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The Pain of the Uncommitted Male

Posted by MDViews on December 2, 2008

Since venturing on my medical career some 30 years ago, our culture has undergone a sea change in how marriage, fornication (sex outside of marriage) and infidelity are viewed and practiced.

In 1978, there was still some shame at conceiving an out-of-wedlock child. Couples shacking up were somewhat unusual and certainly far from mainstream. Having an affair often led to divorce.

Since that time, I first noticed, especially in the lower socio-economic patients (poor folks with weak family and social connections) that out-of-wedlock pregnancy became more commonplace and accepted. Then, living with boyfriends became more accepted. Now, the practice of shacking up is accepted by middle and high income people with good education. With no shame. It’s not just OK, it is often celebrated.

I often ask my pregnant patients or even gynecology patients if their live-in boyfriend is husband material. Many times, I get a smile and a “yes”, but then it is followed by a “but not now. We have to do xxxxx first.” Which is generally make more money, buy a house, pay for a car, finish school and on.

But I also get a response from many to the effect of “Why would we marry? Who cares?” Marriage is now so unknown to large segments of our population that the thought of marriage is not even entertained.

I explain that she will be the one hurt in the end by such a relationship. She will have given herself to a man with no attachment, meaning he can leave at any time without repercussions, except child support, if the state can find him. If he leaves, she is left with the shattered hopes and dreams, the risk of STD’s, the children, the poor job, the poverty while he goes on his merry way and shacks up with the next one.

I usually get the “but we aren’t breaking up. We are together.” response. It is heartbreakingly sad. I marvel at the denial. Truly, denial is not just a river in Egypt.

Just today, I talked with a patient who had been with her boyfriend for several years. When she pushed him slightly to get married, he said he just wasn’t sure. They were living together! So, she is now a bundle of tears and feels used, betrayed and cheated out of several years of her life. And for what? His selfishness.

When a couple shacks up, men are in the drivers seat, enjoying the ride. They get the companionship, the sex, the home comforts, the married lifestyle with the freedom to leave anytime the relationship gets sticky or uncomfortable or unsatisfying as all close relationships eventually do. They never have to do the hard work of relationship and reconciliation. They never have to pay an emotional or financial price for their misdeeds.

PMS? Hey, I’m outa here. No sex tonight? See ya later, baby. Not enough money for a motorcycle? Good luck on your own, sweetie, I just bought a Harley and need my whole paycheck. New baby has colic? Well, call your mom, because I met this girl at work and I’m moving in with her.

So women who choose this lifestyle end up hurt and hurting. My heart goes out to them. Shame on a man who would bed a woman and not have the courage to commit in marriage. Shame on a woman for allowing such behavior in a man. God help the children born of such a loose union.

I’ll post more on this in the future.

One Response to “The Pain of the Uncommitted Male”

  1. Abigail said

    What a stark contrast this post paints next to your previous post on the richness of family and value of children.

    But, in order to have the richness of family and enjoy children, you have to have a long term perspective. More than just, ‘what am I going to get out of this setup tonight.’

    Great job capturing this contrast of instant gratification v. long term gain and happiness.

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