April 1, 2008, - 1:53 pm

Whipped Nation: Men Who Get Alimony Don’t Get Respect; Do They Deserve It?

By Debbie Schlussel
I have mixed feelings about a front-page article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Men Receiving Alimony Want a Little Respect.”
I’ve always believed that feminists don’t really want true “equality.” That, when women must suddenly take on traditionally male responsibilities–actually, penalties–that go along with that equality, like paying alimony, they suddenly don’t believe in “equality.” They balk. They want male benefits, but not the panoply of duties and disadvantages that come with them. When women, like former “Good Morning America” host Joan Lunden, complain about paying alimony to their less wealthy husbands, I say, “Welcome to equality, babe.”


On the other hand, the increase in the number of women paying alimony to their stay-at-home or less wealthy husbands is a stark symptom of sickness in America. The disease is the blurring of the gender roles. More and more men are rapidly becoming women. And more and more women are rapidly becoming men. No, I’m not referring to sex changes, but to gender roles. It’s not a good thing that there are more and more men who are Mr. Moms and more and more women who are the sole or primary breadwinner in the relationship.
When I hosted a daily radio show in Detroit, I once asked my mostly male listeners if and why they would ever marry a woman who had more money or made more money than they did. At the time, Ben Affleck was engaged to Jennifer Lopez, one of the few women in the world with far more assets than himself. He could have chosen to marry anyone, but chose one of the few women who would be the man in his relationship (which later went kaput, and I believe, partially, for that reason).
Few callers to my show said they’d want to earn less than the woman they were with, but a few said they wouldn’t mind being a kept man. However, being a kept man comes with strings. You are not “the man” in the relationship. While many couples may put out the BS line that they are 50/50, equal partners in their relationship, it’s simply not the case. There is no such thing. In every single relationship, there is a stronger and a weaker party to it. One party is always more powerful than the other.
If you are the major breadwinner, you are “the man.” You have the power. The other person is reduced to the female role. That’s simply the way it is, despite what Gloria Steinem might say or how she wants it to be. Men are hard-wired as hunter gatherers. When they are reduced to the homemaker and Mr. Mom role, it’s degrading and emasculating, despite what they might claim. They simply don’t have the respect of their female spouse that they might think they have. It’s emotional wimpitude.
So, as I read today’s Wall Street Journal article, I felt bad, on the one hand, for some of the men in the article–and on the other hand, I wondered why they’d put themselves in a relationship where they were in “the chick” role from the beginning. Despite what they usually show us in the movies, this usually doesn’t work, as it didn’t–in the final analysis–even in “Mr. Mom.”
In some of the cases in the Journal article, the man unwittingly went from being the breadwinner to the power-weak position because the wife advanced in her career, while his had plateaued.
Then, there is the issue of alimony in the first place. If you marry someone–male or female–should you be entitled to half or even a large chunk of their assets? If you were there when your spouse rose the ladder and you helped get him/her up there, you certainly deserve your share.
Joan Lunden’s case is a great example. Her ex-husband took her from chintzy, backwards, small-town hick to polished, sophisticated host of a major network news show that led in the morning ratings pre-cable TV and the Internet. He was her guru and led her to earn millions. And yet, she balked at having to pay him $18,000 per month in alimony. To paraphrase an obscene bumper sticker I once read, “Alimony is the Bleeping You Get for the Bleeping You Got.” (Not saying I agree with that.)
In the case of Joe Garnick–from the Journal article–he quit his job to help his wife move up the earnings ladder and became Mr. Mom. Bad move. The wife, now his ex, didn’t appreciate his efforts. And now she and her classless relatives are further trying to emasculate him by dissing him in print. I feel for him. In a complete reversal of the classic story, he’s now in the position that we traditionally used to think of as the ex-wife position, the woman who gave up everything for her man:

