One of the interesting phenomena I am repeatedly encountering is the fact that some women believe that people change so much over marriage that it’s impossible to predict what happens. Let me put this myth to rest.
When I talked extensively about vetting last time there was a large amount of comments on what I look for in evaluating a potential wife part 2. Specifically, this spawned understanding statistical models and using them to vet correctly.
Now, let’s move onto the comments and analyze them.
First, lgrobins and I went back and forth in the comments about how much “vetting” helps starting from here. This quote is near the end:
What women values can change through time as well. We are fickle creatures. Liberal one decade, conservative the next, back to liberal again, as it suits our needs for what we want at any given time.
Yes, there can be many good indicators and vetting is a reasonable thing to do, but my point is it still doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything
I agree it doesn’t guarantee anything, but I do think it raises the chances from 50/50 to well above 90%. Maybe 95-98% if done correctly.
I bring up the case again of Josh Duggar. I am sure Anna thought he was a sure thing. I mean how can you wrong with a man from that family, yet still.
“Family” does mean a decent amount, but it is simply one indicator in a very long list of things.
I recommend vetting for past sexual history and past indiscretions. Of course, he *could* have lied about it, but usually people lying under pressure like that exhibit some sort of cracking under pressure unless they are truly psychopathic.
This is why I have discussed with my girl my past of pornography usage and how far I went with some women. Although it may be a hard thing to do, to fully trust someone you have to be open to them knowing if they want even if it is difficult to talk about.
Most men and women for that matter don’t get to the mature stage of Christianity to where they can talk about their past and how they were changed. It’s not an embarrassment to have viewed pornography and had God change your life. It’s a blessing. It shows how the Spirit has worked in your life.
Unfortunately, those who are unwilling to admit the extent to which God has changed their lives are living a lie of sorts. This hidden life can give rise to the things Josh Duggar did. As Eph 5 says.. expose the things that are hidden to the light If you don’t then it’s likely someone else eventually will.
- Age of first sexual experience: 18 > 17-18 > 15-16 > 13-14 > 12
- Cohabitation: No cohabitation > cohabitation
- Income: husband earns more > equal income > wife earns more
- Income total: Middle > higher > lowest (speculation: more cash and prizes for divorcing the highest income earners)
Some other indicators from divorce probability.
- Prior marriage: no prior marriage is better than a prior marriage
- Employment status: employed > part time > not employed
- Interracial marriages: Some have more likelyhood of staying together (e.g. White man, black woman) and some have less likelihood (e.g. black man, white woman, asian man, white woman, etc.).
- Country: US is pretty divorce happy compared to many other countries. For example, 50% of all Catholic annulments worldwide are in the US.
- Ability to resolve conflict: Never argue > rarely argue > regularly argue > heated arguments
- Alcohol use: None > some > regularly
- Drug use: None > some > regularly
- Mental illness: None > having one (depression, schizophrenia, BPD, etc.)
- Age difference: reverse bell curve centered with least risk of men being 0-2 years older.
- Forced premarital sex: None > forced sex (e.g. rape)
- Length of marriage: the longer your marriage lasts the less risk of divorce
- Divorce is usually the best solution when a couple can’t seem to work out their marriage problems
- A young couple should not live together unless they are married
- It is okay for an unmarried female to have a child
- It is important for a man to spend a lot of time with his famil than to be successful at his career
All of these are different indicators of increase probability for separation or divorce.
Calculating the odds
J4G calculates the relative risk ratio of separation at 10 years. If the woman is:
- Over 25
- Has a 4 year degree
- Had an intact 2 parent family
- Lost her virginity to you in marriage
- Was not a single mother
- Does not believe divorce is an option
- Does not believe in cohabitation
- Does not believe that it’s okay for an unmarried woman to have a child out of wedlock
- Believes family time is more important than career advancement
Then the relative risk of separation at 10 years is 2%.
Obviously, J4G does not take into account many of the other myriad of risk factors above including ethnicity, importance of religion, income, income total, employment status, interracial marriages, country, conflict solving, alcohol use, drug use, mental illness, age difference, forced premarital sex, and some of the other factors.
It is likely that the relative risk can be reduced even further if other factors are applied.
I stand by my statements that vetting will reduce the risk of divorce from 50/50 to at least 90% if not 95-98%. Perhaps even 99%+ like TPC denies if you can factor in all of the ones that J4G and DP missed including attitudes about the importance of God and family in relation to life. In fact, virginity does most of the leg work reducing the risk of divorce already up to 80-85% depending on the study. This is why chastity is so important and why it made my list.
One of the quotes I’ve heard from Andy Stanley on why statistics matter is excellent (although, unfortunately, he believes heretical “submit to one another in Christ” for marriages). Paraphrased:
It is foolish to ignore statistics. […] You are unique. God created you to be unique. But your experiences are not unique.
Experiences are not unique. We are all humans and engage in relationships. This gives statistics power as exemplary warning signs that can be used to analyze what a stable marriage looks like compared to an unstable one based on current and past behavior. They are accurate predictors that those unmarried can use to look for a potential spouse including the direct vetting like I have talked about.
Obviously, people change during marriage. This doesn’t mean that there is a sudden massive increase in divorce probability as people change and get older. I admit that you can’t vet to 0% probability of divorce. Even in the list above in the last section there is a 2% chance that there will be separation at 10 years. Maybe you fell into the 2% risk of separation or divorce. You one of the 2 out of 100. That sucks. But that doesn’t discount that 98/100 of the other men still have stable marriages. Women may be fickle, but certain types of women are not that fickle that they would end up divorcing in droves after strong vetting.
Therefore, it should be abundantly clear that vetting, especially statistically, does have a very strong impact on finding a quality prospect for marriage. Reduction in relative risk of divorce from about 50/50 to < 5% maybe even to < 1- 2% is a very strong indicator that it works. It is such a strong reduction such that most informed men would never take a 50/50 willingly but would take the a < 2-5% chance. See: Jesus’ analogy of discipleship about counting the cost.
Now the question for my readers:
- Why do women think vetting doesn’t have much of an impact when it clearly does?
- Assuming it’s not malicious (“men shouldn’t be choosy about women”) then why do women think that women change in a marriage enough to make vetting irrelevant? Past behavior, current behavior, and attitudes are good proxies for future behavior.
The two that I would immediately think of are special snowflake syndrome and team women. In particular, special snowflake syndrome and team women don’t like that their behavior can be generalized in predictable patterns by statistical analysis. However, even if those are true they might not be the only or main reason(s). Not all women are like that (NAWALT) not withstanding.
If you have any thoughts on that question I want to hear them. Also, commentary on the post is appreciated if you agree or disagree.