Friday, August 01, 2008

Eating, Cheating, & The Ursula Strategy

A very close relative of mine has been married three times. I'll call him Vic. He's a well-degreed professional. His first wife had only high school diploma and no ambition whatsoever, not even to work. His mother warned them they'd have nothing to talk about, but this went unheeded.

The first wife might have kept her marriage intact, but laundry was always stacked up to the ceiling, dishes piled up in the sink, and dinner rarely ready when he arrived home from working long, hard days. This was amazing since she all she had to do was sit on her ass all day and watch their two young kids.

He encouraged her to take college classes or get a job if she was bored, but she declined. The worse part was that her weight doubled. She was five feet tall, and later almost looked to be five feet wide.

Ladies, when you start eating, they start cheating. Men can tolerate a lot of shit, but doubling your weight is a major betrayal of expectations. Cry and bitch all you want that there's no excuse for a man to cheat. Bullshit. You're cheating on him with food when food becomes your new lover.

I asked why he finally left her.

"I don't like to eff fat chicks," he said bluntly. "I can live in a pigsty and eat frozen dinners if I have to, but that's it."

A lot of men don't mind a little extra padding on a woman, and expect it after marriage. Morbid obesity is a whole 'nuther ballgame.

His second wife was sharp. She was also a professional and had plenty of opinions, and they'd often argue. For a lot of reasons, however, they broke up after over a decade. One was that she became extremely sensitive to the aging process - hers.

They were close in age, and the opposite sex paid them both a lot of attention. This slowed down for her after she turned 40, which is the typical experience for women. She had always been a flirtatious woman, mainly because she was insecure and needed constant reassurance of her attractiveness, but now hardly anyone was noticing.

He, on the other hand, still had plenty of women flirting with him, and many of them were in their 20s and 30s who could care less that he was married. She knew this because they worked at the same hospital.

This made her more insecure, then suspicious. In the past they would laugh at how others found them attractive. Now it wasn't funny because not many men were noticing her. She asked him if he were cheating.

Well, they both had histories of cheating on each other, and this is how they got started when he was married to his first wife. Each had strayed a during the marriage but forgave each other.

Of course he denied and lied; he wanted to stay married, and as he told me, he had cheated, but not that often.

"Well maybe you should stop," I said.

"Even when I have, she keeps accusing me of effing every woman in the building. My schlong ain't that great."

I had to laugh.

When trust is gone, love goes out the window and the spouse or lover out the door. They parted after two years of this, along with the increasing arguments over shit that didn't matter. I know because I'd see it at family gatherings or at their house when she just had to be right about everything. We could see him gradually pulling away emotionally long before she could.

Well, as they say, what goes around, comes around. This ain't true all the time, but was this time - for her.

She had been single when she flirted with him and coaxed him away from his first marriage gone bad. Now she was on the other side, and like nearly every woman I've ever provided therapy to, she couldn't understand how or why it happened to her.

Ladies, I'll warn you now. For some weird reason, men seem to get away with cheating and leaving their wives a lot more often than women, although they do get hit hard financially. Cheating is more socially acceptable for men, but they also have more social support, ie, their buddies are generally more forgiving (unless they're all highly religious) and they have less problem in finding an 'understanding' girlfriend more quickly. It ain't fair, but that's how it often goes.

We can blame this on fewer available men or Mother Nature and our socio-biology or whatevah, it just is. If you want a non-cheating man, you're more likely to get one if you're not involved with him when he's married or engaged. I don't count single guys with girlfriends. If they're single and only dating, chances are they're still looking. Or not looking at all and just enjoying their freedom from commitment and responsibility.

Vic's third wife, Patty, like the first one, has only a high school diploma and thin on conversation. When they were dating, I asked him why he wasn't bored.

"I don't care if she's not smart or educated," Vic said. "It's just not important to me. I'd rather she be a good companion."

Patty is the prettiest of the three, dresses well, is a great housekeeper, decorator, and cook. If she has opinions which disagree with his, she keeps them to herself. While she isn't stupid by a long shot, she's so devoid of education or interests outside of the strictly traditional, homemaker kind of feminine roles that she refuses to play board games or even name states beginning with the letter 'M'.

Her first husband was highly successful. I'm not sure why they broke up, but at the wedding of one of her children, Patty's ex-husband told my mother that she ruined his life.

