Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Problems With Statistics in Selling Marriage to Men

Statistics are about a population, not individuals. What happens in your life either will happen or it won't (usually depending on your choices) - so it is either 0% or 100% for you. Statistics can tell you the odds, all things being equal, but things aren't equal. Let's take college graduates, for example. The average person with a Bachelor's degree is going to earn more than the average person without a college education. Yet some of the people with the highest incomes or the most wealth never graduated from college. This includes tech leaders, professional athletes, entertainers and authors, and various businesspeople.

Statistics usually can't tell you why something is the way it is. For example, statistics will tell you that if you compare 200 people in a hospital and 200 people in an apartment complex across the street, you'll see that you're far more likely to die in the hospital than in the apartment complex. What are we to think as a result? That hospitals are harmful to our health? Or that people who are seriously sick and injured go to a hospital, where some of them are going to die, but more of them would die if they hadn't gone to the hospital?

Talk show host Tom Leykis, like a lot of other people, will tell you that half of all marriages end in divorce, and that more adults are unmarried now than married, as if this is some profound shift in how people look at life. However, most of the shift in married vs. unmarried involves people getting married later in life, such as their late 20s or early 30s instead of their early 20s. Although there is a growing percentage of men swearing off marriage, it is still a small group and most people will get married at some time in their lives. As far as divorce, Leykis has had four divorces. I've had none. If you average us together, that means the average person has two divorces. That's a little misleading. First marriages have about a 40% divorce rate, which is still way too high, but it isn't 50%. It is the high divorce rate for second, third, etc. marriages that skew the statistics. (On the other hand, perhaps even MORE marriages would end in divorce if it were for fatal illness and injuries, murders and suicides ending someone's life before they could divorce – so just because a marriage didn't end in divorce does not mean it was a good marriage.) 40% is the rate for all first marriages. I wonder what the divorce rate is for people who marry into a first marriage: 1) without children from other lovers or a current pregnancy influencing their decision; 2) after about 18-24 months of being a couple (but not too much longer than that); 3) without having shacked up OR being "long distance"; 4) after six months of intense premarital counseling with a LMFT; 5) with the same or compatible religious beliefs or practices and plans for children; 6) with no credit card debt; 7) without substance abuse problems. My guess is that divorce rate for such marriages is very low.


We hear all of the time in conservative and evangelical circles and wedding profiteers that married men are wealthier/earn more, are healthier, are happier, get more sex, and are more likely to have their own children grow up to marry than their unmarried counterparts. I think it is especially problematic to throw this at an unmarried man as an encouragement to marry. There's a possibility he'll marry and be miserable, sick, poor, and sexually frustrated. It's like telling a morbidly obese person that eating oatmeal will make him healthy, or telling someone that regular walks will extend their life, only to have the walker get shot by a crazy person. In the first case, the morbidly obese person is unhealthy due to eating too much and moving too little, and adding oatmeal to the his diet isn't going to change that, and in the second case, by walking in the "wrong part of town" the person was taking on other risks. There are people who are messes and marrying might improve them a bit, but they're going to still be a mess for the most part, and now someone else is dealing with them. Getting married is a risk. Everything in life is a risk, but for men, especially men who will be earning most or all of the family income, marrying is an extremely serious risk with diminishing reward possibilities.

Saying that it is good to marry and have children and stay married because your children will be more likely to marry is begging the question. The very thing we're talking about is whether marriage is good for a man or not, so saying that doing something perpetuates the same thing is NOT an argument for its benefit. The negative way of saying the same thing is saying that a child raised by an unmarried mother is more likely to have children out of wedlock themselves, but that is only bad if we've shown otherwise that being raised by an unmarried mother is bad (and I'm not saying it isn't bad, just noting that arguments should be logical.) Also, many men who do not want to marry do not want children, so telling them that getting married perpetuates marriage is not convincing to them; if anything, they may see a moral obligation to avoid marriage so as to not encourage nephews or other younger males in their sphere of influence to get married.

Earlier in this entry I speculated that the divorce rate is very low for first-time marriages under certain conditions. Even if a marriage lasts until death, those statistics don't tell us how enjoyable those marriages are. We don't know how many of these people who do stay married are miserable or are only happy because they "decide" to be happy, letting everything that would make most people miserable roll off their backs. Someone can be chained to a wall with no books, no communication or media, and decide to be "happy", but that doesn't mean someone should opt for that life. If we take the approach, as Dennis Prager does, that happiness is a moral obligation and we choose to be happy, then the rates of happiness can’t be cited either. The unmarried man can also choose to be happy, (and many unmarried men do not find it difficult to do so!) and perhaps it is happier men who are more likely to attract a woman for marriage? At any rate, since happiness is a choice and not a result, saying that married men are happier than unmarried men is an observation that is not prescriptive to individuals, along the lines of saying that married men are more likely to drive a car with a brighter color of paint.

