Tag Archives: Folly

New study: 1 in 8 divorces is caused by student loan debt

I like to make plans in advance and calculate everything out before I try to do anything. This is the curse of being a software engineer. We’re taught to take a test-first approach to design. So, when I think about marriage, I naturally think about what tests marriage is supposed to pass, and work backwards from there to requirements for each of the spouses.

Here’s some research from CNBC that might help young people to avoid a divorce, if they respect the research in their choices.

Excerpt:

When it comes to student loan debt, “for richer, for poorer” doesn’t quite cut it.

In general, finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship, according to a study by SunTrust Bank, but student debt takes a particularly hard toll on a marriage.

More than a third of borrowers said college loans and other money factors contributed to their divorce, according to a recent report from Student Loan Hero, a website for managing education debt.

In fact, 13 percent of divorcees blame student loans specifically for ending their relationship, the report found. Student Loan Hero surveyed more than 800 divorced adults in June.

Here is a link to the full study from Student Loan Hero.

I think in general, you can’t just do whatever you want before marrying and jump into it unprepared. Marriage involves specific requirements in order to work, such as being faithful to your spouse, and buying things that you need for the marriage enterprise, like a home, and baby stuff. It doesn’t make any sense to say “I want to get married” and then not prepare for marriage by being careful about preparing for the behaviors marriage that requires of you. Being debt-free is one of those behaviors that marriage requires of you.

So how can we be debt-free, so that the marriage will be stable? Well, one way to be debt-free is to find a way to learn skills that will allow you to get a job without going to college, like being a self-taught software engineer. One of my friends actually did that, and now he’s with a very good software company as a remote worker. But if you’re going to go to college, you can avoid debt by studying something that will get you a high-paying job when you graduate.

This 2017 article from Harvard Business Review is interesting.

It says:

Examining 46,934 resumes shared on Glassdoor by people who graduated between 2010 and 2017, the researchers looked at each person’s college major and their post-college jobs in the five years after graduation. They then estimated the median pay for each of those jobs (also using Glassdoor data) for employees with five years of experience or less. Their key finding: “Many college majors that lead to high-paying roles in tech and engineering are male dominated, while majors that lead to lower-paying roles in social sciences and liberal arts tend to be female dominated, placing men in higher-paying career pathways, on average.”

Here’s the plot, and you can click it to expand it:

Starting salaries by major, broken out by gender
Median salaries by major, broken out by gender – don’t study things at the bottom!

As you can see from the graph, it’s especially important to share the message about choosing a major, salaries and student loan debt with WOMEN, because as the graph shows, they tend to choose the wrong majors, if the goal is to pay off student loans and avoid divorce. Everyone who wants marriage to go smoothly needs to choose majors that are near the top of the graph, like nursing, chemical engineering, computer science, or mechanical engineering. It doesn’t make sense to go to college if you aren’t going to graduate in one of these high-paying fields.

As you might expect from the graph, women hold the majority of student loan debt, according to the Boston Globe, and that’s because women tend to choose majors that don’t result in good-paying jobs. And we already saw how this becomes a risk factor for divorce.

Student loans delay marriage and children

Another interesting piece of data, reported by The Consumerist, is that people with student loans tend to delay marriage, which means the couple has fewer children:

As consumers navigate life’s financial journey, they are faced with major financial milestones, like buying a home. But student loans are also delaying consumers from reaching these goals.

Survey respondents report delaying homeownership (23 percent), buying or leasing a car (23 percent), having children (10 percent) and getting married (9 percent) because of their student loan burdens.

So, it’s not just that there is an increased risk of divorce from student loans, but there’s also fewer children, which means a diminished legacy. I can’t speak for how others would see this, but for myself, I want to pass on my beliefs to as many effective, influential Christian children as I can.

Anyway, I feel obligated to post a relevant Dave Ramsey video, just to remind everyone that stewardship of money is a Christian virtue, and that being forgiven by Jesus for your sins doesn’t automatically make you good with money. It takes planning and stewardship.

