Dr. Helen Smith fox news interview on why men are avoiding marriage

youtube.com/watch?v=D33L4zxjpH0

I like that she’s a woman so you can’t call her a sexist and ignore what she’s saying.

Discuss.

I haven’t read the article yet, but he fact that she’s a woman doesn’t eliminate the possibility that she could also be sexist.

As a man, I’m not quite ready to say, “Poor men! this is all the fault of women’s changing role in society,” as Dr. Smith seems to be saying. I think I understand the point she is making, and while it has some merit, there is more to it. It seems to me that expectations for a potential spouse are often too high for both men and women. Both sexes seem to demand (to name but a few) physical attractiveness, financial stability and success, no emotional baggage; apparently, few of us want to “settle” for less than ideal. Couple this with the current “great recession” and “jobless recovery”, which can promote an overall sense of insecurity, and it is a marvel that anyone is getting married! It is a perfect storm of selfishness and fear.

I think her argument focuses upon the secular and thus limits the understanding of marriage to being contractual via the state and thus best examined through a material CBA- a cost benefit analysis.

Her argument that men see the world this way seems limiting to men, and I would anticipate a certain amount of kickback, both from men who don’t appreciate being limited in this way, and from women who do not see men as being so limited.

I would also anticipate that her argument should be especially appealing to those who do not acknowledge or who de-emphasize the sacramental nature of marriage or those who find the levels of self sacrifice that are entailed in caring for others to be especially problematical.

May God bless her and may He bless all men and women who work to uphold the sacramental nature of their marriages and all whose vocations call them to sacrifice on behalf of others.
Amen.

I feel men and women don’t want to get married as many don’t see it as anything special although they may want a special wedding day and others want to know they can escape when they want.

Perhaps she has a point about poor treatment. There’s also the problem of independence issues, and the fact that relationships end up female-controlled.

There is a demonic attack on marriage. That’s why “men” OR “women” avoid false marriages. The false marriage is based on: looks, status, power.

Marriage is from God and he said “I put them together, let no one separate them”. Holy Lord never said, “because he is so rich/powerful/handsome, I will give him a wife who he can divorce for a younger wife”, or: “I made this women so sexy/smart, she can divorce her husband”

People started ruling marriage. They do not give their gifts to God.

Who cares? The people who avoid marriage are people we probably shouldn’t encourage to marry anyway. It’s a life of selflessness and service to another. It isn’t for everyone and society needs to stop pushing it as though it is.

If a man told me that he was against marriage because of XYZ, I would think that was probably for the best, since in saying that he is showing an inability or unwillingness to discern based on who each woman is as a person-and that’s essential to finding a good and compatible partner.

As long as my husband isn’t avoiding marriage, I’m fine if others want to.

She is assuming all women just want to take advantage of their husband. I do believe there is a large portion of women that have this attitude of selfishness. However, I also believe there are women not like this, especially Catholic woman. The bad economy makes marriage feel too risky for most men. They fear if the marriage failed, they would be set back the rest of their lives from the child support and alimony. This makes men more picky. They try to wait for the perfect woman before getting married. Then after being so picky they are likely to be dissatisfied with most women they meet. Eventually, they lose hope and give up dating. In their disappointment, they become resentful of women. Nothing will change until the economy gets better. Men need to feel that if their marriage went wrong they could survive alone if needed.

I see a silver lining for Catholic men . . . . less competition! :slight_smile:

Yes, those nasty independent women with their education, opinions, jobs, and trousers. Don’t they know that marriage should be legal slavery? :rolleyes: Relationships end up male controlled too, and in either case control = abusive. It’s not a healthy state of being.

Perhaps you mean female-lead? In which case, what’s the problem? As long as the couple took enough time to discern their marriage appropriately, they would have been aware of the relationship dynamic well before their vows. Any man, or woman, who expects their spouse to fundamentally change as a result of a wedding is certainly making a mistake. If a relationship was lead by the woman before marriage, why would anyone expect that to change because now he’s her husband?

