Challenge: Give Just One Good Reason For a Man to Marry

Introduction

There’s a lot of handwringing and fretting that men don't want to get married, and that fewer people are married right now than at any given time in history. Most of that, though, is that people are getting married later. Most people, including men, will get married at some point in their life. However, there is a small, but growing percentage of men who are swearing off marriage entirely, going on a "marriage strike". Some of these men will still father children, some of them will still shack up, and most of them will still fornicate. A very few swear off women entirely.

Some ask, "Why are men reluctant to marry?" Let's turn that around. I've repeatedly asked in open forums, "Can you give me just one good reason for a man to marry?" It is also a question Tom Leykis has asked callers and guests repeatedly. Nobody seems to be able to meet the challenge.

There are some things to keep in mind about that question. Most women marry men who do, or will, earn more than they do. This is a secular discussion, so religious pressures can't be cited (present day legal "marriage" has very little resemblance to Biblical marriage anyway). Let's assume we're talking about someone who has no moral qualms about unmarried sex, cohabitation, or parenting or simply never being married (or even consider that this person doesn't want sex, cohabitation, or children). Our general culture does not in any way discourage unmarried sex, cohabitation, or parenting any more. So, whether he wants sex, a live-in girlfriend, or children, a man can get all of those (indeed, anything he wants) without ever being married and without suffering any negative repercussions (legally, professionally, socially, financially) for being unmarried.

What benefit is there to a man to get legally married?

Please note that this is not how it would be nice or beneficial for a woman or a child, or how much a woman really wants a ring and a white dress and a series of parties that are all about her. This is about a man's personal benefit, specifically a man who sees no need to have only married sex, or only live together with a woman inside of marriage, or only raise children inside marriage. Studies indicate a correlation[1] between raising children within a marriage and the well-being of those children, but if marriage is beneficial to children, that still doesn’t make it beneficial to a man.


Reasons Given to Men as to Why They Should Marry

Let's look at some of the "benefits of marriage" that are touted to men.

Read though the list below and note how many of the "benefits" of marriage 1) can be obtained without marriage 2) are provided at the voluntary generosity of a wife and can be (and often are) rescinded on a whim without any negative legal or financial repercussions to her. Even if a man has chosen a wife wisely and treated her kindly, an accident or illness or trauma can literally change her thinking, and she is empowered by law to ruin his life [2].

Being Married Makes it More Likely Your Children Will Marry – Often this is framed negatively, as in "raising children outside of marriage makes it more likely your children will be unmarried parents". This is circular, presuming marriage is a good thing in the first place. It also presumes there will be parenting. Still, even if the presumption is correct, the benefit is not to the husband, but rather his descendants.

Being Married Means You Can Have Children – Assuming a man wants to be a father, men can have children without getting married; that is abundantly clear. They can even raise children without a woman having any rights to that child, via egg donation and surrogacy. It can be cheaper for a man to use a donated egg, hire a surrogate mother, and hire nannies to help care for a child than to pay for a wife. If a woman tries to deny a man his paternity rights, he can sue for access to his children, even custody. A man may want to raise children within marriage, but he can't control whether or not he stays married. She can unilaterally divorce him at any time and take the children, even if he picked well, even if he treats her well. YOU CAN HAVE CHILDREN WITHOUT BEING MARRIED.

Married Men Report Being Happier 1) As with many other claims that follow, this is used to imply that this positive indicator is because the man married, but we have no way of knowing that. It could also be that, given a choice, a woman will choose to marry or stay married to a happy man rather than an unhappy man, important other factors being equal. So maybe the unhappy are more likely to be unmarried rather than being unmarried makes someone less happy? There is no proof, no guarantee that getting married will make any given man happier; it might, if that is what he is truly wants to do. 2) Also, as with many other claims that follow, we have to ask who has been included in the survey. They are usually including people who are unmarried for any reason for comparison to married people. It’s a far different thing for someone to be unmarried because he has been unsuccessful in attracting a wife than to be unmarried because he does not see a good reason to marry. Let's call sick, poor, sexually inept or dysfunctional, unhappy men "Losers". No doubt Losers are included in statistics like these, but are successful unmarried men unhappy? Of course a man who wants to marry and hasn’t found a wife is likely to be less happy than a man who wanted to marry and is now newly married. But what about men who prefer living alone, are intentionally avoiding marriage, or are ambivalent towards getting married? Is a man who is getting all the sex he wants while unmarried really likely to be happier if he married? 3) Self-reporting is not necessarily the same thing as reality. They might be lying, they might be self-deluding or otherwise overestimating or overstating. 4) There are unmarried men who are happy, some of them much happier than most married men.  5) People like Dennis Prager, who is a marriage advocate, can't cite this as being a benefit for men to marry because Prager also makes it clear that happiness is a personal choice; a moral obligation. So whether a man is married or unmarried, he can and should choose to be happy. So it is nonsense to say getting married makes a man happier. You can say it makes it easier to be happy, if you can explain how.

