We teach boys that marriage doesn’t work

Summary: What are we teaching young men about marriage? Not by our words, but by our actions? This lesson will shape America in the 21st century.

Divorce, not marriage, is the lesson we teach boys.

Bride and groom - Dreamstimefree_6147576
ID 6147576 © Kornilovdream | Dreamstime.

As a Boy Scout Troop leader, I met a group of extraordinary men. Men with integrity, strength of character and body, successful in the world. The opportunity to work with these men was the largest influence we had on the young men in the Troop. “More is caught than taught.” That is, we lead by example. We have kept in touch with our Scout as they moved out into the world. We advise them, hear of their deeds – and they watch us.

What is the big lesson these young men learn from us? One by one, they see marriages fail. Most divorces are initiated by wives. This the background of their lives. This is a core reality of our time.

From my work helping the Blue Star Moms and editing the FM website, I have come to know some impressive veterans. Strong men who are impressive in several dimensions. Today I got yet email from one, a message I see quite often. His wife attacked their bank accounts, served him with a “protective order,” and filed for divorce. These orders claim harrassment or assault, and are an easily deployed and powerful tool used mostly by women in divorce cases (see here and here).

In decades as an investment advisor, I have seen the same drama played out countless times.

Girls’ Game

There is much chatter these days about men using “Game.” It is mostly big talk and imaginary posturing.

In fact our time is shaped by Girls’ Game: romance the man, stage the party-of-her-life, marry, have kids, divorce when they are in school – then get community property, child support, and independence. The husband provides support during those first few difficult years raising the children, then is dumped. She then gets the children she wants without the bother of having a husband. It is the logical strategy for women raised to value their independence above all else.

Sound data is rare, since In 1996 the National Center for Health Statisitics discontinued funding to states for the collection of detailed marriage and divorce data. We saved pennies per person! (The elephant is powerful but prefers to be blind.) But perhaps a third of marriages end this way. The shadow of this frequent event affects most families.

Girls’ Game was an immense success for the women of the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. Combined with increased access to higher education and careers, this is the closest any generation of women has come to “having it all.”

One result of Girls’ Game: in 2005/06 less 60% of US adolescents (11, 13, and 15 years old) lived with both birth parents (per the OCED Family Database), the lowest level in the OCED. Today probably even fewer do.

What do young men learn from this?

Men trod paths blazed for them by prior generations. Young men do not just learn from the strong men around them. They aspire to be like them (“role models” in modern cant). Today’s young men look at these older men and see that their education and career success – decades of hard work in the rat race – mean nothing to the wives that dump them (other than cash). Many draw the logical conclusion: “if these big men couldn’t make marriage work, I probably can’t either.” Some will take this logic one step farther and drop out of the rat race. This might explain a mystery that has economists guessing.

“During the 1996–2016 period, the nonparticipation rate increased the most for younger men of prime working age, those age 25 to 34. In terms of education, the largest increase in nonparticipation was seen among men with the middle levels of educational attainment – those with either (1) a high school diploma but no college, (2) some college, or (3) an associate’s degree.”
— “Men’s declining labor force participation” by Douglas Himes in the BLS’ Monthly Labor Review, May 2018.

A man with few aspirations can live just fine outside the rat race. No great career, but steady work. No long-term relationships with women, just casual sex (much, little, or none depending on one’s taste). Lots of booze, drugs, sports, and games. No ties to the community, nation, or religion – none of whom have done much for them.

Patriarchy was the reward to men for running the rat race. This is the implicit subject of countless books, plays, films, and TV shows. One of the best – most stark, no sugar-coating – is the wonderful film A Thousand Clowns (1965).

What comes next?

America provides special courses for girls. Scholarships for girls. College programs for girls. Films are carefully scrutinized for correct attitudes about women. A flood of media in every form counsel women to own the future. Governments are taking the first step to enforce quotas (e.g., California), although informal quotas are commonplace in public and private agencies.

I wonder if all this is in vain, and if men’s decisions will shape the future of America. Will the men of Generation Z join the rat race, marry, and help build communities for the 21st century? Not many need choose a different path to radically change America in ways we cannot predict – but are unlikely to be good.