In the marriage of Joe and Diane Garnick, she logged 12-hour days as a global equity derivatives strategist for Merrill Lynch, earning several times what Mr. Garnick did as a top-performing toilet salesman. So in 2001, he quit that job to focus on raising their two girls, keeping the house clean and doing the shopping.
Following his 2002 divorce, he received alimony of $50,000 a year for four years from Ms. Garnick, now an investment strategist at Invesco Ltd.
As a stay-at-home dad, Mr. Garnick notes that he missed out on career opportunities that would have boosted his earning potential, particularly those involving travel. “I couldn’t [travel] while I had a kid,” Mr. Garnick says.
Mr. Garnick used the alimony to earn a mathematics degree from a community college. But he has returned to his old job selling toilets, where he earns only half what he did before quitting. “Society thinks that just because you are a man you can pick up a career after you have dropped it for 10 years and jump right back,” he says. “That’s just not the case.”
Still, relatives of his former wife continue referring to Mr. Garnick as a “deadbeat,” he says. And Ms. Garnick herself says, “In some instances, alimony has become akin to a social-welfare program provided by working women to their ex-husbands.”

And so, with Mr. Garnick and others, we’ve done a 180 on marriage and child-rearing. A man’s career–which is generally far more of his identity than that of a woman–is half of what it used to be because he gave it up for his power-seeking, masculine, unappreciative wife.
And we can expect to see far more of this, as the Labor Department documents that 1/3 of American wives earn more than their husbands, as of 2005. In a related note, the Journal also reported today that women with MBA degrees (and I am one) are more than twice as likely to get divorced than men with MBAs. There are similar statistics for women with law and medical degrees. And don’t forget that, as I’ve noted before, men are now becoming the endangered species, while women dominate, at professional graduate schools.
So, I ask you, is this a good thing for America–men put in the position where they are now the wives, asking for alimony? And women becoming the men, where they put their husbands in the position of giving up their masculinity–their livelihood and career–to advance that of their wives?
As I’ve answered before, only if you want your men to be women. And your women to be men.
I’m all for full equality for husbands in a divorce. But it’s a strange concept when full “equality” for men involves them having assumed the position of wife as the prerequisite.
And it simply goes against nature. Women as hunter-gatherers? Men as nurturers?
No thanks. America is not San Francisco’s Village People.

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31 Responses

I agree with you Debbie! I believe that men and women have traditional roles in life and marriage. Men are the head of the family and as such have the responsibility of providing for their family. I don’t see any problem with women working. But wives need to put aside their careers when its time to start a family. The husband needs to be the primary bread winner and decision maker. And if a woman loves her husband she will be supportive and nurturing. And if a husband loves his wife he will provide for her.

PrincessKaren on April 1, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Did somebody remove that “glass ceiling” when we wern’t looking?

spiffo on April 1, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Like you, I sympathize with the men, but it’s true a lot of them put themselves in this position. I know a guy with a professional degree who was dating a woman who was in med school. She dated him all through med school, her internship & residency. All the time, he felt that she would marry him when she finished, and she seemed to be promising him that. Of course, once she graduated, she moved to another state to set up her practice & told him he could follow her if he wished to. His skills unfortunately weren’t transferable enough for him to relocate, although he was making a respectable living. It wasn’t on the scale of a successful MD though, so in her eyes he was apparently a failure.
I felt sorry for him, but he should have been able to figure out after several years that he was being set up. She just wanted someone convenient until she completed her residency. He had a lot of opportunities to do better & not waste six years of his life.

c f on April 1, 2008 at 3:16 pm

My wife (of 8 years) makes roughly 40K more per year than I do. She is in medical sales and I’m in the IT profession. Does that mean she pays 40% more of the bills? HELL NO! I wouldn’t dare let her either. I make every effort to to pay more than my 50% because I am a man!
Being a man means stepping up to the plate taking care of financial responsibilities. I’ve known several “males” (note I didn’t say men) who gave up their jobs to allow their wives to bring home the bacon. In EVERY SINGLE CASE those guys were emasculated by their spouses. Almost all of them ended up divorced because the wives dumped them. The most pathetic part of this was seeing these guys turn into women while playing Mr. Mom.
Here’s the deal. It’s alright if the woman makes more than you. However, you as a man cannot allow her to pay more than her share no matter how hard it is. Once she pays more, she has the power and she will not respect you.
That’s just the way it is!!!

