The Case for Marriage

by Brett & Kate McKay on November 30, 2008 · 114 comments

in Relationships & Family

Image from TooTallVal

Lately, marriage has gotten a bad rap. It seems like many people these days feel marriage is some archaic arrangement that holds people back from realizing their full potential. Even if people aren’t particularly anti-marriage, they will avoid getting hitched for as long as they can.

Many men delay marriage because they believe that dating and co-habitating offer all of the benefits (particularly sex) of marriage without the commitment and responsibility. They are fooling themselves. Nearly all of the true advantages of marriage (yes, even sex) apply only to actual married couples, not those couples living together, and certainly not to those simply dating.

Here at the Art of Manliness, we haven’t been shy about the fact that we’re big proponents of marriage. We certainly don’t advocate that men rush into marriage willy nilly, whether they’re ready or not. That would be seriously unwise. But once your find your true love and you’re sure she’s the one, there’s no reason to delay your nuptials. Why? Marriage offers truly significant benefits that cannot be found outside of it. Here are 6 reasons you should grow up, man-up, and stopping being scared of walking down the aisle:

The Benefits of Marriage

More and better sex. The popular belief is that marriage stifles sexual fulfillment. The reality is that married men are having better and more frequent sex than their single buddies who go to clubs each weekend trolling for a woman who’s willing to take them home. Married men don’t have to go through all the trouble of having to convince near strangers to sleep with them or crossing their fingers that on the third date they’re going to get some. Married sex is even better than co-habitating sex; 50% of married men find their sex life physically and emotionally fulfilling, compared to only 38% of co-habitating couples. Married sex produces an environment of trust and openness, allowing couples to openly express their sexual needs and desires to their spouse. This results in better, more satisfying sex.

More money. Married men are wealthier men. Married men earn between 10%-40% more than single men. They also receive promotions more frequently and earn more glowing performance reviews than their single co-workers. Married men also tend to save more than single men. It makes sense. When you’re married, your entire outlook on money changes. Realizing that you have someone else to take care of motivates you to do whatever it takes to support her. If you’ve been dragging your feet about marriage until you make more money, consider the idea that getting hitched might actually improve your financial picture.

Image from lovedaylemon

Better health. Married men are healthier men. They stay healthier and live longer than either their single or co-habitating peers. Just how much healthier are they? Take a look at these statistics:

-Married men have fewer infections and a lower risk of heart disease and some cancers.

-Married men are less likely to smoke, drink heavily, and be physically inactive

-Married men are less likely to suffer from health conditions like back pain, headaches, and serious psychological distress.

-Single people spend longer in the hospital, and have a greater risk of dying after surgery

-9 out of 10 married men who are alive at age 48 are alive at age 65. Only 6 out of 10 single men who was alive at age 48 was alive at 65.

-Married men live 10 years longer than single men. A whole decade!

So if you’re looking to kick the grim reaper’s butt, get married.

A bigger smile. Married men are happier than their single counterparts. In the Journal of Marriage and Family, studies showed that 40% of married people said they were generally happy with their life, while only 25% of single people said they were. The bigger smile might be due in part because married men are getting more sex than single men. But marriage also provides incomparable companionship and forces people to commit to something bigger themselves, which contributes to happiness.

True Companionship. There is an old Swedish proverb that says, “Shared joy is double joy. Shared sorrow is half sorrow.” Truer words have seldom been spoken. Marriage basically means always having your best friend around. My wife Kate always tells people that our marriage is like a “party every day!” And I concur. Everything I do from going to the gym to grocery shopping is 10X more enjoyable with my wife by my side.

Some single people say things along the lines of, “I don’t need marriage for companionship, I have friends for that.” With all due respect to these single folks, you have nothing to compare your level of satisfaction with. I have been single and married, and nothing comes close to the happiness and companionship your wife gives you. Your wife is there in the middle of the night when your worries are keeping you up; she’s there when you get off work and need to unload the frustrations of your day; she’s there to give you a pep talk over the breakfast table on the day you have a big presentation. No matter how loyal a friend is, they’re not family. They move; they ditch you when they have a hot date, they distance themselves when you have a big fight. You and your wife made a vow to be together forever; it’s wonderful to absolutely know that someone has your back come hell or high water.

Marriage Can Be as Happy as You Want It. With the divorce rate hovering around 50%, many men view marriage as too risky a chance to take. But marriage is not a lottery, nor is it a game of Russian roulette. You don’t get married and then cross your fingers that you don’t become one of the statistics. Divorce is not a disease that some people catch and some people have an immunity to. There is no more erroneous idea than that of “falling out of love.” Nobody falls out of love. One or both partners stop working at their relationship and they give up. Be absolutely sure you pick the right woman to marry, someone who will be just as passionately committed to making the marriage work as you are, and your chances of having a happy marriage are nearly 100%

Sources:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,141640,00.html

http://www.psychpage.com/family/library/brwaitgalligher.html

http://chronicle.uchicago.edu/950928/waite.sidebar.shtml

{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SGT Harry November 30, 2008 at 8:15 pm

Thank you for your words of advice, AoM… Being engaged, I’ve suddenly discovered that EVERYONE is an “expert” on relationships, and everyone has warnings. It’s nice to hear the good side of it every now and again.

2 Sam November 30, 2008 at 8:24 pm

I’m not yet married, but I thank you for advocating marriage. I see it being increasingly devalued among my generation. I can’t wait for the day I tie the knot. God knew what he was saying when he said it is not good for a man to be alone.

3 Lee Gibson November 30, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Boy, I hope you have a better reason to get married than because a blog told you to. Being married is great. My wife is my partner in every way. My life with her is way better than my life without her.

But you’re nuts if you get married to the wrong person. You’ll never be happy unless you’re happy with yourself first. You’ll never be happy if you rush into the relationship without being honest with yourself, and your partner.

Marriage is about commitment and communication. Be able to do both.

4 Jimmy Rogers November 30, 2008 at 8:45 pm

I really liked your article. I’ve generally felt the “new” way about marriage and your article addresses the doubts and reasons I’ve had about the whole institution. Personally I always equate marriage with beginning a family…basically up until that point it doesn’t actually “matter” if you stay with the same person. I guess I never saw the institution as a route for personal happiness before. Hmmm…….

@loyaleagle

5 Sherwin November 30, 2008 at 9:41 pm

The “married men are healthier” argument is a load of crap. Just because those statistics are true doesn’t mean marriage causes men to be healthier. It’s most likely the case that healthier men get married more easily, come from a background that encourages marriage, and are in a better position in society (employment, wealth, health) to get married.

6 Kevin (ReturnToManliness) November 30, 2008 at 10:09 pm

I love my wife and my relationship. We are truly happy together, but I am not sure any of these are affects of marriage. I think these are all excellent examples of how interdependency can be MUCH more powerful than independence, but directly related to being married? That’s a bit of stretch. Causality vs coincidence can and will always be argued.

That being said, if it works for you, great! Everyone is different and people can excel in all these areas without being married. The institution is not for everyone and I actually would like people to take more time and thought before diving into it – not less.

7 Dustin Boston November 30, 2008 at 10:49 pm

Great post man. This is a great reminder for married folks as well. It certainly made be appreciate my marriage even more.

8 Julian November 30, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Marriage is what you make it. Nobody tells you how to be married. If you think marriage is going to restrict you in some way, how’s that going to happen? Only if you restrict yourself or marry someone who doesn’t agree with you – and why would you do that?

Of course, many people form fulfilling lifetime relationships without getting married but it oftem seems because of some worng preconception about what marriiage is or what it will do to them. Or for some reason, they don’t want their commitment to be announced to anyone else or to be made in front of anyone else.

Marriage makes everything very clear and leaves you to get on with building a life together. The decision to be with someone for ever is a big decision and, it seems to me, is worth marking in a significant way. Certainly you can make this commitment over a cup of coffee or in other ways less formal than buying a TV or getting a job. But I don’t know of a better way than getting married.

9 Jeff December 1, 2008 at 12:31 am

I would love to get married! If only my state allowed me and my partner to do so (and thereby enjoy all of these benefits, and the so many others that you didn’t mention), we would get hitched in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, all too many people seem to think that gays and lesbians shouldn’t have the same right to the pursuit of happiness as everyone else. It’s certainly disappointing as a law student myself to be constantly reminded that “equal justice under law” only goes so far . . . .

10 John December 1, 2008 at 12:40 am

Why most marriages fail? For the case against marriage, read the book “No Marriage”, http://www.nomarriage.com. It is biassed and somewhat misogynist, but the guy has a point and will make you think.

11 Nick December 1, 2008 at 5:54 am

Sorry to say guys, but this article is not what I hoped it was. Main point of the article is that marriages’ pros outweigh it’s cons. The article listed only pros’ that apply to married men versus single men. Granted that there are certain advantages to getting married, but the article explores no benefits over a normal long term relationship without marriage.

12 Brett December 1, 2008 at 6:06 am

Nick- What did you expect from an article called “The Case For Marriage?”

13 Santa December 1, 2008 at 6:27 am

John- I love the nomarriage website. I truly believe in marriage and I think some of the articles there are so funny and true. Especially the ones that state most American women are spoiled, lazy, and ugly. I’m American and I agree. The best women in this world are from foreign countries in places like Latin America and Eastern Europe. They still have strong values in marriage and believe it’s their duty to be a good wife and take care of their man.

Here’s an excerpt from that site:
“American women have so many privileges, demands and rights that smart men can no longer afford to marry them. You fat American women who think you should be treated like princesses by rich handsome men have priced yourself out of the market.”

14 Steve December 1, 2008 at 6:37 am

While I am not anti-marriage, I am 100% anti young marriage. Wait till you graduate college at least.

In my case, marriage isn’t an option for a while because my career path is one that will travel constantly and work the same.

15 Trey Morgan December 1, 2008 at 8:04 am

I will give an AMEN to the GREAT SEX in marriage. Couldn’t be better.

16 CoffeeZombie December 1, 2008 at 8:06 am

While I can see the wisdom in waiting until you graduate college (so that you aren’t trying to juggle working, college, and adjusting to being married), I am 100% anti-”old” marriage. Not that I’m going to tell people in their 30′s that they should forget about getting married, but rather that I think it’s foolish to choose to wait until you’re 30 to get married.

There are various reasons for this. One of the biggest is that, after a certain point, a woman’s fertility begins to decline. Not only is it harder for her to become pregnant, but the risk of complications and birth defects goes up.

Also, it is psychologically harder for people who have been living on their own for years to adjust to living together. And marriage isn’t exactly like taking on a roommate; for one thing, roommates don’t normally sleep in the same bed.

Anyway, of course, getting married when you’re “old” is better than never getting married at all (unless you want to be a monk), but I’d advise against intentionally waiting that long.

17 dominic charles December 1, 2008 at 8:09 am

Interesting, but I have to quibble. This article is utter, subjective and roaring tripe from the first syllable to the last smug percentage.

Either the author is looking for any brightness in his own clattering marriage to distract himself from the permanent horrors of the experience, or this article is an offering to his bride to soften her up for a rare shag.

To deal with his points blow by blow, marriage means:

1. Less and poorer sex.
Let’s face it, marriage vitiates sex. It takes one of the most transcendent human experiences and makes it dull. It is perhaps a cosier and more familiar experience, but passion and cosiness are contradictory states. Every ‘happily’ married man will spend the remainder of his life without the thrill and mystery of a new woman, and the ecstatic highs that are only possible with passion. He’ll spending a lifetime mounting her without the butterflies or shiver down his back, like a mountaineer permanently restricted to one ever-subsiding hill.

His only remaining highs will be the isolated births of his children or that guilty moment he finally cheats on her.

Marriage removes a man forever from the sublime and damns him to a soap opera.

2. Less money.
Marriage is a staggering waste of money. Absurd amounts of money are squandered on bedspreads, jewellery, or any other of her dainty pretensions. It cripples a man’s spending power with the burden of a huge new set of responsibilities and demands.

