August 5, 2006

"Men don’t marry because women like myself don't need to rely on them."

There are lots of explanations -- like that one -- for why men are not marrying so much anymore.
About 18 percent of men ages 40 to 44 with less than four years of college have never married, according to census estimates. That is up from about 6 percent a quarter-century ago. Among similar men ages 35 to 39, the portion jumped to 22 percent from 8 percent in that time....

Perhaps most significant, many men without college degrees are not marrying because the pool of women in their social circles — those without college degrees — has shrunk. And the dwindling pool of women in this category often look for a mate with more education and hence better financial prospects.
This is a long article, so go read or skim it and come back and talk about it. The article is very much like the kind of article that is often written about women: profiles of wistful, sympathetic individuals who can't quite get what they want in life and make a valiant, poignant effort to say it's not that terrible. Then there is an undercurrent that seems to imply that we need liberal economic policies to boost men so that women will be able to accept them. And there's a big overtone suggesting that for all the loneliness, marriage really isn't all that appealing to people. Now that we don't march lockstep into marriage anymore and now that women don't require men for economic support, the reasons for marrying -- for a lot of people -- are never going to mount up to the point where they justify giving up the status quo of singlehood.

77 comments:

Seven Machos said...

"Men don’t marry because women like myself are annoying and men see no benefit of being with them."

Brendan said...

Poor women have options. They can always marry up. Poor men can't. No one comes along and "saves" them. As Seinfeld noted, most men could care less what their gf or future spouse does for a living. Conversely, job titles are verrry important to the ladies. And I don't think the "love" problem is limited to blue-collar men. It's not enough to be a college grad these days; you have to have the right job that screams "earning potential." Woe to the young man who graduates with a mere BA degree. In a status-soaked town like DC, he'll be very lonely.

Seven Machos said...

I would add also that, historically, it hasn't been men who have been pressuring for marriage. It's been women. I am generalizing, of course.

So, if women want to stay single, a lot of guys are going to be plenty okay with that. Having the milk for free is kind of the guy dream.

Brendan said...

BTW, the 45yo man who swapped his 1BR apartment for a rented room? Are you effing kidding me? I'm sorry, but if you're a man over the age of 30 who lives with a platonic roommate, you are an effing loser. No wonder this guy is alone.

tiggeril said...

Marriage these days is unappealing because both men and women are so intensely self-absorbed that the idea of having to actually compromise and sacrifice for the sake of the marriage is all but vomit-inducing. People forgot that marriage isn't like a Harlequin bodice-ripper every day.



(And I say this as a never-married 24-year-old. Bow before my Gen-Y wisdom!)

Jeff said...

If you're a man over the age of 30 who lives with a platonic roommate, you're a New Yorker!

tiggeril said...

Why is my profile picture showing up as Mickey Mouse? It should be a penguin!

tiggeril said...

Ah, there we go. Weird.

Carry on.

Gahrie said...

I'm 41 and unmarried. I am a professional with a degree and several years of post-graduate work. I own my own home and live alone.


Seven Machos above has pretty much captured my thoughts about marriage. I am attracted to intelligent women who can carry on an intellectual conversation, like to read and stay informed etc. Basically someone who can be a companion and friend.

Unfortunately, I have found that the more educated a woman is, the more likely she is to be a man-hater, or at least hostile to manhood.

I have yet to find a woman who has not immediately set out to change me and my ways.

Frankly marriage is not worth the grief and struggle.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Single women, hear me now! For what I am about to say will save civilization.

Stop putting out! Just stop it! You know you can do it, you don't like sex as much as we do. (Yeah, yeah, I know. You're gonna say, Of course we like sex as much as you do, we're just different. Yes you are different. You don't like sex as much as we do.)

You have the power. Use it!

But wait fifty years, until after I'm dead.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Johnny Nucleo said...
...Yeah, yeah, I know. You're gonna say, Of course we like sex as much as you do, we're just different. Yes you are different. You don't like sex as much as we do.


That's funny, and quite true. I think there are so many factors leading to people not marrying, with economic and sexual issues playing the greatest role.

-Women don't need men for money and security, necesarily.
-When women do mate, they aim higher (for income and education).
-Men don't need marriage for regular and frequent sex, or for companionship.
-Manufactoring jobs for the undereducated don't provide salaries that make marrying advantageous.

Further, women generally want everything, and at the same time, and there are certain internal contradictions in their desires that are unresolvable, causing men to drift toward psychic simplicity.

XWL said...

I sense a certain symmetry between this post here, and this other post over at feministe regarding a parent's offense at school officials assumptions regarding her marital status and whether or not she shared her child's last name.

I get the strong sense that the poster there, along with all the 'you go girl' commenters will never be in danger of ever marrying.

Donald Douglas said...

I've just skimmed the article so far, but thought I'd comment anyway. As a 40-something male Ph.D., married with two boys, I'm intrigued at the change in demographics essentially favoring women. I probably fit the stereotype of one scared to death of not getting hitched unless I had the skills. Heartbreak followed me everywhere, because the stable long-term relationship was the elusive life goal well into my twenties. I do think that guys have it rough these day, though, as a professor, I'm gung-ho on the advancement of women, and would like to see more of it in business, law, and the sciences. Kudos to the Times for this series -- the paper's still excellent in my eyes, regardless of the its clueless publisher. (The earlier article on the "boy crisis" in higher education was especially good.)

