Savage Love

Full-Throated

Comments

1

GRIZ!

2

Well, at least my vocal chords work. :)

3

You type with your vocal chords?

4

Oh yeah, I guess we do have that technology now. I just don't really see you using it.

5

"If gay men collapsed into puddles every time someone assumed we were straight, GEAR, we'd have to be reclassified as a liquid"

I'll have to get that framed, or printed on a t-shirt.

Griz @ 1 - Congrats!

6

Yes! Completely agree. GEAR - What a fucking tool!

7

@3: I guess you didn't see (read?) the humor in my comment @2, Jack. Go to last week's SL to get an idea of what parts of me currently aren't working. At least I still have my voice intact, and, best of my knowledge, bear no symptoms of coronavirus or respiratory problems.
@5 Ricardo: Thank you for the congrats. I couldn't help but jump at the chance to enthusiastically be FIRDT this week. :) and LOL! Agreed and seconded on Dan's kickass quote.
Dan the Man, I'd love to order a T-shirt with that quote printed. I'd wear it proudly. That should get the nomination for best Savage Love Quote of 2020.

9

I feel badly for CAST's wife, who is now getting resentment over a dealbreaker she didn't know existed when she made the deal.
But if they had a failed conversation a few years ago, I feel like he ought to have had this dealbreaker talk, oh, say, sometime before 18 months ago.

10

LW2 needs to consider timing. Given my experience with multiple kids, your partner is not interested in talking about sex right away. Of course, you could use what is likely a down time sexually to have a non-pushy conversation since that conversation happens at a time that is not in the moment.

I didn't know that there were casts that could be slipped on and off. If that's the case, then I can't see why any reasonable person would put up a fight as long as that reasonable person is partnered with another reasonable person (i.e., someone who isn't demanding to have her wear the cast every time they fuck). It seems to me that a lot of people who write to Dan with mostly vanilla requests need to have their partners read the column as well. A woman whose husband is requesting a cast from time to time is going to feel a lot better about it when she compares that request to a guy who wants to give a sex worker head while she snorts coke and talks on the phone with her friends.

11

@8: Well, theoretically yes, but which is the actual case? Is there a dream woman out there who’s single, keen to gain a stepchild, willing to move to be with our LW, and delighted to share the joy of medical strappings? Very careful research would be in order before ditching the relatively good thing OP has.

I have a feeling it’s more likely that any woman who has to wear an orthopaedic device for medical reasons would be very much not into having her disability sexualised (that would be someone like me.) I’d bet that even fewer women in OP’s vicinity who don’t need a cast would be into wearing one - what’s in it for them?

12

“We have a nine month old child,” tacked right at the end of your letter, cast fetish man. This a joke? You’d throw your family over over a cast fetish. Pull the other one. You’ve got a job to do now and that is to rear a healthy and happy human. If I was your wife and suddenly this fetish which has been denied for years now, right, came bubbling to the surface I’d be thinking I could see you in a cast. Few broken bones and you might wake up to yourself. Go to a hospital, lots of casts there. Enjoy your fetish anyway you can.

13

Seriously cast fetish man, your wife was pregnant for nine months now you have a nine month old baby. Yes it’s a tough job. Didn’t you read the fine print? Don’t stress your wife out with this now, when you both need your heads down and tails up to get your child moving along.
You’ve set this woman up and why? Threaten the marriage, she feels an ultimatum has been issued, then of course she’s resentfully going to say ‘oh ok to save our marriage I’ll do it. ‘ she’s pissed off you’d even bring this up now, now with a fragile, crying, shitting, demanding baby human on the loose. Get over yourself. This is not the time.

14

@13 LavaGirl: It appears CAST's wife has TWO babies to be concerned about.

15

Speaking from personal experience, walk her up to the fetish slowly. My husband confessed his to me - I'd literally never had an inkling it was a thing. We each have our own computers, in separate spots in the house, and it's not like we're chillin' in the bedroom watching dirty movies together. One night he just blurted it out. I've read enough Savage Love to know that it was really important to have some chill, even though it seemed super weird to me. So I thought on it. And then I baby stepped toward it. "I'm comfortable doing [kind of related thing]." Next time, "I'm comfortable doing [slightly more related thing]." Repeat, until I was doing it. Admittedly, it does little for me (and I've even tried watching dirty movies of it, to try to understand it from the other side), I kind of don't get it. But it's fairly non-taxing on my end, and I like the feeling of the shift in the power dynamic, so sure. I'll chip in. Knock yourself out, I guess. So CAST, walk her toward it slowly, and let her roll into it her way. Spook her by going too fast, and enjoy 18 years of child support payments. You can get where you want to go, if you're willing to go her speed.

16

"If gay men collapsed into puddles every time someone assumed we were straight, GEAR, we'd have to be reclassified as a liquid." HAHA, that deserves to join "unfairness sloshes round the bottom of relationships like water at the bottom of a canoe" as classic Danisms.

17

This column doesn't exactly make straight men look good!

CAST, seriously? "She's recently offered to participate, but only because she thinks she needs to in order to "save our marriage." How do I cope with this?" You say, "Thank you." You do your best to turn any "resentment" in on yourself, because you're the one who hid your fetish and then made both the marriage mistake and the child mistake. She sounds like she IS being open-minded; you sound like you're punishing HER for your own kink negativity. Like Dan said, take that reluctant yes for an answer; it's the best you can hope for, and more than you deserve.

And GEAR, really? Check your homophobia. Being presumed gay isn't an insult but, like Dan says, whining to a gay man that you were (gasp!) presumed gay because of your kinks IS an insult. I hope we get some letters this week from decent straight men, because they kind of need to redeem themselves after these two.

18

CAST, you had a failed attempt to sit around for a couple of hours watching a movie with your wife wearing a cast?

How about making your wife this deal, she gets to sit around, uninterrupted, for an evening wearing a cast while you take all of the responsibility for taking care of the kiddo, making dinner, refilling her wine glass, whatever. If this would really do it for you, there's a good chance she'd be GGG for this.

19

Victorian @9: "CAST's wife ... is now getting resentment over a dealbreaker she didn't know existed when she made the deal." Bingo. CAST is 100% to blame here. They made one attempt to realise this fantasy, which didn't go well, and instead of realising he needed this more than he needed her he made a baby with her. The more I think about CAST, the more I think his wife is better off without him, but he should at least stick it out until that child is in school!

Lava @12-@13, well said.

