An easy fix to make marriages stronger and work better

Summary: Both Left and Right criticize the institution of marriage. The high divorce rate, with its annual list of casualties (adults and children) shows its dysfunctionality. Here is a simple solution, a patch until larger reforms become possible.

Newly Married Couple
Dreamstime photo © Popa Sorin.

Laura posted a simple, powerful comment at Dalrock’s website.

“I’ve been reading your posts and frankly find them very logical from a man’s point of view. But I don’t understand (and I’m not trolling here) why women would enter marriages as most men have described them here (ie lacking agency and subservient to another). Essentially, I understand why ‘modern marriage doesn’t serve the modern man. Would your ideal marriage be better than the current system because it would, unlike the current system, serve men and women? Or is it better just for men?”

The context of her question is wrong in several ways. She should ask some grandmothers why women were eager to marry under the “traditional” system. Also, “modern” marriage does not serve “modern” men well – and past generations of men would consider it insane. Patriarchy was the reward for men to marry and join the rat race (see here and here); we have nothing to replace it. But the question is important and seldom discussed.

She was treated badly by commenters at Dalrock’s website (comments often become a pack of rabid dogs unless moderated). Let’s try to give her a first cut at an answer.

Wedding garter on bride's leg.
It’s a contract. Don’t get distracted. Photo © Melinda Nagy.

The current system of marriage is grossly unfair to men and very often provides poor care to children. See these posts for details. The goal of reformers should be a sustainable institution that is fair to husband and wife, good for the children, and useful for society.

This is the fifth in a series about solutions to the gender wars, and reform to marriage is the key part of that program. I do not know what “the” reform might look like. But this series describes how to get there. It is an operational solution. In life we often just see the next step, not the end of the road. The next step for marriage is obvious.

Marriage is a contract. Today, marriage vows range from meaningless to perjury (“until death do us part” said by people who consider divorce an option). The process of getting married works to produce delusional ignorance by the two parties signing the contract. Such a process would be considered fraud for any other form of contract. The solution is simple. Sunlight. Both bride and groom should sign a notarized acknowledgement to a disclosure form that states the following facts in clear language.

Fair contracts disclose the key information both parties need to know. An obvious model for reforming the marriage contract is buying a home. This is usually the third largest financial commitment that people make – behind marriage and having children. The purchase contract discloses the vital information about the terms of the deal.

woman in a wedding dress on a background of the sky
Do not get distracted. © Sergey Kravtsov.

(1) Marriage is a contract with terms set by the State and administered with massive discretion by its institutions. The State can change those terms at any time. If you move to another State, you become ruled by that State’s rules.

(2) Describe each parties’ obligations to each other. Include the definition of spousal abuse, and that the definitions of that are changing. Disclose that sex is not an obligation of either party.

(3) Describe the process and obligations of having children. The wife has full discretion to have children, and to abort a pregnancy.

(4) Describe the process of divorce. How it works, including spousal support, determination of child custody, and child support.

  • Disclose that currently almost half of marriages end in divorce; most often initiated by the wife.
  • Disclose that the wife determines custody of the children except in cases of manifest incapacity. She gets full custody if she wants it. If not, then the Court mandates joint custody, unless she allows the husband to have it.
  • Disclose that child support obligations can be increased over time if the father earns more, but are seldom decreased if his earnings fall.
  • Disclose if this State allows exemption from child support when DNA testing shows that husband is not the biological father.

(5) Disclose in writing any conditions either party sets to the marriage. For example, that household chores will be evenly divided.

Now you are ready to get married.

Those couples that sign have given informed consent.  I predict that their divorce rate will be lower. Of course, there will be fewer weddings – and fewer children raised by divorced mothers.

See the other posts in this series about the gender wars

Gender Roles
Unisex figures. It’s not a war between the sexes.

Describing the situation and how we got here.

  1. As the Left’s social revolution wins victories, a revolt begins.
  2. Do we want to bring back traditional marriage? What is traditional marriage?
  3. Men are going Galt. Marriage is dying. — A review of books from the cutting edge of the revolution.
  4. Red Pill knowledge is poison to marriage.

About solutions.

