Over the last year or so there has been a concerted effort by men associated with National Review to woo men into marriage. The most recent example of this is W. Bradford Wilcox and Nicholas H. Wolfinger’s February 9th article at the National Review, Hey Guys, Put a Ring on It. Back in December of 2016 National Review contributor Jim Geraghty and conservative blogger Dennis Prager created a video with the same message titled The Sexiest Man Alive. And prior to that in May of 2016 Prager and Wilcox created another video titled: Be a man. Get married.
I should start by noting that I am a happily married father and a firm believer in marriage. Marriage is not only the foundation of the family, it is given to us from God. However, I am writing to warn you that when Wilcox and the men of the National Review whisper sweet nothings to you about marriage and commitment, they are really only after one thing.
Certainly they will cheer you on when you announce your engagement, and no doubt they would heartily pat you on the back if they were at the wedding party. And of course, they will be filled with good wishes (and perhaps a bit of envy) for you on your wedding night. But what about the day after you give them what they desire in response to their flowery words of love and commitment? Will Wilcox and the men at National Review respect you in the morning?
I wish this weren’t true, but I have to warn you; no, they will not.
How can I know? You just have to look at the long string of men that came before you, men they seduced with the very same lines. Once the wedding is over, once the men of National Review have gotten what they wanted, the men who naively trusted them are discarded like yesterday’s trash. Do you really believe you will be the special one, the one they don’t toss casually away once they get what they want?
Wait. You didn’t think you were their first conquest, did you?
Consider just one of the many men who came before you, Carly Israel’s ex husband. Ms. Israel tells us at the Huffington Post that he was a kind man and an excellent father. Despite knowing that it would destroy both him and their three boys, Israel decided to divorce this good man because she was no longer happy honoring her marriage vows. Moreover, Israel is teaching other women that frivolous divorce which devastates good men and children will make a woman more moral:
You get closer to God
More troubling is that Israel’s moral message celebrating frivolous divorce is the norm. Modern women shamelessly fantasize about divorce, and publications like the Huffington Post have responded with a never ending stream of tales about wives crushing good men and innocent children on the path to moral enrichment. Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat Pray Love was a runaway success, and lead to a blockbuster movie by the same name. More recently Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling book about how frivolous divorce made her a better person was also made into a movie.
Not surprisingly Israel is a huge fan of Strayed, and closes her piece with a quote from her:
Go, even though you love him.
Go, even though he is kind and faithful and dear to you.
Go, even though he’s your best friend and you’re his.
Go, even though you can’t imagine your life without him.
Go, even though he adores you and your leaving will devastate him.
Go, even though your friends will be disappointed or surprised or pissed off or all three.
Go, even though you once said you would stay.
Go, even though you’re afraid of being alone.
Go, even though you’re sure no one will ever love you as well as he does.
Go, even though there is nowhere to go.
Go, even though you don’t know exactly why you can’t stay.
Go, because you want to.
Because wanting to leave is enough.
Wilcox, Geraghty, and Prager at the National Review see the culture telling women Divorce him! Divorce him! Divorce him! and their response is to tell men Put a ring on it!
Why aren’t Wilcox and the men at the National Review condemning frivolous divorce, and standing up for the good men and innocent children who are devastated by it? Why aren’t they teaching that frivolous divorce is morally wrong? If they do believe that frivolous divorce is morally wrong, they are careful not to say this publicly. In Dennis Prager’s case we know the answer, as Prager is adamant that high divorce rates are not a moral problem:
…whenever conservatives describe [moral] decline, they include the high divorce rate, along with crime and out-of-wedlock births, as a prime example. I believe conservatives are wrong here.
They aren’t arguing men should marry for reasons of sexual morality; they want men to marry because they believe that more men marrying is good for society. If that means good men are crushed in the process, so be it. Again from Prager:
…as a rule, it is far better for society to have people marry and divorce than never to marry.
