Marriage risk

June 14, 2014 § 74 Comments

I’m presently involved in a discussion at donalgraeme about the risks of modern marriage.

One aspect of the discussion addresses the naive libertarian hope that it is possible for the State to get out of the marriage business – to be metaphysically neutral on marriage contracts – which we’ve discussed here before. Short version: it isn’t a coherent possibility, and many people only cling to it because the full reality of the situation is so stark.

The other aspect of the discussion involves assessing the risks of marriage in the modern world.

We can classify risk factors in getting married into general risks and particular risks. The general risks are risks associated with getting married at all. The particular risks are the risks associated with marrying that person in particular.

I would contend that, even in the context of legal “Marriage 2.0″ or whatever, the particular risks are dominant by orders of magnitude. Even legitimate marriage in more traditional societies carried tremendous particular risk. You might be less likely to go to jail, but you are just as likely to see jail as a pleasant alternative to your home life if you’ve made a bad choice of mate.

I’ve argued as a business executive that by the time you have to unholster the gun of formal authority you have already lost, and are just trying to limit the damage. The same thing applies to marriage, and anyone considering marriage needs to keep their eye on the real risks – the particular risks.

Now the problem is that the current social and legal environment produces people who are not suitable for marriage; and it empowers their unsuitability via structures like the threatpoint. So it is easier than ever to make a poor choice, and the real world options for many become remaining alone or marrying someone unsuitable. Many people who worry about the general risks are probably themselves unsuitable for marriage. Warning them about the tiny-in-comparison general risks for those rare situations when people call the cops or make a court filing is all well and good. But it shouldn’t distract a man or woman from the source of almost all of the risks in marriage, which arise from themselves and the spouse they choose.

Flying airplanes is inherently risky, but it is proven that good training and prudent choices can reduce the risk by orders of magnitude. Almost all of the practical risk in flying is between the ears of the pilot. And almost all of the practical risk in marriage is between the ears of the spouses.

 

§ 74 Responses to Marriage risk

  • CJ says:

    Well said, as usual Zippy. I do think “Marriage 2.0” amplifies the downside of those particular risks.

    A month ago I got a panicked call from a close friend. He’s a civilian contractor on a US base overseas, while his wife is in the US with their two kids. She has twice paid massive bills without consulting him, or even after he told her not to. He found out because his debit card was declined in embarrassing situations. Then he got called to his boss’ office and was told to straighten up because if he got arrested for those outstanding child support orders, he’d lose his clearance and be fired. Turns out his wife went to court in the States and claimed that he wasn’t supporting them and had a child support order put on him. Despite the fact that the orders were never served, he’s facing contempt charges and the loss of his livelihood.

    We have a mutual friend who introduced me to my wife, and that same friend told him to leave this woman alone. He ignored that advice and took on serious particular risk. On the other hand, 50 years ago I don’t think any court would issue a child support order for a man who was married to the woman and was contracting with the military overseas. Our current system puts much more potent weapons in the hands of those “particular risks.”

  • […] Marriage Risk from Zippy Catholic […]

  • Zippy says:

    CJ:

    Our current system puts much more potent weapons in the hands of those “particular risks.”

    Yes, by adopting an incoherent notion of politically empowering an emancipating neutrality, liberal societies end up actually empowering evil.

  • […] Source: Zippy Catholic […]

  • Gavrila says:

    Under ‘Classical Christian Marriage’ and ‘“Traditional” Christian Marriage’, donalgraeme writes that Christians believe they are ‘bound by their oaths to each other’.

    Yet under ‘Contemporary “Conservative” Christian Marriage’ and ‘Contemporary “Progressive” Christian Marriage’, donalgraeme has neglected to mention that the couples in question still take marriage oaths.

    Do they believe that they are bound by their oaths to each other and break them or do they believe that they are not bound by their oaths to each other and break them?

    The State offers money to the Christian woman to become an oath-breaker and she takes it. She doesn’t take it because she’s worried that if she refuses she’ll brought up to Tower Hill and beheaded, like Thomas More.

    The State’s material power is lesser than what I would call its power of enchantment, to put it in fairytale terms.

    If Christians started to believe that they were ‘bound by their oaths to each other’ again then the spell would be broken and neither the State – nor the wicked sorcerer Bentham, who cast the spell – would have the power to defeat them. Or rather, that power would be severely diminished.

  • Zippy says:

    Gavrila:

    The State’s material power is lesser than what I would call its power of enchantment, to put it in fairytale terms.