Miclogger @15, great post. CAST should put this on the back burner until the child is older -- I'm not sure three to six months will cut it; he should wait until her appetite for vanilla sex returns -- then, since she has said she's willing to do it, for him (why else?), they could work out some sort of timetable. Lava @12 makes a good point that there are other ways to indulge this fetish than by issuing ultimatums to a tired wife.

Is there a reason these previously unimportant fetishes seem to leap to the fore so often when a baby is in the picture? Perhaps they're convenient excuses for men who just don't want to do all the work and make all the sacrifices of being parents? Just a thought.

20

Mike @18, an excellent solution.

21

@17 BiDanFan: My past track record with straight men sexually doesn't look particularly good, either. I'm currently 0 for 2.
@18 MikeXW for the CAST thread WIN!

22

Griz isn't doing too badly after another movie night--director Stanley Kramer themed----and comfortably numbed by Cabernet Sauvignon. No typos---yay!
Wish me luck today (March 4, 2020). I am reporting my taxes via H & R Block. I'm not looking forward to this year's impact of Trumpty Dumpty's tax breaks for the superrich-only this year.

23

I was 'offended! I am 'resentful'! No, you are an ass. You are not an ass for having a cast or mummification fetish. That is neither here nor there--and just a matter for you and your sexual partner(s). But, when you have something like that, it behooves you to put yourself in your lover's shoes and understand how your importunity and neediness (if you have to ask for it) comes over to them. It may seem strange or puzzling; it may seem you care about the fetish more than about them, or it may be something they can shift to accommodate.

The wife saying 'I'll do this to save our marriage' is being level-headed and realistic. They have a child; she wants the lw to have a parenting relationship with his child, she wants the family to stay together. In a way, 'I'll do it to save the marriage' is an expression of love, albeit an exhausted expression of love. Like Dan says, CAST has just to take yes as an answer. 'I find casts as sexy as you'!: No, he isn't going to hear that, not with the choices he has made; that ship has sailed.

24

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills with these comments. Wearing a cast? Unless she has some emotional trauma associated with wearing a cast stemming from an incident in her childhood or something, wearing a cast seems like the most low-effort, low gross factor, easy thing to do to please your partner and requires the barest of GGGness. How is the response to that, from the beginning, not "if this is something that gets you going and/or is important to you, of course I'll do it for you!"? And "to save our marriage" is such a shit response to it. It says "I'll do this not because it's important to you and want you to be happy and fulfilled, but because I have to, begrudgingly and resentfully, to keep you in this marriage. So obviously anytime I do it you should feel guilty, not grateful." What a shitty way to be toward your spouse.

And 9 month old is not a newborn. They take some work, obviously, but putting your sex life completely on hold for what, 4 years until they're in school? Where do you draw the line? And it isn't like this is talking about getting back to swing clubs or getting the dungeon rinsed down and ready to use again, it's wearing A CAST. That doesn't require a bunch of effort on her part, mental or physical, so the idea that he is putting something unreasonable on her when they have a baaaaaaay-beeeeeee, is ridiculous. Where the hell is your GGG, people?

Basically, the wife sounds like an asshole.

25

@RETCH:
Since, as Dan wrote "there aren't a lot of studies on OSA and rough oral sex", why not give your throat a month off and see if doing so improves your condition?

Yes, I know you don't want to, and don't want to need to, but if it does nd it's worth it to you to reduce this behavior you're into in order to not feel "awful all the time", then you can choose.

@GEAR
"mostly gay men...invest in this type of gear. I was nevertheless offended by his assumption. Your thoughts?"

My thought is that your offense was homophobic.

26

TheRob @24, I feel like you are taking crazy pills too. Asking a partner to wear a cast may not be the world's biggest ask, no, but it's not the request that's unreasonable, it's his attitude. HE is the one who failed to underscore the importance of this; SHE is the one who's said she's willing to do it "to save their marriage," which wouldn't have needed "saving" if he could have communicated like a grownup about this in the first place. Yet he still thinks this "need" (which he, mysteriously, didn't really "need" until he had a child to raise, hmm) will be "perpetually unmet"? When she literally agreed to meet it? Like Griz says, there are two babies in this woman's life. She's not the asshole.

27

I could see asking the wife to wear the cast in private, but I think asking her to do so in public is crossing the line. Wearing a cast in public means that she runs the risk of being seen by friends, family, co-workers, etc. who would then ask questions. This would force her into having to explain why she’s wearing a cast. Even if someone doesn’t ask, they are going to start drawing conclusions. If I saw one of my neighbors with casts frequently I might assume that she was being abused

28

I agree with Mike@18 and BDF@19: LW2 didn't "suddenly" decide that this fetish was a dealbreaker. LW2 got his wife fully locked down and vulnerable with a baby and then pulled an "I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

There's no talk about how to make this enjoyable for her and Mike's 100% on the money - if he framed it as "let me play caretaker/doctor and wait on you hand and foot while you wear a cast - maybe have a glass of wine and put your feet up (en cast) while I mop the floor?" Yeah, she'd probably be into it. Instead, this is all about him and his wants, and how EVER can he go though life without resenting the woman who believed him when he gave his wedding vows and also bore his child. He's a selfish fuck.

29

Maybe CAST and GEAR are… heteroflexible? I mean GEAR kind of doth protest too much anyway. Maybe they can spare their wives the tedium of their fragile ego (CAST) and fragile masculinity (GEAR), hook up for a little casty-mummy fun and then, you know, go make supper, bring in a living and change diapers like the true best selves they wanna be?

30

FU Rob@24. 9 month olds are hard work. Ask any involved parent. while you don't have to put your sex life on hiatus for 4 years, it's never going to be the same as when you didn't have kids until they're outta the house.

31

One of the reasons we have so many misguided questions coming from married men with young children is because sex during pregnancy and after are hardly ever addressed.
Back when ”we were pregnant,” i.e. my ex, our progressive provider offered bunch of related classes. They touched a bit on body changes during pregnancy and contained mostly useless breathing exercises during the actual birth. And while all classes were attended by the pregnant women and their companions only two men joined the 15 women or more during the breast-feeding class, because this is such a taboo or at least was here in the US some 30 years ago.
No one talked about safe/desired positions during pregnancy or acknowledging and welcoming masturbation when the lack of mutual intimacy may be a factor.
And while all classes were attended by the pregnant women and their companions only two men joined the 15 women or more during the breast-feeding class since this is still such a taboo here in the US, or at least was some 30 years ago.

(There were rumors about women getting horny during pregnancy which seem to have something in common to the idea that a child will always have a daily two-hour afternoon nap: it only happens to others.)

