Clarification on my position on a marriage strike.

Fellow blogger Deansdale made an excellent point in the comments section to Driving a stake in the heart of the US marriage strike myth.

I’ll begin with admitting that I have not read the whole post. Usually I applaud thorough research of a topic but this is way too much :)

I agree.
The proof that there isn’t the kind of widespread marriage strike in the US (which at least until recently has been commonly accepted in the manosphere) is right there in the simple table from census data that I created when investigating an entirely different question in the beginning of July:

Percent of White Men and Women Ever Married by Age, 1999 and 2009

Percent of White Men and Women Ever Married by Age, 1999 and 2009

I’ve been sharing these startling numbers ever since, but whenever I did I received push-back that it couldn’t possibly be right since The Marriage Project data proved unequivocally that we were in the final stages of a marriage strike.

I can certainly understand the initial push-back.  The two data sets at first appear to be entirely at odds.  How can both be true?  I must have missed something. So I looked into it further and then explained the paradox in my post Marriage Strike?

But even when I had explained it, I continued to get the same push-back except now it was more personal.  Instead of offering specific challenges showing where I had gone wrong, it was suggested that I either lacked a grasp of basic math and/or that I was a diabolical math genius who was somehow spinning the data.  I realized that this kind of challenge wouldn’t ever totally stop, but I didn’t want to spend the next few months defending my integrity piece meal.

The thing is, there are some really fascinating conversations we can have once we accept that the Marriage Project data doesn’t say what so many of us (including me) originally thought it did.  Deansdale continues:

The thing I want to say is this: The change may be small, but it is a fact that more and more “eligible” men are rejecting marriage.

This makes logical sense to me.  I can’t prove it with hard data, but it still is an interesting topic of discussion.  There is also the fact that something very real is happening with the generation of men and women currently in their twenties.

And of course there is also the very strong case to be made for a remarriage strike, which in my opinion is the powerful force which is most likely to eventually drive the pendulum back.  But don’t take my word for it.  Use the level of hysteria and denial from some of our more feminist commenters as your gauge of which scenario really threatens the status quo.

One last point.  For those of you who are refusing to marry, I’m not denying your existence or equating you with UFO conspiracy theorists.  As I’ve said before, we won’t see men banding together against their immediate interests to form a better social bargain longer term.  But this doesn’t mean individual men won’t decide that marriage isn’t a risk they want to take.  And who can blame such men?

Furthermore, I see the numbers in the table above as a disaster just like many of you likely do.  I say this as an advocate of marriage.  Men are obviously not being picky, and are marrying women who don’t deserve the honor.

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29 Responses to Clarification on my position on a marriage strike.

  1. Zammo says:

    I believe that the concept of the marriage strike has entered the ideological phase, for better and worse.

    In terms of how the statistical data is misread, inflated, conflated, deflated, hyped, exaggerated, and generally held as an article of faith… think “rape culture” as the analogy.

  2. P.T. Barnum says:

    So, I think the US Government has done a good job with this data. Important Decisions have been made by Important People.

    It was decided, for the good of looking good, to keep the percentage of white men ever married unchanged for the age group 35 to 39 between 1999 to 2009.

    The percent, according to the people who believe this “chart”, did not drop even one single percent. NOT ONE.

    [D: Note that both sets of data come from the Dept of Census. The Marriage Project folks simply took the data out of the table. They didn't even run their own calculations. Pretty sloppy conspiracy to fudge one set of data and publish a contradictory set that looks much worse.]

    Meanwhile, the marriage rate dropped another 20% in that time period. 20 percent! Yeah, yeah, I’m aware of “secondary factors” and “later marriage” and this and that. But you know what, 20% is a big amount, and there should be a drop for that age range. Maybe small. Bigger than one percent though. Most certainly bigger than one percent.

    Zero percent? No, not really.

    It’s impossible.

    [D: No, it isn't impossible. In fact, I showed exactly how it works.]

    So, while I’m sure I could talk someone into believing that, really, trying to con a con man?

    [D: Ok, you've got me. I can't keep up the charade any longer. I'm a government/feminist shill.]