  1. Men find individual solutions.
  2. Modern dating: is the only winning move is not to play?
  3. The end to World War G (the gender wars)
  4. Men standing together can end the gender wars.
  5. The next phase of the gender wars will end the gender wars.

Ideas! For 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 society and gender issuesabout feminism, and about marriage. Also see the tip jar at the top of the right sidebar.

Books about the new era of gender relations

Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters by psychologist Helen Smith (2013). One of the major books about the counter-revolution.

The Privileged Sex by Martin van Creveld. You will never again see women’s role in society in the conventional way after reading this, by one of our era’s greatest historians.

Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - and Why It Matters
Available at Amazon.
The Privileged Sex
Available at Amazon.

 

32 thoughts on “An easy fix to make marriages stronger and work better

  1. Another non-traditional set of wedding vows

    From the film Flash Gordon (1980). But who is Ming and who plays the role of Dale? With the divorce laws tilted to women’s advantage …

    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.

     

  2. She should ask some grandmothers why women were eager to marry under the “traditional” system.

    There were two reasons. The most important was, they had little choice of any alternative. First in whether to marry. If they wanted to have children, a powerful drive in most women, they had to marry. Second as to the form of the marriage. There was only one sort of marriage or cohabitation on offer.

    Another consideration was there was little alternative to marriage if you had to support yourself. There were serious bars to education and employment.

    It wasn’t necessarily that they positively wanted it as it was,

    Both of these things have changed, making it much less necessary to marry in order to have children. However the thing that has not changed is that marriage is still a take it or leave it proposition. The state still sets the terms, its just that they are different now from what they were. But the penalties for rejecting the contract altogether have almost vanished, and the penalties for parenthood without it have vanished. Some would say the structure now positively encourages parenthood without marriange.

    A background reason underneath this change is antibiotics. The current period of lots of casual hookups which the young enjoy today would have been a certain route to early incurable venereal disease in 1850. Or indeed anytime after about 1600 in Europe. Read Ibsen’s Ghosts, or find out what the prevalence of syphilis was among the French in the 19th century. Consider how many of the French literati of the 19c died of late stage syphilis. Almost all. The arrival of antibiotics removed one of the big incentives to sexual restraint and monogamy.

    You can by the way make the contract more fit for purpose without making women subservient in the institution. She is quoted as asking “why women would enter marriages as most men have described them here (ie lacking agency and subservient to another)”.

    This is perhaps the wrong question. The right question would be: why does the female partner in a marriage have to be subservient or submissive or whatever the phrase is, in order to remedy the present dysfunctionality? Why can you not have a structure which is fair but equal?

    Take DNA testing as an example. A man should not have any support obligations to a child not biologically his own, and which he has not formally adopted. But you can put this principle into law, as indeed the UK does, without requiring Old Testament “submission” from the female partner.

    1. Submission to the husband is not just “Old Testament” but is featured very prominently in the New Testament as well. Having a marriage without submission is fine, but it wouldn’t be a Christian one.

    2. George,

      Yet again we see extraordinary inability to see through your heavy duty ideological blinders. You just see “Crimethink” and your mind stops. It’s sad.

      (1) “There were two reasons.”

      That kind of wild guessing doesn’t help. I doubt Laura’s grandmother would give your explanation, unless she was a social science professor or radical feminist. Laura sounds like a Millennial, or younger. Her grandmother would be a Boomer, with many choices — and did not see marriage as “submission.”

      (2) “You can by the way make the contract more fit for purpose without making women subservient in the institution. …The right question would be: why does the female partner in a marriage have to be subservient or submissive” …But you can put this principle into law, as indeed the UK does, without requiring Old Testament “submission” from the female partner.”

      That’s the far left mind at work, who think non-leftist are evil morons. There are those on the far far right right who believe in submission of women. Everyone else considers that is nuts. Your mind is locked into False Dilemma thinking, preventing you from seeing the discussion. It’s pitiful, but a score of “discussions” with you show it’s hopeless.

      (3) “Why can you not have a structure which is fair but equal?”

      You have commented on several posts that answer that. As I said then, your blinders prevented you from seeing anything but Crimethink. Sad.

