A Fixer-Upper

My previous post discussed why men weren’t obligated to “buy damaged goods.” This post extends that discussion a bit, towards something related yet different. [I should also mention that this post is open to both men and women.] My general argument can be stated as this:

Don’t marry someone with the intention of making them a better person so that they end marriageable.

Otherwise stated:

Neither men nor women should ever marry someone who isn’t marriageable at the time of the wedding, in the hopes that the spouse can be “fixed” and turned into a good spouse.

In other words, don’t marry a “fixer-upper.”

Now, that doesn’t mean that people don’t have flaws that can’t be fixed. Far from it- we are all damaged to some degree or another. But there is damaged, and there is damaged. Some people, for whatever reason, are simply not fit for marriage at a given time. Perhaps they can be in the future. But that is the future, not now.

Whether you are a man or a woman, you shouldn’t marry a fixer-upper- someone who needs some serious work before they are fit for marriage. Especially don’t marry them with the goal of making them fit for marriage. That is not your job (and frankly, it shouldn’t be). To tie in with my last post, it isn’t your obligation to make an honest man or woman out of someone. That is between them and God.

The way I see it, and I might have borrowed this from some commenter in the past, but when you marry someone you should assume you are marrying them at their best, and they won’t get better from there. So if you wouldn’t want to be married to someone as they are when they marry you, don’t marry that person. [Confusing, I know.]

I invite my readers/commenters to leave their own thoughts on the subject.

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27 Comments

Filed under Blue Pill, Christianity, Churchianity, Marriage, Marriage Market Place, Men, Red Pill, The Church, Women

27 responses to “A Fixer-Upper

  1. fuzziewuzziebear

    The concept is appealing with inanaimate objects like a house or a car. But, I can’t turn a wrench on people.

  2. Yeah. It’s like, there’s a difference between a fixer upper that just needs to better learn a few skills, and a fixer upper that has severely damaged themselves to the point of making themselves not wife/husband material. For example, a woman who is learning how to cook, but isn’t a good one yet. Or a man who is at the bottom of the corporate ladder and is in process of working his way up. That’s very different than marrying a man who is a hardened criminal, or a woman who has slept around with God-knows-who.

  3. I think there is a nice middle ground between “this person should be married already” and “this person is a hopeless choice for marriage”. Few people in the former category are available and those that are may be beyond reach anyway (perhaps they have a specific taste, or are currently dedicated to their work, or have an underlying issue they are working on]. The latter category are not and may never be ready for marriage. The ideal partner on this spectrum is somewhere in between, nearer the first than the last. Nobody goes into marriage knowing how it will work. You have to discover things as you go and adapt and deal with them. But going in with the right mindset is important, as marriage is not a goal, but a work in progress.

    The most marriageable people aren’t the ones who seem to know it all already or the fixer-uppers. The most marriageable people are the ones who say “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I want marriage and I’ll do everything to make this work anyway”.

  4. Pingback: Observations | chokingonredpills

  5. Contemporary, relevant, churchianity begins from a point of forgiven perfection for women and a perpetual state of qualification for men. Thus, there are no “damaged” women, only forgiven women whom men must acknowledge and qualify themselves to confirm their own faith.

    Dalrock refers to this as “man-up and marry those sluts” but his point is exaggerated to illustrate a dynamic that covers the more subtle aspects of accepting ‘damaged goods’.

    I’m not even suggesting that men expect some virginic perfection in women, rather that the mental point of origin within church culture is to presume women’s blamelessness.

  6. The definition of a fixer upper is quite subjective. I like the way Slavis Wife put it:

    But going in with the right mindset is important, as marriage is not a goal, but a work in progress.

    The most marriageable people aren’t the ones who seem to know it all already or the fixer-uppers. The most marriageable people are the ones who say “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I want marriage and I’ll do everything to make this work anyway”.

    We were both fixer uppers, to be sure. The renovation has been enjoyable more often than not. About 8 years to complete it to a rough finish, maybe another couple to get it finished enough that others would ask how it’s done.

    Life is hard, not lived on flowery beds of ease.

  7. I have to be careful here, since I blog in the open, and real people are involved in this story.

    When I was going through my divorce, 13 years ago now– I had a number of discussions with my wife about what went wrong. Probably the most honest thing I heard during that period went something like this:

    Her: “When I looked at you as a prospect for marriage I thought ‘that’s a good start.’ Then I proceeded to work on getting you to a point that I felt you had the potential to become. I also placed a deadline on when that needed to occur. I didn’t do it consciously, but that’s what I did. That was a big mistake.””

