The Demise of Marriage: Cause and Effect

I can’t remember any one person having tried to write down all of the negative effects about the demise of marriage. This is basically a list to try to write down most if not all of them at least in the US. Most western countries probably have similar trends too. Some may overlap with Christianity and Christian marriage, though culture would have been increasing hostile regardless.

Got the idea from reading the comments here. Much of everyone arguing about many of the common talking points not realizing that pretty much everything contributed.

Unfortunately, don’t have the time to link all of the posts that related to all of these topics, so I’ll possibly do it when I have more time. Just linked some of the more recent ones.


Feminism

  • Proto-feminism women’s suffrage — sped up the implementation of liberal policies (see: many points below). However, many of these policies would come about regardless.
  • Women in the workforce — increasing need for full-time jobs decreases quality and pay of jobs. Note: I’m not saying women can’t or shouldn’t work (as many women have throughout history and even Biblical times did: Proverbs 31), but this trend does negatively affect employment rates and quality of pay of jobs. It’s basic economics.
  • No fault divorce — incentivizes divorce and single motherhood, especially for cash and prizes
  • Default mother gets the kids — incentivizes wife divorce
  • Child support model has replaced fathers — can easily leave a marriage to get money
  • Sex outside of marriage — decreases marriage rates, increases cohabitation
  • Decreased stigma of bastards — decreases marriage rates
  • Contraception — decrease marriage rates
  • Abortion — decreases marriage rates via increased sex, decreased stigma, and contraception
  • Bloating government spending and entitlements — incentivizes single motherhood and poverty
  • Increased victimhood and protected class status — virtue signalling and sky high expectations become the norm
  • Women can do no wrong — everything is somehow men’s fault.
  • Masculinity is demonized (via patriarchy) —  decreases “good masculine men,” increases “feminized pansy men,” and increases “bad boys.”
  • Rise of the white knights — men thinking that helping or speaking up for women will make them attracted to him
  • Cross-dressing and cross-behavior — women start to cut their hair short, wear men’s clothing, and act more like men which leads to decreased their own attractiveness. Women with longer hair, feminine clothing such as dresses and skirts, and feminine demeanor are almost universally more attractive.
  • Women delay marriage: “Find yourself” and “try to have it all” and “don’t settle down too early” — delays women’s marriage expectations until after their most attractive years
  • Tearing down “patriarchy” or forced equality of the sexes which doesn’t exist — women are not attracted to most men
  • Decreased shame — “certainly societal shame over old maids, loose women, divorcees and bastard children played a large role in why many people were “christian” at the time. Once the stigmas started to be removed from the previous list then people found more interest in them. I mean, its not like loose women is a new thing, right? Been around since the beginning of time! However in most societies such women were shunned and frowned upon, despite the absence of God. This kept such activities in check, whereas now they are celebrated and running rampant!”

These trends have highly destabilized the marriage marketplace, leading to entitled, less-attractive, less feminine women and decreasing amounts of attractive masculine men.

Education trends

  • Women gravitate toward educational teaching especially K-12 — biases education system toward girls
  • Elimination of PE and increase of busy work in schools — biases education system toward girls
  • No child left behind — no stigma for failure leads to decreased care about doing well in life, especially for boys who schools don’t care about
  • Men tend to do well in more hands-on fix-it work — some/many men prefer not to go to college and into trades
  • College/STEM pushed for women via feminism — Women increasingly represented in college and graduate education (also due to above)
  • Parents push their daughters more than their sons — Unsurprisingly, their daughters are more ambitious than their sons to get an education and good job

As educational attainment and a high paying job have become a ‘status symbol,’ this leads women to look down on men leading toward more “where have all the good men gone.”

Other trends

  • Husbands and fathers are treated with contempt and no respect — especially happens in the media. Corollary: Loss of solid role models. Decreases men who want to be such.
  • Disney princess mentality — sky-high expectations of “prince charming” leading to decreased dates, relationship formation, and marriages. Improper view of “romance.”
  • Obesity — decreases both sexes attractiveness which decreases dates, relationship formation, and marriages.
  • Pornography and romance novels — sexual satisfaction can be gained at the expense of morality outside (or even inside) of marriage.
  • Liberal media bias — feminist policies are pushed at the expense of morality
  • Romanticization of marriage — Most marriages outside of the last hundred years were not out of “[feeling] love.”
  • Many men and women start to believe that things that are attractive in men (e.g. have a good job, successful, educated, interesting, etc.) are also attractive for women to get a man — Hint: youth, beauty and femininity are attractive to men. These incorrect expectations lead women to focus on the wrong areas to try to land a man.
  • Women want men that “have it all” but won’t date men who are significantly older — this is simple logistics. Most men in early to mid 20s are not very successful yet, aside from a few start-ups and those men are usually socially awkward. Since there are only a few men like this early on, the few very attractive women will snap them up. The rest complain where “all the good men went” when their expectations don’t match reality.
  • Increase in risk averse behavior — parents want to protect their children from life rather than introduce them to the conflicts of life and how to overcome them. Less men and women are willing to take the plunge to get married earlier or even just ask their counterparts out on dates.
  • Parents don’t teach their sons and daughters about the opposite sex much anymore — little if any parental mentoring about life which leads to mass confusion for men and women

