In defence of monogamous marriage

Among those of us who embrace a... shall we say, non-standard perspective when it comes to relationships and sex, the question of whether or not to get married is generally met with anything ranging from mild derision to outright scorn.

"Marriage?", we can be heard scoffing, "That is a losing outcome imposed upon otherwise free men by a society that strips us of our rights and our dignity, and enslaves us in service to what women want."

Here's the thing- every single word of this is absolutely true in the modern world.

The Numbers Game

Since I'm one of those irritatingly logical INTJ types- with some background in maths, to boot- I tend to look at things through numbers. So let's do exactly that and look at what marriage means in the West these days.

Let's just restrict ourselves to the USA for now- we'll get to the rest of Europe in a bit. Looking at whatever data are at hand for marriage and divorce rates, we see that in 2001, the marriage rate in the US was 9.8 per 1,000. (Unfortunately this does not tell us whether we're talking about first, second, or higher-order marriages.)

Given that we know that marriage rates have been declining in the West for the past twenty years, let us assume that the current marriage rate, in 2014, is more like 9 per 1,000; this is probably a very conservative estimate. In a population of 330 million, this means that roughly 2.97 million marriages a year.

Now, the US divorce rate in 2004 was registered at 4.95 per 1,000. Again, this data set is old, and we know that divorce has gotten easier and simpler over the last 10 years. So let us assume, again very conservatively, that the current divorce rate is more like 5 per 1,000.

Do a little more MAFF and you'll find that this comes to 1.65 million marriages failing every year.

Divide one number by the other, and lo and behold, the ratio of divorces to marriages is 55.56%.

That's right- a simple, basic analysis suggests that your odds of getting divorced are better than 50%.

It's actually not quite that simple, of course. There are a large number of variables for which we have not controlled in this little thought experiment.

First, we haven't asked what kinds of marriages are taking place- first, second, third, or whatever. There is a strong selection bias involved in the analysis above- if a man marries, and then gets divorced, and then gets married again, he's effectively counted as two separate individuals in the analysis above, even though the same person got married in both cases.

Second, we have not differentiated these failures in marriage by age of the people getting hitched.

Fortunately, people like me have been asking similar questions for a while now. And we do have a decent amount of hard data to use in answering them.

Unfortunately, the answers just get more depressing from here.

First marriages have a failure rate of 41%- as of 2011, which means that the percentage has almost certainly risen since then.

Second marriages fail at a rate of 67%. Third marriages fail at a rate of 73%. There is a very good reason why Samuel Johnson referred to second marriages as the triumph of hope over experience.

The picture in Europe isn't very much better:

World's Divorce Demography Graph
Source

The implications could not be more obvious. If you get married in the West today, regardless of your gender, you have, at best, a 55% chance of having a "happily ever after" kind of marriage.

In reality, your odds of winning at a casino slot machine are higher than your odds of having such a marriage.

None of this is news to anyone who reads this blog, I am sure. If it is, then you'd better head over to Blackdragon's place and get his views on the subject. He's far better informed about this sort of thing than I am- not least because, well, he actually has been divorced.

The Reality of Marriage

With that in mind, surely anyone who supports traditional, monogamous marriage would have to be crazy, right? Given the decadent and decaying nature of Western morality, the rapid erosion of men's freedoms, and the known and documented misandry of divorce laws around most of the "civilised" world, if you sign on for marriage, surely you're no different from a sheep inviting a wolf to dinner, no?

You may be surprised, then, to learn that I do in fact strongly support traditional marriage. I believe that it is possible, however unlikely and however difficult, to have a stable, satisfying, happy marriage.

The problem is, such a marriage involves a LOT of hard work, on the part of both halves of the union.

And the reality is that most women- and, let's be honest, most men- are absolutely NOT suited to making the sacrifices required.