I agree that CAST’s case is a bit extreme for what I’m about to say, yet the lack of preparation and avoiding the sex issues ahead of time often make non-pregnant partners wonder what happened to the fun, sex-loving partner they knew during dating and early marriage and add to a growing resentment that could have been mostly avoided.
I’m glad those issues are addressed in SL but until they are freely discussed and accepted by the general population, we will keep getting such letters.

32

BDF @ 19 - "Is there a reason these previously unimportant fetishes seem to leap to the fore so often when a baby is in the picture? "

My impression (which is just an impression, having no experience whatsoever with pregnancy/childbirth/child rearing in my relationships) is that as the frequency and/or intensity of sex goes down during the aforementioned pregnancy/childbirth/child rearing period, men fall back on their masturbatory fantasies and suddenly come to the "realization" that they can't go on any longer without them IRL as an excuse to not "do all the work and make all the sacrifices of being parents".

33

@Dadddy @8: "Be in your marriage because you want to be, not because you're afraid you won't find someone else."

I have no problem with this theory. So long as he takes the baby with him if he goes.

34

Ricardo @ 32 does have a point. As someone who also had their own oppressed, shameful desires/fetishes/inclinations self-denied I would also ad that one may hope that once they start dating/getting married/having a child their other interests will magically fade away.
In CAST’s case it is also probably because he may feel he waited long enough while not having any sex at all and assumes that now that the baby is 9-month old it’s time to resume previous level sexual activity as well as explore uncharted territories.
Speaking of new territories, it’s possible that CAST is experiencing what a recent SL guest expert described as a newly-out-there-fetish exuberance. He may be misinterpreting his wife reluctantt tolerating this as an ok to go full cast.

In other news: I’m happy to read that RETCH preferences may actually help their health issues. I wonder if any of the anti-snoring devices out there could also help.

35

CAST, you totally blew this one (don't get married and have a baby wo/ understanding & disclosing your fetishes). And then your wife totally blew it (just sit on the couch w/ a fucking cast on every once in a while for Christ's sake you big baby). And now that your wife has agreed to participate, you are about to blow it again (don't leave your wife and child when she's finally ready to compromise on your surprise dealbreaker).

These things take time. Especially when both of you appear to be idiots. She just agreed to give it a go. Be PATIENT, and give it a go. Don't be stupid... again.

36

This is a mild fetish, no probs putting a cast on, long as the exchange is acceptable. There could be all sorts of arrangements made, as Mike@18 suggested.
Start with a foot cast, he change all nappies while he’s home for x time. .
A lower leg cast, he does the baby’s washing and cleans their bum for x time. A full body cast will cost him. Then if he’s talking duration, like a whole day in a cast, price tag will be up there.
LW, I think the mob here have seen thru your attempted lie to yourself. This is not about such a mild fetish this is about you freaking the fuck out about the job you’ve just signed your life away to do. ParenthooD. You’re a father now, a dad. Of course sex changes and stops and starts after pregnancy and with a new baby. The only thing you should be thinking of with a baby, outside the mammoth tests of keeping your baby safe and alive, is who gets to have a lie in or sneak off for a quick siesta. Going without sleep is one of the biggest costs. So what’s the story LW? Come clean with yourself then talk with your wife.
It sounds like you’ve offered this experience to your wife under threat. Not a way to treat a woman who just went thru a harrowing time.. which pregnancy and birth are. Women can die at birthing times as can the baby. Luckily for both of them and you, they survived.
Now only nine months into a life sentence, you’re calling foul?

37

@Bi's question/comment at 19 - it does seem as though sometimes power dynamics shift in a het couple during pregnancy and directly after, once a uterus-having person is "locked down" during a pregnancy, perhaps perceived as vulnerable to pressure from their partner in order to keep the relationship going when they're perhaps less independent. (Some of which is just cultural programming, but that stuff is hard to break.) Beyond your (Bi's) noting that there seems to be a recurring SL motif with letters coming in regarding issues like this cropping up, there is some statistical proof that, for example, domestic violence increases (begins or accelerates) during pregnancy. It seems to me that much less awful but still not great relationship issues would also be affected, such as a selfish partner wanting what they want and thinking now's the time to get it while they have the upper hand.

However, the subsequent thoughtful discussion by CMD and Ricard regarding the non-gestating partner's feeling of loss of intimacy and sex during pregnancy & the first few months makes absolute sense. (As well as of course, most relationships don't devolve to abuse.)

CMD, with your personal story, you were particularly informative and moving - and I really do not think we've really gotten too much more progressive culturally regarding sex & pregnancy., if at all. For example, it's not just men whose needs are not addressed, I think we still have some weird ideas re women aren't supposed to be sexual when pregnant (see those awful baby-doll collars in maternity clothes?). That would also affect the uterus haver in navigating thier own sexuality, let alone their partner's needs, especially if something newish/not vanilla becomes urgent.

Although CMD was very moving about his own story, CAST doesn't trigger much empathy in his letter - he came across as pretty selfish and entitled, like many commenters who've jumped on him have noted. But perhaps he is also the victim of our cultural programming - and like many men, hasn't learned/been taught emotional intelligence to see outside his own wants and needs and how they affect others.

It's just too bad, because CAST is like many people who haven't learned that communicating with empathy & compassion with their partner and providing for their partner's needs will get THEIR OWN wants and needs met much faster than pushing their partner for what they want. Demands and ultimatums work - short-term - especially if you can leverage a perceived power imbalance, but they aren't successful as a long-term strategy.

Good relationships are not zero sum, people! They are a feedback loop. (Same said for good sex.)

38

It’s a leap LW, where you take your focus off ME and place that focus on the other, your child. The next couple of years you will have to have eyes in the back of your head as your child learns to talk and walk. This is their time and you are one of their guides. My grandson is three and a half, and he still has to be watched all the time. This is work LW, and this is your work.

39

And don’t think LW they won’t remember how you behaved when they were children. All to come back at you years later.
Embrace your child, then how you and your wife negotiate pleasure time will come from you both doing what needs to be done, first. Which is rear your child well. Yes sacrifice is involved, and anxiety and fear. God who would do this to themselves? It’s the child’s love and innocence which sustains, and nothing is sweeter.

40

CAST sucks. To even think about leaving your wife and infant because of your lame (no pun intended) fetish is ridiculous. And as Dan said, you would NOT fair well in the dating market. AT ALL! If someone told me they left their wife/newborn for this stupid reason I’d be out of there so fast! The only women who wouldn’t are women who are desperate. Pathetic!!!!! Man up and just deal until the kid is old enough to sleep through the night and feed itself, FFS!!!! Seriously- what is wrong with people!?!?