In any case, I think most stable relationships are lead by different spouses in different areas. I take the lead in when it comes to grocery shopping, for example. My husband takes the lead when it comes to fixing/replacing technology. Our relationship isn’t really lead by either of us. It’s a partnership.

I don’t think a ‘grab for power’ is a uniquely feminine trait… and I’m sure statistics about domestic violence would agree with me.

I think this is the central issue. If my husband had told me he didn’t want marriage because of these things I would have had 2 options:

  1. Take it as a personal attack (How DARE you say that about me?), or
  2. Assume he doesn’t see me as a human being, but instead as some sort of automaton. I think in most cases it’s likely the latter, as with the former you would likely have more definitive reasons to end the relationship.

I also agree that people who fail to see the person in their partner, male or female, shouldn’t marry.

*I do believe there is a large portion of people that have this attitude of selfishness.

Fixed it for you :stuck_out_tongue: Edit: although I definitely do NOT agree that most people intend to take advantage of their spouse.

I think the assumption that the only thing brought to the marriage, and the only thing lost in the case of a failed marriage, is money and other tangible resources is partially the problem, particularly after reading your post.

A prenup is one solution to this worry, but I don’t think that it’s possible to be in the proper state of mind for marriage while creating one… which takes us back to BlueEyedLady’s point that the people who think this way are likely better off not marrying.

There are few things I agree with the Catholic church on, but prenups are one of them. If you’re drafting a prenup, that’s the first clue that you aren’t approaching marriage with the view that it is permanent and that you are all in it.

She’s making a horrendous categorical error in looking at the legal and political issues of marriage; and then, based of those, making a broad statement that men are avoiding marriage.

Other things that disturb me about her interview segment:
[LIST]
*]Fox News anchors, while sometimes not the brightest bulbs in the shed, clearly prove her wrong.
*]Her body language (look at her eyes, she’s searching) says to me that she’s searching for validation from the others on her argument.
*]She completely rejects anyone’s opinion, who does not agree with her, as completely false. There’s no charity in her conversation.
[/LIST]

I haven’t watched the interview yet, but isn’t this the female version of what some of the guys call “white knighting” when men do it?

Mandychu22 said:

“In any case, I think most stable relationships are lead by different spouses in different areas. I take the lead in when it comes to grocery shopping, for example. My husband takes the lead when it comes to fixing/replacing technology. Our relationship isn’t really lead by either of us. It’s a partnership.”

Yes. More or less same division of labor here. I somehow have the gift of knowing where stuff is at the grocery store, while my husband can take dead electronics and somehow, miraculously, bring them back to life.

I would especially point out that expertise and doing the work generally lead to leadership over that subcategory. I couldn’t even try to boss my husband around with regard to electronics, because I don’t know anything about them. If you want leadership over something, be the one who does the work and knows what they’re doing.

I’ll watch the video eventually, but for the moment, here’s some social science:

"Marriage rates have declined for all adults since 1970 and gone down most sharply for the least educated men and women. As a result, those with more education are far more likely than those with less education to be married, a gap that has widened since 1970. Because higher education tends to lead to higher earnings, these compositional changes have bolstered the economic gains from being married for both men and women.

“There also is an important gender component of these trends. Forty years ago, the typical man did not gain another breadwinner in his household when he married. Today, he does — giving his household increased earning power that most unmarried men do not enjoy. The superior gains of married men have enabled them to overtake and surpass unmarried men in their median household income.”

pewsocialtrends.org/2010/01/19/women-men-and-the-new-economics-of-marriage/

Yea and 40 years ago it didn’t take two incomes to raise a family in a decent sized house, but now that the workforce has doubled such is the case. It’s funny how that article lauds how married men have a larger household income and doesn’t note this change.

And now there’s no one there to raise the kids so you pay somebody who doesn’t even care to do it in daycare. And back in the day when the women stayed at home raising kids they formed a community in the neighborhood with the other mothers, nowadays you have latchkey kids and bedroom communities and no community.