Take care,

Burkean Reflections

Dave said...

The dating market is competitive. Women want someone who is their equal.

Men who do not pursue education likely have no one to blame but themselves for their situation.

What I don't understand is why this is news, why people find it compelling, and why anyone should care what another person decides to do with his life. The Times seems to be trying to capture the zeitgeist of the Disaffected Male, but none of these men seem particularly miserable to me--at least as human misery goes--and, therefore I don't quite see what's newsworthy about a relatively well-off single guy in his 30s or 40s.

Has the New York Times finally succumbed to bourgeois ennui?

Ann Althouse said...

Dave: I think the NYT is basically aimed at women, and women care about the fact that men are not making themselves sufficiently marriageable. It's true that women want a lot and will shun men like this. To say, well, who cares about these guys, they're making their own minimalist lives, misses the point that the underlying concern is for the women who want to build families and produce the next generation and Americans but face an inadequate pool of potential husbands. If you don't think we need the next generation, step back and look at the big picture.

Gahrie said...

the underlying concern is for the women who want to build families and produce the next generation

Ann,

Many of us would argue that the problem is at least partly the dearth of this type of woman.

Ann Althouse said...

Gahrie: I think modern women know they have the choice and with economic independence and birth control, they can be careful about taking on the huge burdens of child-rearing. They know how common it is to lose the help and support of the father of their children. So there are a lot of women who want in some sense to raise children, but are being very selective and even suspicious that the prospective husband won't provide enough support. Looking realistically at how life goes, women rationally reject starting families with the wrong men. This is why what you're observing is not necessarily evidence that the problem is with the women. Men need to do more to make themselves marriageable. And clearly, plenty of men think it isn't worth it.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that Ann has a very good point here about the target market for the NYT. I have always wondered why anyone would subscribe to it, esp. those who don't live in or around NYC. After all, over the last couple of years, it is starting to look almost comical in how it puts its editorials on the front page, calling them news, and, indeed, how it slants the news it allegedly reports to fit its political agenda.

And, I think a good part of the answer is that it probably is the most "sophisticated" general circulation newspaper in the country. Because, NYC is still considered the most sophisticated place in the country to live and visit. Where else can a woman in Denver or Madison find out the latest fashions, the latest plays, etc.? (I should add that I suspect that the WSJ serves this purpose for men - who tend to be more interested in financial success than fashion, etc.)

With this in mind, I think that it is addressing the female view of a couple of major demographic issues that we have discussed here before. First, the number of women graduating from college, including now most graduate schools (including law and medicine) have more women than men graduating. This means that the better entry level jobs are being snapped up by women, over men, now. Add to this the inherant desire of most women to marry up, and you have the start of a problem. But compounding this, males and females are on different biological clocks. So, the later 20 something and 30 something women are starting to panick because their biological clocks are running, while their male counterparts are looking at late 30s to 40s for marriage. The net result of these trends is that these women who see their clocks as ticking away are seeing a shrinking pool of elgible and desirable males.

Of course, the more desirable of these males know this too, and they naturally exploit the fact that they are more in demand than ever, getting the sex they want, without the committments that would cut into their play time.

If these women seem man-hating, I would suspect it is because of these pressures. After all, how does a woman tie down a man with marriage, if the pool of elgible attractive men is small to start with, and their sisters are desperate enough to give the men what they want, without them having to return what the women want?

I was out Fri. night in Scottsdale, and this was almost palatable. The desirable men were looking for beautiful young women for sex, and the rest of the men were looking for either sex or a suger moma. But I kept running into good looking, accomplished, well educated women, desperate for a relationship preferably leading to marriage. It was almost scary.

I had a long talk with one woman who told me that she felt she needed to remarry for validation as a woman. And, generalizing a lot here, I think that this is part of a basic difference betweenn the sexes - that women (in general) define their worth by their relationships, while men are more likely to do so by their accomplishments. And historically, the primary relationship for us has always been marriage. But, of course, marrying down is a mark of desperation...

But maybe that is the message in the article - that these female readers, and their friends, need to realize the demographic issues involved here when rejecting those guys who are not as well educated and don't have as high status jobs as they have. Because on the margins, that is what many of these women are going to need to do if they are not going to go through life pining for marriage and family.

Bruce Hayden said...

Ann,

Short of getting more education, what do you think the men should be doing to make themselves more marriagable? And, those who are, why should they get married in the first place? Why give up all their play (mountain biking, skiing, hanging out with the guys, etc.) if they can get sex regardless?

I would suggest in many cases it is not really that the guys who might be interested in marriage wouldn't be good fathers and husbands, but that both sexes, and, in particular women, are wired to want to marry up (and the guys to distain marrying up themselves).

It has long been the case that the women want marriage, and the guys want sex. Traditionally, they trade in a societally dictated manner.

In any case, as we have discussed here repeatedly, the origins of this problem are fairly obvious - the education system is now biased in favor of females. No wonder there are more of them graduating these days - the system rewards their stereotypical behaviors, and penalizes the male stereotypical behaviors. Making themselves more marriagible through more education means fighting this institutional bias, and may work in individual cases, but that isn't going to affect the overall situation that much.

