"The man as he converses is the lover; silent, he is the husband." ~ Honore de Balzac

Wednesday

Is Marriage Still Important?


"According to Pew Research Center, the share of women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997--from 28 percent to 37%. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent." 

Why?

In the course of researching my new book, Men On Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - And Why It Matters, I talked with men all over America about why they're avoiding marriage. It turns out that the problem isn't that men are immature, or lazy. Instead, they're responding rationally to the incentives in today's society. Here are some of the answers I found.

TV dads in sitcoms and commercials. In today's culture, father never knows best. It's no better in the news media. As communications professor James Macnamara reports, "by volume, 69 percent of mass media reporting and commentary on men was unfavorable, compared with just 12 percent favorable and 19 percent neutral or balanced."
1. You'll lose respect. A couple of generations ago, a man wasn't considered fully adult until he was married with kids. But today, fathers are figures of fun more than figures of respect: The schlubby guy with the flowered diaper bag at the mall, or one of the endless array of buffoonish

2. You'll lose out on sex. Married men have more sex than single men, on average - but much less than men who are cohabiting with their partners outside of marriage, especially as time goes on. Research even suggests that married women are more likely to gain weight than women who are cohabiting without marriage. A Men's Health article mentioned one study that followed 2,737 people for six years and found that cohabiters said they were happier and more confident than married couples and singles.



3. You'll lose friends. "Those wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine." That's an old song, but it's true. When married, men's ties with friends from school and work tend to fade. Although both men and women lose friends after marriage, it tends to affect men's self-esteem more, perhaps because men tend to be less social in general.
4. You'll lose space. We hear a lot about men retreating to their "man caves," but why do they retreat? Because they've lost the battle for the rest of the house. The Art of Manliness blog mourns "The Decline of Male Space," 

...and notes that the development of suburban lifestyles, intended to bring the family together, resulted in the elimination of male spaces in the main part of the house, and the exile of men to attics, garages, basements - the least desirable part of the home. 

As a commenter to the post observes: "There was no sadder scene to a movie than in 'Juno' when married guy Jason Bateman realized that in his entire huge, house, he had only a large closet to keep all the stuff he loved in. That hit me like a punch in the face."

5. You could lose your kids, and your money. And they may not even be your kids. Lots of men I spoke with were keenly aware of the dangers of divorce, and worried that if they were married and it went sour, the woman might take everything, including the kids. Other men were concerned that they might wind up paying child support for kids who aren't even theirs - a very real possibility in many states.




