Marriage today – and its dystopian future

Summary: Technology and ideology have radically changed gender relations in America. Many articles discuss what is happening now, but few speculate about the future. Perhaps we should fear the future.

Walking into the Future
© Saniphoto | Dreamstime.

The world has changed, yet few have noticed. Here is a brief look at the revolution, and more important, what might come next. Many have written about the former but few about the latter. Links go to more detailed discussions and evidence.

Summary: the new world of dating

Dating made sense for a few years before long-term marriage, from age 18 to the mid-twenties. It was an investment by men, where their spending demonstrated their value as providers for their future family. Now the average age of marriage is in the late twenties. A decade or more of dating (aka courtship) — free dinners and movies — is a sweet deal for women. It makes little sense for men.

As Mark Regnerus (assoc. prof of sociology, U Texas-Austin) explains in Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy, the new dynamics of dating favor men. With a some effort and experience, men who play the game can get easy sex while in return giving gifts such as a bag of skittles — or less. See the hook-up culture in full flower at the Olympics, where young women are free of slut-shaming by friends and family.

For details see Dalrock’s “SMP searching costs and the unmourned death of courtship.

Summary: the new world of marriage

Every month brings a new crop of articles by women describing the benefits of marriage (party of a lifetime, pretend vows), then children — then when they are in school comes phase two: divorce, child support, split of community property, and independence. As divorce has become normalized, women become more candid about discussing the new world. Dalrock discusses this in “A cold calculation.” In “All the single mamas: Raising kids isn’t always easier with a partner” Dena Landon explains that she decided that it was easier to eject her disabled husband from the home than to honor her marriage “vows.”

“When I tell people that I’m a single mom, with 60% custody, the typical response is a combination of pity and comments like, ‘you’re so strong’ or ‘what a tough job.’ If I’m not in the mood to engage with the person commenting, I’ll just smile and say, ‘thanks.’ But sometimes I’ll respond with the truth: Actually, it’s easier than being married.’ …

“Other single moms have noted that even if their exes had cooked or helped out with the kids, it’s still easier for these women to go it alone now than to deal with the constant negotiating, tension and passive aggressive behavior around household chores that they experienced during their marriages. …There are no internal struggles …”

Parents (like me) warn their sons about the risks of marriage, advising that it is more important than ever to pick a good woman. This is useless advice, like showing a lot of shiny used cars to young men — but warning them that half of these will explode unexpectedly during the next few years. “Choose wisely” we say. They ask “How do we choose a car that will run reliably for its lifetime?” And we say, “That’s a mystery — good luck!”

“{That is} a strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of Grand Theft Auto V?”
— Wisdom from the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response) supercomputer in the film WarGames.

For more about marriage in our new world, see the posts in section 2 here.

What comes next?

I Know Not ALL Men Are Creepers, But I’m Teaching My Daughter They Are.”
— By Jennifer Jarvis at the aptly named Scary Mommy website.

After 40 years of reforms to our society, we are moving into a new world. Signs appear daily of the coming weirdness. Such as “Raising a Son Within the Princess Culture” by Dresden Shumaker at HuffPo (photo above). Even she worries after finding out that her effeminate son dislikes boys. (H/t Dalrock.)

Women have created a new world. Now young men are responding. Men are becoming reluctant to marry (see the many articles “How do I get my man to marry me?” but few or none asking “How do I get my girl to marry me?”). For more info see…

  1. The feminist revolutionaries have won. Insurgents have arisen to challenge the new order. As always, they’re outlaws.
  2. The war of the sexes heats up: society changes as men learn the Dark Triad.

But so far other than delaying marriage the changes have been relatively small. The best indicators to watch for indications of large-scale changes are the marriage rate and remarriage rate. Both are in slow decline. Why have they not crashed? Thomas Kuhn’s work gives an answer: social systems cannot be proven dysfunctional and abandoned, they can only be replaced by new systems (details here). Most people follow the script, attempting to marry and remarry because that is the only way they know to live.

Watch for the two big changes.