The Drill SGT said...

I agree with Bruce.

Beyond that, we have the Murphy Brown syndrome for more well off women that encourages them to have children out of wedlock if they haven't found the "perfect mate"

Similarly at the lower end of the economic spectrum, collapse of the black family (for a variety of reasons) has led all parties to completely devalue marriage.

Overall a trend that bodes poorly for continence of a civil society

knoxgirl said...

When Mr. Thomas fell in love last year and began bringing his girlfriend to the town house, Ms. Mahoney complained that his girlfriend, a 33-year-old dialysis technician, was sloppy. Meanwhile, his girlfriend objected to the time that he spent with Ms. Mahoney...

I have to agree with Brendan on this one. Mr. Thomas has a major problem. If I was his gf, I'd be like, "stop playing house with this woman or we're done."

It's sad that "educated" women are ignoring a whole pool of guys who are perfectly smart, desirable, and motivated, but who happen never to have been interested in the whole college thing. There are good ones out there.

I have found that the more educated a woman is, the more likely she is to be a man-hater, or at least hostile to manhood.

I think there is some truth to this, and unfourtunately, it is often paired (surprisingly enough) with the sort of unrealistic "bodice-ripper" expectations of romance that tiggeril mentioned.

Meade said...

Ann Althouse said...
Dave: I think the NYT is basically aimed at women, and women care about the fact that men are not making themselves sufficiently marriageable. It's true that women want a lot...

Note to self: Monday - cancel subscription to NYT. Tuesday - subscribe to Cosmo.

dick said...

I think there is another point that has not been made here. Glenn Reynold's wife had a posting a couple of months ago on this subject (or maybe it was Dr Sanity) and a lot of the men commenting made the point that men are not so likely to get married because if they do then they are fair game for getting taken to the cleaners the first time there is a problem. Divorce has become so endemic that prople are taking a lot of second and third and fourth looks before getting married. Couple that with the men getting the sex without marriage and you wonder why people would get married. Add to that the number of women who will have a child our of marriage because their biological clock is running down and they think they need the child. That the child is in a lot of cases just a plaything to the women, something to spend an hour with before bed and then ignore, does not lend itself to a single man wanting to marry them.

I am beginning to think that our forefathers had a lot of good ideas about marriage and some that have been discarded should not have been.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why give up all their play (mountain biking, skiing, hanging out with the guys, etc.) if they can get sex regardless?"

I should think a big reason would be to have someone to take care of him, if he gets sick or old or has problems. Of course, this is a good reason for women to be ultra cautious. And the older you get, the more you have to worry about having someone who would be quite a lot of work to take care of.

Put more nicely, I would think men would want a wife so that someone would be committed to care what happens to him. The temporary girlfriends can just walk away if you show any real needs or vulnerabilities. She hasn't vowed to be with you "in sickness and in health" and so forth. What if you lose your job or fall into depression?

Meade said...

"...men would want a wife so that someone would be committed to care what happens to him. The temporary girlfriends can just walk away if you show any real needs or vulnerabilities. She hasn't vowed to be with you "in sickness and in health" and so forth. What if you lose your job or fall into depression?"

No job, no fun? No problem -- No Fault.

Ed said...

"She hasn't vowed to be with you "in sickness and in health" and so forth."

Marriage vows used to mean something. People really would stick together for a lifetime. Nowadays, they don't: the default is divorce, not a lifetime together.

If a man waits until he is in his late 30s or early 40s, building up a career before thinking about getting married, and is reasonably successful in doing so, then he will amass a fair amount of wealth. At that point, when he is the most "marriageable", he would have to be insane to get married.

Half of all marriages end in divorce. The courts crucify men who get divorced, splitting up the assets between the wife and the lawyers and leaving him with nothing but an obligation to pay alimony. This isn't true 100% of the time, but it is this way in the vast majority of divorces.

As I type this, I can hear someone muttering "prenuptial agreement". Lots of men have figured out that if a prenuptial agreement is necessary, then the marriage shouldn't take place at all. It should be no surprise that more and more, men simply aren't bothering at all.

David said...

What are these women going to do when they hit menopause, have hot-flashes at the dinner table, spend a fortune at Estee Lauder to buy bleach creams to cover up age spots, pee their pants when they sneeze, buy a 20x mirror to pluck rogue hairs from their chin, etc.

Men and women compliment each other as they go through life, hopefully, with a sense of humor. For a look into the future, try on a pair of depends!

We will see how you do!

altoids1306 said...

Isn't it rather pointless to be discussing how to partition blame? (Men should make themselves more marriageable, women should be more...[some recommended behavior].)

The world changes, and people adjust their behavior. It's pointless to chide these individuals, they are simply acting out their self-interest as they see it.

As others have mentioned, in the past, the pacification of men was acheived in two ways - women, by withholding physical intimacy, and by universal military/civil service. Since neither condition exists today, men can be boys forever.

altoids1306 said...

And also, if the primary benefit of marriage to men is guaranteed care in old age, isn't this benefit somewhat diminished by no-fault divorce?

Doesn't the ready availability of welfare-state health programs serve as a substitute?

(Personally, I don't believe that this is the primary benefit of marriage...but for the sake of argument)

Seven Machos said...