Married Men Report Getting More Sex – I've detailed this one in a series starting here. We can adapt points 1-4 from above for this. Comparisons rarely, if ever, are between unmarried men who actually want and pursue sex and married men. A very successful Leykis 101 adherent[3] will have about five sexual encounters per week. The average married man is not getting five sexual encounters per week. He's lucky if he gets five a month. Let's not forget that a majority of American wives are overweight or obese. Meanwhile, who is in the gym or otherwise working out? Chances are, they are women who are not married, either yet or divorced. This is one of those things to keep in mind when thinking about subsequent points, too. If a man is with a woman who lets herself go, he can leave her. But there's no penalty for leaving if he's unmarried, while there are likely going to be significant penalties if he's married.

Married Men Report Having Better Sex – Again, points 1-4 from above apply. Just how do these married men know how good the sex would be if they weren't married? They don't. They have no idea how it would be if they weren't married. They may be comparing it to when they were younger and had less experience, less confidence, and less ability to attract hot women. Meanwhile, just about everyone agrees that the first 3-6 months of a relationship are the most exciting. A man who isn't married can have a new relationship every 3 months. It is very important when looking at data about this aspect to separate out what women report from what men report. Women are more likely to enjoy sex with someone with whom they otherwise feel a strong intimate connection (or with a celebrity they think they know). Men tend to enjoy variety, conquest, and youthful looks. Sure, I can vouch for sex with an older woman and in a LTR, but those can be had without marriage.

Married Men Are Healthier Than Unmarried Men – Points 1, 2, and 4 from above again can be adapted to this, and perhaps point 3, although there can be some objective criteria for point 3. There is some thinking that married men are healthier because of home cooking, women nagging men to see a doctor and not to do things he enjoys. But men can cook for themselves or purchase healthy meals, make a point of seeing doctors, and maybe he'd rather enjoy his life and trade in a little of his health to do so?

Married Men Live Longer Than Unmarried Men – This can be tied to what's immediately above.  Even granted, some men say they'll gladly trade a few years of sickness and convalescence at the end of their life for the freedom and comfort of being unmarried for the bulk of their years.

Married Men Earn More Than Unmarried Men – This is one of my favorites. See here, for example. Again, points 1-4 are adaptable, but there can be objective criteria for point 3. Is this a sign of unfair discrimination against unmarried men? The marriage advocates don't want to admit to something like that. Instead, they paint an ideal that some goof-off unmarried guy gets married and, as a result, buckles down and becomes a more dedicated, productive, and ambitious worker. However, with marriage can come drama, distraction, and needing to tend to children. My marriage has hurt my professional productivity. Let's remember that at least half of everything a husband earns is legally his wife's, and she will make most of the spending decisions, and he'll have to spend money on all sorts of things he wouldn't if he was unmarried. So, an unmarried man who earns just over half of everything his married counterpart makes can easily be better off, financially.

Marriage Means a Division of Labor – The husband will work and handle things like vehicle maintenance, mowing the lawn, etc. The wife will cook, clean, do laundry, and tend to the kids. That's what is presented to us, sometimes with some variation. But how often does it work this way? Women want to work, or have their hobbies, or will sit in front of the TV with their smart phone. Husbands are now expected to take on more of the domestic chores, and fathers are now expected to go to events at school or for sports that they used to never attend, and birthday parties for kids they don’t even know. There can be a division of labor without marriage, and a man can hire people to do the labor for less than he'd be required by law to pay a wife. Conversely, being married means a man will be expected to do many things he doesn't want to do, because she wants (him) to do them. Then there's the arguing, counseling/therapy, and everything else that he can avoid by not marrying.

Marriage Means Shared Resources and Expenses – This is rarely a net benefit to a breadwinning man. More likely, it benefits the wife. Yes, for example, instead of him having a 1500 square foot house and her having a 1500 square foot house, they have a 2000 square foot house together. But 90% of the house she completely controls, even though he pays for it. Marriage also means sharing decision-making, which some guys might like (they might like to her make decisions so as to not spend the mental energy) but that can be a minefield.

