If you can read this WE MADE IT!
This website had serious problems for a few months. It didn’t work.
But now things are on the way back. By some time early in February 2022 all the content will be back. You’ll see the latest version of the book How to stop beating your wife. The book is about 75% finished as of the end of January 2022. It is projected to be completed by about April 2022. This website will have instructions on how to purchase the book as a pdf and hard copy.
Come back again soon and watch the gradual chapter additions. At all times you’ll be able to subscribe to us on Patreon. Thanks for your support.
When did you stop beating your wife? is the classic – and supremely nasty – loaded question.
Back in the day the accused target – the brute – had a tiny chance to recover his soiled reputation by claiming Who, me? She’s not my wife. But in our post-rationalist, post-existentialist, post-binary, post-modernist, post-truth era, facts don’t matter anymore. Fewer men have wives nowadays. More than a few women have wives. Yet the fix between wives and their beaters endures. Almost all wives insist they are beaten regardless.
As a humanitarian gesture a book of instructions on how to stop beating your wife is overdue. Fine. But that’s not what we have here.
Consider the book How To Stop Beating Your Wife a prequel. Powerful societal forces are already in place to end the shameful scourge of wife beating. The book will wake people up to what is already happening: the evolving right side of history. And why it is already too late for any opposing movements, laws or forces to change this progressive trajectory.
She felt the whip, Emile Bayard, 19th century
In a mere two hundred years from the book’s publishing date society will routinely acknowledge that Ecclesiastes is dead. The joys of rationalism, existentialism, binary sexuality, post-modernism, and the obsession with truth will be buried like an archeological fossil. As the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) could have predicted, the thesis of beating one’s wife will clash with the antithesis of marriage-and-breeding to produce the longed-for synthesis: a new, equalitarian family. Set your clock by this prediction. Ready or not, within the next two centuries everyone will be swept into better lives.
Continue reading “Preliminary Expectoration”
It wasn’t until my thirties before I decided to put my self aside to become a father. I was married. After my first love insisted we wouldn’t have children, we went our separate ways. I could have remained single for a few years longer as I was making strides learning how to enjoy life with the ladies. But I wanted a family.
When another woman who seemed right enough came around, I married again.
The two of us grew up in similar, gritty East Coast big city neighborhoods. Our families consisted of mother, father and kids sticking together under one roof through thick and thin. Our parents – her father, actually, and both my parents – fled from the other side. We already had our degrees and professional credentials. We were some flavor or other of Jewish. She rose from her family’s limited resources, eventually mingling with people of great wealth. She was a master of New York pluck. We fancied ourselves as originals in our own ways, though not on parallel tracks.
Despite our stylistic differences, we swore we were ready to give all that up to settle down for the big task in life: raising a family.
It was no secret that marriage and family were institutions under assault on the day we caught each other’s eyes. In the world out there, the signs that the ground was shifting were everywhere. Divorce lawyers were feasting. People were fleeing their marriages instead of trying to fix them. In my days on the outer fringes I was on the same party invitation list as the authors of the book Open Marriage. Some of my friends tried “group marriage” (she and he married another she and he). Nor were the two of us innocent babes in the woods. We had each already been divorced. During my previous marriage I was among the first of my generation who didn’t insist that his wife bear his family name as her last name.
Continue reading “Chapter 1: Putting my self aside”
At this moment in the early 1980s public debate about the family was dominated by the confluence of several unhappy realities: Families were breaking up. Divorce for those who bothered to get married was becoming the new normal. More and more children were born out of wedlock, and most of these kids grew up with no adult males in their homes. Single mother heads of households were said to be drifting into lives of poverty. And the cost to taxpayers of family support systems was rocketing out of control.
What could society do?
Some people claimed to have found the answer to the financial and social costs of family breakdown. Their answer picked up on trends in social thought which were well on their way to acceptance for their own reasons. The proposed answer then topped off these trends with a new twist.
All over the contemporary landscape, the role of morality in public life was under growing suspicion. In the past a result of the influence of religion on American thought was a decidedly moralistic view of certain family-related practices. Some activities were thought of as good, so were deemed worthy of encouragement. Other activities were bad and brought down chastisement on those who practiced them. Having children out of wedlock was definitely bad. The English language has an ancient and pejorative b-word name for the children of the unmarried. Traditional society had a very narrow view of the women who engaged in the ‘sin’ of bringing these so-called b–tard children into the world.
But by the 1980s these ancient attitudes were past their sell-by dates.
Continue reading “Chapter 2: What could society do?”
Divorce is humbling. It wrecks one’s sense of entitlement.
Before divorce it’s possible to believe that life will be fine if you just keep your nose clean. That the fulfillment of dreams is simply a matter of effort. And that mistakes can be remedied.
After divorce life is full of velvet traps. Even your spouse – the person closest to your heart – can’t be trusted. And your instincts are not always your best guide.
The iron lesson divorce teaches is that you can never again be sure. About anything.
The documents delivered to me – the pleadings my wife submitted to court to begin running the divorce clock – were ferocious. She asked the court to give her custody of our son, to have me removed from our apartment, to make me pay alimony and child support in amounts greater than my income, and to have me pay for her lawyer.
To justify this heart-stopping list of demands my wife used perhaps the most common excuse for divorce of the day. She accused me of domestic violence. On three occasions, no less.