Ann Althouse: Women who don't want to marry are "ultra-cautious" but the men who don't want to marry them are lazy bums who don't want to be taken care of. Is that really your argument? That men are the ones responsible for failing to "produce the next generation" because women "face an inadequate pool of potential husbands"? "World Ends; Women Hardest Hit"? Come on.

Isn't it also true that women are responsible for this failure because men face an inadequate pool of potential wives? For every heterosexual female that doesn't get married, there is a heterosexual male out there not married as well. It is dubious and sexist to take some kind of weird pity on only the high-maintenance, educated unmarried females in this equation, and to seek to blame only the males who don't want to marry these people. This problem, if it exists, surely is the responsibility of people, not some gender of people.

There is nothing -- nothing -- more annoying than to be told what to do by some ultra-cautious, educated person all day.

Brendan said...

Dave, I think you're being a little too hard on Ann. Have you ever read the Wisconsin State Journal? If you have, you'd know that Ann has to subscribe to an outside paper.

Gahrie said...

Men need to do more to make themselves marriageable. And clearly, plenty of men think it isn't worth it.


Ann: You have pretty much hit the bullseye, abet I suspect unwittingly.

The fact that you, and apparently the majority of women believe the first part of your statement is true is one of the major causes (along with current family law as previously mentioned, and the increasing hostility to all things male) for the second part of your statement being true.

altoids1306 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim said...

The Times neglected another reason men don't marry. I refuse to marry for the same reasons I won't attend mass, weddings or funerals, wave the flag, carry insurance, etc: I refuse to participate in silly religious exercises based on fear and superstition, and I feel even more strongly about religious practices, like marriage, that are certified and promoted by the government.

I look down on people who succumb to marriage and could only marry to avert a worse evil, such as to help a persecuted woman escape prison, Iranq, etc. I also avoid breeders and of course much prefer sterile women: no wide-eyed wholesome innocent Sunday-school teacher for me, no sir!

altoids1306 said...

Here is an interesting link. The basic argument is that cultures that are patriarchical tend to fare better demographically, so even as society liberalizes, the liberalized segment is continually dwarfed by the more fertile patriarchial segment.

So perhaps the hand-wringing of the NYT is not just tedious, but inevitable. The demographic collapse of the culture that created the modern NYT should be of some concern to them.

Perhaps societies that can't muster the sufficent existential will should be allowed to die. Someday, some culture will discover a happy balance where each gender can explore their full potential, while devoting enough resources to create the next generation.

Nevada said...

Sorry but the "why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free" argument just doesn't cut it, and never really has.

One of the most durable canards of anti-feminist women from Midge Decter down to Katie Roiphe and beyond is that feminism has been a good deal for men because it offers them the opportunity to play around while incurring no responsibility.

Uh-uh. That's nowhere NEAR the way it works in the real world. What feminism did was to provide great opportunities for the few elite alpha males who could now have their way with financially independent women who, in a culture that no longer looked askance at their choices, pay for their own abortions or become single mothers on their own.

A larger number of well-educated males with good but not top jobs who in another time and place would have been considered acceptable mates suddenly became unworthy of the attention of newly "liberated" women. Such men had to regard them as market competitors rather than potential mates. Believe me, those men were not and still are not getting any.

Unfortunately this process will continue for at least another twenty or thirty years until the generation that brought it about dies off with no progeny, at which time sharia will be imposed by those who DID have kids.

Ann Althouse said...

Dave ... of the "rogue hairs" and "Depends" comment.

What you're missing is that men have shorter life spans and are also usually older than their wives and that wives usually put more into caring for their husbands' physical needs than do wives for their husbands. Women are also more likely to stick with the difficult caretaking tasks than are men. Put all this together and the odds favor the male in the little game of having someone to take care of you through your old age. But this is an argument for women to resist marriage. I'm not promoting marriage here, just saying that the traditional assumption that women want it more than men only survives through irrationality. I'm not saying people must be rational or that rationality will bring you happiness. Just making some rational observations.

Brendan said...

You know what's funny? For years we've been spoonfed the notion that men will not marry someone smarter or better educated than they are due to "wounded male pride." Turns out women never wanted these guys anyway.

P.S. Notice how "love" never enters into the discussion? Every move is so calculated and cynical (i.e. envisioning your partner as a future nursemaid). Are there no successful women married to cops or school teachers?

Ann Althouse said...

Seven Machos: "Women who don't want to marry are "ultra-cautious" but the men who don't want to marry them are lazy bums who don't want to be taken care of. Is that really your argument?"

No. I never said anyone was lazy. There's pleasure-seeking in either option and either option also incurs burdens. Individuals can make their own choices. I'm just making observations.

My comment at 12:46 was in response to a comment that suggested men had nothing to gain from marriage. Do you think I respect a man who marries to gain a physical caretaker?

I suppose the most admirable people are the ones who open up their lives to other people and share in some profound way. There are many ways of doing that, and the ideal marriage is one of them. I don't think you have to marry to do that and I don't think marrying indicates that you've done it. I also think it is possible to have a worthy and profound life without a mate.

Make your own choice. Profound/shallow... single/paired... I'm not telling you what to do.

Ann Althouse said...