41

Ms Lava - Three and a half is not that bad. I was playing chess long before three and a half. Try him; who knows? He could be the next Capablanca.

43

As for the first letter, I seem to recall that Andrew Sullivan had sleep apnea; this would have been just the question for him, and one on which a conservative Guest Expert probably would not ruffle many feathers.

On to L3. Given that anyone who seriously mistook me for straight would have to have too many ramen noodles clogging his little grey cells, I rather find it a useful marker. Once or twice in the past I've wondered what I did wrong to make anyone think that, but never anything worse. After all, unlike some people, I don't dress straight, not that there's anything wrong in so doing, but it does help.

44

Dadddy: ...of a "man" who left his new family for a fetish? I don't think that would be enough.

46

CMD @34, thank you for that compassionate post. Yes, CAST has lost a part of his marriage, the part where the intimacy is between just the two of them. He is not handling his new reality well, but he does deserve some sympathy. He does have needs. They need to work round the issue of his terrible timing and negotiate an accommodation. But he needs to start by losing the attitude. Her priority is the baby, not him, and that is how it should be!

Philosophy @35, good call on apportioning the blame. Yes, if she'd been more GGG when he first asked her to participate, instead of, who knows, laughing him off perhaps, they would not be at this point. She gets, let's say, a tenth of the blame. But she didn't write in. He did and he should take Dan's tough love and Miclogger and Mike's concrete suggestions.

Dadddy @42: A deeply grateful man? Hah, not this man. This man is not deeply grateful, he resents her because her agreement-under-duress was not enthusiastic enough. Perhaps if he can show her some gratitude, he will, as you say, get a more willing wife. Works both ways.

47

1 minute on Google finds a fake arm cast a person can slip on for under $12 from Etsy. Your choice of a dozen or so colors.

I doubt the LW's wife would have a huge problem slipping one of those on from time to time.

50

I have to say, I love the typical professional demeanor of the experts Dan brings in to offer commentary on skeezy sex. Granted, I also love(d - he hasn't been on the Lovecast in a while) Dr. Barak Gaster's more casual demeanor, but there's something really fun about the contrast between socially normative professional demeanor and non-normative sexuality questions.

CAST should take "yes" for an answer (possbliy my favorite . Wearing a cast for an hour or two (I'm assuming we're talking about a prop that is easily donned and removed, not a fresh cast wrap that has to be dried to work and soaking or sawing to remove) isn't a huge ask, and unless his wife has some sort of specific trauma trigger related to casts or something that temporarily inhibits full range of motion, I see no material reason to object on her part.

As for GEAR's "no homo" hangup, it's tedious, but (in major USA urban centers) I feel like we're at the point now where it barely merits an eye-roll - a raised eyebrow or tilted-head ORLY? expression at most. I understand that allistics often can't help but internalize normative values, and it's not fair to blame them for their dysfunctional neurology.

51

I think this is the first time I have ever read something Hunter78 wrote and didn’t simply roll my eyes and move on. Because he is spot on IMO.

CAST wanting his wife to pretend to be hurt IS kind of creepy, and CAST IS pulling a power play here. “Do what my penis wants or I will leave you, and oh by the way I’m offended that you say yes to my ask” is a hell of a power play. It’s not like the young man who wrote in years ago asking if asking a partner to wear swim fins in the shower to fuck was a fetish too far.

And to everyone suggesting he negotiate chores for sex, that means he becomes just another chore on her to-do list. HARD NO on that one. CAST is a goddamn adult. He should be doing his fair share of keeping up the housework, because it’s HIS house and he lives there. Making an explicit exchange between housework and tail is stating that housework is not something the person doing housework for in exchange for sex will otherwise do. Same with child care. He should be taking a fair amount of child care because it’s HIS kid too.

52

@John @50:
"I understand that allistics often can't help but internalize normative values..."
That's fancy-talk for "haters gonna hate," right?
"...and it's not fair to blame them for their dysfunctional neurology."
Aw, but it's way more fun than taking the zoomed-out picture.
Besides, shame is a big part of how we shape behavior. Might as well use it to our own ends...

53

@31: "the lack of preparation and avoiding the sex issues ahead of time often make non-pregnant partners wonder what happened to the fun, sex-loving partner they knew during dating and early marriage and add to a growing resentment that could have been mostly avoided"

Okay, sure. At the same time, the lack of sympathy for a partner with a growing-to-7.5-pound (on average) parasite* inhabiting zir abdomen and taking control of various body systems is somewhat concerning. Sure, it's difficult for male-bodied people to imagine, but even imperfect analogies (like eating seven pounds of food in a single sitting) ought to inspire sympathy in an empathetic person. It's entirely normal for pregnancy to trigger dysmorphic feelings, because one's body IS seriously altered, and those don't generally lead people to feel sexy, the same way a large tumor wouldn't leave most people feeling sexy. Further, given that rape is wrong (I agree) and prostitution is illegal (I disagree), our society implicitly expects people to be able to go without partnered sex for possibly long, indefinite periods, so I don't even see it as a big ask for non-pregnant partners to masturbate for sexual release for the term of pregnancy plus recovery time.

*This is technically hyperbole on my part, as a parasite must be of a different species than the host. Of course, that's a special-case exemption specifically intended to discount pregnancy from the definition, as it qualifies otherwise.

54

Sometimes straight guys, even supposedly enlightened ones, don’t realize what dicks they can be. The guy who is upset because someone thought he was gay reminded me of a straight neighbor from years ago. We took him and his wife to gay bingo, which they were looking forward to. But afterwards, the neighbor said, “Wow, I didn’t know there would be so many gay people in the audience - I thought they were just going to be onstage doing the entertainment”.

55

Good one ciods, take the baby with him. He’d find no time to indulge his fetish then. It’s his Atitude which stinks, not the ease of donning a cast. He’s looking for a way out of the family life he’s just help create. Leave the baby with her would be his plan.
Nobody is suggesting staying in a bad marriage, though leaving one when there’s a baby is always going to need a close working partnership if possible. This man is threatening to throw in the towel for dubious reasons, is my point. Threatening his wife who nine months ago gave birth and now they have a vulnerable child in their home. He’s a tosser in my books and he should wake up to himself. Does he love his wife and his baby? Has his belief as stated turned him into a total tool re focusing on jobs that need doing?

56

No letters this week either? Are these not a thing anymore?

Hunter @48, and perhaps that's why Mrs CAST is reluctant to indulge what most of us here are seeing as a rather low-impact kink. She may be worried that it's the tip of an iceberg. I agree too with Dadddy @49 that if what CAST is feeling is resentment and a melodramatic fear that his "needs will be perpetually unmet," they have bigger problems than negotiating a kink, and may need a pro to help them communicate.

