Are young, unmarried women sincere about wanting to be married “some day”?

This comment by Gaza on the Elusive Wapiti blog deserves a post of it’s own. He is responding to the video posted in this post.

He writes [in full]: (one part redacted)

One thing that Helen seems to miss is how women value and prioritize marriage and what role this plays vis a vis the male corollary. 

The “story” isn’t just about men being “on strike” or even (to Helen’s credit) rationally choosing to delay and/or avoid; it must also include how women treat marriage WRT their own valuation and prioritization and life decisions (NOT merely stated desires). 

There are not swarms of 25 y/o female college-grads looking for a husband with no willing men within sight. There are, however, swarms of 25 y/o/ female college-grads looking to have fun, travel, chase dreams, build careers, and explore their options. 

I’ve “dated” a few of these women; most (and their social circles included) are so focused on the self-indulgence (“experience”) and the status associated with sexual conquest/power that any mention of marriage is usually as a joke (enter the “boyfriends/husbands are boring/stupid/lazy” meme); marriage is merely some distant thing to be acquired at some seemingly distant age. 

Sure, over time (cue: the wall), the distant thing becomes a stated desire, but the transition from stated-desire to behavioral change and actual prioritization often takes years. I meet women well into their 30’s who still can’t alter their behaviors to demonstrate congruence with their stated desires. 

But that is when we start to hear how important marriage is, how men are avoiding commitment, why men should value marriage. All bacon-wrapped in various shaming mechanisms. The women singing the “Man-up and marry me” tune are not the 25 y/o versions; they are too busy singing the “you go girl” showtunes, exactly as prescribed by the Sandberg, lean-in, [binge drinking, continuous alpha male hookups, alpha male cohabitation], [and later, jump off the carousel into a marriage to a beta provider that makes her perpetually feel that she married down compared to the alphas that she used to hookup with while drunk].

So we can plainly see how something is valued based on the prioritization of one’s choices. Most young women value marriage as an idea, as a capstone to her personal journey; an indicator of status and achievement but not as a goal in-of-itself and not as a life decision that supersedes the accumulation of personal experience, the flexing her sexual and relationship power, or the kindling her optionality. 

These women desire to “hang-out” with the most attractive men they can, under any number of relationship approximations while pursuing their personal journeys and then suddenly desire to elevate commitment and marriage as something paramount, right around the same time their ability to define and opt-in/out of those indulgent relationship approximations wanes. Hmm.

After 10+ years of treating men and relationships as consumable commodities, marriage is now so valuable? So sacred that it will magically be more robust in the face of challenges, requiring more giving and less taking than those previous marital approximations, and yet because it is now a “Marriage”, it won’t be treated as merely a vehicle for the pursuit of her apparently perpetually fleeting “happiness”? Convince me.

There is a false premise at work that assumes that it is men who are devaluing marriage. Sure, there is some truth to this, but woman are messaging their own valuation of marriage as well; in real-time, often in very overt means and often at the expense of men who are still clinging to some idealistic view of marriage. 

And likely those are the very men who are willing and able to be husbands at 25. The very same men who will grow to become self-sufficient 35 y/o men feeling their own blossoming optionality, harvesting their own “experiences” with the 25 y/o versions of the suddenly-marriage-minded women, while a decade of observational and experiential evidence of what women truly value buries what remains of their marital idealism.

Tl:dr
I’d consider marriage to a woman who has demonstrated through her choices, prioritization, sacrifice and delayed gratification that marriage is valuable to her and who can articulate how it would be valuable to me. [not holding breath]

What do you think? Is that something that you are seeing more of in the current generation of young, unmarried women? I have to confess, I see a lot of emphasis among Christian women on short-term missions trips and on careers, but not much planning on how to be prepared for marriage. In my experience, there is not much preparation work going on, and marriage is put off later and later. This is despite the fact that a woman’s fertility declines starting at age 27 and is pretty much dead at 35. IVF is very expensive, but has a higher risk of birth defects and and can often lead to too many embryos, some of which will then need to be aborted.

It would be nice if there were some wisdom being transferred from older, married women to young, unmarried women, but I don’t see it happening. What I see happening is young women, including ones raised in Christian homes, going off to college to binge drink and hookup and cohabitate, and always expressing the desire for marriage “some day”. But marriage is something you prepare for early with every decision. Some decisions are not good preparation for marriage. I get the impression that young, unmarried women think that marriage is “boring” and not the way to “make a difference”, and so in practice, they are trying other things.

Remember, the offer that a woman such as Gaza describes to a man is not the same as the offer of marriage that was made by 20-year-old women in the 1950s.

Marriage no longer means:

  • Being the legally and socially recognized head of the household.
  • An expectation of regular sex.
  • Legal rights to children.
  • Lifetime commitment.
  • That you are guaranteed a chaste bride on your wedding night.

