Has Marriage Become A “Luxury Good”?

According to the NYTimes, so some people say:

… Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.
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One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.
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“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania…

Marriage has always been at least as much an economic transaction as a social contract. But I think the current situation is another aspect of the current confusion between resources and rewards. Even a generation ago, marriage was a minimum requirement for adulthood — if you “had” to get married, whether to signify your love or as a result of social pressure, filling out an application and taking a long lunch hour at city hall was considered an adequate gateway to all the legal resources of the married state. But the current vogue for “My Big Fat Bridezilla Celebrity Party of A Lifetime” extravaganzas costing more than the down payment on a house seems to be an indicator that marriage is now a very pricy reward:

Over the past generation, Lorain lost most of two steel mills, a shipyard and a Ford factory, diminishing the supply of jobs that let blue-collar workers raise middle-class families. More women went to work, making marriage less of a financial necessity for them. Living together became routine, and single motherhood lost the stigma that once sent couples rushing to the altar. Women here often describe marriage as a sign of having arrived rather than a way to get there.
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Meanwhile, children happen.
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Amber Strader, 27, was in an on-and-off relationship with a clerk at Sears a few years ago when she found herself pregnant. A former nursing student who now tends bar, Ms. Strader said her boyfriend was so dependent that she had to buy his cigarettes. Marrying him never entered her mind. “It was like living with another kid,” she said.
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When a second child, with a new boyfriend, followed three years later — her birth control failed, she said — her boyfriend, a part-time house painter, was reluctant to wed.
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Ms. Strader likes the idea of marriage; she keeps her parents’ wedding photo on her kitchen wall and says her boyfriend is a good father. But for now marriage is beyond her reach…

But, hey — if you’re a member of the elite, part of the economic One Percenters or even the Ten Percenters, a proper marriage is not only an enforceable contract between two people with excellent financial prospects, it’s an excuse to collect tribute from everyone within either party’s family, social, or business circles. When William Kristol’s daughter marries the author of “The Persecution of Sarah Palin” or Megan McArdle marries an associate editor at Reason, the networking opportunities multiply along with the wedding presents — although claiming they needed a new house just to hold the bounty (“Even before we’d sent out the invitations, casseroles and platters were pouring through the breach in our defensive lines and setting up forward positions on the book shelf that divided the dining area from the living room. By the time of our wedding, the entire downstairs had been overrun”) is presumably a McMegan-level exaggeration.

I wonder how much this has to do with the current Republican agitation against marriage equality for same-sex couples? To someone who’s used to treating all human interaction as economic exchanges, there’s a political utility to claiming that gay marriage is just another example of The Other Side “flaunting” its unfair advantage. If you want to inflame your “base”, the call for marriage equality is not about two people wanting to legally pool their resources — it’s a liberal conspiracy to reward the undeserving with a precious luxury now beyond the reach of the average Heartlander… much like health insurance, a guaranteed retirement, or a living wage.

51 replies
  1. 1
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    marriage isn’t a luxury, its divorce that is the luxury.

    when you are dividing debts, not assets, and one or both parties cannot afford to disolve, you change your view of what marriage is, by necessity, to what is more “traditional”. if you cannot pick up and move to a new location, if your work is in some part paid under the table, if your life isn’t in a place where you want to tell it to “judge judy”, you rethink the institution. you simply don’t want to give government the right to pick through your shit.

    for more affluent pairings, even if they get a divorce their addictions remain choices, and they aren’t at risk of homelessness or becoming itinerant. for them marriage isn’t so permanent, and less of a risk.

    if the middle classes and poorer are eschewing marriage, its because they can’t afford that sort of fuck up.

  2. 2
    Arclite says:

    When my GF got pregs 10 years ago, we got married. Luckily, she has very similar interests and philosophies and it has worked out fairly well. But living with people is stressful. I could see how a single mom, having enough to deal with having a child, wouldn’t want the husband living with her, or if living with her already, the ability to easily escape if need be. I could see lots of women opting to let the dad live nearby and take the kid to give mom a break every once in a while, while concurrently supplementing mom’s income with child support.