On my blog, I polled over 3200 men to ask how they would react to finding out that a child wasn't theirs after all. 32 percent said they would feel "anger and fury at the mother," 6 percent said they would feel "depression," 18 percent said "anger and depression," 2 percent said "none of the above," 32 percent said "angry at the system that forced them to pay," and only 2 percent "didn't care." One man commented that his ex-wife had taunted him with the knowledge that his 11-year old son wasn't actually his: "I was angry at the mother...I severed all ties to the boy. Some may see this as a failing. I see it as self-preservation, and to those that ask the question of whether or not the courts will make a non-biological parent pay child support, pay attention: YES THEY WILL! They see you as nothing more than a source of cash for the child. It seems that a person in these situations should be able to sue the real father for child support."
6. You'll lose in court. Men often complain that the family court legal system is stacked against them, and in fact it seems to be. Women gain custody and child support the majority of the time, as pointed out in this ABC News article: "Despite the increases in men seeking and receiving alimony, advocates warn against linking the trend to equality in the courtroom. Family court judges still tend to favor women, said Ned Holstein, the founder of Fathers & Families, a group advocating family court reform. "'Family court still gives custody overwhelmingly to mothers, child support overwhelmingly to mothers, and courts still give almony overwhelmingly to mothers and women,' he said. 'The family courts came into existence years ago in order to give things to mothers that mothers needed," he said. 'The times have changed and the courts have not.'"
7. You'll lose your freedom. At least, if you're charged with child support that you can't pay, you can be put in jail - and if you can't afford a lawyer, you don't have the right to have one appointed because, according to the Supreme Court, it's technically a civil matter, never mind the jail time. Fathers and Families found that it's the men who are jailed rather than women: "A new report concludes that between 95% and 98.5% of all incarcerations in Massachusetts sentenced from the Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts from 2001 through 2011 have been men. Moreover, this percentage may be increasing, with an average of 94.5% from 2001 to 2008, and 96.2% from 2009 through 2011. It is likely that most of these incarcerations are for incomplete payment of child support. Further analysis suggests that women who fail to pay all of their child support are incarcerated only one-eighth as often as men with similar violations."
8. Single life is better than ever. While the value of marriage to men has declined, the quality of single life has improved. Single men were once looked on with suspicion, passed over for promotion for important jobs, which usually valued "stable family men," and often subjected to social opprobrium. It was hard to have a love life that wasn't aimed at marriage, and premarital sex was risky and frowned upon. Now, no one looks askance at the single lifestyle, dating is easy, and employers probably prefer employees with no conflicting family responsibilities. Plus, video games, cable TV, and the Internet provide entertainment that didn't used to be available. Is this good for society? Probably not, as falling birth rates and increasing single-motherhood demonstrate. But people respond to incentives. If you want more men to marry, it needs to be a more attractive proposition.
Clarification: From author Helen Smith: "I talked only with heterosexual men about marriage for the book. It did not include same-sex marriages. However the dynamics of same -sex marriage would be a fascinating study for future research." -- HuffPost Eds. 

Published on Feb 27, 20130:00 Why We Fear Talking About Female Violence16:10 Single Mothers and Voting51:22 Why Women Earn Less1:14:00 Challenges in "Women's Issues"1:36:54 Do Divorce Laws Discriminate?1:43:51 Why Are Birth Rates Declining?
Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio, discusses men's issues, human liberation and the challenges of modern feminism with Dr Warren Farrell, author of 'The Myth of Male Power.'
http://www.warrenfarrell.com
Freedomain Radio is the largest and most popular philosophy show in the world - http://www.freedomainradio.comWHY IS THIS A CRITICAL ISSUE

Conservatives aren't just fighting same-sex marriage; They’re also trying to stop divorce?!

For years, social conservatives have been fighting to prevent certain people from getting married. But they’re waging a parallel battle, too: Trying to keep married couples together.


In cooperation with the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage, socially conservative politicians have been quietly trying to make it harder for couples to get divorced. In recent years, lawmakers in more than a dozen states have introduced bills imposing longer waiting periods before a divorce is granted, mandating counseling courses or limiting the reasons a couple can formally split. 



States such as Arizona, Louisiana and Utah have already passed such laws, while others such as Oklahoma and Alabama are moving to do so.


If divorces are tougher to obtain, social conservatives argue, fewer marriages will end. And having more married couples is not just desirable in its own right but is a social good, they say. During his presidential campaign, former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) emphasized finishing high school and getting married as cures for poverty. “If you do those two things, you will be successful economically,” he declared at a 2011 event in Iowa.

A legislative movement against divorce may seem like a non-starter in a country where half of married couples avail themselves of this right, but as with legal challenges to Obamacare and the rise of the tea party movement, today’s fringe idea can quickly become tomorrow’s mainstream conservatism.

Divorce has long been a cultural touchstone in America. Social conservatives regularly advocate a return to a more traditional system of divorce — namely that it be extraordinarily difficult to get. For example, the only way an Alabamian could get a divorce under the state’s original 1819 constitution: “No decree for such divorce shall have effect until the same shall be sanctioned by two thirds of both Houses of the General Assembly.” Even a battered wife — who, of course, couldn’t vote — would have to petition her all-male state legislature and get supermajority approval before being freed from matrimony.