    Good insight.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    I wonder how much of this transition from traditional marriage to modern marriage is just a reflection of the economic order? Nowadays it is not at all burdensome for parties to have a “clean break” of the marital contract because the parties can be assured that they wouldn’t be destitute. Under the pre-modern order the family was the basic economic unit. Thus its rupture would not only spell disaster for women and children but also for the man who relied on his wife and children for the extra labor and help necessary for subsistence farming. It is also difficult to divorce in tight night societies where people must band together to survive. Nowadays with the autonomy bequeathed to us by liberalism these social constraints (just like the old economic restraints) are now gone.

    By taking economic power out of the family, liberal-capitalism dealt the family an irreparable blow. Yet so many who attack “feminism” or “the state” not only fail to understand this, they insist on fostering the very conditions of their own destruction. Capitan Capitalism you say? Why are libertarians leading the marriage movement?

  • Elspeth says:

    By taking economic power out of the family, liberal-capitalism dealt the family an irreparable blow. Yet so many who attack “feminism” or “the state” not only fail to understand this, they insist on fostering the very conditions of their own destruction.

    I agree with this. I am often astounded at how little consideration is given to the current economic model as a major factor in the decline of marriage.

  • MarcusD says:

    Yet so many who attack “feminism” or “the state” not only fail to understand this, they insist on fostering the very conditions of their own destruction.

    Feminism (or Marxism, more generally) did play a large part.

    One of the arguments against marriage for women (especially young women) that I see on CAF is that they *could* end up relying on a man, and such a situation would be *quite awful*. In fact, on numerous occasions the concept of a male breadwinner and a woman reliant on such a man was described as, literally, “abusive.”

  • Zippy says:

    MarcusD:
    Part of the reason liberals detest traditional marriage is that they see it as tantamount to women selling themselves, under pressure from society, into permanent slavery. That’s what seeing everything through a lens of economic materialism gets us.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    That’s what seeing everything through a lens of economic materialism gets us.

    Well, a lot of Austrians have no problem with indentured servitude. Liberal economics, its exaltation of individualism and aversion to authority are all culprits but liberal economics is the decisive one.

  • Luke says:

    “Many people who worry about the general risks are probably themselves unsuitable for marriage. Warning them about the tiny-in-comparison general risks for those rare situations when people call the cops or make a court filing is all well and good. But it shouldn’t distract a man or woman from the source of almost all of the risks in marriage, which arise from themselves and the spouse they choose.”

    Uh, not quite. “Making a court filing” includes filing for divorce. With half or more of new marriages eventually ending up that way (and ~90% of ones involving minor children being filed for, or caused, by the woman), that’s hardly rare. Anyway, since the woman who divorces a man is hardly the one he married, his risk is substantial no matter how carefully he chooses whom he marries.

  • Zippy says:

    Luke:

    “Making a court filing” includes filing for divorce.

    Right. That is an example of the State getting involved only after one of the parties to the marriage contract asks for the State to get involved. Your comment demonstrates my point rather than undermining it.

  • Alte says:

    “Why are libertarians leading the marriage movement?”

    Because they make up the bulk of the people who care to radically change things and their ideology allows for such a change.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    Because they make up the bulk of the people who care to radically change things and their ideology allows for such a change.

    Their “radicalism” entails exchanging left-liberalism, for their own purer form of right-liberalism. Libertarianism servers a useful gate-keeper function for liberalism generally. People who rightly sense something is amiss with the current ordo rush to libertarianism thinking that they are somehow challenging the dominate paradigm, when in fact they are not they are merely reinforcing it.

  • Patrick says:

    The general and particular risks for me are just talking points. It could be my solipsism, but my guess is that men look at marriage today and their hearts turn to wax because even successful marriages just aren’t that great. My friend married, and his response to my question was, *shrugs*”When I was single I wanted to get married.” He wouldn’t take it back if he could, but that’s not the same as being happily married, I would say. If that’s what marriage has always been like–and I don’t know if it has or hasn’t–then maybe men today have an unrealistic idea of what marriage ought to be. Or maybe they’re creating risks to rationalize fear. Or maybe they aren’t called to marriage, or just aren’t prepared for it. In which case there’s no harm in avoiding it. It’s not all that great anyway, even the good ones, despite all of Pope Francis’s comments that it’s such a wonderful, beautiful thing. In my case, I know where there are a LOT of good, traditional, virginal, Catholic girls who want to marry. So I can’t use the absence of decent marriage prospects as an excuse.