    On the other hand, I know a single mom who is looking to get married. Having some health problems, she needs someone to share the burden of running a household when she gets sick.

    But overall, I think the wealth of our society means a mom or dad can live alone comfortably and raise a child. While having this option is good thing, it also makes people impatient.

  3. 3
    WereBear says:

    I’m one of those folks for whom a close companionship, be it human, canine, or feline, always trumps the inconvenience of dealing with others. I feel very fortunate that I found first one, then after being widowed, a second, life mate whose advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

    But for the longest time marriage was the pinnacle of a woman’s life: and everyone did it, or tried to. When in fact it has evolved to be an expression of special closeness, life companionship: this is what the gay marriage movement emphasizes, and so I find it to be, too.

    Actually, I find these “children without marriage” stories to be a kind of subtle FU to Republican screaming: Yes, I had the baby, but it was stupid to get married. I’ve long felt that matriarchal Polynesian societies had it right: let the folks sleep with who pleases them, and the whole village raises the offspring. Because if there’s anything a mother with a small child needs, it’s access to break time.

  4. 4
    Xenos says:

    @WereBear: The Polynesian approach also occurred to me, but I remember some of the details differently. Under such a matrilineal system property is held and passed through female relations – people would not officially track paternity because it was not important. Children would be raised by their mothers and their maternal aunts and uncles. It looks like an entire village, but is really a few powerful matrilines. Interestingly, matri-uncles were male authority figures while biological fathers were just friendly guys who showed up on occasion to play with the kids and do fun stuff with them.

    There was some very interesting marxist analysis a couple decades ago about how the colonial economy in Hawaii disrupted the matrilineal system by establishing new employment norms and market systems.

  5. 5
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    @Marcellus Shale, Public Dick: Yeah I can see this. I’m 32 and there are a smattering of divorces (including me) within my social group. However, I’ve got a close friend that when her husband and her actually clear the poverty line it has been a good year for the two of them. However, she wants a divorce, but they can’t afford it, not for the costs – there are resources for that; but due to the debts that accumulated for various reasons.

  6. 6
    WereBear says:

    @Xenos: The beauty of it is that we can establish it any way we wish: what I see around me is a cobbled-together system that IS matrilineal.

    The blue collar “box” for males is pretty rigid. MEN must work with their muscles! This leaves women to do the office work that is more steady, and has health care benefits. But when men don’t have work, they absolutely melt down. They are blocked from finding pride in other endeavors, such as raising a child or getting an office job themselves. (I hear them talk about how they “can’t be indoors all day” and they believe it.)

    But if all a guy is gonna do is donate sperm and drink up the money; he’s expendable. And that’s how you have three generations living in Momma’s house (Dad’s liver busted years ago) hoping to salvage a teenaged male now and again. As long as he doesn’t get beaten up for doing well in school.

  7. 7
    harlana says:

    the modern marriage ceremony is like a lavish, theatrical production about something that has a 50% chance of surviving, and, imo, a waste of money – i was one of the guilty parties, altho i was more of a zombie than a Bridezilla, wondering “how the hell did i get here?”, but i wish i has just taken the money, like my sister did back in the day when people weren’t ashamed to have small, inexpensive weddings.

  8. 8
    harlana says:

    @DecidedFenceSitter: i believe a lot of people are staying in unhappy marriages due to economic circumstances – i think a lot of the parents of people in my age group essentially did the same thing since most of the women stayed home and had no other resources than the husband’s income; NOW even 2 incomes are not enough, if you have a family.

  9. 9
    harlana says:

    oops. nvm

  10. 10
    magurakurin says:

    I don’t get any of the quoted articles or the post. Why is marriage a “luxury?” The women in the mill town appear that they don’t really want or need to get married. Rich people that spend a fortune on weddings, well, are rich. Someone who is poor, but wants to get married but doesn’t because they feel some pressure to have a large expensive wedding is just stupid.