These factors negatively affect men and women’s expectations of relationships and also some may result in decreased or significantly decreased attractiveness.

Christian trends

  • Chivalry and feminism’s “Christian” counterparts have replaced Biblical marital roles and responsibilities — leads to an inversion of roles or idolatry of the wife in the marriages
  • Clear Biblical compromise — women pastors/leaders, de-veiling of women in Church, etc.
  • Lack of focus onto preparation for marriage — God’s Biblical marital roles and responsibilities are largely ignored or manipulated in favor of worldly talking points such as “communication” and “conflict management”
  • Tingles are a sign of godliness — if she’s in love with you (romance), you’re not acting godly. Makes husbands idolize their wife’s feelings and thereby a slave to them.
  • “Women are more spiritual than men” — increases pride and self-entitlement and decreases repentance and humility
  • “Women good, men bad” — an offshoot of the above used to blame husbands/fathers for even sins that their wives/daughters/sons commit saying that ‘if they were only godly enough then their wife or children would submit.’ Encourages rebellion and decreases respect and attraction.
  • Feminimization of the Church: worship, preaching, etc. — increases female and decreases male attendance leading to disparities in the dating pool that negatively affect women.
  • Preacher apex fallacy — sexual attraction is from power and status in the Church. “Be like me” attitude doesn’t work, especially when the pastor suddenly starts having marital troubles because of adherence to chivalry or complementarianism over the Bible.
  • Fall to cultural expectations — happy wife happy life, white knighting, women can do no wrong, and many of the other feminism trends.
  • “A man must pursue a woman” — the non-Biblical reality of the typical conservative Christians. Reality: Jesus invited the disciples to follow Him, and the disciples chose to follow. He did not chase after them.
  • Christians following worldly social scripts — college -> job -> house/car -> marriage are more important than instructing children to follow Biblical morality.
  • Physical attractiveness and worldly success are largely ignored — to get a spouse you must wait on “God’s timing and be godly” while ignoring that no one wants to go out on dates with obese, poorly dressed, and poorly marriage-prepared Christians. Which leads into…
  • “God’s timing…” or “God’s plan…” — prevents Christians from actually taking steps to change their own situation which decreases chances of meeting someone who also finds attractive. Corollary: God does not promise anyone a spouse in the Bible
  • Nuclear rejections — dissuades young Christian men from approaching in the future
  • The over-spiritualization of dating Dating is only encouraged if you’re serious about getting married, and Christian friends hype up a date like you’re getting engaged.
  • Jesus is my boyfriend — leads to weird pseudo-romance that negatively inflates women’s expectations in a relationships
  • Mother’s day and Father’s day microcosm — praise mothers and shame fathers to do better or “man up.” Even worse: claim God the Father is also a mother.
  • Purity culture — Flirting is a “sin.” Women are brown-beaten to not have sex so much they still remain unwilling to have sex in marriage.

Honestly, there were more Christian (or should I say non-Christian) trends than I expected. Most of these negatively affect women’s expectations. Some disincentivize men from being Christian or even trying to date. The worst offenders are the ones that distort the Scriptures to mean or say things that God never said about marriage or promises He never made.


Overall thoughts

In general, when most men and most women married in their early to mid 20s, the women were marrying for the trajectory of what the man could be (unless she was marrying someone 5-10+ years older than herself). Men would get the “wife of their youth” immediately while working to support his family and become a great husband and father that his wife could brag about as he becomes much more successful.

Most Christian men and women would do well to focus on themselves and what benefits they could bring to a potential spouse. They should work on their own attractiveness: stay fit, eat healthy, well groomed, and masculine or feminine in action and clothing if possible. They should also focus on what God says about marriage and not the common cultural Christian distortions that are parallels of what culture says about husbands and wives.

Christians should be active in serving Jesus and mentoring/discipling others and being mentored/discipled themselves if possible. Network within the Church and go to widespread events as that gives them more avenues to meet other Christians. Evaluate your own expectations of a spouse to make sure that you’re not having unrealistic expectations or too many deal breakers (aside from Biblical requirements like serious Christian).