Marriage Civilizes MenWhat does that even mean? As far as I can discern, it means he's not out having fun with his buddies and a variety of chicks. How do we know it's not just the aging process that makes men more mature? 40 year-olds are more likely to be mature than 20 year-olds, AND 40 –year-olds are more likely to be married. Has it really been demonstrated that, say unmarried men who are 40 are more likely to be "uncivilized" and married men who are 40 are more likely to be "civilized"? And if so, again, how do we know that marriage civilized the married men rather than women picked civilized men to be husbands? There are civilized men who are not married and have never been married. And is being "civilized" a benefit to him, or just to the GOP voter rolls?[4] There's a variation of this that says that marriage "builds character". So does someone being dropped off in a large wilderness with nothing but light clothing and then having to survive on their own and find their way out. That might sound appealing to some people, but is not something everyone wants to do. There are many ways to "build character" without marrying.

Marriage Means You Take Care of Each Othe
r – Ideally, but this isn't guaranteed, and it often isn't the case, and this can be done without marriage. 40% of "first" marriages end in divorce, with 70% of divorces being filed by the woman. Marriages that stay together are not all happy. So there's a good chance, perhaps better than 50%, that a wife will NOT take care of a husband.

Marriage Means You Grow Old Together – A man can "grow old with someone" without getting married. Maybe he doesn't want to stare at an aging woman. You might object that maybe she doesn't want to stare at an aging man, but again, this whole page is about trying to find a benefit for a man to marry, and such a statement is telling men they need to trade off because they will get older too. No, they don't need to. Does he really suffer if a young woman leaves him because he's gotten too old? There'll be another woman along before too long, as long as he plays his cards right. Facilities for the elderly are full of people who were once married and no longer have a spouse.

Marriage Means You Won't Die Alon
e – Plenty of people who married still "die alone". Unless you die simultaneously, like in a car accident, you're probably going to die "alone". If you want someone there holding your hand as you die of age or disease, you can do that without getting married. Maybe being married makes it slightly less likely a man will die alone, but there's no guarantee he won't, and this is hardly a compelling reason to marry[5].

Marriage Provides Companionship – Someone can have companionship without being married. Conversely, when a man marries, he gives his wife the power to determine whether or not he'll actually have companionship at any given time. If an unmarried man isn't getting companionship from one woman, he can get it from another. If a wife denies companionship to her husband, he's stuck.

Marriage Means Not Having to Deal With the Singles Scene/Dating – Some men WANT to deal with those things. Other unmarried met get everything they want from women without having to deal with most of tedious or uncomfortable things about dating. A man who doesn't want to spend a lot of time or money on dates can still get lots of sex without doing so [3]. If a man doesn't want to make a lot of small talk, he doesn't have to, because most women love to talk, and the more she talks, the more she'll think things are going well.

"I'm Married and I Like It." - So you say. Good for you. Let's talk in ten years. You're not him. You could have been just as happy without being married. So that you like it (for now) is not a reason for another man to get married. He can find plenty of men who 1) never have married, and are very happy with life; 2) got married and regretted doing so, whether they are still married or not.


Everything in life is a tradeoff. I've asked you to provide just one good reason for a man to marry. If you can provide one that wasn't already shot down above, go ahead and do it by commenting.


There Are Many Reasons a Man Should NOT Marry

On the flip side, many reasons can be given as to why a man should not marry. To be clear though, there need not be a positive reason to NOT marry because there is no reason TO marry in the first place. People should not take risks and take on obligations for something that either brings no benefit to them or whose benefits can all be obtained otherwise, without the risks or losses. (If a man wants children and is convinced raising the child within a marriage is uniquely beneficial to children, then he might want to marry. But, it might be possible for a thoughtful, intentional father to get the same results without legal marriage.)

1) Marriage is demanding of a man's time, money, attention, energy, and patience. It means sharing decision-making, scheduling, and often brings drama. It places many restrictions on men without enabling or empowering them in the slightest.

2)Even the advocates of marriage, the people who are the "salespeople" for marriage, often say things like:
"Marriage means a man lays down his life for a woman." (Dr. Laura)
"Marriage isn’t for you." (Matt Walsh, saying it is for children)
"You won’t be compatible with your wife." (Walsh again)
"Marriage is hard work."
"Marriage requires compromises."
"Marriage requires sacrifices."
"All marriages have their ups and downs."
"Marriage is all about obligation."
"Marriage is living for someone else."
"Marriage means someone puts someone else ahead of themselves."