    3. “Submission to the husband — That’s not going to happen in America. The social, technological, and economic forces changing society can’t be turned back.”

      Both the wife and husband would have to be religious for that part to even be possible. Especially the wife would have to be like Athanasius did on the doctrine of the trinity who was most famous for this.

      ” Athanasius Contra Mundum (Latin for Athanasius Against the World).”

      ”There are those on the far far right right who believe in submission of women. Everyone else considers that is nuts.”

      Indeed the overton window has shifted quite a bit. Only the very religious will do this no matter what. But in my honest opinion that is historic Christianity especially that which formulated the scriptures in the 1st place.

  3. I see a lot of gibberish here about law, sociology, history, and perhaps culture, but where is the focus on good interpersonal communications skills? Any relationship is at first a dialogue; if one or both parties are focused on legalese, there isn’t much of a dialogue.

    1. Ed,

      “I see a lot of gibberish here about law, sociology, history, and perhaps culture,”

      Can you be more specific? That’s quite a weird comment.

      “but where is the focus on good interpersonal communications skills?”

      You believe the high divorce rate results from bad comm skills? How do you intend to change that? Counseling, both pre-marital and during marriage, has been shown to be ineffective.

    2. Good communications, like trust, are things that happen in a context. The determining context is the legal structure. There are aspects of the current structure that are not fit for purpose, because they produce distrust by the incentives they create. This in turn leads to poor communication.

      The solution is to make the contract more fit for purpose, one cautious step at a time.

      One of the sadder aspects of the present situation is that people who, if they made the effort, and stayed together and worked out their difficulties, might stay married and be happy long term, now have been persuaded that marriage is simply a matter of how they feel now. Which, legally speaking, it is – women in particular can walk any time they want, and in some ways have financial incentives to do so. And so they do walk when they would have been better off and happier staying together, but only see that later when it is too late.

      As a society we are incentivizing short term relationships and sexual promiscuity. This is fundamental, its part of the legal structure. and it seems to be a case where the result of all our individual choices is a situation none of us would have assented to had we had other framework choices available.

    3. George,

      (1) “And so they do walk when they would have been better off and happier staying together, but only see that later when it is too late.”

      I love reading your omniscient analysis. How do you know that most women who divorce — or more precisely, frivolously divorce (e.g., not for drugs, crime, infidelity, etc) — are not “better off”? Or happier?

      Girls are raised to be leaders, and to value independence above all things. See the Girl Scout’s material, or any feminist tract. They are taught that “women …fish …bicycles.” It is logical that they might consider regaining their independence more important than reduced income. In most contexts, that would be considered a principled decision.

      There is almost certainly research out there about women’s satisfaction, well-being, and happiness after divorce. It would be tricky to do, but the results of a reliable survey would be interesting to see.

      (2) “a situation none of us would have assented to had we had other framework choices available.”

      Quite false. I suggest you listen to some radical feminists.

    4. How do you know that most women who divorce — or more precisely, frivolously divorce (e.g., not for drugs, crime, infidelity, etc) — are not “better off”? Or happier?

      I do not, and I didn’t say I did. Or did not mean to say I did.

      What I know is some anecdotal cases, where people have split up, and later one has wanted to get back together, the other refused, then that one wanted to get together, and this time it was the opposite. I think in the cases I am familiar with that they could have, and in a previous era would have, worked out their differences and resumed happiness. And my impression, its no more, is that in our current structure that is not all that uncommon. I think at least some people are separating for reasons which in the past would not and should not have led to separation. I think marriage is something you have to work at, and we have sadly been systematically abolishing the incentive to do it, have stopped people regarding it is even a desirable thing. And I think the existence of these cases is a very sad consequence of what we have done.

      You are right to correct me on the ‘none of us’. Yes, the radical feminists do indeed have an agenda and probably regard the present situation as fine and dandy and if there is anything wrong with it, its that it does not go far enough. I should have said ‘most of us’, or ‘many of us’ because (again anecdotally) I think most or many is true. There are a lot of unhappy people out there who are doing their best to get a happy and fulfilled life and relationship and cannot understand why they and their friends find it so difficult. And yet many of the choices they make individually are a sort which when they are all added up lead to a society in which this is very difficult.