This one from 2014: (H/T Robb)

 

When I was in high school, I was far more interested in becoming an English teacher than I was in becoming a software engineer. It was my Dad who overruled my choice of college major when I was still in high school. He had me take a first-year English course at a local university. When I saw how politicized and useless it was (they were studying all sorts of politically correct postmodern relativist stuff, instead of the Great Works, and they weren’t trying to learn any wisdom from any of it), I chose computer science. I did what was likely to avoid divorce, and likely to support having many children.

Radical feminists explain how feminism prepared them for dating and marriage

These women are very angry, is that why men avoid them?
These women are very angry, is that why men avoid them?

So, quick review. Radical feminism is the view that there are no differences whatsoever between men and women. And the reason why men do better at work is not due to a stronger desire to provide, it’s just caused by sexism in the workplace. Feminists don’t focus on marriage or choose men for marriage ability – that’s “sexist”. So, why don’t men want to date or marry feminists?

I like to read a web site called “Bolde” to find out what feminists are thinking. They have good articles, and even if I disagree with the authors, I do feel sorry for them.

Here’s an article called “I’m All For Feminism, But It’s Kinda Making It Harder To Date” that says:

It doesn’t take much for me to overanalyze a guy’s intentions nowadays. I used to see a guy opening a door for me as nice and polite, but lately, gestures like this have been making me angry. I know the guys offering these acts of chivalry have no intention to make me feel small or lesser than, but now that my eyes have been opened to feminist theory, it’s all I’m able to think about.

[…]When I’m out with a guy and he says one thing that’s even REMOTELY offensive towards women, I find it really hard to recover. I instantly write guys off if they aren’t “woke” to the current social mindset towards gender politics and can’t let it go. Let’s just say I’ve gone on A LOT of first dates that never go anywhere.

[…]All it takes is one quick scroll down my newsfeed and I have enough feminist rants to last me several winters. I think I’ve almost trained my brain to assume ALL men are here to try to put me down and dominate me when that’s far from the truth. I’ve made it kind of an automatic reflex at this point, though.

She actually says in her article that she’s been “brainwashed”. And that’s basically the case. Before feminism, women used to evaluate men for traditional male roles: protector, provider, moral and spiritual leader. They looked for evidence of moral convictions, mentoring, charity, kindness, etc. After feminism, women are more likely to get the tingles for a guy who is tall, pierced and tattooed. To look for husband qualities in a man is “sexist”. Early marriage is “boring”. Having lots of children is “wasting your education”.

It’s pretty clear from reading her article that she would not be a good partner. Men are looking for a woman who will listen to their life plan, and give up the pursuit of fun, thrills and travel in order to help them achieve it. Although it should be obvious, we aren’t going to commit to a woman who is seeking to grab the reins from us, and tear us down. Men tend to be more focused than women on reason and practicality. That’s good, but it’s a very cold existence. We want a woman to be caring and helpful, not a snarky competitor.

Here’s another one from Bolde entitled: “I Say I Want A Good Man But The Idea Of Dating A Mature Guy Scares Me“:

I’ve dated very few men in my life and a whole lot of boys.

[…]I think that I have a need to feel like I’m in charge of romantic situations. It dates back to my childhood issues, I guess. I want to keep the upper hand.

[…] I’m very honest, yes, but I’m emotionally closed-off. There is a definite distinction between the two. There are certain places that I simply don’t (or can’t) go with most people. When I’m confronted with a man who is open with his feelings, it freaks me out.

[…][M]ost of the men I’ve met who are emotionally developed also have the rest of their act together, and it makes me feel like maybe I don’t.

[…]I get paranoid because I hate being at a disadvantage.

[…]I’m not that different from the rest of my generation in some ways. I’m used to the ease of being single, and while ideally I’d like a deep and loving adult relationship, I also know that it takes time and energy that I’m not sure I’m willing to give up.

[…]I’m always falling for men who are unavailable in some way or another. I hate that I’m like this and I know that I operate this way because it feels safer than engaging in risky vulnerability with someone who truly wants to be with me.

[…]I’ve not had many mature relationships in my life. I’ve been in love and I’ve had serious boyfriends, but there was often an element of childishness to our interactions. We never really discussed our futures together or acted… adult. Now I feel like I don’t even know how to begin.