Men liked the original version of marriage without the modern debasements. Should they feel obligated to settle for the new version of marriage which is influenced by radical feminism? I would have to be convinced.

18 thoughts on “Are young, unmarried women sincere about wanting to be married “some day”?”

  1. There is a lot of truth to this. Both sexes have devalued and avoided marriage, not just men. It’s not just that men and women are putting off marriage (which is bad enough on its own), but they are failing to develop good habits that prepare them for marriage and even actively engaging in bad behaviors (like hooking up, cohabitating, getting set in their ways) that make a good marriage far less likely, even if they ever do get married. In fact, if one wanted to make oneself incapable of ever being a good marriage partner, the behaviors that most women (and men) engage in during their 20’s could not be more suited to the job. So whether or not women say they want to marry, their behaviors are often exactly opposite of what will prepare them to find and marry a good spouse and to have a healthy marriage.

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    1. Good comment. But I don’t agree that men are the ones delaying marriage. Women are, in droves, full stop.

      In my view, women, not men, are the ones driving marriage delay and driving up age at first marriage. Women are the ones putting out the clear signals that they are NOT willing to get married until they have checked off all the other boxes on their “to do” lists. Women are the ones rejecting men left and right, refusing to date any but the top, most attractive men.

      With regard to male behavior, you suffer from apex fallacy. What you’re describing is the conduct of the most attractive men, who are getting everything they want from women without marrying them. You see this conduct by the most attractive men and erroneously, fallaciously apply it to all men, thinking that all men are out there having lots of sex and partying it up and refusing to marry. Uh, no. What is really going on is that most of these men are struggling to get through school, working their tails off trying to make some money and get a career started, and trying to present themselves as husband material, only to get rejected dozens and hundreds of times.

      Some of these men are slacking off, making just enough to get by and pay rent to mom and dad, and have given up. They gave up because they have no chance at succeeding. They have no skills. Even if they get a skill, they cannot get a job. Even if they get a job, they can’t earn enough to live independently and support even themselves, much less anyone else. Even if they are good earners, they’ve learned they’re not attractive enough to hold the interest of and attract a desirable woman. Even if they can attract a desirable woman, the risks are enormous and not worth it. The women around them have made it clear they aren’t interested in them, don’t want them, and don’t need them.

      So no, men are not the ones delaying marriage here.

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  2. “This is despite the fact that a woman’s fertility declines starting at age 27 and is pretty much dead at 35.”
    Just for the sake of accuracy, I’ll quibble with this a little. Most women reach their peak fertility in their mid-20’s (some say 23-29). Fertility starts to decline somewhat after 30 with a rapid drop beginning at 35 or so. So fertility is not dead at 35, but does begin to decline rapidly at that point. A good number of women can conceive naturally up to age 41 or so, but it’s often far more difficult after 35. More importantly, there are no guarantees, and there are many women in their mid-30’s who are unable to conceive. Thus, women who want to have children need to prioritize their lives to take advantage of their small window of fertility.

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  3. Good post, WK, and good comment from Gaza, who is earning his stripes well around the ‘sphere.

    I think these girls DO want to marry “someday”. Just “not yet”.

    There are a lot of reasons at play. There’s a “life script” these girls are all following. Modern feminism, society, mainstream media, teachers, family, even pastors and church leaders, feed them this script.

    The “script” consists of this: First, graduate high school, then college/further school, then work and make some money. At the same time, travel, have fun with girlfriends, build your “career”, serve the Lord, meet (and if the guy is right, have sex with) fun, good looking, sexually desirable men. Then maybe some more school, master’s program or something. (Even church girls are following this script, including the sex part.)

    Then, around age 28, she will meet the “Right Man” (the most attractive of whom she believes have been just waiting for her to finish all the things and check off all the boxes on her “Script”), and they will marry.

    But the man, the time, the job, the place, and all the circumstances have to align just right; they have to be absolutely PERFECT. Otherwise, she won’t marry. Change jobs for him? Nope. Marry in college and finish school somewhere else? Fuggedabout it. Move for HIS job? No way, not if it means sacrificing MY career, says she.

    This is a result of a lot of reasons. Primarily, it’s because female attitudes surrounding marriage have completely changed. For women, marriage is no longer about choosing a suitable man and building something together, and raising children together, and staying together no matter what. Now, marriage exists solely to provide the participants (especially the woman) with “happiness.” Marriage is supposed to make the woman “happy”. The husband is supposed to be perfect, the kids perfect and fulfilling to her. She must have a “fulfilling” career that provides her with “meaningful”, “challenging” work. The sex with her husband needs to be “mind blowing” and “earth-shattering” all the time.

    There are never to be any difficulties or hardships or bumps in the road. If there are, then she becomes “unhappy” and therefore, something is grievously wrong in the marriage. Usually, to her, it is because the husband has done something or has “changed”, and therefore, he is the source of the unhappiness and must be removed.