Gahrie: Not unwittingly.

Stephen said...

"The Times neglected another reason men don't marry. I refuse to marry for the same reasons I won't attend mass, weddings or funerals"

Jim, if your best friend died, you wouldn't attend his funeral? Really?

“I look down on people who succumb to marriage”

I haven’t attended church in years, but somehow manage to get annoyed by dedicated atheists as much as religious extremists. Jim, do you give your girlfriends fair warning of this?

If ya do, can you send me the phone numbers of those who walk away?

On the one hand I admire the principle, but on the other hand, I honestly wouldn’t want to be in a long term relationship with a girl who had disgust at the thought of getting married. It’s possible it’s strictly principle. As far as I know **for you** it’s strictly principle and if it is, best of luck to you man. It’s just that if I met a girl like this in my experience it’s just as likely it’s a person completely focused on self-gratification.

Calico Cat said...

Despite the complaints of women that they can't find anyone to marry, there is very clearly a Woman Shortage. For white people aged 30-39, there are 117 single men for every 100 single women.

The Drill SGT said...

Ann Althouse said...
What you're missing is that men have shorter life spans and are also usually older than their wives and that wives usually put more into caring for their husbands' physical needs than do wives for their husbands.


And the flip side of that is that I'm very likely to die of a heart attack before my wife and leave her quite well off. No long term care issues. Just a few million in stocks and property. As we say in our house, I'm saving for her retirement.

Stiles said...

Ann Althouse said...
What you're missing is that men have shorter life spans and are also usually older than their wives and that wives usually put more into caring for their husbands' physical needs than do wives for their husbands.


I'm not a demographic expert, but there is a larger life expectancy difference between the single and married for men than women. I'm not sure that married men have a noticeably shorter life span than married women. I'm also not sure that men are disposed to more chronic health conditions in old age than women.

Seven Machos said...

Ann Althouse: points taken.

I have a friend who is a doctor. He says women are healthier simply because they go to the doctor all the time, often when nothing i wrong at all. Married men are second, because their wives pressure them to go and they eventually cave. Single guys are the worst. Usually by the time they drag themselves to him, they are too far gone.

Ernst Blofeld said...

The financial risks to a male entering marriage are substantial. You have to figure that there's about a 50% chance that you'll be financially wiped out by divorce sometime in your 30's or 40's, and maybe wind up with neither money nor long-term care in your declining years. Strictly from a financial standpoint marriage starts to look like a JDAM headed straight for your 401(k) and home equity. (As the old joke goes: instead of marriage it's a lot simpler to find a woman you hate and buy her a house.)

To take a mercenary attitude towards it, "Marry me and there's a 50% chance you'll lose everything and spend a decade to get back to your original situation" doesn't sound very appealing.

Al Maviva said...

This article inspires a big "yeah, whatever, tired of hearing about it" on my part. I was one of the blue collar guys who was "unmarriageable" in my 20s, and actually had a girlfriend I really liked kick me to the curb, since I "wasn't going anywhere" with my life. I was having fun, working my way through college, and looking for somebody to share my life with. Eventually I quit looking, resolved to just have fun, and then this woman came along who told me she really didn't care what I did, she like who I was. We got married, she stuck it out, I eventually went on to law school, and we have a nice life going on. She married down at the time, if that's how you view things; now she'd be marrying up, I suppose. I don't really think about it that way, it doesn't really matter to me. We get along, she accepts me and supports me for who I am, puts up with the rough edges (which are getting worn off with time) and I work hard for her. We're happy.

The ironic thing is I regularly get hit on by unmarried professional women just like the ones interviewed in the article. It's actually a little irritating because I used to be the guy going "hey, look over here! Why not me?" And the answer at that time, of course, was insulting and generally had me checking in the mirror the next morning while shaving to ensure I didn't have a big "L" tattooed on my forehead. I realize now that my view of what made them attractive was pretty superficial; they don't seem so hot now, though they do tend to drive pretty nice cars and be well-coiffed.

I get the impression that women's expectations are really high, and maybe focused on the wrong things at the wrong times, at least from working in NY and DC. When I was in my 20s, it seemed to me they expected Hugh Grant's charm with Donald Trump's income potential, in a finished package. It's silly though, because people don't come in finished packages, and they tend to live their lives as an ongoing project. Instant wealth is cool but few people really hit their stride financially until their thirties or forties. Nobody is ever a "finished" product, we change personally and professionally - and I know a lot of very rough edged blue collar multi-millionaires. The reason a 40 year-old professional would be attractive to a 30-something professional woman - the reason I get offers - is because she started looking for a 40 year-old professional, or somebody who looked, acted and earned like one, when she turned 21. I can't imagine what being married to one of the whiny women is like. I suspect that their expectations for other areas of their lives are equally unrealistic. It's like they - and a parallel class of professional guys who just can't commit - don't really live their lives, but try to live according to some plan cobbled together out of Cosmo articles and date movie themes.

Meade said...

Calico Cat said...
Despite the complaints of women that they can't find anyone to marry, there is very clearly a Woman Shortage. For white people aged 30-39, there are 117 single men for every 100 single women.
6:16 PM, August 06, 2006

Color me curious, Calico Cat, but just how "white" are you talking about?

class-factotum said...

