wonderful, loving man. But I suspect he didn’t spend much teaching you about how to attract a woman. Don’t be surprised. Most dad’s do a poor job of passing on this type of wisdom.
With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish.
No you weren’t. And that’s the problem.
You’ve already spent ten years trying to win this girl. Why? Because you thought she would bring value to your life? Or because you thought you could make her happy? For one moment, out of ten years, you finally thought to ask, “what’s in it for me?” and were given the advice to stop being so selfish. Seth, that breaks my heart to consider. Why? Because I’m a Nice Guy, too. I understand feeling like it’s wrong to take even a moment for yourself.
So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy.
Seth, I’m sure you will never see a word of this and even if you did, you wouldn’t lend any credence to anything I say, but I implore you to hear me: Not a single word of this is true.
Here’s the problem. If this were true, why was Karen your choice? If the point of marriage is to make someone else happy, does it matter who that someone is? What virtue is it for you to want to serve someone you feel is deserving of your love?
If your father truly felt this was a practical truth, he would have been advising you from the beginning to find and marry the most unlovable, unattractive woman you can find. Why? Because she will be much more happy with your love than Kim could ever be. Kim is a very nice looking lady. There are men on every corner willing to make her happy. You should have set your sights on the least among us.
Look at it this way: Even an evil man knows how to give good gifts to his children, but Christ died for us while we were yet sinners.
What benefit is it for you to give your devotion to someone who deserves it? There are so many ugly, fat women yearning to be loved, yet you chose the one with the prettiest eyes you’ve ever seen. Even your act of selflessness was a selfish one because you chose to devote yourself to someone you found attractive and wanted to be with.
And guess what? You were absolutely right to do so. You were absolutely right to seek out the most attractive, competent, intelligent person who would have you. You were absolutely right and you were absolutely selfish. And it got you the woman you desired.
Consider this: how much of those ten years did you spend trying to convince Kim that she could make you happy? I suspect that the idea never crossed your mind. Your focus was on convincing her that you could make her happy. Why? Because you know it matters.
Does that make Kim selfish? Yes and let’s applaud her for it. Kim needed the best man she could find. As a godly woman, I’m sure she fully intended to serve her husband with complete devotion. Which is why she didn’t follow your fathers advice and find a bum off the streets to devote herself to. Like every other competent woman, Kim would surely understand that it was vital that she choose a man deserving of her devotion.
More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.
My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory.
No it wasn’t. Lets be honest, it was a confirmation of the Nice Guy mentality that you carried in this relationship for ten years. It confirmed for you that you job was be safe and comforting. Unfortunately, it also caused you to disregard anything that might actually cause you wife to be physically attracted to him. That’s a big problem and we’re about to find out why.
It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.
No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love–their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?” while Love asks, “What can I give?”
Once again, we face the issue of how sincere are you really being? Does love really ask, “What can I give…to the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen? You courted Kim for ten years trying to convince her that you had a suitable answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” That’s the whole point of dating.
Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.
I don’t know the details of your situation, but I can offer a guess. You’re a Nice Guy and you just experienced a Nice Guy melt down. It’s what happens you live in this world of self imposed self sacrifice, all the while covertly expecting to be rewarded for your efforts.
You want to disagree with me, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that the truth is, it’s all about sex.
My guess is, you broke down because the woman of your dreams wasn’t sexually satisfying to you. How can I say this? Because that’s what Nice Guys do. They give and they give, never (outwardly) asking anything in return. And your wife is supposed to reward you with sex. That one sacred prize that you aren’t allowed to ask for.
Unfortunately, none of that selflessness makes Kim want to have sex with You. In fact, it is usually quite the opposite. The expectation of sex in exchange for serving her leaves her feeling manipulated and used. It isn’t attractive, but for us Nice Guys, it’s all we know.
But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful — she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and anguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.
Why do I keep saying that you are Nice Guy? This is why. In less than a year and a half of marriage, you’ve demonstrated a lack of leadership, a lack of self control, a lack of proper coping mechanisms and you’ve placed your wife in an extremely difficult situation. I can assure you that your breakdown was not attractive to your wife. It would necessarily undermine her sense of security and comfort.
You’ve also proved the flaw in your fathers statement.
Kim did an awesome thing here. They problem is, she had to. If you had your shit together, she wouldn’t have had to demonstrate this outpouring of love. It’s great that she was willing to when needed, but she shouldn’t have needed to.
The idea that marriage is about making the other person happy assumes they are lacking something on their own. What happens when Kim doesn’t need you to make her happy? Or worse, what happens when Kim finds herself in a situation where she does need you to make her happy? Every day. Endlessly. For the rest of your marriage.
You saw beauty in what Kim did for you. You also realized immediately that you didn’t want her to ever have to do that way it again.
Marriage is about family.
I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.
Better. The curse word of the Nice Guy. You’ve spent over ten years outwardly trying to figure out how to make her happy. But it wasn’t bringing you happiness. So you decide to try harder. More of the same with a little more effort. This is Nice Guy 101. You’re statement above is part of almost every Nice Guy case study.
But, what if you had another option? What if I told you that Kim doesn’t really want a man who will serve her with unfailing devotion? Could we at least consider, that maybe, Kim would prefer someone who could lead her with unfailing devotion?
What if Kim needs you to be selfish; in building an amazing life for yourself. What if she needs you to do this so she can fulfill her God given role of helping you.
Kim needs you to be a leader. She needs you to be up front about your needs and your expectations. She needs you to want her, but she also needs you to be a man that she can want. Women are attracted to men who are strong and Kim is no exception. She loved you through your low point, but I can promise you that she didn’t desire you through it.
She needs to know that you very selfishly desire her body for physical pleasure. She also needs to know that you are a strong and confident enough man to be pleasing to her.
To all who are reading this article — married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette — I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.
And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.
Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.
Seth, go be awesome. Be selfishly devoted to making sure you are the absolute best man you can be. Be a man that your wife believes she is lucky to have. It’s alright to tell yourself that you’re lucky to have her, but that isn’t what she needs to hear. She needs to believe that she is lucky to have you. It confirms that she chose well and it brings her comfort. She will love you for being a great man, both with her emotions, and with her body.