Why Marriage Is Good For Men

I’m a man who has been through a failed marriage, so I know what it’s like to have doubts and anxieties about marriage as an institution. In our culture especially, where divorce is so prevalent and damaging, it is very easy to think of marriage as not worth the risk. As a result, many of us postpone marriage to engage in less serious relationships, hoping to get the enjoyment out of love without the liabilities.

Cody
Cody

Marriage has seen better days, with men in particular choosing to opt out. Since men often “grow up” and find their place in the world because of the positive pressures of marriage, this lack of commitment is not only limiting the benefits that we as men used to provide to families and society, but also the unique rewards that marriage once bestowed upon us. Some experts have blamed video games and pornography for this trend, while others say that the problem is the availability of willing sexual partners who are more interested in personal development than starting a family. Still others point to the fear that marriage makes men vulnerable to legal problems. In any case, it seems clear that men are acting on a misinformed notion of self-interest, whether based on narcissism or anxiety about commitment and its risks.

Whatever the reason, I think we as men are forgetting something that many of our ancestors took as a given: marriage is sacred—a thing to be revered because it points to something other-worldly. I’m not a Roman Catholic, but I have recently been stirred by the idea that Catholics view marriage as a “sacrament,” which is religious jargon for a means through which God confers grace to the world. In religious speak, “grace” is a divine love, mercy, or benevolence shown to humanity. Grace pulls us out of the depths of some unwanted fate.

This got me thinking about how we—even the non-religious among us—might benefit from thinking along these lines. If marriage is a divine grace, then it is so because it bestows goodness upon humanity by breaking down our natural selfishness and providing the best environment possible for raising well-adjusted kids and making well-adjusted adults.

For men, marriage is the most tangible rite of passage into manhood and is therefore an impetus to grow up and find fulfillment in one of the most satisfying jobs a man can do. A recent Washington Post article, noting the impact of marriage on men, found that married men, seeing themselves in the masculine role of provider, strive to make more money than single men (and married men do end up making more money than single men), as well as engage in more adult habits and relationships.

This change in men after marriage also benefits women and children: it provides a rise in stability and a safer environment for them than unmarried motherhood. (Statistics show that married women are less likely to be abused than women in unmarried relationships, and that children are less likely to be abused when they live at home with their married father.) For everybody involved, it provides a context where mutual self-giving—not use and abuse—is required and rewarded. In other words, if a couple loves each other through times good and bad, marriage is a source of strength and security.

But what about our fears of marriage? It seems that there are at least two means for easing our anxiety. The first is to remember that life isn’t only about us. We should be receptive, regardless of our religious beliefs, to the tremendous good that marriage, defined as self-giving and committed love, can be for ourselves, our partners, and any potential children we might have.

The second is to avoid marriage with someone who doesn’t see it that way.

Regardless of our religious views, it’s high time that both sexes—though I’m thinking particularly of my own—treat marriage as something sacred and open ourselves up to the amazing grace that it can bestow upon our lives. To coin a phrase, you don’t have to be sanctimonious to be matrimonious.

Cody
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Why Marriage Is Good For Men

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12 Comments

  • I was just googling “why marriage is good for men” and came across your article. I love it! Thank you for being courageous enough to explore the topic and seek Truth.

  • “This change in men after marriage also benefits women and children: it provides a rise in stability and a safer environment for them than unmarried motherhood. (Statistics show that married women are less likely to be abused than women in unmarried relationships, and that children are less likely to be abused when they live at home with their married father.) For everybody involved, it provides a context where mutual self-giving—not use and abuse—is required and rewarded. In other words, if a couple loves each other through times good and bad, marriage is a source of strength and security.”

    Great reminder, Cody!

  • “I think we as men are forgetting something that many of our ancestors took as a given: marriage is sacred”

    False! Women are directly responsible for 70% of all divorces. Another 22% are women behaving so badly in order to force their husbands to do the divorcing because they don’t want to be responsible for it.

    I don’t think it’s men who have forgotten that marriage is sacred.