    (In other words, if he doesn’t change into x in y amount of time, I am gone).

    Me: “Hm. I did the opposite. There were some things about you that drove me crazy, and I held out hope that you work on those. But I decided then and there that if you never changed them I would not leave. In other words, I pictured us, old, gray and you being the exact same person you are today, and thought “yes. I can see myself married to you, exactly like that, forever.”

    In my practice, (and I admittedly don’t much relationship stuff) I have found this pattern to be relatively stable in regards to how men and women approach marriage.

    I think this is what Rollo means when he discusses the myth of men being “afraid of commitment.”

  8. Pingback: The free will to marry | Christianity and the manosphere

  9. Added a post discussion a lot of this. Good stuff Donal

    https://deepstrength.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/the-free-will-to-marry/

    Main themes are:

    Men should evaluate whether to marry or not based on multiple factors:

    1. Recognize if a wife is ready to fulfill Biblical roles and responsibilities. Don’t take a fixer upper. Take someone who is ready and willing to follow your lead and be a good helpmeet.
    2. Recognize your own Biblical roles and responsibilities and prepare for them.
    3. Recognize if marriage is in your cards, especially if you have the desire for marriage and burning. Think about this in terms of your spiritual gifts and overall vision.
    4. Recognize that shamers rarely if ever have your best interests in mind. They want you to do what they want you to do. You are responsible for your life, and your responsibility is not to them but to God.

    Men should also primarily take a few things into consideration when vetting a woman for marriage:

    1. Is she a good follower?
    2. Look at her actions as they reveal some of the state of her heart.
    3 Vet for her character how she reacts in difficult situations reveals the overall state of her heart.
    4. Look at her attitudes in difficult situations as it reveals her heart’s desire.
    5. Is she teachable?
    6. Does she learn from her mistakes?

    The state of her heart should be for God and for you as she will be under your authority. A woman that is for God and NOT for you would be an unwise choice. This may not even necessarily be a sin; she may just be a bad fit for you. Move on if that’s the case. If you have any doubts, consider them very carefully preferably with wise mentors, Scripture, prayer, and fasting.

  10. Ame

    Donal wrote:
    “But there is damaged, and there is damaged.”

    imo, he’s not saying that anyone is perfect when married. he saying that there are those whose stuff they either refuse to work through or haven’t acknowledged exists … and as time goes on, those people become seriously damaged, bitter, mean.

    before we marry, we get to choose what stuff that we’re willing to deal with in a future spouse – not them … and that means that men, too, get to choose what stuff they’re willing to deal with in a wife. if he doesn’t want a woman who’s slept around, and she has, she’s out. if he doesn’t want a woman who’s been married before, and she has, she’s out. if he doesn’t want a woman with kids, and she has kids, she’s out. if he doesn’t want a woman who was abused, and she was, she’s out. they should not even have to apologize for this.
    ——————————————-

    Scott –
    your story is … wow. what is sad (pathetic) to me is that she realized this before your divorce was final, if I read it correctly, and she was not willing to adjust to reality and keep the marriage. (not asking for more info or justification or comment, just noting based on this one piece you shared).

    I agree that this is probably weighted toward women significantly … like, probably at least 80% – 90% (perhaps higher). women tend to always want to fix and change things. I think for most women it needs to be a conscious choice to marry a man just as he is. my bff, who’s been married for close to 30 years and has one of the best marriages I know of, was told by her husband before they married that he would not change for anyone. if she married him, she married him as he was. have they each grown and changed over the years? well … yes. most people do grow and change over thirty years. but any changes he made to himself have been his choices and on his terms, and she’s chosen to accept that and remain under his authority.

    I was actually rare in that my first marriage was in reverse. we had agreed on a lot of things before we married, but I think that, as the years went on, he wanted me to be different. for example, he liked my free-spirited, artistic, flowy, personality before we married, but after we married he came to despise it; he wanted me to become like his stringent type-A personality. he liked that I wanted to be a sahm and not a career woman, but I believe, based on things he said at the end, that he came to despise that and became irritated I wasn’t a career woman like the wives of his peers and the women he worked with. he didn’t like that my weaknesses never became my strengths – he wanted me to become perfect in every area. And … I was the one surprised when he changed so much. I thought I was still married to the man I married.
    ———————————

    I completely agree with Rollo’s comment above.
    ———————————-

    Fuzzie – bears should never marry a bad cook! (not that you should take marriage advice from me … but … just sayin 😉 )

  11. Ame

    Deep Strength –
    totally agree with what you’ve written here.