3. Far worse health.
…because a married man lets himself go. This may be laziness, but marriage habituates a man to laziness. When everything is expected and sure, nothing has to be worked for. Married men get fatter quicker, take less trouble over their appearances and suffer all the ugly consequences of reaching a plateau. It’s often seen that when a man retires, his life, mind and body will quickly wither. Similarly, when a man marries, he pays a terrible physical penalty for moving into a lower gear. On top of that, the extra responsibilities that come with having a wife and children compound ordinary stress in terrible ways. A single man who loses a job has to worry about looking after just one person.

4. A faker smile.
By the beginning of the second decade of marriage, all expressions of joy are hollow and false. A husband becomes so used to papering over his bleak lot with false smiles, he quite forgets the prompt for a genuine one – until that day he catches one suddenly blooming over his face at the thought of the girl in the coffee shop who smiled at him, like a violet at the end of a long winter.

An unmarried man means it when he smiles and has more to smile about. Contrast this with the frequent heartfelt smile of the man untrammelled by any nagging, stale lump of wife.

5. Marriage is far more miserable than you could possibly want or imagine.
Worse than miserable, marriage is flat and predictable. It is the mould of all routines and hurries life by in ever less cosy circles. Marriage is also the death of ambition. It’s commonly remarked that the bright careers of many young scientists are dimmed by marriage, and the bird who has found a mate has less to sing about.

To these let me add one other very compelling dimension.

6. Marriage is an inexcusable waste of time.
Besides the time haemorrhaged on her manias and ridiculous pursuits, a wife very often comes with a huge extended family her husband is obliged to perennially court. A wife makes it a duty for a man to waste precious time on vile tedious people he would never consider socialising with in any other walk of life.

Probably the best way to consider this question is to compare marriage with work. The man who signs a lifetime contract with the first job he likes is considered unambitious, unimaginative, mediocre, timid. Pursuing a similar course with a woman is no greater evidence of manhood.

In fact, marriage is the negation of manhood.

I predict for the author a morning, perhaps many years away, but already guaranteed, when he opens his eyes and ears next to the stinking carcass of his love and rues the years he’s lost in this blinkered, dreary, cramped and absurd little box – marriage.

18 Nesagwa December 1, 2008 at 8:27 am

Originally Posted By dominic charlesThis article is utter, subjective and roaring tripe from the first syllable to the last smug percentage.

As is this post.

Your bitter unfulfilled life is no excuse for spewing your vitriol everywhere.

19 John December 1, 2008 at 8:33 am

@dominic charles – Maybe you just married the wrong person. My marriage isn’t perfect (whose is?), but it’s very good.

John (#2)

20 Kate December 1, 2008 at 8:44 am

@Nick-

Both the stats on sex and the stats on health do compare married men with those in long term relationships. Those in long term relationships do not enjoy either the sex or health benefits of married couples. I’m not sure we made that clear.

21 Tom December 1, 2008 at 8:48 am

@Nesagwa

Nor is it an excuse to bash someone who has a different opinion.

22 Brett December 1, 2008 at 9:11 am

@Tom-

It is one thing to respectfully disagree and have a different opinion. It is yet another to imply that my motivation for writing this post is to distract from the horrors of my marriage or to soften my wife up for sex, or to refer to marriage as “worse than miserable,” and “the negation of manhood.” and to a man’s love as a “nagging, stale lump of wife” and “a stinking carcass.” That’s not gentlemanly disagreement, that’s bitter vitriol.

23 Clayton December 1, 2008 at 9:18 am

I’d like to shout out to Jeff in support regarding gay marriage. I’m an ally and don’t really feel comfortable getting married when I know others cannot.

That said, if a pretty lady suckers me into it, my principals may go to the wind. ;)

24 Tom December 1, 2008 at 9:18 am

@Brett

Ah tu-che! I wasn’t trying to defend the insult to you and your wife, that was a jab that wasn’t needed. Just the rest of his point tis all. I myself am a big fan of marriage, but like discussions that go to both sides of a spectrum. My apologies for not being clear in my defense of his/her point.

P.S. Now that I have your attention, big fan of the site by the way!

25 Rudy December 1, 2008 at 10:16 am

Like everyone said, marriage isn’t perfect. Anyone who said being married will lead to everything good is probably delusional. BUT, marriage does provide stability and peace of mind. If both man and woman take the marriage seriously, it also forces them to grow up quickly. That’s good for everyone.

It saddens me when statistics say at least 40% of marriages in the US ends in divorce. We really should put responsibility back into marriage, and not make it a casual thing.

26 Anna December 1, 2008 at 11:05 am

Thank you for this article. As others have said, we’re often presented with a very negative view of marriage – to hear your experience, and the stats, say otherwise is a breath of fresh air.

@Dominic: I’m very sorry that this is the impression you have of marriage, but to accuse all women of ‘dainty pretensions’ and the like is really throwing the baby out with the bathwater! There are some really cool ladies out there, and I hope you find one.

27 Jim December 1, 2008 at 11:19 am

Love the article! It certainly reflects the growth that I’ve been able to see in my own life as a married man.

One thing I’d like to point out is the whole “50% of marriages end in divorce” stat…it needs clarification. I hate statistics, personally (unless of course I agree with them), but I’m willing to go with the 50% thing here. 50% of ALL marriages, including – or a better word here might be ESPECIALLY – marriages that are not the first time for both people.

I’ve read that when you look at two people who are getting married for the first time each, the stayed-married rate is upwards of 76%. Sadly, I can’t give a source on that right now, so take it with a grain of salt…like I said, I hate stats, lack of (credible) sources being one of the main reasons.

28 CoffeeZombie December 1, 2008 at 11:52 am

@Jim: lies, damned lies, and statistics, and all that.

Or, “90% of statistics are made up on the spot”? ;-)

Anyway, I didn’t read most of Mr. Bitter’s post, but one thing stuck out to me: his claim that married men are unhealthy and lazy. While I’ve heard that men tend to gain weight after marriage (eating all that good food the wife cooks!), my experience so far has been the opposite. Since getting married, I have lost weight and haven’t felt healthier in a long time! And I give the credit to this directly to my wife: she’s been reading up on healthy eating, and, as a result, we’ve been eating well. And, by eating well, I mean steak instead of hamburger. ;-)

At the same time, I can understand where some of the bitterness comes from. For one thing, our society seems to consider selfishness a virtue, and selfishness in marriage only results in bitterness and strife. Women are raised to believe that it is a betrayal of their womanhood to sacrifice their wants for a man, and men are raised to believe it is a betrayal of their manhood to sacrifice their wants for a woman. If a man (I can’t speak to the woman’s perspective here) gives up a night with the guys because his wife wants him to spend time with her, he risks the guys saying he’s “henpecked.”

That’s not a downside to being married, though; that’s a downside to our society. :-(

29 Victor Lombardi December 1, 2008 at 11:56 am

Just to build on what Jim said regarding this stat, “the divorce rate hovering around 50%” — this is the rate of marriages, not married people. In other words, some people get married and divorced several times, driving up this statistic, while others stay happily married for their whole lives.

30 cory huff December 1, 2008 at 12:37 pm

@Nick

The whole point of this article and the stats (freely available at http://marriage.rutgers.edu ) is that they do contrast marriage with cohabitation and single life. While there is certainly room for discussion, 90% of the scientific research out there supports the idea that marriage is the best thing for a man, and that marriage increases a man’s life span 4 – 7 years, and increases the likelihood of happiness.

@Sherwin

Sherwin, again, see the Rutgers University stats on marriage. Men who are married generally see their incomes increase after they are married and reduce high risk health behaviors after marriage.

The unfortunate, knee-jerk reaction by modern men to marriage is really too bad. If people would take a look at the evidence instead of listening to what is popular, then this wouldn’t be an issue.

For what it’s worth, I was married at 21, my wife was 19, and we’re going on 7 years married. I’m wealthier now than I was then, we’re both healthier (I exercise more and eat better), and our sex life is amazing.

31 lady brett December 1, 2008 at 3:02 pm

power to anyone who is happily married! but i have to question a few of your arguments:

more money – i know that your statistics are true, but it doesn’t make a case for marriage in my mind. if it were that marriage causes you to have more money, then sure, but it seems to me much more likely that more money increases the likelihood of getting married, for cultural and logistic reasons.

as for better health, it is well documented that more money is correlated to better health, so i am equally uncertain that this can be called a good effect of marriage.

that said, all the studies i’ve seen on the matter show that married men tend to be happier than single men (unfortunately, the same ones show that women tend to be less happy married than single).

32 Rodney Hampton December 1, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Marriage, as an institution, is continuously undermined by the popular culture. I am personally very satisfied with what marriage has to offer. My wife and I have been together since 1996 and have been married for 9 1/2 years. Yes, there have been ups and downs, but I’m better off with her than without her in almost every way. Ditto for her family, and the family we’ve created together.

The critical piece of advice is that you ought to have a set of selection criteria in mind. I didn’t. I got very lucky. Many men and women who haven’t planned ahead end up in the wrong marriage.

33 MTN December 1, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Good article. its refreshing to hear this kind of good, solid stuff these days.

34 Marlon December 1, 2008 at 5:33 pm

I am skeptical of these statistics. The alternate possibility for these numbers that fellow commentors have brought up seem plausible. Frankly, I see little benefit in a marriage over a long-term relationship. There are government granted benefits. I think that marriage is largely about two things. One is children. I believe marriage to be best for the healthy raising of children. Two is security. Both financial and emotional. Another added benefit to marriage that I see is really best explained by a Simpsons episode. In this episode, it is discovered that Homer is great at breaking people up. He starts doing it for his friends, and eventually, everyone in Springfield. At the end of the episode Homer and Marge discuss whether that was ethical. He made break-ups so easy that people began to break up at the slightest problem and everyone wound up unhappy. The analogy to marriage is that marriage gives a relationship a little more support. If one were to get into a fight with a girlfriend, I feel that he would be more inclined to break up with her rather than in a marriage they might try harder to make it work. Maybe because it is much more of a big deal in society to get a divorce than to break up with a girl/boyfriend, in addition to this divorces can be long and painful.

35 Matt December 1, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Originally Posted By cory huff
Sherwin, again, see the Rutgers University stats on marriage. Men who are married generally see their incomes increase after they are married and reduce high risk health behaviors after marriage.

The unfortunate, knee-jerk reaction by modern men to marriage is really too bad. If people would take a look at the evidence instead of listening to what is popular, then this wouldn’t be an issue.

For what it’s worth, I was married at 21, my wife was 19, and we’re going on 7 years married. I’m wealthier now than I was then, we’re both healthier (I exercise more and eat better), and our sex life is amazing.

Again, people are confusing cause and effect. You are earning more money now because you have more experience in your job. It does not have anything to do with the fact that you are married. Take a 21 year old and compare him to a 30 year old in the same industry – 99 times out of 100, the 30 year old will be making more money.

Also, that Rutgers University site is clearly biased towards pro-marriage. Not that that’s wrong – just something to keep in mind when reading their research.

Back to the article. It makes a good case for marriage but we have to realise that marriage is different all over the world.

What does this mean?

It tells us that marriage is not a natural thing. It is cultural and often based on religion. So since marriage is not natural, it is unreasonable to expect that getting married would be the best scenario for everybody.

36 Derek December 1, 2008 at 7:07 pm

“Back to the article. It makes a good case for marriage but we have to realise that marriage is different all over the world.

What does this mean?

It tells us that marriage is not a natural thing. It is cultural and often based on religion. So since marriage is not natural, it is unreasonable to expect that getting married would be the best scenario for everybody.”