  • Sigh Baba says:

    The best thing is for people to marry through the means they choose, that meas religious people would follow the marriage rules and laws of their particular religions of choice and those not religious could draw up contracts amongst themselves. Some type of notary could be employed.

  • BB says:

    Patrick says:

    “If that’s what marriage has always been like–and I don’t know if it has or hasn’t–then maybe men today have an unrealistic idea of what marriage ought to be. Or maybe they’re creating risks to rationalize fear. Or maybe they aren’t called to marriage, or just aren’t prepared for it.”

    Yes. All of the above, actually. An insightful observation.

    Marriage has always been “like that,” but men did not need to confront this reality as long as women, generally speaking, had no reasonable options of getting out of it (because of their economic dependency on husbands and the stigma of divorce, among other things).

    Now that women are no longer forced by circumstances to endure marriage that is detrimental to their health*, and either make demands – reasonable or not – on men to take greater responsibility for the well-being of their union, or get out of it, the reality of marriage has become apparent to men as well.

    *Repeated studies show that married women fare the worst in health and happiness. Unhappy marriage is a major contributor to, if not the reason for, many physical and mental problems in women.

  • BB says:

    Patrick says:

    “It’s not all that great anyway, even the good ones”

    It depends on what you mean by “great.” If you see marriage as a vehicle of self-satisfaction (i.e., meeting your own needs happily-ever-after), then it is most definitely not that great.

    If you see it as a school of love, however, where taking responsibility for the well-being of another person / people will take you out of your egoism and help you grow as a human person in ways probably unparalleled to those found in any other form of human contact, then it is great. Possibly the greatest.

    Marriage = responsibility, first and foremost.

    Do read “Love and Responsibility” by Karol Wojtyla (later in life known as John Paul II). It is an excellent primer on marital / sexual love, and one that should be particularly useful to young Catholics.

  • Scott W. says:

    The best thing is for people to marry through the means they choose, that meas religious people would follow the marriage rules and laws of their particular religions of choice and those not religious could draw up contracts amongst themselves. Some type of notary could be employed

    A good plan on paper, but we need to remember that in addition to sociopathic insistence on freedom, liberalism also has a sociopathic insistence on equality and would sooner vaporize millions of souls than allow even a natural or reasonable inequality exist. A real marriage between a man and woman is, and will always be in and of itself better than a “friends with benefits and a notarized document” arrangement and this would be intolerable to liberalism.

  • Zippy says:

    Scott:

    A good plan on paper, …

    But it isn’t a good plan on paper. Keep in mind that

    1) Insisting on metaphysically neutral governance – liberalism – is what got us here in the first place; and

    2) Metaphysically neutral governance (including contract enforcement) is not just practically impossible: it is rationally incoherent.

    Conservatives are always being snookered into thinking that the solution to problems caused by liberalism is more liberalism, or a better liberalism, or a more ‘authentic’ liberalism.

  • Zippy says:

    Patrick:
    Cyndy Lauper may have sung that “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”, and modern women may have bought into modernity’s narcissistic message sooner and more deeply than modern men. But at this point everyone is a narcissist, especially when it comes to sex and marriage.

  • Scott W. says:

    A good plan on paper

    A poor choice of words. I should have said a plan that would seem to offer an acceptable solution to those inclined to a live-and-let-live policy, but in reality cannot be exactly because of the impossibility of neutral liberal governance as you mentioned.

  • Patrick says:

    Right….feminism and divorce is actually good for men.

    After reading the piece of evasion called Mulieris Dignitatem, I don’t have any interest John Paul II’s ideas on sex and marriage. I think he was a beta orbiter to the “feminine genius.”

  • Zippy says:

    BB:

    Now that women are no longer forced by circumstances to endure marriage that is detrimental to their health*, and either make demands – reasonable or not – on men to take greater responsibility for the well-being of their union, or get out of it, the reality of marriage has become apparent to men as well.

    *Repeated studies show that married women fare the worst in health and happiness. Unhappy marriage is a major contributor to, if not the reason for, many physical and mental problems in women.

    Thanks for the input, Screwtape.

  • […] the comments, I entered into a discussion with Zippy Catholic wherein he makes this fantastic point about specific vs general risk in the context of the modern […]

  • Janet says:

    Patrick:
    A little of all of that, I think. In the “old days” there was no expectation that your spouse would be your “best friend” for example, let alone “You complete me”. So it’s no surprise that against that standard, many fall short. But we also expect too little of marriage today too. There’s an attitude that divorce “just happens” to you like a tornado or something– nothing you could do about it, your house just blows apart one day without warning. That’s how divorce is experienced ***by the children*** but not by the adults! The husband and wife both have many, many, many decisions before a divorce actually gets filed. And the Catholic perspective is that sacramental grace is also given to influence you both.

