Women embrace higher values, destroying their families

Summary: Men often criticize women for the high rate at which they divorce their husbands. Women often do so because they value their independence, strength, and pride – despite the high cost of these new values to themselves and their families. America will have to adjust to its new women, or become destabilized.

Man and Woman in Divorce - 88504857 - Dreamstime.
Photo 88504857 © Prazis – Dreamstime.

Although there are no firm numbers, all experts agree that women initiate the vast majority of divorces (in some fashion, there are 50 ways to do it). This is odd, since women’s income usually drops after marriage (see here). Some feminists consider this an unfair inequity. Some men consider the deal unfair for men: that women are usually the ones pushing for marriage, pushing to have kids – and then men pay a steep price when their wife says that was kidding when she said “until death do us part” (i.e., it meant until she evolved).

It is a sterile debate, to be resolved by the men and women of Generation Z. How many will decide to marry? How many of those will divorce? I believe that their decisions will radically change the current unsustainable model of marriage and family life. But while we wait, we can learn much from looking at marriage today. For instance, why do women divorce when it is against their economic interests? Surveys tell us little, people’s answers being notoriously unreliable. But there is a seldom given positive perspective to divorce.

People with shallow minds regard money as the highest good, and believe that rational actions are those that maximize their wealth. Many women divorce because they have other values. They regard money as less important than independence, pride, and personal strength. That is what the past few generations of girls have been taught. Songs and books extoll women’s self-esteem and self-regard. Women have celebrated their tough and aggressive (even belligerent) character in songs, such as Helen Reddy in “I Am Woman” (1971, lyrics), Etana in “I Am Strong” (2012, lyrics, video), and Katy Perry in “Rise” (2016, lyrics, video). Textbooks, films, TV shows, and women’s studies courses teach girls and women similar messages.

Now women shape their lives according to these lessons. These values are usually considered noble virtues in western civilization. But however estimable, this shift in values washes away the foundation of our society. Women now break their families, often giving up partial custody of their children to embrace a lonely life of self-reliance and pride. (Some re-marry, but those marriages have even higher divorce rates than first marriages.) Those around them are collateral damage, such as their children. Husbands who were unaware of their wive’s philosophy receive an expensive education. Boys watching these dramas unfold in their families learn lessons about life (only time will tell how they apply this knowledge).

Girl’s Game shapes modern marriage

How do women integrate these values into their lives? They use Girls’ Game. First, romance a man to get married. Most women want children, and middle- and upper-class women are careful to not do so until they have a ring on their fingers (men’s assistance and money makes the first few years much easier).

Weddings have become the Party of a woman’s life, in which they are Queen for a Day. This is new. In the past weddings were modest, except for the rich. See the wedding in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946): the bride wears her best dress to a ceremony at home, serving punch and wedding cake at the reception. The wedding was the focus, not the bride.

Then have some kids. The husband provides support during those first few difficult years raising the children. When the children go off to school, file for divorce. There are always reasons: he does not meet her needs, she has grown, etc. Then get community property, child support, and independence. It is a logical strategy for women raised to value their independence, pride, and strength above all else.

Now Girl’s Game has become respectable. See this extreme example: “I’m A Woman Who Cheated On Her Deployed Husband, This Is Why I Did It“. She collects his pay and plans to leave him eventually, using feminism to justify her actions. Dalrock’s website has a vast collection of women’s conversations from Christian conservative websites with similar views. Dalrock states the harsh truth about modern marriage.

“One of the ways we deny the obvious truth {about divorce} is by declaring any man whose wife succumbs to the temptation to betray her marriage vows a ‘deadbeat’. Deadbeat has become a euphemism for a man who has been kicked out of his family, and we tell ourselves that such men deserve the cruelty our family courts visit upon them. That a man is in so wretched a state after the family courts get through with him is all the proof we need that he is a loser who deserved what was coming to him.”

The other result of Girls’ Game is loneliness. To make a life alone more likely and prepare for it, women are taught that loving themselves is the highest love. See these music videos by Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Katy Perry, Hailee Steinfeld, and Fifth Harmony. Surveys show that women are less happy in their new lives than their oppressed mothers (e.g., here and here). But all values have a price that must be paid.

Conclusion

The dynamics of marriage have changed over time. The current system is broken and unsustainable. Millennial girls had a golden age of Girls’ Game. Gen Z’s girls inherit its wreckage, as men see Girls’ Game and lose interest in playing. The coming changes to marriage will dwarf anything seen in the past. How we revise our society will be one of America’s greatest challenges.

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. Important: For Father’s Day: revolutionary words that will forever change the American family.
  2. A look at America’s future after marriage becomes rare.
  3. The young women trampled by the Women’s March.
  4. The disastrous results of trying to “have it all”.
  5. The coming crash as men and women go their own way.
  6. Modern women say “follow the rules while we break them.”
  7. “Celebs Go Dating” shows young women in action.
  8. Liberated women still need men. – Who knew?
  9. Can a strong America be built with broken families?

Two books by Professor Regnerus about the revolution

Mark Regnerus is a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. See his website and Wikipedia entry.

Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying (2011).

Recommended: Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy (2017). See his essay: Cheap Sex is the Inconvenient Truth in the end of marriage. See an excerpt from the book in Misadventures of a young woman in modern America.

Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying.
Available at Amazon.
Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy
Available at Amazon.

 

53 thoughts on “Women embrace higher values, destroying their families”

    1. Sven,

      That study is quite interesting, and consistent with this post.

      “These synthetic husbands have an average income that is about 58% higher than actual unmarried men who are currently available to unmarried women.”

      As women’s self-esteem grows – and they’re raised to believe they can “have it all” – their wants become disconnected with what they can get. This is more easily seen by imagining what the same result might be for men: they “synthetic wives” desired by men are 58% hotter than the unmarried women currently available.

      The article does not say why this is considered a surprise.

      1. Dragnet,

        Don’t for tall. Tall is very important to women.

        On the other hand, men’s preferences for women are today even more out-of-synch with reality. As Bloom says, our gears rotate but no longer engage well with each other.

