Why More Men Than Ever View Marriage as a Bad Deal

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Over the last few decades, we’ve seen a revolutionary change in the way marriage works in America.

In your great-grandparents’ heyday, relationships were more about raising a family and making a living than love. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t any love involved; it just means the motivations were often a little different than they are today. Women wanted to get out from under the same roof as their parents and have kids. When a woman found a decent man who treated her well and seemed like he could provide for her and her children, that was often enough of a foundation to build a marriage. After all, the country was much poorer then, so her parents couldn’t necessarily support her and she didn’t have a lot of job options. A husband was the best financial option most women had back then.

Today, most women can take care of themselves and those who can’t have the federal government helping them, so they don’t NEED a man to take care of them financially. Combine this with the fact that financial opportunities for uneducated and unskilled men are dramatically reduced from the pre-shipping container/pre-computer age and marriage has been forever changed. That male dockworker can no longer support a family by himself and even if the wealthier, more educated female executive were to marry him (and she probably wouldn’t because he has less status than she does), the marriage would be far less stable because financial need wouldn’t hold them together.

This has a lot to do with why divorce happened much less frequently in the past. Not only was it a little scandalous to get divorced, a woman had a lot more worries about how to pay her bills if she decided to go her own way. That combination of financial need and social stigma held people together. Consider that “the 1967 crude (divorce) rate was 8.7 times as large as that for 1867” and it becomes obvious that marriage was a much more certain bet for previous generations of Americans.

As the need for financial security has fallen away, “love” has become the primary motivator of people who want to marry. The problem with that is that love can be one fickle b*tch.

For most people, that hot, passionate love driven by hormones that makes you crazy for someone else typically doesn’t last forever. Additionally, as people say, “familiarity breeds contempt.” When a woman is on year three of sex with the same person, she just picked his stained underwear off the floor again and what she thought were cute little idiosyncrasies early on have started to get on her nerves, “love” has turned out to be a much less effective cement than financial necessity. That’s very important because almost 70 percent of the time the woman is the one who files for divorce.