Marriage, with the exception of a few pockets of polygamy, is essentially the same all over the world these days. Yes, it hasn’t always been a man and a woman, and yes before it was more about a property exchange than about love, but what I find really interesting, is that since the 1960′s there have been plenty of people who have challenged the idea of marriage being natural. But it’s never really caught on. Something like 90% of people will get married in their life….Christian people, Muslim people, agnostic people, atheist people. Do they get married just because society expects them to? No, I think people naturally want to be paired off exclusively with another person. The greatest evidence of this is the gay marriage movement. If any sub-culture could have chucked marriage as being unnatural and simply opted for long-term relationships without that label, it would have been the gay community. But gays want to get married too. Again, I think it’s the most natural thing in the world to to be paired off with someone exclusively, to want a loyal partner for life and to make it official.

37 John December 1, 2008 at 8:28 pm

This is a good post and everything in it is true.. sort of. What’s important is to not confuse corollation with causality. To be clear, you cannot prove that marriage is the reason for all this improvements in various life statistics. Indeed, you could argue that those capable or more prone to achieving the health, wealth and other factors above are inherently more attractive as mates and hence are more likely to get married.

Said differently, if you are healthier, wealthier, and smile more than the average man, you are more likely to get married… Which is it? No one can say for sure…

38 Evan December 2, 2008 at 2:17 am

I am excited to get married someday. However, I’d like to throw out a few things that are probably keeping men from getting married and are worth consideration. Both have to do, actually, with divorce:
1. Child custody: The woman seems to always get the kids. I know a couple, where the wife cheated on the husband, and the husband tried to reconcile, but the wife insisted on divorce. The wife still got the kids. Sickening.
2. Spousal support: It’s understandable in some, or, many, cases. However, why would I want to get married if I’m faced with a 50% chance of giving huge chunks of money to someone who cheated on me for the rest of my career? Sickening.

39 CoffeeZombie December 2, 2008 at 6:46 am

@Matt So, just the fact that different cultures have differences in their views of marriage means that marriage is unnatural? You’re really reaching there. What about the fact that, oh, it just so happens that every culture has some concept of marriage? Sure, some may allow plural marriages whereas others are monogamous, but they still see a value in marriage.

@Evan You have feminism to thank for that. Somehow, our society has come to see women as the victims in almost every situation, and men are almost always the oppressors. If a woman cheats on her husband, the husband probably did something to cause it.

40 Thomas Crown December 2, 2008 at 8:05 am

@dominiccharles -

your comment is the only thing worth reading on this entire post, I couldnt possibly agree more. THANK YOU for your “vitriol” and knife-edged wit. Well said.

the rest of you pathetic defenders of marriage will, in time, come to see what he’s talking about. and then there was light.

and the “gentlemanly” thing to do is TELL THE TRUTH. ALL THE TIME. which is what my new hero dominiccharles has done here.

41 Tom December 2, 2008 at 8:26 am

@Kate

“Both the stats on sex and the stats on health do compare married men with those in long term relationships. Those in long term relationships do not enjoy either the sex or health benefits of married couples.”

So what is it about the ring on someone’s finger that makes them healthier? Do married couples have a better sex life because their marriage certificate turns them on? Correlation does not equal causation.

It’s a shame that this article was so antagonistic in tone (e.g. “nearly all of the true advantages of marriage apply only to actual married couples, not those couples living together”). Surely the author could see how that is offensive? This could have been a brilliant article if it had been about the importance and benefits of loving one woman and staying true to her, which is, after all, the whole point of any marriage – common law or not.

After the utter tripe that was the “all real men own guns” article and now this I have decided to unsubscribe.

42 James December 2, 2008 at 11:00 am

To take this in a different direction, I’d like to add that marriage is not something to be entered into lightly. Marriage was intended from the beginning to be a lifelong comittment. Sadly, divorce has made it a contract that can be negotiated or broken and thrown away. Don’t get married if you are not prepared to give up your own desires and put someone else above yourself.

That being said, I am firmly convinced after being married 4 1/2 years (and we dated for 3 years beforehand and had a 1 1/2 year engagement) that marriage is not something to do if you are selfish. Don’t get married if you are expecting to recieve everything (sex, service, submission) instead you must be willing to give.

I am convinced that the marriages that fail are mostly due to lack of satisfaction because they expected more than what they got. But sadly, it is usually because they did not put in all that they could. Marriage is like a fire; if you do not keep feeding it it will die out. You feed it by constantly working at marriage to get better and better.

Most importantly, I wanted to add that love is not just a feeling. Feelings come and go (like happiness, anger, sadness, etc.). True love is a comittment. I am going to get my wife a glass of water at 3 in the morning because I am comitted not because I ‘feel’ like it. If you go based on your feelings you are going to be disappointed in marriage 10 times out of 10.

43 Centinel December 2, 2008 at 11:28 am

As has been pointed out, most of the “pro” arguments for marriage are explained away by other causes. That said, even if many marriages are good, that doesn’t mean you will have a good marriage. Marriage, like most things, is individualized. I found, for example, that I valued my independence much more than the benefits my marriage brought. I am still good friends with my ex, but I’m much happier single and intend to stay that way permanently.

That said, realize that a wrong decision can be devastating. I know plenty of men (and women) who are in stifling, soul-killing marriages and feel trapped due to kids, finances, fear of change, etc. I pity these empty shells, and wonder what they’d have to say about the statistics presented. Remember, 50% of marriages end in divorce, and many of the rest are bad or just two people living together, so the average man is more likely to regret his marriage than appreciate it, statistically speaking.

The point is, before you get married, know who you and your potential spouse are and what each of you want and expects. Marriage is a lot of work in the best situation — and you need to be mentally in the game. If you’re the type of person that enjoys having someone around at all times and feels the need to settle down (emphasis on “settle”), then it might be for you. If you’re comfortable alone and appreciate doing what you want when you want to do it, then I’d caution you to think twice before tempting the gods.

44 Kate December 2, 2008 at 11:39 am

“It’s a shame that this article was so antagonistic in tone (e.g. “nearly all of the true advantages of marriage apply only to actual married couples, not those couples living together”). Surely the author could see how that is offensive?”

It was not meant to be offensive as it is simply a statement of fact. In numerous studies, the advantages in health, sex, money, and happiness are found among married couples, and not among long-term relationships sans marriage. Yes, causation does not equal correlation, but something is definitively going on. What is your argument against causation? Is there any proof that healthier, happier, hard working people have a greater propensity to get married? That would be the argument against causation, but then that would mean that those who are not inclined to marriage are generally less happy, less healthy, and less hard working…which certainly would not speak well of them.

So why would marriage as opposed to long term relationships create these benefits? There are numerous theories…..companionship makes you happier and that boosts your immune system and makes you healthier, married companions have a great stake in having their partner live to 100, and thus take care of them and make sure they see the doctor, married couples have committed themselves completely to one another and thus have the security to have great sex, try new things, and carry out their fantasies, married couples know they will be together for life and thus set up their finances to budget for the long term, and in general, long-term, live in couples still know they may break up, that it’s not permanent. And so and so on.

I don’t remember an “all real men own guns” article. But at any rate, farewell.

45 centinel December 2, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Hmmmm, don’t these arguments support arranged marriages and polygamy as well?

46 CoffeeZombie December 2, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Centenial: regarding the 50% of all marriages end in divorce statistic, I believe that was discussed earlier in the thread. Taking the statement at face value indicates that 50% of *all*, including second, third, etc., marriages end in divorce. I wonder what that number would be if we only considered first marriages. I seem to recall coming across a study once that found that second or third marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages.

Anyway, I do think it is terribly important to consider who you are intending to marry. I had a teacher in high school once who made the point, “Guys, if you marry a girl before you’ve known her for at least 3 years, you deserve everything you get.” Her reasoning was that people can hide a lot about themselves, but it’s harder to hide everything for 3 years. Sooner or later that temper, or selfishness, or whatnot is going to come out.

Of course, this time should not be spent with your eyes blinded by your heart. Only after you’re married should love be blind (and, if you are marrying someone you trust, that shouldn’t be a scary concept).

47 centinel December 2, 2008 at 1:48 pm

CZ: The numbers I’ve seen state that 40% of first marriages end in divorce and 70% of later marriages. Perhaps you see 40% as an acceptable risk, but I would imagine that many right-thinking people don’t.

The fact is that even if you do vet your significant other for several years, you can’t guarantee a successful relationship. I have a friend who dated a nice guy for 4 years and then got married. The week after he got married it was like a switch had been flipped — he became verbally and physically abusive and she quickly got out of the marriage. My ex-wife’s attitude changed quite a bit after we were married (mostly because we immediately moved to a big city that she was unused to). I also know a few people who, over time, changed their priorities as people will do. All of the sudden, they’re not walking lock-step with their spouse and problems arise.

If someone is getting married because there is some generalized study that they will live longer and be happier, then they deserve what they get. It may take a special person to get married and stay married successfully, but it also takes a special person to value being a free agent.

48 John of Indiana December 2, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Well, I tried it twice, failed at it twice, and currently am in a 10-year “relationship” where we don’t cohabit or even have “slumber parties”.
I’ll never marry again. how’s that old saw go? “Fool me Once…”?

49 A. Perry December 2, 2008 at 5:16 pm

You’re right that marriage is good for our health-for men’s health. Women who are divorced, widowed or (even better) have never been married live an average of 3-8 years longer than women who are married.

50 Kevin (ReturnToManliness) December 2, 2008 at 6:05 pm

@James – I really liked what what you said. Regardless if you are for the institution or against it, if you get married, you must remember to put the other person before you. It sounds trivial, but this is the core to making it work. AND, we must remember that putting them first does not make you less of a man or a woman – at all.

On the people against marriage, I actually agree with many of your points. But I would suggest to keep any personal attacks away from this discussion. This site is a blog – they are not authorities on anything. They simply like to write, share their thoughts, and have great conversation on the subjects.

I don’t want to speak for the authors, and I hope they would concur, but they are NOT experts on this subject or manliness in general. If they do actually believe this, they don’t get it. However, they do write well, have some good opinions and encourage people to push the conversation forward with their comments – whether you agree with them or not. This is really the purpose of the site and personal attacks are meaningless…

51 John December 2, 2008 at 11:09 pm

Centinel: good thought on arranged marriages that potentially undermines my own previous argument on causality: I’m pretty sure there is solid data that proves arranged marriages are generally more successful (i.e.long lasting) than ‘regular marriages.’

Again a lot of factors here with arranged marriages not the least of which is probably “lower expectations” and the potential that elders may actually be better at choosing life partners than the people in the flush of testosterone or estrogen driven ‘feelings.’

In the great book by Jonaithan Haidt, “The Happiness Hypothesis” the author graphs what I think virtually every couple in the world has experienced – the decline of “passionate” love with time, and the steady increase (in successful relationships) of “companionate love”. The latter has no chance of exceeding the former, but the former has no chance of surviving its decline past the latter – the lines always cross (i.e passion always subsides and is subsumed by the rising companionate love).

So to bring it full circle, Kate, yes, something is going on here. But I don’t think it is entirely unlikely that the causation for the health benefits attributed to marriage existed before the marriage: a happier, more driven, more attractive, more likely to smile gene pool is potentially the bigger driver for the health benefits, and has the side affect (benefit? downside?) of making you more likely to marry.

The converse is almost more likely true – if you are a lazy, unattractive, non-smiling, overweight sourpuss, you are definitely less likely to get married.

Final thought – even the “long term relationship” element does not prove causation. One thing that is quite common to “happy” individuals is their relative optimism. Optimistic people believe that they are “different, lucky” and hence the law of averages doesn’t apply to them. So they get married despite the clear evidence that a majority of marriages fail, and some other significant portion are “poor”, meaning that odds are they’ll have a bad marriage that may also fail…

But if you are truly genetically inclined to be happy, you’ll commit anyway (vs. be in a long term but not committed relationship), and the health benefits attributed to naturally optimistic people overwhelm any of those published above for married people, and may very well be just the ‘icing on the wedding cake’ benefits for a married couple.

But I could be wrong…

52 Nick December 2, 2008 at 11:24 pm

I’ve researched this topic for five years.