It’s not a long video. I think I’m going to have to get her book.

OK, watching the video now.

Here are some notes.

  1. Dr. Smith mentions child support as a reason not to marry. Say what? Child support is a reason not to have children, rather than a reason not to marry. As it happens, unwed childbearing has exploded in the US.

Page down to the chart here labeled “percentage of children born to married mothers”.

heritage.org/research/reports/2010/09/marriage-america-s-greatest-weapon-against-child-poverty

The percentage of children born to married mothers is currently down to 59.4%, which suggests the guys are not that scared of child support obligations.

  1. Come to think of it, if you look at the Heritage chart you can see the trend toward unwed births starting slowly in the early 1950s, of all places. It edges down in the 1950s, and then plunges through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, early 1990s, flattens out during the end of the 1990s (welfare reform?), and then plunges again through the 2000s.

We have to ask ourselves, does this very dramatic trend correlate well with Dr. Smith’s bugbear, women’s legal rights in marriage? Is it really the case that women lost a bunch of legal rights during the late 1990s, and that’s why unwed births finally briefly flattened out?

  1. I like the Fox guy who says, “As a man, you derive deep satisfaction from taking care of other people. That’s the only place you get deep satisfaction.”

  2. With regard to Dr. Smith’s economic case, it is a very interesting fact that better off men (i.e. the ones you would think that have more to lose financially in the case of divorce) are not avoiding marriage.

  3. I think Dr. Smith isn’t noticing that the structure of welfare benefits in the US creates a no-man’s-land where the middle class used to be. If you keep your earnings low enough (for instance by not marrying another low earner who would push you into the next tier up), you can hold onto your government benefits and have a survival income. Earn just a little more, and you lose your Medicaid for your kids and all sorts of other unpleasant things start happening. Even now with Obamacare, it’s easy to cross the line between Medicaid-eligible and gotta-pay-for-Obamacare. It’s this sort of incentive that depresses lower tier incomes and discourages marriage. (Megan McArdle had a very nice post on income disincentives for low earners a while back–can’t find it.) There’s a sort of income abyss, with the lower income on one side and the upper income on the other, and nearly all of the incentives to earn more are on the high income side.

I think Dr. Smith wants to blame women so much that she isn’t thinking about the economic realities that these low-income women are operating inside of.

  1. I think the Fox crew should have asked her more specifically what laws she envisions changing.

  2. With regard to college and gender, I suspect that there are some obvious reasons why more women are attending, but this is getting really long! One reason I will mention is that there are good jobs for men that don’t require college, but almost none for women. Just yesterday, for instance, I just wrote a large check to a male contractor. It’s unlikely he has a BA. Ditto moving companies, plumbers, pest control, HVAC, etc. Meanwhile, I’ve never written a large check to a woman for any work.

Estevao,

Come to think of it, in the second half of the 20th century, alimony in the case of divorce went from routine to very uncommon and very short if it was awarded (three years is pretty normal now, even for a very long marriage). Hence, we could actually make the argument (if we wanted to) that the decline in marriage has been driven by 1) the disappearance of alimony and 2) the appearance of child support for unwed mothers as a normal thing (back in the good old days, it did not exist) 3) the ability to prove paternity scientifically. There’s now much less motive for women to marry before having children, as they can get child support just as well, and they are unlikely to get any substantial spousal support (i.e. alimony) in the case of divorce. The only financial difference then between unmarried parenting and married parenting is marital property, and if the couple is poor enough, they may believe (or one partner may believe) that there will never be any marital property worth having, so it’s not worth joining forces legally (even if there is cohabitation and childbearing). Hence, the spike in unwed births among low-income families.

So, the “men on strike” thesis may be completely misguided.