  3. Doug1 says:

    You evidence that never marrying at all hasn’t been sharply increasing for a long time as the simple graph “marriages per year per 1000 single women” suggests was compelling. And yeah also that there IS evidence for a remarriage strike of considerable duration. The later has been in the air since the early 90s.

    However, I think a marriage strike really might be forming among twenty somethings. There never used to be a buzz about it on the internet. Young never marrieds never used to hang out at the few mens rights sights — all divorced guys, usually divorced dads. The Roissysphere does attract young guys.

    Also young guys are bringing their own knowledge about how bad it often is to the sphere and elsewhere on the net now. Divorce started getting a lot worse for men in the 90s (child support=also stealth alimony jacked way up, totally no fault divorce), (before that there was a big ratchet worse on in the 70s with a woman getting half his wealth no matter what for the first time). So the impact of this on men has been percolating through as guys see how men are effected by this.

  4. Doug1 says:

    Men SHOULD go on a marriage strike.

    Live with her if you want to but don’t marry her. No alimony risk and she doesn’t get half your stuff. If you’re gonna get a house together you need a cohabitation agreement.

  5. P.T. Barnum says:

    Oh, by the way, just to hammer it home, let’s forget this “unmarried woman” *bleep* statistic, and use some raw numbers.

    [D: Glad to see we are talking about actual data now. This is more like it.]

    According to the CDC:
    1999:
    Total number of marriages was 2,358,000.
    Total population was 273.8 million

    [Note that the raw figure the CDC shows for marriages in 1999 is very close to the raw figure the Census Dept shows for 95-98]

    2009:
    Total number of marriages was 2,077,000.
    Total population was 308 million.

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_25.pdf

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr49/49_06_12_03.pdf

    This is basically, apocalyptic. Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria.

    For raw, not manipulated liars figure numbers, we have a drop of 22% in 10 years. That’s not unmarried, that’s per 1,000 population everyone. No getting married later BS applies here. In fact, the number is HIGHER than the BS “unmarried rate” drop.

    Over the long term, such a drop would result in 22% of the population not getting married IN ADDITION TO THE 1999 TOTAL!

    [D: Something definitely happened in that 10 year interval. I said the same myself. It shows up in the rate of marriage of current 20 year olds. The question is, what happened? Did they put off marriage? And if so, will their plan work? I don't buy that men are suddenly refusing to marry women until they get older, so I'm sticking with the assumption that the women were the decision makers in this round. Only time will tell how men respond.]

    ONE IN FOUR. ONE IN BLEEPING FOUR!

  6. A marriage strike would best be done on a State by State basis.

  7. Hope says:

    The decline of marriage was INEVITABLE as soon as sex and cohabitation before marriage became socially acceptable. Marriage was always about sex, and reproduction was only a biproduct of sex — most people, especially men, wanted the sex, not the babies themselves.

    A lot of men don’t want monogamy and don’t want to sleep with the same old woman for the rest of their lives. That’s the number one reason they aren’t marrying. They won’t have the freedom to get sexual variety anymore, and they intuit that marriage means dead end for sex. When I talk to other 20-something men, that’s what they are responding with, not anything about money, alimony or child support (most of them even don’t want to think about kids).

    A lot of young women willingly enter into sexual relationships or cohabitation that are basically like marriage anyway. With this kind of arrangement, what incentives does the man have to get married? The only reason is if the man is in love with the woman, wants kids with her, and doesn’t forsee that he would ever want to stray or sample other pleasures.

    Trust me, most men who aren’t getting married don’t have a political motivation. It’s alllll about the sex.

  8. dalrock says:

    One more point P.T. Barnum. You are looking at total US population and total US marriages. One thing which would throw off that kind of rough calculation you are doing is if in the interim millions of already married adults showed up. Hispanics and whites have similar rates of marriage from what I can see, but immigration (legal or illegal) would tend to throw off the numbers you are looking at. People would all of a sudden be married without every having been counted as getting married.