  1. Excellent posts (both this one and the prior one)!

    How do women integrate these values into their lives? They use Girls’ Game. First, romance a man to get married. Most women want children, and middle- and upper-class women are careful to not do so until they have a ring on their fingers (men’s assistance and money makes the first few years much easier).

    I think there is a more powerful motivator, which is status. Marriage conveys legitimacy to the children, and status to the woman. The man’s money could be obtained via child support without a wedding, and likewise his assistance (living together would do the trick). For middle class women, there is only one respectable way to baby-mamahood, and that is by marrying first, and then divorcing whenever it is most convenient after she has the number of children she wants (from that particular baby daddy at least).

    This is incidentally a weakness in the Girl Game model you describe that could be exploited socially (no legal change required) should we ever start to value marriage and respect men who marry and become fathers. Of course legal changes would quickly follow if our view of fathers changed, but the social mechanism would be extremely powerful even by itself for middle class women.

    1. Dalrock,

      Thank you for commenting! As always, much appreciated.

      “I think there is a more powerful motivator, which is status.”

      That’s an important point that I learned from you. I included it in the draft of my post, but deleted it – because I believe it is the past, not the future. This post describes new values that are replacing the “marriage gives status” old values.

      Culture is shaped in America by the top and the bottom. For example, see how culture (music, dress, language, behavior) has migrated from the ghettos to the middle class. In both our upper and lower classes, marriage is no longer the necessary gateway for women to respectability. Celebrity women have children out of wedlock, or adopt without husbands. Or they proudly remain single. Ditto in the underclass to an even greater degree. I’ll bet these are the vanguard among women, and that middle-class women will (& probably already are) adopting these new values.

      “should we ever start to value marriage and respect men who marry and become fathers.”

      I can’t imagine how that would happen. Anything is possible, but that seems to me a “do you believe in fairies” (from Peter Pan) exercise. Stopping the cultural rot will require a drastic effort. The process won’t be pretty.

      One example of how such a cultural revolution might occur: mass conversions to Islam (nature abhors a vacuum). Should Islam become powerful a few generations from now (probably following and as a reaction to massive social decay), these new power centers won’t be gentle about enforcing their social standards.

  2. Politics of divisiveness and resentment always benefit the government, regardless of the types of groups driven apart. Sometimes it’s best to let old corrupt institutions die off.

    LBJ once said, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”.

    Divorce is about unlocking a husband’s earnings and income and divvying up the spoils between a woman and the legal system/government apparatus. That is not going to be overcome anytime soon.

    The US market for divorce services is a $50 B market. The global market for cancer therapies is $140 B.

    That’s a big incentive to keep selling marriage to men and divorce to women.

    1. Stan,

      “That’s a big incentive to keep selling marriage to men and divorce to women.”

      I don’t believe that is a useful analogy. There are companies that manufacture and sell cancer therapies. Big ones. There is nothing similar “selling” marriage and divorce. Those services are largely demand-driven, responding to broad cultural forces with no central direction.

      1. I sent a response with a host of links from websites that do market divorce to women (and help lawyers get their business), but I think it got filtered out. An article on Divorce Marketing Group’s website is especially interesting: Tips and Strategies for Attracting High-Net-Worth Divorce Cases. If cultural forces produce a revenue opportunity, there will be players taking advantage of it and trying to grow that opportunity to bring in more profits.

      2. Stan,

        It’s in the spam filter. Askimet flags posts of all links. I’ll pull it out when I get home.

        Comments of all links with no explanations are not helpful, and are pretty much ignored by readers.

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

  4. Sometimes I think even this view of marriage is too optimistic. From what I have seen men have shifted to 2 groupings, 1. Men who will never be married and 2. Men who become so weak their wives are essentially married to a subordinate woman.

    I live in a major metro area and yesterday at the grocery store I was able to observe both of these groups. The first was men who were walking around the store with their girlfriends (no wedding rings on any of them), they appeared disinterested at best. Messing around on their phones while their girlfriend both pushed the cart and watched the children.

    The other group were men who were following their wives (this group had wedding rings) like attentive children. They were pushing the cart while the wives grabbed the food. One actually asked his wife for permission to get some peanuts while another asked his wife if it would be a good idea to take the stairs instead of the elevator. This group of men sounded slightly homosexual, but that very well could mean nothing.

    2 groups, in both situations the women is leading. The only difference was whether the man was acting like a 5 year old child or a 17 year old rebellious teenager.

    1. J,

      As a 40 year marriage vet, I think looking at grocery stores is an unrepresentative location. I have seldom shopped for groceries more than milk and such, and let my wife lead when we go to the supermarket. She knows the drill; I don’t. I don’t feel less of a man for doing so.

      It’s like holding her purse when she buys clothes or such. It’s just part of life.

      1. It could very well be an unrepresentative sample, what stood out to me wasn’t the wife making the food decisions (after all it is still the norm for women to do most of the cooking, though this is changing with my generation), what stood out was the attitude of the men.

        These were younger men late 20’s early 30’s so it could very well be different than what you have done. When you go to the grocery store do you ask permission to get a snack, in a mother may I tone? Or do you mindlessly scroll through Instagram while your wife both gets the food and watches the children? I imagine the answer is no on both counts.

      2. When I was a younger guy an older woman told me “Never hold a woman’s purse. It is her marking her territory, and it makes you look gay.”

      3. Javier,

        That’s pretty silly advice, taken seriously by insecure guys. For most guys, holding the gf’s or wife’s purse is a transition to a committed relationship. It’s like changing diapers and the thousand other indignities of life that one gets used to.

      4. Yes, I’m sure committed relationships require countless indignities for their participants. Though I’m sure there are women who do cajole or demand that their partners perform certain tasks and then look down on them for having agreed to do so.

      5. Durasim,

        “then look down on them for having agreed to do so.”

        In the range of life, everything can be found. Partners who steal, mock, abuse, etc. But in general, happy relationships get on with life. Both the high celebratory aspects, changing diapers, and holding purses. Men too insecure in their self-image to handle life are to be pitied.

        Humphrey Bogart has smaller than his female co-stars, and so wore very high platform shoes. People who worked with him said that he wore them with a disinterest in how they made him look, or awareness that his height was a disadvantage. It was just life, and a man gets on with the job without worrying about such things.