John @50, sorry, GEAR doesn't get a "he's allistic, he can't help his homophobic attitude" pass. As comforting as it may feel for you to patronise him in this way, he must be held accountanble.

Slinky @51, I don't think Mike et al were suggesting he withhold housework as a bargaining chip, but making the point that while Mrs CAST is in a cast, she will be temporarily disabled and CAST could help make that appealing for her by waiting on her hand and foot. CAST, if you're reading, do not take these suggestions as "include housework as a bargaining chip." How about make sure you are doing your fair share before coming to your wife to ask any favours.

Lava @55, I skipped that one but yes, yowzers. She's spent nine months gestating a baby and nine months caring for it and he should take it while leaving her for not being "open-minded" enough?? Ciods, rethink that please. I don't think Mrs CAST sees this child as a burden she'd be happy to be rid of.

59

True Fan. A baby isn’t a burden if they are not seen that way. Though still hard yakka. There isn’t enough preparation for how life is going to be post baby’s birth. First child is the hardest. If you go again you know what you’re in for.

60

@56 Bi: My (somewhat sarcastic) point was that men find the "should I leave" calculation a lot easier, as it never* includes caring for the child alone. If our default assumption was that the man would take the baby with him and raise it himself, and that the wife might send a few hundred bucks a month to help (or not, depending on her mood), I bet he would be thinking a lot harder about how to work this out with his wife.

"I don't think Mrs CAST sees this child as a burden she'd be happy to be rid of."
Probably she doesn't. But apparently he does.

And why do we always assume that? It's one of those so-obvious-to-everyone-we-never-even-talk-about-it double standards. Well, I suppose it's mostly true. But the truth of it allows for acres of abuses of this sort. "Sure, I said we'd do this life-long project together--but a few months in, I dunno, it's not as fun as I thought. See ya."

And while I'm ranting: I bet it's less true than we think. I bet there are plenty of women out there right now with young children who would take it back if they could. But if a woman left her husband and nine-month-old child because he wouldn't indulge a kink of hers--or for almost any reason--she'd be considered a monster, and no two ways about it.

I honestly don't know why people reproduce at all.

*or close enough to never as to make no difference for this conversation.

61

RE the typical difficulties couples encounter getting their sex lives back after babies are born.

I’ve long speculated that it’s an evolutionary strategy for spacing births. When the large-brained human child needs to be breastfed for two years before graduating to a diet of fruit, tubers and larvae, closely-spaced births are not a great way for its mother to ensure maximum grandchildren. (A father might be less constrained, depending on the reproductive strategy he’s opted for.)

The child also has its own agenda independent from its mother’s. Competing with lots of young, needy siblings for food and adult attention is not the best start in life. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the universal favourite, bestest place to sleep for young children to sleep is between their parents. Or that young children wake up before their parents can get in that morning quickie.

And there are SO MANY jokes about babies telepathically divining that the grownups are getting amorous and choosing those specific moments to wake up and wail piteously. It might be confirmation bias or there might be something (though not telepathy) to it.

So yeah, I don’t think most parents are prepared for how hard they will have to fight nature to do what has always come naturally. It’s counterintuitive.

And yeah, I think it is often tougher on fathers, especially if they are less closely involved with the infant than the mother is.

But I think fathers do talk about it. They warn expectant fathers that the mother will want the baby in the conjugal bed, and under no circumstances to allow it. (For instance.) A man who isn’t prepared just hasn’t been paying attention.

I think good parental leave policies including compulsory paternal leave would go a lot further than education. When the father is intimately involved with the child, the trade offs are less bleak.

In the traditional setup, the dad gets a lot more responsibility, less attention and less sex. He will get impatient sooner or later.

If he’s splitting breadwinning, domestic responsibilities and childcare with the mother though, he gets cuddling and a relationship with the child; he has increased responsibility without having to fight off those pesky feelings of resentment towards a partner he is financially supporting; and likewise the mother is presumably feeling less resentful towards him.

Note: I AM NOT A PARENT. Feel free to tell me I’m an idiot.

62

Ms Fan - I've wondered about the dailies as well. As for M?? Horstman, at least the spirit of the eyeroll sentence is close to where we want to be. I wish we had a broader vocabulary, as I'm not crazy about disliking one's orientation being misguessed's being on the -phobic side of the line, even though this particular LW could well be on that side of the line.

63

Ms Cummins - Compulsory on the company to allow paternal leave, or on fathers to take it?

64

Ms Ods - I'll adapt the Austenian idea that we all pride ourselves on some quality, real or imagined, into there being some aspect of identity that resonates as especially true with many if not most of us. Thus I'll allow for a fair amount of latitude on not wanting to be mistaken for X. A recent example would be leftists getting quite put out when they thought they were being called class reductionists or tankies.

65

Ciods @60, thanks for clarifying. Yes, if men performed the mental exercise of leaving a marriage with the assumption that this decision would leave them as their children's sole caretaker, most of them -- at least most of the sort who write in to Dan with these fantasies -- would find them a lot less enticing. You're right that we look at men who are considering leaving their spouses and young children over insufficient or the wrong kind of sex as immature, but that we'd look at a woman who was thinking along these lines as not even human, not fit to be a parent. Double standards indeed.

Alison @61, welcome back! I'm not a parent either but your theory makes a lot of sense. In order to limit the number of concurrent needy young toddlers, women's hormones suppress their sex drives as a form of birth control. If only men's did the same, we wouldn't have this problem. It's also interesting to speculate that if fathers changed their schedules as drastically as mothers typically do, their sex drives might change correspondingly. I'm totally with you in normalising paternity leave, FOR SCIENCE!

66

(Also: the scenario where mothers give up paid work for several years up to decades so they can look after children full-time is NOT universal. It does seem surprisingly common in the US though, where childcare is expensive and difficult to find and where binary gender roles are highly valued. Feel free to correct me.)

67

vennominon @64:

Compulsory for fathers to take. Like Sweden.

Here in Canada 12 months of parental leave is part of the compulsory public employment insurance all earners pay into. Either parent or both can take it, though the gestating parent must take at least six weeks.

Typically the gestating parent is also the lowest earner so the couple decide that it makes most sense for her to take the entire leave herself. In Sweden the non-gestating parent is obliged to take some of it to bond with children and to allow the gestating parent to continue a career.