    Demographics are the other piece of the puzzle that makes this harder to track than many think at first, which is why I have focused on data for whites where possible. If you looked at the Census Data for all of the US instead of just whites it would show a closer figure to what you are expecting (lower overall rates of having married).

  9. Höllenhund says:

    I think I found the first media occurrence of this phrase:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/711656/posts

  10. Doug1 says:

    Dalrock–

    Are there no graphs of US marriages per year per 1000 women, or white women (single, married and divorced)?

    That would do away with your claim that the denominator is been steadily expanding as women have kept delaying marriage, and that’s the real reason the graph of “marriages per 1000 single women” has been steadily declining steadily and steeply since 1970.

    [D: This table has some of the data you want (20 years worth). You could look at the other data sources listed on this page for most if not all of the remaining data.

    Note that the second link is the Marriage Project graph of marriages per 1000 unmarried women (P 64 of this report), and the first link is the first data source (click on section II, scroll to P31, table 117) they reference for that chart.]

  11. Pingback: Marriage strike? | Dalrock

  12. nothingbutthetruth says:

    Good point, Hope.

    I don’t think “unmarried women per 1000 women” or “number of marriages” is a good statistic to assess this trend.

    Marriage is not an EVENT, which happens in a moment in time. If you think so, you are confusing marriage with wedding.

    Marriage is a STATE, which can last some months, some years or all your lifetime.

    I think the statistic is percentage of married people right now vs. percentage of married people ten years ago.

    So yes, it does not matter whether it is because people divorce more often and then they don’t remarry or because young men are avoiding marriage with a marriage strike or because young women are delaying marriage in the seek of Prince Charming. If the number of people married has declined considerably for the last ten years, this means dim prospects for the institution.

  13. Dex says:

    Surely someone has begun asking a statistically representative number of eligible and married men about why they married or have not yet. The “men are afraid to commit” trope is nothing new.

    My guess is that a small but significant number of eligible men are unmarriageable, some due to having opted out and the rest due to not meeting the standards of the women around them. Those who opt out do so because they view marriage as 1.) a poor and risky investment, with 2.) little return compared to the informal LTR even when it does pan out. Given the current prejudices in our family law, the first part of that is certainly correct. But let’s think about that second part. If a man is looking at marriage and children strictly through the lens of economic thought, thinking of his ROI in the relationship – that’s a little too rational, kind of “aspie”, isn’t it? Haven’t actual cases of Asperger’s or border line ASD increased, even just a few percent of the population? I don’t mean to call names and I’m not certainly not trying to apply that to all MRAs. It just came to mind when Dalrock mentioned changes in population.

    When you began talking about the Remarriage Strike, I recalled the conversation I had with my wife, a quasi-shit test. She asked if something happened to her, would I remarry. Maybe you’ve had this one? I responded that I wouldn’t. She teasingly told me that of course I would- I had needs. I pointed out that I hadn’t said anything about remaining celibate. But my actual thought is this: if I’m the sole parent of my kids, I’d remarry given the opportunity. If I’m reduced by our divorce-as-revolution courts from father to court-approved visitor then I see no need to. Falling in love again, sure. But I’m too damn old to be starting another family.

  14. Dex says:

    and I just screwed up the closing the tag on that. Sorry.

  15. Dex says:

    ok, that rambled a bit. but in follow up to the first graph about someone asking a lot of guys I did some googling (binging?) and found this:

    John Molloy, author of Dress for Success books, did some research on this topic, interviewing over 3000 newlywed men and women and doing some focus groups and control interviews. He published his findings in “Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others”. Here’s a summary that I found online:

    Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others

    The whole thing is worth a gander, but the germane part is where he describes men who aren’t the marrying kind:

    ◦Men who see marriage as a financial arrangement in which women have the most to gain
    ◦Men whose parents divorced when they were young
    ◦Men who live with their parents

    All of which we’re seeing more of – for various reasons.

  16. Oak says:

    @ Dex… Your post suggesting that men who are refusing marriage might have Asbergers Syndrome. I see no evidence of this. Antimarriage talk and discussions are coming from all quarters, not just the socially inept.

    I would say the change that occurred is that men are starting to think of marriage from a woman’s perspective, and I don’t see women as being Asberger’s.