    Modern society tells women that marriage can be very dangerous if it doesn’t work out. They are filled with all sorts of “what ifs”, mostly from their fathers. “What if he up and divorces you? What if he cheats? What if he gets disabled or demented or dies? What if he can’t work? What if he loses his job? Daughter, you have to have something to fall back on. You need a job, a career, money of your own. You need to be able to do for yourself if a man can’t or won’t do for you.”

    None of this is reality, though. In reality, marriage is neither really blissfully happy all the time; nor is marriage fraught with all manner of pitfalls and dangers. All marriages have some good times and some rough patches. All marriages have triumphs and tragedies, good parts and disappointments. A big part of the problem is women believing that there are NEVER supposed to be ANY problems, rough patches, tragedies or disappointments. The problem is women believing that if there ARE such problems, tragedies or disappointments, it’s always because of the man, or it means the marriage is doomed, or it means that she never should have married him.

    That’s the problem, really. “Marriage” isn’t really biblical marriage anymore, and the “script” doesn’t call for marriage until the end of her fertility window.

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  4. And so I think a huge, huge part of the problem here is that there is this “life script”, and women do not want to deviate from the “script”. So these women are saying “I want to get married, but NOT YET.”

    If a suitable guy comes along and presents himself and starts talking commitment and marriage, she freaks out and the alarm bells go off. “NO!! NOT YET!! It’s TOO SOON!! The script doesn’t call for the “Right Man” to enter stage right yet! Right now it’s time for fun/work/travel/dating/missions! DO NOT MARRY HIM! NOT YET! You need to WAIT! He needs to WAIT!”

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  5. Wapiti is right, Women – even 99% of so called “Christian” women only thing of marriage when their options start to reduce.

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  6. Blogger Cail Corishev and I touched on this at Cail’s place quite a while back. Here’s the link:

    https://cailcorishev.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/navigating-the-murky-sexual-marketplace-good-girl-edition/comment-page-1/

    Here’s one of my comments from the thread.
    __________________

    I think these women are open to marriage. I think they’re willing to marry. I just don’t think they are pursuing marriage, actively looking for marriage, actively looking for and seeking out men who would be good husbands.

    I think there are lots of reasons for this.

    1. Some are looking for boyfriends in the hopes that boyfriend will become husband. So she looks for superhot and attractive men, in the hopes that she can persuade Alpha McGorgeous to become Eddie Steadyman . Or maybe she hopes she’ll be around when Alpha decides to “settle down” and morph into Eddie.

    2. Closely related to this is that for some, their standards are way, way too high relative to their marriage market values. Some of these girls get attention from high status men who move on when the girls don’t put out. Women are not going to get marriage proposals today from men with options. With pockets of exceptions here and there, it’s just not going to happen.

    3. There is a manifested female attitude that marriage “just happens”. It is something that you don’t make happen; you just sit back and let it happen. Don’t force it, don’t encourage it; it will happen when the time’s right and when all the circumstances align just right. This is probably a result of the Disney Princess/romantic comedy movie in which all love interests are neatly and effortlessly tied up in 2 hours.

    4. But I think the biggest cause of this “keeping away the proposals” is that most of these women simply display (subconsciously or not) that they’re following the “script” of:

    school> college> job > grad/professional school> job > vanity vacation to Europe/Latin America > mindless consumerism > maybe marriage someday when I’m 30 > maybe 2.4 kids > 5 bedroom colonial in the suburbs.

    Interspersed in there of course are boyfriends (no sex of course) who give up or ditch them when they can’t get sex.

    Note that it’s school and college definitely, travel definitely, job/career definitely. But marriage and kids are “MAYBEs” MAYBE, HOPEFULLY I”ll get married. PERHAPS I’ll have kids.
    Also, this is pretty much exactly the script of the apex alpha male, or at least the perceived “script”. So we have women trying or wanting to try to live out what she THINKS her ideal husband is living out before she meets and marries him, probably in an effort to put herself in the right place to meet him or in a vain, futile effort to make herself more attractive to him.

    This is everywhere, of course. The main reason is because women everywhere are being raised by men and women infected and infested with feminism. Many are raised by single moms in broken homes. There is a distinct undercurrent of instruction saying that a woman has to be able to take care of herself because she might not be able to count on a man to be there for her when she needs him. Marriages break up; end in divorce. A husband might leave you. Husbands die. Husbands aren’t there when you need them because some are workaholics, and some are just not very good or caring husbands. So, girls, you have to be self-sufficient, because you can’t depend on a man.

    Maybe these girls don’t mean to put off this vibe. But the problem is that it’s very, very , very hard for most men in the culture to distinguish between (1) Christian girls who are really, really serious about finding husbands; (2) Christian girls who are open to marriage and willing to marry if the guy and time and circumstances are juuuuust right; and (3) Churchian Evangelical American Princesses who SAY they want husbands to the beta orbiters but play the slut role everywhere else.

