by Marc H. Rudov
March 28, 2009
Marriage is a failing institution. There are some basic factors driving this failure — judicial and societal — but the bottom line is indisputable: For the first time in US history, across all ethnic groups, the majority of women are unmarried and 40% of babies are born to unwed mothers.
The judicial reason is quite simple: women know that, most of the time, they’ll beat men in matters of alimony, child custody, and child support. Rewarding failure is self-fulfilling. Here’s a test: Ask any woman, about to get married, if she still would march down that aisle if there were no child support or alimony to collect upon dissolution of the impending union. Is she still giddy with glee or pissed off like a Swedish countess?
Compounding the judicial factor is a specific societal shift: anything-goes America now celebrates unwed mothers. When unwed teen Jamie Lee Spears (Britney’s sister) became pregnant, her picture appeared on the cover of People magazine. On Oscar Night of 2009, Barbara Walters asked actress Anne Hathaway about marriage. The 26-year-old Hathaway selfishly expressed a desire to become a mom but not a wife. This narcissistic attitude is now the rule, not the exception.
Programmed Like Automatons
When I was a lad, the dream of every girl was to get married and every man to “settle down” to become a family man with a career. In fact, it was common for any man with a girlfriend to get matrimonial pressure, from friends and family, with this gem: When are you going to make an honest woman of her? The implication being that she was dishonest in having sex until he saved her through marriage.
Stepping back to examine the big picture, one easily could conclude that people, by and large, have been getting married more to please others than to please themselves, to do what is expected of them. They’ve been “programmed” like automatons to think of marriage as proof of respectability, worth, and stability. Why else would men illogically get married despite knowing that wives bring 70% of divorces and get child custody and alimony in 90% of cases?
Generation Y, accustomed to fatherless homes, clearly has a different philosophy about matrimonial programming. And, Anne Hathaway, whose parents are happily married, proved with her statement to Ms. Walters that she has downloaded a new lifestyle application.
Predisposed to Fail
I posit that underlying the aforementioned is a more-fundamental reason for nuptial failure: we are predisposed from childhood to fail, and Don Quixote is to blame.
Don Quixote? Yes. A famous aphorism that completely guides all of our lives derives from an early-1700s translation by Peter Motteux of Cervantes’s classic work: “It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not to venture all his eggs in one basket.” Today, we use the shortened version: Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
“Quixote’s Law” is integral to the basic principle of investing: diversification. Invest in mutual funds, not in single stocks, we are told. Those who invested all of their money with Bernie Madoff violated the diversification principle and lost fortunes as a result.
Quixote lives in our careers, too: we work for one employer but constantly put out feelers for the bigger, better deal. Actors always hear: You need something to fall back on; don’t quit your day job. When we make plans — business, military, or personal — we also make contingency plans, in case “Plan A” goes awry.
Wait a minute! Marriage is putting all of your eggs — especially your nest eggs — in one basket, in one person. But, isn’t this the antithesis of Quixote’s Law — and, therefore, a huge conflict of values? Absolutely, and the reason people sign prenups, resist commitment, and hedge their marital bets by cheating, which, ultimately, leads to custody fights and loss of wealth. Watch two women confess marital infidelity to ABC News.
The NoNonsense Bottom Line
Marriage is important for the stability of society and for the healthy raising of children, but a failing institution that brings more pain than stability. For proof, look at the familial dysfunction around you — in homes, schools, TV shows, movies, the Internet, shopping malls, and family courts.
If unwilling or unable to make this one exception to your hedging strategy — the one you follow in every other aspect of your life — to put all your eggs in one nuptial basket, don’t get married. Ever. Spare pain for yourself, spouse, kids, and respective families.
You can’t have it both ways — even though Anne Hathaway, like many women today, thinks she can. Single people shouldn’t have children. Children aren’t puppies, acquired on a whim to mitigate loneliness or boost the ego. Children need two married, loving parents raising them together.
Singlehood is a life of many baskets, marriage a life of one — with both spouses weaving the same wicker. There is no hybrid. Marriage requires a lifestyle change that most people, in all honesty, don’t want — the all-in-one-basket lifestyle — and that’s why it’s failing.
As the statistics prove, people aren’t trained or prepared to violate Quixote’s Law to succeed in marriage. Don Quixote lanced marriage. Don’t let marriage lance you. Choose your basket — and partner — carefully.
© 2009 - Marc H. Rudov - All Rights Reserved
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Marc H. Rudov is a globally known radio/TV personality, relationship coach, and author of 100+ articles and the books Under the Clitoral Hood: How to Crank Her Engine Without Cash, Booze, or Jumper Cables (ISBN 9780974501727) and The Man’s No-Nonsense Guide to Women: How to Succeed in Romance on Planet Earth (ISBN 0974501719). Mr. Rudov, the 2008 recipient of the National Coalition of Free Men’s “Award for Excellence In Promoting Gender Fairness In The Media,” is a frequent guest on Fox News Channel’s Your World with Neil Cavuto and The O’Reilly Factor.
Rudov’s books, articles, blog, and podcasts are available at TheNoNonsenseMan.com.
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