    Marriage refusers have simply had a stark realization of the nature of the predatory female.

  17. Dex says:

    @Oak – No, my post suggested that there may be more socially inept and Asperger’s cases today, some of whom are contributing to the larger total number of men forgoing marriage. I think they’re a small but vocal part of the larger whole. Sorry if that was unclear.

    I think the majority of men who are outright rejecting marriage had a front row seat to a worst case scenario (their fathers, their brothers or close friends, or even themselves the first time around) and are avoiding that.

    I think more guys are simply delaying marriage because they don’t have to consider marrying until later in life, especially since it takes longer to finish education/pay your dues in getting a career started. They’re content to date until they feel too old for it or until others in their social circle start getting hitched. Even then, they may not consider it if their girlfriend will go for cohabitation. When they do decide to settle down and marry, they pick the one they’re with. Who may or may not be good marriage material.

  18. Being a bit autistic could be a problem with women. But I think the men who study “game” like a science (some of whom seem a bit autistic in their approach to me) are not necessarily on the wrong track. Being cool and calculating can be a good strategy with a wife or girlfriend. It has worked for me. Asperger’s or autistic men might do well with women, particularly if they can up the “alpha” a bit. I score high on autism tests, but it has never affected my ability to attract and keep women.

  19. John Walters says:

    One thing which would throw off that kind of rough calculation you are doing is if in the interim millions of already married adults showed up.

    Sorry, I tend to assume that anything published by the USA government on the topic of race is mendacious at best.


    Marriage is a STATE, which can last some months, some years or all your lifetime.

    I think the statistic is percentage of married people right now vs. percentage of married people ten years ago.

    So yes, …If the number of people married has declined considerably for the last ten years, this means dim prospects for the institution.

    Well said! Well written!

  20. Pingback: Linkage is Good for You: Halloween Edition

  21. Höllenhund says:

    Dex,

    “If a man is looking at marriage and children strictly through the lens of economic thought, thinking of his ROI in the relationship – that’s a little too rational, kind of “aspie”, isn’t it?”

    Marriage has traditionally been used to accomplish two ends:

    1. Raising children.
    2. Accumulating wealth that can later be handed down to those children.

    Anyone who tries to use marriage for anything else (finding a “soulmate”, “fulfillment” etc.) is likely to be in for a very rude awakening – and this wasn’t much different 50 or 100 years ago.

  22. Dex says:

    Hollenhund, romantic love has always been part of the equation whenever the marriage is being arranged by the groom and bride. Where the decision is made by their families, not so much.

    Making romantic love 100% of the reason to marry is folly, as is excluding it from the decision to marry or not. It’s a necessary but not sufficient condition.

  23. Höllenhund says:

    Dex, monogamous marriage was created because it’s the best vehicle for wealth creation and raising children. You can find romantic love and sex outside marriage. People who fall in love don’t necessarily get married.

  24. Dex says:

    Hollenhund, it is the best vehicle for those things. But are you sure those were the only factors in deciding to marry among those who historically had the opportunity to choose their partners or whether to marry? Really? I’m not. People did (and do) have to be practical about it, but I don’t think that practicality was (or should be) the sole criterion. Even in times when courtship was quick and circumspect and divorces were rare, people considered attractiveness and the potential for love developing.

    “You can find romantic love and sex outside marriage. People who fall in love don’t necessarily get married.” True. But neither of those statements make an especially compelling reason for writing off the institution altogether. Dating and cohabitation are qualitatively different from marriage for both you and her.

    The one compelling reason to reject marriage itself is that the system is now so stacked against you as a man if the marriage fails AND if you are unlikely to meet, attract or date someone whose personal character is a hedge against that risk. I would suspect that there are regions and places where a marriagable woman is really hard to find. (Dalrock and Athol Kay have some really good posts on assesing her potential.) If that’s your situation, then yes, go on “strike” or forgo marriage. I wouldn’t wish a bad marriage or even a good divorce on any man.

