Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What women want

Interesting insights courtesy of Woman & Home magazine as they publish their survey into mature women’s greatest fears

So what keeps women over 40 awake at night?

Children's future 55 %
Health risks 45%
Financial difficulties 43 %
Breast cancer 36 %
Rising crime 27 %
Immigration 19 %
Threat of terrorism 12 %
Menopause 12 %
Splitting with partner 11%
Trapped on capsized cruise ship with B-list movie stars 9%

This top ten list is superficially uncontroversial, until one notes that international terrorism edges out divorce, despite the relative frequency of the latter compared to the former.

It’s a sad reflection on the modern male that, once he’s fathered her chosen number of kids (or at least naively paid for the pool boy’s ‘til they are old enough for her to go back to work), the female has very little reason to keep him around. Only inertia and some fragile residue of sentiment stand between hubby and an abrupt exile to the local roach-motel apartment complex down the street, minus his SUV and his 401k.

Now that my own sweet wifey has the four kids she’s always pined for, I don’t mind telling you, I’m treading a little more carefully myself. The last thing I need is to be forced back on the market at my advanced age. It was bad enough before the grey hair and the furrowed brow. In my experience, what women want is almost invariably someone else…

A broken nail, yesterday (7%). One of the very few things that scare women over 40 less than dumping their husbands, alongside losing their glasses (6%), laddered tights (5%), and running out of milk (3%).


Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Statistics will tell you though, Ivan, that men usually precipitate the middle age marital split by looking to find their wives in a younger form.

Wives, having borne children, inevitably get that lived-in look because that's literally what we've been doing: being lived in.
Men age better and are hardwired to search for firm, fecund flesh so they look to younger women to "mate" with, casting we wives aside momentarily, if not in any displacement of real love or affection but a mere temporary physical replacement.

Usually, although not always, it is the disatisfied male who will stray first, and if his wife finds that unacceptable, they will split.

Biologically women are attracted to men they think will be good providers for their young in the long term or at least as long as it takes to raise their children. Biologically, men are driven to spread their seed.

Ah, dammit! I'm too overserved for this right now. It's Tuesday night and we carried the night at our weekly pub quiz, winning four rounds of dubious shots and a fifth for the overall.

I had a larger point but now I'm just sleepy so will adjourn to Nod and finish this tomorrow

Ivan the Terrible said...

Sweet dreams, Sam - we'll hold your place 'til you get back :)

R. Sherman said...

As to Sam's point, we males just need to keep bringing home the Mastodon steaks for the cave grill and we'll be OK.


staghounds said...

You have not thought clearly about this, the article is about women's FEARS.

On the companion poll, what mature women WANT, divorce was at 89%...

Ivan the Terrible said...

Well that makes me feel a whole lot better, Stags, thanks...

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Ran', I'm not saying that's how it ought to be necessarily in our (semi)enlightened world (men providing; women breeding), but some of these impulses are powerful and it's as well to factor them into the likelihoods of marital splits after having children.

The main thrust of my point was that men, not women, will usually leave a marriage first. They won't do it for the same reasons as women, however. Women, if they leave a marriage, from what I've seen, are more intractable in their decision once it's been made.

Once we women learn that, for a man, sex and emotions are more easily separable, it becomes easier for a woman to forgive a man his affair. He perhaps ought to have tried harder not to do it but he's got the weight of male evolutionary behaviour on his back at the same time. If he has an affair, chances are it's merely for the sex but, if he is in a normal, otherwise healthy marriage, his lover is not likely to replace his wife in his heart.

This is just how it seems to me.

My head hurts.

PI said...

The only thing that keeps me awake at might is (rarely thank goodnesss) indigestion. As one who bolted Randall, I'm afraid that just bringing home the bacon isn't OK.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Ivan, you said "what women want is usually someone else."

Here is what women want:

It varies wildly with the woman, of course, but there are a few common themes, for married women at any rate:
A reliable, loving partner,
A reliable, loving father for their children
A best friend in their husband
Some regular sex.

