Larry Kummer at Fabius Maximus has an excellent two post series on the current state of marriage:
In the second post, Larry writes:
How do women integrate these values into their lives? They use Girls’ Game. First, romance a man to get married. Most women want children, and middle- and upper-class women are careful to not do so until they have a ring on their fingers (men’s assistance and money makes the first few years much easier).
Weddings have become the Party of a woman’s life, in which they are Queen for a Day. This is new. In the past weddings were modest, except for the rich. See the wedding in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946): the bride wears her best dress to a ceremony at home, serving punch and wedding cake at the reception. The wedding was the focus, not the bride.
Then have some kids. The husband provides support during those first few difficult years raising the children. When the children go off to school, file for divorce. There are always reasons: he does not meet her needs, she has grown, etc. Then get community property, child support, and independence. It is a logical strategy for women raised to value their independence, pride, and strength above all else.
This is an excellent description of the way the game is played, but there is an even greater motivator to consider, which is status. I left the following as a comment, and thought I’d expand it a bit into a quick blog post:
Marriage conveys legitimacy to the children, and status to the woman. The man’s money could be obtained via child support without a wedding, and likewise his assistance (living together would do the trick). For middle class women, there is only one respectable way to babymamahood, and that is by marrying first, and then divorcing whenever it is most convenient after she has the number of children she wants (from that particular baby daddy at least). This is incidentally a weakness in the Girl Game model you describe that could be exploited socially (no legal change required) should we ever start to value marriage and respect men who marry and become fathers. Of course legal changes would quickly follow if our view of fathers changed, but the social mechanism would be extremely powerful even by itself for middle class women.
Women who divorce do take a status hit in their intrasexual competition, unless they stick the landing. However, this status hit could be much worse if conservatives ever start respecting marriage and men who marry and become fathers. Simply speaking, or even thinking the truth would be devastating to divorcing baby mamas.