      You have posted some accounts by women of what it feels like to live precisely this phenomenon.

      I am not by the way left wing in any way, not in outlook or voting habits. I do not regard anything I have read here or on Dalrock as ‘crimethink’. I certainly do not think that non-leftists are ‘evil morons’. I’m probably regarded by my friends as a great deal too ready to read right or conservative writers and take them seriously. At the moment I am reading Roger Scruton with great interest and some amusement. I would be grateful if you would stop calling me leftist when I simply am not.

      But I am not an uncritical consumer of any thought.

    5. George,

      I respond to direct quotes in order to avoid your kind of reply.

      George: “And so they do walk when they would have been better off and happier staying together, but only see that later when it is too late.”

      Me: “How do you know that most women who divorce — or more precisely, frivolously divorce (e.g., not for drugs, crime, infidelity, etc) — are not ‘better off’?”

      George: “I do not, and I didn’t say I did.”

      Don’t keep trying to avoid responsibility for what you say. Just admit you were wrong and move on. It happens to everyone.

    6. Correction: I see that I didn’t state that precisely.

      I should have written “How do you know that most many women who divorce …are not ‘better off’?” Divorce is a commonplace event in society. Evidence is needed before assuming a large fraction of women are divorcing in error, so that they are worse off (in their terms) than when married.

      Another indicator: women are prolific writers about their lives, with their first person accounts dominating much of the media. How many articles at women’s websites, women’s magazines, and women-friendly websites (eg, Salon, Slate) are about their divorce as a mistake?

  4. Divorce – been there, done that. Dueling is the answer. The winner calls the shots. I foreseee a greater success rate for men unless they are a skinny jean wearing Pacific Northwest fairies.

    I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with this nonsense. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful loving woman who is independent but not brain washed by feminist propaganda.

  5. And watch the movie, Divorce Corp.
    .
    .
    Editor’s note: About the film, from its website.

    “A shocking exposé of the inner workings of the $50 billion a year U.S. family law industry, Divorce Corp shines a bright light on the appalling waste, and shameless collusive practices seen daily in family courts. It is a stunning documentary film that anyone considering marriage or divorce must see.”

    1. Sven,

      Thanks for the link to that documentary. I added a note to your comment describing it.

  6. Behind the lines in Vietnam, squads of commandos called Studies and Observation Groups would leave boobytrapped ammunition insinuated among the NVA ammo supplies, usually as a single round in a magazine. Project Eldest Son, as it was known, caused ammunition to explode when fired. The NVA/VC eventually became feared any ammunition stored near where SOG teams were encountered, even when most of it was good.

    The parallels are obvious. Without disseminating knowledge, you have sporadic misfires. Once you recognize the pattern, behaviors change. Now even the good ammunition doesn’t get fired. Fewer weddings indeed.

    1. Would the feminists be the SOG and the men be the NVA/VC in your analogy? That would mean the men have been allowing the women to spike their load so they would be not be able to shoot, ah, straight, if at all.

  7. Marriage is objectively beneficial to women by any metric you choose to measure. It increases their standard of living by 75%, raises them out of poverty, gives them access to more wealth, makes them happier, raises their social status, gives them help raising children, increases their children’s life outcomes massively across the board, and gives them someone to take care of them in their old age.

    Laura should be asking why feminists want to take this away from her? All women give up in this is sexual autonomy; it’s a stellar deal. Ever tried to deal with an aging spinster? They’re utterly dead inside, their bodies alive but their souls long since perished.

    1. Javier,

      That’s the key point. When people say that women’s marriages are better without patriarchy, ask how many articles they’ve seen by men complaining that they can’t get women to commit to marriage? But it’s become an entire genre for women.

  8. Just a guy,

    I am a guy married twice, I am sorry it is shit when it happens, but I don’t believe women have the upper hand, we both loose.

    I divorced at 33, my first wife was 27, (married at 28 and 22) she said to me at the end, it will be harder for me to find a second husband, than you a second wife. The main cause of our divorce was her Father, I was made redundant and took a lower job (all I could get) and then a second evening job, and knew I would get better once the recession ended. It did and I did. I don’t believe she saw much of her Father after our divorce, until his death.