Also, if I missed any, add them to the comments. I’m pretty sure I got most of everything, but there are always some that I probably missed.

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25 Responses to The Demise of Marriage: Cause and Effect

  1. Novaseeker says:

    In general, when most men and most women married in their early to mid 20s, the women were marrying for the trajectory of what the man could be (unless she was marrying someone 5-10+ years older than herself). Men would get the “wife of their youth” immediately while working to support his family and become a great husband and father that his wife could brag about as he becomes much more successful.

    The issue there is that it’s a lot of risk for the woman and little risk for the man. The man gets the woman’s youth and beauty, but may never develop the potential she hoped for him, so she “squandered” her relationship “wealth” on a bet that didn’t play out. That’s yet another driver behind later marriage, I think.

  2. Lance says:

    Proverbs 31 isn’t about a woman working a job (i.e. slavery), she is shown as working that family business. One of the huge problems with women working outside the home is that they are then under a different authority than their husband, i.e. they have two heads. It’s just a bad situation.

    I Cor 7:21-23 makes it clear that we should get out of slavery if we can. The problem is that the modern culture makes people think that lifestyle is more important than family or ministry. Most women are only working to provide a nicer lifestyle for the family.

  3. Bee says:

    DS,

    “Pornography and romance novels — sexual sanctification …”

    Should this be, “sexual satisfaction”?

  4. Bee says:

    “Clear Biblical compromise — women pastors/leaders, de-veiling of women in Church, etc.”

    Now we see the inverse of the de-veiling of women; men wearing hats during Church services, and men wearing hats on stage as they lead Church worship.

  5. @ Bee

    Thanks. Fixed.

  6. @ Nova

    The issue there is that it’s a lot of risk for the woman and little risk for the man. The man gets the woman’s youth and beauty, but may never develop the potential she hoped for him, so she “squandered” her relationship “wealth” on a bet that didn’t play out. That’s yet another driver behind later marriage, I think.

    True, but no bet is a sure bet.

    The issue if she holds out ’til her late 20s or early 30s is that she could end up with worse — settle for less than what she could have gotten in early 20s or prolong another 5-10 years and end up at close to if not at spinsterhood.

  7. @ Lance

    Proverbs 31 isn’t about a woman working a job (i.e. slavery), she is shown as working that family business. One of the huge problems with women working outside the home is that they are then under a different authority than their husband, i.e. they have two heads. It’s just a bad situation.

    While true, this is extensively mitigated by:

    1. A God and family priority over “career.” If a woman knows something is a job rather than a career, it’s easier to make the decision to quit if needed

    2. A good job in vetting and teaching your own wife.

    Family business or home business is ideal though. There are certainly risks though.

  8. Novaseeker says:

    True, but no bet is a sure bet.

    The issue if she holds out ’til her late 20s or early 30s is that she could end up with worse — settle for less than what she could have gotten in early 20s or prolong another 5-10 years and end up at close to if not at spinsterhood.

    It’s true. It’s the nature of the beast.

    I do think, though, that our culture is now incredibly risk averse. I don’t think we can expect to raise children (and a couple of generations have been raised this way so far) where almost all of the risks of childhood are taken away from them deliberately, while we tell them this is a good thing, and while we counsel them to do X and Y to lessen risk for life planning and so on … and then expect them to take this risk when they are young. It’s … incongruous to say the least. More likely that being raised to mitigate risk consistently, they will also seek to mitigate risk here. It’s true that there is always a risk, either way, but one tends to prefer to defer risk due to contingencies … risks that are further off are never perceived in the same way as risks in the present tense, and so if one has been raised to avoid risks, one will tend to prefer to avoid the present risks in favor of deferring facing risks until later … thinking perhaps those future risks don’t materialize or are mooted by events in the meantime.

  9. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    Nearly all the points that you raised have to do with women’s perception. This is beyond the ability of an individual to overcome.

  10. els says:

    The issue there is that it’s a lot of risk for the woman and little risk for the man. The man gets the woman’s youth and beauty, but may never develop the potential she hoped for him, so she “squandered” her relationship “wealth” on a bet that didn’t play out. That’s yet another driver behind later marriage, I think.

    Having known 7 other couples with a wife who married as young as I did, my husband and one other guy are the only two I know who have filled most of their potential and also enjoy a harmonious marriage. This is across 3 ethnic backgrounds, to be clear. The other 5 men have either struggled to remain faithful (figured they missed out on something by marrying young), struggled to maintain gainful employment so that their wives had to work full time even after kids, or were in some way premature (spendthrifts usually, but other things as well).