In my opinion, you’d have to be a dummy to marry an American woman, or most women raised in modern Western countries. Don’t even get me started about child custody and no-fault divorce in the U.S.. No matter how great this post makes things sound, there is a high probability you WILL get screwed.

Take a moment to get a contrasting view at nomarriage.com and dumpyourwifenow.com before you jump in. And talk to a spectrum of older guys who can give you honest tales of their own experiences, and that of their friends.

My advice. Don’t get married. But if you feel compelled, only marry a women that has actually grown up in a traditional culture: Mexico, Latin America, Southeast Asia, etc.

If you’re in a urban area like the California coast as I am, and are considering one of the local women, forget about. The divorce rate is among the world’s highest. Here’s the truth: women initiate divorces at 2-4 times the rate of men (depending on location). That’s right. The very group that presses for marriage are the first to bail out. And thanks to no-fault laws, they can do so for ANY reason and ANY time. Divorce almost guarantees you will be separated from your children and a good chunk of your assets. You will have little or no say in the matter.

Your typical college-educated American women is only going to get more selfish and difficult to deal with after marriage. Your sex life will NOT improve. And when you don’t behave as they expect, however unreasonable, our culture strongly supports the slash-and-burn approach — that is, a divorce followed by a replacement man.

There is no institution that is both so hyped and also such a miserable
failure.

P.S.: Excepting a few Pacific Island nations, the U.S. is home to the FATTEST women on the planet. Good luck.

53 Julian December 2, 2008 at 11:41 pm

@Nick – I’m amazed by Nick’s comments. It’s as if he sees women as a kind of commodity or product. “Don’t choose American because you won’t be happy with the quality.”

A wife is not an object. She’s someone who you get to know until you’re sure you and she are “soulmates”. A corny word but you know what I mean. There are plenty of women who don’t think husbands “should behave as wives expect”. If that isn’t what you want, don’t marry a woman who thinks that. If you don’t want a wife that’s “selfish and difficult to deal with”, don’t marry that kind of woman. Women as a sex are as much like that, or not, as men are.

What’s interesting about Nick’s comment is that very few women would want to marry a man which held such misogynistic views. Perhaps his preconceptions about women are what’s governing his experience.

54 Richard A December 3, 2008 at 8:56 am

@Anna

To quote Walter in “Sleepless in Seatle”: Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations to it.

I, too, hope Dominic Charles meets some really classy ladies; and that they’re already married to the really classy guys who deserve them. If your idea of courtship is trolling bars to pick up whomever is willing, then you’ll find yourself one day married, if at all, to someone who is easily picked up in bars. Which is fine, because she’s married to the same kind of person.

Not every marriage in America is perfect or even pretty good, or even better than the alternatives, because not every man and woman in America follows the summary advice provided: “Be absolutely sure you pick the right woman to marry, someone who will be just as passionately committed to making the marriage work as you are”. And stay passionately committed to making the marriage work.

55 MarriedMan December 3, 2008 at 4:26 pm

This is a valid, great post… if you’re over 25-30 years old.

Trust me on this one, you can do everything right: marry your best friend, understand and be willing to put in the work marriage involves, master the art of compromise, etc..

One simple thing will nullify all of that, and make all of the great (and true) benefits listed meaningless – marry too young.

Take it from someone who is experiencing it – in this day and age it’s nearly impossible to know yourself well enough to commit to something as deep and lasting as a marriage before your 25. I’d like to say there are exceptions, but I don’t think they’re are.

My wife and I were the “perfect’ dating couple. Always put the other person first, rarely fought, satisfying sex life and simply enjoyed life together. We were 22, fresh out of college and thought, why put it off?

Because people change a lot through their 20s. Especially if you’ve only experienced a few serious relationships, you will inevitably come to resent that you never experienced more of life on your own.

Just three years into the marriage, my perfect little relationship degraded into something ugly. We’re both more selfish with ourselves, we’ve grown in different directions, sex is rote and passionless. I’ve seen this exact thing happen to multiple friends.

I realize this sounds like a bitter diatribe from a man who feels trapped in a passionless marriage. And maybe it is. But it’s really not fun to think you’re doing the right thing and watch the easiest part of your life become the hardest.

If you’ve never been in a long term relationship with another person, don’t get married. If you wish you had more sexual partners, don’t get married. If you don’t have a solid 5 year plan which your partner shares, don’t get married. If the thought “well, this seems like what I’m supposed to do” crosses your mind, don’t get married. If you cannot answer the following questions with certainty, don’t get married – city or suburbs? party animal or couch potato? work to live or live to work? do I want kids?

In my experience, I’ve never met anyone under 25 who fits the above criteria. I know LOTS of people under 25 who think they do. They’re in for a surprise.

56 Matt December 4, 2008 at 1:47 am

So, just the fact that different cultures have differences in their views of marriage means that marriage is unnatural? You’re really reaching there. What about the fact that, oh, it just so happens that every culture has some concept of marriage? Sure, some may allow plural marriages whereas others are monogamous, but they still see a value in marriage.

I should have said “our (Western, Christian) form of marriage.” You are right, marriage, in some form, is common around the world.

Originally Posted By Derek

Marriage, with the exception of a few pockets of polygamy, is essentially the same all over the world these days. Yes, it hasn’t always been a man and a woman, and yes before it was more about a property exchange than about love, but what I find really interesting, is that since the 1960′s there have been plenty of people who have challenged the idea of marriage being natural. But it’s never really caught on. Something like 90% of people will get married in their life….Christian people, Muslim people, agnostic people, atheist people. Do they get married just because society expects them to? No, I think people naturally want to be paired off exclusively with another person. The greatest evidence of this is the gay marriage movement. If any sub-culture could have chucked marriage as being unnatural and simply opted for long-term relationships without that label, it would have been the gay community. But gays want to get married too. Again, I think it’s the most natural thing in the world to to be paired off with someone exclusively, to want a loyal partner for life and to make it official.

Derek, there is more than just a “few pockets of polygamy.” Most (yes, most) societies in the world are polygamous.

From Wikipedia:

According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, of the 1231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry.

Less than 1/5 are monogamous.

Do they get married just because society expects them to? No, I think people naturally want to be paired off exclusively with another person.

Yes, I would say that most people do get married either because:
a) …society expects them to. Look at all the arranged marriages around the world. Perhaps the reason why these cultures have arranged marriages is that they know people might not get married without them
b) …economic incentive. This normally only applies to women getting married.
b) …children. Probably the worst form of raising a child is from a single parent (I know this might offend some people). Most cultures involve a number of people to raise children including parents and grandparents and other extended family members and friends. Most cultures believe that children are best raised by many people.

Gays and lesbians generally want to be able to get married for legal/financial reasons.

57 Jinky Williams December 6, 2008 at 2:51 am

There’s a lot of passion behind many of the views here, having been fueled with hugely-emotional experiences that left the individual elated or disillusioned or what have you.

I’m not saying that these experiences and accompanying feelings are all valid; far from it. The deepest woundings and healings come from marriage, because it is in marriage that we often let ourselves become most vulnerable. But we as humans have an incredibly difficult time some times seeing things without looking through the lens of emotion.

What you think about something directly correlates to how you feel about that thing.

If you seek negativity, you’ll have no problem finding it, wherever you look. In the institution of marriage, in men, in women.
Our world seems to thrive upon negativity. It seems the popular thing is to extract all the negativity that one can find from a situation and carry it with you, leaving the positive at the side as just being happenstance.

So we have a society in which negative thinking is the rule of the day. You can see it in pretty much every walk of life, but especially in developed countries, its seems. I think this is because things are going so much our way that we now have the luxury of thinking about all the adversity in our lives, completely overlooking the unbelievable amount of blessing that we are the recepients of that made us even able to complain in the first place.

We can complain, therefore we do. It’s stylish and in vogue to have this so-called “realist” outlook. If one attempts to make a lifestyle out of looking for the positive, they are dismissed as living in their own world, or of not having the requisite “real-life” experiences to see things in the dirty grey that everyone else does.

This whole mindset seems to have taken a particularly-strong hold on our view of the institute of marriage. Stand-up comedians can hardly make it through a routine without at least a stab at marriage. It’s, “the old ball and chain”. I mean, how often do you hear good things about a marriage? It seems that those who would seek to continually find the positive in marriage, who strive daily to make it work, are dismissed by “veterans in the field” as just being too green. They show with pride their battle scars to beat the band, warning the young bucks to flee before it’s too late; that really, all it takes is time, and then you too can and will become an embittered, out-for-yourself, venom-spitting individual who has chosen to make it their life’s work to make sure that marriage and relationships with the opposite gender is as miserable for others as it was for them. It’s not a matter of if, in their minds; it’s just a matter of when.

What you think about marriage is going to have a profound effect on how you feel about it. Do you think it’s some Hallmark-propogated social ritual? Good luck on finding a fulfilling one, mate. Do you think it’s just the grown-up equivalent of high school dating? Have fun trying not to go through marriages like Kleenex.

I challenge you to consider what your thoughts are on marriage, women (if you’re a man) and men (if you’re a woman). Consider the origins of your thoughts. Look back and see why you believe what you do, what experiences in your past have shaped your beliefs and opinions.

Go against the grain and think positive. It’s not just for hippies and that guy from Kelly’s Heroes.

58 Menta December 6, 2008 at 10:02 pm

@ marriedman
“Take it from someone who is experiencing it – in this day and age it’s nearly impossible to know yourself well enough to commit to something as deep and lasting as a marriage before your 25. I’d like to say there are exceptions, but I don’t think they’re are. ”

I disagree, and although I may be in a minority I think there are certain advantages to getting married young. (I’m not advocating this, just pointing out there ARE advantages).
I was married at 19. My wife was 17. Yes 17. Basically, we grew up together, we never got “set in our ways” so to speak. Personally, I couldn’t imagine marrying someone at 25+ because by then I was already pretty much stubborn and set in my ways….luckily, my wife had been by my side the whole time so we had matured and become set in our ways….together…I’m very happy, 8 years later I wouldn’t change a thing. Of course I married the right woman…it would have been a DISASTER otherwise.

@ Dominic-
there is no “passion” in marraiges?…I still get shivers up my spine….and being with your best friend and the woman you love is SO much more satisfying than being with some stranger. (and 2-5 times a week for 8 years is quite a bit better than any single guys I know)
I’m also in the best shape of my life (and so is my wife)…why? We like to look good for each other….yep, close to 30 and I’m in better shape than when I was 18 because I like the way she looks at me….and she likes the way I look at her. I’m healthier too….I eat better and take care of myself because I want to be around for her…
I’m sorry for your own failed marraige, but don’t project your own failure on everyone

59 Robert December 9, 2008 at 4:44 pm

I respect your support for traditional marriage, but unfortunately, you are living in the past. It is too sad we can not return to a time when marriage was generally valued as the fundamental brick in our society. With State involvement, divorce-on-demand, and a host of mighty shifts toward socialism, marriage is already to risky for a man to invest in. Marriage ultimately leads to children, and under current laws, those children belong to their mother and can be removed from their father at her discretion, should she feel “unfulfilled” in some nebulous way. Let us change the laws before they destroy more families. There are no benefits to marriage in America today, because essentially it no longer exists in America. When a women can unilaterally decide to end her marriage without cause, than the relationship you speak of so highly exists solely at her discretion.

I greatly respect your views. I wish our society as a whole shared just some them.

60 Nick December 9, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Originally Posted By RobertI respect your support for traditional marriage, but unfortunately, you are living in the past. . . .

Excellent response by Robert (above), who offers a concise summary of what you’re up against. Sorry guys, it’s no longer 1958. Ozzie and Harriet have left the building.

I’m 53, been through all the permutations and have made this topic an area of study for years. Unless you marry a women raised in a traditional culture . . . . yes, where men are men, and women are women, and family comes first OR you marry a women with which you share unshakable spiritual or religious beliefs in the creation and preservation of family, your chances for a successful long-term marriage and uninterrupted contact with your children are very slim.