I think one of the things going on here is that you don’t know a lot about contemporary middle class and upper middle class family life. I’ve been in those trenches for the past 12 or so years, I have a lot of experience in that environment, I read family bloggers, and I’ve thought about it a lot. The thing is, contemporary US middle class family life is tremendously labor intensive. For it to be successful, both husband and wife have to give 110%, whether working, driving kids everywhere they need to go, supervising homework, supervising hygiene, providing religious education, monitoring health and mental well being, supervising chores, maybe even homeschooling, figuring out what kids’ deficits and talents are and how to best develop the child, figuring out how to most expeditiously launch them into independent adulthood. This is a huge job, and it gets more complex the more kids you have. It’s too much for one person, and I think middle class parents tend to be uncomfortably aware of that fact. I’m certainly aware of the fact that divorce would mean an end to middle class comforts for my kids and, indeed, divorce is very rare in my peer group of college families. It’s so rare that when it happens, it’s totally shocking.

Not to be mean, but I can’t help but point out that Dr. Smith and her husband have exactly one child. I think a woman with a larger family would come to different conclusions, but of course a woman with a larger family wouldn’t have time to write a book…

One important thing I figured by watching the world around me was that when a marriage works it is the greatest thing ever and even those around you win. But if it fails it fails big.

But as another asked "is marriage for everyone? "

Ok, then where’s all the people asking “where have all the women gone?” No, they’re asking something else… Her thesis is in response to all these people asking “where are all the men? why are men such man-children today more interested in video games than families?”, and it also addresses the misandry (notice how this word is not spelled correctly according to my browser) of the west. She addresses the concerns of men, and it takes a woman to do so because of the anti-male climate in which we live. Men aren’t supposed to complain, they’re just supposed to grin and bear it, but guess what, a lot of men don’t care for that any more.

I liked the part where in response to the fox men telling men to “man up” with full knowledge of the anti-male legal system men are facing, she said “what man would take such a raw deal? I don’t consider that a man”. That’s a debate winning line right there, just like “You sir are no Jack Kennedy”.

Now instead of attacking the messenger, what we can do is address the concerns of men and look to resolve them. Marriage is a bedrock of any healthy society. If marriage is not restored to the place it once had, we are doomed.

I think one of the things going on here is that you don’t know a lot about contemporary middle class and upper middle class family life. I’ve been in those trenches for the past 12 or so years, I have a lot of experience in that environment, I read family bloggers, and I’ve thought about it a lot. The thing is, contemporary US middle class family life is tremendously labor intensive. For it to be successful, both husband and wife have to give 110%, whether working, driving kids everywhere they need to go, supervising homework, supervising hygiene, providing religious education, monitoring health and mental well being, supervising chores, maybe even homeschooling, figuring out what kids’ deficits and talents are and how to best develop the child, figuring out how to most expeditiously launch them into independent adulthood. This is a huge job, and it gets more complex the more kids you have. It’s too much for one person, and I think middle class parents tend to be uncomfortably aware of that fact. I’m certainly aware of the fact that divorce would mean an end to middle class comforts for my kids and, indeed, divorce is very rare in my peer group of college families. It’s so rare that when it happens, it’s totally shocking.

Not to be mean, but I can’t help but point out that Dr. Smith and her husband have exactly one child. I think a woman with a larger family would come to different conclusions, but of course a woman with a larger family wouldn’t have time to write a book…

I think I know enough about what middle class parenting is about. In my last post I addressed it how thanks to women entering the workforce, it now takes two incomes to raise children in a decent home, and they have to rent out their kids to daycare to people who don’t care about them, and also forgo creating communities of SAHMs and turning neighborhoods into bedroom communities and making latch-key kids.

And how do you know a woman with more children wouldn’t have time to write a book? How did Pope Benedict get time to write his Jesus of Nazareth Trilogy in his spare time? Do you think your typical middle class wife has more stuff on her plate or less energy than Pope Benedict did? It’s because if you want something enough, you’ll make time for it, and not spend it watching America’s Got Talent and chatting on facebook.

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