RC Flyer on April 1, 2008 at 4:17 pm

This is a tough call, but why I think this causes marital discord is because the husband is forced out of a natural role, and yes, emasculated; and the wife looks down on the husband as though he is not meeting up to expectations. I am in law school right now, and have absolutely no interest in law school girls (no offense Debbie). Most are complete whackos, obviously want to wear the pants, and are about as maternal as lionesses who eat their young. I like a really feminine woman who will let me be a man; not some corporate ladder climbing bimbo who tries to be in constant competition with me.

JasonBourne81 on April 1, 2008 at 4:57 pm

RC Flyer,
Amen to your post! PrincessKaren is right when she says relationships are being thrown out of synch (and not for the better) because of the change in traditional relationships, but I don’t think one’s manhood should be wrapped up in who makes more money in the relationship. Manhood is much deeper than that….and one major aspect of that does mean stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility. I too am a big believer in the concept of the man paying the majority of the bills out of his income, even if his wife is bringing home more income. To not do so may lessen the respect your wife has for you, even if it’s on a subconscious level.
I believe God meant for the man to be head of the family, despite whatever income he or his wife have or don’t have. There are no income stipulations attached to this Biblical edict. Even “stay-at-home” Dads have to somehow find a way to resist the tendency to become “Mr. Moms” and be seen as emasculated, even by their own wives. A man should not be “punked out” by his own spouse! These men somehow have to make sure their wives feel protected and cared for, and that there is a “man in the house”, even if they are the primary caregiver for the children. I’m sure it can be done, but it can’t be easy….
Wives who work play a part in this also. The dominance and “hyper-professionalism” that works so well in their careers may not play well in relationships with their husbands. They somehow have to learn to tone down their professional selves at home and learn to allow their husband to serve as their lover, protector, and provider (of more than just money). Yes, money can and does play a big part if who is the dominant one in a relationship IF we allow it to do so, but a man’s psychological strength, spiritual strength, and his sense of manhood, combined with his wife’s ability to allow her husband to be the man, also play a major role.
As JasonBourne81 stated, it’s a tough call and we’re still trying to sort out how men and women are going to negotiate all of these new workplace and home-life dynamics created by the rising incomes of professional women. I don’t have the answers, but in the meantime, we need to “Man up”, no matter what our income.

JibberJabber on April 1, 2008 at 5:22 pm

“Yes, money can and does play a big part if who is the dominant one in a relationship IF we allow it to do so, but a man’s psychological strength, spiritual strength, and his sense of manhood, combined with his wife’s ability to allow her husband to be the man, also play a major role.”
Jibber-Jabber, this is a very good insight – IF we allow it to do so. I have been dating my current girlfriend for over a year and a half now. My previous one, however, was a pharmacist while I was a broke as a joke law student. She would constantly try to talk down to me and emasculate me, most likely because she was used to being able to do so to others. It didn’t work with me, as I am confident in myself and not intimidated by her earning power, professional degree, and material wealth. It seems that women in a high position in life are used to being able to talk down not only to other men, but to other people in general, and build up an extreme hubris that reflects on their family life.
Furthermore, it also seems that women who make it that high on the corporate/professional ladder aren’t nurturer types (women in the medical profession are the exception). I shiver at the thought of many of the self absorbed Hillary Clinton-like bitches I go to law school with having kids.