Right from the start of the game I was deep in the hole.
Continue reading “Chapter 3: You can never again be sure”
My wife’s first attempt at forcing me out of our home was a dud. In September 1981 – a year and a half after she fired her opening shot across my bow – the court notified us it wasn’t impressed with any of her claims. None of our living arrangements needed to be disturbed. The best the court could do for her was mark us down for a divorce trial at some time in the indefinite future.
Score some very big points for my lawyer! He knew his stuff.
Just as my lawyer had lectured me, because my wife continued to live under the same roof with me and do the ordinary things most married people do together the court couldn’t swallow her story of violence. Several years later courts began to take seriously the argument that women victims of violence sometimes continue to live with violent husbands despite the violence. I can’t know for certain but I suspect it would be incredibly difficult for any court to read the particular claims she wrote and come to any conclusion other than the one our court came to. Chances I would harm her in our home were far less than the chances she would turn into a Jael of the Book of Judges.
Continue reading “Chapter 4: No exit”
When I finally fell back down to earth off my lofty perch, I discovered I had grown much, much smaller.
In my rebellious years around college I had pushed the envelope of social values. My hell-raising – such as it was – was part of my generation’s struggles in the name of civil rights, anti-Vietnam war, feminism and gay rights. I also directed energy to organizing migrant grape pickers in New York State – nothing to do with the more famous California grape workers group; college professors at CUNY as a member of the negotiating committee of the first union-CUNY contract; and hospital social workers at NYU on behalf of my then-wife’s employer Local Union 1199. Eventually all of the causes got melded into routine American values. I had solid proof my vision wasn’t completely out of whack.
For four plus years – from the moment the guy in the elevator served me with divorce papers to the one note funeral oratorio of our son’s apartment door slamming behind me – my life was brimming with optimism. Futurist talking heads convinced the world that women and men of tomorrow will not be like women and men of the past. Women in droves were already abandoning their aprons and vacuum cleaners to venture into the world of jobs and careers. It struck me as more than plausible to expect men to stake out new territory too. It seemed inevitable that the world would be making room for a brave new kind of Father. I invested all my chips on that bet.
Continue reading “Chapter 5: My drummer was too fast”
The previous chapter ended around the time our son was three years of age.
The grand purpose of this book is to get from Point A to Point B. Point A is the “normal” of family and law as described in Chapter 1: Putting my self aside. Anyone who lived in the Western world in the eighteenth to twentieth centuries will recognize Point A. Its limits are by now tediously obvious. Many of the upcoming class of twenty-first century marriage candidates have developed mega-phobic reactions to Point A’s suggested order of things. Egged on by lecture halls full of tenured warning bell tollers – the curriculum is preached that the only cure is to gyrate into any configuration not endorsed by this once-venerable institution.
This chapter chronicles the painful series of big and small lived experiences this author was thrust through after he was flagged off the road to his personal Point A. His world changed. His mental furniture was reupholstered – replaced with the latest man-made fibers – er, human-made stuffing.
Continue reading “Chapter 6: Who is in contempt?”
By Alex Lozupone - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50721614
The Lower East Side (LES) is the revered name of an area of Manhattan located on the southeastern corner of the island. Because rents were rock bottom in the late nineteenth century and half of the twentieth century it was home in waves to most of New York City’s incoming ethnic groups, such as Italians, Jews, Puerto Ricans etc.
The author arrived on the LES as an NYU student early in the 1960s. NYU had no student dormitories for its Manhattan campus at the time. It didn’t really need any because almost all its undergrad cohort consisted of New York kids who started college across the Hudson River but couldn’t hack it away from New York subway your-wate-and-fate scales, Chock Full O’ Nuts date nut bread, roast chestnuts, potato knishes with mustard and dirty water hot dogs. So they returned to their accustomed stomping grounds to wrap up their sheepskins at $39 a course credit hour.
Continue reading “Appendix 1: Kierkegaard and the Lower East Side”
David Hume (1711-1776) is one of the most influential Enlightenment writers in the English language. Although distantly related to minor nobility, Hume started life with no known advantages but a prodigious curiosity. His father’s sojourn among mortals ended soon after the boy’s second birthday. His mother Katherine (nee Falconer) – whom David in his autobiography called “a woman of singular merit, who though young and handsome” – raised David, his older brother and his younger sister in “slender” circumstances. Whatever occupational choices this handsome woman made obviously did not include the one choice women of different times chose to pave their ways to tainted gains.
David’s college admission papers and SAT scores gather dust in an as yet undiscovered storage bin. When unearthed they may settle the dispute whether he entered the University of Edinburgh at age 10 or 12. His classmates didn’t usually enter those hallowed halls until the riper age of 14.
College did not agree with the wee lad. Following his father’s footsteps into business law would have been the logical key to a bespoke life. But that darn restless curiosity steered him in a dodgier direction. He used his college years plus several more to drill himself in classical literature. He essentially home schooled himself, asserting that “there is nothing to be learnt from a Professor, which is not to be met with in Books.”
Another important figure in English letters and arts was William Blake (1757-1827). Hume was comfortable among Enlightenment thinkers, while Blake was not. Yet both agreed on the issue of learning. Blake wrote: Thank God I never was sent to School, To be Flogg’d into following the Stile of a Fool.”
Continue reading “Appendix 2: David Hume and chastity”