Jim said, "The Times neglected another reason men don't marry. I refuse to marry for the same reasons I won't attend mass, weddings or funerals, wave the flag, carry insurance, etc: I refuse to participate in silly religious exercises based on fear and superstition, and I feel even more strongly about religious practices, like marriage, that are certified and promoted by the government."

Good grief. One reason marriage exists is because it is a contract that protects children. The government promotes it because it is in society's interest that children be raised to adulthood in a relatively stable, healthy environment. We don't need a bunch of screwed-up kids running things when we are old.

Yes, I know you don't date "breeders" (I hope you warn any potential girlfriends of that, or, better, get it clipped), but many people are interested in having children and marriage is the best institution to protect children. It is a way of protecting a wife and children financially.

As is insurance. Even if you're not married, you have an obligation not to be a burden to your parents or us taxpayers by carrying health, homeowners and auto insurance. Insurance is not a "silly religious exercise," it is responsible financial management based on actuarial analysis.

As far as waving the flag -- aren't you glad that men and women have fought and died for your right to exhibit that disdain?

37383938393839383938383 said...

AA: "They know how common it is to lose the help and support of the father of their children. So there are a lot of women who want in some sense to raise children, but are being very selective and even suspicious that the prospective husband won't provide enough support."

But men don't provide support and don't make themselves into the kind of guy to provide support because they think women looking support are money-grubbers who see men as means not ends. Plus, being taken care of when one is old (because of vows) only has value if you trust the woman making the vows, and most women these days aren't trustworthy, if one looks at the divorce stats. So I doubt you are seeing women being suspicious; what you are seeing is men saying "these women aren't worth it".

Maxine Weiss said...

Ann says: " The temporary girlfriends can just walk away if you show any real needs or vulnerabilities."

Let's hope so.

Ann, is your argument that marriage benefits men MORE than women?

We know who benefits the most.

Marriage is a bad deal for men, just ask Jack Klugman.

Wealthy men, of course would do well NEVER to marry; but even poor men......will absolutely, certainly, never get wealthy if they marry, and wife starts popping out kids.

If a man wants to hold on to his money, or gain more....marriage is NOT the thing to do.

For women it's the complete opposite.

Smart men don't get married, ever!

Peace, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...

Maxine: I think the studies show that men benefit more from marriage. They are happier and healthier than unmarried me. Being married or not has no similar effect on women. Men will tend to receive care and emotional nurturing from their wives, but the wives will probably be required to provide many services and not receive the kind of emotional support they want. On average. Why they nevertheless seem to be the ones pushing for marriage is one of life's great mysteries. I think it's that they haven't shed their fear of being selfish.

Critical Observer: You're right. There was a time, and there still is a time in some subcultures of America, when service to others was deeply ingrained in women. Some men, like you, apparently, want a service-oriented woman. I don't respect that in a man ... unless he has a equally deep-seated ethic of service, which I don't think you have based on the way you are speaking.

El Presidente said...

"They are happier and healthier than unmarried me."

Ann, Sigmund Freud is on line 2.

knoxgirl said...

A friend of mine's father died a few years ago. He was a millionnaire. He had just married a woman a few months before who had agreed to a pre-nup, which said that except for the (very nice) home they shared, his fortune was to go to his two daughters.

The wife sued, produced a letter she had written and mailed to herself the very day she had signed the prenup (I guess so it could be "officially" dated with a postmark) saying that she hadn't understood the pre-nup, and had felt pressured to sign it.

The judge awarded her a lot of money.

I gotta say, I can't blame wealthy men for not marrying!

Meade said...

Good point, knoxgirl. But I can't blame anyone for not marrying. Have you ever sat in on a divorce trial? It should be a requirement, before being issued a marriage license, for every couple to do so -- a blood test, a background check, and three days as captive audience in the misery of someone else's divorce trial. I assure you, most couples drunk on love would sober right up and vow to remain just friends. And the world would be a happier place. Forget men being statistically marginally happier when married. Puh. Except for the lawyers who make an often times lucrative income from it, divorce is a ring of hell unto itself and the only guaranteed way of never experiencing that hell is to never get married in the first place.

Incidentally, why so many gay and lesbian couples want it is beyond me. To create a legally secure environment in which to rear children is the only reason I can imagine and even that is iffy.

tcd said...

Wow, very cynical thread about marriage. Sounds like most people marry for money, doesn't it? What about companionship? How about having someone to bear witness to your life? Or do most people prefer to travel alone unless their partner can upgrade their ticket to first class? Sad state of affairs, folks.

Harkonnendog said...

Ann,

"They know how common it is to lose the help and support of the father of their children. So there are a lot of women who want in some sense to raise children, but are being very selective and even suspicious that the prospective husband won't provide enough support."

Many women want children without husbands. Men are considered unnecessary for raising kids, and obnoxious, or worse yet, controlling!!! as husbands. They want monetary support, but no help or little involvement outside of free baby-sitting.

Zeldazot said...

What a bunch of selfish arguments. You are supposed to marry your best friend, after sorting out which best friend is the sex you are interested in.

Maxine Weiss said...

Earlier this year, Time Magazine did a study on "Happiness", and whether married people, of both genders, were really happier married than single.

Does marriage make the difference in terms of "happiness"?