    2. @J Allen

      The other group were men who were following their wives (this group had wedding rings) like attentive children. They were pushing the cart while the wives grabbed the food. One actually asked his wife for permission to get some peanuts while another asked his wife if it would be a good idea to take the stairs instead of the elevator. This group of men sounded slightly homosexual, but that very well could mean nothing.

      My bet would be these are conservative (chivalrous) Christian men. Such men are relentlessly taught to follow their wives, as “servant leadership”. They are taught to call their wives lord, and that “if mama ain’t happy”, it is a sign that God is displeased with the woman’s husband. As you describe, the men who eat this stuff up are often very effeminate in their mannerisms.

  5. I find it refreshing that an anti-feminist website acknowledges that women’s motives for divorcing are not economic, though I am saddened by the post’s cynical speculation about “girl game.”

    I supposed you can cast women as bad people with our priorities out of whack. But perhaps it’s that marriage just doesn’t work well for women. In my mother’s generation, women wanted to get married because the alternative meant working in some underpaid job, never having sex, never having children, and being pitied by everyone. But now that women have other options, it is clear that many feel that marriage has not served them well.

    So perhaps the question is – can we imagine a stable system for conducting intimate relationships and raising children that meets EVERYONE’s needs fairly? Husbands, wives, and children? Too often on MRA sites, I see men making an argument along the lines of “hey, we men protect and support our women, what more do they want?” – thus implying that women don’t have the same needs as men for autonomy, creative work, engagement in the larger community, respect, etc. But clearly women have the same needs and desires that are valorized in men and that are too often not met in traditional structures.

    1. Margaret,

      “I find it refreshing that an anti-feminist website …”

      Opening with a smear is not very nice. Perhaps we differ on what “feminist” means, or its defining characteristics.

      “the post’s cynical speculation about “girl game.”

      That it exists is a fact. Studies show that aprox a third of marriages follow this pattern. This post says that “Many women divorce because they have other values” (i.e., independence, strength, or pride) – which is obvious from the vast body of writings by divorced women.

      “I supposed you can cast women as bad people with our priorities out of whack”

      I suppose that you could. I don’t.

      “But perhaps it’s that marriage just doesn’t work well for women”

      Did you read the post? Apparently not. That’s what it says.

      “So perhaps the question is – can we imagine a stable system for conducting intimate relationships and raising children that meets EVERYONE’s needs fairly?”

      I suggest that you read the post. Since that is what it says.

      “But clearly women have the same needs and desires that are valorized in men”

      Yes, that’s what this post says.

      1. I was not trying to smear you with the term “anti-feminist.” I was trying to come up with a fair and pithy description of what appears to be your philosophy on women’s rightful role in society. My point was to give you your due for recognizing the higher values that impel women to act when such recognition does not seem to be the norm for blogs in your community and with your general outlook. In other words, even though I am sure we disagree on most everything, I was trying to be gracious. Oddly enough, I have noticed in on-line communications that sometimes it is the attempt to extend an olive branch that causes the most offense! I am happy to concede that I may be doing it wrong. (As for your definition of feminism, while I recognize that it is a broad, umbrella term encompassing many viewpoints and philosophies, I oppose so much of freedom in defining it that it is stripped of all meaning.)

        I also did read your post quite carefully. And read it again a second time. And my reading remains the same – that you are casting women as cynical and bad, with out-of-whack priorities. You call women’s actions “Girls’ Game,” which certainly implies a deliberate strategy. You outright state that a woman who initiates divorce was “kidding when she said ‘to death do us part.'” While you recognize the higher values that lead women to divorce, your description of Girls’ Game stresses economic motives too with wording that again strongly implies a deliberate strategy – i.e. that women are using “men’s assistance and money [to] make the first few years [of childrearing] much easier” only then to divorce when the children are older “to get community property, child support an independence.” And your example of Girls’ Game is an article by a woman who cheated on her deployed husband. So yes, I still conclude that you wrote a cynical post that casts women as bad people.

        You did concede that the higher values impelling women to divorce are “estimable” or “noble;” however, when you refer to a woman “breaking” her family out of “pride” (surely a pejorative term in this context), the acknowledgment of the legitimate interests women may be pursuing seems grudging at best. You also appear to argue (and I am sure you will correct me if I am wrong) that, even if the needs women pursue in divorce are legitimate, the costs to all outweigh the benefits.

        You also did say that “America will have to adjust.” Perhaps you meant to express that this adjustment should include meeting women’s needs, such as the needs for respect, autonomy, a public role, and creative fulfillment – and, if so, well then, hear, hear! But your intention surely did not come through in this post given your contrast of women’s interests with the costs of “breaking” families and the negative light in which you cast such women.

      2. Margaret,

        “I was not trying to smear you with the term “anti-feminist.”

        It is both a smear and a lie. Also interesting is that you start your comment with an unsupported label. What does that contribute? Doing that is a distinguishing characteristic of extremists, for whom the label is the thing. Commie! Fascist! etc.

        “come up with a fair and pithy description of what appears to be your philosophy on women’s rightful role in society.”

        Your characterization is incorrect. Note that you support none of your assertions.

        “I oppose so much of freedom in defining it that it is stripped of all meaning”

        Then why do you use it? Your comment consists almost entirely of labeling.

        “that you are casting women as cynical and bad, with out-of-whack priorities.”

        Take off those thick ideological blinders and try re-reading it. Skip the labeling. You will see what you read more clearly.

        “You call women’s actions “Girls’ Game,” which certainly implies a deliberate strategy.”

        Women have agency. That makes them responsible for their actions, unlike children and the mentally disabled.

        “You outright state that a woman who initiates divorce was “kidding when she said ‘to death do us part.’”

        Very roughly half of women divorce their husbands, almost all after saying “to death do us part” (or something equivalent). Dp you believe that they did not know that divorce was a likely outcome when they got married, but had an epiphany later?

        “While you recognize the higher values that lead women to divorce, your description of Girls’ Game stresses economic motives”

        It says the exact opposite: women are worse off after divorce. But of course money is a factor. This isn’t Narnia.

