Skip to comments.A 'Marriage Strike' Emerges As Men Decide Not To Risk Loss
Posted on 07/06/2002 5:00:19 AM PDT by buccaneer81
A 'marriage strike' emerges as men decide not to risk loss
By Glenn Sacks and Dianna Thompson
Katherine is attractive, successful, witty, and educated. She also can't find a husband. Why? Because most of the men this thirtysomething software analyst dates do not want to get married. These men have Peter Pan syndrome: They refuse to commit, refuse to settle down, and refuse to "grow up."
However, given the family court policies and divorce trends of today, Peter Pan is no naive boy, but instead a wise man.
"Why should I get married and have kids when I could lose those kids and most of what I've worked for at a moment's notice?" asks Dan, a 31-year-old power plant technician who says he will never marry.
"I've seen it happen to many of my friends. I know guys who came home one day to an empty house or apartment - wife gone, kids gone. They never saw it coming. Some of them were never able to see their kids regularly again."
Census figures suggest that the marriage rate in the United States has dipped 40 percent during the last four decades to its lowest point since the rate was measured. There are many plausible explanations for this trend, but one of the least mentioned is that American men, in the face of a family court system hopelessly stacked against them, have subconsciously launched a "marriage strike."
It is not difficult to see why. Let's say that Dan defies Peter Pan, marries Katherine, and has two children. There is a 50 percent likelihood that this marriage will end in divorce within eight years, and if it does, the odds are 2-1 it will be Katherine, not Dan, who initiates the divorce. It may not matter that Dan was a decent husband. Studies show that few divorces are initiated over abuse or because the man has already abandoned the family. Nor is adultery cited as a factor by divorcing women appreciably more than by divorcing men.
While the courts may grant Dan and Katherine joint legal custody, the odds are overwhelming that it is Katherine, not Dan, who will win physical custody. Overnight, Dan, accustomed to seeing his kids every day and being an integral part of their lives, will become a "14 percent dad" - a father who is allowed to spend only one out of every seven days with his own children.
Once Katherine and Dan are divorced, odds are at least even that Katherine will interfere with Dan's visitation rights.
Three-quarters of divorced men surveyed say their ex-wives have interfered with their visitation, and 40 percent of mothers studied admitted that they had done so, and that they had generally acted out of spite or in order to punish their exes.
Katherine will keep the house and most of the couple's assets. Dan will need to set up a new residence and pay at least a third of his take-home pay to Katherine in child support.
As bad as all of this is, it would still make Dan one of the lucky ones. After all, he could be one of those fathers who cannot see his children at all because his ex has made a false accusation of domestic violence, child abuse, or child molestation. Or a father who can only see his own children under supervised visitation or in nightmarish visitation centers where dads are treated like criminals.
He could be one of those fathers whose ex has moved their children hundreds or thousands of miles away, in violation of court orders, which courts often do not enforce. He could be one of those fathers who tears up his life and career again and again in order to follow his children, only to have his ex-wife continually move them.
He could be one of the fathers who has lost his job, seen his income drop, or suffered a disabling injury, only to have child support arrearages and interest pile up to create a mountain of debt which he could never hope to pay off. Or a father who is forced to pay 70 percent or 80 percent of his income in child support because the court has imputed an unrealistic income to him. Or a dad who suffers from one of the child support enforcement system's endless and difficult to correct errors, or who is jailed because he cannot keep up with his payments. Or a dad who reaches old age impoverished because he lost everything he had in a divorce when he was middle-aged and did not have the time and the opportunity to earn it back.
"It's a shame," Dan says. "I always wanted to be a father and have a family. But unless the laws change and give fathers the same right to be a part of their children's lives as mothers have, it just isn't worth the risk."
Dianna Thompson is the founder and executive director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children. She can be contacted by e-mail at DThompson2232@aol.com. Glenn Sacks writes about gender issues from the male perspective. He invites readers' comments at Glenn@GlennSacks.com.
This thread is probably the greatest incentive that I've seen to get a vascectomy.
|Men have the power to put a stop to this, but are more interested in proving their manhood instead.
