In the past nearly everyone married, even the very poor. Today in the Third World it remains as it was in the First World only decades ago. Most people marry, the rich, the poor and nearly everyone in between. Of course there were exceptions but still roughly 90% of adults married. Today that is not true in the First World, why is that?
When I first started thinking about this I was thinking about men, about why I knew so many men who were not married, but then I realised that women who are poor also do not marry. But only in the First World and it is something that largely goes unmentioned. Because it feeds into that idea that we all have more options and that people are not marrying because they now have the option not too. But as I wrote in Liberalism, More Options, Less Choice more options do not really mean more choice and I think that is what we have here. People are finding it harder to marry and I think there are six basic reasons that all interplay with each other that explain why
- Free love and being forever young
- Society and meeting up
Let me go through each and try to explain why they contribute to the poor not marrying.
Free Love and being forever young
Since the 1960’s an idea has gained currency, it certainly didn’t start in the 1960’s, no the idea was old when Moses was a boy. The idea was that life shouldn’t have consequences, it’s an old idea because it is so appealing. No mistakes, no regrets, I’ve made mistakes and I have regrets, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world where that didn’t happen, a world wehre it is in fact impossible. The idea that life should have no consequences is all around us, you don’t have to look too hard to find it. Free love and being young forever are very much a part of this philosophy. Sex without consequences, sex just for fun, sex just to pass the time, no pregnancies, no sexual diseases, no emotions that make everything awkward and embarrassing. And as the old saying goes “Youth is wasted on the young”, maybe it is but what if you could be young forever? Would you take it? Many do or at least they try to be young forever. The problem with both is sex does have consequences and being young forever is impossible and any attempt to do so is like repairing an old tire, the repair won’t last forever. If it won’t last forever then it’s a trick and either you’re fooling yourself or you’re trying to fool someone else, but at all times it’s still a trick.
What does this have to do with marriage or the lack of marriage? These ideas discourage people from thinking about their future, it stops them from making plans or decisions. If life has no consequences then it lacks meaning. Which is a strange thought at first. How can one mean the other? Because all your decisions are so small and trivial that your entire life loses it lustre. When you think of a person who is jaded with life you don’t think of a virgin, no you think of someone who has had so much sex that even that natural high means nothing, it has lost its lustre. If life has no consequences then you can delay everything, there is no hurry because there are no consequences. You cannot make a mistake and you should have no regrets. Marriage is just one option and a distant one at that.
People have always been selfish, but in the past it was regarded as a bad thing, something to try and avoid or push away, to fight against. Today people still talk about selfishness being bad, but we know that it is at one and the same time encouraged. Buy things with credit, pay it back at some distant future time, have sex without consequences with as many partners as your genitals can handle. This isn’t by any means a complete list, no that would take too long. The problem with selfishness is that it concentrates our attention on only one person. Everyone else is present but unimportant. How do I feel? What do I want? Why can’t I have that now? Why should I only have one girlfriend at a time? It’s all about me, all about the self. Where does another person fit into this life? There is no room and secondly it discourages people from changing to accommodate another person. Take me as I am or get lost. Sadly as we get older that selfishness becomes part of us and it becomes harder to fit another person into your life. How do you marry when you have learnt to be so selfish and to do it so well?
We all need money to live, that’s a given. But money means more than just numbers and more than just its buying power. Of course those things are important but money is also important because we earnt it, because it belongs to us and because it gives us stability. For most of us that money will come from a wage and you earn a wage by working in a job. But when jobs are scarce or you are unable to work then your pile of money doesn’t grow. You have lost the number, you have lost that buying power, you have also lost the pride of earning that money and finally the stability that a wage provides.
Hardly any man cares how much money a woman makes, some do but most don’t. They care about how a woman looks, her personality and her intelligence, but not her money. For a woman that’s not true, she cares very much about a man’s money, some women are gold diggers, but most women care because they want to be able to rely on her man to look after her, even if she doesn’t need it. When a woman becomes a mother that is a very important consideration. But the economy has changed and steady employment, something common for recent generations has largely disappeared. There was once an idea that a man would have a wife, children and a job, a single job for his entire life. That is now gone, hardly any workers at any level have that security anymore. Jobs are casual, even if you’re a full time employee. Security is a very important thing, it allows people to take risks and to prepare for the future. But when jobs are not secure then all of that is gone. A man without regular employment will never marry, it is simply impossible.