        Re: girls’ game

        You appear to have difficulty grappling with facts. The phenomenon I call “Girls Game” happens with incredible frequency. It’s not an accident or act of God. Of course it is deliberate. Closing your eyes doesn’t make facts go away.

        “I still conclude that you wrote a cynical post that casts women as bad people.”

        You overlay your feelings on others. I don’t say women are “bad people. Your love of labeling is of zero analytical utility.

        “surely a pejorative term in this context”

        Again you project your emotions on others. Perhaps that’s why you can’t grapple with facts: all this labeling gets in the way.

        “the acknowledgment of the legitimate interests women may be pursuing seems grudging at best.”

        All this labeling is yours, not mine. Things are happening. We need to see them and adapt. I wonder if you are too busy passing judgment, like god, to see clearly see let alone understand events. Things are happening. We need to adapt to them, no matter how fine or ugly you consider them.

        “Perhaps you meant to express that …”

        I meant just what I said: that we need to adjust. Why would you think otherwise? I lack your god-like confidence about how that should be done. Or even what is the range of possible alternatives.

      3. Larry,

        Based on this post and your responses, you are far more prone to projecting your emotional responses onto other people’s words and actions than I am.

        For example, you have no basis to conclude that my use of the term “anti-feminist” to describe your blog was both “a smear and a lie.” If my impression of your blog is mistaken, so be it. But you conjured from nothing the idea that I intentionally mischaracterized you in order to insult you.

        Yet you state in response to me: “You overlay your feelings on others. I don’t say women are ‘bad people.’ Your love of labeling is of zero analytical utility.” Larry, your claim is disingenuous. You characterized divorcing women as having just been “kidding” when they made their vows and you used a woman who cheated on her husband while he was deployed as a representative of divorcing women’s mentality generally. Give me a break, You know and I know and we both know that virtually every reader is going to make a value judgment that these are bad behaviors. Your post is chock full of value judgments which, if not explicitly stated are clearly implied; yet you seem to want to deny that you are making or encouraging value judgments. My supposed love of labeling is simply laying bare the conclusion to which your post is intended, by any fair reading, to lead.

        Naming the value judgments inherent in your post absolutely does have analytical utility. When identifying problems, pondering possible solutions, and attempting to balance various needs and interest, our judgments of what and who are “good” and “bad” are key to our decision-making. Your post encourages particular judgments.
        I am surprised that you seem to be denying that.

        (Oh and with respect to women’s motivations. No, no, I definitely do not think women get married thinking that divorce is a likely outcome. And I don’t think women are “kidding” when they say their vows. Yes, the divorce rate is high but when people get married, they do so intending to beat the odds. The fact that women have moral agency does not mean that women’s choice to divorce is a cynical one that is part of a grand scheme intended from the start. Are you perhaps (ahem) “projecting” your assumptions and emotional response to the problem of divorce onto women?)

      4. Margaret,

        “you have no basis to conclude that my use of the term “anti-feminist” to describe your blog was both “a smear and a lie.”

        I can’t believe you are serious. Many labels are inherently derogatory. The intent of the writer does not matter. There is no “I didn’t mean it as an insult” for accusations of being anti-feminist, sexist, racist, fascist, etc.

        As for a lie, I have every basis to say that label was a lie. In any case, it is you – the accuser – to give evidence supporting your smear.

      5. Larry,

        I can’t believe YOU are serious. And I cannot believe the “anti-feminist” descriptor in my first post is the major bone of contention. No, “anti-feminist” is not an obvious smear like “sexist,” “misogynist,” “racist,” “fascist,” etc. I’ve never met anyone who uses those other terms to describe themselves. But I’ve met on-line and in person LOTS of people who say they don’t agree with feminism or are not feminists or are opposed to feminism or are “anti-feminist.” Indeed, there are many quarters in which “feminist” is the dirty word.

        Again, my main point was POSITIVE. I LIKED that you were ascribing some higher and worthy values to women’s actions. I did not like most of your post but I was trying to acknowledge the part I agreed with. No, I wasn’t trying to smear you.

      6. “And I don’t think women are “kidding” when they say their vows. Yes, the divorce rate is high but when people get married, they do so intending to beat the odds.”

        What does “intending to beat the odds” mean “when people get married”? Does it mean when they get married, they earnestly think…

        1. I intend to stay in this marriage no matter how bad and dissatisfying the relationship becomes for me? or
        2. I intend that my spouse will never fail or dissatisfy me to the point where I would want to leave the marriage?

        If they actually believe option (1) when saying their vows, then bless their hearts. But that’s probably a rare conviction and totally at odds with how marriage is marketed today as some kind of affirming, self-actualizing experience to elevate and edify the spouses.

        If the intention is some version of option (2), it puts that person’s satisfactions as the paramount standard with the expectation that the other spouse will not fail to fulfill them. Both intentions are undergirded by naivete and willful blindness, and are in effect people “kidding” themselves.

        “Oh, sure, all these other people’s spouses failed to keep them happy, but my spouse would never fail like those degenerates!”

        So when a woman declares that she’s just not happy with her marriage and wants to leave to find a relationship that meets her expectations or go on some “self-discovery” sojourn, despite whatever effect it may have on her husband or children, we should not judge her negatively. She really did mean it when she said “till death do us part” but she did not anticipate how unhappy and unfulfilling her marriage would become. And it would be cruel and sexist to expect her to continue to suffer a marriage that does not make her happy.

        Then again, let’s think about the longtime “stock villain” of divorce drama: the scoundrel rich husband who discards his loyal loving wife and replaces her with some younger “trophy wife.” When he declares that he was just not happy with his marriage to his older first wife and married a younger woman, despite whatever effect it had on his ex-wife and his children, we should not judge him negatively. He really did mean it when he said “till death do us part” but he could not anticipate how disgusted and unhappy he would become with his wife’s aging body. We are told that sexual satisfaction is a vital part of relationships today. And he just couldn’t be sexually satisfied with his first wife. And it would be cruel to expect him to continue to suffer a marriage that does not make him happy, since he is either still attractive or rich enough to entice a younger “trophy wife” to suffer his company.

