Tag Archives: No-Fault Divorce

The new “Marriage Story” movie is a false picture of divorce

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

I think Sean McDowell is the best scholar to recommend to people who are interested in getting better at defending their faith. He has a splendid wide-reaching worldview, and conservative positions on controversial issues that other apologists won’t touch. He tweeted out a very interesting article from Suzanne Venker, where she reviews a new movie.

You might remember that Suzanne Venker is a pro-marriage writer who thinks that radical feminism has harmed women, and discouraged men from marrying. Here is what she had to say about the new feminist movie “Marriage Story” in The Federalist.

“Marriage Story” is billed as an intense drama about a stage director [Charlie] and his actor wife [Nicole] “who struggle through a grueling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them to their personal and creative extremes.” Although the couple has an 8-year-old son, the focus of the film is… about Nicole’s feelings, Nicole’s choices, Nicole’s needs, and Nicole’s desires. Charlie just goes along for the ride. What choice does he have? Based on a 2017 report by Stanford’s Michael Rosenfeld, this story seems to align with divorce trends, as women initiate 69 percent of divorces in the United States.

Indeed, “Marriage Story” is a predictable feminist screed. Its message couldn’t have been more glaring if it tried: Marriage is a jail sentence for women. If you’re not happy, leave. Oh, and take the kid with you. And while you’re at it, you might as well sabotage your husband’s livelihood, forcing him to uproot the life you both built and move across the country in order to be able to see his son for half the amount of time he normally would, thereby irrevocably altering the course of this father-son relationship — particularly since Nicole’s new man has entered the equation.

[…]What you won’t learn is that “Marriage Story” beautifully demonstrates the madness of modern-day childhood. No one’s supposed to mention that because to look at what’s happened between Charlie and Nicole through Henry’s eyes would destroy the narrative. To focus on what writer and director Noah Baumbach wanted to — “telling a love story by doing it in the course of a divorce” — it is crucial to dismiss Henry’s needs, because to a child, divorce is no love story.

By the way, speaking of children’s rights, parents should definitely read Katy Faust’s latest article in The Federalist.

I wanted to suggest a much better movie about divorce than “Marriage Story”. When I was young, I went through this phase of wanting to grow up very fast. I just could not stand being around people my own age, with their obsessions with popularity and fun. So, I got myself a white collar job and started renting every classic movie in the movie rental place. Two of my favorites were “Kramer vs Kramer” and “Ordinary People”. They made much better movies back then. Kramer vs Kramer is the one about divorce which I think accurately portrays the effects of divorce on children.

Here is the summary from the far-left Wikipedia: (I’m leaving out the ending)

Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is a workaholic advertising executive who has just been assigned a new and very important account. Ted arrives home and shares the good news with his wife Joanna (Meryl Streep) only to find that she is leaving him. She leaves Ted to raise their son Billy (Justin Henry) by himself. Ted and Billy initially resent one another as Ted no longer has time to carry his increased workload, and Billy misses his mother’s love and attention. After months of unrest, Ted and Billy learn to cope and gradually bond as father and son.

Ted befriends his neighbor Margaret (Jane Alexander), who had initially counseled Joanna to leave Ted if she was that unhappy. Margaret is a fellow single parent, and she and Ted become kindred spirits. One day, as the two sit in the park watching their children play, Billy falls off the jungle gym, severely cutting his face. Ted sprints several blocks through oncoming traffic carrying Billy to the hospital, where he comforts his son during treatment.

Fifteen months after she walked out, Joanna returns to New York to claim Billy, and a custody battle ensues. During the custody hearing, both Ted and Joanna are unprepared for the brutal character assassinations that their lawyers unleash on the other. Margaret is forced to testify that she had advised an unhappy Joanna to leave Ted, though she also attempts to tell Joanna on the stand that her husband has profoundly changed. Eventually, the damaging facts that Ted was fired because of his conflicting parental responsibilities which forced him to take a lower-paying job come out in court, as do the details of Billy’s accident.[3] His original salary was noted as “$33,000 a year” (equivalent to $114,000 in 2018), whereas he was forced to admit that his new salary was only “$28,200” (equivalent to $97,000 in 2018), after Joanna has told the court that her “present salary” as a sportswear designer is “$31,000 a year”.[3]

The court awards custody to Joanna, a decision mostly based on the Tender years doctrine. Ted discusses appealing the case, but his lawyer warns that Billy himself would have to take the stand in the resulting trial. Ted cannot bear the thought of submitting his child to such an ordeal, and decides not to contest custody.