The worst thing you can do is marry or impregnate a typical college-educated white women from the U.S., Canada, Australia, NZ, Western Europe, etc . . . because you think she’s hot, or she wants you to, or you think it’s about time you should, etc. That’s just asking for pain and potential ruin.

Look around. Observe how this society has built-up women’s expectations to an absurd level (with toys, media messages, ads). How it seems acceptable and even expected that men and fathers are represented as dolts (thanks to 40 years of feminism). And let’s not forget the common practice of handing over the children and the house to the mother, at any time, for any reason in a divorce. Did I mention that most divorces (as high as 75% in some areas) are initiated by women? It’s a fact, check it out if you like.

As a man, our system is a setup for failure.

Yes, you could be one of the lucky few that makes it work, but it’s much more likely you’ll end up holding an empty bag.

Trust me, there’s nothing worse than not being able to see your own children (except perhaps in a rigid, artificial way) because some women decides one day that she’s just not happy. And she blames you. Millions of kids in the U.S. never see their fathers at all. And it’s not because the father’s don’t love their kids; it’s often because the mother poisons the well. Abysmally selfish and reprehensible, but it’s commonplace.

Our current system, based on a government-sanctioned marriage contract and a family law / divorce industry ready to cash in when anybody is a little unhappy, is a cruel joke.

I wish you well. Marriage should be a good thing, an important milestone in your life, the foundation of a family. But except in the narrow circumstances I mention (wife raised in a traditional culture, religious commitment), it’s just not likely to be that for you in the U.S. or similar societies.

Divorce, loss of assets, and alienation from your children should be a rare thing, and in many parts of the world, it still is. With some effort, you can make a good, long-term marriage your reality. But you’ll probably need to break free from conventional thinking and practice.

61 Nick December 9, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Originally Posted By Julian@Nick – I’m amazed by Nick’s comments. It’s as if he sees women as a kind of commodity or product. “Don’t choose American because you won’t be happy with the quality.”.

@Julian

Julian,

Still there? I think you misunderstood my comment. Or perhaps I didn’t explain my point clearly.

This is not about individual women as products, or anything of the sort. I’m not a misogynist. It’s about the nature of the culture, a of society that promotes the selfish, impatient behavior that many American women engage in, along with their often ridiculous expectations, that I believe is a core reason behind the fragmentation of the American family and real emotional pain for everyone.

I asked a divorce lawyer with 30 years of experience: “What’s the root cause of the divorces you see?”. His answer: “Unmet expectations”. To which I might add that most (as high as 75%) of divorces in the U.S. are initiated by women. These women are looking for, but not finding, the peace, unconditional love, security, and dream fulfillment in the men they marry. Why? Because it’s not there. Every spiritual tradition that I’m aware of teaches that salvation does not exist outside ourselves. Yet through more of “what’s in it for me today” thinking, the search goes on to the next man, the next marriage, and the one after that. Looking, dating, hoping. Meanwhile, the divorces, abortions, lost children, anti-depressants, liquor, and broken hearts pile up.

So if you want to use the word “products”, are not American women “products” of American society? That’s my key point. And yes, I’m saying that between the popular degradation of men and especially, fathers, 40 years of feminist propaganda, and a unbalanced family law system, that most guys would be far better off not going down the road to marriage in America today. Individual women may feel they have nothing to do with this. But there’s no getting away from it. It’s water around the fish.

I’m not opposed to marriage, I’m for it. But I’m just saying millions of guys have now realized that marrying an American women (or their cultural clones), especially under U.S. law, is not likely to turn out well. Statistics clearly bear this out. I’m saying to guys: look at some options. Travel the world. Consider a wife from another culture that has not been indoctrinated with all this anti-male, anti-family crap. When I last checked, the divorce rate in Mexico stands at about 2%. And Mexico itself is routinely cited as one of the “happiest countries”. Hmmmm . . . isn’t it a poor developing nation? How could that be possible? A different attitude, and a tradition of keeping the family together. Something you can no longer expect here.

My preconceptions of women? As far as I know, as a child, I didn’t have any preconceptions of women. Everything I’ve learned about women’s behaviors has come from my personal interactions with women, or more recently, in reading forums like this one. I did not see things this way until I hit 50 and had a lot of experience with marriage, divorce, and kids to look back on. I now would not waste 10 minutes or a nickel on another American woman. Seriously, there are so many better alternatives. But a nice lady raised in Latin America or Southeast Asia . . . sign me up.

62 Jeremy December 9, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Without arguing whether gay marriage is right or wrong…I have to say Jeff, you are not being truthful when you claim to be denied the right of marriage. You have just as much right to be married as I. Your “partner” also has just as much right to marry as I. You both have the right to marry a WOMAN. Just as a Lesbian has the right to marry a MAN. You and others simply want to re-define marriage as something other than between a man and a woman. Why can’t you just admit that and stop playing semantic games?

Be a man and speak plain, speak truth.

63 Julian December 10, 2008 at 12:29 am

Originally Posted By Nick

Originally Posted By Julian@Nick – I’m amazed by Nick’s comments. It’s as if he sees women as a kind of commodity or product. “Don’t choose American because you won’t be happy with the quality.”.

@Julian

This is not about individual women as products, or anything of the sort. I’m not a misogynist

I now would not waste 10 minutes or a nickel on another American woman. Seriously, there are so many better alternatives. But a nice lady raised in Latin America or Southeast Asia . . . sign me up.

OK, so you’re not against all women, just all American women (or Western women, reading your other posts). My point is that a marriage is between two individuals, not between one individual (a man) and one member of a homogeneous group of people who all behave in the same way (a woman from the US).

I can see that perhaps “unmet expectations” are a big factor in divorce but where do these expectations come from? Presumably when either the man or the woman expects the other to behave as “men” or “women”, “husbands” or “wives” should behave as a group. This leads to people comparing their spouses against each other or against some sort of ideal. The greatest unrealistic expectation is that you’re marrying a wife (or husband) and not a person; that marriage is of itself going to bring happiness. In fact, marriage is the framework in which the husband and wife can generate happiness. It doesn’t happen by magic just because you get married.

The other key to a successful marriage is knowing that you can both be better than you currently are and trusting each other to help you learn. That means learning to accept criticism when it is given (which is very, very hard for all of us) and giving it in a way that makes it as easy to accept as possible. If the criticism starts to be all one way or if it’s given for reasons of point-scoring or as verbal punishment, then obviously things are not looking good. If we want our spouse to trust us explicity, we have to constantly earn that trust. And we also have to be prepared to trust our spouse in the same way.

A consequence of this is that marriage isn’t just about compatibility, it’s about behaviour. Certain ways of behaving are just not conducive to a successful marriage. e.g. Criticism, nagging, not keeping confidences, gossiping about your spouse, being wasteful with your joint resources, unkindness, inattentiveness, selfishness, laziness, etc. Actually these are not conducive to a successful or happy life in any case. They are all indulgences and if we aren’t prepared to give them up, there is a cost to pay and that may be a failed marriage.

To me, this is why marriage is so wonderful. It provides the framework where you can both learn to be better people and therefore be more helpful to others. As you learn, you can teach your children to avoid the mistakes you made and start them off better than you were at the same age. Most of all, you can teach them how to have a successful marriage too.

64 Wrathbone December 10, 2008 at 1:14 am

If you were to ask me 10 years ago, before I was even legal to drink, if I was going to get married and have kids, I’d have told you absolutely, no doubt whatsoever that I would one day find a woman who was smart, physically and mentally healthy, trustworthy and breed with her. Now that the decade has passed, I find that prospect becoming dimmer.

I’m not against marriage or being committed to one woman. I’d say that my discomfort with the idea of marriage pales in comparison to that I have with the “hook-up” culture. Nor would I discourage anyone from getting married, if they felt they had found the ideal fantasy-land of blissful marriage that seems to be the exception to the rule in today’s society. The problem is that my personal experience far outweighs whatever statistics have been laid out in this article. For every one man I’ve talked to who was living in a state of perpetual bliss because he fell in love and married “the right one,” there were ten miserable, broke (and broken) unmarried or divorced men who not only advised me, but pleaded with me to not get married or have kids.

An ever decreasing quality among American women and a legal system hellbent on making fatherhood a living hell for men is persuading me more and more against the idea of marriage. I truly hope one day I will meet a woman who will convince me to enter into a government contract allowing her to run roughshod all over my privacy and freedom with only the knowledge that I am keeping the good ol’ overpopulation machine running to comfort me. On the contrary, most of the men I’ve met in my life who DID stay single, have twice the confidence, health, money, and quality of life as their married counterparts.

I’ve drifted away from this website for believing that those who ascribed to it were living in something of a 1950′s-style time-capsule, where women were bastions of purity, trust and beauty, and that every man who was honest and hardworking got exactly the love he deserved from the family he supported. That isn’t quite the case anymore. In the 21st Century, a man doesn’t have to get married or have kids and can live not just as well but most often better than if he had done otherwise.

65 Nick December 10, 2008 at 4:02 am

Originally Posted By Wrathbone
I’ve drifted away from this website for believing that those who ascribed to it were living in something of a 1950′s-style time-capsule

Yes, I sense this as well. A nostalgic desire to have things as they were, and not as they are. I haven’t had older guys relate similar warnings to me — I AM that older guy. Guys older than me grew up in a different world.

But there are always alternatives. Can’t afford a beach-front property here? You can in Brazil or Belize. Similarly, if the warnings of others have you concerned about the very real hazards of marriage American-style, trust your gut and go another direction. Either don’t marry, or find a women you can trust from another culture. Check out 4-Hour Workweek and The Art of Non-Conformity to pay for your travels, or just stay here and hunt until you find the one.

66 Brett December 10, 2008 at 9:03 am

@Nick and Wrathbone-

My writing on this site is not based on some baseless nostalgic longing for things that cannot be. I write from personal experience, and in my experience, the things I write about are quite possible. For me, marriage as been far better than I even imagined it could be; on a scale of 1 to 10, my marriage is a 10. And no I’m not delusional, we’re really and truly insanely happy, so much we make other people sick I fear. And while I realize that every marriage will not be like mine, I also know that if it is possible for me, it is possible for others. I do agree that marriageable women do seem to be in shorter supply these days, but they certainly still exist.

67 Mandi December 11, 2008 at 6:55 am

And marriageable men are in short supply too!

I advise setting your standards for a partner high, you standards for your own behavior higher and accepting the consequences of that decision. You may get married, you may not but in either case you are responsible for your choices.

When I was in college I dealt with people’s confusion, animosity and outright disbelief that I never dated, never slept with anyone, never even kissed a guy and still expected to get married. My standards were high for my own conduct and when I met my future husband (Art of Manliness, Man of the Year nominee Jared Alexander Patchin) he knew what I was and what I expected just from my reputation.

We’ve been married almost four years. We have two children under the age of two. We have started three business and had to close two of them. And we are over the moon about being married. I credit his selflessness and willingness to lead by example for my ability to stick it through the hard times. Marriage is a contract with someone else to make you a better person and women who understand this may be rare but so are the men.

Don’t be bitter. Grow up. And if our country’s laws and culture need changing then work for that but don’t forget that you need to be worthy of a selfless woman before you have any right to expect her.

68 Nick December 11, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Originally Posted By Brett@Nick and Wrathbone-

My writing on this site is not based on some baseless nostalgic longing for things that cannot be. I write from personal experience, and in my experience, the things I write about are quite possible.

I don’t dispute your experience and I’m delighted your marriage is wonderful for you.

However the design of this site — it’s retro graphics and tone — strongly point to days gone by. I find it very pleasant actually. But it’s definitely an appeal to the way things would have been or should have been if we only lived in the world of our father’s or grandfather’s youth. At least that’s the way I see it. Strangely enough, I feel a real longing for that era, which is why I’m so appalled at the state of marriage and family in this country.

If the specter of divorce — especially it’s nasty consequences for men — didn’t exist, I might feel differently, but it does, and at a rate that’s alarming — among the highest in the world.