      7. Durasim,

        I suspect that people do not think in terms of either of the options you present. I think most people today enter marriage in good faith intending to make their best efforts to make it work, expecting their spouses to do the same, and feeling confident that they will, in fact, make it work. Yes, that’s not the same as the traditional view of marriage as something you stick with no matter how miserable one or both parties may be. But it’s also not the same as the cynical motives you and Larry present of women “kidding” when they make their marriage vows or making their vows with the intention of walking away if their partners do not satisfy them. I also do not believe that the majority of people who choose divorce – male or female – make that decision lightly.

        But more importantly, I notice that you argue in favor of the judgment inherent in Larry’s post, the judgment he denied making and that he characterized as a mere label lacking utility (“bad”). So that brings me back to the question I posed originally in my first comment – what if the problem is that marriage simply does not work well for women and what can we do about that other than fulminating about how terrible women are? I don’t know what the answers are but I suspect I favor more flexible, individualized solutions to the problem of how to maintain stability in one’s relationships and for one’s children than many of Larry’s readers.

        You mention the issue of men who are sexually dissatisfied with their marriages. Although I cast my original question in terms of women’s experience of marriage, I did so because the post focused on women’s motives for entering and ending marriages. But I am very sympathetic to men who experience “a life of quiet desperation” in marriage as well, whether due to sexual dissatisfaction or other issues. I doubt there is a grand solution to how we should order human relationships to best meet the needs of women, men, and children – but I quite sure that if there is a grand solution, traditional, patriarchal marriage ain’t it.

      8. I suspect that people do not think in terms of either of the options you present. I think most people today enter marriage in good faith intending to make their best efforts to make it work, expecting their spouses to do the same, and feeling confident that they will, in fact, make it work.

        I suspect otherwise. I’m reasonably certain few people think in terms of the first option in this day and age, but plenty think in terms of the second. If personal “happiness” is supposed to be the paramount goal of marriage and people think that if marriage fails to deliver it to them then they are justified in leaving the marriage, the second option is the bedrock assumption of marriage and most every other personal relationship today. Unless they are ensconced and isolated, they will have seen numerous examples of divorce, marital dysfunction, and relationship failure in both their personal experience and in popular culture. Truly believing that their future spouses are not going to subject them to any of the pressures and failures that caused so many other marriages to fail is a form of “magical thinking.”

        But more importantly, I notice that you argue in favor of the judgment inherent in Larry’s post, the judgment he denied making and that he characterized as a mere label lacking utility (“bad”)

        I did not argue in favor of the judgment, but I wanted to bring attention to a discrepancy in how we are commanded to perceive divorces based upon the gender and motive of the person instigating the divorce. Despite claims of neutrality, we still think of certain divorces and certain reasons for divorces as “bad,” such as the cad rich husband who discards his loyal first wife for a new trophy wife, or Newt Gingrich divorcing his cancer-stricken first wife. If we are not supposed to judge a woman who ends a marriage because she wants to pursue other gratifications in her life, then I don’t think we should judge a man who does likewise, even if his gratifications are considered lower and more vulgar than some “Eat Pray Love” spiritual journey.

        what if the problem is that marriage simply does not work well for women and what can we do about that other than fulminating about how terrible women are?

        Plenty of “solutions” to that problem, I suppose. Among them, we can abolish the institution of marriage and discourage any kind of sanctified conjugal sexual affiliation and encourage people to find such gratification in masturbation and pornography, so that sexual fulfillment does not have any implication of human duty or obligation. If people want to find fulfillment in human bonding, let it be through informal platonic arrangements that have no expectation or demand.

        Although I cast my original question in terms of women’s experience of marriage, I did so because the post focused on women’s motives for entering and ending marriages. But I am very sympathetic to men who experience “a life of quiet desperation” in marriage as well, whether due to sexual dissatisfaction or other issues

        If that is your honest position, then I commend it for being evenhanded and fairly applied to all sides. And if you believe in it, we should not have any judgment of any spouse who claims he or she is ending a marriage for reasons of personal happiness, whether it’s a wife who decides her marriage is stifling and she now wants to become some roving feminist journalist or a husband who decides his marriage is stifling and he wants to move to Nevada a patronize legal brothels all day while he pays the littlest amount of child support he can get away with. Despite my sexist examples, I’m sure there are plenty of women who end their marriages for more prurient reasons, such as joining a polyamorous cult or having an affair with their underage high school student.

      9. Durasim,

        I’ve let this discussion run without further comment since it long since went off into fantasy. But this is too silly to let slide.

        “But I am very sympathetic to men who experience “a life of quiet desperation” in marriage as well, whether due to sexual dissatisfaction or other issues”

        To believe that the 40% or 50% of marriages that end in divorce (there are no hard numbers) end for such reasons is silly. People want to divorce, and often concoct reasons to justify their actions. Reasons that portray themselves as the victim. Ten minutes with a divorce attorney will disabuse any naive soul who believes these reasons.

        There are domestic abusers, sexual misfits, substance abusers, etc – but they’re a fraction of those divorced.

        This post gives a more logical reason for the bulk of divorces. Once the kids are in school, women no longer need their husbands, they want independence, and can easily get it. Slap whatever labels one desires on that behavior – nobel, ignoble, etc – but the facts remain what they are.

        The West once had a rational social policy, built on low but solid ground (ie, built on human nature as it is, not what it should be). This is impossible in America today because we don’t just want social machinery that works, it must also be pleasing according to the reigning fantastic ideology. This from George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman is a good supplement to the quote from Allan Bloom in this post (a quote which it appears nobody in this thread has read.

        “Nature, my dear lady, is what you call immoral. I blush for it; but I cannot help it. Nature is a pandar, Time a wrecker, and Death a murderer. I have always preferred to stand up to those facts and build institutions on their recognition. You prefer to propitiate the three devils by proclaiming their chastity, their thrift, and their loving kindness; and to base your institutions on these flatteries. Is it any wonder that the institutions do not work smoothly?”