She jumped from her ex to living with Vic in less than a month, which was easy since they had been messing around off and on for years while each was married. This is what her ex was referring to when he privately shared his anger with my mother.

If you look at or remember my Social Dating & Mating Chart from the first of these Hard Rock Love installments, Vic and Patty did a trade in.

Vic traded in his 2nd wife for slightly younger, much prettier wife who is there to serve him, not have lively debates or worry him to death if another woman looked at him.

She traded up - she ditched her successful 1st husband for more successful 2nd husband. Since she has little interest in learning about or discussing the world beyond home - which is what he wanted - the two were a match, as could be visualized on my Compatibility Chart.

Were it not for these two men, Patty would be living in a dive in a bad neighborhood. It took years for me to respect her, but I finally did - because she makes him happy.

She's a quiet person who was born poor. Her mother died young and she was raised by an abusive grandmother, and this tells us that many of her emotional and material needs went unmet as a child and teen. She was used to being dominated, and always craved a pretty home of her own.

Patty did the best with the hand fate dealt her. She took advantage of her beauty, developed a wonderful taste in fashion and decorating, and has been good wife to Vic in meeting his every need.

In return, Vic consistently treats her well and with respect, buys her anything he wants, and will stay married to her until death do they part.

I'll admit I was jealous of this for a long time, because me and my girlfriends played it by the book. Hell, I still resent that she did so little to end up with so much materially, although my soul would die if I had to live as a servant rather than an equal partner.

The Ursula Strategy worked well for her
. That's what I call it, and the concept comes from the movie, The Little Mermaid. Ursula, an older, over-weight, hard-azzed witch offered a deal to the soft and young Little Mermaid.

Mermaid would have to give up her voice to the witch, and be ensured of getting her prince. This brief scene and song is fantastic in summing up Ursula's strategy, which has been used for eons by women:

Interestingly, my mother gave me the same basic advice, which went unheeded. She was from a very different generation. I came of age in my teens on the tail end of women's equality in all areas: sexuality, school, career, and financial independence. I believed I could have all, and so do many young women today.

Most of my girlfriends worked hard at self-improvement in education, career, and being honest and loyal in love relationships - and many of them, including myself, are still unmarried, and are either childless or have one child by birth or adoption.

Many of us - and by us I mean the kind of people likely to read blogs who are young, single, upwardly mobile and educated women, and particularly black women - like to think this is the key to a good life and attracting and keeping love, but it ain't.

Maybe you will and maybe you won't luck up and meet someone with the same mindset who can appreciate this, and preferably it will happen when you're young enough to have kids, if you want to have a family.

Don't buy the bull that you have plenty of time and can have a baby until your early 40s. Fertility drops slows down after age 30, and drops rapidly after age of 35.

The Little Mermaid got her voice back in the film, but she was willing to lose it to get her Prince - and did during that time. In the modern, feminist Disney version, however, he knew she was the one after he heard her sing. Real life isn't always this clean and tidy.

My relative Vic's third wife never got her voice, and he thinks she's happy. I see someone who looks anxious to please but otherwise comfortable with him and her life. If she began 'speaking up' and having strong opinions which disagreed with his, he'd probably become very unhappy. Then she'd be unhappy, and the marriage might be doomed.

There's a difference between love and comfort. We pick our strategies and make our choices. These always have consequences. This applies to women and men.

One choice I suggest to young women is to develop more charm, and to use a little less energy in being right all the damn time in conversations with dates and boyfriends.

I had to get older to see this flaw in myself and my girlfriends. Just because you're educated and have opinions doesn't mean you have to ram it down a man's throat. It's castrating to him on an emotional and intellectual level for them, because that's simply how they are.

All of my friends were as lovely as the Little Mermaid, but one bitter disappointment after the other turned some of them into Ursula's: women who grew bitter became ugly on the inside and some on the outside too. They have an breathtakingly low opinion of men.

You can spot them a mile away. Whether they're talking or writing, they spew out hate designed to make all men, except a few designated saints, look bad. They chose to be independent to an extreme and always right or obnoxiously superior - rather than compromise, have charm, and get love and orgasms from men.

At the same time, ladies, don't let a man castrate you of your voice unless your priority is a comfortable life, rather than one guided by genuine love and friendship with your lover or husband.