I come from a legal immigrant family of non-whites, and there just WAS no divorce anywhere in our family. We’re half Muslim and half Hindu, and we just don’t divorce. There was a lot of fighting in my family growing up, but divorce was out of the question for my parents. But I remember having to deal with the violent tempers of boys in my public schools who had divorced parents. Divorce really hurt those kids. That’s why I try to blog about it here – the Bible is against divorce, and I want to explain to Christians why God’s rules against divorce ought to be respected.

I’m not going to link to studies here about how divorce affects children, because I’ve done that in other places. I just wanted to let you know that feminism is strong in our culture, and they want to make divorce into a creative adventure. Don’t let movies sway you away from what the Bible teaches. And when you defend what the Bible teaches about divorce, make sure you have the facts about radical feminism’s promotion of divorce and how divorce affects men and children.

Why is it so difficult for a working man to be sole provider and leader of a home?

Welfare spending
Welfare spending

So, I’ve noticed that many men who are interested in marriage have been running into problems with their plans. One challenge is the problem of the financial costs of marriage. In order to undertake a marriage enterprise, men have to believe that they can pay the bills. And this is especially challenging to men who want a stay-at-home wife to raise their children.

*Please note that I am talking about unmarried (never married, divorced) women throughout this post.

Here’s my argument for why I think that feminism has made it harder for men to afford to get married:

  1. Feminism caused no-fault divorce.
  2. No-fault divorce laws led to more frequent divorces.
  3. Divorced women turn to government for financial support.
  4. Taxes increase in order to pay for more government spending.
  5. Men who were interested in marriage were hit with higher taxes, which made marriage enterprise financially unfeasible for them.

Here’s the evidence for each point.

1. Feminism was behind no-fault divorce, according to this feminist, pro-no-fault-divorce writer.

Excerpt:

Households of 2010 don’t look quite like they did in 1969, when no-fault divorce actually was a controversial topic and these counter-arguments held some weight. The working dad/stay-at-home mom model of the middle class has been replaced by two-parent earner households and a growing number of working mom/stay-at-home dad arrangements. In working poor and impoverished families, the one-parent provider model was never the norm. No-fault divorce seemed scary when it had never before existed, but the truth is that its introduction was long overdue. Feminist groups at the time supported no-fault divorce, as it provided women an escape hatch from desperately unhappy marriages in a society where they were already disadvantaged on almost every level, regardless of their marital status. Imagine an abusive marriage in 1968, when the court-savvy abuser could actually force the victim to stay in the relationship forever. Imagine that now, and you know why domestic violence attorneys are in full support of introducing no-fault divorce to New York. And the judges aren’t the only problem.

Note that the author of this piece thinks that it is not women’s fault that they choose men who they then want to divorce. It’s not the woman’s fault that she is unhappy with the man she courted with and then chose and then made vows to. She isn’t responsible for choosing a good man with chastity, sobriety, moral convictions, etc. She thinks that women shouldn’t be held responsible for their choices. Also, feminists think that children do fine without fathers.

2. Easier divorces means more divorces.

Abstract:

This paper analyzes a panel of 18 European countries spanning from 1950 to 2003 to examine the extent to which the legal reforms leading to “easier divorce” that took place during the second half of the 20th century have contributed to the increase in divorce rates across Europe. We use a quasi-experimental set-up and exploit the different timing of the reforms in divorce laws across countries. We account for unobserved country-specific factors by introducing country fixed effects, and we include country-specific trends to control for time-varying factors at the country level that may be correlated with divorce rates and divorce laws, such as changing social norms or slow moving demographic trends. We find that the different reforms that “made divorce easier” were followed by significant increases in divorce rates. The effect of no-fault legislation was strong and permanent, while unilateral reforms only had a temporary effect on divorce rates. Overall, we estimate that the legal reforms account for about 20 percent of the increase in divorce rates in Europe between 1960 and 2002.

It seems obvious, but more evidence never hurts. About 70% of divorces are initiated by women, either because they chose to marry the wrong man, or because they become unhappy with the right man.