I’ve had experiences with women like this who smashed themselves up on the rocks of bad boys over and over. I think she really explains why it is that so many women are attracted to younger bad boys who don’t want to commit. The truth is that women are scared of commitment. They don’t want to give up their free and easy single lives in order to have to put effort into making a relationship work. They want husbands and homes, but without expectations, responsibilities, or obligations. And the better a man is at manly traits like protecting, providing, and leading on moral and spiritual issues, the less they like him. It’s even worse if he has a good STEM education, a good resume, and a good balance sheet. They deliberately bypass commitment-ready men because they don’t want to be led – even by a good leader.

By the way, in my experience, what she describes above is the natural outworking of being promiscuous with hot bad boys. Women who do that lose trust for men, and they lose their confidence dealing with good men who want to marry them. And naturally all that sex with attractive men makes the woman less content with the one she has to “settle” for – since she didn’t respect men who were good at commitment in the first place. Promiscuity trains people to pre-emptively nuke relationships rather than invest effort into making them work.

Lori Alexander is right: serious Christian men prefer debt-free virgins without tattoos

Marriage stability vs sexual partners,(Teachman et al. JAMF, August 2010)
Marriage stability vs sexual partners,(Teachman et al. JAMF, August 2010)

Christian writer Lori Alexander recently wrote a blog post (H/T Lindsay) urging Christian women to do 3 things:

  1. be a virgin before marriage
  2. be debt-free before marriage
  3. don’t get any tattoos

She also urged women to be cautious about college, because it often gets them into debt. I disagree with her a little here. I always urge young women to earn a STEM degree in college, then work a few years to pay off their loans (if any) before marrying. This is because women, like men, need to have the experience of doing something hard that they don’t “feel” like doing, in order to grow. STEM degrees teach young people that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and that their feelings don’t matter when trying to solve a problem in the real world. It’s a very useful way for women and men to break themselves out of the desire for free and easy happiness that is so common in our time.

Lori’s article drew enormous opposition from both secular and Christian sources. So far, the only people defending her are men’s rights sites, like Dalrock (Christian) and Spawny (non-Christian). Every other “Christian” blog or news site that I read disagreed her article, and argued that premarital sex was no big deal, that having debt was no big deal, and that having tattoos was no big deal.

Let’s take a look at her three points, then I’ll explain why her article is largely correct, and why she is correct about what she asserts about the criteria that godly men have for women.

Even one non-husband premarital sex partner raises risk of divorce
Even one non-husband premarital sex partner raises risk of divorce

Virginity

Regarding her first point, virginity is commanded by the Bible, it’s in line with peer-reviewed studies on marriage quality and stability. The reason that people find this difficult is that they want the freedom to give in to sexual desires without feeling shame. They want to believe that there is no permanent effect. It doesn’t help that parents and pastors are terrified of telling young people, and young women in particular, that promiscuity harms marital stability. Right now, the culture is drowning in feminism. Feminism tells women that the traditional male roles of provider, protector, and spiritual leader are “sexist”. The “best” men are good-looking pro-abortion bad boys. If a Christian woman is not able to think through the meaning of sex with respect to marriage enough to control herself, it seriously harms the stability of her future marriage.

Starting and Mid-Career salaries by profession (click for larger image)
Starting and Mid-Career salaries by profession (click for larger image)

Debt-free

Regarding her second point, almost everything a serious Christian man might plan to do for Christ with his marriage is impacted by finances. From education, to marriage timing, to number of children, to home ownership, early investment, to the success of children. to age of retirement. Less money means fewer choices, and less ability to counter challenges. Think of how important money for legal defense is to Christian-owned businesses who are being persecuted, for example. The reason that many people find the Bible’s teaching on stewardship difficult is that they don’t want to exercise self-control with money if they don’t feel like it. They want to waste money seeking fun and thrills, and then act like their poverty could not be avoided. Being debt-free is an indicator of practical wisdom and self-control in a woman.