Everything else, money, thrills, wild, exciting sex, room for a career, skiing in Aspen, bungee-jumping on the weekends, macrame on a Tuesday, whatever, is gravy and its flavour varies wildly from couple to couple. But most grown-up people know that having it all, all the time, perfect and everlasting is not the way the world has ever worked and are happy to hunker down to the hard work of relationships with their husband. If you have the meat and veg, (the 4 things above) the particular flavour of the gravy can be worked on and changed to suit conditions at the time.

Love is what matters.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Similarly, a wife who doesn't get what she needs, including sex, will stray. Married women, contrary to popular belief, need sex too.

I can't attach too much of a moral lesson to that either way because partnering for life, for most people I suspect, is an unrealistic and even undesirable state of affairs (if you'll pardon the pun). It especially explains the hike in divorce rates after the kids have grown and gone. The parents are clearly not precisely the same people as they were when they married and if they are there's something wrong with them. It's not immoral to want to live out your life with someone else. It might be contrary to religious advice but much of that comes from unmarried childless men and women.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Hmm. I go on a bit, don't I?

Women over 40 only fear divorce so very slightly because nowadays we have a far greater earning potential than we used to and are not bound to unhappy marriages for financial security to the same degree.

It makes you wonder how many horrible, unhappy marriages in previous generations were suffered through because of the woman's fear of being left with very little income as her years advance.

Ivan the Terrible said...

[small voice] I just thought that top ten list was a good way to smuggle in a Poseidon Adventure joke...

Sam, you make a lot of sense, tho' of course some of the Sistren would gut you like a fish for (in their eyes) justifying male behaviour on evolutionary grounds. I wouldn't like to imagine the horrible plight of the many women of old (or even today) trapped in unhappy relationships for the sake of the pension. But then again, especially in my industry, I see a lot of guys on the receiving end.

The better educated the couple, the more likely it is that the woman is the one who weighs up the options, notes the female thumb on the legal scales, and dispassionately shoots their marriage in the back of the head. When I talk about the roach motel apartment complexes and the sagging, defeated breed that moulder therein, I know whereof I speak. I could heave a pager over the cube wall and hit half a dozen from where I sit...

PI said...

In case Sam didn't cover it...and the greatest of these is love.

R. Sherman said...

See what happens when I don't visit during the day? A group therapy session breaks out. Ivan, you must learn to be more sensitive.


Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I'm not done yet, guys, but I will be soon. Promise! Bear with me a wee bit longer and I promise I'll shut up.

Pat, exactly. There is little point or value to be had from a relationship without love. If the love has gone it's a sentence not a relationship. Nobody needs to suffer that way. Life is full of enough other crap to keep us occupied without having to come home every night to someone you know you don't love.

Uncle Vanya, you're right, of course. Any woman leaving a relationship might cause some emotional anguish in the bloke she's leaving. That is normal, but if it's not working for her it' best not to turn it into a miserable pity party for both.

What's inexcusable is equating equality-for-women with "taking him for everything he's got." Women who financially decimate their husbands by taking advantage of the "female thumb on the scales" are wicked bitches who have hijacked the ideals of feminism and equality to perpetuate a reverse discrimination. I have no time for them. I suspect, in many cases, though, their lawyers put them up to it.

Ran' m'darlin', I didn't mean to suggest either you or Ivan were being "insensitive". In the so-called battle of the sexes though it is easy to demonize the other sex especially when you have personal knowledge of sad situatons such as Ivan's colleagues. Shrill voices on either side would like us to join their ranks but reasonable people (people like us, which is why I hang out here and at yours and Pat's and aunty M's and the rest) shouldn't be drawn, even if it is bloody difficult at times to figure the other sex out (!), but that's exactly why it's so tempting to generalize. Reasonable, good-hearted people talking like this, calms the whole thing down a bit I think. We none of us surely can subscribe to the cartoonish portrayals of the opposite sex as all being barely civilised sex monsters or grasping harpies or power-hungry male chauvanists or cold, calculating bitches.

I think the whole "battle of the sexes" thing is out of hand. I am dismayed by the shriller, man-hating elements among women and both the popularization and celebration of taking the money and running. On the other hand there has to be a way for women to be treated equally that we can all agree on; there is still no mistaking a distinct patriarchal flavour to the way we conduct our society, all parts of it. Equality for women shouldn't be a joke but it should be reasonable.

