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.
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.
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
- Can a strong America be built with broken families?
- We teach boys that marriage doesn’t work.
- Women embrace higher values, destroying their families.
- 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 …
- Will today’s young men marry? America’s future depends on the answer.
- Why men are avoiding work and marriage.
- The coming crash as men and women go their own way.
- Men are going Galt. Marriage is dying. – A review of books from the cutting edge of the revolution.
- America begins its post-marriage experiment.
- Becoming a post-marriage America: see the stories!
- Liberated women still need men. – Who knew?
- Marriage dying. Less sex. More loneliness. Society dying.
- Top pop stars prepare women for loneliness.
- Why are men going Galt and saying “no” to the rat race & marriage!
- Can a strong America be built with broken families?
Two key books about modern marriage
The classic: Men and Marriage by George Gilder.