Also, although percentages may show that the average married man is better off than the average unmarried man, the minority still exists. There are plenty of married men who are worse off than many unmarried men; there are plenty of unmarried men better off than many married men. The question is, are there steps a man can take to virtually ensure he'll be part of the "good" minority? There ARE men who are wealthy, healthy, happy, and get all the sex they want – without having to deal with all of the risks, drawbacks, and baggage of being married, shacking up, or even being in a relationship. There are also men who’d rather be celibate than deal with marriage as our laws, courts, and culture currently render it.

One of the ways unmarried men might end up with health and financial problems is because they knock women up, and deal with the resulting stresses and child support payments. It is possible to avoid that entirely with a vasectomy. Some unmarried men waste money trying to essentially buy sex from women - everything from buying them dinner and drinks to movie and concert tickets to paying for babysitters to taking them on vacations, but by following a few simple rules, men can get pretty much all the sex they want from young, attractive women spending very little time, money, or effort to do so.

Not all unmarried men are the same.

As I wrote before:

The problem with these statistics is that they lump everyone unmarried together. That means guys who can't get a date are lumped in with men who deliberately avoid marriage and fatherhood.
Do you understand what is going on? Losers who are unattractive, sickly, bad with money, do not know how to effectively deal with women, and do not think ahead are mixed in to the "unmarried" category with successful men who'd consider themselves MGTOW or Leykis students, and then the pool of "unmarried men" is compared unfavorably to married men. There can be a huge difference between a guy who would marry if a woman would allow him to get near her and a guy who is unmarried because he's dodging bullets fired by women desperate to find someone to pay her bills.

I really, really want to see a comparison study of three groups of men:

1) Men who marry and have children. There's not much to explain about this group.

2) Tom Leykis followers. These would be men who consistently follow certain basic core teachings of Tom Leykis when it comes to dealing with women, family, money, and employment. These would include at least: 1. Never having children, marrying, getting into exclusive relationships, or letting a woman move in to your place (if she leaves anything at your place, it goes straight into the trash); 2. Never spending more than $40 on a date, zero is optimal; 3. Dating is for sex – sex happens by the third date or she’s dropped, the ideal date is a booty call at her place; 4. Never dating coworkers, women with children, virgins, or teetotalers; 5. Giving the impression to women that you’re rich, powerful, or have some level of fame and have better things to do than be with her.

3) Men Going Their Own Way celibates. Leykis followers can be seen as a subset of MGTOW, but some other MGTOW are celibate.

Take those three groups and follow them for years, comparing their rates of happiness, how much they enjoy their life, how uncomplicated their lives are, their finances, how much sex they get (obviously we don’t expect the third group to get much sex), etc. Compare how much time they spend doing things because they truly want to do those things vs. because they feel they have an obligation. How are their careers? Are they working where they want to work? Who is paying alimony? Who is paying child support? Who has been arrested for domestic violence or accused of child abuse? Who has been abused or assaulted by a woman? Who is taking medication for mental or emotional difficulties? I'd love to see that.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that correlation does not prove exact causation, and one size does not fit all. There are some genuinely good marriages out there and some of them have men who are better off because they're married, and things will continue to be that way. That's not the majority of marriages, though, as we know from the divorce rate combined with the conditions of some of the marriages that don't end in divorce. Even some of the married men who think they’re better off and would report being better off are self-deluded or haven't bothered to think of how things could have been otherwise, or have forgotten. It's a coping mechanism, like when someone really doesn't like changing diapers, but will claim to because they have to do it anyway and so they tell themselves (and thus you) they like it. At the same time, there are also some unmarried men living great lives who are better off, in part, because they haven't married, and they will continue to be better off. This is especially so for men who place a high value on personal autonomy, free time, peace and quiet, and having a home that is focused on their needs and tastes, rather than those of a woman or children. Even if a man chooses wisely and treats kindly, marriage is still a risk because an illness, injury, or traumatic experience can change a good wife into a bad, even hostile one, and the law and courts empower her to ruin her husband’s life.

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