“The world revolves around the creators of new ideas, revolves silently.”
— Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Our current situation seems stable, although dysfunctional. Marriage in its present form does not even make sense. But we will not return to “traditional” values. Technology and ideology have radically changed gender relations in America. I believe the odds are high of radical, even revolutionary, change. New patterns, even new values will emerge. Perhaps neither conservatives nor feminists will like them.

A boy of the future: W Shumaker.
A boy of the future: code name “W.”

Look at that picture of “W”,  a boy of the future from Shumaker’s HuffPo article. What might he become in ten years? A broken wreck, perhaps. He might overcome his mother’s indoctrination and have a normal life. Or he might join millions of feminist-raised men recovering their pride in groups that value manliness, such as Identity Evropa (Wikipedia) or the Proud Boys (Wikipedia). Then his mother can write articles for HuffPo about “My boy, the White Nationalist.” Or worse, “My boy, the Nazi.”

Some people will turn to new religions, or mutant forms of old faiths, for solutions. Fundamentalist Islam has shown that with sufficient effort the clock can be turned back on role of women. See some before-and-after pictures of women in Afghanistan. Similar photos can be found for Iran, Egypt, and other nations. New religions might emerge from the despised and demoralized fringes of society and sweep though America, giving new spirit to the alienated flocks of Americans.

The bottom line: expect the unexpected. New values seldom include moderation or respect those that they replace. I have written scores of posts saying that we should not fear the future. Perhaps I was wrong.

For More Information

The cold equations:

Ideas! For Holiday shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about women and gender issues, especially these about marriage…

  1. Men are abandoning the rat race, & changing American society. — See the data.
  2. Why men are avoiding work and marriage.
  3. Will young men break America’s family structure?
  4. Will today’s young men marry? America’s future depends which of these answers is right.
  5. Our society will be shaped by technology as porn and sexbots destroy 21st century marriage.
  6. For Father’s Day: revolutionary words that will forever change the American family.
  7. Classic films show what marriage was. Facts show its death.
  8. Cheap Sex is the Inconvenient Truth in the end of marriage.
  9. Child support payments create the new American family.

Essential reading showing how we got here

The Privileged Sex
Available at Amazon

The Privileged Sex by Martin van Creveld.

Martin van Creveld is a professor emeritus of history at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and one of the greatest historians of this generation. His book will shatter many of the illusions you have been taught about women in history. Summary by the publisher…

“Ever since Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique back in 1963, all of us have been told that women are discriminated against, oppressed, exploited, and abused by men. The barrage of accusations is intense, relentless, and seems to have neither beginning nor end. But are the charges true? Do women really have a worse time of it than men?

“This volume, one of the very few in any language, takes on these questions head on. Roaming far and wide, it examines many aspects of the problem as it has presented itself from the time of ancient Egypt right down to today’s most advanced Western societies. To anyone accustomed to the tsunami of feminist claims and complaints, the answers will come as a surprise.”

21 thoughts on “Marriage today – and its dystopian future

  1. Parents (like me) warn their sons about the risks of marriage, advising that it is more important than ever to pick a good woman. This is useless advice, like showing a lot of shiny used cars to young men — but warning them that half of these will explode unexpectedly during the next few years. “Choose wisely” we say. They ask “How do we choose a car that will run reliably for its lifetime?” And we say, “That’s a mystery — good luck!”

    One signal that will take some of the mystery out of it is: Does she love and respect her father? It’s no use asking because she will say whatever is pragmatic and then rationalize why the expedient answer was true. So nevermind what she says; we want to know if she obeys him.

    1. Cane,

      That is an interesting selection criteria! It has some operational problems, as usual. The problems highlight the difficult young men have in finding a suitable wife.

      (1) So many children grow up with absent biological fathers. And those that have a non-relative male in the house (or men), experience some level of harassment or abuse from them.

      (2) “we want to know if she obeys him.”

      How does a young man determine that? Esp when dating a women in her twenties, long after moving away from her parents?

      (3) From what I can tell, large number of fathers no longer even expect their pubescent daughters to obey them. It’s not longer a socially mandated — or even accepted — behavior. So the daughter can’t do so.

      Side note: I watch old films (1960s and before) and am frequently amazed at how different the women are from those today. A man could almost pick one (a good girl) at random and have decent odds of it working out well. That’s the plot of many stories from those dark ages. A man and woman are thrown together by random events and become a couple. The story ends before the wedding, but we know the odds are ever in their favor.