    5. There is a wide difference between the pool of men she is attracted to; and the pool of men who would be willing to marry her. Stated another way, the typical Christian woman isn’t attracted to most of the men who would be willing to marry her. The pool of men to whom she is attracted AND who would be willing to marry her is small. And she is either unwilling or unable to do the necessary work to find these men and select from them.

    To add to this: I really think that for a lot of women who are open to marriage and are willing to marry, these women’s expectations for marriage and their standards for possible husbands are manifestly unreasonable.

    They won’t marry until it’s EXACTLY the right time, when she’s really ready. They won’t marry until they have some financial security. They won’t marry unless the man is perfect or near-perfect. They won’t marry until they have a place to live. They won’t marry until they both have good jobs in the same location. They won’t marry until they are both confirmed/baptized in exactly the same faith tradition. She won’t marry until she’s convinced she has some financial and other security and it won’t be “hard” or she won’t have to “struggle”.

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  7. Well Im a younger aged Christian woman and I want to be married. Im chaste, love apologetics, and I love to serve. I dont party, I dont drink, and I currently only get involved with men if we are aiming to be in a courtship.

    I very rarely see men who are actually marriage material. Most of the Christian guys that I know love to chase feminists and independent women who could take or leave them. Maybe its just my culture though. I am a minority.

    I very rarely see a guy who has a legitimate vision that he has planned out and can accomplish, is strong in Christian doctrine and apologetics, can properly provide for a family, can commit to something long term, and doesn’t rely on his ‘feelings’ 24/7.

    Its slim pickings for women out here. Ive been reading a lot of manosphere blogs and the problem that I see with most men is that they assume that Christian young women do not want to get married. This is not the case. Me and a lot of my friends want to get married.

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    1. I had the same problem. I was preparing myself for marriage in my teens and looking for a suitable husband from about 18 onward. I kept myself chaste, could discuss the Bible, apologetics, politics, or pretty much any topic with intelligence and knowledge, knew how to cook and take care of a home and children, earned a degree in biology, was involved in a church, lost weight, grew my hair long, wore attractive, but modest dresses all the time…but there were no single men that I knew who were seeking marriage or even had a plan or their life together. Most were living with parents or goofing off while supposedly getting a degree. None of them ever approached me with any intentions. I got pick up lines thrown at me at work by non-Christian men I barely said hi to (apparently, working in customer service means you’re interested in being hit on by men you’ve merely been polite to), but Christian men either didn’t have the courage or weren’t interested in asking me for a relationship. I never once had a Christian man ask me out until age 24 when my now-husband and I started dating. So you can’t tell me that it’s all women’s fault. We can’t do the asking and have to wait for men to make a move. If they don’t have any interest in seeking marriage, we’re stuck.

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    2. A lot of guys lack confidence. Most women have some good guys in their lives but who lack confidence. If you can locate those guys and build a relationship with them then your chances of helping one of them get up the confidence to pursue you will greatly increase. Good luck.

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      1. I think this is a fine sentiment, and I wish that more women took that to heart. Pick the good guys, build their confidence. The way I do this in reverse is by leading good women to study and then do amazing things. Confidence comes out of achievement, and that can be a structured part of a relationship. Something each person intentionally plans and provides for the other as a way of loving them, and loving God. God is interested in us building each other up. He wants skilled laborers.

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  8. I think you are spot on. As far as older married women passing on wisdom to younger unmarried women, take heart. I think that is happening on a small scale. Hopefully it will increase. And it doesn’t have to be married women passing on the wisdom. I’ve been divorced 20 years and raised two children by myself. I’ve been able to pass on to my children what I’ve learned from my mistakes. My daughter is married to a conservative seminary student. She married at 20. She is happy. Happy in a very traditional marriage. Take heart. I hope and pray we have had our fill of divorce and one night stands and will wake up to what really is good, true and beautiful in traditional Christian marriage.

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  9. D:

    “I very rarely see a guy who has a legitimate vision that he has planned out and can accomplish, is strong in Christian doctrine and apologetics, can properly provide for a family, can commit to something long term, and doesn’t rely on his ‘feelings’ 24/7.”

    The truth is you want a ready-made perfect Christian man as a husband but you’ve never asked yourself how you can help him achieve that.

    “… they assume that Christian young women do not want to get married.”

    That’s because of the attitude these women carry. That’s because these women do not, in any way or any attempt, give them signals that they can be potential wives and helpmeets. Most of the time, these women are not approachable.

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    1. This.

      Spot on.

      If young women would turn their attentions away from men their own age, and look at men a bit older, they’re more likely to find ones more settled in their careers, etc.

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