What stood out for me was that for men specifically, in a bad marriage, M-E-N suffer far more than women.......in bad marriages!

And, going by the divorce rate, both men and women's odds are 50%.....

So by getting married, men are taking a 50% risk of being far more unhappy, if the marriage goes sour, than if those same men would have simply stayed single to begin with.

Those odds don't make marriage a very good gamble for men, given they'll be the ones to wind up more severely unhappy if the marriage flops.

For women it's a better risk, less negatives.

Peace, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...

El: LOL. Or should I say el-oh-el?

Who knows who really has it better on average? People lie to themselves and others about how happy they are. Betting that someone else will make you happier is always a risk, but staying on your own is also a risk... and you'll only have yourself to blame if that doesn't work out. At least there's no one to fight with...

Editor Theorist said...

I am finding the NYT series on the New Gender divide very interesting as observation - but I find the socio-cultural theories quite unconvincing. I think these phenomena can be simply explained using Evolutionary Psychology - and I have tried doing this -

"The loneliness of the highly-educated, high-status career woman in the 21st century"

http://modernizationimperative.blogspot.com/

The main root of these profound social trends among men and women is that the increasing success of women in the economy acts upon evolved biological sexual preferences. In brief, women are mostly attracted by men of higher status than themselves, so high status women are much choosier about who they marry. This generates are the two social groups who are decreasingly likely to marry: high status women and low status men.

El Presidente said...

Ann,

I'm glad you thought it was funny. I do want to maintain my reputation as the sensitive socialost dictator.

UW Student said...

Good Lord but you are a cynical and bitter bunch. I could never have gotten married if I insisted on looking at myself as merely an exemplar of my gender and the institution of marriage as merely a colossal game that one gender "wins" and the other "loses." I married an individual, not a gender role, and I lucked out. We couldn't be happier.

jst4lfs said...

This has happened before. However, the low-level guys keep breading and the high earning gals don't. Darwin takes care of the problem. By 2030 things are back on track!!!!!!!
Truth is the birth rate is up for the first time in a long time. Marriage is strong. It's just that it's strong amongst the immigrant population. You know them. What your parents were but now you're too good to be. This is what you call a "one time thing" cause after this generation the problem will not exist.

jst4lfs said...

Now here is my serious comment:
- Men are enjoy simple things.
- Men can get sex at will today.
- Men are tired of being blamed for all the problems of women today. We're even at fault for women teachers raping boys.
- Men don't see women on a higher plain anymore. They're more like buddies. Men won't commit their life to someone who has been with half of NY. They benefit from the loose moral standards of todays woman, but they resist marrying into it. Hard to explain to the kids I quess. Wierd, but there is truth in it.
- The system is set up to screw men, so they are very cautious about committing. This is changing though.
- Men only love kids when they are theirs. They don't have a biological need to have them.
- Men are less attracted to corporate women. Men have preferences. That's why the secretaries go first (to the men with the best jobs) and the professional women are left hanging. It's just a biological fact and you can't legislate biology. I like smart women but I'm not at all turned on about discussing her plans for the next corporate takeover or her six month dream job in Europe. Please.
- No kids means very little money is required to live well. No incentive.
- Did I mention that I am a father, who has been very successful in life, happily married to the same woman for twenty five years, with a son about to graduate from an Ivy League school, who has advised him not to get married, follow his dream, don't let a wife and family hold him back, and enjoy life. There will always be women, but you don't need to sacrifice your dreams for one of them.

Invisible Rope said...

Men don't marry because women can't properly use the reflexive tense in their writing.

Marylou said...

"The courts crucify men who get divorced, splitting up the assets between the wife and the lawyers and leaving him with nothing but an obligation to pay alimony. This isn't true 100% of the time, but it is this way in the vast majority of divorces."

This is not true. Alimony is rarely awarded for any length of time. If awarded, it is now usually for a short period for the woman to "retrain" to enter the workforce. In divorce, men see their standard of living improve while women typically see it deteriorate. The pendulumn has swung in opposite direction (if it ever favored women the way so many claim it did). Women who want primary custody of the children they have been raising are typically accused of parental alienation if they do not want to "co-parent" which is a very convenient way for men who were not equally coparenting to suddenly become interested in this thus reducing or avoiding altogether child support payemnts. Many women, and women still are usually the full time parent, men do not typically leave their careers or work part time in order to devote full time to raising children, find themselves facing divorce at 40 something with little to no career, with little to no alimony, and suddenly to equally "coparent" and so little to no child support.

shade said...

"Reflexive" is not a "tense."

rrl762 said...

Why would any man with a brain marry? Considering No-fault laws and a 50% divorce rate who would take those kind of odds to Vegas and bet your livelihood, income, children and everything you'll spend your entire life working for? Add to that the fact most women were raised to be self centered, bi-polar, manipulative little princesses and you are dooming yourself to misery. All men really need is a good prostitute now and then. In the end it will be cheaper and more satisfying.

Neil said...

People writing articles should use proper English. It's "women like me" not "women like myself". Using improper English makes you look less intelligent.

Mean said...

