5 Ways You’re Unknowingly Destroying Your Ungendered Spouse and Killing Your Marriage

Hey it’s me Mark!

Like most people, I have some liberal friends and some conservative friends. Sometimes, when an article goes around the internet, I get to see both sides’ reaction to things. It’s fun but sometimes a little confusing. Like with this recent article about how wives destroy their husbands. I thought it was a little silly, but definitely not offensive. But some of my friends found it really offensive. The term they used was “misogynistic.”

I still think some of the points make sense though. So here are the points mentioned without gender so nobody can feel personally hurt by the implication that they aren’t good.

1. Living Outside of What You Can Afford

A wise old person was sitting on a bench at the bus stop. As I walked by, they shouted, “Don’t be a jerk and spend so much money that it puts stress on your marriage!” I quickly walked away, but their words stayed with me.

Show how much you appreciate your ungendered spouse by not spending all the family’s money on lavish items you might want like new spoons, really comfortable chairs, dice, oregano, a car stereo, or ornamental shutters.

Also, in addition to not spending too much, don’t complain all the time about not having money.

So that is kind of two points: don’t drive your family into debt and don’t complain about not being able to drive your family into debt.

2. Constant Negativity

This touches on what we just talked about. You hate the Dallas Cowboys, the smell of black licorice, grammar errors, frogs, A Tribe Called Quest, furniture that squeaks, and the Horse-Head nebula. Whenever you talk to your ungendered spouse, you only talk about the things you hate.

Well guess what your ungendered spouse is going to end up hating? You.


Don’t be a terrible negative drain on the whole world. Also, don’t be one on your ungendered spouse. Basically (and I feel like I’m explaining this to a child), don’t be a terrible person. Got it?

3. Putting Everything Else First

I actually thought this point from the other article was a pretty good one. In fact, if the whole article had just been this one point, I would have been happy.

Put your ungendered spouse ahead of everything else.

Don’t put everything else (or even anything else [except God {whew, covered my bases}]) ahead of your ungendered spouse.

4. Withholding Physical Affection

When you’re married, you should have sex with your ungendered spouse. They like it. You might not be in the mood, but guess what? It’s not all about you. Marriage is about serving your ungendered spouse.

Sometimes, you might be in the mood, but you’re ungendered spouse isn’t. In those cases, you might choose to serve them by putting their needs ahead of your own and decide not to have sex. Because, sex is amazing, but it’s also a tool we have for showing our ungendered spouses how much we love them and if they aren’t in the mood, or if they’re tired, or if they have two severe compound leg fractures and just want to go to the hospital, you should let them off the hook for sex and just play a board game instead.

Other times, neither of you are in the mood. During these times you MUST have sex. Otherwise, everyone will doubt the solidity of your marriage. Prove those people wrong and go at it.

And at even other times, maybe you should just talk to your ungendered spouse about your feelings and stuff. Tell them what you want, how you’re feeling, whether you’d like to have sex or not, and all that kind of thing. Then, after you two talk it over a bit, you can figure out whether to sex it on up or not.

But here’s the nice thing: sometimes you are in the mood at the same time that your ungendered spouse is! Pretty cool stuff.

5. Not Speaking Their Language

Your ungendered spouse is a different person than you. Other people are different. So you need to remember that when you try to communicate with them. Pretty much this whole article could be replaced by the words “try to communicate clearly with your ungendered spouse.” That’s what we should try to do. Just talk to the people we are married to and explain how we feel. Then we should listen to them explain how they feel. In the end, the goal to understand how the other person feels. After that, you should be kind to them.

Have we reached a point where people need basic concepts of relationships explained to them? Weird.

Image: Unsplash

Improv Teaches You to Listen

Communication is a skill. But for the most part, it is not a skill we seek out education in.

Maybe you’ve had this experience: someone begins to talk to you and you listen for a moment, then begin to work on the grocery budget for next month, or you review some talking points for that presentation you need to give to your boss next week, or you pick up where you left off in your favorite daydream.

You don’t listen.

Your mind wanders.

Listening Is Hard

Human beings aren’t really built to listen.