    As far as I know you can still get married by simply filling out a few forms and paying the modest fee. My wife and I did that in Japan and then a year later had a small ceremony of 11 people in a church in the States. That was free. We gave the minister 50 dollars and a nice Japanese fan. A week later we had a BBQ party with friends and family in my mother’s backyard. All the food and booze couldn’t have been even $1000. I’m not getting the issue here at all.

  11. 11
    Xenos says:

    @WereBear: Another similarity – in a traditional matrilineal system wealth is measured by the number of relatives you have in your matriline. The only truly poor people are those who do not fave female-line relatives to fall back on for support.

    This explains a couple things in the contemporary context – how legal and market systems that break up extended families make wages slaves out of workers, and how survival strategies of the poor (such as food sharing) have a very old lineage, and make sense on their own terms even when they run counter to the social norms.

  12. 12
    RobNYNY1957 says:

    … it’s an excuse to collect tribute from everyone within either party’s family, social, or business circles.

    A few years ago I was invited to the engagement cocktail party of a colleague who was well-to-do by Wall Street standards and was marrying the daughter of a man whose forture was estimated at $500 million. The cocktail party had a gift registry, and the cheapest thing on the list was $100 (ranging up over $1000). I didn’t attend, and wasn’t invited to the wedding.

  13. 13
    Auldblackjack says:

    Anne, you should write a book…

  14. 14
    Jamey says:

    Both of Continetti’s parents draw public sector paychecks.

  15. 15
    WereBear says:

    Once again, Republicans love to play Moral Calvinball.

    Destroy education, unions, jobs, and health, along with the government programs that support same. Then, as desperate stressed people cannot achieve the Suburban Paradise Template the Republicans hold up as not just an Ideal; but the ONLY ACCEPTABLE WAY TO LIVE, bash them for doing it rong.

    Once again, because of their refusal to get therapy, they must replay their childhood traumas over and over again on as large a stage as possible. Authoritarians are the result of oppressive parenting; the kind people do when they don’t have the mental, physical, and/or financial resources necessary. In a crude Darwinian sort of way, the more the folks at the top muck it up for the 99%, the more brainless followers they wind up with.

    Kinda like orc generation, come to think of it.

  16. 16
    Pavonis says:

    @magurakurin

    Interesting that you bring up Japan. Japan’s marriage rate and even its relationship rate are in free fall, even much more so that in the United States. What I notice is that many of my male coworkers here in Japan pine for a more traditional kind of wife who will cook food for them and do the housework. But with so many opportunities opening up for women, women are just not as interested in settling for that. Additionally, the extreme cultural aversion to out-of-wedlock births is causing the birth rate to fall rapidly.

    I think the collapsing marriage rate among the lower classes in the U.S. is due to the common expectation among both genders that the man must make more money than the woman. With female college graduation rates now considerably higher than for males in the U.S. and hence female income levels also rising, it is a mathematical certainty that men at the lower end of income ladder will have lots of trouble finding mates.

    In the long term, the increasing number of underemployed, unmarried men is going to be toxic to society. Of course, you can generally live a happier life married and with a stable job.

  17. 17
    WereBear says:

    @Pavonis: What I notice is that many of my male coworkers here in Japan pine for a more traditional kind of wife who will cook food for them and do the housework.

    Ain’t it funny that, when given a choice, women don’t really want the whole unpaid prostitute/maid thing.

    And how unattractive a man is when that is all he wants from a relationship.

  18. 18
    Xenos says:

    @Pavonis: Maybe it is time for the Oddfellows societies to make a comeback. If men don’t want to make families with women (or are not welcome to), then they can make a family, of sorts, with one another. In a heterosexual way, of course.

  19. 19
    MonkeyBoy says:

    Even a generation ago, marriage was a minimum requirement for adulthood

    Not for the very poor, especially blacks, which may have contributed to their perception of being children or non human.

    In the South up until the 1960s it almost seems that blacks were deliberately kept very poor so as to provide a cheap source of labor. Women could sometimes find stable but low paying jobs as domestic servants for middle class whites but men had much less chance at a stable job, and they weren’t good prospects for a “present” husband because if construction labor was need they might be rounded up and jailed so that they would work in a chain gang.