Another issue is that the more money a woman earns means that any man who courts her must make at minimum the same as her. Of course it’s better if he earns more money, but when women are given preference in both employment and promotions, that puts both men and women in an impossible position. A woman wants a man who is more successful than her, but each step up the ladder means there are less men available. Secondly, those men who are successful now have a large number of women to choose from, much larger than they would normally have available to them. Non of this supports marriage.
Nor does single parents’ benefits, it replaces a husband with the Government, but the Government cannot love them, nor can it help take the load of parenting. What it encourages is to split families, a truly evil thing.
Money not only provides income but it provides prestige, as do things like job titles. I recently heard someone say men don’t like fancy cars, but women do so men have learnt to like fancy cars. I don’t agree that men don’t like fancy cars, but behind that is the idea that even if men hated fancy cars they would still like to drive them because of the effect it has on women, maybe. But why do women like fancy cars? Because they are not only a sign of how much money a man has but a prestige item. What is prestige? It is anything that signals how much wealth, power or influence a person has. But marriage has lost prestige and the reason is a part of everything in this article.
Society and meeting up
We all accept that society has changed and continues to change, accepting that fact doesn’t mean we like or approve of it. Once people knew their neighbours, they knew their names and their jobs, they knew where they worked and they knew their family. Of course there have always been loners but it was harder, much harder in the past, even only a few decades ago to be nearly invisible as it is now. But part of that society was that people met a lot of other people just like them. Neighbours, neighbours’ family, neighbours’ friends, shopkeepers and their staff and clubs and other social organisations. But today, and for decades all of those things, those connections have been vanishing. How do you meet people when there are so few chances to really meet people? At nightclubs, on dating websites? Well people have and do meet people through those methods. But how many people do you know who have married after they met in a nightclub? What about internet dating? In 2012 I was the best man at a friend’s wedding, he met a real and quite attractive women on World of Warcraft!
That is not a dating strategy, that is just stupid blind luck…. all I can say is thank God for stupid blind luck. Sadly stupid blind luck is not a reliable business partner. If that wasn’t the case we could all just lie back and relax. The internet gives us a false idea of the world, because it allows us to think that we have unlimited options, another case of more options less choice. But in reality we don’t have more options because it is far too easy to dismiss people. You‘re unlikely to run into them while shopping, or get an earful about what a bad person you are from your neighbour. Because people on the internet are disposable, they are not flesh and blood people. Of course in reality they are but the internet is not reality it is a distortion of reality and it is as part of that distortion that they are a part of our life. Of course just as they are disposable, so are you and in no way does that encourage real connections.
Nothing has harmed marriage more than no fault divorce, it has attacked the idea that marriage is a sacred union of one man and one woman for life. That only God, a supernatural being has the power to undo this sacred union. Now it is only an artificial union between two contractors, it’s a business arrangement. A contract between two autonomous individuals and nothing to do with God, or tradition, or family, or community, or permanence. If you want to get out no worries, you can get out. Those who gave us no fault divorce said they were giving us options, making us free. But we never asked for that option and loneliness is not freedom. Divorce not only destroys existing families, it also stops new families from coming into existence as it destroys the security that marriage once provided. No matter how loving, no matter how rich, no matter what you do there is no defence against no fault divorce. The permanence of marriage is gone, it can be rebuilt but first we must understand how evil no fault divorce is.
If marriage is to recover than the casual connections that allowed real people to meet other real people in a natural setting needs to be rebuild. No fault divorce needs to be destroyed. Jobs need to be made more secure and male employment needs to be a priority. And the idea that we can live a life without consequences needs to be put back into the box it came out of. It is not possible to change human nature, but it is possible to change everything else that I’ve written about here.