Hugh Hewitt's "In, But Not Of", Chapter 9: Tattoos, Don't
Chapter 9 of Hugh Hewitt’s “In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition”

Tattoos

Tattoos are a problem for serious Christian men for several reasons. First, they cost money and for no gain, and can even cause you losses in your career. Second, most people get them because of low self-esteem or vanity or to look rebellious or to look dangerous. None of these motivations should be acted upon by someone with a robust Christian worldview. The money could be better used on charity, or investments, etc. Women show what their priorities really are by how they spend their money and time. Show me a woman’s bookshelf, and I’ll tell you how seriously she has thought about what it means to be a Christian in all areas of life. Instead of showing me your tattoos to demonstrate your “spirituality”, show me your apologetics books, to demonstrate your intellectual engagement. And tell me how you used that information to engage in conversations with educated non-Christians to answer their challenges to your faith. That way I’ll know that you use your money to train do hard things in order to have an influence for Christ in serious, practical, effective ways. A woman who can defend her faith and discuss Christianity with non-Christians is demonstrating her ability to raise Christian children in a secular society.

A family praying and reading the Bible
A family praying and reading the Bible

The goal of marriage is to serve God

Today, young people have been taught to follow their hearts, and to deny that there is any authority or practical wisdom that should govern their decisions. They always imagine themselves to be exempt from moral rules, statistics, cause and effect, etc. They think they know better than everyone else – even though they do almost no research on their own. Every adviser who tells them to study computer science instead of creative writing is wrong. Their same-age friends know more about what causes divorces than peer-reviewed research papers. And money should be spent on skydiving and zip-lining, regardless of what financial experts like Dave Ramsey might say.

A woman who has made many mistakes cannot fix those mistakes with words. Rationalizations, evasions, and blame-shifting do not work to show that there has been real repentance. The man can only assess whether grace has caused any real re-prioritization of goals by evaluating her outward actions over a long period of time. Furthermore, if a woman who has made mistakes attacks those who correct her from Bible’s teachings on chastity, stewardship, etc., then it’s a sign that there is no real repentance.

Choosing a wife wisely doesn’t mean that Christian men treat OTHER Christian women poorly. Christian men love all the Christian women. We care for them and support them. But when a man chooses a wife, he is choosing someone who will have more influence on his ability to serve God than anyone else. In my case, the goals for my marriage involve making a difference with apologetics in the church, having many children who will receive the educations and careers they need to have an influence, influencing government to promote Christian-friendly policies, charitable giving, mentoring young Christians, modeling a good marriage to others, and having a home that can serve to host discussions about issues that matter. These things are not free – they take careful planning and execution to achieve.

Lori’s advice is  intended for men who are serious about making their marriage produce a return for God. Men who are chaste themselves. Men who accept the Bible as an authority. Men who earned STEM degrees, instead of easy nonsense degrees that don’t lead to good careers. Men who earn 6-figure salaries, who buy houses for cash, and who are on track have a 7-figure net worth by age 50. Men who made good decisions cannot risk marrying someone who hasn’t prepared for marriage. The wrong woman in the home could ruin the man’s effort to produce a marriage that gives glory to God.

Not every man intends to achieve something for God with his marriage, but those who do need to choose a woman who has demonstrated ability at doing the job. For example, if the job requires marital fidelity, then chastity is a good indicator that the woman has the necessary self-control. If the job requires frugality, and practicality, then being debt-free, having a STEM degree, and having some private sector work experience are good indicators that she’s qualified for the role. Nothing valuable in life is ever been achieved by being lazy, wild and irresponsible. Serious Christian men look for wives who have applied themselves to difficult tasks that they didn’t feel like doing, who achieved success by remaining committed to the plan, in spite of their unhappy feelings and unmet desires.

We have a problem in the church such that we aren’t serious about teaching young people to develop marriage-ready character and to make serious plans for marriage. We are teaching them to follow their hearts, and that their feelings and desires are clues about God’s will for their happiness. We are teaching them to be uncomfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations to others. We are teaching them not to do their own research. We are teaching them not to make practical, wise plans. We are teaching them to ATTACK those who try to get them to be serious about doing what is likely to work. This approach is not working.

My own criteria for a wife are more demanding than Lori’s. My advice there is only for serious Christian men who want their marriage to serve God.