We are probably going to find out in not too many years whether you are right, and I suspect that we are going to find out that men's pre-marital sexual behavior has zero to do with whether government seeks to remove adult males from those human families they do manage to form.
A safe and effective male contraceptive is going to change the dynamics of the current situation in some funny ways. A "marriage strike" can be tolerated so long as government continues to enforce child support obligations. Women may not find it desireable, but it is tolerable. You are suggesting that men take this a step further and go on a "conception strike," thus placing the continuation of the society itself in peril. This would indeed get government's attention, but probably not in the way you expect.
There are hints in the debate over paternal DNA testing that government is less interested in tying child support obligation to biological parenthood than to men as a class. Were there to become available a cheap and effective male contraceptive, such that men with something to lose economically could take themselves out of the target environment (a much more likely form of 'conception strike,' in my view, than the widespread adoption of celibacy which you seem to be suggesting), I believe government's response would be to begin supporting the children of single mothers via the tax system. There would always be loser men out there who had nothing to extract in terms of child support who would be willing to serve as society's studs. All you'd have is bunch of frustrated, celibate males who got dinged anyway in the form of higher taxation.
My hunch is that what is going on is not fixable, at least not in a democratic society. This is a classic "tragedy of the commons" phenomenon in which it is in each person's individual short-term interest to continue pushing the society incrementally towards collapse. It is now in every man's short-term individual interest to avoid marriage. It is in every woman's short-term individual interest to seek ever-more onerous government intervention to extract child support from men, married or not. The whole thing just goes click-click-click like a ratchet, one baby and divorce at a time, toward a place no one wants to go.
It is easy to see how short-term political considerations and the application of endless band-aid fixes will take this society from where it is now toward nearly universal single parenthood by women, supported through the tax system by a government that has to become ever-more draconian in its collection methods, as men quietly opt out of the society altogether because it has nothing for them. That's not politically stable and it won't last all that long, but for the decade or two before it is overthrown, the government we have now is likely to become men's worst nightmare. At the time it will look to people like the only way, but it wasn't the only way. It's just that the choices to go another way had to have been made about twenty years ago. It's too late now, we're going this way.
As I have said before, divorce is not a good thing. It should not be a surprise that there are many unpleasant consequences. Are today's men really so ineffective that they can do nothing to prevent the break-up of their own marriages?
That's the cause of much of the problem. You can go to any singles' bar and see the married men removing their wedding bands and also check what kind of women attract the most men. Men who choose poorly shouldn't complain so much about the consequences of their own choices, often the most they know about a woman they marry is her bra size.
Actually I've always heard that it's pretty common for one spouse to think they have a happy marriage,while the other is considering leaving, divorce, whatever. Think about all the affairs that come as a complete surprise.
How many "angels" before marriage turn into something entirely different after marriage? Women can be very good at presenting a false face. Sometimes, a man has to be super- astute to pick out the dead-end kids.
Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!
The picking aren't any better for us women. It's scarey out there. The men are just as money-grubbing, and just as confused.
Perhaps Moore's Law can be of help.
I hope that someday, someone invents a holodeck like the one in Star Trek, and then men can go inside and have all the risk-free sex that they want. When the real women find out that they are no longer of any use, then maybe they will consider treating men better.
It's the freakin' marriage license!
A license is defined in Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, as follows:
"The permission by competent authority to do an act, which, without such permission, would be illegal, a trespass, or a tort. People v. Henderson, 391 Mich. 612, 218 N.W.2d 2, 4.
This begs the obvious question. Since when did "marriage" become an "illegal act"? Hmmm?
In the 1800's in America, the only persons who needed a marriage license were those people of differing races, who wanted to marry. Why? Because back then it was illegal for a white to marry a black (and vice-versa). Hence, they needed "special permission" from the State to perform an "illegal act".
Today, everyone blindly trots off to get a "marriage license" because, well, that's what you do, right?
When you obtain a marriage license you are essentially forming a "corporation", with the State acting in the role of "third party interest" with an "equitable nexus".
What are the "profits" from such a pseudo corporation? Children for one thing. Real property for another.