The fact remains that stable, monogamous pair-bonding between a man and a woman is the best and most effective way to raise happy, healthy children. It remains the single best restraint against Mankind's darker impulses- all you have to do to confirm this is to look at white Western or Asian societies, where monogamous marriage is still, even now, the norm, and compare the outcomes of those societies with the demographic and social catastrophe that is black America. It is still the best bulwark against the stupidest impulses of progressives- because monogamous marriage, by definition, is normal and staid and boring, and is inherently opposed to everything that progressives want.

That does NOT mean that marriage is easy. Nor should it be. There is a reason why even the Book of Common Prayer, used by that most Churchian of Protestant denominations, the Church of England, commands that marriage should be entered into soberly, reverently, and in fear of God.

Case Studies

Now at this point allow me to inject a few personal anecdotes to bring home the point. I have a lot of sympathy for the view that traditional, monogamous marriage is either so difficult as to be pointless, or inimical to the happiness of the participants. In my life I have seen very happy, stable, long-lasting marriages that have worked and which have raised strong, independent children who are fiercely devoted to their parents and siblings. I have also seen even longer-lasting marriages where the people involved simply argued all the time- quite viciously, sometimes- but never split up because of the dire social and financial consequences for doing so. And I have seen marriages that ended in spousal abuse and divorce and acrimony and misery for all concerned.

I have written occasionally of my parents and their marriage. Admittedly I am thoroughly biased on this subject. Yet I think that even the most cynical of outside observers would be forced to concede that my parents have had, for almost 35 years and counting, a very happy marriage. They have two children who care about each other and about their parents very much. They have devoted their lives to raising their children and to providing a comfortable existence for their own parents (well, my dad's parents, anyway- my mum's died long before I was born). They have a lifetime of happy memories together to celebrate, and there can be no question that, while they certainly do not indulge in overt outward displays of affection, they care about each other very deeply.

And interestingly, this is the norm, not the exception, among their peers and friends. Our closest family friends all have similar stories- long, stable, happy, fruitful marriages that built close-knit families of strong, healthy, independent, intelligent children.

Then there are my grandparents. Until my grandmother died a few years ago, they'd been married for some 63 years. Yet no one in his right mind could reasonably argue that the marriage was all that happy. My grandfather was always the weaker of the two- and only when my grandmother passed did everyone truly realise it. My grandmother was an absolute terror in her younger days- opinionated, extremely strong-willed, demanding, and downright overbearing at times to others. (Personally, though, my memories of her are very happy ones, because she doted on me and my sister, she loved my mother every bit as much as she did her own daughter and, though she never admitted it openly, my father was her favourite among her three children.)

My grandparents would row regularly over the most trivial things, and between the 30-year and 50-year mark of their marriage there was considerable concern that one day the rows would actually turn violent, or would become so terrible that the marriage would simply break apart under the strain. By that point, however, they'd been together so long that, well, there just didn't seem to be any point in doing anything else.

And finally, we have my uncle. He was always the black sheep of the family- my grandfather's favourite child, and also my grandmother's favourite whipping boy. (Literally. Remember, I come from a culture where corporal punishment was, and still is, normal.) When he started out in his career, though, things were looking good; at the time he was earning roughly twice what my dad was, and he married his childhood sweetheart and looked like he was going to settle down into a comfortable middle-class existence.

The next thirty years were a case study in human misery and failure. He squandered money on various business ventures and on alcohol. He and his wife divorced after she suffered severe and repeated spousal abuse. He was a serial womaniser- and I'll just leave it at that, because much of what I know about him on that subject is not for public consumption. He got married a few years ago after his first wife- with whom he actually remained on very friendly terms after they were divorced- died from cancer, to a woman more than twenty years younger than him who turned out to be every bit as deceitful and manipulative as he could be.

Today he's a used-up shell of a man, in his mid-fifties with nothing much to his name, mooching off his friends and family. (In the interests of scrupulous fairness, I will say that he is taking care of my ailing grandfather these days, to his credit.)

Basically, whenever I'm stuck trying to figure out whether something is right or wrong, I just ask myself what my uncle would do- and then I do the opposite. It's been a pretty good yardstick over the past few years, that's for sure.

The Red Pill Marriage

Clearly, the optimal situation for any man looking to get married is something similar to the first one. So what do you need to do to get there?

