Crappily Ever After

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By Amy Alkon

My husband of a year is the most selfish, inconsiderate, cold-shouldered man I’ve ever known. He’s 24; I’m 22. He behaved similarly when we were dating, but when he proposed, he made promises to treat me better, and I believed him. Well, we pretty much only do what he wants to do. If it’s an activity for me, he’ll whine and act miserable the whole time. He often cancels our plans to hang out with his friends. On our anniversary, we had reservations at a fancy restaurant 45 minutes away. I got ready, and he suddenly decided he didn’t want to drive there and took us to some random place nearby. At that point, our evening meant nothing. He is king of the silent treatment and never admits fault or listens to my feelings. We’ve sought out marriage counseling, but when there’s no sex, compromise, communication, or friendship, should I still hold out hope? I’m trying to because I told myself I’d only get married once.

— Upset

It’s 2013. You tell people you’re divorced and they mumble, “Oh, sorry.” They don’t put you on a scaffold in the town square to be jeered by all the villagers and then make you go around with a big scarlet “D” sewn on all your clothes.

Our early 20s should be called the Age of Idiocy. Not for all people but for a whole lot of us, including me. Until we figure out that life’s hobby is kicking us in the teeth, there’s a tendency to just wing it and believe things will turn out okay. Well, there are things — like signing a contract to spend your life with somebody — that just shouldn’t be, uh, wung. Sure, this guy showed promise as a boyfriend; that is, he made empty promises that he’d be completely different after marriage. For future reference, anybody can say he’ll be different. Only after he consistently shows he’s different over time does it make sense to believe him. Unfortunately, it’s hard to think so sensibly if, like many early 20-somethings, you see marriage as an express elevator to adulthood: Hop in; press the “just married” button; get off at grownup-land, where you’ll magically become mature adults and get on with all that happily ever after stuff.

Your husband has his merits, like that both of his kidneys seem to work and he has yet to express an interest in drowning squirrels. Couples therapy could help — if you had a guy who just didn’t know how to be married but cared deeply for you and wanted to learn. Your husband’s behavior, however, reflects the lack of empathy common to narcissists. Empathy isn’t something you can train an adult to have — not to any meaningful degree. What you can do is accept that you were naive and amend your “marry only once” pledge to “marry idiotically only once.” You might also take a more positive view of mistakes. They tend to be pretty amazing teachers — providing we admit we’ve made them so we can learn from them instead of sticking around to see if we can’t make a bunch of sociopathic babies with them.

Mild Kingdom

My girlfriend’s love of animals is causing some tension. She cannot watch any movie in which an animal gets hurt or dies. Telling her to remember that it’s a movie and the animal doesn’t actually die just makes her really mad. She’ll say my knowing animal suffering upsets her should be enough of a reason.

— Rational

Never mind that “Titanic” is a movie about 1,500 people drowning in the freezing Atlantic Ocean. For some, what matters is “Omigod, did that lady’s goldfish die?” And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a site for these people,, which details whether animals in a movie are depicted getting injured or killed and confirms that no, in “Titanic,” “Old Rose’s dog and goldfish are not harmed.” Phew, huh? Snarking aside, no amount of turning to your girlfriend and saying “Oh, come on, that dog has an agent and headshots!” will change her need to live in a world where Old Yeller never bites it. There’s also a good chance that much of her upset is about what she thinks your reaction means — that you don’t care about her feelings. Try putting on a new you — telling her that you understand how hard it is for her to see animals suffer, that you’ll let her know when she can uncover her eyes when you’re watching TV, and that you’ll go alone to movies in which aliens snack on deer. This should dial back the tension so you two can snuggle on the couch together, watching humans being shot, bludgeoned and hacked to pieces. (Do the gentlemanly thing and cover her eyes if the camera pulls out to reveal an ant trap.)

(c)2013, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail ( Weekly radio show:


:) November 14, 2013 at 10:37 am

It’s just so easy to give up on marriage or any commitment any more and even easier for so called advice columnists to advise people to do so.
Upset, your young husband sounds a whole lot like mine did when we were first married. It seemed like I gave 90% to his 10%. But I loved him and I knew he loved me so we, or I, stuck it out and just learned to live with his seemingly selfish behavior. He eventually grew up and if you asked him now he would be embarrassed of the way he acted then.
We have been married 38 years now and he is the sweetest, most considerate man I know. We are best friends and do everything together, yes, even things I want to do.
Do everything before you just give it up, in my case it was well worth the sacrifices.

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Phil November 21, 2013 at 8:02 pm

You are young and like everyone else deserve as happiness in life. While marriage is a very sacred vow sometimes you make a mistake or you realize you’re the only one invested in the relationship. I’ve been there. I fought it for 12 yrs. and realized one key thing. You can’t change people, they are who they are. If that a not what works for you move on. Life will go on. You will find someone who deserves your affection. And don’t worry about any stigma that some may place on you. Luckily for them they have never had a reason to be there or their too naive or in confident enough to live their lives. Think long and hard but also listen to your heart. Good luck!

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