JasonBourne81 on April 1, 2008 at 5:47 pm

When you have “no fault divorce” as we now have had in this country since it started in 1969 child support and alimony really is nothing but extortion and this ideology is connected to Russain communism in the early 1900’s that one of the ways for MEN in gov’t to gain absolute power was to try to get them to distrust husbands. But the reality is you break a marriage contract due to “no fault” you should pay the other person for violating the contract. In any other area it is called a buyout like in sports where if you decide to void a contract you buy the person out. But you have today where if a guy works the women could just divorce him for no fault and she gets alimony and child support (the child support isn’t even tax deductable) and if the guy loses his job it is very difficult to get support adjusted so for women to be PROUD of this really is sick. Same goes for men if the situation is reversed. However, due to the Violence Against Women’s Act PASSED UNDER BILL CLINTON which sounds nice but really is a law that basically for a women EVEN FEELING UNFOMFORTABLE for an irrational reason is enough to claim a man is committing emotional violence towards a man and A MAN IS GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT so it is easy for a women to destory a guy while the other way is less common and not as quick although there are exceptions. I’m sure MANY MEN are demoralized WHEN THEY SEE WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO SOME MEN THAT THE MONEY THEY WORKED HARD FOR IS JUST EXTORTED FOR THEM AND THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO THEIR OWN CHILDREN. But sometimes I think Debbie isn’t as vocal enough about the breakdown in the family in this country sad to say and some of the reasons for it. Many women are dependenant on Men in the government and Rabbi’s and Clergy members and these men have emasculated other men for their own power grab in my opinion.

adam6275 on April 1, 2008 at 6:27 pm

The is one plank the communist plot to destroy the family,to divide and conquer the family unit right out of Karl Marxi’s communist manifesto.
“In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote that with the introduction of Communism, ìThe bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course.î
Guess what it is working with the evidence on display in Debbie’s article.We are becoming a communist country at a frightening pace.

ScottyDog on April 1, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Guys who want alimony are not real men. Simple as that.

bhparkman on April 1, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    I think it’s equal rights. I don’t think we should discriminate.

    G on April 3, 2014 at 1:11 am

Hi guys,
New here. Love the site. One of the few places left to read the truth about Islam, or “the religion of peace”, or is it “pieces”.
Anyway, I think I will be in the minority here, but we are mixing up two different issues. I am a stay-at-home dad (flame away). Alimony for men is ridiculous. Mr. Mom isn’t, IMHO. The reason we did this twofold, economics and trust. My wife earns double what I do, and the tax rate here in NJ was killing us with two incomes. We cut back a bit, and still enjoy a great lifestyle. The second is a trust issue. My wife was an abuse victim as child, and she still has not been able to break the barrier of strangers caring for our kids.
This situation is also not forever, and our relationship is solid, as it has been for 19 yrs.Trust me, I’m not a kept man, I don’t get anything for myself other than a couple of nights a week to continue my training in traditional japanese martial arts. And as far as my manhood goes, brother please.
I don’t feel a need to defend our family’s actions, more a desire to join the conversation.Thanks guys.

lake on April 2, 2008 at 10:05 am

** I don’t see any problem with women working. But wives need to put aside their careers when its time to start a family.**
This is an unrealistic comment from someone who clearly doesn’t have finance pressure. Sometimes moms have to keep with those careers for money. It’s called working for your family, to provide the best for them, which is something I’m pretty sure that both mom and dad have a responsibility to do.
**The husband needs to be the primary bread winner and decision maker. **
Look, why can’t both parents be breadwinners? Why can’t both parents have a hand in decisions? Let me be clear, I agree with Debbie that there’s a stronger and weaker personality in all marriages, but saying flat-out that “men must be this” and “women must be that” is an assertion that doesn’t have a basis in 21st century reality. As Debbie herself noted, there are plenty of women – herself included – with higher degrees, with high paying jobs, etc. They shouldn’t have those things, then?
**And if a woman loves her husband she will be supportive and nurturing. And if a husband loves his wife he will provide for her.**
Isn’t this saying basically that spouses should treat each other decently? Being supportive , providing support… isn’t that what a marriage is about??

lala on April 2, 2008 at 10:15 am

While he’s home with the kids or at Dunder-Mifflin, she’s meeting the alpha males on their turf. He’s going to look bad bad bad.

poetcomic1 on April 2, 2008 at 11:24 am

Let’s approach this differently. This wasn’t our original plan, and other than the last two years, I’ve worked my whole adult life (21yrs). I’ve done alot of “man” jobs, soldier, security, utility, chef. What’s wrong with taking a little time to spend with the kids? There are no alpha males where my wife works, come to think of it, there aren’t too many alpha males anywhere right now.
Again, alimony for men is stupid, I just think we are confusing different issues.

lake on April 2, 2008 at 12:15 pm

There’s a Biblical proverb that I’ve always liked and that I totally believe.
“Bad temper and insolence hold sway
Where the wife supports the husband.”
. . . then that precipitates the divorce.

