Picking up from my last post, the root of declining marriage rates isn’t just that there are substitutes to marriage, but that marriage itself has been degraded for many decades. Time is our enemy here, because inertia has delayed the effects of our war on marriage from becoming fully evident. Each new generation of men is slowly starting to respond to the radical changes we have made to marriage, and this is changing their perceptions of marriage. The first generation of men who grew up watching the societal celebration as fathers were tossed out of the house en masse were largely unfazed; nearly all of them went on to marry. Yet with each new generation witnessing the same pattern we are slowly burning through an enormous reservoir of goodwill from men.
But there is another way that time is our enemy, and this is that as young men are waiting for their future wives to tire of having sex with other men, there are plenty of diversions available to pass the time. A young man knows that his future wife won’t likely be in the market for marriage for roughly a decade. Instead of knocking himself out today to signal provider status while he waits, the temptation for a young man is to focus instead on video games, porn, legal marijuana, and now even a pint sized virtual girlfriend:
Pastor Fiene is concerned that young men will be too distracted by fantasy women to notice how feminine, selfless, submissive, and meek modern young women are. What should worry him instead is that the fantasy women young men are turning to demonstrate by contrast just how aggressive, masculine, and bossy modern women are.
There are after all two opposing fantasies at work here. The pathetic young man above with the virtual girlfriend is engaging in one fantasy, but men like Fiene are trying to sell an equally absurd fantasy. The longer a young man engages with fantasy submissive women, the harder it will be for conservative Christians to convince him that what should turn him on is a bossy woman.
Time is the enemy in other ways. The longer a young man waits for women to be interested in marriage, the more he will be taught about the realities of modern marriage. He will watch movies like Fireproof and learn that a husband’s primary job is to constantly remain on guard, always scrambling to keep his contentious wife from becoming unhappy and divorcing him. This same message will be endlessly reinforced in articles like The secret to a happy marriage may be an emotionally intelligent husband, where he will learn that women are better at marriage because they have years of practice being catty, self centered, and dramatic:
When boys play games, their focus is on winning, not their emotions or the others playing. If one of the boys get hurt, he gets ignored. After all, “the game must go on.”
With girls, feelings are often the first priority. When a tearful girl says, “we’re not friends anymore,” the game stops and only starts again if the girls make up. In “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” Dr. Gottman explains, “the truth is that ‘girlish’ games offer far better preparation for marriage and family life because they focus on relationships.”
Related: Losing control of the narrative.