    Having a proper marriage was one of the primary class divides and the jailing of poor men helped keep it in place.

    Marriage is still a class divide while terms such as “middle class” are becoming meaningless because in order to make people feel good it applies to everybody who isn’t very poor or rich involving mainly consumption but also basic possessions such as toilets, refrigerators, and cars which at one time were a sign of being middle class.

  20. 20
    Pavonis says:

    @ WereBear

    The traditional Japanese pick-up line is:
    “Will you cook Miso soup for me?”

    These days, it’s more of joke. But my boss told me he specifically chose a wife who would cook for him so there’s some truth in it.

  21. 21
    superdestroyer says:

    Marriage, even for the poor, was the combining of two people’s assets ans abilities.

    Today, the poor see marriage and the combining of two people various dysfunction and issues.

    One of the issues that probably should be explored is how children in single-family homes mature versus those with two parents. Maybe for too many males, they stop maturing around the age of 12 when raised by single mothers and who would want to marry a man with the emotional maturity of a 12 y/o boy.

  22. 22
    WereBear says:

    @superdestroyer: they stop maturing around the age of 12 when raised by single mothers

    Well, a dad who is conspicuous by his absence has already made a statement.

  23. 23
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Maybe for too many males, they stop maturing around the age of 12 when raised by single mothers

    [citation needed]

    But no, you’re right. What we really need is more demonization of single mothers. They’ve been getting off too lightly for too long. Pat Robertson done tol’ me so.

  24. 24
    Barry says:

    @WereBear: “@Xenos: The beauty of it is that we can establish it any way we wish: what I see around me is a cobbled-together system that IS matrilineal.

    The blue collar “box” for males is pretty rigid. MEN must work with their muscles! ”

    No, it’s that if you don’t have access to good education, and early on, you’re locked out of the white-collar world.”

    And for the past thirty-odd years in the USA, the blue-collar world has been repeatedly hammered.

  25. 25
    Mino says:

    I wouldn’t say it was deliberate, but late teens/twenties is the optimum age to produce that first child without medical problems for mom or baby. So they have that going for them.

  26. 26
    Mino says:

    @Pavonis: They’d marry a replicator?

  27. 27
    Another Halocene Human says:

    re: your last line, I doubt it, but there were always people who resented gay DINKS (all DINKS, but how do you know a het couple will become DINKS? whereas before the gayby boom many people who knew better classed all gay couples as DINKS*)

    This also explains the insane vitriol leveled at the childfree on the old childfree USENET forums and IRL, as well as some people’s hatred of birth control. HOW DARE YOU ENJOY YOUR LIVES WHILE I HAVE STRUGGLED FOR EVERYTHING!!!

    *-my mother was one of these even though her UNCLE was gay and had a bunch of KIDS WITH HIS PARTNER (I mean, not literally, the guy came with pre-formed kids (it was the 60’s))

  28. 28
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Marcellus Shale, Public Dick:

    when you are dividing debts, not assets, and one or both parties cannot afford to disolve, you change your view of what marriage is

    Bingo. This is exactly why some of my friends were living together. More debts than assets and not wanting to commit financial suicide by proxy.

  29. 29
    RossInDetroit says:

    It used to be said that poverty kept more relationships together than it split up. I wonder if/why that’s changed. It seems like the simple economics would be in favor of one household instead of 2. But maybe in the present environment keeping options for the future open has more value than the present savings from shared expenses.

  30. 30
    WereBear says:

    @Barry: No, it’s that if you don’t have access to good education, and early on, you’re locked out of the white-collar world.

    I’m not arguing that this is so: but when does certain cultures’ disdain for education (sadly, my mother was raised in such a one, and the repercussions reverberate to this day) shift from a defensive acknowledgement of the barriers (you won’t get an education, kid, so don’t break your heart hoping) to active anti-intellectualism?

    Pre-emptive strike on their own happiness and ambitions; don’t get up, GOP, we’ll crush our dreams for you!