If a man doesn't want to do/deal with such things, he has positive reason not to marry. However, today's culture tells women that a wife who looks after the needs of a husband is being abused or oppressed or is otherwise doing something negative. So while husbands are still encouraged by our culture to do these things, wives are not, as a husband who notes it is called bitter or controlling.

3)Women often expect a husband to change more to her liking and to make her happy, even though most such women don’t really know what they want, and her happiness is her own doing. A husband can’t make her happy. So she blames him, resents him, and punishes him.


Conclusion

Men are willing to work hard and make sacrifices and tradeoffs for a payoff, but there's no payoff with present-day legal marriage.

Saying "Men don’t want to commit" isn't true. Most men who intentionally avoid marrying keep all sorts of commitments. The question is, to what is a man committing? Refusing to legally marry isn't often a problem with commitment, it is recognizing a raw deal. Also, is something really a commitment given that someone can end it unilaterally for no reason and get financially rewarded for doing so? Under our laws and courts, marriage is mostly a commitment for a man to financially support a woman, no matter what she does.

Telling men that getting married WILL benefit them is a promise nobody should make. Men should not be encouraged to marry for selfish reasons; that makes for bad and often bitter husbands. To marry, they should be willing to "live for someone else" and to "put someone else ahead of them".

Want to see men happier, healthier, wealthier, and more mature? Rather than telling them to do the legally, financially, and socially disastrous move of legally marrying, tell him how to live within his means, save, invest, insure, and find the right services.

Unmarried/unattached men don't spend time with her friends and family, in couples/marriage/family counseling, arguing, debating, explaining,or walking on eggshells.

Men are simple creatures. What do men want? In no particular order, most men want food, sex, respect, professional accomplishment, time for our hobbies, time with the guys (which may include playing or watching sports, cigars, beer), time to ourselves, comfort, peace and quiet. Does today's legal marriage, culturally and by law, encourage these things or hider these things? The answer, to me, is obvious. The average  intentional bachelor can enjoy all of these things much more readily than the average husband.


NOTES:

[1] As with many other claims about well-being and positive social indicators, it is very important to remember that "correlation does not prove causation". The two things may not be connected at all, or, if connected, the causal relationship might be in a direction different than what the marriage advocate is hoping people infer. For example, let's say there is a correlation between eating Wheaties for breakfast and being on a high school’s winning football team, meaning a survey of all of the students at the high school about their breakfast habits reveals that students who are players on the football team eat Wheaties more than the general student population, or the student population that is not on the team. The manufacturer of Wheaties might cite this as a way of implying that eating Wheaties will make you a better football player. But is that necessarily so? Is there any way of knowing for sure if eating Wheaties has given these players an advantage in joining and team and playing well? Keep in mind that not everyone on the team eats Wheaties, and many students who are not on the team eat Wheaties, some more than the players. There are so many other factors that can’t be controlled. The correlation could be meaningless. Even if there is a causal relationship, it could be that being on the team prompts the students to eat more Wheaties, or it could be that eating Wheaties gave them an advantage in making the team. But it might not be causal at all. It could just be that the kind of student more likely to make the team is also the kind of student more likely to eat Wheaties. The two facts could have nothing to do with each other and are “merely coincidental”.

But we also have to ask just who is included in the study? How is the study done? It is easier to survey all of the students at a single high school than it is to survey an entire population of tens of millions of people, so usually the studies involve a tiny sample of the population and then the results are extrapolated. But how were people included in the survey? Is it truly representative of the general population?

Also, statistics are about a population. We have no way of comparing an individual to himself. For example, we can say married John Doe is getting more sex than unmarried Fred Roe, but we have no way of knowing for sure if Fred Roe would be having more sex if he was married or if John Doe would be having less sex if unmarried.


[2] The laws, courts, and culture empower a woman to ruin her husband's life. She can abuse him, including physically, and get him kicked out of his own house. She can get him into debt. She can ruin his credit. She can do things while driving and otherwise that will leave him on the hook for settlements and fines. She can abort his child, she can commit paternity fraud, she can turn his kids against him, she can get child support, alimony, community property.


[3] See this for more about the basics of Leykis 101.


