If one were to read any article by the average woman in the media – and some males for that matter – regarding the declining state of marriage rates today. One could reasonably think that the reason marriages are on the decline is that women are choosing not to get married or some other such tripe that ineffectively attempts to hide the truth of the matter. (Ayanna, G. 2010), (Dewitt. 1992), (Rosenbloom, 2006), (Campbell, 2001) The actual reason for the decline in marriage rates is not because ‘women don’t want to get married’ (a bitter anthem recited in retaliation to men’s rejection of marriage. but due to “The Marriage Strike. ” According to an article in “O” magazine author, Ann Marsh notes, “A ‘marriage strike’ is the social phenomena of men seeking to avoid marriage. The ‘marriage strike’ specifically refers to the action of men living within the Western world. ” (Marsh, 2003 p. 2) Advocates of the marriage strike believe that after a considered cost-benefit analysis, the legal contract that is modern marriage no longer represents an attractive option for men. Especially when considering the legal, economic, sociological, cultural and demographic environment of the West in regards to marriage.
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Advocates hold that through the combination of laws permitting no-fault divorce, and the prevailing conditions in divorce courts that substantially favor the wife over the husband in disputes over child custody, visitation rights, child support, alimony, ownership of the family residence and other shared property (Rosenbloom, 2006). It is possible for a woman to divorce her husband unilaterally while simultaneously depriving him of the right to see his offspring and financially crippling him (Rubin, 1997).
They argue that since the divorce rate is high, and since women are more likely than men to seek no-fault divorces are, scenarios like the above are a likely outcome of marriage, and that many men, fearing such an outcome, choose not to marry. So we see that the pro-female claims – made in large part by women — to the tune of ‘women don’t want to get married’ given as the reason for the decline in marriages is like so many other statements written by feminist, nothing but hot air. (Salholz, 1986), (Campbell, 2001),
A study released by researchers Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, concluded that men are, indeed, more apprehensive about getting married than before. (Whitehead, B. D. , ; Popenoe, D. 2002) “The median age of first marriage for men has reached 27, the oldest age in our nation’s history,” (Whitehead et al p. 2). The study contains several possible explanations for these phenomena, based on interviews with 60 single men, 25 to 33, who live in four parts of the country.
While that level of measurement is certainly is not statistically significant enough to reflect any kind of national trend, responses generally revolved around the possibilities of suffering huge losses if the marriage ends in divorce. “An ex-wife will take you for all you’ve got” and “men have more to lose financially than women” (Whitehead et al p. 6) were common refrains within the study. To humor the study’s result, let us examine whether or not these young men’s concern are justified.
If we accept the feminist argument that marriage is slavery for women, then it is undeniable that — given the current state of the nation’s family courts — divorce is slavery for men. Take a hypothetical husband who marries and has two children. There is a 50 % chance that this marriage will end in divorce within eight years, and if it does, the odds are 2-1 the wife initiates the divorce (US Census Bureau. 2002). It may not matter that the man was a decent husband.
The reality of the situation is that few divorces are initiated over abuse or because the man has already abandoned the family. Nor is adultery cited as a factor by divorcing women appreciably more than by divorcing men. The new trend that has taken hold of the court system is the “no fault” divorce, in which the filing party needs only to cite their general discontent with the marriage to have a hearing. Women initiate these unilateral divorces-on-demand three times as often as men do (Whitehead et al 2002).
While the courts may grant the former spouses joint legal custody, the odds are nearly 40 to one of the wife winning physical custody (US Census Bureau. 2000). Once the couple is divorced, odds are at least even that the wife will interfere with the husband’s visitation rights. Three-quarters of divorced men surveyed say their ex-wives have interfered with their visitation, and 40 percent of mothers studied admitted that they had done so and that they had generally acted to punish their exes (Rubin, 1997).
Then, of course, there is the issue of financial losses due to court-imposed payments. In the end, the wife will keep most of the couple’s assets and the house. The husband will need to set up a new residence and pay at least a third of his take-home pay to his ex in child support, on top of whatever alimony payments the courts impose on him. These can run as high as another third of his income. Add the cost of taxes to that and the man gets to keep exactly 13% of his take-home pay (Rubin, 1997). Nevertheless, as bad as all this is, it would still make our hypothetical man the lucky one.
After all, he could be one of those fathers who cannot see his children at all because his ex has made a false accusation of domestic violence, child abuse, or child molestation. He could be one of those fathers who can only see his own children under supervised visitation in nightmarish visitation centers (US Census Bureau. 2000). He could be one of those fathers whose ex has moved their children hundreds or thousands of miles away, in violation of court orders, which courts often do not enforce.
He could be one of those fathers who tears up his life and career repeatedly to follow his children, only to have his ex-wife continuously move them. He could be one of the fathers who has lost his job, seen his income drop, or suffered a disabling injury, only to have the child support arrearages and interest pile up to create a mountain of debt, which he could never hope to pay off. He could be a father who pays 70% or 80% of his income in child support because the court has imputed an unrealistic income to him. If the father cannot maintain these child support payments, he can face months or years in jail.