      10. Durasim,

        I don’t have any problem with people pointing out double standards, whether they favor men or favor women. I also tend to doubt that there is any significant number of rich men, or men in general who divorce solely because they are no longer sexually attracted to their wives as their wives age. Lack of sexual attraction may be a factor in a larger picture but it’s usually a lot more complicated than that. I have not conducted a formal study but I do have life experience, including being on the receiving end of many confidences from both men and women about their divorces. My conclusion is that most people agonize about the decision to divorce and there are usually a number of factors at play. That’s not to say that everyone is a saint or that people don’t engage in bad behavior when they divorce, but it is a more complicated picture than what I think is presented here.

        You raise the notion of alternatives to marriage that allow for sexual fulfillment with no human duty or obligation. I don’t think our only two choices are (a) traditional marriage and (b) sex-without-duty-or-obligation. As things stand now, even with the loosening of many social expectations regarding marriage, it is still widely accepted in many quarters that marriage is the goal and it is almost universally accepted that marriage entails a lifelong, monogamous commitment. Rather than imposing stronger incentives and punishments to get people to enter traditional marriage, I wonder if there may be a benefit to allowing more cultural room to discuss alternative arrangements that may involve duties and obligations different than what was traditionally understood. For example, someone who has doubts about his ability to remain monogamous could have that discussion up front with his partner (or her partner, if it’s the woman who has doubts). Or there could be a commitment to raise children together but without necessarily a commitment to stay together until old age. While undoubtedly many people would be disappointed to learn that a hoped-for spouse doesn’t want to be monogamous, perhaps it is better to have the option to discuss the matter rather than to suddenly discover after decades that one’s partner has been sleeping with other people in violation of a vow one was relying upon.

        On a personal note, I feel terrible for any person who has undergone the heartbreak, sense of betrayal and/or disappointment of a spouse walking out on a life one has invested in heavily in terms of years, labor, hopes, and dreams. But at the same time, the alternative of not letting your spouse go is having an unwilling person tethered to you. That doesn’t sound like a great result either.

      11. what if the problem is that marriage simply does not work well for women and what can we do about that other than fulminating about how terrible women are?

        Funny you should complain about that, because a big part of the reason why no-fault divorce proliferated and became normalized was a PR campaign about how terrible men are. Saying how so many men are abusers, neglectors, abdicators, deadbeats, adulterers, etc., and how terrible it was that long-suffering women were chained to these monsters and could not legally escape them unless we liberalized divorce laws. And remember that promise that we did not have to worry about divorce-on-demand causing some proliferation because only the most miserable and extreme cases of bad marriages would end in divorce and the vast majority of spouses are utterly committed to keeping their vows? How long did it take to go from that assurance to the demand that we’re not supposed to judge or question whenever a spouse (usually wife) declares she is not happy and wants to end the marriage?

      12. Durasim,

        “what can we do about that other than fulminating about how terrible women are?”

        Too bad Margaret didn’t read the post about which she has written so many thousand words. If she had, she would realize that much of what she wrote is already in it. Instead she loudly condemns what she thinks it says. Sad, really.

        As I have said so many times to so many people who have this problem, the solution is simple. Reply to direct quotes.

      13. I also tend to doubt that there is any significant number of rich men, or men in general who divorce solely because they are no longer sexually attracted to their wives as their wives age.

        Men are not usually the ones who initiate the divorce. And let’s not forget, there was the classical understanding that rich men would not divorce their wives but could have mistresses and affairs so long as they were discrete about it. Some privileged couples may still practice some form of that arrangement if the wife will let him get away with it.

        Lack of sexual attraction may be a factor in a larger picture but it’s usually a lot more complicated than that.

        Sometimes. Or sometimes it is lack of sexual attraction but the leaving spouse wants to make it sound more emotional and “complicated” because they want to portray their discontent as some higher spiritual matter and don’t want people to think of them of as a shameless lecher who would end a marriage over genital gratification. Even if it is “a factor in a larger picture,” that does not mean that lack of physical attraction is surmountable or can be overcome with directives about communicating and bonding.

        I have not conducted a formal study but I do have life experience, including being on the receiving end of many confidences from both men and women about their divorces.

        So how many rich husbands confided to you their true reasons for leaving their wives? Whether these men and women considered you to be their friend or their spouses’ friend, their “confidences” were probably not confessional admissions of their failures, acceptance of fault for the divorce, or some kind of “no fault” disclaimer of grievance. As Mr. Kummer pointed out, “People want to divorce, and often concoct reasons to justify their actions. Reasons that portray themselves as the victim.” And they usually do this whether it’s in court or with their entourage of friends whom they intend to marshal as allies against their enemy-spouse.

        I don’t think our only two choices are (a) traditional marriage and (b) sex-without-duty-or-obligation.

        Not from the outset, but the default presumption seems to be “sex-marriage with whatever duties and obligations the spouse will agree to accept, until spouse finds those duties or obligations dissatisfying and rejects them.” That just sounds like some version of option (b) held in reserve and invoked whenever the spouse feels like it.

        it is still widely accepted in many quarters that marriage is the goal and it is almost universally accepted that marriage entails a lifelong, monogamous commitment

        It’s still widely practiced and advertised, but it means radically different things in different parts of the world, especially when you compare the West and other regions. Professing lifelong, monogamous commitment is not an enforceable obligation in the West. It’s just some avowal of sentimentality. Making some promise of forever love sounds more endearing than saying “till my dissatisfaction do us part.” Even feckless teenagers may say things like “I love you forever” during their summer flings.

        Rather than imposing stronger incentives and punishments to get people to enter traditional marriage, I wonder if there may be a benefit to allowing more cultural room to discuss alternative arrangements that may involve duties and obligations different than what was traditionally understood.

        Yes, you keep talking about “individualized” arrangements and solutions. People can try to come up with whatever arrangements and solutions that they think will meet their needs and satisfactions…and then they can dismiss and abandon those “arrangements” when they are no longer happy with them, just like they could abandon a traditional marriage. If “marriage” is going to be some common social institution, it can’t be redefined and reshaped to fit every preference of every individual, who can just dissolve it anyway whenever it suits him/her.