  31. 31
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @WereBear: All the blue collar people I know want their kids to do well in school (and not have to follow in their trade) but sometimes they lack the skills to know how to guide and advise their children in succeeding scholastically and navigating the system.

  32. 32
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @RossInDetroit:

    It used to be said that poverty kept more relationships together than it split up. I wonder if/why that’s changed. It seems like the simple economics would be in favor of one household instead of 2.

    Yes, it does, assuming both people are economically productive. A man who isn’t making money, isn’t going to school, and certainly isn’t doing childcare and cooking is not economically productive. More of a big baby. And women rightly shy away from being leashed to that.

    Heck, I know of some guys who get away with cheating on their woman (using her car to go to these assignations!) because they ARE providing childcare, which is a big ticket item, folks.

    I also know a lot of bitter blue collar grandmas who didn’t think they’d be at this point in life providing childcare on demand, but don’t like the alternatives for their children should they refuse. None of this would be happening without the collapse in blue collar wages.

  33. 33
    Boris says:

    I saw the Edward Burns movie “Newlyweds” last night. The focus of the movie was about a newly married couple, upper middle class and living in NY, who want to make this marriage (the second for both) “simple and easy.” They both work and do not want kids. But the “simple and easy” part is what struck me. They didn’t want the hassle of a real marriage, or what real marriage today portrayed: drama around family, kids, money, home, etc. Of course it doesn’t work out that way for them but the concept of the no fuss, no hassle marriage is what was interesting. Is this what a “luxury marriage” means? If you are wealthy enough you can just hire someone to deal with the “mess” – take care of the kids, put the elderly parents in a home, and clean your house. And for the women quoted in the NY Times article – why marry the deadbeat dad and have another “mess” to deal with?

  34. 34
    Ken says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    This is exactly why some of my friends were living together. More debts than assets and not wanting to commit financial suicide by proxy.

    But wait a minute, let’s think of this the way rich people do. Or rich corporations, but they’re people too. When you have a corporation with debts exceeding assets, one solution is to spin off a corporation that holds all the debts and let it go into bankruptcy. (You can’t be quite that obvious about it, of course, but it’s the basic operating mechanism behind Bain.)

    So in the marriage case all we need is one partner willing to take all the debts in the settlement, leaving the other with all the assets. The one with the debt then declares bankruptcy. I could see making a career out of that – marry, divorce, bankruptcy, repeat. Probably doesn’t work for mortgage debt, or anything else secured by an asset, but you could do wonders with unsecured credit card debt.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and I’m sure several real lawyers will soon be along to explain why this can’t work.

  35. 35
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Good point. If you’re both struggling to make ends meet it makes sense to pull together. But if one’s not pulling his weight for one reason or another it’s a different story.
    The Conservatives who bemoan the breakdown of the traditional family ought to look at what their economic policies have done to the earning power of parents. But they won’t. For them it’s not personal economics, it’s personal immorality that’s the cause.

  36. 36
    PTirebiter says:

    who didn’t think they’d be at this point in life providing childcare on demand… None of this would be happening without the collapse in blue collar wages.

    Blaming the teacher’s unions for not raising these children properly is a lot easier than facing the real problems their thirty year war has created. They at least have a chance at solving imaginary problems. Voter fraud, activist judges, same sez marriage etc.

    OT I was really hoping for a Mathew Continetti – Luke Russert wedding? Forging moderate political alliances the old fashioned way.

  37. 37
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Ken: Ah, but this requires collusion between parties. I have heard of upper middle class couples doing this, but for those living in poverty it seems entirely too risky. But YMMV.

  38. 38
    gelfling545 says:

    @Pavonis: I don’t think the current marrying generation feels that the male partner in a hetero marriage must make more that the female. It is that he should bring to the partnership at least as much as he extracts whether in financial or other support. Two of my nieces have married men who will not likely equal their own earning potential but both men have shown inclination to work hard, even in jobs that were not their dream careers; and have shown dedication to and appreciation of family.