Other posts in this series

  1. Can a strong America be built with broken families?
  2. We teach boys that marriage doesn’t work.
  3. Women embrace higher values, destroying their families.
  4. America’s families are broken. Dreams won’t build new ones.

For More Information

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 women and the gender wars, about marriage, about fathers, about divorce, and especially these posts about the modern American family …

  1. Will today’s young men marry? America’s future depends on the answer.
  2. Why men are avoiding work and marriage.
  3. The coming crash as men and women go their own way.
  4. Men are going Galt. Marriage is dying. – A review of books from the cutting edge of the revolution.
  5. America begins its post-marriage experiment.
  6. Becoming a post-marriage America: see the stories!
  7. Liberated women still need men. – Who knew?
  8. Marriage dying. Less sex. More loneliness. Society dying.
  9. Top pop stars prepare women for loneliness.
  10. Why are men going Galt and saying “no” to the rat race & marriage!
  11. Can a strong America be built with broken families?

Two key books about modern marriage

The classic: Men and Marriage by George Gilder.

Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters by Helen Smith.

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

35 thoughts on “We teach boys that marriage doesn’t work”

  1. I will say it is amusing how women as a whole desire both a “hard charging” “inspiring” career, while also finding a man who earns at least as much as them, with more being the preference. For some reason they can’t make the connection between their group success in the working world and the lack of “respectable” men who don’t live with Mommy.

    A sane world would acknowledge that men want to be providers and women want to be provided for. But instead we make our women think they should want to be providers and yell at our men for the results, which is the inability compete with the women society has forced then to battle.

  2. Interesting to read your article on the same morning as I read: “Why the patriarchy is killing men” by Liz at the WaPo – “Gender equality isn’t just good for women. It also saves men’s lives.” Plank is executive producer and host at Vox Media and author of the new book For the Love of Men: A Vision for Mindful Masculinity.

    I sense there’s truth in both of these perspectives but no idea what could or should be done about it.

    You make a strong point in your and Dalrock’s many articles about girls game and the damage that divorce by bank withdrawal is doing, and the lessons it teaches boys. Not sure that returning to patriarchy is possible or a good idea however. One thing all of these articles does demonstrate is that being selfish and cruel is a human problem and isn’t restricted to one gender.

    1. Digadigadig,

      “I sense there’s truth in both of these perspectives”

      Always it is men whose behavior needs to be modified – for their own good, of course. Totalitarian thinking is quite popular these days, as always. Perhaps we should let people lead their own lives, without Big Brother or Big Mother worrying about us – and using government power to change our culture. Perhaps the government would work better if re-focused on its intended role in the US.

      “Not sure that returning to patriarchy is possible or a good idea however.”

      That’s missing the point. We’re still at the diagnosis stage, understanding what has changed and the resulting effects. The Left is running a vast experiment on America, tinkering with our culture guided only by their ideology. They will continue to experiment on us – esp our children – until that is understood. You appear to believe that the experimenters and subjects are morally equivalent, which is …interesting.

      “One thing all of these articles does demonstrate is that being selfish and cruel is a human problem and isn’t restricted to one gender.”

      You just discovered this?

  3. “Not sure that returning to patriarchy is possible or a good idea however.”

    Whatever patriarchy even means. Maybe it means an era in which men weren’t disparaged constantly? Maybe it means clear gender roles? Maybe it means men were allowed to follow their own imperatives and not filter their lives through what women decide for them?

    But it’s “not a good idea” to return to the same societal structure we had between 1840-1960. There was nothing produced in those years! Nothing strong or positive going on then

  4. I recently read Michael Houellebecq’s “Submission”, a book about France becoming Muslim and an atheist professor’s journey to becoming a Muslim. Rod Dreher talks highly of it as a powerful indictment of the failures of modernity and its vulnerability.

    One of themes is also about establishing a real patriarchy, with polygamy. As depicted, most men would be far happier in such a society. Fascinating work.

    Enlightenment society works with a strong moral code. One of factors in the recent Ahmari French debate over conservatism is that “neutral space” isn’t really neutral, and French’s fighting for it and celebrating Drag Queen Story Hour means he is fighting for the other side.

    Divorce should have a stigma and should not give mothers abandoning their husbands a golden ticket. Single motherhood should be a place of shame. Drag queens shouldn’t be celebrated, but isolated out of public view.