3. Marital instability causes women to vote for bigger government for security.

Excerpt:

Giving women the right to vote significantly changed American politics from the very beginning. Despite claims to the contrary, the gender gap is not something that has arisen since the 1970s. Suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government expenditures and revenue, and these effects continued growing as more women took advantage of the franchise. Similar changes occurred at the federal level as female suffrage led to more liberal voting records for the state’s U.S. House and Senate delegations. In the Senate, suffrage changed voting behavior by an amount equal to almost 20 percent of the difference between Republican and Democratic senators. Suffrage also coincided with changes in the probability that prohibition would be enacted and changes in divorce laws.

[…]More work remains to be done on why women vote so differently, but our initial work provides scant evidence that it is due to self-interest arising from their employment by government. The only evidence that we found indicated that the gender gap in part arises from women’s fear that they are being left to raise children on their own (Lott and Kenny 1997). If this result is true, the continued breakdown of the family and higher divorce rates imply growing political conflicts between the sexes.

Bigger government must be paid for by higher taxes, which makes it harder for one working man’s income to provide for a family. In fact, feminists wanted men to be displaced as sole-providers. They would prefer that women are “equal” to men, and that means making women get out and work like men. It was no concern of theirs that children would be raised by strangers in daycares and government schools.

4. Women are in fact observed to vote for bigger government.

Excerpt:

On Tuesday, the nation made history. It made history in electing the first African American president; it made history in building a bigger margin for the first female Speaker of the House; it made history in delivering the biggest Democratic margin since 1964; it made history in sending a record number of people to the polls and the highest percentage turnout since the 1960 election. Analysts will spend the next few months sifting through the data, trying to figure out what happened and why. Historians will likely spend the next several years and decades studying this election, as well. But one thing is immediately clear. Unmarried women played a pivotal role in making this history and in changing this nation. They delivered a stunning 70 to 29 percent margin to Barack Obama and delivered similarly strong margins in races for Congress and the U.S. Senate. Although unmarried women have voted Democratic consistently since marital status has been was tracked, this election represents the highest margin recorded and a 16-point net gain at the Presidential level from 2004.

In fact, there was a recent (2011) study showing that unmarried women do in fact vote for higher taxes and more government as a substitute for a husband’s provider role.

Abstract:

The last three decades have witnessed the rise of a political gender gap in the United States wherein more women than men favor the Democratic party. We trace this development to the decline in marriage, which we posit has made men richer and women poorer. Data for the United States support this argument. First, there is a strong positive correlation between state divorce prevalence and the political gender gap – higher divorce prevalence reduces support for the Democrats among men but not women. Second, longitudinal data show that following marriage (divorce), women are less (more) likely to support the Democratic party.

What follows from voting Democrat?

If more people vote for Democrats then we will get higher taxes to pay for all the government spending. Higher taxes means that a married man can no longer retain enough of his earnings to support a family. And that means his wife has to work, and that means that his children will learn what the daycare workers and government school teachers decide they should learn.

But what do men want out of marriage? Men don’t want to marry a stressed-out competitor, and be yelled at in their own home. They want a homemaker who is focused on her husband and children. They want their children raised by someone who shares their worldview. Men want to produce moral, influential, independent children. Men want to be respected in their homes as sole provider. Men marry in order to lead on moral and spiritual issues. And men understand that a woman who doesn’t work outside the home usually makes a more feminine, supportive partner in the marriage enterprise.

If society, including the parents of daughters and the pastors of daughters, have decided that women don’t have to care about what men want out of marriage, then they should not be surprised that men don’t want marriage. Men may have no-commitment temporary sexual relationships with a secular left feminist who has been focused on her own feminist projects: travel, student loans, promiscuity, career, etc. But they certainly do not marry those women. When it comes to marriage, men want women who embrace the roles of wife and mother. And unlike shoes and handbags, we get a vote about whether or not the marriage happens.

Jennifer Roback Morse lectures on sex and sexuality at Harvard University

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Morse delivers a talk based on her book “Smart Sex” at Harvard University.