  39. 39
    Xenos says:

    @Ken: As a (sometimes) divorce lawyer I would tell you can’t make a career out of this. But variations on this are sometimes negotiated. It is the sort of arrangement that has to be cleared with a tax lawyer and a bankruptcy lawyer first. The boundaries between tax avoidance and tax fraud, bankruptcy planning and bankruptcy fraud, are frontiers best avoided. And the parties had better be having a pretty friendly divorce or this is just asking for trouble down the line.

  40. 40
    jafd says:

    Some thoughts of an old codger:

    1 -‘Networking’ – Back in ye Good Old Days an upper-middle-class wedding was a networking event for the _parents_, a joining of the two ‘ancestral’ families, an introduction of the newlyweds to ‘adult society’, and a chance for the Father of the Bride to show off. (Must reread the novel of that name sometime – ISTR it’s useful intro to sociology of that era.)

    2 – The premise of shower and wedding gifts (and registries thereof) was that These Youngsters Now Are Setting Up A New Household, and their community’ll share the burden of Supplying The Household Stuf They’ll Need (and, in the future, they’ll help supply Other People’s Kids the stuf _they’ll_ need).

    Nowadays, with most ‘young adults’ living on their own for years before marriage and owning All Their Own Stuf (some friends of mine said their Real Committment Ceremony was the Combining of the Libraries and Weeding Out The Duplicate Books and //Records// CDs), the ‘wedding gifts’ persist more as a display of Conspicuous Consumption than a social supplying of necessities.

    3 – Back then, part of being middle-class was belonging to an organization – country club, etc, for the upper-middle, or church or VFW or Legion or … – which had a hall suitable for the reception and a Ladies Auxiliary which could supply refreshments if money was too tight for a caterer. Nowadays, supplying venues for celebratory gatherings is part of The Cash Nexus… (Those of us who’ve tried to organize a ‘space’ for club meetings, etc, etc, are nodding here…)

  41. 41
    Shinobi says:

    I’d be married right now if my partner could find a job. But he can’t, so we’re not. It’s as simple as that.

    (He doesn’t want to get married while he is unemployed, and I’m not really bothered with it.)

  42. 42
    KXB says:

    In his takedown of Charles Murray, David Frum pointed out that since working class incomes have been falling for 30 years, the ability for working class men to provide for a family has gone down too. That has a far more immediate impact on family breakdown than declining morals. Even during the worst days of Jim Crow, a black man could find some job, or more than one, to provide the basics. Many of those jobs have either left the country, moved to Southern states that do not have unions, or large scale illegal immigration undercut wages. OTOH, the the professional classes are very skilled at limited competition on their end. You don’t see a lot of clamoring for doctors from India and China to be allowed in to keep health care costs down.

    In my own circle, most of the marriages that are still going strong tend to be among the professional class. Indeed, a surprising number of them have stay at home moms – these are the families where the husband is usually a doctor or in consulting. There is one family where the husband earns a modest income as a youth counselor, his wife stays home with their 3 kids. But they have a very modest home, and his mom helps where she can with child-care. Her family lives nearby as well, and they can never take a vacation.

  43. 43
    Roger Moore says:

    @harlana:

    altho i was more of a zombie than a Bridezilla, wondering “how the hell did i get here?”

    I’ve definitely seen that one before. While I was in college, I worked as a waiter at the Faculty Club, which involved working wedding receptions for rich donors’ families on the weekends. A large fraction had clearly been planned by and for the brides’ mothers rather than the happy couple themselves. On one memorable occasion, the bride and groom were unhappy enough with the food that they sent two groomsmen to the drivethrough at In-n-Out so they could get something they wanted to eat- at their own wedding!

  44. 44
    ruemara says:

    I never married because I could 1. Not afford the whole ceremony. 2 could not afford to combine my debtload with my partner’s. 3. could get a better deal for scholarships as a singleton.

    Marriage is a luxury, so are kids and single-issue voting.