    2. Cane,

      Your first comment went in to the spam filter. No comment thread can survive without this AI guardian. It is almost perfect. I check it a few times per day to fish out the rare errors.

    3. Larry,

      I agree it’s no magic bullet. I will (and do) tell my son other things, but obedience to her father is a good sign of how the marriage will go when things get rough, or there are serious disagreements, as there must be in marriages. Responses to your points, respectively:

      (1) This isn’t really a challenge to my idea, but another reason why it is hard to find a good woman. And I agree that a woman who grew up without a father represents an unknown–at best! It is a very good idea to pick one that grew up with a father in the home, and obeys/obeyed him. Because of the choices of the previous generations of women, a large number of today’s young women should be excluded from the pool.

      (2) At some point before engagement the man should meet her parents. Does she seem excited to see her father? Does she sass him? Are they playful with each other? What pattern did the parents model for their daughter? You can tell this by who gets the coffee for whom, how they talk to each other, who plays on their phone–or zones out at the TV–during conversation, and so forth. Regardless: Pick one that you can tell. If you can’t tell–for whatever reason–next her.

      (3) This is true, and a damning indictment of modern fathers. Granted, few fathers either should or even desire to discipline their adult children. (I know I don’t want to, don’t, and probably won’t.) But he should have the balls to tell give them good advice and even instructions (while he lets them make their own decisions) and to express disappointment with disobedience. We’re not trying to find out which fathers are good at controlling their women or kids. We’re trying to find out which daughters respect their men.

      It’s important to note that I do not diminish any of your points above. They are further indicators how things have changed, and how we do not yet have a new way to deal with some of the consequences of those changes. They also tell us that maybe we should look back at changes from before the last 50 years, and how those changes led to the ones with which we now cannot cope; such as adult children (especially women) moving far away from family–the best indicator of what sort of situation a marriage to her will get you into.

    4. Cane,

      “a damning indictment of modern fathers.”

      You’re demanding a lot of fathers. In the real world the roles of parents are largely set by society. Girls see TV, films, and books all portraying fathers as illegitimate obstacles to girl’s growth — if not actual buffoons. Teachers and textbooks agree. Few dads have the personal resources to overcome these things.

      Roles work for most people when supported by society. Salmon successfully swim upstream, but they die in the process.

    5. Larry,

      No, I’m not demanding a lot of fathers. Good advice such as, “Don’t move away from family.”, takes no resources. In fact, he can save resources if he says, “I won’t pay for you to live in a dorm.”, or similar.

      You wrote talk about what power fathers have versus what power TV, movies, etc. have. My response is: So what? I did not propose a better way for a father to influence his daughter. I proposed how to better know what you’re looking at.

      What a man should want to know before he marries a woman is–among other things–does she love and respect her father, or is she rebellious and contentious. Is she led about by fads from TV, movies, books, and so forth, or is she basically grounded in her family and its traditions?

      Don’t misunderstand me: There are not many women who are good bets for marriage; certainly few that we can feel confident they are good bets. Checking for the father’s respect isn’t going to produce more options for a young man, but it’s a good way to know if a shiny new car will blow up on him.

  2. The “spam filter” is automatic and emotionless. It cannot be reasoned with, it cannot be bargained with. It doesn’t feel pity, remorse, or fear.

    Much like the modern woman’s “interest filter.” Women marry across and up status hierarchies. But mostly up, if possible. And for more and more women, the slightest anomaly in the man’s presentation is enough to kick him into eternal purgatory, like filtered spam.

    1. Blue Beard,

      That’s got to be a Best of Thread winner for expressiveness!

      “for more and more women, the slightest anomaly in the man’s presentation is enough to kick him into eternal purgatory”

      But only until they hit the “wall.” Then comes settling for a nice beta provider. Then, should she grow dissatisfied — any of her needs unfulfilled, or just wanting her independence back — comes divorce, splitting the community property, child support, and a New Exciting Life.

  3. Maybe it is worth offering a new service, the ‘Beta Prenup’, for those who marry these ladies….

    The trends outlined suggest that the same strategy could be applied by men married to successful women,
    divorce once they get older and play the field on her dime. After all, the courts cannot be oblivious to reality indefinitely either.