    I agree with BB, too. Everyone has a definite vocation in life. If yours is marriage (as it is for most people), then that describes where you would flourish best. Refusing it from fear or sloth will leave you much worse off.

    The world is set up so that you have to gamble your life– the whole of it, and more than once! No, there’s no guarantees that marriage to Ms X will be a net positive or negative– but NOT marrying Ms X might also be net negative, and it’s easy to forget that. And you don’t have an unlimited number of “draws from the deck”, so to speak. You HAVE to gamble your life, with a choice of the cards you’re offered, or with no cards in your hand if you refuse the deal. You’re “all in,” whether you like it or not, so play to win!

    In your twenties, it looks like a lot more fun and less risk to stay single; you can do what you want, and there’s always another opportunity around the corner. But the wheel spins around, and what was on the top, is on the bottom. You can’t clap your hands and make a deep, loving relationship pop into existence when you need it, because you got crippled in a car accident. You needed to have been investing in making a life with another person all along, when you could have done something else. In my parents’ generation, the ones who didn’t get (or stay) married had fun in their twenties, increasingly tough times in their 40s, and are now bitter and lonely in their 60s/70s. The ones who did get (and stay) married had some rocky times at first, hit their stride in their 40s, and are happy and successful grandparents in their 60s/70s. The same thing is playing out in my generation.

  • Zippy says:

    Janet:

    You can’t clap your hands and make a deep, loving relationship pop into existence when you need it, because you got crippled in a car accident. You needed to have been investing in making a life with another person all along, when you could have done something else.

    Right, the manosphere has an amusing sarcastic retort addressed to older women who write “where have all the good men gone” articles: “they are back in your twenties where you left them.”

    The reality is that this is less true for men than for women though. Men can afford patience in a way that women, because of the special-purpose construction of their bodies and their limited fertility window, cannot.

  • donalgraeme says:

    @ Patrick

    In my case, I know where there are a LOT of good, traditional, virginal, Catholic girls who want to marry.

    And where, pray tell, is this mythical land of unicorns located? I keep hearing about it all over the internet, but whenever I try to nail down the location it, like the Golden City of Eldorado, seems to be “just over that mountain.”

  • MarcusD says:

    @BB

    Repeated studies show that married women fare the worst in health and happiness.

    Can you please explain this then: http://simulacral-legendarium.blogspot.ca/2014/02/gss-female-happiness-by-marital-status.html

    @Janet

    A little of all of that, I think. In the “old days” there was no expectation that your spouse would be your “best friend” for example, let alone “You complete me”.

    An interesting infographic: http://simulacral-legendarium.blogspot.ca/2013/10/visualizing-history-of-love.html

  • Janet says:

    Zippy: I like the joke attributed to, I think, Tolstoy:

    Q: How do you get to be married to a general in Moscow?
    A: Marry a second lieutenant in Siberia.

    You’re right that the issue is starker for women than men. It’s 100% sure that a woman at age 50 has had all the children she will ever have, and everyone knows it. Technically, a man could have more children after 50– but in reality, it’s 99% sure that he won’t. And I mean that literally: only 1% of babies are born to fathers over age 50 (and only 10% to fathers over age 40). In practice, the timeline for men is only about 4-5 years longer than for women… but many men don’t know that, and so don’t wake up to what they’re losing until too late.

    Even if it does happen, the older father is losing out– for one thing, he’s probably not going to know his grandchildren well, if at all. That’s not a small thing to give up– and he’s giving it up on behalf of his children and his grandchildren as well as himself.

  • Zippy says:

    Janet:

    In practice, the timeline for men is only about 4-5 years longer than for women… but many men don’t know that, and so don’t wake up to what they’re losing until too late.

    That sounds about right to me.

  • BB says:

    Zippy, you’re welcome…?

    Don’t know what Screwtape is, but I gather you reacted to something you saw as objectionable in what I said.

    Marriage is not easy for men or women. It is a sacrifice for both. Just like young men today are wondering whether it is the right thing for them, so do the young women, who do not see many, if any, benefits in marriage for themselves.

    It needs to be stated that those who are not marriage material – that is, people who are not willing or able to undertake the responsibility of considerable self-sacrifice – should seek other vocations and not that of marriage.

