Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Whose house is it anyway?

An ever recurring theme in fiction is the wife being angry with her husband and forcing him to sleep on the couch, to move to a hotel, or to simply find himself a new apartment.


While parts of this text might apply to real-life cases too, keep in mind that this is a discussion of fiction and that I make no claims about what does or does not apply to what degree.

Also note the wide variety of types of fiction and even wider variety of situations that can be involved. For instance, above, we can have a sitcom husband land on the couch for having missed an obscure anniversary or as the victim of a complete misunderstanding of a perfectly harmless situation, with the writers’ intention that he be back in his wife’s graces before the end of the episode; for instance, we can have a drama where the road from a seemingly happy marriage to a finalized divorce is the core of the story, and the sudden need for a hotel-until-an-apartment-has-been-found is just the first step.

Similarly, when a divorce is on the table, for some reason, it is almost always the man who is forced to leave the house (even when there are no children). If there are children, the woman typically unilaterally decides that they should stay with her—even in the few cases when she is the one to move out...


This is patently and utterly absurd: If one party is dissatisfied, it is (all other things equal, barring extreme situations) that party that should move out—irrespective of the party’s sex. In particular, an angry wife should sleep on the couch herself, or follow the examples of the fictional women from fifty years ago and move back to her mother’s. For a woman to just unilaterally make decisions of this kind to her own exclusive advantage, and often to a disproportionate disadvantage for the man, is simply not excusable.

To make matters worse, all other things are typically not equal: More often than not, the husband has invested disproportionally in the house, paid the bills, and so on. Indeed, it is not uncommon that the house was already in his possession before he even met the woman... In these cases, obviously, the woman’s behaviour becomes the more idiotic and self-centered. (If we have one of the very rare cases where she is the one with the greater investment, then her behaviour might or might not, depending on the exact details, be justifiable).

Further yet, the reasons for the woman’s anger, wish for a divorce, whatnot, are very often far too flimsy, making the wish to expel the husband an overreaction or entirely unjust. In a non-trivial proportion of the cases, she is the one who has actually misbehaved or given cause for anger in the eyes of a reasonable and neutral observer. (Similarly, when children are concerned, it is often the woman who would make the less suitable parent: Less competent, less stable, less mature, whatnot.)

In a similar way, or in combination with the above, a fictional woman occasionally makes claims like “You lost that right when you ...”—again making a unilateral decision about right-and-wrong and crime-and-punishment, which (in the cases that I have encountered) are at best dubious, often obviously out-of-line. Drawing on the psychology and behaviour of real-life women, I would classify this as self-serving rhetoric without a basis in actual thought.

Fiction writers everywhere:
Please put a stop to this misandrist mindset!
Please give the men in your works a fair treatment!
Please give real women a better model to follow!