The MP3 file is here. (21 Mb) (Link in case that doesn’t work)

Topics:

  • the hook-up culture and its effects on men and women
  • cohabitation and its effect on marriage stability
  • balancing marriage, family and career
  • single motherhood by choice and IVF
  • donor-conceived children
  • modern sex: a sterile, recreation activity
  • the real purposes of sex: procreation and spousal unity
  • the hormone oxytocin: when it is secreted and what it does
  • the hormone vassopressin: when it is secreted and what it does
  • the sexual revolution and the commoditization of sex
  • the consumer view of sex vs the organic view of sex
  • fatherlessness and multi-partner fertility
  • how the “sex-without-relationship” view harms children

52 minutes of lecture, 33 minutes of Q&A from the Harvard students. The Q&A is worth listening to – the first question is from a gay student, and Dr. Morse pulls a William Lane Craig to defeat her objection. It was awesome! I never get tired of listening to her talk, and especially on the topics of marriage and family.

New study: virgins have happiest marriages, more sex partners means more unhappiness

Although we live in a culture that is dominated by the thoughts and opinions of secular leftists, science provides useful information for those who want defend Biblical morality. Consider the issue of sexuality and marriage. Secular leftists claim that sex outside of marriage is natural, and produces happiness. Bible believing Christians and Jews say chastity is best. Who is right?

Here is the latest study authored by Dr. Nicholas Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah. His previous book on relationships was published by Oxford University Press. In his analysis of the data, Wolfinger controlled for divorce rates, religiosity, and socioeconomic status.

Here’s the most important graph:

Study: virgins have the happiest marriages, more partners means less happiness
Study: virgins have the happiest marriages, more partners means less happiness

Other factors that increased marital happiness: having a 4-year college degree (5%), having a salary > 78K (5%), regular church attendance (6%). Notice that women are more dissatisfied with marriage (in general) than men are, and they tend to blame the spouse they freely chose for that unhappiness.

The Federalist also reported on previous research relevant to this study:

Psychologists Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley found that women who have had sex with someone other than their husband report statistically significant drops in marital quality over those who don’t. A 2004 study by sociologist Jay Teachman showed that intimate premarital activities such as cohabitation and intercourse increased the rate of marital dissolution by anywhere between 28 and 109 percent, depending on the activity.

Wolfinger also noted in a previous study that only 5% of women were virgins when they married.

Wolfinger noted that a possible explanation for the link between promiscuity and unhappiness is that people look back on their past partners and compare their spouse unfavorably to them. This is especially the case with women. My concern about this is that feminism has taught women to try to increase their social standing by having hook-up sex with attractive bad boys. If those women ever marry, they do it when they are older, less fertile, and less attractive. The husband they eventually “settle” for will (in their minds) always compare unfavorably to the hot bad boys they had sex with when they were younger and prettier. This, I believe, is what leads to their unhappiness with the man they chose to marry.

More partners also means more marital instability

In a previous post, I blogged about several studies linking virginity to marital stability. Couples who don’t have sex before marriage, or even who delayed it, reported better communication, higher satisfaction, better quality sex, and a lower chance of divorce.

Men ought to be aware of this research when they are choosing a spouse. Obviously, you want a virgin, for the increased happiness and increased stability. For marriage-friendly character, you want to avoid women who are promiscuous thrill-seekers. You want to avoid women who run up debt doing easy non-STEM degrees and traveling. You want to avoid women who hook up with hot bad boys aren’t serious about commitment. Women who choose fun and thrills in their teens and 20s are setting a pattern of using sex as a way to get happiness in the moment. Later on, they’ll continue that pattern of seeing relationships as commodities that are designed to make them feel good, moment by moment. They’ll look at marriage as a way to fulfill their needs. They’ll have internalized the view that relationships are not commitments to invest in self-sacrificially. The pattern will be: “if it doesn’t make me feel happy right now, then it should be ended”. Men who aren’t serious about evaluating the character of the women for the marriage enterprise are running the risk of divorce, it’s that simple.

The best way to make sure that you have a clear head when evaluating a woman is to stay sober, and keep her hands off of you. When a man refuses to let a woman cloud his judgment with sex, then she is forced to learn how to love him, help him, and submit to his leadership. Male chastity encourages women who have been influenced by feminism to abandon selfishness, fun-seeking, and thrill-seeking, so that they learn to care for others. Male chastity also helps a man to resist older women who chose bad boys in their teens and 20s and want to get married to a good provider in their 30s. The studies discussed above clearly show that such women are more likely to be unhappy, and their future marriages are more likely to be unstable. Avoid them.

Dennis Prager explains what feminism has achieved for women

Man and woman working on a computer upgrade
Man and woman working on a computer upgrade

Dennis Prager has summarized many of my viewpoints on this blog in a tiny, tiny little article. He calls it “Four Legacies of Feminism“.

