Why Men Delay Marriage: Because Men Are Smart
Sherman Oaks, California
Modern yuppie marriage resembles a contract with the following terms:
“The Party of the First Part (hereinafter, Woman) demands and requires of the Party of the Second Part (hereinafter, Man) a state of legal unity (hereinafter, Marriage) in which:
“1. Man is to provide for the economic wellbeing of Woman and all of her issue in a manner equal to or better than the manner in which Woman’s father raised her;
“2. If the Man is required to work 80 hours a week in order to satisfy Stipulation One, so be it;
“3. Working 80 hours a week in order to satisfy Stipulation One is no defense to a charge of not spending enough quality time with Woman and her issue;
“4. Woman’s pre-marital representations of potential financial assistance (Work) may be revoked at any time without penalty;
“5. Woman may, at any time, for any reason or lack thereof, cease providing physical manifestations of amorous companionship (Nookie); this does not, however, grant Man the right to take matters into his own hands;
“6. Woman may terminate the Marriage at any time, for any cause, at which point Woman is entitled to 50% of the net worth of Man, even if the Woman ended the Marriage by having a torrid affair with Man’s hated office rival (Hated Office Rival);
“7. Woman is entitled to support payments from Man for her issue even if it is ultimately proven by DNA evidence that Man is not the father of said issue, as if that weren’t obvious from the fact that said issue looks like Hated Office Rival;
“8. Woman is entitled to custody of all issue, even if Woman’s idea of being a good mother is to serve microwaved corndog treats for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and
“9. If Man seeks judicial relief from any of the Stipulations of this Agreement, exclusive jurisdiction is vested in a court system which will assume, at every point and at all times, that Man is guilty as charged.”
Many men rationally choose to avoid or delay marriage because of how unfair these social and legal conventions are to men. Marriage is an act whereby men transfer to women controlling authority over the man's wealth, possessions and children.
But that’s not how Kay S. Hymowitz sees it.
In her recent article in City Journal, Hymowitz blames young men’s deferral of marriage on affluence, the availability of pre-marital sex, video games, lad mags and “men’s long, uneasy relationship with bourgeois order.”
As far as Hymowitz is concerned, the problem with men is that they don’t do what women want them to do, specifically, give up their freedom and focus on the marriage and breeding.
“For the problem with child-men is that they’re not very promising husbands and fathers,” Hymowitz writes. “They suffer from a proverbial ‘fear of commitment,’ another way of saying that they can’t stand to think of themselves as permanently attached to one woman. Sure, they have girlfriends; many are even willing to move in with them. But cohabiting can be just another Peter Pan delaying tactic. Women tend to see cohabiting as a potential path to marriage; men view it as another place to hang out or, as Barbara Dafoe Whitehead observes in Why There Are No Good Men Left, a way to ‘get the benefits of a wife without shouldering the reciprocal obligations of a husband.’”
Hymowitz avoids the question of what causes the “fear of commitment,” exactly what those “reciprocal obligations of a husband” truly are. Too often, the fear is caused by the knowledge that, if anything goes wrong with the marriage, the man will shoulder the vast majority of the burden and, if everything goes right, he’ll do the same.
Men are rational actors. When the cost of something becomes too high, they buy less of it. Women have made the cost of marriage so high that, to many men, delaying or avoiding it is the logical reaction. Women, characteristically, complain but do nothing to level the playing field.
About a year ago, I wrote a post about the fact that Western expat women needed to radically change their dating behavior if they wanted to have social lives while living abroad. Western women’s standard dating dance was not tolerated by Western expat men, because the local women were so much more . . . accommodating. And thinner. And less demanding. And younger. And prettier. And more . . . accommodating.
Something similar appears to be happening in the States. The men have jobs which pay enough to buy an HDTV but not enough to cause real stress. They have friends and freedom and freetime, and hookups with no-pressure girls get them through the small hours. It's an idyllic island. If they want to live there forever, that's their right.
But a force of driven, humorless women are banging on the door yelling, "Your absorption with yourself threatens your absorption with us. Come back to living on our terms, where we make rules. If you're a very good boy, there might be a little Nookie in it for you after a while."
"No," says the men. "We know what's in the contract. It's a raw deal. I'm not signing it."
"I’ve read the fine print."