Is marriage a good deal for men? How can we make it a better deal for men?

The Elusive Wapiti, a Christian men’s rights blogger, posted this video from Dr. Helen Reynolds, author of “The Marriage Strike”. In the video, she gives 6 reasons why men are shying away from marriage. I agree with some of her reasons, but I wanted to respond and give the positive case for marriage. Also, I think it is worth reading a very challenging comment from “Gaza” in that post, who says that women are pushing marriage off for too long so that they end up not being prepared for it even if they meet a marriage-minded man.

So, onto to the positive aspects of marriage for men.

Let me quote from this NIH publication, which argues that marriage is a great value for men.

Look:

One of the strongest, most consistent benefits of marriage is better physical health and its consequence, longer life. Married people are less likely than unmarried people to suffer from long-term illness or disability (Murphy et al. 1997), and they have better survival rates for some illnesses (Goodwin et al. 1987). They have fewer physical problems and a lower risk of death from various causes, especially those with a behavioral component; the health benefits are generally larger for men (Ross et al. 1990).

A longitudinal analysis based on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a large national sample, documents a significantly lower mortality rate for married individuals (Lillard and Waite 1995). For example, simulations based on this research show that, other factors held constant, nine out of ten married women alive at age 48 would still be alive at age 65; by contrast, eight out of ten never-married women would survive to age 65. The corresponding comparison for men reveals a more pronounced difference: nine out of ten for the married group versus only six out of ten for those who were never married (Waite and Gallagher 2000).

And more:

Recent studies based on longitudinal data have found that getting married (and staying married to the same person) is associated with better mental health outcomes. Horwitz et al. (1996), Marks and Lambert (1998), and Simon (2002) present evidence of improvements in emotional well-being following marriage, and declines following the end of a union. Marks and Lambert (1998) report that marital gain affects men and women in the same way, but marital loss is generally more depressing for women. Analyses that control for the selection of the psychologically healthy into marriage, and also include a wider range of measures of mental well-being, find that although there are differences by sex in the types of emotional responses to marital transitions, the psychological benefits associated with marriage apply equally to men and women (Horwitz et al. 1996; Simon 2002).

Marriage is also associated with greater overall happiness. Analysis of data from the General Social Surveys of 1972–96 shows that, other factors held constant, the likelihood that a respondent would report being happy with life in general is substantially higher among those who are currently married than among those who have never been married or have been previously married; the magnitude of the gap has remained fairly stable over the past 35 years and is similar for men and women (Waite 2000).

And more:

A large body of literature documents that married men earn higher wages than their single counterparts. This differential, known as the “marriage premium,” is sizable. A rigorous and thorough statistical analysis by Korenman and Neumark (1991) reports that married white men in America earn 11 percent more than their never-married counterparts, controlling for all the standard human capital variables. Between 50 and 80 percent of the effect remains, depending on the specification, after correcting for selectivity into marriage based on fixed unobservable characteristics. Other research shows that married people have higher family income than the nonmarried, with the gap between the family income of married and single women being wider than that between married and single men (Hahn 1993). In addition, married people on average have higher levels of wealth and assets (Lupton and Smith 2003). The magnitude of the difference depends on the precise measure used, but in all cases is far more than twice that of other household types, suggesting that this result is not merely due to the aggregation of two persons’ wealth.

And more:

Beyond its integrative function, emphasized above, marriage also has a regulative function. Married individuals, especially men, are more likely than their single counterparts to have someone who closely monitors their health-related conduct; marriage also contributes to self-regulation and the internalization of norms for healthful behavior (Umberson 1987). Positive and negative externalities within marriage also play a role: when an individual behaves in a way that is conducive to good health, the benefits spill over to the spouse; similarly, unhealthy behaviors inflict damage not only on the individual but also on the partner. In this way, marriage promotes healthy conduct. In addition, the enhanced sense of meaning and purpose provided by marriage inhibits self-destructive activities (Gove 1973). Consistent with this channel of causality, married individuals have lower rates of mortality for virtually all causes of death in which the person’s psychological condition and behavior play a major role, including suicide and cirrhosis of the liver (Gove 1973). Lillard and Waite (1995) find that for men(but not for women) there is a substantial decline in the risk of death immediately after marriage, which suggests that the regulation of health behaviors is a key mechanism linking marriage to physical health benefits in the case of men.

Now I want to talk about is policies that will help to promote marriage, because that will help to make marriage safer and more attractive to men.

And for that, we go to the Family Research Council.

They write:

Our tax policy should protect and encourage marriage. The marriage penalty should be eliminated, so that married couples do not pay higher taxes than single people or cohabiting couples. Along with the aim of strengthening marriage, our tax policy should encourage childbearing and adoption. The 2001 tax relief bill signed by President Bush provided a gradual phase-out of part of the marriage penalty[75] by 2010, a phased-in doubling of the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000, and a doubling of the adoption tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000. But this tax bill expires in 2011. In his 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush called for more prompt tax relief, including immediate marriage-penalty relief and a permanent increase in the child tax credit to $1,000. Representative Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) recently introduced the Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act, which would make the adoption tax credit permanent. These tax measures would ensure that married couples do not pay higher taxes simply because they are married and that families receive much-needed tax relief.