Women, RUN FROM MARRIAGE. Avoid it at all costs. I married down. I've had to raise a husband and two children, one child with autism. Men do not help with anything. I work full time - 60 hours a week. He stays at home. He doesn't work with our son. He doesn't do anything around the house. He is pointless. The men on this board blame women for all their problems and no fault divorce. But if it wasn't for no fault, you'd have a lot of trapped women. All men want is a hole & heartbeat and subservience; someone who will will put him before themselves; someone who gives up their own dreams and aspirations for his though he offers NOTHING in return. That ladies, is marriage. Never marry, whether up, down or sideways. Get a sperm donor and live on your own terms. Because you are all you've got in this world and you are the only person you can rely on. They blame women for high success standards with they themselves have their very own shallow standards of expected beauty. My husband is obese. I am fit yet he had the audacity to tell me that it looks like I've got a little loose in the cage. If it weren't for my kids, I'd leave. When they're old enough, I'm gone. It's that or I'll put myself out of my misery. Want to see a happy woman? See a single one.

Majo said...

This blog is to be commended, I think Jim has hit it in the nail, too. Nobody with a brain should marry, woman or man I don't care. But what enrages is the religious stupiditiy and "all for the chyldrun": no breeders of any sort for me, even people with grown children, I don't want to be a babysitter to anyone's kids or a nursemaid to any old man. And I despise maney-grubbers of any age as much as I do selfish, old lecherous men. Yes, having to suppprt her children becuse she got knocked up by some man who won't accept responsability is also morally disgusting to me. Marriage is one of the worst inventions of religions, and always has a selfish side to it; it's one of the most entitled and egoistical things someone can do. My problem are stupid males judging my morals (while at the same time, wanting to sleep with me, of course, for I'm tanned, corteous, attractive and very cultured). But what amazed me is that when I say that I won't get married, it's the fat, ugly women that lecture me: shouldn't they be happier they won't have to face competition from me??? The married ones are far worse: they realize that I won't buy the bull**** about how happpy married women are, so they give me real flack. Brendan: you're wrong, after sproggin' a lot of guys care a lot about what a woman does for a living...
I am deeply in love with a man. He is a successful, well off professional (computer science), so he gets real dough, and I'm doing a damn well job form keeping him away from prospective moos; he'd be damned if he allowed those cows to get him; he knows the potential dangers of that without an lecturing from me . We agreed to never marry or live together, we won't even spend a whole weekend together. Even those may not be implied. (Basically dating with benefits, nothing more).
We feel no sense of obligation towards a society that has sometimes even punished us publicly for our choices. Which some folks could never found out without getting into what is none of their bussinesss.

Dave said...

Ms. Althouse, your personality is so enchanting. Would you marry me?

SchadenfreudianSlip said...

I don't like the notion that, as she stands there looking cute and sexually inviting, all she needs to do is step aside if ever offended to reveal the shadowy specter of Government-as-married-woman-protector/thug. And it's a perfect arrangement, too, since few women I've ever mentioned this to actually exhibit an awareness that this condition--the government-thug shakedown--exists with impunity.

suntanbeachman said...

suntanbeachman said...
Majo seems to hit a lot of nails on the head.

As a 57 year old hetero and lifelong bachelor, there are a couple of life lessons. If properly understood, it can help avoid a world of disaffection and dissonance.

1) The first is that men and women often have totally different notions about what marriage should be all about, and there won't be much interest about what your feelings and thoughts are on the topic. Accept it.

2)The second is that you shouldn't even contemplate the idea unless you are prepared to lose everything ....because...it might just happen!

3)The third is that you might learn to enjoy and appreciate the less driven woman out there and ignore the ones who are obsessed with their careers and overwhelmed with endless materialism.

The ideal time to find what you might want is after she is divorced and in a needed time of validation and affirmation. There is more receptivity when they are done with the past and ready to see what kind of fellows are out there. Treat them like ladies and you can't go wrong. It is a time to appreciate new horizons and new experiences. Introduce those new experiences in a positive light, and she'll do stuff for you she never would have done for her husband.
The down side is that they will eventually move on, however, because more will always be expected of the man and it's easy to lose interest in fellows who stay the same.

Face facts, fellas....any time things are that good are temporary times and should be appreciated while they are there.

There is only one other option, and that is the foreign bride. Results can be mixed with the mail order kind, but I know several military buddies who moved to the Phillippines and are happily married to loving Filipino wives who exercise a porton of appreciation and dignity and respect to their husbands that does not exist in a materialist western culture where men are all idiots. You can appreciate the emphasis on family over materialism and career and selfishness. These fellows have no interest in returning to their ex wives....and that ain't no lie!
Like any where else, gents...."you better shop around"

John Cutright said...

The less women putting out for free the more prostitutes we will have. We will always have prostitutes as long as women want easy money. The more prostituted the cheaper sex will be. Prostitutes are cheaper than marriage. Someday we will have realistic life like fembots then men will not need women for sex. So after the realistic fembots are invented if women want a man to marry them they will have to be nice and friendly.

Leon said...

Men aren't seeking higher education because they have already decided they are not getting married. So they don't need the higher paying jobs that come with 90 hour weeks and ulcers. Men have finally figured out that getting married having children, working their butts off and then have their wife cheat and divorce them and take everything and then be told it's all their fault isn't a very good deal. Why would a man want to put himself through such a nightmare?