    I might add one more thing to your vetting list … get to know her friends, her close friends, and those who influence her the most. women weigh their friend’s opinions heavily. they’ll often have the attitude that husbands come and go, but friends are forever.

    you’ll also want to know how much she shares with her friends – does she know where to draw the line?

  12. @ Ame

    … get to know her friends, her close friends, and those who influence her the most. women weigh their friend’s opinions heavily. they’ll often have the attitude that husbands come and go, but friends are forever.

    Definitely. Those are some other good things to look for… can’t believe I forgot about that.

  13. Ame

    years ago I had a may counselor who advised I distance myself from one of my closest female friends. she was truly like a sister to me. we’d been through having babies together, gone through dealing w/family hell together, and other deep things together, so this was not easy to hear or do. however, he’d been my counselor for close to a couple years by then, and so I trusted his advice and began to distance myself from her. time proved my counselor right. it still hurts to have lost that friendship, but I know it was wise and right. she was at the crux of making destructive choices which greatly influenced her in negative, unbiblical ways. and that we were so close, she would have influenced me negatively whether I would have wanted her to or not 😦

  14. Michael Kozaki

    There’s a difference between fixer upper & damaged

    Like a shack in a good neighborhood versus a house in the ‘hood.

    Scott: I have found this pattern to be relatively stable in regards to how men and women approach marriage.

    Agreed. Why I almost disagree with Donal here. A talented man can manipulate (game?) a girl and “change” her. If she’s got good roots. Seen it done. But, as Scott says, she won’t change on her own. I say “almost” because the legal deck is fully stacked against men, so marriage is a Kamikaze run. It’s better not to marry unless she is really worth it.

    Deep, Recognize if a wife is ready to fulfill Biblical roles

    Will this “biblical fill-in-the-blank” canard ever die? We have 500+ years of data proving people can’t agree what the bible says about marriage. What you actually mean? Is she ready to fulfill MY current biblical interpretation of marriage? And will she follow me if my interpretation changes at any future time? I would suggest she Just Say No.

    What makes sense: Are WE ready to swear to God to fulfill the roles of husband/wife as interpreted by the Church for over 2,000 years…until we die…and even if we fail, we can NEVER remarry? Kamikaze run.

    Elspeth: The renovation has been enjoyable more often than not.

    What a sharp line. I’m weepy.

  15. For the record, I was not knocking Donal’s post.

    I have a daughter who expresses many of the the same sentiments quite frequently. She will be 22 soon, however, and a few things that she considered non-negotiable when she was 20 are now not quite so non-negotiable.

    She sees her parents’ marriage as a case of huge risk, huge return on investment, but she’s not a risk taker and not willing to even toy with that kind of risk. Frankly, we agree with her. We want our children to do better than we did and ultimately it is up to every person to decide for themselves what they can live with.

    But what Michael said up thread is true. Most of us wouldn’t be here if our parents hadn’t taken what many here would consider a stupid leap of faith.

    I liked that he pointed that out as well as what Slaviswife said because acknowledging that is key to understanding why many good, devout, marriageable people with their ducks in a row will not marry.

    The desire for everything and every one to be “just so” before marrying is a culture wide phenomenon. It’s not at all limited to people of faith. It just manifests itself with a different set of criteria.

  16. MIchael,

    Will this “biblical fill-in-the-blank” canard ever die? We have 500+ years of data proving people can’t agree what the bible says about marriage. What you actually mean? Is she ready to fulfill MY current biblical interpretation of marriage? And will she follow me if my interpretation changes at any future time? I would suggest she Just Say No.

    What makes sense: Are WE ready to swear to God to fulfill the roles of husband/wife as interpreted by the Church for over 2,000 years…until we die…and even if we fail, we can NEVER remarry? Kamikaze run.

    Ah, yes. The whole Prots/Cath thing. I vote to stop beating the dead horse. You may continue to beat it if you desire.

    Jesus was quite clear that Christian marriage is forever: “What God has put together let man not separate.”

  17. Well, I wasn’t knocking the entirety of the post, to be more specific.

  18. Michael Kozaki

    Elspeth: I meant no snark. 20 years of marriage here. You nailed it.

    Deep: Not a Prots/Cath thing. Lifetime undefined handshake deal with no third party?! Be screwed if sh*t happens. Wouldn’t buy a car this way.

  19. anonymous_ng

    I was going to comment on the previous post, but it will fit here too.

    First things, “Neither men nor women should every marry” You might want to replace “every” with “ever” in the sentence after “Otherwise stated:” I only offer it because I can’t stand it when what I write isn’t what I intended.
    ==========================================================

    For you and the other young men, if I could guarantee for you that things would turn out as they have for me, I would without hesitation tell you to marry. I don’t have the life I wanted(frivorced), and it’s not ideal, but I’ve got three kids who love me and that makes all the other hassles worth it.