TallT on April 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Alimony is something that IMHO is unnecessary for either male or female. When it is over, it is over!

CapeConservative on April 2, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Thank God my husband and I have a very traditional (translate that into an idyllic type of 1950’s model) arrangement in our marriage. Even though I have a PhD and taught at the university level, my earning potential would never meet his, and even if it did, we are both of the mind that he would be the bread winner. And believe me, I’m happy to stay at home and play “June Cleaver”… althought I doubt June ever rode a Harley.. 😀
It’s all just another sign of how far down the road to wrack and ruin we’ve gone as a society.

Mistress_Dee on April 3, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Tall T,
You said, “There’s a Biblical proverb that I’ve always liked and that I totally believe.
“Bad temper and insolence hold sway
Where the wife supports the husband.”
. . . then that precipitates the divorce.”
Please cite the chapter, verse, and the translation when you cite the Bible. I am quite familiar with the Bible and I don’t recognize the proverb you cite.
Debbie, does this mean that you won’t accept if I ask you to be my husband? I was so looking forward to being supported. Drats!!! (And so good looking, too. I would have won on either count.)

Loser on April 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm

I love Jennifer Lopez. Badly she is not my Girlfriend :).

Jennifer Lopez Wallpaper on August 15, 2009 at 9:21 am

I think alimony for men is a great idea. It takes a real man to ask for and accept it despite the social stigma.

Josh on November 29, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Totally agree man.

    G on April 3, 2014 at 1:13 am

People like PrincessKaren up at the top make me gag. Her saying a man should make all the money and the decisions is like me saying the woman should stay home to cook and clean, and be naked on command for me to fulfill my needs. Seriously? In the 21st century are we still there?

Over the years I dated more than one girl who made more than I did. It was never an issue. I would like to think that any woman who thinks less of the man she’s with because he makes less than her is just shallow. That’s like me saying I can’t be with a woman who doesn’t at least have a DD chest size. Wouldn’t that be shallow?

I mean how do couples survive when say a doctor happens to meet someone who’s a teacher at the grocery store and they hit it off? Should the woman ask how big his 401K is before she decides to go out with him? That’s just silly. It reduces us to numbers.

adam smith on January 19, 2010 at 2:18 am

Alimony, for ANYONE, male or female, is an outdated concept. Now that it’s possible for both men and women to go out and get jobs to support themselves, no one should be awarded alimony; the concept is obsolete. Stop gold-digging your ex-spouses. Get a job. (Note that I’m not talking about child support; that’s a whole other kettle of fish. But adults can’t be considered “dependents” anymore; there’s no reason to “support” them!)

P.S. Since when does a FEMALE ATTORNEY believe in “traditional gender roles”? You want traditional gender roles, you got it: Get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich, you hypocritical cunt.

Nessa on July 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm

I’m confused about Joe Garnick. He says he stopped working in 2001 then got a divorce in 2002. But then he later says it’s hard to miss 10 years of work. I know he just earned his math degree, but that 10 years just doesn’t make sense.

Carol on December 11, 2010 at 8:17 am

Thank you Nessa! I completely agree. I think that alimony is definitely an outdated concept as well. It made sense back in the day when women didn’t have the employment opportunities that men had and they had given up any chance at an income to fulfill their “traditional” roles only to be divorced for a younger woman down the road.
Now though people don’t have these excuses. There could be circumstances where people do give up their advancement for the sake of the other, and each individual case should be addressed on its own terms. Temporary assistance while the person gets some training/education might be in order but it can’t just be because one person makes more moey than the other. If the person who is unemployed/lesser earner is the one who is responsible for the bulk of the child rearing then that should also be a factor.
I also want to add that all this talk of how much money a guy earns making him “the man” is utterly bizzare. Power dynamics between two people hinge on many factors beyond how much capitol they bring into a relationship. For example, my dad earns over two times as much as his wife but she is definitely in charge…all the money goes into a shared pool and she controls how and where it goes. Both of them get an allowance every month that is for discretionary spending. This is not a bad thing. My father is notoriously bad with money and accumulated tons of debt before he married her…he is brilliant but he can’t keep on top of things like due by dates on bills or how to budget spending. On the other hand she is genius with numbers and makes budgets for fun. It’s symbiotic and they are playing to their strengths.