I'm really irritated by the ratched up rhetoric on both sides and clearly have plenty to say myself but I think and hope sensible, goodhearted moderate voices will win out. I just want normal, thinking people to not see the other sex as enemies. We're not. I love you blokes. Pat and I and others come here and to yours for a reason. I love you and Ivan both because I recognize in you two very smart men of generous character (no matter how much the scamp Ivan will claim to be Terrible) who fundamentally want to talk about things reasonably and with respect. I, a housewife, get to talk almost daily with a grandmother from England, a lawyer and a ... whatever it is Ivan does and your other excellent commentators. I get to sort out what I think and get to hear your more experienced opinions - which I don't always agree with by the way - but that hardly matters. It's like a fabulous coffee-shop with better prices. What could be more democratic than this? I love it.

That's it. All done.

Desargues said...

My, oh my, if this ain't a forum of seasoned wisdom. Ivan, I thought this blog was supposed to be a congregation for easy-going snark, mild cynicism, and the occasional blond joke. I go away for a few days only to come back and find a serious discussion. On what women want, no less. Sheesh. What's next? The meaning of life?

It is said that that old Viennese quack, Sigmund F, pondered mournfully, as he lay dying, that he had tried all his career to find out what women want, only to go out of existence as ignorant about the answer as ever. Three decades into the game and one divorce under my belt, I have to grudgingly subscribe to the vieux charlatan's conclusion. God only knows what women want. I only know I don't know what it is.

Now before I get scolded, nay reprimanded, by the fine ladies visiting this blog, I hasten to draw a distinction (that's what they teach me to do in grad school): there's a distinction between what women want and what they think they want. So there.

Perhaps Monsieur Bananas could shed some much-needed light on this issue? Simian wisdom and anthropological insight might just be what's required here. As a man, I lack both, I'm afraid.

Desargues said...

Perhaps they just want to be entertained? Amuseés, as the French have realised long ago. Could that be all?

And Sam, before you rush to accept that biology is destiny, maybe you should note that it undermines the very call for respek and equality you finish your post with? In the animal world, as GB could no doubt attest, and of which you're sure we're still a big part, respect only comes from fear. Or am I mistaken?

Desargues said...

Lastly: 12% of'em are afraid of terrorism? Surely that must be incorrect. Or maybe we need a finer-grained partition class here. It makes good sense for a woman in Paris, France to be scared of terrorists to the tune of 12 percent -- after all, they have their own Hannibal ante portas over thar. But to be equally afraid of that in Paris, Kentucky is clearly irrational. And ever-expanding waist line ought to be cause for more concern in that place.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I don't look at biology as destiny, Des. Not at all. (And I rarely rush at anything. But it is certainly a factor. That's all I was trying to say.

I'm not sure I understand why you thought I was saying that.
I did qualify the biology point by saying "but some of these impulses are powerful and it's as well to factor them into the likelihoods of marital splits after having children."

Biology doesn't justify human behaviour but it goes some way to explain it. For many men and women alike that seems to be a distinction beyond their grasp. Or perhaps its just easier to point the finger at the other sex and blame everything on them. Since when did we start to believe human beings are painted with such broad simple strokes and aren't as complex and intricate and individual as the many various influences on human behaviour suggest?

That is the point I was trying to make. Badly, it appears.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I wouldn't dream of scolding anybody over the age of 18, Des. And I lack sufficient authority to reprimand anyone.

I am always delighted, however, to receive that same courtesy in return. :)

Fat Sparrow said...

"God only knows what women want. I only know I don't know what it is."

Like I've always told my men, "I have no idea what I want at the moment, but when I figure it out, you can go fetch it."

Yeah, they told me to fuck off, too.

PI said...

And another thing. When I left my first husband - who was a decent man BTW- my lawyer said that usually, the biggest bones of contention were money and the children but as my children had left home and I didn't want any money it should be quite straight forward. And he was right

Gorilla Bananas said...

I agree with Sam. We gorillas never point fingers at each other because fingers are for grooming and removing nits. Females gorillas need love, sex and protection. Human females need the same plus a lot of soothing words.

R. Sherman said...

Don't forget jewelry, G.B.