    All but two couples are still married, but the women suffered a lot and not all the men were cads or playboys either. Some of them just never seemed to be able to pull it together for any length of time. And when a girl marries at 20-22, she isn’t settling, and most of these women have put up with a lot, often offering support through things most women would have jumped ship over years ago.

    Conversely, I know plenty of women who married at 26+ and almost every single one has had a much easier marriage both financially and relationally. No bet is a sure bet, but Novaseeker’s intellectually honest concession should not be so quickly dismissed.

  11. @ Nova

    I do think, though, that our culture is now incredibly risk averse. I don’t think we can expect to raise children (and a couple of generations have been raised this way so far) where almost all of the risks of childhood are taken away from them deliberately, while we tell them this is a good thing, and while we counsel them to do X and Y to lessen risk for life planning and so on … and then expect them to take this risk when they are young. It’s … incongruous to say the least. More likely that being raised to mitigate risk consistently, they will also seek to mitigate risk here.

    It’s true that there is always a risk, either way, but one tends to prefer to defer risk due to contingencies … risks that are further off are never perceived in the same way as risks in the present tense, and so if one has been raised to avoid risks, one will tend to prefer to avoid the present risks in favor of deferring facing risks until later … thinking perhaps those future risks don’t materialize or are mooted by events in the meantime.

    I agree.

    This is generally symptomatic of other factors I think though. For instance, lots of wealthy parents don’t discipline their kids which lead to their kids not understanding that there are consequences for their actions. Then when they do wrong and get bailed out, they get even worse.

    I think the same thing happens with risk averse behavior. If you’re not taught that life is hard and that you must confront and overcome difficulties, you’re more likely to move to a crazy risk-averse types of situation.

    Another analogy might be the stock market. Those who see a crash and pull out because they got burned lose out because (1) they freaked out and pulled out their money selling low and (2) they didn’t have their money in the market when the stocks regained their value.

    You can see this in a lot of modern men and women who are very adverse to risk. People who wait months to talk to someone they like because they’re afraid. While I’m sure previous generations had the same fears, the majority of them did not wait as long or allow their fears to fester as much.

  12. @ Els

    Having known 7 other couples with a wife who married as young as I did, my husband and one other guy are the only two I know who have filled most of their potential and also enjoy a harmonious marriage. This is across 3 ethnic backgrounds, to be clear. The other 5 men have either struggled to remain faithful (figured they missed out on something by marrying young), struggled to maintain gainful employment so that their wives had to work full time even after kids, or were in some way premature (spendthrifts usually, but other things as well).

    Conversely, I know plenty of women who married at 26+ and almost every single one has had a much easier marriage both financially and relationally. No bet is a sure bet, but Novaseeker’s intellectually honest concession should not be so quickly dismissed.

    I agree to some extent of course, but none of these things are in a vacuum.

    The main thing I would be interested to see is the differences between men who have a strong father figure and/or Church mentorship/discipleship and how they turned out versus the rest.

    I’d bet money on the statistics being much greater where those men who married young but had very strong role models and were mentored/discipled well turn out to be the most effective of any.

    Basically, it doesn’t take just a man, it takes a community.

  13. Novaseeker says:

    You can see this in a lot of modern men and women who are very adverse to risk. People who wait months to talk to someone they like because they’re afraid. While I’m sure previous generations had the same fears, the majority of them did not wait as long or allow their fears to fester as much.

    Good points, I agree. I do think, though, that the past two generations have been raised to be rather risk-averse, in comparison with previous ones, so it’s to be expected that this risk aversion plays out over various life choices, including relationship-related ones.

  14. Derek Ramsey says:

    “I’d bet money on the statistics being much greater where those men who married young but had very strong role models and were mentored/discipled well turn out to be the most effective of any. Basically, it doesn’t take just a man, it takes a community.”

    For what it’s worth, I’m one anecdote that fits this. I agree with you.

  15. thedeti says:

    >The main thing I would be interested to see is the differences between men who have a strong father figure and/or Church mentorship/discipleship and how they turned out versus the rest.

    Also, in Els’ anecdata, we don’t know how old the men were. We know the women were in their early 20s. But the men’s ages are unknown.

    Young women can mitigate the risk by marrying men older than they are, in addition to selecting for all the other things women will want.

  16. elspeth says:

    Also, in Els’ anecdata, we don’t know how old the men were. We know the women were in their early 20s. But the men’s ages are unknown.