  • BB says:

    Janet said:

    “The ones who did get (and stay) married had some rocky times at first, hit their stride in their 40s, and are happy and successful grandparents in their 60s/70s. The same thing is playing out in my generation.”

    Yes, that seems to be a somewhat universal pattern in my experience as well.

    The rocky times are mostly inevitable, but they tend to resolve by late mid-life (if one or both spouses stay committed and don’t bolt or otherwise seriously mess up – affairs, etc.), leading to a greater understanding, compassion, and commitment, and peaceful golden years together, for those who remain alive.

  • BB says:

    Janet said:

    “There’s an attitude that divorce “just happens” to you like a tornado or something– nothing you could do about it, your house just blows apart one day without warning. That’s how divorce is experienced ***by the children*** but not by the adults!”

    An excellent point that cannot be overstated. This peculiar “just happens” attitude toward divorce, and the fact that so many people complain about being “blindsided” by it, further points to the lack of preparedness for married life. Too many people remain in the child-like state in marriage, reacting as helpless kids to events seemingly beyond their control, without seeing their responsibility for the dissolution of their marriage and learning, self-critically, what they should have done differently.

    I think that if a fraction of the efforts and resources spent on weddings were devoted to preparing people for responsibilities of marriage, we’d probably see fewer divorces, and certainly fewer people complaining about being “blindsided” by them.

  • BB says:

    Patrick:

    “After reading the piece of evasion called Mulieris Dignitatem, I don’t have any interest John Paul II’s ideas on sex and marriage. I think he was a beta orbiter to the “feminine genius.””

    Beta orbiter? Hm. I looked it up. No, I don’t think that’s what JPII was, nor that the document you reference was a “piece of evasion” (!).

    But your sentiments suggest that you don’t like women, as people, very much. In my experience, men who do not like women as people do not make good husbands or have successful marriages. Maybe marriage is not for you after all.

  • Patrick says:

    Donal, it’s the SSPX and other traditionalist groups.

  • Patrick,

    “In my case, I know where there are a LOT of good, traditional, virginal, Catholic girls who want to marry.”

    I echo Donalgraeme: For God’s sakes, where?

    As for Pope St. John Paul II, I can attest to you that I found little to recommend either in Mulieris dignitatem or in the “theology of the body” addresses I’ve read (a small, but random, sample). Love and Responsibility is a different matter. It’s a very dense read, but worthwhile.

  • Patrick says:

    I’m not sure the timeline is only 4-5 years longer for men. I know a couple men who at 35 married girls 10 years younger. Girls at 35 are still fertile but less likely to marry than men. But I think a man at 45 could find a woman at 30-35 to marry. Maybe she’s less choosy at that point. But that would be 10-15 years.

  • Zippy says:

    BB:

    Don’t know what Screwtape is …

    Google is your friend. Your little narrative that I cited struck me as something right out of the Screwtape Letters: women were unhaaaaappy (and unhealthy) until modernity came along, gave women more power in marriage, and men started having to listen to how unhaaaaaaappy (and unhealthy) their wives were. Marriage was just hunky dory for blissfully ignorant men beforehand, but now that women have more power to threaten to detonate their families men get to share in the misery.

    Basically a positive feminist spin on the threatpoint model of modern marriage, not to mention a swipe at those stupid men who, unlike women, didn’t (prior to the threatpoint model) understand how hard marriage is.

    You might consider answering MarcusD’s question.

    Perhaps you were simply unaware of how your comment came across.

  • Zippy says:

    Patrick:
    45 is damn late to be having your first child, among other things. You’ll be 65 when he is 20.

  • Also, male fertility declines nearly as brutally by the 40s as female fertility. The goods get pretty odd as men age, more so if they start late than if they start early. As with women, starting young helps fight the downsides of age-related fertility problems and difficulties. Even two healthy people can take years to have a kid. Men aren’t immune from infertility due to age.

  • Zippy says:

    TUW:
    “The goods get pretty odd” made me laugh out loud. I hope it was on purpose.

  • BB says:

    My comment might have come across as one-sided, since I wanted to underscore the point that marriage is not and never was a picnic for women either, a perspective that seems to be sorely lacking here with the stress on the risks of marriage for men. You talk about “general risks” for “people,” but what you are really discussing are risks for men (and mostly for a particular subset of men), an approach that is as apparent as it is tendentiously one-sided.

    Any reasonable discussion of marriage has to take into account the sacrifices made — and needed to be made — by both spouses, and thus challenges, fears and risks that both spouses face. Only then we can work toward possible realistic solutions — if realistic solutions are what you seek, of course, which may not be the case, I realize.