[4] Republican loyalists want more women married, because that supposedly makes them more likely to vote Republican (I have my suspicions… I think attractive women are more likely to vote Republican, and be married), and in order for them to marry, a man has to marry them. Well, now a woman can "marry" them. It will be interesting to see if more of them end up voting GOP. I won't hold my breath.

Limited-government types might want more people to be married to keep more people (more likely: women and children) off of government assistance.

Church loyalists might want more people to marry because weddings are great business for churches and getting married usually means having (more) children, which means more future financial contributors.

Many Christians want more people to marry because it will mean less fornication and fewer children being raised out of wedlock.

But none of that means getting married is beneficial to a man.


[5]So let's review.

We ask why men aren't eager to:
1) Buy overpriced jewelry with no practical use, supposedly for someone who is his equal.
2) Get down on a knee in front of a supposed equal to ask her to marry him. (And, increasingly, make a big production of this.)
3) Most likely, pay for and series of parties that are increasingly expensive and complicated to pull off (and over which he is likely to have little control), that will mostly focus on a woman who is supposedly his equal. If his family and friends don’t react to being invited to these parties and behave in just the right way, this woman could attempt to banish them from the man’s life.
4) Make a public statement that he’ll only have sex with this woman for the rest of his life – a woman who will get older, is likely to get fatter, and can sexually reject him with no penalty – a woman who is increasingly likely to have a mental illness or personality disorder – a woman who is increasingly likely to publicly disrespect him
5) Sign a legal document that guarantees: a) at least half of everything he'll be earning will belong to this woman; b) any child born to this woman, even if through adultery, will be his financial responsibility for 18-25 years, even if the woman promised she couldn't get pregnant; c) she will be his default beneficiary AND will be able to make medical decisions for him should he become unable to communicate; d) should she decide to leave him or should he decide to leave her, for whatever reason, he will have to pay for her legal team as well as his own; e) he will also have to make alimony payments to her, maybe for life.
6) Sign such an agreement with a woman who can have his babies aborted no matter how much he objects.
7) Live with someone who can have him kicked out of his own home and cause him to lose his employment.

6 comments:

  1. DarthW8:38 PM

    I've pondered many of your points over 20 years while dating and believing that marriage was something I should do to be "fulfilled". However, as I'd get involved in relationships there was always a point I'd start "doing the math" and working equation after equation to determine how continuing into marriage would benefit me as a man. The answer to those equations was always "Marriage has no ROI for a man." For a time I wanted to believe otherwise, that it was just the woman I was with, but the next relationship would start, progress, and the calculations always manifested the same results.

    I can tell you that a lifetime if being unmarried has equaled a great life, where my time, money, success, and more are all mine to enjoy without the risk of a woman taking it all away in a marriage, and subsequently in a divorce.

    Really, when I ask any married guy, "If anything ever happened to your wife, would you marry again?" Resoundingly, almost all of them say "No, I would not." That answer alone answers all. If marriage were so great for men, then men would say "Oh, yes." But married men don't, because they've learned the harsh reality that thankfully my overly analytical brain was trying to tell me long ago which protected me from their rotten fates.

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  2. DarthW, as always, thanks for your contribution.

    Some married men are reluctant to admit the truth, either because it is painful for them to do so, they are deluding themselves, or they think doing so is disrespectful to his wife or somehow makes him less than honorable. However, in not speaking the truth, married men are contributing to younger unmarried men making a bad decision to marry, and this is especially problematic when those younger men are their own sons. It is a delicate matter. The husband doesn't want to badmouth the child's mother to that child, even if that child is an adult. So such sons often don't really get the full picture from their fathers about marriage.

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  3. Hey there, there's a serious issue with the way that studies compare 'married and unmarried men' that you didn't even mention in your article. In those studies, 'unmarried men' does not mean 'single, never-married men.' It's called 'unmarried men' so as to be able to include divorced men!

    All those studies that look at the happiness of married men vs unmarried men, or the health, or the lifespan... They treat divorced men as being 'unmarried' and as I'm sure you can imagine, that immensely skews the results in favor of married men. Because divorced men are much less happy, have far worse health, and kill themselves at a much greater rate.

    It's fraudulent and if the studies were done to compare 'currently or previously married men' vs. 'never-married men' the results would be shocking. Which is why they don't.

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    Replies
    1. This is exactly right. Single never married men (by choice) are the happiest, healtiest, fittest and wealthiest population group.

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  4. Absolutely correct and totally honest, I'm bookmarking this

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  5. Anonymous7:56 PM

    TFM crew

    ReplyDelete

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