    We destroyed a moral, but imperfect, society. In its place is a land of corruption, from high to low. I suspect only general failure and societal destruction will restore the balance.

    1. Gaius,

      ” with polygamy. As depicted, most men would be far happier in such a society.”

      That’s obviously false. Since the number of men and women is roughly equal, more women for some men means no women for other men. Polygamous societies occur where there is a high level of inequality, since it is in effect the rich hoarding yet another scarce “resource” – women. These tend to be poor (unless they’re sitting on some valuable natural resource) and backwards societies – since they cannot effectively mobilize their people’s energies.

      1. We’re already on to a type of unacknowledged polygamy. Only a very small percentage of men have sexual privileges with healthy women. Fat women (80%) don’t count. They can serve as sexual receptacles at times but don’t really matter. Men married to fat women are living in a state of complete cultural/societal servitude. Man-Up tradconnery is running on fumes. A porned out generation of young men are not going to wife up this army of fat girls. So we have an invisible polygamy right now and we are decaying by the hour.

      2. This seems germane. – The Economist: “The link between polygamy and war” – “Plural marriage, bred of inequality, begets violence.” Excerpt:

        “Because polygamy is illegal in most rich countries, many Westerners underestimate how common it is. More than a third of women in West Africa are married to a man who has more than one wife. Plural marriages are plentiful in the Arab world, and fairly common in South-East Asia and a few parts of the Caribbean.”

    2. “Single motherhood should be a place of shame.”

      No. VOLUNTARY single motherhood should be a place of shame. Shaming widows will boomerang. It is a well established tactic of those who “oppose” anything traditional to use weaponized compassion as a wedge to give cover to the irresponsible/immoral as social order crumbles. The most obvious example is the “rape exception” for abortion.

      1. BikerDad,

        Thank you for pointing out that sloppy expression. That’s always useful to do.

        I doubt, however, anyone proposes shaming widows. Treating widows and orphans well is a core belief of Western civ going back to biblical times.

  5. On the subject of polygamy we don’t have direct polygamy in the Western, but we do have a kind of indirect form, serial monogamy.

    Only the rich in Muslim countries have a second or third wife and very few in modern times have a fourth, I believe that the Koran demands that each wife be given a house equal to the last and so on, so you need to run two or more households. Normally as the first wife ages, then a second and then a third are married and the husband gets a younger and more sexual receptive wife each time. .

    In the West, when a rich guy in his 40’s looks at his 40 odd wife, with a body that has borne two or three kids, and sees he is still fit and is an excellent earner, then the 20 odd secretary flirts with him all the time, he divorces wife one, looses the house and pays out, but gets the new wife and he settle down. If rich enough some of these guys repeat the process in their 50’s, I had an old boss who did this three time, and was having kids with the third wife in his 50’s. He had a Trust Fund and the money was protected, but not the income flow. The boss would say with great pride, at 26 I married a 23 year old, at 36 I married a 23 year old and at 51 i married a 27 year, so I have matured! He had 2 or 3 children with each wife, 7 or 8 children in total. The only difference to a rich Muslim is my old boss would have stayed married to them all, if he had been a Muslim.

    I think this is just a facet of society, richer type A guys get more girls and they can get girls younger than them.

    1. For every man who dumps his wife for the hot, young secretary there are about 20 women who dump their husband due to some EPL fantasy or general unhappiness or for social media “I’m a survivor” faux glories. So, meh, very pointless thing for you to bring up. Men leaving their wives is not nearly the primary issue. Not even close.

    2. Just a Guy,

      “On the subject of polygamy we don’t have direct polygamy in the Western, but we do have a kind of indirect form, serial monogamy.”

      Serial monogamy is nothing like polygamy, because it does not change the availability of women to men. Also, there are too few rich men in America for their serial wives to have much affect on wider society.

  6. Just a guy,
    We all get what you are claiming about the modern sexual market place. AND, we ask this question:
    What percent of men in real life these days fit your example of some guy with a massive un-attachable trust fund that empowerers him to serially plunder the Poon without any divorce/financial risk?
    00.23 % ?
    Dude, you are giving cuckholdary a bad name…

    1. I was lucky at 35 and divorced, I met a 24 year old Australian travelling around in Europe, at 57 we are still married with kids. Would I have liked to look after someone else’s kids – no way. I work with guys in that situation, they can’t discipline or say anything to the kids even when young, but must pay the bills and play Daddy .. now that is a cuckhold situation by definition..