    I took a look at Marcus’ charts, but it is hard — impossible, really — to comment on unsourced data.

  • Patrick says:

    That gets me a little concerned. I’ve been working on improving my finances and as I’ve gotten older the women attracted to me have been more attractive. I suppose it isn’t really a matter of reaching my apex and then starting out, though. I’ll need to consider getting one sooner than I had planned or work harder.

  • BB says:

    The Unreal Woman said:

    “Also, male fertility declines nearly as brutally by the 40s as female fertility. The goods get pretty odd as men age”

    Sperm quality decline seems to begin around 35:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21929275.500-mens-sperm-quality-decreases-at-age-35.html#.U579zZRdWgY

    Children of older fathers are also at a greater risk of autism, low IQ, and a whole host of developmental / life problems:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10663832/Children-of-older-fathers-at-risk-of-low-IQ-autism-and-suicide.html

  • jf12 says:

    @Patrick, the sooner the better.

    That being said, male fertility decline, albeit inevitable, is a lot more gradual and far less abrupt than certain commenters are indicating. Any given healthy 60 yr old man’s semen will have about half the number of effective swimmers as a 20 yr old man’s, but one is all it takes.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @BB

    Any reasonable discussion of marriage has to take into account the sacrifices made — and needed to be made — by both spouses, and thus challenges, fears and risks that both spouses face.

    Nonsense. Reasonable discussions of marriage focused on men–by men, about men, and to men–can happen. Not every discussion of marriage must be completely comprehensive to be reasonable. That’s a good thing since there never has been a completely comprehensive conversation about anything, ever. No matter how a conversation progresses, and even if everything is being given due consideration in its time: If it goes on long enough some snit will interrupt it to proclaim that her knickers are in a twist.

  • donalgraeme says:

    @ Patrick

    If you have “access” to young, traditional, virgin Catholic women, then by all means marry if you can. They are not nearly so common as you might think. I have attended Traditionalist Latin Mass churches, and while somewhat better than NO masses, they are not the gold mine you seem to have found. I suspect that regional differences play a significant role, and might in fact make all of the difference. I will probably have to go prospecting somewhere else within the next year or two at this rate.

    @ Zippy

    45 is damn late to be having your first child, among other things. You’ll be 65 when he is 20.

    The possibility of dying and leaving my children fatherless (and widowing my wife) is one of those things that has inclined me to stop searching at some point. While I have a lot of reasons to believe I will live well past that point, it is still a concern.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane’s point is well taken, but in fact the point made in the OP applies as much to women as to men. The legal and cultural environment has shifted dramatically, so it is true that now women are much more empowered by the option of holding their own family hostage and destroying it if they don’t get what they want. But even with that legal shift, the risks in marriage for both men and women reside almost entirely between the ears of the spouses.

    One point the discussion raises though is that a woman who can’t abide a discussion even mildly focused on the situation men face without clamoring for ‘balance’ is probably not a good marriage prospect. So having that kind of discussion in her presence is a good test.

  • jf12 says:

    re: risk/benefit calculation. What is the marriage *benefit* to men? Besides incalculable advantages such as gold stars for being good and all, what are some of the this-world benefits to marriage which might, calculating on balance, induce a young man to choose marriage these days given the calculable risks?

  • Zippy says:

    jf12:

    What is the marriage *benefit* to men?

    Sex, love, children, companionship, fun, belonging, a purpose greater than himself, mortification, people to take care of you when you are sick or injured — the question is rather silly actually. All the benefits of family plus benefits unique to marriage itself, and all without the concomitant hellfire at the end of the line for fornicators and adulterers.

    But in any case the subject of the OP is the risks and the distribution of where they actually come from, not benefits. I’m not selling marriage here; I’m selling sanity.

  • jf12 says:

    BB is very correct about a lot of things, especially about marriage being a school of love. But it’s also a school of submission.

  • Patrick says:

    Donal, give me your email and I’ll send you some information you might find useful.

  • jf12 says:

    Re: silly question. Clearly half or more of our young people don’t think it silly. They are having sex, love, children, companionship, fun, etc. outside of marriage, and if you ask them one of the main reasons is NOT the risks in marriage but that these benefits are *easier* to obtain outside of marriage for them.