Along with providing tax credits, the government should adequately fund abstinence-until-marriage programs, which are very effective in teaching young people how to save sex for marriage. With one out of three babies born out of wedlock today, young people need this message more than ever. The federal government has provided some abstinence-until-marriage funding in recent years, but comprehensive sex education/contraception programs, which downplay abstinence and encourage sexual activity and condom use, are vastly over-funded in comparison. In 2002, abstinence-until-marriage programs received $102 million, while teen sex education and contraception programs received at least $427.7 million.

[…]Welfare reform should aim to strengthen marriage, because the breakdown of marriage is a root cause of poverty, as most welfare recipients are never-married or divorced mothers.

[…]Historically, welfare laws in the United States have been anti-marriage. The old welfare system, under the Aid to Dependent Families program (AFDC), taught single mothers two lessons: don’t work and don’t get married, or your benefits will decrease. Even though the landmark welfare reform law of 1996 encouraged marriage and imposed the family cap ending the reward for illegitimacy, marriage penalties still exist in the welfare law. The welfare system is composed largely of means-tested aid programs, which reduce benefits as non-welfare income increases. This means that if a single mother marries, she will lose welfare benefits; therefore, it is more lucrative for her to stay single. This anti-marriage bias should be removed or at least reduced in order to encourage marriage and discourage single parenthood and cohabitation.

The problem with that last one is that Obama gutted the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. I think that was favorable to the people who tend to vote Democrat, but not good for those of us who favor marriage. In fact, Democrats in general oppose all three of those pro-marriage policies, as well as supporting no-fault divorce laws and opposing shared parenting laws.

So I guess I am posting these ideas to let women who want to get married know that there are definitely things that are scaring men off of marriage, and that nothing makes a man less scared of marriage than a woman who is aware of these dangers, enthusiastic about the benefits for men, and passionate about pro-marriage policies.

 

5 thoughts on “Is marriage a good deal for men? How can we make it a better deal for men?”

  1. I wonder if this study included gay men it the never-married category because that would skew the results, unless of the total number sampled, gay men did not make up more than 2 percent.

    BTW, on an unrelated note: your traffic feed shows that I’m signing on from Bedias, Texas. If you ever drove through Bedias, you would wonder if they even had the internet, the town is so small. It only has a stop sign. Not sure why I’m not coming up on Brenham, College Station or Bryan, TX.

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    1. Govt report this year indicated 1.6% of population is homosexual so I doubt they would skew the results one way or another.

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  2. This site, the Wapiti, Dr. Helen, and the like just don’t get it. At its core level this is about more than men shying away from marriage. The so called “marriage strike” is only a symptom.

    The essence of the problem (if it really is a problem) is men like me. We look at the conventional social ethos through squinty eyes and say, “No thanks”. Not just to marriage but to all of it. The so called “American dream”.

    But, this outlook presents all sorts of social problems for us. Thus we make up all manner of excuses for not conforming. Then people like Dr. Helen confuse our excuses for legitimate gripes. Then we start believing our own excuses. In reality we just aren’t interested in the current middle class lifestyle. What we are doing looks better.

    Sure, the traditional marriage-minded men and the men’s rights types have legitimate complaints. They are the minority and they mostly marry (and bitch about it on the web). Men like me don’t really care about any of that.

    You want to fix marriage? Make middle class lifestyle less like slavery. Good luck with that math.

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  3. I don’t understand the hostility in these comments. Marriage should be a good thing and something attractive to men. If men don’t want it, it’s because it has developed into something not attractive. It continues to hold less and less advantages for men. Wintery Knight is only trying to say that marriage is good and needs to get better. And part of the way it gets better is by men taking part in it. I don’t see why anyone needs to argue against that.

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  4. A repeal of VAWA, no fault divorce and the cash and prizes for evil divorcing women is one, and the government interference in marriage overall.

    The promotion of wifely submission(Ephesians 5:22-24) even if he does not obey the word(1 peter 3:1-6) and a biblical rebuttal of mutual submission based on the flimsy reading of Ephesians 5:21, the promotion of motherhood and the elevation of biblical patriarchy exemplified in God the Father.

    An advertisement if you will for marriage will go like this:
    ” It starts with an average-looking man in a suit, someone most guys could identify with, coming home from a day at the office. He looks kind of worn-out and stressed. He parks his car, sighs a bit, then walks up to his house. He opens the door.

    The first thing seen when the door opens is his non-offensively pretty wife dressed femininely. She looks up from working in the kitchen and sees he’s stressed, so she comes up to him with a smile on her face and gives him a hug and quick kiss on the lips. She takes his bag and says, “Dinner is almost ready, why don’t you sit down?” He gets into his recliner and leans back, his stress visibly fading away. She joyfully brings him a small plate of freshly made cookies and some milk. He thanks her with an expression of mingled gratitude and relief and takes the cookie. While he snacks she says, “How about later…” and bends over and whispers something in his ear while brushing her hand up his leg. The man responds with a large, expectant smile.

    Cut to her calling out that dinner is ready. The man goes to the table to find a delicious home-cooked meal of steak and potatoes, his cute, happy children run up to the table. His wife wipes the dirt smudges off of one of the rascals as they sit down. The man looks on proudly as he sits at the head of the table. His wife sits to his right. She looks at him with an expectant smile, her hand on his arm, and he proudly says grace for the family.

    During the prayer fade to black and end with the tagline: Worth being a man for.”

    http://freenortherner.com/2013/08/27/2211/?theme=suits

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