    At 36, I met a girl of 25 and married her (40 and 28). Has it been a bed of roses, hell yes, but as any gardener knows roses have thorns, and at times we get cut and hurt.

    At 54, I know I would get another woman, even with three kids to pay for, would my 43 year old wife, I think less chance, look at the stats.

    If it happens don’t look in the rear mirror. Love your kids and look forward to the new road after the sharp turn.

    The past is not all roses, my current wife’s grandmother hated her husband and always planned what she would do when he died, he being 12 year older than her ( he out lived he by 10 years!), her mother and father have a hard life at times, with his depression, but they are married and intend to be. Have we had fights and been through shit, hell yes, we are just part of the 50% that will not divorce come hell or high water.

    Has writing this brought a tire to my eye, yes.

    My sister has had less luck with Peter Pans, they prefer to play Game Boy or football with kids.

    I am a Brit in Australia, so understand little of US, but have visited the US many times.

    1. Just a guy,

      Such first person accounts are interesting, but obscure the facts of what’s happening at a society level – and how society is changing.

      “My sister has had less luck with Peter Pans, they prefer to play Game Boy or football with kids.”

      I suggest reading some posts about marriage — see the links at the For More Information Section — to get a clearer understanding of what’s happening.

  9. “(1) Marriage is a contract with terms set by the State and administered with massive discretion by its institutions. The State can change those terms at any time. If you move to another State, you become ruled by that State’s rules.”

    Would the states require an interstate compact for the marriage contracts you suggested to be legal? Would this mean that there has to be an a new federal agency like the Department of Marriage to ensure that all contracts are regulated?

    I am not disagreeing with your premise, I am thinking of the groundwork that needs to be laid for that to happen especially since the The Commerce Clause might get involved and how some people already consider marriage to be commodity in this day and age.

    1. Not that the federal agency responsible would be the Department of Marriage because what red-blooded American wants to suffer torment from the domination of the DOM?

    2. DerMaiden,

      “Would the states require an interstate compact for the marriage contracts you suggested to be legal?”

      I described the current system, not a change.

      I did not suggest any changes to the marriage contract. Merely require a disclosure form to be signed before, much as is done in many (most?) states for home purchases — and in all States before opening bank and brokerage accounts.

    3. Larry,

      Ahhh, alright. I was thinking about the future about how the system might change, not the present. My fault there.

    4. Der Maliden,

      Understandable, since this series is about solutions. This post is about a patch to the existing system.

      My focus is not on what the future system might look like — since I don’t have the slightest clue — but how to make reforms. It’s the opposite of the usual gig, where people describe dream houses but don’t explain how to build them.

  10. “Submission to the husband”

    That’s not going to happen in America. The social, technological, and economic forces changing society can’t be turned back.

    Low birthrates and feminism were a problem as Rome declined. Presumably, instead of birth control pills, women were using abortifacients or coat hangers of some sort. Or they just weren’t having sex. We have had a technological revolution in birth control, but declining birthrates and marriage rates have happened before in human history. Societies that don’t reproduce cease to exist. I define traditional marriage as one man and one woman for life, as God defined it when he made Eve out of Adam’s rib and brought her to him. Jesus recognized this arrangement also. I think there was plenty of marriage for romantic reasons in the ancient world also, which is why one of the apostles (Paul or Peter) admonishes us that it’s better to marry than burn with desire for one-another.

    If “submission to the husband” is not going to happen in America, we can’t restore the basic building block of society so let’s stop looking for solutions and enjoy the decline.

  11. Larry,

    If you are looking for books about the effect of divorce on the people involved done in a scientific study,then you should look at at Second Chances: Men, Women, and Children a Decade After Divorce by Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee. Also the follow up book The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study.

    People who write about their experiences are still anecdotal. It one person giving their experience from their view point. These two books follow a more rigorous discipline. We are already at a point of tipping the scales to the negative. Over half of the adult population is single in the US. Dateline or 60 minutes did a special sometime in the past 2 years. We are heading for very difficult times ahead.

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