For most of American history, to obtain a divorce, one party had to prove to a judge that the other party was at fault, meaning he or she had committed certain grievous acts that irreparably harmed the marriage, such as adultery or being convicted of a felony. Emotional or physical abuse wasn’t always enough; even adultery or abandonment could be insufficient if a spouse reluctant to get divorced convinced a judge that his or her partner was similarly culpable. And as historian Glenda Riley showed in her 1991 book “Divorce: An American Tradition,” loveless couples often found creative ways to persuade judges to end their marriages: As recently as the 1950s, some couples would stage a bust, complete with hotel room, “mistress,” photographer and private detective who would testify in court about the husband’s (or wife’s) supposed illicit deeds.


This system began to crumble during the 1960s. In 1969, California became the first state to legalize no-fault divorces — permitting divorce without requiring proof of wrongdoing such as adultery — in the Family Law Act, signed by Gov. Ronald Reagan. Within a decade, 45 other states had joined California. By 1985, 49 states had legalized no-fault divorce; New York did just four years ago.

No-fault divorce has been a success. A 2003 Stanford University study detailed the benefits in states that had legalized such divorces: Domestic violence dropped by a third in just 10 years, the number of husbands convicted of murdering their wives fell by 10 percent, and the number of women committing suicide declined between 11 and 19 percent. A recent report from Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress found that only 28 percent of divorced women said they wished they’d stayed married.



Yet the conservative push for “divorce reform” is finding sympathetic ears in statehouses, where Republican lawmakers have regularly introduced bills to restrict the practice. Their rationales range from the biblical (God bemoans divorce in Malachi 2:14-16) to the social (divorce reduces worker productivity) to the financial (two households are more expensive to maintain than one). Leading conservatives such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have also argued that marriage is a solution to poverty.

The cause earned national support in 2011 when three Republican presidential candidates — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Santorum — signed a pledge from the Family Leader, a conservative organization in Iowa, that urged “cooling-off periods” for people seeking what it called a “quickie divorce.” Last year, seven GOP lawmakers in Iowa introduced HF 338, which would have prohibited no-fault divorces for couples who have children under 18. Under the bill, parents could divorce only in cases of adultery, imprisonment due to a felony, abuse, abandonment or if the couple has been separated at least two years. The lead sponsor, Rep. Tedd Gassman, argued that this bill would “ensure that divorce is not the first option for married couples with children.”

While some studies show that children of divorced parents do experience worse life outcomes — including diminished math and social skills, a higher chance of dropping out of school, poorer health, and a greater likelihood of divorce themselves — Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld points out that there is no way to test definitively whether children of divorced parents were already more likely to experience such outcomes. And as Stephanie Coontz, a historian and the author of “Marriage, a History,” explains, what’s most critical is the high-conflict environment that kids grew up in before their parents separated.



Ultimately, HF 338 failed last year not because of its content but because of bizarre public comments Gassman made. The lawmaker argued that with divorced parents, teenage girls would be “more promiscuous.” He also linked divorce and the shootings in Newtown, Conn., blaming the shooter’s mind-set on “family problems.” Wary of controversy, GOP leaders dropped the bill.

At least a dozen other states since 2011 have tried to make divorce more difficult. Along with Iowa, New Hampshire and Oklahoma have tried to eliminate no-fault divorce for parents. In Oklahoma, lawmakers are also considering a bill that would virtually prohibit no-fault divorce but preserve divorce as an option in cases of “impotency.” Other states are pushing legislation to lengthen the waiting period before a judge can grant a divorce, including up to two years in North Carolina. Currently, most states have a two- or three-month waiting period before a divorce is finalized, though it is longer in a handful of mostly Southern states, including Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Such waiting periods are “fairer to the spouse who is being left,” the Family Research Council contends in a brochure titled “Deterring Divorce.” But inherent in that argument is an unfortunate and unavoidable reality: Making divorce less accessible harms women most. The right to divorce was a victory women fought for in the culture wars of the 1970s, and women today are twice as likely as men to ask for a divorce, according to Rosenfeld.