    @thedeti:

    The husbands are 2-5 years older than their wives. Only my husband was younger (by two years and has excelled more than anyone thought possible, LOL). The other guy who did well is the exact same age as his wife. All the rest have husbands slightly older. Derek Ramsey’s points about having people, besides your wife, who place high expectations on you are relevant here.

    Young women can mitigate the risk by marrying men older than they are, in addition to selecting for all the other things women will want.

    There seems to be a heavy disregard for young men being able to marry during the time of life when they burn most. I agree that marrying an older man is a better bet for financial security reasons, but those of us who lean conservative should be thinking about how to build communities where young men have a fighting chance when they are young. Children need a mother and a father with the energy to parent them well.

  17. thedeti says:

    Els:

    Fair enough. Good to know the ages of the men involved.

    Men should be able to marry young. Young men have no fighting chance mostly because 1) they really aren’t ready to be married; and (2) the young women who would be their natural counterparts and wives just do not want them. No 19 year old woman wants to marry at all, much less to a 21 year old man. Hell, Els, these men have been incinerating and burning and on fire since they were 15.

    Women do not want men in their early 20s, and most of them aren’t anywhere near ready to be husbands.

  18. Derek Ramsey says:

    “Women do not want men in their early 20s, and most of them aren’t anywhere near ready to be husbands.”

    It’s taken 60 years for the trend to add about 6 years to the average marriage age. Any change is not going to be immediate, because men and women are not prepared for marriage enough to reverse this overnight. Realistically, it may take another 60 years to go back to historical norms. We are not going to see masses of teenagers marrying right away. We will need to start seeing 25s marrying instead of waiting until 26 (and so forth).

  19. thedeti says:

    Derek:

    The main point is that women in their late teens and early 20s do not want to marry men in their age cohort.

  20. elspeth says:

    I would argue that the ONLY man a woman between 19-21 would be willing to chuck all the societal noise to marry would be a guy under 25, provided he is showing clear signs that he will fulfill his potential. Young women are -for the most part- attracted to young men.

    Maybe that’s my personal experience seeping into my reasoning, though I am not relying solely on my own experience. I have ample opportunity to talk with young women of a wide range of backgrounds and I feel pretty confident in my assertion.

  21. @ elspeth

    I would argue that the ONLY man a woman between 19-21 would be willing to chuck all the societal noise to marry would be a guy under 25, provided he is showing clear signs that he will fulfill his potential. Young women are -for the most part- attracted to young men.

    Maybe that’s my personal experience seeping into my reasoning, though I am not relying solely on my own experience. I have ample opportunity to talk with young women of a wide range of backgrounds and I feel pretty confident in my assertion.

    I’ve seen similar. From my observations, women tend to want a man at the “next level.”

    1. If they’re in high school, college men are some of the most attractive to them.

    2. If they’re in college, men who are getting started in his career or in graduate/professional school are some of the most attractive to them.

    3. If they’re getting started in at their job, men who is established in their career and promoted a time or two seem to be the most attractive to them.

    Basically, about one step ahead of them on the totem pole of education/career. This tends to be about 3-5ish years older than them, though there are some in the +1-2 and +6-7 range.

    I’ve seen some high school and college age women prefer late 20s or early 30s and e a few early/mid 20s prefer mid to late 30s men but that tends to be rarer. From what I’ve seen from other cultures like Latin American a bigger age gap may be more acceptable or even desirable. But not here at least.

  22. Novaseeker says:

    From what I’ve seen from other cultures like Latin American a bigger age gap may be more acceptable or even desirable. But not here at least.

    I think that there are a few variables are at play.

    One is location. The places where age gaps are more common are places where women have less financial strength, on an independent basis, than American women do. So, yes, Latin America, Asia, former Soviet Union, etc. When women have financial independence (i.e., can support themselves in a comfortable lifestyle without a man’s income), age gaps tend to narrow very much, because women, all things being equal, prefer men who are very close to them in age, when they are young.

    The other is the woman’s age. The tendency for women to prefer men around their same age peaks when women are around 40-45, and thereafter most of them who are looking newly for men (ie, not women who have been married to the same guy for 20 years, but women who are looking for a new man at that age) strongly prefer younger men (being with a man their same age or even a couple years older makes them feel “old”) unless they are gold digging. This is borne out in the famous OKC data where men notoriously expressed a preference regardless of their own age for very young women, while women expressed a preference for men around their same age until they were in the 40s, after which their preference kind of remained with men in that age range, regardless of their own age.

    Moral of the story: not many people of either sex are very attracted to members of the opposite sex who are 50+ (barring outliers like Liz Hurley, etc.) if they have not been in a relationship with them since they were younger, and therefore view them through that lens.

  23. @ Nova

    That sounds about right.

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