  • Zippy says:

    jf12:

    BB is very correct about a lot of things

    Agreed. My objection was to what I specifically cited. I would have responded similarly to someone who said the following (I’ll use word substitution in brackets to make the point):

    Now that women are no longer forced by circumstances to endure [pregnancy] that is detrimental to their health*, and either make demands – reasonable or not – on men to take greater responsibility for the well-being of their [children], or [kill the child if the man won’t], the reality of [parenthood] has become apparent to men as well.

    *Repeated studies show that [pregnant] women fare the worst in health and happiness. Unhappy [pregnancy] is a major contributor to, if not the reason for, many physical and mental problems in women.

    People who argue that legalized murder or family destruction are empowering in some good sense – as opposed to vile, despicable, wicked developments in the culture that empower evil – deserve to be treated as the Screwtapes they are.

  • Zippy says:

    jf12:

    …and if you ask them one of the main reasons is NOT the risks in marriage but that these benefits are *easier* to obtain outside of marriage for them.

    The road to Hell is wide, and filled with idiots.

  • Marissa says:

    But even with that legal shift, the risks in marriage for both men and women reside almost entirely between the ears of the spouses.

    Hasn’t it always been that way? Or are you already making that point? Regardless of which laws allow abuse against a spouse, it’s still all dependent on whether your spouse is abusive. No divorce law in the world will tempt a woman devoted to the ideal of marriage. No “rule of thumb” law will tempt a devoted man to hit his wife with a switch (I realize this law is not well-confirmed, I’m just using it as an example).

    I do think marriage would be in a better state with at least at-fault divorce instead of no-fault. But would anyone be happy with a woman who would divorce you if she could, but can’t due to the law? This might be why men realize you have to change the person (thus the push toward Game–changing their behavior) and that laws are secondary to that change.

    In the kind of system we (Americans) live in, it seems like we have to change the people first, because no “top-down” law (a la forced integration) will be allowed in the case of traditional marriage. And yes, I realize “change the people” has a creepy, technocratic “New Soviet Man” ring to it, but that’s not what I mean.

  • jf12 says:

    Re: BB. I have a sneaking suspicion from elsewhere that I’ll keep to myself for the time being, but I will say that as far as I understand her reasoning, even as limited so far here, then she is capable of making your points better than you can. She is arguing that the *practical* risk is very low to the *limited* number of *healthy* people who choose to be married for the *right* reasons.

  • jf12 says:

    Re: road to hell. “So it is easier than ever to make a poor choice, and the real world options for many become remaining alone or marrying someone unsuitable.”

    I don’t think that the main problem is that so many people are unsuitable for marriage. I think the main problem is that society has reorganized to encourage people who *could* have been suitable for marriage under different, e.g. harder, circumstances to abandon ship whenever convenient.

    One of the arguments for legalization of drugs is that by making it easier for those who would choose to do so, it makes it nicer for the rest of us who choose not to. We’re made more virtuous, apparently, by “Just saying No” more often.

  • Zippy says:

    Marissa:

    But would anyone be happy with a woman who would divorce you if she could, but can’t due to the law?

    Definitely not, but the two aren’t unrelated. Materially there has never been a time when a spouse who really wanted out could not commit murder. But a legally sanctioned murder option changes things dramatically, even when the legalized murder option is not something the people involved think they would ever consider.

    Giving people nuclear bombs and setting up society such that they can get away with using them does alter the power dynamic across the board. It empowers constitutionally weak people in particular, for reasons similar to why in the Old West the Colt 45 revolver was called ‘The Equalizer’.

  • Zippy says:

    jf12:

    I think the main problem is that society has reorganized to encourage people who *could* have been suitable for marriage under different, e.g. harder, circumstances to abandon ship whenever convenient.

    It is both/and, not either/or. In the past you could get away with marrying someone less suitable because society would support you; even though you’d have been better off marrying someone more suitable.

    But the danger of the nutcase with a gun resides more in the nutcase than in the gun. Marrying someone is and always has been like handing them a loaded gun.

  • jf12 says:

    “Marrying someone is and always has been like handing them a loaded gun.” I like the analogy. As a couple you can enjoy going hunting together, or skeet shooting, or work together in protecting against home invasion, or foreign intelligence services (like Mr. & Mrs. Smith). The problem comes when one or more of the spouses is enticed by outside entities to point the loaded gun at the other spouse. It is NOT the case that the other spouse should simply have chosen a less-susceptible spouse.

    It IS incumbent upon spouses to try as best they can to create a marriage condition in which our natural susceptibilities are less excited by outside entities (see: duties of marriage), and of course to try to influence the world as best they can. In the past, men often and maybe usually insisted that their wives be isolated from crazy-making people. And it seems to have worked better that way.