What they want is more weddings, even though they know an obscenely large number of those weddings will lead to devastation for the men they are wooing. Wilcox knows it is common for fickle wives to fall out of love and destroy the family, and instead of standing up for the sanctity of marriage lectures husbands that they must work hard to be “emotionally engaged”. If Wilcox respected these men, if he cared about them, he would be outraged at the rampant injustice. But once he’s gotten what he wants from them they are out of mind, just another notch. Moreover, if he respected men considering marriage he would be forthright with them and tell them that no amount of marriage counseling or emotional availability will stop their wife from falling out of love and destroying their family.
In fact, Wilcox knows men have excellent reason to be hesitant to marry. In 2009 he wrote:
…the ill effects of divorce for adults tend to fall disproportionately on the shoulders of fathers. Since approximately two-thirds of divorces are legally initiated by women, men are more likely than women to be divorced against their will. In many cases, these men have not engaged in egregious marital misconduct such as abuse, adultery, or substance abuse. They feel mistreated by their ex-wives and by state courts that no longer take into account marital “fault” when making determinations about child custody, child support, and the division of marital property. Yet in the wake of a divorce, these men will nevertheless often lose their homes, a substantial share of their monthly incomes, and regular contact with their children. For these men, and for women caught in similar circumstances, the sting of an unjust divorce can lead to downward emotional spirals, difficulties at work, and serious deteriorations in the quality of their relationships with their children….
Yet today, in Hey Guys, Put a Ring on It Wilcox opens suggesting that men are avoiding marriage not because the system is designed to fleece them, but because they are lazy and unwilling to make sacrifices:
Marriage is not worth it. It’s not worth the financial sacrifices, the lost sexual opportunities, and the lack of freedom. All in all, it’s a ball and chain — of little benefit to any man interested in pursuing happiness and well-being. This is the view that we’ve encountered from many young men of late.
Six-pack Craig is right about one thing: There is no doubt that marriage requires sacrifices, and lots of them. Successful marriages require men to work harder, avoid cheating, spend less time with friends, and make a good-faith effort, day in and day out, to be emotionally present with their spouses. Many men find these sacrifices hard.
This is similar to Wilcox’s tone in The Divorce Revolution Has Bred An Army Of Woman Haters, where he dismisses men who fear divorce as misogynistic and lazy.
Wilcox sees millions of men making huge sacrifices in a system designed to destroy, not protect, their families, and complains that more men aren’t willing to do so. Wilcox clearly doesn’t respect the enormous sacrifices married men make, or he wouldn’t take them so completely for granted while casually dismissing the very real concerns of unmarried men.
The lack of respect for men who marry is displayed in many other ways, including:
- Wilcox pretends the sacrifices married men make to support their families financially are not sacrifices at all, but a benefit men receive from marriage. He calls the financial burdens men take on when marrying a “marriage premium” for men. He doesn’t respect married men’s willingness to work longer hours at more stressful jobs, so he pretends they are lucky to be able to do so.
- Wilcox pretends that the man he calls “Six Pack Craig” represent you, the average unmarried man, when he knows that Six Pack Craig instead represents the kind of men your future wife very likely spent years having no strings sex with until she and Wilcox both decided you should put a ring on it.
- Wilcox and Prager give the impression that by marrying and having children you will become respected in our culture. Yet in reality everyone from the secular left to Republicans to modern Christians holds married men, especially married fathers, in contempt.
It is my sincere hope that Dr. Wilcox and the men of National Review will turn away from their love em and leave em ways regarding men and marriage, and start treating the commitment of marriage as sacred. Old habits are hard to break, yet with God all things are possible. But until that day I can only warn you; they are only after one thing, and once they get it they won’t respect you in the morning.
Note: I will send a link to this post to Dr. Wilcox and would welcome his response.
Hat tip to readers who shared links used in this article: Heidi, Jeff, Deti, Anon, and Boxer.