  45. 45
    Roger Moore says:

    @Pavonis:
    There’s an interesting correlation with something in the Pew study on intermarriage. They found that Asian women, especially first generation immigrants, are more likely than any other group to marry outside their own ethnicity. When I saw that statistic, my first thought was, “Who can blame them, given traditional Asian ideals about marriage?”

  46. 46
    KXB says:

    @Pavonis:

    Keep in mind, Japanese men are still expected to provide an income to support his immediate family, and their elderly parents. Like their American counterparts, Japanese middle management has seen their ranks decimated over the past 2 decades. Their inability to provide as previous generations of men have done make them less suitable marriage material. So, they are expected to deal with modern women, while being expected to deliver an income that is increasingly out of reach.

  47. 47
    Pococurante says:

    From those articles it sounds more like there is a shortage of responsible men.

    Or women willing to have pets instead of partners.

  48. 48
    Heliopause says:

    One of the FPers did a post recently about ways the GOP could discourage out-of-wedlock births. I didn’t comment at the time but to the list I would add that another thing they could do is create decent-paying jobs across a broad range of the economy rather than the tens of millions of shitty service-sector jobs that they’d prefer we all be employed in. A good moral scolding plus a job cleaning carpets for everyone!

  49. 49
    Gemina13 says:

    @WereBear: Oh, hell yeah. And consider what this does to the women who do accept that devil’s bargain–this is where we get so many of the tropes that men are uncontrollable sexual beasts, filthy pigs, slobs who need constant nannying, etc., etc. Small wonder conservative women feel the need to make women into saintly figures, when their hatred of the men they’ve given their sovereignty to can’t find any other (acceptable to them) outlet.

    I watched this dynamic play out amongst my mother’s friends, and remarked to her that the only difference I saw between these women’s marriages and prostitution was that one came with a roof and a ring. And I added that if that was all there was to marriage, I wanted no part of it.

    Give me a man or woman who will be my equal, my peer, my friend and my companion–NOT my charge or domestic master.

  50. 50
    Diana says:

    No-body here seems to have mentioned the final conclusion of this post, which is that modern conservatives resist gay marriage because they view marriage as a reward and gay people are undeserving, probably because we all agree.

    Anyhow, I definitely agree and I just want to say “Bingo!” because I bet that is behind a lot of it.

    And I have to admit, until I read this, I’ve been puzzled by the resistance of younger conservatives. Older conservatives, I figure, are like my father: he opposed gay marriage, even though if you asked him he never could explain why, until he died a few years ago in his 80’s. I always just put it down to future shock.

    Ken: the reason individuals can’t just spin off their debts to one person who can declare bankruptcy is because individual debts are not assignable, and student debt is not dischargable in bankruptcy. Otherwise they would totally do it. I’ve known more than one couple that didn’t get married because one had a good credit rating and the other didn’t, and they wanted to be able to buy a house someday.

  51. 51
    fuckwit says:

    I am finding the opposite.

    Divorce is a luxury when you have kids. It’s VERY EXPENSIVE, not only the legal procedures if you have a contested one, but now you have to have two residences each with bedrooms for kids if you want custody at all, travel back and forth, you both have to work now because you need to pay your own way, and you have to pay for childcare now so you don’t even get to see your kids… it’s horrible.

    Not more horrible than staying in a bad marriage, maybe, but still pretty horrible. And expensive!

    Being married is WAY cheaper. You share rent, your kids have only ONE bedroom for you to pay rent on, transportation costs are way less, you can even share a car if you live somewhere conducive to that, and if you economize you can even have one parent stay home and be a parent, for christ’s sake. But not if you’re divorced.

    I dunno. Maybe the reason for more single parents is that the dads can’t find work that pays any better than the moms can. The glass ceiling is still there, but the wage difference between men and women is getting levelled off not by women making more, but by men making less. It’s not so much that women are breaking through the ceiling, it’s that more men are getting shoved underneath it along with women.

    So if there’s really no hope for dads to be breadwinners, maybe that’s why so many women say, why not just go it alone as a single mom? More freedom, less bullshit, it’s a win.

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