For more than a decade, three states have tested the appeal of more-restrictive divorces. Louisiana was the first, in 1997, to pass a “covenant marriage” law, which allows marrying couples to choose between a standard license (allowing no-fault divorce) and a covenant license (heavily restricting the reasons a couple may divorce). Arizona and Arkansas soon followed. If social conservatives were looking to show that no-fault divorce was unpopular, they could not have picked better testing grounds than these three deep-red states.

But the experiment has proved disastrous for their cause. Between 2000 and 2010, there were 3,964 covenant marriages in Louisiana — roughly 1 percent of the 373,068 marriages performed in the state. The rates were even lower in Arizona and Arkansas. Nevertheless, state legislators are undeterred: Since 2011, lawmakers in Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas have tried to enact covenant marriage.




Would making divorce less accessible encourage partners to stay together, as conservatives hope? Probably not. Waiting periods and mandatory classes “add a new frustration to already frustrated lives,” Rosenfeld notes. In other words, a cooling-off period isn’t cooling anybody off.

More problematic, these roadblocks “could easily exacerbate the situation and harm kids,” Coontz says, noting that divorcees are “more likely to parent amicably if they haven’t been locked into a long separation process.”




The push to restrict divorce is a form of paternalism — expanding government in pursuit of socially conservative ends. Marriage is a conservative institution, the thinking goes, and married straight couples provide a backstop against the creep of government. Any public policy that encourages the creation and persistence of married straight couples therefore merits support; any policy that deviates, including same-sex marriage or no-fault divorce, is hostile to the institution.

The Family Research Council sees no contradiction in the state playing an active role in such private decisions. “As the grantor of both marriage licenses and divorce decrees, the state has already established the right to regulate the disbursement of each,” argues Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the council.

But if new divorce restrictions fail to pass, it may be for a self-interested reason: Republicans get divorces, too. Two of the five states with the highest percentages of divorced residents are red states. In Oklahoma, the state with the largest share of women who have been married three or more times, Republican lawmakers killed a 2010 bill making divorce more difficult to obtain. “How far do I want government to come into my home and your home about private personal matters?” asked GOP Rep. Leslie Osborn.




And if conservatives actually believe that divorcing couples might have a change of heart, there’s another solution besides longer waiting periods: remarriage. However, only about 6 percent of divorcees ultimately remarry each other. Reconciliation certainly happens; divorce doesn’t have to be forever. But it’s impossible to pass legislation that stops spouses from lying or cheating.

Alabama: A bill under consideration would mandate a four-hour class for divorcing parents with children younger than 16.

Arizona: A law passed in 2011 enables one party in a divorce to extend the process by up to four months.



Georgia: A bill under consideration would mandate classes for parents seeking to divorce.

Iowa: A bill that failed last year would have prohibited no-fault divorces in most cases for couples with children under 18.

Kansas: A bill under consideration would effectively eliminate no-fault divorce.

Louisiana: A law that went into effect in 2007 extended the waiting period for parents from six months to one year.

New Hampshire: A bill voted down in February would have gotten rid of no-fault divorce for parents of minor children.



North Carolina: A bill under consideration would double the waiting period to two years and require couples to receive conflict-resolution counseling, as well as additional counseling if they have children.

Oklahoma: Bills under consideration would eliminate no-fault divorce; get rid of no-fault divorce for parents of minor children, for couples married more than 10 years and in contested divorces; and double the waiting period from three to six months.

Utah: In 2012, the state restored a 90-day waiting period. Starting in July, parents with children under 18 must take a class before a court may grant custody or financial orders.

Washington: A bill under consideration would quadruple the waiting period from 90 days to one year.

K.O.’s Comment: Tennessee already has mandatory waiting periods for those desiring to divorce (90 days for couples with children, 60 days for those without) and mandatory parenting classes for divorcing parents.

Source: Conservatives aren’t just fighting same-sex marriage. They’re also trying to stop divorce. (Washington Post, April 11, 2014).

Information provided by K.O. Herston: Knoxville, Tennessee Divorce, Matrimonial and Family Law Attorney.




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"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home." (Tecumseh).

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