He could be a father who reaches old age impoverished because he lost everything he had in a divorce when he was middle-aged and did not have the time and the opportunity to earn it back (Doyle 1999). Our imaginary man might consider himself lucky if he knew what his life could have been. Over five million divorced men in America are currently experiencing some or all of the situations I just outlined. Without a doubt, unmarried men hear their stories and experiences. Can anyone truly blame the men for having apprehension?
They stand to gain little and lose everything they have worked for in their entire lives should they “take the plunge”, so to speak. Therefore, women, if you have a problem with this, speak to your feminist brethren. They have left behind this legacy. By erasing the stigma of premarital sex and encouraging physical liberation, they have eliminated one of the most powerful incentives in history for men to tie the knot. By advocating government as a surrogate husband in the case of single motherhood, they have eliminated the disincentive for women to file for divorce (Dennehy, 2010).
In addition, through decades of litigious activism, they have created the bloated and intrusive family court system and stacked it so egregiously against the men of this country that it now appears they are subconsciously engaging in a “marriage strike”, preferring to play the odds rather than assume a massively disproportionate amount of risk (Goldstein, 1999). As for the men, make no mistake, they are slowly beginning to realize that the power is now in their favor. They have more and more perfectly legitimate reasons for remaining unmarried every day.
Given a choice between not marrying one’s lady friend — assuming no risk whatsoever and still having the historical benefits of marriage (sex, companionship, etc. ) available to them, or marrying the woman and having a 50-50 chance of their lives being utterly destroyed should the woman become “unhappy” with the marriage, the decision is a no-brainer (Smock, 2000). What women perceive as a “fear of commitment” is nothing more than a pragmatic assessment of the odds facing men in the prospect of a marriage (Salt, 2009).
Therefore, the trends evident in Whitehead ; Popenoe’s study are not much of a surprise. I would wager that if conducted nationally, this study would produce similar results. Of course, such a study would invariably seek to address the grievances of the dejected single women of the country. My advice to them would be simple: offer to sign a prenuptial agreement that outlines the exact terms of a possible divorce: how assets would be divided, how any alimony and child support would be handled, and other vital elements that may be causing apprehension.
Please do not be insulted if your potential mate asks you to sign one, or if he desires terms that will be equitable to him. No matter how strong your love may be for each other, the demand for eligible bachelors willing to commit to marriage is exceeding the supply, and if you will not sign it, odds are that there is another woman out there who will. References Ayanna, G. (2010). ABC News Explores Why Successful Black Women Are Still Single. Retrieved July 24, 2010 from www. associatedcontent. com: http://www. associatedcontent. com/? article/? 2533027/? bc_news_explores_why_successful_black. html? cat=41. Campbell, K. (2001, July 24). Beyond ‘Bridget,’ a fuller view of single women. Christian Science Monitor, p. 1. Retrieved July 24, 2010 from LexisNexis database. Dennehy, L. (2010, July 24). Singles look for Mr Right. [Editorial]. Sunday Herald Sun (Australia), p. 27. Retrieved July 24, 2010 from LexisNexis database. Dewitt, P. M. (Ed. ). (1992). All the Lonely People. [Electronic version]. NASHVILLE, TN,: Media Central Inc. Doyle, R. (1999). The Decline of Marriage. Scientific American, 36, 78-85.
Retrieved July 24, 2010 from Academic Search Complete database. Goldstein, J. R. (1999). “The Leveling of Divorce in the United States”. Demography, 36, 409-414. Retrieved July 24, 2010 from Academic Search Complete database. Marsh , A. (2003). What I Learned from Dating 100 Men . Retrieved July 24, 2010 from www. oprah. com: http://www. oprah. com/? omagazine/? love-lessons-from-a-serial-dater. Rosenbloom, S. (2006, July 24). For Men, A Fear Of Commitment. The New York Times, pp. Section 11-Column 5. Retrieved July 24, 2010 from LexisNexis database.
Rubin , N. (1997, July 24). In Middle Age and Suddenly Single. The New York Times, pp. Section 14WC-page 1. Retrieved July 24, 2010 from LexisNexis database. Salholz, E. et al. (1986, July 24). Too Late for Prince Charming? Newsweek, 54-63. Retrieved July 24, 2010 from LexisNexis database. Salt, B. (2009, July 24). Truly deflating truth about your sex appeal. The Daily Telegraph (Australia), p. 19. Retrieved July 24, 2010 from LexisNexis database. Smock, P. J. (2000). “Cohabitation in the United States”. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 43-52.
Retrieved July 24, 2010 from Academic Search Complete database. US Census Bureau. (2000). America’s Families and Living Arrangements: March 2000. [Electronic version]. Washington DC: U. S. Bureau of the Census. US Census Bureau. (2002). “Number, Timing and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 1996,”. [Electronic version]. Washington DC: US Census Bureau. Whitehead, B. D. , & Popenoe, D. (2002). Why Men Won’t Commit: Exploring Young Men’s Attitudes About Sex, Dating and Marriage. [Electronic version]. THE NATIONAL MARRIAGE PROJECT, 13, 1-29.