68

John Hortsman @ 53
It was a response to a question why we get so many letters from men who resent their partners for losing interest in sex during pregnancy and beyond.
I think many people are not aware of what’s ahead because the subject is often avoided.
My suggestions come with plenty sympathy for all involved. They include open discussions while suggesting non-PIV alternatives in the context of committed relationships. Unshaming and incorporation of masturbation is one of them, outsourcing is not.

69

(Only some of the 12 months of leave is fully-insured in Canada. The rest is partially insured so you do experience an income reduction.)

70

Alison Cummins- thanks for your thoughtful, interesting contributions to the parental discussion. Rest assured, you're not an idiot.

71

Congratulations Alison. Good luck will shine down on you.
A woman’s body is ready to go, have sex, six weeks after a vagina birth. I didn’t have a C- section so I’m not sure what the time frame is there.
Even if a woman is fully breastfeeding a baby, within a few months, she can get pregnant again. I’d say if sex drops off it’s because the woman knows finally where sex can lead to. A lot of pain and more work.
On the positive side..... they are unique relationships, the ones we can have with our children. And they have with us. And somewhere along the way, when one has been stripped of all pretensions of freedom, it’s interesting to observe human development. Much easier as a grandmother to do that, than as a mother.
People do need to go into parenthood with some real understanding of what it means. Instead so much around having children is a fairy story then wham, wtf is this.

72

It’s not only men who do runners, there are many single dads rearing children when the mother has left.
The thing about a baby, is they feel. And they feel deeply and do so for years. It’s the parents who guide their growth. All of a sudden this gigantic task is upon one.
Empathy is what has to be developed, and that LW, is where you are falling down. If you empathise fully with your baby, rather than be preoccupied with what you want, the rest of your life will flow. If you falter at the task you’ve taken on, your child suffers. No way out now fellow parent, and I wish you good luck with your
process. See it like you’re riding a wave, because it’s never dull with a kid around.

73

It takes a village to raise a child, so of course the pressure in a nuclear family is intense.
Be creative. Grandparents near by, a baby sitter for a few hours. Take her out to dinner, create a scenario with some erotic content, so later on, putting a cast on her body will be a playful thing she’ll do for her man.

74

How’s everyone going out there? I’ve got a stash of Vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, multi B and my normal stash. It’s frightening the racism going on, the girl at the check out has a Chinese boyfriend, and he’s been told to leave shops etc. The man has lived in Australia for nine years.

75

I'm a straight woman and my best friend (also a straight woman) and I often get mistaken for a couple. It makes total sense - either of us could come across as stereotypically gay (i.e. we're both fairly tomboyish) and we're often with her kids. I can't imagine being offended by this - it's a fair assumption. Sometimes we correct people, mostly we don't because who cares if the waiter thinks we're a family? In fact, I WISH we were sexually attracted to each other as that would make both of our lives a lot less complicated, being that we would be compatible as partners in every other way. Alas, we're not, and we both only date assholes who continually disappoint us. Sigh...

77

@75 if you only date assholes, you are the common denominator, and it is your fault. no one else's. an asshole here and asshole there... that's life. all assholes? that's on you. time to think hard about what you are attracted to.

78

@76 family courts make custody decisions based on the best interest of the child, starting by looking at who the primary caregiver is. If men want equal or primary custody then they need to show they've taken an equal or primary role in raising their child. Due to the gendered division of labor is most us households though, it's usually mom.

It's also worth noting that over 90% of custody cases are decided outside of court. The reason there are more single moms than single dads is because that's how the parents decided it should be.

79

@Lava 71 as a parent of 2 small children who I birthed and breastfed, I don't think knowing what pregnancy and birth are like were the reason for my decreased sex drive when they were infants/toddlers. It was the lack of sleep, the constant physical attention they needed, the decreased vaginal lubrication, and the drudgery of the added house chores that made me less likely to want to have sex than before. @Allison 61 YES YES YES 1000 times, mandatory paternal leave would go a long way toward balancing things. My husband had no paternal leave and little vacation, he had no choice but to go back to work almost immediately after the birth of each kid. He just didn't have the time to put in all the hours it takes to get good with babies.

@nyker 75, I too have a female friend who is close to my family and we both have short hair, we would constantly be mistaken for a couple. It actually warmed my heart because for so long gay and lesbian couples were always assumed to be just friends. GEAR is a total homophobe.

80

I had my sleep apnea corrected by surgery, which involved removing my uvula... and I have almost no gag reflex as a result. I also occasionally choke on a piece of ice coming up a straw. Yet I sleep like a baby.
I don't understand why the wife won't wear a fake cast from time to time... it's got to be the least invasive fetish forever.

81

Tim Browne @80:

I don't understand why the wife won't wear a fake cast from time to time...

She will. It just doesn’t turn her on, and that’s not good enough for him.

82

I'm with Hunter78 @48, which may be a first. I see CAST as a controlling sadist.

I was disturbed by this defensive sentence: "I don't want her to be injured in any way and I certainly don't want to injure her." My gut tells me that CAST does feel real sadistic impulses and would secretly prefer she suffer. I don't think he'd be satisfied with a fake arm or leg cast.

He doesn't say the word "fake cast" himself and he mentions a "failed attempt." Since it's hard to envision a failed attempt to wear a fake cast, I believe he wants to put her in a real cast, which would then have to be sawed off. If so, that's way beyond what most people would consider a reasonable ask. And if she's getting the sense (like I am) that he actually prefers her to suffer along the way, that's all the more reason for her to refuse.

My advice would be for him to go to a kink-friendly therapist and try to figure out whether a fake cast would make him happy or whether this fetish is coming from a darker, non-consensual sort of sadism. If it's the latter, he should warn his partners (present and future) so they know to watch out for him manipulating them.

I also agree with Traffic Spiral @28: "LW2 got his wife fully locked down and vulnerable with a baby." He was looking for a vanilla person to control, not an autonomous person with fun, compatible kinks.

83

RETCH writes "I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea [which is] making me feeling tired and awful all the time."

Seems like treating the sleep apnea and getting some good rest would be the first priority. Tim @80 mentions surgery; I think people also do well with CPAP machines, right? Get some sleep, and then figure out how your kink fits into your life.

84

Tim @ 80 - Almost no gag reflex? I don't have sleep apnea, but I'm getting my uvula taken out tomorrow.

85

Ms Cummins - Ooh, that would only work in a country capable of producing ABBA. In most places, I'd hate to recommend enforcing bonding time on someone who didn't actively seek it.