Well first you have to understand what monogamous marriage is all about.

First: it's monogamous. No cheating, no affairs, no meaningless sex even if your spouse is OK with it. This means that, for men with naturally high sex drives, monogamous marriage WILL NOT WORK. So don't even bother trying. Stay a bachelor, or enter into a discreetly open marriage- which can and does work, and which I personally do not condemn at all. I think that monogamous, religiously sanctioned marriage is a far better idea, of course, but if that doesn't work for you, then it's not my problem.

Second: it's really hard work. Don't kid yourself about this. Marriage is MEANT to be hard work. You have to find someone who is compatible with your own desires and goals in life. Don't marry someone "just because" you're both "in love". Hormones make men do really stupid things, including getting married. If you think she loves you, and you think you love her back... keep dating for 6 months. Meet her parents. Meet her relatives. Meet her friends. Introduce her to your parents and relatives and friends. If any of your closest friends and relatives object to her, she's out on her ass. End of discussion- these people know you best, and if they think she's trouble, trust me, she is.

Third: sex is non-negotiable in marriage. If she EVER withholds sex as a form of punishment while you're dating, she's out. End of story. The Biblical model of marriage is still the one that works the best- I think it was Dalrock who said that this model involves finding someone who is physically, mentally, and spiritually compatible with you, and then screwing like rabbits. Sex must NEVER be used as a weapon in marriage; it is a fundamental human function as well as an incredibly powerful bonding agent between individuals, and should be treated as such.

Fourth: marriage involves compromise. You can't have it all your own way all the time. Ain't gonna happen. If that were true, my parents would never have stayed together as long as they have. Both of my parents are VERY strong-willed people, and I've inherited that trait- not without reason did my aunt, in exasperation at my polite but firm refusal to stick around for dinner last year when I dropped my sister off at her place, remarked to her within earshot of me that I'm as "stubborn as a mule". If you cannot or will not compromise on certain things that she wants, DON'T GET MARRIED. It won't work.

Take my case as an example. There are certain things that I simply will not compromise over. I like lifting weights. I like martial arts. And I really like my "alone time"- whether playing video games, listening to music, reading books, or just going out for long walks in the sunshine. These things take time, by definition- time that other people would use for socialising and "enjoying life", whatever that means for them.

Because I refuse to compromise over the amount of time I spend doing these things, my personal life has, by definition, suffered. It's the weakest aspect of my life by far- no matter how much I enjoy my work, how much weight I can lift, or how good my kicks are, these things take up time that other men would spend chasing skirts or going out with friends. I've built a lifestyle that works for me- but would drive most women bonkers because it wouldn't leave very much time for them.

There is a lot more to this that I've gone over in a post from earlier this year. There is a checklist of sorts in that post that, if you're thinking about getting married, you NEED to look at to ensure that you know what you're getting into.

This is where we come back to the fact that most men are unsuited for monogamous marriage. Most men will never look at the issues I've outlined here; they're high on the rush of endorphins that comes from being "In Love" and aren't thinking straight. If not that, then they're not honest in their dealings with others and therefore are not trustworthy themselves- see my uncle above. Or they think that it's high time that they "settled down", just because... well, That's What's Done, and they don't do their homework.

If, once you've read this and gone over that list of safeguards, you're still interested in marriage, then I can only wish you good fortune and wedded bliss. I maintained then, as I maintain now, that monogamous marriage is the best way to build happy families and strong societies, and the evidence of nearly 10,000 years of history supports this argument.

In summary: in my opinion, and this is where I diverge significantly from my peers, I strongly support religious, monogamous, devoted marriage. I just think that you shouldn't deceive yourself about its realities and its difficulties. And I think that you should be as realistic as you can possibly be about its ups and downs before you take that ultimate step.

Do it wrong, and you're in for anywhere from a few years to a lifetime of misery and pain.

Do it right, and you've got a lifetime of happiness, love, and satisfaction to look forward to.

Therefore, do everything in your power to do it right.

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