        For example, someone who has doubts about his ability to remain monogamous could have that discussion up front with his partner (or her partner, if it’s the woman who has doubts)

        Remember, some people really meant it when they said “till death do us part” until they were confronted with true marital misery and realized they could not keep that vow. Similarly, some people may truly believe they can remain monogamous, but then down the road, they realize that sex with just one person is too meager and refusing other sexual opportunities is insufferable agony to them. And so they’re in the same miserable situation as the standard marriage types.

        Or there could be a commitment to raise children together but without necessarily a commitment to stay together until old age.

        Sure there could. But what if they find raising children to be tedious and stifling and they want to leave to do more fulfilling things? If the commitment of “till death do us part” can be abandoned upon the spouse’s dissatisfaction, surely the other commitments can be put on the chopping block as well. When it comes to negotiated premarital commitments, there’s a ridiculous game of what constitutes “coercion” or decision. If a man prepares a prenuptial agreement and tells his fiancé that he will not marry her unless she signs it, some courts consider that to be “coercion” or “duress,” even though you’d think parties should be able to set out the terms for whether or not they will enter into a marriage.

        While undoubtedly many people would be disappointed to learn that a hoped-for spouse doesn’t want to be monogamous, perhaps it is better to have the option to discuss the matter rather than to suddenly discover after decades that one’s partner has been sleeping with other people in violation of a vow one was relying upon.

        I’m all for honesty and disclosure. If there were more of that, I’m sure there would be a whole lot less marriages and relationships in the first place. But remember, people can always claim “When I told you that before, I really felt that way, but now I feel differently” as with anything else. Just like spouses suddenly “realize” after years of marriage that they are a different sexual orientation or gender or some kind of “sexually fluid” designation that makes their spouse unsuitable to them. Assuming they are telling the truth and weren’t keeping things concealed for that whole time. And if a spouse was totally dishonest prior to the relationship, is that going to change your opinion of them when they declare themselves unhappy and want to leave their marriage?

        But at the same time, the alternative of not letting your spouse go is having an unwilling person tethered to you. That doesn’t sound like a great result either.

        Well, if the choice is between two “not great” results, some people may choose differently. Some loyal spouse who has devoted her entire life to her marriage may think that the loss and humiliation inflicted by a divorce is far worse than her frustrated husband being tethered to her. If one spouse is happy and the other is unhappy, the result of them divorcing is not always both ex-spouses now become happy, as the spouse who was left may suffer lasting unhappiness for a variety of reasons. Let’s not forget that some people do regret their divorces, which may or may not bring some schadenfreude to the spouse who was left.

      14. I also tend to doubt that there is any significant number of rich men, or men in general who divorce solely because they are no longer sexually attracted to their wives as their wives age.

        Let’s also not forget that true desires of the heart are not the sole motivators for spouses’ actions, no matter how much we demand people be “true” to themselves. Lots of spouses are still constrained by negative incentives and deterrents, such as the humiliation of being some lecher who discarded his loyal wife for a comely bimbo.

        When a middle-aged man is brazen enough to openly complain that he no longer finds his wife physically attractive, somebody may respond “Look at you! It’s not like you’re such a prize!” And for many men, that may be true. However, the fact that such aging men are themselves physically unattractive does not mean they will necessarily find their aging wives attractive. They’re just being told in so many words that “you can’t do any better at this point.” And for lots of people, one factor that still keeps them in a marriage today is thinking “I can’t do any better.”

        Of course, how well a man can do has a lot to do with his socio-economic status. A fat, balding, middle-aged man who is lower class will probably not be able to get some significantly younger attractive woman to suffer his affection unless he saves up to pay for a higher grade prostitute. A fat, balding, middle-aged man who is privileged and wealthy can persuade significantly younger and attractive women to marry him or suffer his affections in a non-prostitution context.

      15. Durasim,

        “I also tend to doubt that there is any significant number of rich men, or men in general who divorce solely because they are no longer sexually attracted to their wives as their wives age.”

        That quote from Margaret’s comment is amazing. Hilariously delusional. It is a wonderful demo of how so many of the Left and Right now live in bubbles of theory, disconnected from reality. IT gives no basis for dialog. It’s like talking to people who believe Narnia is real.

      16. Durasim,

        I probably will not have time over the next few days to respond further but I appreciate the discussion. I think it is helpful to have a back and forth to further understand the thinking of people on the other side of the issue – even if no one persuades anyone else, which is generally highly unlikely especially in a blog discussion.

        I think a fair summary is that you favor order and structure more than I do, and I favor freedom and flexibility more than you do. I do think there have to be protections in place for children and for the most vulnerable, and I am positive no system either way can be perfectly fair. Obviously, that’s a huge discussion, as well. On a personal note, I think resting one’s entire happiness on what someone else does is a recipe for making oneself and everyone in one’s orbit miserable.

        Larry,

        You keep saying that my comments repeat what you said in your post and you keep erroneously stating or implying that I did not read your post. I suggest that another possible response you could have made was, “Yes, that’s what I was saying! Let’s talk about that point.” But in any case, it’s been real.

      17. Margaret: “I think a fair summary is that you favor order and structure more than I do, and I favor freedom and flexibility more than you do.”

        Not quite. I favor consistency and fairness. So if one is going to prioritize freedom and flexibility, it should be emphasized across the board, not for a certain class or gender designated as oppressed and deserving of compensatory libertinism to even the score, while the rest are told they must suffer order and structure for the convenience of the “free and flexible” libertines.

        I do think there have to be protections in place for children and for the most vulnerable, and I am positive no system either way can be perfectly fair.

        Of course it’s not “perfectly fair.” But, if protection for “children” and the “most vulnerable” is paramount, then one should not assume that policy of on-demand no-fault divorce always accords with those concerns. Lots of policies may need wholesale reconsideration. Is divorce always for the benefit of children? Yes, I know, the standard explanation is that if the parent (mother) is unhappy in the marriage, then it must be worse for the children if the mother is forced to stay in an unhappy marriage than whatever radical changes inflicted from a divorce, such as their living space, location, contact with other parent, siblings, etc. So of course, whenever a parent wants a divorce, it MUST be in the best interests of the children to have that divorce. Just like that, the emotional satisfaction of parents always determines the best interest of the incidental children. And that’s not even addressing the issue of when single-parents decide to invite their new sexual partners into their household. Should we introduce a law that single-parents aren’t allowed to date people with criminal backgrounds and any potential stepparents have to be vetted by child welfare authorities? Sometimes the safety of children does not override the liberty interests of adults. Also, who constitutes the “most vulnerable” in a marital situation? Is it always the children? What if one spouse has diagnosed severe mental illness? Does their psychological/emotional vulnerability override the other spouse’s desire to divorce and leave an unhappy marriage?