Why don’t we try this social experiment?

In case of divorce, let’s provide that men, not women, get physical custody of the kids 90% of the time as women now do. And men will almost always get to live in the family home with the kids. Women can visit their kids on weekends and alternating major holidays if they choose to. However, they will not attempt to see the kids on an unscheduled basis, or the will be subject to arrest, as men now are. Men will not be penalized in they choose to frustrate the efforts of women to have a close relationship with her children, or if they slowly but surely alienate the children against the woman. Also, men will keep a proportional share of the marriage assets based of their contribution, and of course, everything they owned before the marriage. Alimony will be paid to the man for a number of years if he somehow depended on the woman’s income during the marriage. Women will be required pay child support in 85% of the cases as men now do, a necessary result of their smaller slice of parenting time, as men now are, or risk incarceration. There’s no need to go back the “fault” system of divorce; if one party really wants a divorce, let them have it. Men will just get the same deal women get now.

How do you think that would go over?

Answer: Women would RIOT IN THE STREETS. There would be an enormous, immediate, and visceral outcry. It would be the #1 story on CNN. Huge sums of money would be raised, legions of lawyers called to action, political machines would spring to life, feminists would be tearing out what’s left of their hair . . . all to fight the egregious, sickening injustice. “My God, we can’t let this happen in America!!!”

Yet, the reverse of this scenario, our current state, which seems so unbalanced, so toxic to the family and to society in general, is a fact of life for tens of millions of American men. Most just bend over and accept it. Why? Because they figure the can’t fight the system, they can’t live without seeing their kids, they just don’t care anymore, they have no unified front with other men, etc, etc. They are beaten down to a nub.

Are we still back in grandpa’s day when it would be unthinkable for a gentlemen to do something that might be perceived as unchivalrous? No, we are not. Nappy time is over guys, you need to wake up and take action. American women have moved on, moved up, and moved over. There are many that are not happy and ready to blame others, using every means possible to network, to advocate, to make damn sure they get every advantage over men — especially in divorce — deserved or not. They are supported by a large and vigorous army of divorce lawyers, biased counselors, feminists, anti-male judges, and misandrists of all stripes. It’s a big business.

The message to women is: Unhappy with any aspect of your life? It’s not your fault. Divorce the jerk and get a fresh start with the kids. You deserve it! I’ve actually seen pre-marriage courses and seminars — designed exclusively for women — preparing them to squeeze the most out of their husbands if something in the marriage does not go to their liking. That blows my mind and makes me very sad. But this is the culture we live in. To quote Dave Chappelle: “Chivalry is dead . . . and women killed it”.

Here’s my message to modern, Western women: if you support or practice anti-male, anti-father, anti-family behavior, driven by your own selfish desires, good luck finding a decent husband or forming an intact family. Over time, as you get older, the only men available to you will commiserating losers and those that just want to get laid, then leave. In the end, you will only disadvantage yourself and your children, and you will appear to be exactly what you are. The smart, prosperous, attractive, clear-thinking guy you hoped for will have long since moved on to greener pastures, with a woman that has an entirely different mindset. I like to think of myself as one of those guys, and as the Eagle’s song says “I’m already gone.”

So, does being a man today mean bending over and accepting things as they are? To do the typical, expected thing, to play along, and risk losing your children, your assets, and your zest for life in a divorce, a process you cannot stop because of the no-fault laws? Or does it being a man mean standing up to this darkness; to reject or not participate in the largely failed enterprise of marriage and divorce American-style? I choose the latter. That is, I will remain single, or marry a women that is demonstrably far, far removed from the selfish values and mainstream behaviors of this society. It grieves me to see things this way, but this is what I’ve concluded from my personal experience and that of friends over the past 30 years.

69 Wrathbone December 12, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Originally Posted By Brett@Nick and Wrathbone-

I do agree that marriageable women do seem to be in shorter supply these days, but they certainly still exist.

Well, I certainly am with you 100% on that!

I may have knocked this website a bit in my last posting, but I do want to acknowledge it because it has given me a lot of food for thought since I discovered it earlier this year. In fact I’d say I’ve become a better person for it, as I always felt a bit disillusioned with the current state of manhood (or rather men-trapped-in-boyhood) in today’s society. Until this website came along I was under the impression I was the only one. But as I became more Manly, I not only saw a lack of Manliness among my fellow males, but a lack of Womanliness among women. (Brett, perhaps your better half should start a Art of Womanliness site? With as much praise as you heap upon her, it sounds like she could teach a thing or two.)

I don’t consider it mysogony (sp?), but more of a growing concern because I adore women. There is no more wonderful feeling to me than to have the love of a woman. And in all of my past relationships, there was never any length, physically/emotionally/financially, I wouldn’t go to for her. On top of that, nearly all my ex-girlfriends have at one point, called me back to apologize for how the relationship turned out. One girlfriend even told me, “I have a feeling you will be the ‘One That Got Away’ for many women.”

But when I interact with single women nowadays, I can’t imagine being involved with any of them. Most of them lack, among other things: class, intelligence, optimism, taste, selflessness, grace, ambition, and honesty. I’m not sure if there’s a word for a woman who acts like a douchebag, but that’s about the most accurate description. Just as many men seem to be stuck in fratboy mode, many women seem to be in a permanent state of sorority-hood.

How can I possibly consider marriage at a time when I can’t remember the last time I held an interesting coversation with a woman? Or when I met a woman whose hobbies didn’t include excessive drinking, clubbing, or watching lots of reality TV? Despite my obvious growing cynicism, I try to give women the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard. I’d like to think of myself as a man of quality, an intellectual gentleman of taste, health, and sophistication. And the reason I’m approaching 30 and not yet married because quite frankly I haven’t met a woman who can match me in those areas who isn’t already spoken for.

This website has inspired a newfound sense of self-worth, which just might be the problem. Perhaps the reason many marriages fail is because one partner was not in touch with their own value and basically settled for someone who wasn’t right for them. Most men worry about not being good enough for their future wife. My biggest worry is that I won’t meet a woman who is good enough for ME.

70 Sheens December 15, 2008 at 11:01 am

SO TRUE, Lee Gibson.

71 Jeremy January 22, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Great post. I agree wholeheartedly and would urge people to not worry about becoming a statistic when contemplating marriage. Saying you have a 50/50 shot of a lasting marriage because the divorce rate is around 50% is like saying an unborn baby has a 1 in 3 chance of being Chinese. Statistics mean nothing to the individual. If your daily ambition is to do all in your power to make your spouse happy, then divorce shouldn’t be an issue. Not saying I’m the perfect husband, just throwing that out there.

72 Nick January 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Jeremy,

1. Where do you think statistics come from? They represent the aggregate experience of . . . individuals. We have these grim statistics because divorce, alienation from children, and unilateral destruction of families is widespread in our culture. If you’re young, it may not have happened on any significant level in your immediate sphere, but it is happening right now to millions of others. So when you say statistics mean nothing to the individual, you’re really saying they mean nothing to you. You don’t have cancer, therefore cancer statistics mean nothing. Until you get cancer . . . then they mean a lot.

2. Happiness is a transient and individual mental-emotional phenomena. You cannot “make” someone happy, although it might make you happy to think that your are. When real trouble hits a marriage, you may very well find that the train has already left the station. At that point, it won’t matter how ambitious you may have been in trying to make the other person happy. In fact, I would say that the absurd expectation that the partner or the marriage is somehow going to lead to happiness is the core reason our divorce rate is among the highest in the world. If something wasn’t fundamentally wrong, the statistics — the aggregate experience of millions — would not be what they are, would they?

73 Jeremy January 22, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Nick,

Re: 1. You either misunderstand me or maybe I should have phrased it better. When I said statistics mean nothing to the individual, I mean that certain statistics bear no significance on an individual’s particular course. That a certain percentage of people contract cancer during their lifetime does not alter your chances of getting cancer. That half of marriages fail does not signify that you have a 50/50 chance of ending up divorced. Admittedly, the baby with a 1/3 chance of being born Chinese is a cheeky exaggeration of my point. It is no less poignant though. Statistics have shown, people born in the summer months have better educations, better jobs, and are healthier than people born in the winter. [http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-01/winter-baby-blues]. Does this information have any bearing, real or perceived, on the life of a December baby–(i.e. is a December baby destined for a short life as a burger flipper?). No.

I’ll respond to the other comment later. I have to eat dinner.

74 Julian January 22, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Although there are obviously some cases where incompatible people get married or where one partner changes significantly in a way that takes them away from the other, I don’t believe most marital problems “just happen”. The statistical chance of getting divorced is not the same sort of thing as the statistical chance of getting cancer etc. I have known people who, having been through a divorce, feel it would have been better to work through the problems in their first marriage. They are now part of the statistic but, on their own admission, need not have been.

I firmly believe there are certain life skills which hugely improve the chances of a couple staying together. We all get better at them as we go on, but sometimes not until we have learnt the hard way. These include never talking about your spouse in personal terms to friends and family, never criticising your spouse to anyone else, never saying anything to your spouse that’s intended to make them feel bad or small, accepting criticism from your spouse and correcting your faults and the things that annoy them, remembering that your spouse is the most wonderful person in the world, being on your spouse’s side, being loving, etc.

If we could see divorce statistics of couples who learn these skills and those who do not, I’m sure we’d see two very different probabilities for divorce.

75 Nick January 23, 2009 at 11:48 am

Jeremy,

When you say “That half of marriages fail does not signify that you have a 50/50 chance of ending up divorced.” who are you referring to? If you are referring to yourself as a unique individual, then perhaps you’re right. But statistics do not emerge from a vacuum, they show us the overall pattern that flows from the individual experiences of your friends, neighbors, co-workers . . . everyone. That’s the broader point I was making.

No, statistics do not determine our fate, but they do reflect the overall experience. Couples that do get along, and have long and happy marriages are already factored into the statistics.

76 Nick January 23, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Julian,

“I have known people who, having been through a divorce, feel it would have been better to work through the problems in their first marriage. They are now part of the statistic but, on their own admission, need not have been.”

True enough. But nevertheless, the divorces did happen. 10 years after my first wife divorced me (over my strong resistance) she was still talking in terms of what a mistake she had made, how she regretted not having children, how she felt like an outcast at parties (because she wasn’t married), how she wasn’t finding the perfect guy she was after, how we could have worked it out, etc., etc. Doesn’t matter. At the time, she was absolutely adamant about getting a divorce, and now we are statistics as you say.

“If we could see divorce statistics of couples who learn these skills and those who do not, I’m sure we’d see two very different probabilities for divorce.”

Of course. But successful marriages are already factored into the statistics we have. Most people apparently don’t have, or don’t choose to use the skills you’re talking about. In our culture, if the marriage is contentious, it’s seen as more expeditious to simply bail out and get a replacement spouse. There are exceptions in certain ethnic or religious groups, but generally that’s the way it is. I might add that the multi-billion dollar family law / divorce industry supports this dysfunction at every turn.

77 Jeremy January 23, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Nick,

I agree with your overall point: that given a sufficiently sized sampling of marriages; statistics show that half will end in divorce. I think, from what you posted, that you agree with my underlying point. While I may be struggling to make it clear, my point is that probabilistically speaking, any individual couple’s chance (i.e. probability) of a marriage that does not end in divorce does not simply amount to a coin toss. When the probability of a particular outcome is known, as in the case of tossing a coin, it is trivial to predict the statistical outcome of 10,000,000 coin tosses. Conversely, it is not nearly as easy to come up with the probability of a given outcome (e.g. divorce) when only the statistics are known. Try predicting the average outcome of 10,000,000 marriages. If the current trend continues, maybe more than half will fail. The point being that divorce statistics and others like it are dynamic. They are a good indication of the aggregate status of the population at large, but do not represent probability of one outcome or the other for a particularly small subset of that population.