It's all about finding a balance.


Hope you enjoyed this Hard Rocks Love #3, Eating, Cheating, And The Ursula Strategy, which is a 8-2008 reprint from my series.


  1. You really need to become an author. You are so insightful, sharp and write great posts.


  2. Readers, Quick update to keep this post accurate. I just ran across this article. A new Pew study results shows that in 2008, 14% of US births were to mothers 35 and older. While this is phenomenal from a bio-historical perspective, the average woman is still pushing her luck mighty hard if she waits until her late 30s to have her first child.

  3. Preach it! So very true, most men really don't give a rat's ass about a woman's success. I recently read a book that talked about this, the target audience was white women but its applicable to all single women. One of the men in the book was a powerhouse attorney a real up and comer. He ended up settling with a woman who was a clerk in a store and he was happy. Women who knew him professionally were like why? At the end of the day he wanted a woman that made him feel good and cared about him.

    To some degree folks have said the same about my husband. When we were dating, I was a HS dropout and here he was with a graduate degree from a prestigious university and good career. I recall meeting his friends and then trying to throw shade at me, one couple in particular they were both Ph.d's...well 15 years later here we are and I did eventually go back to school.

    The thing was my hubby wanted a woman he could connect with and my lack of formal education was not a barrier. Yet flip this script and how many sistas would have given a brotha like me a chance?

    Then we wonder why the hell we are alone. Excellent post.

  4. IMO, women sacrifice and compromise MORE than men in any relationship (married, dating, friends w/ benefits). I think it's ridiculous to have to 'dumb' yourself down to make him feel important, but to each his own.

    I think those signs would be exhibited in the relationship early enough to know whether you'd want the relationship to proceed. Degrees and letters (Dr., MBA, PH.d) behind your name are not indicative of whether you can make someone happy (although financially it/they could be an asset).

    Men like to be catered to, plain and simple, but I'm not advocating being anyone's doormat. Date enough to find someone that compliments YOU, but check yourself in the process.

    I'd like to hear what some of your single readers' take is on this topic. Nice post!

  5. Penny, I agree, and why I said, "my soul would die if I had to live as a servant rather than an equal partner."

    The over-eating, the cheating with another woman's husband to win him as yours, and the old fashioned Ursula Strategy have pitfalls or blowback for many women. I do think, however, that some of us edu-ma-cated ones could use a little more charm and less of that know it all quality.

    BGIM, Never knew the "Spousal Unit", as you affectionately call him, had a grad degree, nor even thought about it. But you know what? I think he saw innate intelligence in you on that first date, along with charm and beauty. In you, he found someone he could talk with, so I'm not surprised he married you.

    It's the smart guys who choose women that have little to say and little curiosity about the world that puzzle me. I'd be bored to tears with someone like this, whether they had schooling or not.

    One of my best relationships was with one of smartest and most interesting men I know, and he never finished college. Like Bill Gates, he didn't need to, to do well in life. Word to the sistas and brothas: There are jewels like this walking around.

  6. Love this post! I think many intelligent modern women think it has to be one or the other, you're either smart or feminine, never both. That's their biggest mistake. Men may not notice the details of making a home, but they do notice the general feel of it, emotionally and physically. And why wouldn't a woman know these things anyway, for herself? Even if you're single, they make the difference between living nicely and living like a bum.
    About the smart guys who choose not-so-smart women: I think they have other character flaws (and they know it!) that lead to such a compromise. My father is handsome (Tom Selleck type), smart, funny, and very charming. His wife is really dumb and annoying, but she worships him and waits on him hand and foot, and she's a good homemaker. He admitted to me that he often feels very lonely with her, and sometimes he's embarrassed with her in public, yet I know they'll stay together forever. Because, deep down, he knows he is such a difficult asshole, that no extraordinary woman who has all the qualities would stay with him for more than a few years. Maybe your friend Vic is in the same position.

  7. Great post, I am going to have to read it again.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  8. This is an excellent post!!!

    Most of us are about as faithful as our options. Until we learn to stop being so damned greedy and appreciate what we have for what it is, we'll forever be unhappy.

    People separate all the time and it seems to start when they stop rowing their collective both together and start rowing in opposite directions.

    It is what it is.


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