And that is why you cannot dissolve your marriage without the State's involvement, assuming there is a marriage license in effect.
And what about "separation of church and state"?
The act of marriage is a religious ceremony!
"By the power vested in me by the State of California, I hereby declare you husband and wife." What???
Imagine this. A Baptism license. Imagine Joe Sixpack saying; "Now, uh, let me get this straight. You're saying I got to get me a license to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour?"
Did your great-great grandparents have a marriage license? No they did not. Did the world come crashing down? No.
George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759. Do you suppose George Washington, the First President of the United States of America, trotted down to his local governmental "authority" and obtained a marriage license? Hell no, he did not.
So why do Americans get marriage licenses? Because they are dumbed down and ignorant, and that's by design.
Aha! A pristine 1950s society preserved deep in the jungle of Kalifornia. Who woulda thunk it.....
We are looking at the conditions in this country now, and voicing our opinions based on those observations. I have eyes, and I see what is happening out there.
As for sexual morality, the typical young lady of today will hit the sack with almost anything that walks or slithers down the road. It is not uncommon for women to have had hundreds of sex partners before they get married somewhere in their mid to late 20s if they get married at all. They have "explored their sexuality" with both men and women. The poor guy coming home doesn't know if he will find the little lady in the sack with the guy from next door, the girl from next door, or both.
At last glance, the divorce rate was fifty percent. It may be more by now.
STDs have become much more prevalent in the last few years. That is a direct result of prevailing promiscuity in this generation. Some of these STDs are brutal. They are disfiguring and permanent in their effects, even rendering many women incapable of having children.
Ok, considering all factors, the man is facing a woman with no morals, all the viciousness of a pissed-off king cobra, and the health of a person with one foot in the grave. And, the woman thinks she is doing the man a favor by offering him her lily-white hand. The hand is all that she has left. The rest was used up a long time ago.
I am happy that I got a good woman before all of the nonsense that is going on today became common.
I agree with many of the points contained therein. I will likely never marry again for many of the reasons cited in the article, and I'm most definitely not "Peter Pan," uncommitted, or immature. The reasons my ex cited in filing for divorce were based solely on her own convenience, and were not the result of any abuse, emotional distance, or dishonorable behavior on either of our parts. Our marriage and our lives were a great adventure in many ways, and when, by necessity, the adventure changed to something different for a while, she was the one who tucked tail and ran first.
This is not a rant against my ex though. She is honorable and successful (and a better shot than I am). We had an understanding, hammered out in excruciating detail before we married, that either party had an open door and was free to walk through it for good reason. I do not keep slaves, and am quite capable of doing my own laundry without turning all the white clothes pink. Her children were already grown and we had no issue of our own, so we were both fortunate that there were no child support issues to consider.
Since many women apparently feel that marriage is a part-time job or choose to define it as till death do us part or until something better comes along, I say "Ignore them and the horse they rode in on" when the next Sadie Hawkins Day comes along. My life is full and complicated enough as it is without blindly signing another social contract with a woman using invisible ink.
When I was going through my divorce, another guy I know got slapped with the traditional restraining order.
Seems he'd found out his wife was unfaithful, but confronted her before he had evidence. She called the police and proceeded to trash the house, rip her clothes, and as she saw the squad car pull in, attacked him.
Who did the police believe? One guess.
He lost the house, the car, the kids, paid 1800/month in child support (in a much lower geared economy than folks on the coasts are used to, in 1990) and even had his firearms taken away--with the right to own one under Clinton.
One little VHS videotape saved me that.
Unfortunately, guys who get custody of their children are still few and far between.
The wife in the case I cited is a Methamphetamine addict (the case where the guy got custody of his kids), so the judge didn't have a lot of choice, except to farm the children out to foster homes.
Don't let the exceptions cited blind you to the overwhelming majority of cases which go the other way.
Thank you for pointing out this scenario. I have seen it almost as often as I have seen the shrewish, feminazi-type who eats her male life partner like a spider.
The "Katherine" in your scenario is all the more tragic because she is one of the very few good women who actually live the true spirit of marriage. It cost her. I've seen it.