    1. etudiant,

      “the courts cannot be oblivious to reality indefinitely either.”

      They are not “oblivious to reality.” They are shaping it, and know quite well what they are doing.

  4. Maybe marriage needs a entire new value proposition? There’s nothing really compelling about it these days. What problems does marriage solve for men and women respectively in modern times? Meanwhile there is currently zero shame or consequence for living a long-term single life or in racking up huge notch counts. Nobody cares.

    Marriage was supposed to make a man and a woman “respectable” and “responsible”. Important contributing members of society are the married people. But that’s not true anymore either.

    Right now, from my vantage point, marriage is pretty much all vinegar, no sugar.

  5. Great post and discussion as always, Larry. In addition to Cane’s suggestion, I have another test a man looking to marry might employ: “A simple test.”

    The story really happened, but it can accurately be relayed as something the man came across on the internet.

    None of this is foolproof, but hopefully it is another tool a man can use. This test has the advantage of (if delivered correctly) not seeming like a test at all, and is something one could even do before asking a woman out on a date. The sooner you weed out bad prospects the better.

    1. Dalrock,

      Thank you for the pointer! Your website contains a wealth of useful information.

      But on this particular issue I am a skeptic. I doubt many young men can adequately evaluate the suitability of a young woman for long-term marriage.

      For three decades I was in the investment business, which is about the quantification and management of risk. The former takes precedence over the latter, since managing risk for bad bets is usually a fool’s game. That was the point — dark knowledge — of this post.

      This goes to a larger point, about which I’d like to hear your thoughts. For most people a wedding is the biggest party about them ever. The high point is the exchange of vows. But neither party takes them seriously. Both know easy divorce is an option, and one which they fully intend to use. Statistically that’s very true for the woman, of course. Doesn’t this show the rotten foundation of the institution, since it begins with a lie.

      I find it difficult to take modern weddings seriously, with the brides cos-playing Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. They quickly become self-paradies in the light our our near 50% divorce rate. We might as well do it like Ming the Merciless. But who is Ming and who plays the role of Dale?

      Priest: Do you, Ming the Merciless, Ruler of the Universe take this Earthling, Dale Arden to be your Empress of the hour?
      Ming: Of the hour, Yes.
      Priest: Do you promise to use her as you will?
      Ming: Certainly!
      Priest: Not to blast her into space?
      Ming: (silence)
      Priest: …until such time as you get the whim?
      Ming: I do.

       

  6. @Larry

    For three decades I was in the investment business, which is about the quantification and management of risk. The former takes precedence over the latter, since managing risk for bad bets is usually a fool’s game. That was the point — dark knowledge — of this post.

    Cane and I are usually in pretty close alignment. However, I’ll only speak for myself here. I think what may come off as breezy dismissal is actually grim agreement with your thesis. The system is unbelievably corrupt, and the risks are enormous. My only disagreement would be that (depending on what state you live in) it isn’t so much marriage as fatherhood that is the real trap. Either way, it is truly evil.

    I don’t fault any man who looks at the odds and decides the only winning move is to not play. But as a Christian this comes with an enormous cost as well. Not marrying means never having sex in addition to never having children. Faced with those two choices, some men are going to look for ways to improve the odds in their favor, no matter how slightly.

    This goes to a larger point, about which I’d like to hear your thoughts. For most people a wedding is the biggest party about them ever. The high point is the exchange of vows. But neither party takes them seriously. Both know easy divorce is an option, and one which they fully intend to use. Statistically that’s very true for the woman, of course. Doesn’t this show the rotten foundation of the institution, since it begins with a lie.

    I find it difficult to take modern weddings seriously, with the brides cos-playing Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. They quickly become self-paradies in the light our our near 50% divorce rate. We might as well do it like Ming the Merciless. But who is Ming and who plays the role of Dale?