    • I’m really glad to be getting some pushback on this because it opens up the door for better dialogue. I not only agree with you that women are responsible for initiating the majority of divorces, I’ll add that in marriages where both individuals are highly educated and career-oriented, women are responsible for initiating an even higher percentage of divorces. I noted Helen Smith’s book Men on Strike in my article, and I believe that she discusses this fact.

      However, I didn’t argue that it’s only men who have forgotten that marriage is sacred. I noted that men can more easily forego marriage since women are more likely to engage in sex without demanding commitment and that legal marriage often penalizes men if a divorce comes around. This puts a lot of the blame on women.

      Since this is the case and I acknowledge it, why would I then say that men are misinformed in thinking that avoiding marriage is in their best self-interest? Well, depending upon the kind of woman that they are choosing, they may very well be acting in their best self-interest to avoid marriage. I claimed that well-founded anxieties about marriage can be alleviated simply by not marrying women who don’t see marriage as self-giving, committed love. Women who are impatient and self-absorbed simply aren’t marriage material. This means finding women who are thoughtful enough to have understood the culture’s narcissistic attitude toward marriage and gender warfare and consciously rejected it.

      My claim is that men have forgotten what a tremendous benefit and blessing marriage CAN be; not that it is always perfect, particularly when you commit to the wrong kind of person.

  • I’ll decided for myself what achieving manhood is on my own, thanks, and it doesn’t involve legal enslavement…….. Oh pardon me, I mean marriage.

    • Thank you for your comments, Jeremie! I understand your concerns about legal issues, and I addressed some of them above with Bill. That being said, I think that the stats back up my claim that a healthy marriage does satisfy the innate male desire to provide and protect. It therefore gives men a sense of place by providing solid grounding for emotional and spiritual development. Men who don’t marry (assuming they don’t find some kind of alternative like joining a monastery) *tend* to find themselves stuck in a state of arrested development. There are individual exceptions to this, but as a group, this is very true of men. This is not meant to diminish singleness, but it must be acknowledged that both marriage and singleness have their own challenges, and we should discuss them openly and honestly (which is why I appreciate you doing so). In our culture, we are seeing these challenges especially for young men who are avoiding marriage, and that’s what my article is meant to address.

  • You don’t actually explain why marriage is good for men, you simply try to frame their marital obligations and the enforcement of the male gender role as a positive. You also dismiss the very real legal dangers of marriage as “misinformed” (or narcissistic, but that doesn’t fit), without ever even ackoledging what those are, let alone challenging why they are misinformed. No. This is just another article in a long line trying to shame men into their proper place, offering nothing but false hope and emotional reasoning to assuage men’s fears, rather than real solutions or even a single tangible benefit

    • Mark, perhaps I could have given more examples for why marriage is positive for men. I appreciate that criticism.

      I don’t think I was seeking to shame men into their proper place. I very much understand their concerns and fears. My claim is that avoiding marriage doesn’t solve the problem. It only creates more problems, both on a personal and societal level (and they act together in a feedback loop). As a result, we ought to look into saving marriage so that we can benefit from it. This can only be done by dropping our culture’s poisonous view of marriage and by working as men and women to change it; if not as a culture, at least as individuals. I can’t control how the surrounding culture views marriage, but I can reject their understanding and find a partner who is also committed to a better view.

      When you spoke of what you saw as my claim that concern for dangers is misinformed, I have to offer a correction. I didn’t say that concern for dangers are misinformed, but that those who avoid even good and healthy marriage out of a concern for self-interest are misinformed, because these kinds of marriages are an incredible benefit to men. To avoid being repetitious, I will note that most of what I wrote in response to Jeremie and Bill would also apply to what you wrote.

      Thank you for voicing your criticisms and concerns. I think that men like you need to be heard so that the culture can be more aware of why men have so much anxiety about marriage. If I came across as another man-blamer, I’m deeply sorry for that. I did cite those who defended men (for instance Helen Smith) in my article, but I was more interested in encouraging rethinking marriage’s benefits than assigning blame, which isn’t really what iBiL is about.

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