Secondly, when I said that spouses should try to make each other happy, I meant they should regard each other more than themselves. Each should put the other’s priorities, ambitions, feelings, wellbeing, comfort, and status in general above his/her own. It’s the Biblical golden rule (as opposed to “He who has the gold…rules), but on an intimate level. Do unto your wife/husband as you want her/him to do unto you. I know it’s easier said than done, but so are many worthwhile things. To borrow a thought, I think that marital love grows and matures in a healthy relationship from an initially somewhat selfish love (i.e. Eros, one based on ‘I love you, if you…’ or Phileo, ‘I love you, because you…’) into a selfless love (Agape, one more like ‘I love you, in spite of…’). Agape love says “I would die you for”. It is not contingent on each spouse fulfilling the desires of the other. Some marriages fail when a spouse’s “I love you, if ” or “because” reason is gone. People change, and consequently they “fall out of love”. In reality, they probably never learned to love each other selflessly.

78 Nick January 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Jeremy,

We could quibble over the meaning of statistics, but I fundamentally agree with what you’ve said, especially in your second paragraph.concerning selfless love. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about on so many levels.

It grieves me that I’ve experienced so many women whose attitude is “what’s in this for me today?”

When an understanding of history, philosophy, and spirituality are supplanted by a obsession with media, consumerism, and entertainment, should we even be surprised at our current state?

79 sam February 21, 2009 at 2:01 am

I have found this blog extremely interesting and informative. I married my husband after 5 years of dating which began when I was 18. Now, at nearly 30 years old, I must say that our marriage is going down the road of regrettable. We supposedly did “all the right things”, pre-marriage counseling, after marriage counseling, charts, quizzes, graphs, “excercises”, psychics(lol-when we were young), church groups for marrieds, etc. I mean, you name it, we’ve done it, and spent a buttload in the process. We did it because we wanted to be “sure”. But what I’ve learned about life and reality in so little time is that you can never be “sure”, because life is unpredictable, and that the only predictable thing in life is change itself.

I am a housewife. American. Full-time stay at home and work at home mother. I am also college educated. The “problem” with American women verus foreign women from third world desolate nations is that we don’t actually “need” a provider. At least, not in the financial sense. American women(at least ones who come from, or who have made for themselves, a strong economic background) no longer need a financial “savior”. We have moved up Maslow’s needs heirarchy, and apparently many American men weren’t ever given the memo, still believing that “making 15% more money” makes their presense “for life” valid. The truth is, most American women could do without that additional income, especially if it has to be paid back in emotional trauma.

The marriageble women in this country(the women who many men might define as a “good” wife, not simply women who marry), the few left, are likely the least ambitious, the least intellectual, the most fervantly and dogmatically religious, and the most likely to want 15 children-or at least 3. There are still a few women left who are socialized into being submissive to a man out of fear of being alone or being poor, but most women in this country realize that opportunities and dreams can now be self-realized and no longer have to be lived vicariously through the world adventures of a husband. It’s a harsh reality that I didn’t see coming when I got married. I never knew how stifling marriage and even parenting would be to the other life(the one of freedom and ambition) that I imagined for myself.

Fortunately, my husband is an amazing human(not necessarily husband), and we both feel the same about this. In fact, one thing I hate the most is when he goes into “husband” mode. He will work and work and work, believing himself to be a “good” dutiful husband, until exhaustion. This is not what I wanted in a husband, a man willing to abuse himself and stifle his own social life and dreams and general wellbeing, just to live up to his potential as a “husband”. Further, it is not at all what I need. I am more than capable of working long, dull, hours for a buck. What I wanted was a friend, an equal, an occasional(when asked) advisor, a person to co-parent with, a partner is life’s adventures.

What marriage has done for us is boxed us into a prison of social and economic expecations that neither of us really bargained for. It has changed us, in that we feel we cannot change, without the other approving of the change. It has limited our social circle to mutally pre-approved friends. It has turned our love into a requirement…for life. We are no longer together at will(at least psychologically), we are bound/locked, imprisoned. Our love belongs to the state, and everyone else who depends on it for their own validation and selfworth.

If I had it to do again, I would not get married. Or, I’d wait until I were well into my 60′s or 70′s. There is something to say about the psychological effects of being “married”(i.e., hitched, locked, bound-all violent terms, by the way). Even if my husband and I do not remain married, we intend to co-parent daily, to stay together, and hopefully sell off those material things which force us to stay in one place as the world moves on. We will not make promises that we can’t keep, or will not want to keep(more than likely) 50 years from now. We wish to go back to loving each other as we did pre-marriage, back when we were just two individuals coming together because our hearts(not the law, or society) compelled us.

I’d also like to add that, at not even 30, at least half of my married friends are already divorced or hoping for one. Nearly all of my married male friends, no matter how hot they were 5 years ago, are now fat(or quickly approaching), and styless. My girlfriends have become manipulative grumblers for the most part, dissatisfied already with their mediocre lives, but too entrenched in the idea of marriage to do anything drastic.

I also know some 40 year old marrieds whose husband likely believe everything is great(you know, cause they work and all and bring home money), but whose wives talk about them like dogs to other women. Many men, I’ve observed, seem content with their wives(likely because the men have gotten fat being married, lost their charm, lost their ambition, and their self-esteem) and have no clue how close they are to divorce.

80 kay March 5, 2009 at 8:01 pm

I watched my parent’s marriage to to h— after 14 or 15 years. Mama took
a brand new car (paid in cash) and all the savings except $400. Took my
5 year old sister three states away. Sister grew up thinking her Dad didn’t
care. No child support, well Mom got her child support up front. It took my
little sister years to understand that her Mother basically screwed our
family. My Dad had to start all over from nothing at the age of 45.

I watched the struggle and heartache my Dad endured.

I tell you, marriage is no bed of roses. I have witnessed the breakup of nearly
all my parent’s friend’s marriages. And after 26 years of marriage myself, I’ve
witnessed the breakup of nearly all my friend’s marriages. I, for one will not
go there. I honestly believe that my husband and I are better people together
than we would be apart. For all the quirks and aggravations, it still has it’s
good side.

In fact, I believe I have been lazy lately in the marriage department. Now’s a
good time to shape up.

81 naser May 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm

i need a case for marring.i am male.and want between 20-30 age.i am ingenier and working .

82 Joe June 2, 2009 at 8:12 pm

[quote]I’d also like to add that, at not even 30, at least half of my married friends are already divorced or hoping for one. Nearly all of my married male friends, no matter how hot they were 5 years ago, are now fat(or quickly approaching), and styless. My girlfriends have become manipulative grumblers for the most part, dissatisfied already with their mediocre lives, but too entrenched in the idea of marriage to do anything drastic.

I also know some 40 year old marrieds whose husband likely believe everything is great(you know, cause they work and all and bring home money), but whose wives talk about them like dogs to other women. Many men, I’ve observed, seem content with their wives(likely because the men have gotten fat being married, lost their charm, lost their ambition, and their self-esteem) and have no clue how close they are to divorce.[/quote]

Of all the comments posted on this blog, this has got to be the most insightful and valuable, INMNSHO. It shows how little we men really know about women.

I am glad that a woman was brave enough to jump into an emotional cauldron of a subject and tell it like it is from a woman’s POV.

Now for some interesting facts:

[quote]Top 10 Divorce Myths
Nearly half of all American marriages end in divorce, yet many of us have the wrong information on splits. Here are the 10 worst myths about divorce:

1. The majority of men cheat on their wives — Truth: “The best-designed study says nearly 80 percent of men haven’t cheated on their wives,” says Dr. Orli Peter, Ph.D., a psychologist and divorce mediator.
2. Men dump their wives — Truth: Women initiate the majority of divorces.
3. Women pay a horrible economic penalty for divorce — Truth: Five years after the split, the average divorcee’s new household income often surpasses her original household’s.
4. Women regret divorce — Truth: Divorced women are happier as they take control of their lives.
5. Divorce hurts women more than men — Truth: Psychological tests show ex-wives surpass ex-husbands in emotional health.
6. Divorced men marry more easily than divorced men — Truth: Their stats are similar – 75 percent for women and 80 percent for men.
7. Children usually recover pretty quickly from the trauma — Truth: Splits trigger long-term personal problems.
8. Children of divorce are less likely to divorce — Truth: They’re much less likely to respect the bonds of matrimony.
9. Kids do better with stepfamilies than with single parents — Truth: Single parents do just as well.
10. Second marriages tend to be more successful — Truth: The divorce rate for second marriages is higher than for first marriages.

The Average Woman On The BIG Day
June is Wedding Month and Women’s Health offers these stats:

* 27 is the age the average bride first says “I do.”
* 29 is the age the average groom first says “I do.”
* 250 hours are spent to organize the average wedding.
* 15 percent of weddings get called off.
* The average woman’s top 3 wedding day worries are zits, rain, and embarrassing relatives.
* 10 to 20 pounds is the amount of weight the average woman wants to lose before tying the knot.
* The average wedding dress costs $1,505.
* The average cost to be a bridesmaid is $1,400.
* The average cost to attend a wedding is $500.
* The average bill for the big day is $27,852.
* 30 percent of weddings are paid for by the bride’s parents.
* 32 percent of weddings are paid for by the couple.
* The top gift on the average bride’s wish list is money.
* The average value of all gifts received by the couple is $14,000.

Men’s Health reports these findings from the National Association of Wedding Minsters:

* $2,000 is the average cost of an engagement ring.
* Florida is the state with the most divorces, with 56,712 in 2006.
* 8 is the average length in years of first marriages that end in divorce. [/quote]

83 Christian June 4, 2009 at 2:17 am

To those who advocate getting married to a foreign woman, you might want to consider the following case http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/06/03/new.jersey.brazil.custody/index.html.

It’s bad enough to have a marriage end in divorce and have your children taken away from you but it’s quite another when they are taken to the country of origin of an ex-wife. They might as well be on Mars for all practical purposes.

84 Phillip August 9, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Marriage would be great if women were actually devoted to men anymore

85 Jordan Hill September 14, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Brett-

What is your position on living with your fiancee?

86 Jordan Hill September 29, 2009 at 3:33 pm

@Brett

What is your position on living with your fiancee?

87 Jacob December 14, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Happy marriage is possible, and extremely rewarding. I can attest to that. I am happily married myself, and I personally know many, many, happily married couples or all generations. Divorce rates are on the rise because men are getting wussier and women are rushing to rid themselves of their natural feminine virtues and qualities in a clamor to be ‘modernized.’ Happy marriages and families take sacrifice. Real sacrifice. The kind that makes you want to cry and give up. Everything of true value in this life comes at a price. As men become less manly and women become less womanly, fewer and fewer people have the guts to make the sacrifice it takes to have a successful marriage. Real men know that a successful marriage and wise children are the best signs and reward of true manhood. If I may quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I am determined to be the man in the arena who has dared greatly, and spent myself in the worthy cause of marriage. If you have been married and have gone through a terrible divorce, get up, dust yourself off, and get back in the fight. Dare greatly. America (and the whole world) needs noble manly men to step up and prove that we are not the slobbering, fat, stupid, sex crazed imbeciles that the media portrays us to be. We are better than that. Do you want a society where fathers raise their sons to be men in a supportive family environment? Where boys grow up learning the art of manliness? Where girls grow up knowing what makes a good man because they have a good man for a father? Do you long for the good old days when men where men? Then man up, and stand for marriage. Find yourself a good woman, put her happiness before your own, and show the world what it means to be a man.

It is a long, hard, and increasingly lonely road to true manhood. But that doesn’t mean that the fight isn’t worth it.

88 Kerry Soileau January 1, 2010 at 9:39 pm

“Here are 6 reasons you should grow up, man-up, and stopping being scared of walking down the aisle:”
Are you REALLY suggesting that if a man doesn’t want to get married, it must be because he is either immature, unmanly or a coward? Perhaps it’s because in today’s post feminist world, marriage simply isn’t a good deal for men anymore. Women have made lots of gains, but for men the benefits of marriage have decreased and the risks of divorce, alienation and separation from children, and financial ruin have all increased dramatically.
Do a reality check before you try to exempt women from all responsibility for the decline in marriage-minded men.