  • donalgraeme says:

    @ Patrick

    You can find it at my about page, here:

    http://donalgraeme.wordpress.com/about/

    [I don’t like to quote it directly so as to avoid spam]

  • Zippy says:

    jf12:

    I like the analogy.

    Its weakness is that guns can be taken away from someone. But marrying someone is like fitting her with a permanent gun attached to her body which cannot be unloaded.

    But that is the way it has always been. Just ring up Hell and ask Henry VIII.

  • donalgraeme says:

    As I understand the discussion so far…

    In the past, if I was a man looking to marry, I evaluated women by the risks and perceived benefit of marrying them.

    Woman A, for example, might have a 5% risk associated with her (the particular risk). That is, there was a 5% chance she would blow up the marriage in some way. Whereas Woman B might be a 10% chance. Mind you, quantifying the risk like that is impossible, but it is possible to get an imprecise measurement of the risk. So at least you could say that Woman A is a low risk, and Woman B is a medium risk, or something like that.

    The problem right now is that the present environment brings out the worst in people, magnifying the risk that was already inherent to each potential spouse. This would be general risk.

    For example, Woman A under the new system might not represent a 15% risk, and Woman B a 30% risk. This is because the environment trebled the risk that was already there. So the main component of risk remains within the individual potential spouses, as that is the baseline, although the general risks now are greater and so magnify that particular risks.

  • donalgraeme says:

    That was supposed to be “Woman A under the new system might now represent a 15% risk”.

  • Zippy says:

    donalgraeme:
    I think it is less that the outside world objectively magnifies particular risk and more that the cultural and legal context encourages people to become less marriageable. The cultural and legal sewer is a garden for growing particular risk more than a magnifier of general risk.

    It isn’t that Suzy comes with 5% inherent risk magnified to 15% by the legal environment. I expect that that sort of effect is small: if Suzy is 5% the legal environment might magnify that to 6-7%.

    The problem is that Suzy could have been raised and formed to be a 5% risk in a different environment, but in fact was raised and formed to be a 40% risk.

  • Gavrila says:

    In the past, if I was a man looking to marry, I evaluated women by the risks and perceived benefit of marrying them.

    Don’t forget to factor in the dowry, donalgraeme.

    By the way, since sexual market-place speculators use age in their calculations on the optimum time to marry and since delaying marriage can be sinful then doesn’t it follow that SMP speculators who delay marriage until they get a better deal – until their own sexual market-value has increased – are engaged in a kind of usury?

    In the reactosphere, the analogy of economic value for sexual value takes post-Puritan assumptions about economic egotism for granted.

  • MarcusD says:

    @BB

    I took a look at Marcus’ charts, but it is hard — impossible, really — to comment on unsourced data.

    You’re just kidding, right?

  • Zippy says:

    Gavrila:

    then doesn’t it follow that SMP speculators who delay marriage until they get a better deal – until their own sexual market-value has increased – are engaged in a kind of usury?

    That’s an interesting idea, but even granting (purely for the sake of argument) the economic analogy, it isn’t usury to (e.g.) sell the cow when its value is at a peak.

    On the other hand treating future sexual congress as an economic asset is of course a basic mistake to begin with. Heck, even treating future labor as an economic asset is an error. Things we hope to do in the future if things go according to plan are not real assets, so they can’t be the security on a licit loan. Secured nonrecourse profitable loans are not usury, but the security has to be something that is ontologically real right now; because by definition the security comes into play when things don’t go according to plan.

    So I guess you are right to get a whiff of usurious brimstone from the “SMP” arguments, though not in quite the way you phrased it.

  • jf12 says:

    @BB, beta orbiter and several other terms with which I’m certain you’re not yet familiar are discussed by Zippy here:
    https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/hypergamy-social-behavioral-concepts/

    @Marcus, I’m surprised at you! You carefully source so many other things. I think BB would be satisfied with the link to the GSS data you used; I don’t think the formats of your data queries are necessary (but might be amusing). But if these data were published in tables that would provide a better reference.

  • MarcusD says:

    @jf12

    All the necessary sourcing is present.

    I made the tables myself based on the GSS data (which is to be downloaded from here: http://www3.norc.org/GSS+Website/Download/ — easily found via Google search). The question text (and number) is at the top of the post, and the charts are clearly and unambiguously labeled. In other words, all the information that BB needed to verify the data was provided in the post.

    I suspect BB was deflecting.

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