Agi on March 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Many women earn more than their husbands because they go back to school AFTER they get married. Who foots that bill? The husband, of course.

I have been to over 30 weddings, and know many married couples. Not 1 of those married women were earning more than their husband on the day of their weddings.

Men receiving alimony won’t become an epidemic. Mostly because the majority of women would never marry a man who earned less.

Bob on April 29, 2011 at 1:48 am


LUKE on August 26, 2011 at 8:24 am

No offense, but I your all article is based of the idea that these gendered ideologies are inherent from our biology, which is a baseless assumption. Your article ignores the power of social structure, and how society has created these gendered ideals. These definition of man and woman, are not static, and have changed in meaning throughout history. You fail in your knowledge of history, and examining the changes of gender definitions. You assume, these ideals perpetuated by Western civilizations, such as the U.S. are the only beliefs in existence. It is completely ignorant, to say men and women are opposites. An example of differed gendered ideologies, are societies in New Guinea. There are cultures where men take on American “feminine” qualities, such as concern for appearance and taking upon the nurturing role, and it is seen as completely normal. The women on the other hand take upon American “masculine” roles they go out to work, fish, and provide for the family. Don’t assume your beliefs are the norm, when these beliefs change depending on the culture. Furthermore, the change in American society towards this “gender switch” you talk about only illustrates the fluidity of gender roles. People are realizing these ideologies that have been established, are not necessarily correct. People should not demonize these changes but support them. Why should people feel the need to adhere to these structures and molds, created by societies, that only further segregation and elitism?

Michael Aquino on March 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I think men and women are entilled to get alimoney, alimoney is not stupid for men if that’s the case it’s stupid for women as well so ur saying if a women earn more then a man she does’nt have to pay but if a man is earning more or less he still have to pay no that is bs and u know it when u get divorce and if u can’t support yourself get a job asshole

Kevin Buckely on June 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I never wanted to have gender roles switched. I would have LOVED to be a stay at home mom, cook, clean, and be here for my children 24/7.

I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I was on my own very young and started working. I pushed and pushed to make more money because I needed to take care of myself. Not because I wanted more money, but because I had no choice.

I married my husband who I have always made double, then triple, then quadruple, of what he makes. All the while….he would do nothing to improve his own career or financial standing. I never made him feel bad about it. On the contrary, I pooled our money so it always came out of the same place.

I take care of all the finances. I pay for everything we have. His paycheck covers one credit card bill. I am the primary caregiver. I am the primary house cleaner. I am the primary cook. I am the bill payer. I am it. He helps.

I didn’t want to be in this role. I don’t have a choice. If I don’t do it, he hasn’t shown he will. And now that I’ve come to a place where I have given up for entirely different reasons on our marriage…..I get to pay him alimony as well.

Do I like that I’m the breadwinner? Nope. Never wanted that role. Do I like that I do all the home stuff, too? Nope. Am I the head nurturer and caregiver to the children and the husband? Yes. Do I deal with no emotional support but dole it out by the bucket load? Yes. Do I wish now for years that I had someone that stepped up all along to be the “Man”? Absolutely. I fear they don’t exist.

I never held him back from any career move. I never stopped him from following any dreams. I’ve only been trapped at a very stressful high paying job because I have never had the choice. Someone has to bring home the bacon and it has been unwillingly me. He never once offered to let me follow my dreams. He has watched me get sick working for our home and family.

But I guess now, after having no choice but to be strong and an independent woman and the breadwinner, I’ll get to pay alimony for 6 years. And still continue to NOT be taken care of. The funny thing is that I have to make more and work hard to support him all these years. And he can’t even ask for a raise….I’m so tired.

Fantastic. yay for feminism. I want the 50s back.

Confused Unwanted Gender Role on September 28, 2013 at 7:34 am

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