89 Erin April 20, 2010 at 4:57 am

I know that feminism is a dirty word, but I’m a feminist: “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. ” and I think it’s so easy to lay the blame at the feet of generalizations. Be it feminism, “western women’s” attitudes, men’s attitudes . . . whatever. At the heart of the issue I always find that it comes down to an individual level. I’ve never met two men who I could approach in a relationship the same way – I had to learn each of their characteristics, needs and desires. It would be pure laziness on my behalf to do otherwise. I expect the same in return from the men that I date. How else could a relationship last? I’m not married yet (turning 28 in a few weeks) and I’m glad that I’ve waited! It’s taken me a long time to figure out who I am as a person, a woman, a partner, what I want in a career and I don’t think I could have married well at a younger age. I’ve had girlfriends who married younger and they’re still happily married – it’s an individual thing.

I think as gender roles have changed it’s caused a lot of confusion . . . and then resentment when relationships get messy. Sexism is still alive and kicking – against women and men alike and its far more natural to have the knee jerk reaction then to take a deep breath, pause, and then think critically. Do I think that women are treated equally to men? No. Do I think that there are sexist laws against men that need to be reconsidered? Yes. Laws concerning marriage, child custody, and financial liability need to be rethought as women continue to gain equality in the workplace and society. Does this mean that feminism is a bad thing? I (obviously) don’t think so. I like being able to vote, earn a college education, etc. I think there are many embittered women who say that they’re feminists, but they’re looking for a cause to hide behind and validate their anger without having to take responsibility for their own actions. (Not to mention aren’t willing to make any real progress towards change either in their own lives or at large) Just like I think there’s a lot of embittered men out there who point their fingers at feminism as the source of their relationship problems instead of taking responsibility for their actions.

As a feminist I expect that men should not diminish my opportunities to grow in life, but nor do I expect them to give me a free ride or sacrifice their own opportunities. Whether I succeed or fail in life is up to me – I may get help along the way, but ultimately if I want something, it’s my job to go out an get it. Men are not my enemy and I hope through my actions that they will come to trust that I am not their enemy either. (I have yet to have a man feel negatively towards me being a feminist once they have come to know me as a person.)

Insofar as relationships, I wouldn’t want to take away the excitement of the natural chemistry between men and women at all! I enjoy feeling sexy and feminine . . I enjoy men who are confident and bold in their manhood – I just don’t want them stepping all over my womanhood . . . I need to know that even though we’re different, we’re still equals.

I believe that if you need to be convinced that marriage is a good thing, you shouldn’t do it. Like I said before, I don’t think it’s the best option for everybody and thats okay as long as you’re honest about it. I think with the stats if you’re in a good marriage heck yeah you’re going to live longer! We’re social creatures and we thrive with other people. On the other hand if your marriage is bad its probably sucking it out of you just as fast. Marriage is what you make of it – the tricky part is finding a partner who wants to work at the marriage as much as you do.

90 Cody April 23, 2010 at 9:10 am

I’m only a young man of 21 still learning to be a man, and I haven’t been burned by a bad marriage or anything like that. But I have to say that although I’d like to be married before I’m 25, it’s not looking good living in America. The women around me are for all intents and purposes men. It’s very disturbing. The girls who are not manly shine out brightly — most of them are from Eastern Europe and studying at my university or living in Chicago. Much like the death of the American dream and our slow decline off of the peaks of our forbears’ wealth, it did not have to be this way.
In Eastern Europe the ladies can vote and are often far more educated than men. But they have far healthier attitudes about men and relationships. Here it seems like a power struggle — the feminism movement has become a female superiority movement. Feminists seem unable to understand that due to the fact that men and women are different in many fundamental ways, they cannot be equal. This does not imply that one is better than the other. And even more, young Feminists do not even understand what Femininity really is, or the strength which lies therein. Feminine girls are not weak. And the empowered ladies in Russia, for example, are strong women but realize that they NEED a man in their life to feel more complete, to feel like they can be weak sometimes.

Ms Erin, your statement is a great example. You seem like an introspective lady and I of course mean no disrespect, but I refer to “As a feminist I expect that men should not diminish my opportunities to grow in life.” I know that you don’t mention marriage here, but I think what I say below could just as easily apply to loving long term relationships.
This is a classic example of the modern feminist attitude — the assumption that everybody can have their cake and eat it too. Dear, marriage IS sacrifice. And marriage should be about growing together. It’s about living for the new family. Some opportunities are diminished in exchange for others. It’s about merging your hopes and dreams and desires in to one, not living together separately. If you expect not to give anything up then you should never get married. Many women want a career and a family and are unwilling to put their family first because they don’t want to be ‘relegated to women’s work.’ That is no attitude to have in a true partnership, where your family and your partner should come before yourself, not after. You know, love and all that.
This is what I mean — the new generation of feminists just cannot understand because they were not taught how to be women by their mothers, or shown an example of marriage by their parents.

91 Joe April 29, 2010 at 12:11 pm

In theory marriage is a great thing but in reality I am not sure. Two people working as one to make each others life better , wow! But….. Many people tire of everything they do. They want to move all the time, change jobs and have no direction and tire of each other looking for a better more exciting soulmate. On the other side are the couples who need to compete with each other. I think each bring unique skills to the table. I think the most femine woman living with most masculine guy is the coolest thing. I don’t see alot of this.

92 John June 1, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Wow. I’ve been a lurker on this site for a few weeks now. I haven’t been compelled to write any responses until I read this article.

I’m not bitter. I do believe in marriage. It’s better than being lonely and alone. BUT, my own marriage and most of my friends’ marriages are NOTHING like what this article describes. More to the point. My marriage, after 20 years, is nothing like it was at the start.

I love my wife. Most of my friends love their wives. But she nags me all the time. My friends often complain about their wives nagging them. I have to admit that marriage means compromise, and that’s good, but most of the compromise is from me. I have to watch my back, be careful what I do, what I say, unless I want to be yelled at!

Marriage does definitely mean a loss of freedom and a loss of inspiration. Not at first, but eventually. It just happens. It means nagging, yelling, and questioning my every move. Is this what it means to be a man?

I question your rosy picture of marriage. This is not just me being bitter. I have no doubt that there are thousands of married men who would agree.

93 Neil June 7, 2010 at 6:12 am

Hi

I think many of the comments here point out the danger of simply taking your own experiences and projecting them onto every other person.

I was married at the age of 20 and my wife was 22. Nearly 21 years later we are still together and I would say that marriage has been (and still is) a very good thing for us. We have 3 beautiful children, the eldest being 15 and on the verge of forging her own life. We have provided a consistent environment for our children to grow up in, and I am proud of that. I have a best friend who has stuck with me through the ups and downs of life and knows me better than anyone else.

Two specific points I would like to make in support of marriage:

1. Children: If you can manage it I think there is no better environment to raise a child in than a stable marriage. This could also apply to other relationships, but I believe these are more likely to fail than marriages. People that divorce and think that it will not affect their children are fooling themselves.

2. What is the alternative? People are social, and need relationships at lots of different levels to be healthy and happy. Are we really saying that modern society has made us so selfish that we cannot establish a great relationship with one other person. What hope for society if this is true?

I am not saying that stumbling into any old marriage is a recipe for happiness, but seeking out a successful marriage should be high on any man’s list of priorities.

94 Nathan W June 22, 2010 at 3:39 am

Friends don’t let friends get married. My main argument against marriage is divorce. How many men must get burned by divorce for us to realize what is going on. Divorce holds no social stigma in American society. Seventy percent of divorces are initiated by women (men and women cheat at the same rate). Good luck getting custody of your son or daughter! Men prepare to pay alimony and child support for these strong independent women. Is it not obvious the courts are against men in America? Legally fathers don’t even have a say in whether a child lives or dies through an abortion.

Marriage does not guarantee any of these benefits. However, it does guarantee that if things don’t work out, you will foot the bill.

For the minority of people with good marriages, congratulations.

95 Mister-M June 29, 2010 at 12:10 pm

When the upside for men in this country ever come close to the downside for men, then come talk to me about what’s great about marriage.

The risks of loss for the men, in terms of health, finances, the children, the assets, etc. are FAR greater than the alleged benefits. And given the outrageous divorce rate and the fact that women initiate over 70% of all divorces – the ability for any man to achieve all of that greatness you report over a long period of time (a lifetime) is so infinitesimally small as to have odds worse than being struck by lightning.

While I believe that there are great women out there (because I believe I have finally found one), the sense of entitlement, empowerment, and the ability to pull the plug and TAKE TAKE TAKE TAKE with the force of government aiding and abetting them along the way, you would have to be out of your frigging mind or a huge “risk taking personality” to get married until society and the laws in divorce and family court change significantly.

http://www.thepsychoexwife.com/about-the-psycho-ex-wife/

96 SIRNUTSO July 15, 2010 at 4:13 am

It took me 5 years of dating her and one year of not having her in my life to realize she was my best friend. We will have our big fat greek wedding next spring. Cheers!

97 Kate (not McKay) September 27, 2012 at 3:10 am

I really appreciate this article! I think it was rare that my husband and I were both so excited about the idea of marriage—we’re not from Christian or conservative families. A lot of our friends didn’t feel they ever wanted to get married, but now (4 years later) they are lamenting that no one in our generation really takes marriage seriously or wants to get married before 35.
However, I love being married! I honestly can’t think of anything better than lifelong companionship and true partnership. Being married has made both of us better people, and I love him more every day. :)

98 Lisa November 13, 2012 at 12:19 am

Some general comments

If your wife nags you, this sounds like an opportunity for both of you to learn more about communication. From personal experience, I didn’t like being that nagging woman. Because of my frustration around the whole situation and not knowing how to make things work I’ve read a number of relationship and communication books to try and help things. According to my current SO I do a decent job.

About the whole men get a bum rap in divorce, maybe. I’ve certainly heard of men who do not get custody. However, I’ve also heard about or know men who get 50% custody and if they pay anything it is child support due to differences in income between the partners, not alimony, not child support because you are not around, etc.

About the money part of divorce, I am divorced and I freely admit I made a bad choice. It was a rebound relationship and I stuck with him because he was nice to me, until eventually he wasn’t. I won’t go into the what happened, but suffice to say I was in the stereotypical male position of being the breadwinner. In the divorce he got half of all of our assets despite not working for 1.5 years of the 4 year marriage, half of my ore-marital Roth 401k, and asked for alimony. The only reason he didn’t get alimony is because the marriage was short. The judge applied the rules the same to my case as she would have in reverse.

The reason the divorce rate is so high is because people CAN leave. With feminism, women can get paid a decent wage for their labor and do a wide variety of jobs instead of just be a secretary. This means there are probably less people trapped in marriages they don’t want to be in, and those that last are probably happier. On the other side, if you don’t want as much divorce stripping one gender of their rights and ability to work is a great way to keep them chained to someone else in a marriage.

Despite this I think marriage is a great thing. If two people love each other they should be able to be together. And I’m sure that there are benefits of marriage instead of just co-habitation. Perhaps if you had a large enough sampling of truly committed individuals who chose not to get married you would see the benefits of marriage go away. However, you have a partner, a friend, and someone to use as support in good times and bad in marriage. If you are just together, the other person can leave.

99 Lisa November 13, 2012 at 12:25 am

*sigh* one more comment.

I will agree that any relationship, especially marriage requires commitment and means give and take.

In a successful relationship you should not think of it as being a 50:50 split, a 60:40 or anything else. Are you willing to give 100 or all you can give to keep the relationship going? Until you are willing to say yes, perhaps you should stay single.

This comment is not because I think a marriage should be 100% sacrifice, but more because mine, theirs, or he vs. she is a defeatist way to look at a relationship.

100 Jan April 1, 2013 at 6:28 am

Great article! It’s nice to hear it from the men’s side–I’m trying to send the same message from the women’s side.

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