Studies have shown we listen at a rate of up to 250 words per minute, but we think at a rate of 1,000 to 3,000 words a minute. So while someone is talking to us, our minds are racing ahead, eager to get to the next interesting thing. It’s like being perpetually stuck behind the slow person in traffic.

To make this even worse, people usually only speak at a rate of about 125 words per minute. That is half of the rate we are capable of listening at. Ugh, so slow!

So what happens? How do these facts manifest themselves in our daily life? What we see is that during most conversations we are only waiting for our turn to talk.

And technology isn’t making it any easier.

At any moment of the day, we can be doing a dozen things at once. We can be lying in bed, checking our email, texting a friend, eating chips, and so on. Technology means that we can spread ourselves out over a bunch of activities.

The world is speeding up.  To make it worse, only 2 percent of people have any formal education in listening? Sure, there may be some natural listeners out there, but they are rare. That means that most people you talk to are probably not listening to you.


Not Listening Hurts You

All relationships are built on listening. If you aren’t a good listener, this can hold you back in every aspect of your life.


“I was down at my shore house this weekend…” your boss begins.

And you mind leaps into action! “That reminds me of my aunt’s shore house on Chincoteague island and the summer we spent fishing and chasing the wild ponies.”

So for the rest of your boss’s (admittedly very dry and poorly told) story, you’re writing and editing your own shore house story, which you plan to shoehorn in at the soonest convenient moment.

But the last half of his story tied directly into a project he wants you to head up. He wants you on this because he values your attention to detail and perceptiveness.

Your lack of listening skills just put you in an awkward situation.


“That reminds me of a time when I got my foot caught in a jet ski…” you say, springboarding off your friend’s story about jet skis, but out of the corner of your eye you could swear that he just rolled his eyes a bit. And even when you get to the exciting part about applying the tourniquet to your severed femoral artery, no one seems to be all that engaged.

It is then that you realize that he was sharing his last happy memory of his recently deceased uncle. Whoops!

No one wants to be friends with a bad listener.


You’re on a first date with that cute girl from the volleyball league. Still reeling from your courage at asking her out, you come to the horrifying realization halfway through dessert that you haven’t let her get a word in edgewise all night.

You ask her a question about herself, but it’s too late! She gives a half-hearted answer and quietly settles in to finish her tiramisu.

You blew it.

Let’s face it. Science is not on our side. Human nature seems to tend toward not listening. But, good news, listening is a skill you can learn.

The Cure: Improv

For all it’s silliness, at its heart, improv is just formalized listening education. When we stand in a circle and pass sounds to each other, it’s meant to reorient us to a place where we’re listening to each other. To succeed in the exercise, we must pay attention to who has the sound, and what sound they’re passing. Then, by repeating their sound as we catch it, we’re telling them that we heard them and communicating that we’ve listened to them.

Improv is listening. It isn’t about making jokes, or being funny or doing something weird. It is just about listening. And listening makes you a better boss, a better friend, and a better spouse.

Have you ever been hanging out with friends and a recurring joke develops over the course of the night? Why is this so satisfying? What makes it funnier each time it’s repeated? It’s because you’re being listened to. Someone made the initial joke, and then the group, by listening for opportunities to reintroduce the joke and doing so, demonstrates that not only was the joke listened to the first time, its context was recognized and repeated in all the subsequent times.

We humans like to be listened to.


We like being listened to, but we find it hard to listen. Improv provides a situation where listening is required to succeed. The second you stop listening, you fail. Things fall apart.

This is why improv is so effective as a teaching tool for listening.

Imagine your scene partner strides onstage, chest puffed proudly out. “Make way for the king!” he crows.

And immediately you start trying to remember what the word is for that…stick…thing…that he carries around is. A scepter! That’s right. That’s what it’s called. Great.

But wait. While you were thinking all that, more information has come pouring in. We’ve found out that the king has a lisp and studiously avoids any “s” words. We’ve also found out that he hates the queen. All of this information is vital to you working together with him in this scene, but you can’t because you were trying to be clever.

Listening beats clever every time.

Learning to listen is mostly about learning to slow down. It is about recognizing when our attention is being drawn elsewhere and resisting. (After typing that sentence, I just checked my Facebook, email, and bank account. I guess there’s still some work I need to do.)

So in improv, or just in life, listen.


Image: Unsplash and Pixabay