    Right. The whole thing is a farce. If I didn’t believe marriage had profound moral meaning, I would advise men to never marry. And our new definition of marriage starts with the assumption that marriage vows have no moral meaning. One thing that strikes me when I see portrayals of weddings in popular culture is how incredibly old the bride and groom look*. I look at pictures of my own wedding and my wife and I look like kids by comparison. Recently a colleague of mine (who I believe is Mormon) shared pictures of his daughter’s wedding. It was truly beautiful, and they both were clearly both in their very early twenties. It reminded me of my own wedding photos. But this isn’t the norm.

    One of the things that I see is conservatives trying to lecture young men on the moral imperative to marry while simultaneously denying the moral meaning of marriage. See the Weekly Standard article “Happy Valentine’s Day. Now Go Get Married.” for a recent example:

    To restore marriage, people must again observe the two main conventions that used to support the institution. First, adults should not form intimate ties for very long without committing themselves in some formal way to remain together for life.

    Casual sex is fine, but if it gets “serious” you should marry. Moreover, these conservatives want to conserve feminist progress and deny the husband the role of head of the household:

    Any return to marriage norms, however, must take into account the feminist critique. Two generations ago, wives were often subordinate to their husbands or blindly deferred to them. Most advocates of marriage today recognize that the institution can be rebuilt only if it is done so on more egalitarian lines. Husbands and wives must be partners, without either ruling over the other. This does assume, however, that the spouses can work out differences more openly than they often did in the past.

    Likewise, conservatives sell marriage and fatherhood to young men as a way to earn respect, while holding married fathers in contempt. Otherwise, how could they justify ripping his children away and forcing him to pay for the privilege? I’ve written about the writers at National Review taking this stance here: https://dalrock.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/will-wilcox-and-the-men-of-national-review-respect-you-in-the-morning/

    *The AXA commercial where a woman overlooks her soulmate because she is too busy planning for retirement is (unintentionally) laugh out loud funny and captures the modern view perfectly: https://www.ispot.tv/ad/7Tio/axa-equitable-retirement

    1. Cane and I are usually in pretty close alignment. However, I’ll only speak for myself here. I think what may come off as breezy dismissal is actually grim agreement with your thesis.

      Yes, exactly.

  7. Larry (and Dalrock) –

    One idea I’ve heard bandied about as a “solution” to the marriage crisis is to get the state out of the marriage business altogether – if a couple wanted to get married in the church, that would be between them and God, but the state would no longer issue licenses to couples seeking to get married.

    What are your thoughts on that solution?

    1. Stick,

      Like most glibertarian ideas, it is hilarious. First, most of the State’s involvement comes from the need to provide for children. That process is already disconnected from marriage, mostly.

      The second function of marriage is division of community property. Again, some method needs to do this. Either using the State’s existing joint ownership titles, or contracts — subject to judicial review and enforcement.

      The other functions of marriage can already be done by other legally sanctioned means, for those that don’t want to marry. For example, having a significant other make critical medical decisions when you are incapacitated using a Durable Power of Attorney. Again, the State is already involved. Ditto estate planning. Marriage bundles together many of these functions. Unbundling them means that people will have take care of each by themselves. But they won’t. So the State will have to make provisions for handling these.

      Perhaps they could create an institution for people living together, having children, and intermingling assets and responsibilities! So each couple could just sign one document and have a proven set of mechanisms at work. We should give it a catchy name. Perhaps have a ceremony for it!

  8. It’s worse than you think. Men today are not only not told how to choose a good woman, they are sabotaged with intentionally bad anti-advice that is intended to enable the worst female behavior possible. I have seen many articles in the last year in praise of female infidelity, encouraging men to “man up and marry those sluts” as Dalrock has put it. Women are taught to be bitchy, rude, unkempt, fat, and ugly, while men are shamed for complaining about it.

    Meanwhile, any person who gives real, useful, workable real-world advice for choosing a good woman is shamed and attacked for it. It is simply forbidden. Any man who even suggests it’s *possible* for a woman to be a bad bet for marriage is deemed a misogynist.

    1. javier,

      There is a lot of truth in what you say. But not surprising. That advice is from leftists, leftist feminists, and women “talking their book” (speaking in their own interest).

      Personally, I find Dalrock’s posts about marital advice from Christian conservatives to be even more depressing. Quite mad, unscriptural, very Leftist-friendly. I’d like to know why they have adopted those views.

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