    Coming back to the topic at hand, what I’ve observed is that successful marriages are very nearly predicated upon the people not being fixer-uppers. It’s like that is the most basic ingredient.

    As you noted, we’ve all got issues, and the people I know with solid marriages still do have issues, but frankly, in comparison to most people, they basically don’t have issues.

    I’m kind of struggling here, but one of the things I’ve noticed is that those people I know who have solid marriages seemed to be very adult even in their twenties, and many(most) of the people I know who are divorced still seem juvenile in their 40s. I mean, it’s one thing if you’re ten and you hate to take a bath, and your room is a mess, but you’re supposed grow up and start acting like an adult when you’re no longer a teenager.

  20. 22 here. After mulling it some more I realized what was the one thing that made the difference for us when the inevitable fruit of some of our past scars and screw ups reared its head:

    Rather than turn on each other we turned to each other and figured it out together. That, and I followed him, even blindly.

    If you can vet for that, the imperfections (assuming they’re not deal breakers) are easily overlooked.

  21. Thank you for the comments everyone. Far too many for me to effectively answer them all. I will try to stick to a few points.

    @ Superslaviswife
    \
    I enjoyed your comment. Lots of good points there. It is indeed a spectrum- the idea is that you need to recognize where “close enough” is and use that- not perfect- as your marker.

    @ Rollo

    Spot on, mate.

    @ Elspeth

    The definition of a fixer upper is quite subjective.

    True. I was being a bit sarcastic, and referring to how real estate agents will use that term for houses that are one step above being condemned. Naturally we are all “fixer-uppers.” But some houses need just a few tweaks or improvements, while others need a full re-model.

    I have a daughter who expresses many of the the same sentiments quite frequently. She will be 22 soon, however, and a few things that she considered non-negotiable when she was 20 are now not quite so non-negotiable.

    I will be the first to admit that I’ve made some adjustments to what I consider negotiable since joining the ‘sphere. So its understandable that she would as well.

    But what Michael said up thread is true. Most of us wouldn’t be here if our parents hadn’t taken what many here would consider a stupid leap of faith.

    As before, I have to say that such statements irk me. They are unlikely to serve good in a conversation such as this. Not trying to single you out here Elspeth, but rather make a rhetorical point.

    @ Scott

    Thanks for the personal story. A lot of important truth to be found there.

  22. “As you noted, we’ve all got issues, and the people I know with solid marriages still do have issues, but frankly, in comparison to most people, they basically don’t have issues.

    I’m kind of struggling here, but one of the things I’ve noticed is that those people I know who have solid marriages seemed to be very adult even in their twenties, and many(most) of the people I know who are divorced still seem juvenile in their 40s.”

    ^^I understand Donal’s point I think… and agree with anonymous_ng that a lot of the exceptional marriages come from people who are weird/outliers. Being very grown-up in your early 20’s is not normal anymore, so the couples that do get married that young may have more wisdom when facing the trials of life together. I know with our marriage… I think we both were outliers in different ways… we’ve almost been married for 9 years now but figured it out in that first year. But we were both not normal for our ages… we’ve always acted a bit older, have always sought advice and wisdom in books and from wise people, we deliberately decided to take an intensive marriage course in our second year just for fun – and we found out that we were already doing everything right but it was good that it opened our eyes to the ways couples can ruin their marriage. How did we have the insight to take that 8 week intensive course for no need (it was for couples who really needed it)? Why did we want extra marriage knowledge and wisdom when we were both still early twenties? I don’t know… we just did. Our marriage definitely reaped the benefits of all the work we put into from the get go, from that first year, that as we weathered many storms together of poverty, job loss, going to college together, unexpected pregnancy in the middle of college, career disappointments for my husband, trouble with both sets of in-laws, and I’m sure we’ll have more to add in the next decade of marriage.

    So yes, don’t marry a “fixer-upper” in the sense that they will need A LOT of character work. It will make your life a million times easier to marry someone who is already developing their character, who is always learning and willing to improve, and humble enough to take weird classes just to learn about the problems that could come up.

  23. meant to add… “that as we weathered many storms… we just grew closer, not apart.”

  24. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2016/04/27 | Free Northerner

  25. @Scott

    I heard this somewhere and it bears repeating:
    “A woman marries a man hoping that he’ll change – and she doesn’t.
    A man marries a woman hoping that she won’t change – and she does.”

  26. Correction: “and *he* doesn’t”

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