      My kids will have any wealth they get put in a Testamentary Trust on our death, it doesn’t cost that much, but nor is there that much.

      Most medical and legal people have a Trust for protection if sued, as do most builders, my Father was an electrician and his lawyer got him to put assets in a Trust even 50 years ago. It cost a weeks wages to set up, but saved that much each year in income allocation to lower earners and us kids, we got our tax free allowance twice a year Christmas and Birthdays. When we moved house, the new house went in the Trust and we paid a pepper corn rent (don’t think you still do that on a residential house).

      A single guy especially at the start should set up a Trust and put all the assets they acquire in it, then if the worst happens they keep the assets. That is how I will advise my two sons and daughter.

  7. Larry, you often mention scouting very positively. My own experiences of it date back over 60 years, to the early 1950s in the UK. When I look back on it, it strikes me as completely weird. There were all these strange chants, it was a sort of odd mixture of Kipling and Edwardian England with vaguely survivalist elements. Dib dib dib, and Akela.

    I can see that for the pre WWI British world, it made a certain kind of sense, we learned stuff that would have been useful had we been sent out to the Empire and living in a rural environment. We learned thing like how to cook bread sticks over a fire, how to make rudimentary structures with timber and lashings, various sorts of knots, digging latrines, finding our way. And the strange chants largely drawn as I recall from elements of the Jungle Books.

    It didn’t strike me that the men in charge were very inspiring role models of being a man. Being a man in the society in which I was growing up didn’t seem to have anything to do with what we were doing in scouting. It was already quite problematic, but scouting was not helping.

    At the same period, we were obliged to be in the cadets. We learned to shoot bolt action .22 rifles, to polish our boots and press very thick wool battledress uniforms, to use Blanco on webbing, to drill in a style that would have been an essential skill in the days of pike and musket. And on field days, we learned how to run across an open field to attack a defended position while some of us delivered (blank) covering fire.

    It was as if WWI had never happened. It would have been reasonable training for the Boer War. Tried in Europe after D Day, or in the Pacific, it would have got us slaughtered. As it did a generation on the Western Front in WWI. It was like no-one had thought of machine guns or artillery.

    When I moved to another country (while still young) I met for the first time men who struck me as ‘real men’, and it was a shock. They had served under conscription in a military with armour and automatic weapons, they had a kind of confidence and awareness I had not seen before. They had an approach to hard physical work which was different from anything I had seen in England. Many had been in combat. It was like coming out of the shadows into the sunlight. Well, that’s another story.

    But about scouting, did it change in the intervening period so that your own very positive feelings about it are of a radically different movement from the one I experienced?

  8. One by one, they see marriages fail. Most divorces are initiated by wives. This the background of their lives. This is a core reality of our time.

    Yes to this. Less so I think in Europe than in the US, though the financial penalties for divorce, and the loss of contact with children too, are very great in the UK. And yes to your remarks about social engineering with a complete lack of analysis of the consequences. Well, with blind faith that the consequences will obviously be good, but zero thought out and realistic analysis of what they will be.

    The UK, as a for instance, has basically been for some decades now paying girls from lower socio economic groups to get pregnant as soon as possible, so as to get assigned a local authority funded house, and then get pregnant again to be able to live on child support and housing benefit.

    Heaven help any young man with hormones running high who gets involved with one of them.

    This isn’t what its described as, but this is what the effect is. Its characteristic of this kind of social engineering that stripped of the rhetoric that justifies the measures, what is really being done takes on a quite different and much more questionable aspect.

  9. “On average, the typical U.S. marriage that ends in divorce lasts just seven years. Worldwide, the average length of marriage can vary widely by country. In Italy, for example, the typical couple stays married for 18 years and the divorce rate is around 31%. In Qatar, on the other hand, the divorce rate is closer to 40%, with marriages lasting just 5.5 years on average”.

    https://www.thebalance.com/how-long-do-average-u-s-marriages-last-4590261

    I perhaps should have phrased it better divorce is painful and a subject many of us are burnt on.