86

I suppose it is progress for straight friends to be taken for SS couples (though I suspect a strong majority of those so perceived would be women) instead of the reverse, though I still think most people would be put out by some particular bad assumption. For instance, suppose someone thought Ms Grizelda to be a Republican... (not to defend LW3, who seems vastly unpleasant, but drawing the line there seems iffy)

If Ms Cute has read Notes on a Scandal by now, she may recall the scene in which Barbara, stopping off for bread and milk after her first supper at Sheba's, contemplates the order of the solitary man in front of her (especially his bounteous supply of Kleenex) and reflects on the snobbery of lonely people, also remembering how she overheard an airline employee ask two fat people if they were going somewhere nice on their holiday, only for both of the two addressed to become extremely offended and draw back crying, "We're not together!"

87

@77 wow, how insightful. Yes, I never considered my role in my relationships. Thank God you're here...

88

EP @ 82
A classic Hunter would also find a way to cast CAST as a cuckold.

Venn@ 85
I would rephrase it as “Done by a country making it work DESPITE producing ABBA.

As for GEAR- yes, he is a homophobe.
Not to discount his attitude nor the challenges faced by gay women, but homophobia has much deeper roots among men where “homo” “sissy” or “like a girl” are often used to degrade other male peers from an early age.
(Correct me if wrong, but girls and young women aren’t known for calling each other “dyke” or related terms while attempting to achieve the same.)
Add to this the fact that most daily humiliation attempts and violent acts against LGBTQ+ folks are directed at gay men (and transwomen), and you get the instinctive, underlined fear among some men for being identified as one.
Yes, toxic masculinity is hurting all of us.

89

@87 your prior comment belies this statement. nevertheless, you are welcome.

90

@61 Alison Cummins: I don't think you're an idiot at all. I'm not a parent, either.
and @69: WA-HOOOO!!!! Congratulations, Alison, on scoring this week's Lucky @69 Award! Savor the envied decadence and bask in the glory. :)
@74 LavaGirl: Racism is truly ugly. I'm really sorry that's happening. Nobody deserves that. Sending hugs, positrons, and VW beeps.
Griz update: So, as predicted, I have endometriosis. My gynecologist has doubled my prescription of Progesterone from 100 mg to 200 mg, with the current Estradiol patches staying the same. I am to check back with her in 3 months. If nothing improves, my gynecologist, retiring next year, has said she'll green light my getting a hysterectomy, whether it's here in Bellingham or in Seattle at the VA hospital.

91

@79, MizM: I was being a smart arse. Yes, it’s the lack of sleep and carrying/ holding/ feeding babies which makes one feel crowded out.

92

@88 CMDwannabe: Agreed and seconded. Toxic masculinity, indeed, hurts all of us.
It a contributing factor as to why I am currently in therapy for service-connected PTSD.
It is one thing to get admiring looks ("Wow--she's pretty') as opposed to being seen as a prime cut of meat.

93

Alison @67, there is a similar system in the UK. Parents have a right to take off up to one year of parental leave, with mothers getting the first six weeks and shared paternity leave for the remainder. Employers are required to pay 90% of their usual pay for the first six weeks then a statutory minimum to month nine, and parents can take an additional three months off unpaid and return to their jobs. However, it was only recently that fathers got more than two measly weeks.

CMD @68: "Unshaming and incorporation of masturbation is one of them, outsourcing is not." I agree with you there. Both parties need to be aware of a reduction in sex during this period and sign on for it. If a guy can't deal with temporary frustration in the service of bringing his child into the world, he should get a vasectomy.

Lava @71, a woman's body may be ready for PIV but she may be psychologically far from it. No one should be pressuring their wife for sex six weeks after birth. Show her tenderness and affection and let her respond in the way she desires.

Lava @72, that's true. I've known a few mothers who have run off, leaving either the dad or her own parents to raise the child.

Philo @77, way to miss the point. Trollololol.

Venn @85, so you're okay with the existence of dads who have zero interest in spending time with their kids? I'm with Alison -- enforce that bonding. If you don't want to bond with your baby, you shouldn't have a baby. Those who don't can spend that time off negotiating a generous divorce settlement.

CMD @88, agree that being seen as gay has more social stigma for straight men than it does for straight women. I am also unaware of closeted lesbians mocking other women and calling them dykes. However, lessening the stigma begins with straight men like GEAR, who is open minded enough to read Savage Love, taking one for Team Fragile Masculinity and being gracious when an incorrect assumption is made.
I'm trying to recall a more recent film, I think a cop buddy movie, where a running gag is everyone reading the two straight male protagonists as a couple and winkingly refusing to believe otherwise. Ring any bells for anyone?

94

In a ideal world Fan, a mother would stay in bed with her baby, recovering for the first month.
When I had my babies, you could stay in the hospital for a week. With one of my babies they had to ask me to leave. Just you and the baby, it was bliss.

95

Ms Fan - Other way around. I'd agree that I'd certainly advise someone who didn't want to bond with a baby to avoid causing or agreeing to a partner's or surrogate's pregnancy (I hope that's sufficiently inclusive). I just don't think forcing leave on people who don't want it is worth the risk. Maybe some neutral people will turn into superparents, but just as many or more who would have thawed left to bond in their own way will, in countries unlike Sweden, merely harden their resentment, a consequence of what I'll consider greater magnitude. (Forcing the assembled company to read Miss Austen or Mrs Woolf instead of doing something they greatly preferred would probably produce more haters than admirers.) Compared to a neutral parent, an awful one does far more damage than five great-instead-of-neutral parents do good, though one could see it the other way around and think one great parent would do more good than five awful ones harm. As someone who was still strongly overparented despite getting the benefits of the last wave of free-range parenting, that's my side, but I accept the validity of the opposite experience. I do think the Swedish character particularly well suited to thriving on enforcement.

Ms Fan/Mx Wanna - Again, we run into the language problem of the very hazy definition of homophobia. I'll emulate the White Knight in Through the Looking Glass and distinguish between what may BE (outright, rooted in or related to) homophobia and what should be CALLED homophobia. It depends on whether one wants the word to be used rarely and taken very seriously or used frequently and often brushed off. I'm recalling how a lot of edgy types deliberately ramped up words Tumblrinas (almost never gay themselves) overreachingly called homophobic, often becoming considerably more hostile to gays than they were before. While the Grandmother's Steps approach has its own problems of Wainthropps thinking that the demands for change will never end, there ought to be a balance of some sort between what is publicized as homophobia and what is treated as better suited to private education.

What I'd like to avoid would be a public definition of homophobia so broad that a lot of otherwise amenable straight people would just throw up their hands and say basically, "Then flip this; okay, I'm homophobic," and embrace the label. What happens then?