        On a personal note, I think resting one’s entire happiness on what someone else does is a recipe for making oneself and everyone in one’s orbit miserable.

        This whole concept of “resting one’s entire happiness” on the love of the other person has been sewn into the modern Western concept of connubial marriage. Somebody who takes your advice to heart probably should not get married. Even if one is emotionally resilient and can bounce back seconds after being repudiated by a spouse, divorce carries with it lots of material and economic impacts that can have lasting harmful effect, which usually carries collateral emotional impact as well. Perhaps we should add a disclaimer section of marital vows stipulating that neither party depends on the other and both are fully prepared to move on and seek better prospects when one does not perform to the other’s satisfaction?

        But that’s good enough advice about not “resting one’s entire happiness on what someone else does.” In fact, I wish more people would follow it. Such as…

        (a) Feminists who complain that they’re being oppressed because men privately view pornography and use sex dolls

        (b) Transsexuals who complain that they’re being oppressed because non-transsexuals don’t want to have sex with them

        (c) Homosexuals who complain they’re being oppressed because bakers and photographers won’t laud and beautify their sexual affiliations

        And many more…

    2. The Inimitable NEET

      “I supposed you can cast women as bad people with our priorities out of whack.”

      The question of incentives having moral weight is irrelevant (and a category error). They simply lead to good and bad behaviors/results on the individual level, the aggregate level, and within interactions between different social groups. Game among men arose from the same foundation of factors.

      “So perhaps the question is – can we imagine a stable system for conducting intimate relationships and raising children that meets EVERYONE’s needs fairly?”

      That defeats the purpose of a set of norms, which must be partially teleological and necessarily sacrifices the interests and goals of a few subcultures in favor of whatever set of norms benefits the majority. Complex systems by nature unpredictably spawn too many epiphenomena to encourage micromanagement for every aggrieved group – hence, actual protocols naturally diverge based on class and other factors.

      Beyond that clear limitation, any system that seeks to satisfy all possible needs innately lacks the authority to enforce standards. This is the Achilles’ heel of 4th wave feminism as a ideology of social organization.

      “But clearly women have the same needs and desires that are valorized in men and that are too often not met in traditional structures.”

      You are setting up a false equivocation. The aforementioned imperatives can be safely classified as “human” and besides the last one, are recent holdovers from the history of developmental psychology. Men have a different set of needs that women don’t instinctively grasp, leading to a conflation of values whenever this subject is brought up e.g. relentless upfront competitiveness among and within peer groups.

      1. Inimitable (and Larry),

        I appreciate that Larry is curious about my response. And I appreciate your thought provoking comment.

        First, you say “The question of incentives having moral weight is irrelevant (and a category error). They simply lead to good and bad behaviors . . . ” I do not know what you are referring to when you mention the question of incentives having moral weight and I do not want to try to guess. It does appear that you do think it is relevant to make a moral or value judgment as to certain behaviors since you speak about incentives leading “to good and bad behaviors.” And I made the case in my responses to Larry (including one that has not been posted yet as I am writing this) that he clearly intended to imply a judgment as to divorcing women’s badness. If that is irrelevant to what is being discussed, then your issue is with him.

        Second, you state that trying to meet everyone’s needs fairly “defeats the purpose of a set of norms, which must be partially teleological and necessarily sacrifices the interests and goals of a few subcultures in favor of whatever set of norms benefit the majority.” I disagree with that. After all, the American system of Constitutional law balances the needs of the majority with the goals and interests of minorities. And our common law is a constant exercise in arriving at the fairest possible balance – not that everyone’s going to be happy all the time but there is a balance. But in any case, women aren’t a minority or some kind of weird subculture.

        And lastly, I have no idea what you are talking about when you refer to men’s different set of needs or the conflation of values arising from those mysterious needs or the relentless competitiveness among and within peer groups. I’ve tried to divine what you are getting at but I got nothin’.

    3. It’s not that women are bad, per se, it’s that women tend to have less ability and/or inclination in this Post Modern Clown World to control themselves based on reason and morals. Women are more subject to their passing whimsical emotional states. Women are actually the ambitious ones, more than men. It was Eve who wanted to be like God, knowing good and evil. Adam passively went along for the ride because he wanted to be with Eve. Women are the ones who are easily persuaded that they can have it all, men are more realistic about it, except when it comes to telling the truth about it to women.

  6. Marriage is the most complicated of all human relationships. Marriage, as an institution, has been under attack in our society for the last 70 years — an attack that is directed at the institution of the family as well.

    Those with a real interest should read the laws being passed that redefine marriage as something other a lifetime union between a man and a woman.

    1. Kip,

      “Those with a real interest should read the laws being passed that redefine marriage as something other a lifetime union”

      The first law that did that was the Family Law Act, signed by California Governor Ronald Reagan in 1969: the first no-fault divorce law. That is Reagan, patron saint of conservative defenders of tradition.

      1. Larry ==> Divorce is old old old — almost all cultures have made divorce possible under varying conditions, because marriage is hard and people are, well, human, they make lots of mistakes and sometimes marry for reasons that are not rational from the “marriage for life” viewpoint. Many today marry “for a while” or :until someone better comes along”.

        Rather than the idea for forcing people to stay in rotten relationships, it is important that they have higher reasons for marrying and an understanding of the very very long-term consequences of marriage and family.

        In my view, marriage is a spiritual issue which has been downsized in today’s culture to a social issue.

    2. Ronald Reagan is why many manospherian Christians despise tradcons. Conserving nothing and even playing their role in subversion.

  7. Pingback: Doing as they were taught. | Dalrock

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