Read the whole glorious thing and bask in its wisdom!

Full text:

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s feminist magnum opus, The Feminine Mystique, we can have a perspective on feminism that was largely unavailable heretofore.

And that perspective doesn’t make feminism look good. Yes, women have more opportunities to achieve career success; they are now members of most Jewish and Christian clergy; women’s college sports teams are given huge amounts of money; and there are far more women in political positions of power. But the prices paid for these changes — four in particular — have been great, and outweigh the gains for women, let alone for men and for society.

1) The first was the feminist message to young women to have sex just as men do. There is no reason for them to lead a different sexual life than men, they were told. Just as men can have sex with any woman solely for the sake of physical pleasure, so, too, women ought to enjoy sex with any man just for the fun of it. The notion that the nature of women is to hope for at least the possibility of a long-term commitment from a man they sleep with has been dismissed as sexist nonsense.

As a result, vast numbers of young American women had, and continue to have, what are called “hookups”; and for some of them it is quite possible that no psychological or emotional price has been paid. But the majority of women who are promiscuous do pay prices. One is depression. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently summarized an academic study on the subject: “A young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.”

Long before this study, I had learned from women callers to my radio show (an hour each week — the “Male-Female Hour” — is devoted to very honest discussion of sexual and other man-woman issues) that not only did female promiscuity coincide with depression, it also often had lasting effects on women’s ability to enjoy sex. Many married women told me that in order to have a normal sexual relationship with their husband, they had to work through the negative aftereffects of early promiscuity — not trusting men, feeling used, seeing sex as unrelated to love, and disdaining their husband’s sexual overtures. And many said they still couldn’t have a normal sex life with their husband.

2) The second awful legacy of feminism has been the belief among women that they could and should postpone marriage until they developed their careers. Only then should they seriously consider looking for a husband. Thus, the decade or more during which women have the best chance to attract men is spent being preoccupied with developing a career. Again, I cite woman callers to my radio show over the past 20 years who have sadly looked back at what they now, at age 40, regard as 20 wasted years. Sure, these frequently bright and talented women have a fine career. But most women are not programmed to prefer a great career to a great man and a family. They feel they were sold a bill of goods at college and by the media. And they were. It turns out that most women without a man do worse in life than fish without bicycles.

3) The third sad feminist legacy is that so many women — and men — have bought the notion that women should work outside the home that for the first time in American history, and perhaps world history, vast numbers of children are not primarily raised by their mothers or even by an extended family member. Instead they are raised for a significant part of their childhood by nannies and by workers at daycare centers. Whatever feminists may say about their only advocating choices, everyone knows the truth: Feminism regards work outside the home as more elevating, honorable, and personally productive than full-time mothering and making a home.

4) And the fourth awful legacy of feminism has been the demasculinization of men. For all of higher civilization’s recorded history, becoming a man was defined overwhelmingly as taking responsibility for a family. That notion — indeed the notion of masculinity itself — is regarded by feminism as the worst of sins: patriarchy.

Men need a role, or they become, as the title of George Gilder’s classic book on single men describes them: Naked Nomads. In little more than a generation, feminism has obliterated roles. If you wonder why so many men choose not to get married, the answer lies in large part in the contemporary devaluation of the husband and of the father — of men as men, in other words. Most men want to be honored in some way — as a husband, a father, a provider, as an accomplished something; they don’t want merely to be “equal partners” with a wife.

In sum, thanks to feminism, very many women slept with too many men for their own happiness; postponed marriage too long to find the right man to marry; are having hired hands do much of the raising of their children; and find they are dating boy-men because manly men are so rare.

Feminism exemplifies the truth of the saying, “Be careful what you wish for — you may get it.”

I wish I could add something to this, but I can’t because every time I think of something to add, he says it in the next sentence. I think it’s so important for women to read about feminism, and to understand how women used to approach men and marriage before feminism. Women today don’t realize how their priorities have been changed from older generations, because of the promotion of feminism in the culture. Women today ought to take a step back and think about what works for them in the long term. What kind of man is the best kind? What do men want out of marriage? What should men and women do now to prepare for marriage?

If you like Prager’s short essay, then this medium essay arguing against feminism authored by Barbara Kay would be nice follow-up.