96

@95 venn
(While first stating that I'm afraid I've missed the subtleties of you middle paragraph,) GEAR is a rare case for me of the word homophobia feeling most appropriate, since I'm pretty literal and generally feel anti-gay bigots are inadequately damned by a word that means 'fearing' when they're really 'hating'.

I love the image in your last paragraph, wonderfully clear writing!

97

Sigh. I just reread CAST's letter because someone in the early comments mentioned taking the wife outside of the house wearing a cast (or different casts, which might lead outsiders to believe CAST was abusing her). In any case, it's only inside - if we take his word for it.

The biggest problem is that he is indeed "churlish". He wasn't honest with himself (I guess introspection was too challenging) or with his wife. But, now that he understands himself better, he expects HIS WIFE to go from zero to fully on board - or else he'll feel "resentful"?

I guess he doesn't understand what compromise is. And has he offered any SEXUAL favours to his wife as a quid pro quo. Not cleaning house or childcare, but actual sexual needs, solely for her gratification, without showing irritation or grumbling that what she's requested doesn't turn him on?

Personally, I'm a little annoyed with the commenters who said this wasn't a hard ask to fulfill (and I'll admit I had the same attitude about the foot fetishist - so I'll slap my own wrist).

I wouldn't be surprised if Mrs. CAST is doubting her own attractiveness - after the pregnancy and childbirth - that she might feel she's no longer enough in her own body to keep him happy. So she's been confronted by this deal-breaker and agreed to satisfy it under duress, while trying to avoid thinking that she's just a collection of discrete body parts that might be covered and immobilized for his gratification. No longer a woman or wife, just a prop for a fetishist.

98

Venn @ 95
Yes, I get your point. As a Jewish person I’ve witnessed the dilution of “Nazi” over the years (and sadly, also the netanyahoos cynically brushing off any criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitism,” obscuring some real hate crimes in the process.)

Helenka @ 97
Thanks, makes lots of sense.

100

Dadddy @99

A skillful, empathetic lover might have coaxed her into the activity. I remember being enticed into activities that, initially, did nothing for me but ended up being lots of fun. It's all in the ask.

101

me @100

And, as I mentioned before, offering to fulfill a fantasy of hers would have taken him at least half-way to his goal.

102

@89 I wasn't aware that I was required to give a thorough accounting of the self-examination I have engaged in before making a self-deprecating comment in order to make sure that it was clear that I am aware of the psychological implications of the comment.

103

@Mr. Ven: This is awful, but even though the photos are from movie adaptations, the rankings seem to be based on the characters in the books. I just was thrilled because Henry Tilney's ranking is so high:
https://www.buzzfeed.com/jennaguillaume/jane-austen-men-thirst-ranking?utm_source=dynamic&utm_campaign=bffbbuzzfeed&ref=bffbbuzzfeed&fbclid=IwAR2liooF2XxpUjjGQ1wVChJ2teVRn_GczkVTvYfFOCoY016OZLoZ5t8_30I

104

Ms Cute - I'm glad you're thrilled. Miss Austen herself didn't seem all that impressed with him, as he's only "rather tall," but perhaps power creep came into play as she matured. Enjoy Mr T's high ranking as thoroughly as you like.

105

Mx Wanna - I thought of that as well, but appreciated that it wasn't my place to bring it up.

106

Congratulations Helenka, on scoring the Hunsky. Delight in the blessings of your prize.
I agree with your comment, it is in the ask and the LW has gone about it so now it’s become a threat to their marriage. Her reaction is because he’s used intimidation and ultimatum to try and get what he wants. Not the way to win someone around.

108

@Allison 61, @LavaGirl
Fwiw, I think Allison's on to something. I found that I couldn't take hormonal birth control because it caused vaginal pain (hard to describe, not just dryness, but the tissue was sore to the touch kind of like a burn is, but the sensation was more like a bruise). Anyway, after I had my first kid, I had the same vaginal pain that I used to have when I was on hormonal birth control. I waited maybe 6 months and eventually got around to seeing my Gyn and he swabbed my vaginal canal, looked at whatever he swabbed under a microscope (!), told me I didn't have enough estrogen, and prescribed me an estrogen cream to be used until my menstrual periods came back. This worked in the sense that the pain was sorted, and surprising noone, menstruation came back around when breastfeeding was coming to a close. But! the kicker is that wasn't the reason my sex life with my primary partner became almost non-existant for a time. I mean it didn't help, but there's plenty of other things than PIV. It was the exhaustion. And a large dose of resentment in the form of I do not have the energy to make this happen by myself. If something wasn't a priority for both of us, it couldn't be a priority. And I am positive the exhaustion was more of a problem because I managed to maintain a sex life with my LDR secondary partner.

@venominon re: compulsory parental leave
There's also the middle ground, where it's not just a requirement of the parents, but there's a requirement that the state provide sufficient resources for the idea to even work. I mean I think there are people who would like more opportunity to spend time with their babies but they have to make this complex calculation where they have to figure out which path is in the best interests of their family. If the compulsory leave was actually sufficiently financially supported, then it simplifies that calculation down to: no, just learn how to parent for the next N months.

@Dadddy
He's clearly asking her to go outside her comfort zone. I don't know how much you are willing to go outside your comfort zone when you're exhausted, but some people need energy and rest to feel brave or to want to try something new. If she took a path like I did she could be deep in having trouble remembering what reliable daily showers felt like territory. I can't express how crushing the exhaustion is in that first year. Without knowing exactly why the first attempt didn't work out (and that's not suspicious at all that those details got left out), it's hard to know exactly what level of discomfort she's expecting or what her concerns are. It seems like commenters are divided on how easy or hard this ask is based on a number of details we just can't know. It's hard to imagine that most people would feel excited about wandering outside of their comfort zones when they're aready uncomfortable. And his expectations seem to include that she at least seem interested. She may not have it in her right now to pretend enthusiasm for things she's not actually into. She may not even be able to bring up enthusiasm for things she IS actually interested in. Babies are relentless.

109

Ms Cute - I just had a huge LMB moment listening to a YouTube review of the new Emma film, in which the reviewer LOVED the addition of Emma's going to Robert Martin to convince him to give Harriet another chance. Almost the only negative thing she had to say about the film besides not liking how it presented Frank Churchill (a common complaint) was that it made Harriet "too ignorant" because she was "supposed to be Emma's equal" in everything except money. And this from someone who had to all appearances actually read the novel.

My comment was about as understated as many of Elizabeth Bennet's in making civil responses to Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

110

@109: Mr. Ven, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I probably will; I avoided the Gwyneth Paltrow version. But that change--that Emma would try to convince Robert Martin to reconsider Harriet--is one that already has my hackles up.