Dr Helen has been exchanging posts with PJ Media Associate Editor David Swindle about the famous sex excuse spreadsheet. Swindle expresses contempt for the frustrated husband whose wife made their private life public:
I have absolutely ZERO SYMPATHY WHATSOEVER for this loser. Why?
Because it’s not a wife’s responsibility to be her husband’s happy whore, eagerly providing him with his orgasms on demand.
Note how Swindle takes the modern day moral elevation of desire/romantic love to its natural extreme, declaring that biblical/traditional wives are the new whores. As I’ve previously explained, we have inverted the roles of marriage and romantic love. Now instead of seeing marriage as the moral place to pursue sex and romantic love, we see romantic love as the moral place for sex and marriage. While most don’t take this idea to the extreme that Swindle does, the basic premise is so common that virtually no one notices that we have adopted a new code of sexual morality.
Rollo expressed a similar moral sentiment in the discussion of the Radio Silence post:
…one truth becomes glaringly apparent: under our current social mores, premarital sex and its inspired urgency is a more honest, motivated and passionate proposition than married sex will ever be.
However, there is a fundamental difference between Swindle and Rollo’s positions. Swindle declares that a sense of duty is immoral while arguing for marriage, while Rollo is not only less strident but logically consistent by arguing that it is better for a man to keep a rotation of women in order to maximize the authenticity of the act. If you believe that really liking something is the fundamental test of morality, obligation is anti-morality. Under that point of view, marriage and duty are at best foolish, and are at worst (under Swindle’s view) evil.
Swindle’s profound internal contradiction about marriage becomes more understandable when you read further, as he trots out conventional wisdom which would make Oprah proud:
Dissatisfied husbands, want to know the secret to having sex with your wife whenever you want? It is not your wife’s responsibility to be ready to go on command, it’s YOUR responsibility to know your wife so well that you are capable of seducing her anytime. When you want to have sex with her you don’t ask her, you put her in the mood yourself. It’s really that simple: know you wife well enough so you can push the right buttons, say the right things, and create an environment where sex just naturally happens.
Unfortunately, that’s more work than most men are used to for getting orgasms. Twenty or thirty minutes of close attention, massage, and foreplay first? Taking the effort to really get to know your wife’s unique preferences and turn-ons? Learning how to read her moods? That’s effort — and energy.
I’m a bit disappointed in Swindle. He forgot to mention foot rubs. And what about learning her love language? Giving her a footrub while speaking her love language is guaranteed to get her hot. If it doesn’t, you probably aren’t doing enough choreplay.
Dr. Helen accurately identifies Swindle as a white knight, but I would argue his windmill tilting comes from him assuming the position of hostage negotiator. Swindle has convinced himself that his ability to keep his wife happy in the face of laws and a culture which encourage her to divorce him is proof of his superiority to other men. Swindle actually has a long track record of espousing this view. Well, it is long when compared to the length of his marriage.
Back in May of 2011 Swindle wrote a post explaining why columnist John Hawkins shouldn’t be concerned about modern marriage.
John, let me tell you something directly: people with hearts as big as yours shouldn’t worry so much about divorce. I don’t foresee you having a hard time making a woman feel loved, cherished, and appreciated — as long as you put your mind to it. The failure rate of divorces says more about our broken human nature than a problem with the institution of marriage itself. Marriage is a job like any other. (I sometimes feel like when I’m clocking out at NRB that I’m just clocking in with the Swindle-Bey household.)
If you are good enough John, she will be happy. If she is happy, she won’t push the detonator. Those men who are divorced by their wives deserve it. Swindle continues:
Marriages don’t have to fail when both people in them take them seriously and don’t allow them to crumble under the pressures of life and our own selfish, broken nature. Read a few books on marriages — The Five Love Languages is very useful — spend enough quality time together, and pay attention to their needs and things will work out.
As I mentioned above, Swindle is an old hand at explaining that husbands just have to be good enough and marriage 2.0 will work just fine. He gave the advice to Hawkins just before his second wedding anniversary.
This Monday will be my wife April and my second wedding anniversary. It hasn’t always been easy. We’ve had big changes, angry fights, and plenty of surprises. But we’ve both grown and are starting to evolve slowly into better people than we were before we came into each other’s life.
Now that he is three years wiser and his family has grown (they now have a dog), Swindle has of course moved on to newer books explaining the secret to a great relationship. He now knows that the secret to a good marriage is to follow the Bible, at least the Bible as reinterpreted through Jewish mysticism.
You can’t make this stuff up.
I should note that not elevating sexual desire and romantic love to a position of moral barometer doesn’t mean diminishing or eschewing either one. Recognizing that liking something doesn’t make it moral doesn’t mean you don’t like it. The irony is that by elevating romantic love and desire out of their rightful place both become much harder to sustain. The (real) biblical model of marriage does work. It isn’t guaranteed to produce passion and romantic love, but there is immense wisdom in the design. I’m always amused when people mistake my wife and me for newlyweds (only when we are out without our kids). When my wife explains that we have been married for twenty years the look of surprise is comical.
Moreover, I strongly disagree with Swindle that a good marriage is all about work. Swindle describes being married as a second full time job, but my wife has frequently expressed puzzlement at the claim that a marriage is about work. She is right. Marriage is far more about commitment than work. While we have the same kinds of disagreements that every couple has, most of the time our marriage is downright fun. It is far more like a lifelong slumber party than work. Much of this is due to the closeness which comes when the path to the marriage bed isn’t strewn with obstacles, and much of it comes from being blessed beyond what we deserve. Our marriage isn’t proof that I’m a better man than others, but our marriage and countless others like it are proof that the biblical model which so offends Swindle is infinitely wiser than those who would try to improve upon God’s design.