  25. Höllenhund says:

    Dex, you aren’t getting my point. If you want female companionship, there is no reason to get married. However, if you want to sire children and later hand down your surplus wealth to them (if you have any), marriage is still a good institution to achieve that. The main difference is that there’s a fair chance of your wife divorcing you, taking away your children and robbing you blind and/or cuckolding you, from which you have zero legal protection.

    In other words, if you want to get married, the only reason to do it is the one outlined above, AND you have to do it with the sentimentalism wherewith you choose a car or hire an accountant. You will also have to choose very wisely, because you enter a realm where you won’t have room for error. All you can realistically hope for is that the children you raise will be biologically yours and that they will grow up to be well-adjusted adults who inherint your wealth. That’s it. Regular sex, companionship, having a “soulmate” (stupid idea) is not guaranteed by far.

    OR…you can choose surrogacy.

  26. Dex says:

    Sorry for delayed response. Was following politics for a bit.

    “In other words, if you want to get married, the only reason to do it is the one outlined above (sire children and pass on wealth), AND you have to do it with the sentimentalism wherewith you choose a car or hire an accountant.”

    We may be talking past each other, but I’m not missing this point. I’m disputing it. Specifically the “only” part.

    As I said, marriage is qualitatively different than dating or cohabitation. I’ll expand on that. It’s better than either alternative when it goes well. This has been measured in stats rating general happiness, relationship satisfaction, health and lifespan. Feel free to google. If one can’t understand how that could be – how a combination of romantic love, attachment, sexual attraction with the structural benefits of marriage could add value to his life NOT measured on a balance sheet or family tree – then I agree he should not marry. And he should agree that he sounds a little aspergery.

    And I hope you’re not attributing that “soulmate” stuff to me. I never said any such thing. I will say that people who see their relationship as permanent tend to make it through the rough patches better, though.

    I’ve been married 18 years, btw. Please tell me more about what to expect from it?

  27. mjay says:

    “As I said, marriage is qualitatively different than dating or cohabitation. I’ll expand on that. It’s better than either alternative when it goes well.”

    And it is much, much, much worse when it goes badly, as it does about 50% of the time.

  28. BeijaFlor says:

    Coming in late on this …

    My opinion is that there is only one number that really counts in the “marriage strike” question. One. As in “Number One”; as in “Looking Out For Number One.”

    Do you believe you’ve found Miss Right? Do you want to raise a family with her? Are you willing to take the chance that she’ll “fall out of love” some day and take you to the cleaners in Family Court? I wish you happiness and good luck.

    Do you despair of ever finding Miss Right, so much so that you’re ready to settle for Miss Available? Are you conflicted about having kids, but figure “you’re supposed to”? Do you see it clearly that your future is either “marriage” or “following my own dreams”, but you’re resigned to abandoning those dreams because “she needs a good man” and “you need to grow up”? I’d say you’d be better off learning to cook for yourself!

    It doesn’t matter “what most people do”; what matters about marriage or non-marriage is that you have the choice and you bear the responsibility for your choice. My choice not to get married in the future is not about a “marriage strike”; it’s about my own goals and my unwillingness to abandon them for the sake of “finding a girl and making her happy.” Why should I figure that is the only game in town?

  29. MartianBachelor says:

    WRT Hollenhund’s first, 3:51 pm reply: Should you want to push the origin back a few more years in time Do You Take This Woman? No Way! (1999) has the essential idea right there in the title without actually using the questionable (if admittedly catchy) word “strike”. Instead the close synonym “mutiny” appears in the opening line.

    Of course there were popular books by the mid-80s on men not wanting to commit or marry — “The Peter Pan Syndrome” and “The Great American Man Shortage” among others — so the ideas were in wide circulation even then. Wendy Dennis’s “Hot and Bothered” was a pretty good summary, so far as such books go, of where things were by c.1990. No one needs be told the flood of magazine articles and books et al has continued unstopped in the interim.

    Just about all the issues (at least from the standpoint of women) surfaced as the leading edge of the Boomer women started turning thirty c.1980, so I’m glad someone has finally done the math correctly and driven a stake through the heart of this vicious, noisy, deceptive monster.

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