    I just don’t think there are that many Muslims with four wives, most have one wife, at least at a time. Divorce rates are much higher than many Westerns think, the Muslims like to give the impress they marry for life. I think the above figures show the divorce rate is now much higher among educated Muslims than ever before. Honour killings are a low class event, I would suggest.

    1. Stan,

      Thanks for the link to the CDC report. I hadn’t seen that.

      “Young men are not looking to get married.”

      So far it is women who are delaying the average age of first marriage. There are signs that some men are not marrying – and women are complaining loudly. The big question is – what will the men of Generation Z do when its women decide to settle.

      Much depends on the answer.

      1. Thanks Larry. I think that is an artifact of the complete absence of equivalent standalone surveys of men’s attitudes towards delaying marriage.

        Despite that absence, I suspect the true underlying cause of the delay is men’s reluctance to propose, not women’s rejections of proposals being made at the same frequency as they had been in past decades.

    1. Thanks Larry. I think that is an artifact of the complete absence of equivalent standalone survets of men’s attitudes towards delaying marriage.

      Despite that absence, I suspect the true underlying cause of the delay is men’s reluctance to propose, not women’s rejections of proposals being made at the same frequency as past decades.

      1. Stan,

        As you note, we can only guess since we have no survey data. However, there are few complaints by young women (younger than 28) about men being unwilling to marry – and lots by women exulting in riding the carousel and pursuing a career. Hence my guess (guess!) is that this is driven by women’s choices.

  10. Pingback: Status is a powerful motivator. | Dalrock

  11. I’m a little confused. I thought our society teaches young men to be dutiful, reliable providers, fathers and husbands. And then when the rug is pulled out from under them they then realize (too late) that modern American marriage is a sham for men. So I think they learn it, not so much are taught it.

  12. One thing you might also consider, those men who decide to run the ‘rat race’ in the hope that there is a reward at the end of it for them might, upon finding out there is no reward, emigrate to other countries that have more Patriarchal social structures and hence which offer the men such rewards. Competitor countries like Russia or China spring to mind.

    1. chris,

      But Russia is a very poor nation. China is both poor, alien, and very crowded. And these trends are global among the developed nations. Europe, big-time. South Korea and Japan have similar (but strangely different) expressions of the same cultural forces.

      But this is all missing the point. Sports, booze, games, drugs – plus leisure time: what’s not to like? The attraction of the low-stress, low-effort lifestyle is why women had to work to get men into marriage. My guess is young men will either run the rat race just for their own benefit (skipping the whole marriage – kids gig) – or drop out. As I’ve point out in other posts, it is already happening (see the flood of articles about the “missing men”).

      1. “But Russia is a very poor nation. China is both poor, alien, and very crowded.”

        Poor for whom? The wealth of the West is concentrated in amenities that men rarely benefit from yet pay all the taxes for. Welfare, healthcare, education. You would experience a drop in quality of life in Russia if you were a woman, or a racial minority because you rely on these western amenities much more, (payed for by western men’s taxes). But a white western man? He barely uses these amenities, yet pays all the taxes for them.

        As such these countries have lower tax burdens on the men there, and women (and racial minorities) if they want resources have to actually provide something of value to the men in return for them, instead of having the government take it from them by force. (Hence why the women are more feminine and less feminist, and the country is more patriarchal and less feminist.)

        Not to mention the cost of living is about half of what it costs in a Western country. And f you work remotely and get paid in a western currency, e.g. in software, then you can live like a king in these countries. (Russia’s annual household income is about $6300 USD.)

        And as you said, “Sports, booze, games, drugs – plus leisure time: what’s not to like?” that can be enjoyed anywhere. You don’t need to live in America for that.

        Combine that with lower tax burden, lower cost of living, less taxes spent on social amenities not used by men, and women (and racial minorities) not being able to free ride off a western man’s labour, meaning they have to bring more value to the table to get a man’s resources, emigrating to countries like Russia, (or Belarus, Poland, Hungary, Romania or parts of South America or Asia), sounds like a wise decision. If things in the West don’t turn around that is.

  13. Pingback: Word from the Dark Side – moar trees, dangerous eye reflections, and divorce parties. | SovietMen

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