In modern America, men are increasingly avoiding marriage. Since 1997, the importance of marriage to young men between the ages of 18 and 34 has fallen from 35% to 29%, and risen for the same age group of women from 28% to 37%. In other words, marriage was a buyer’s market for women in 1997, but today it’s a buyer’s market for men.
The question is “why?” As Dr. Helen Smith explains in an interview on Fox and Friends, men analyze decisions in terms of risk versus reward. And the risks to men have increased. 50% of marriages end in divorce. Even marriages between Christians are not necessarily spared. Depending on the metric used, between 38% and 60% of Christian marriages end in divorce.
Well, we might ponder, we have known for some time that divorce rates are increasing, but why would that make a marriage decision more risky to men?
It turns out that up to 68% or 80% of divorces are initiated or filed by the woman. Why is the woman so likely to initiate the divorce? Well, here’s a blog post by a Christian divorcee, and she gives this explanation:
This decision was arrived at neither casually nor mutually. While Leif would be quite content to stay married forever, I am not, for reasons I do not feel the need to discuss at this time.
I know the question you want answered: What happened? Sorry to disappoint you, but nothing happened. We could blame the fact that we got married too young or too fast, or had kids too soon, or worked too many long hours, but the fact of the matter is that lots of relationships include those variables and turn out just fine in the end.
Okay, so the woman is more likely to initiate divorce. But, we might ask, shouldn’t that equally affect young women’s marriage priorities?
Not necessarily. And the problem is multifaceted.
For starters, more than 96% of alimony payments after divorce are paid by men. So only 4 in 100 men do well in divorce. That’s not an encouraging statistic for men. Furthermore, only about 15% of men win custody of their kids. Add that to the lengthiness of divorce cases and the associated emotional stress, and we can see why men are less interested in marriage.
So, to summarize: 50% of marriages end in divorce, with similar rates for Christians, 68%+ of divorces are filed by women, 96% of alimony payments are given to women, and 85% of custody is given to women. This sends a clear message to men: if she gets bored of you, she can leave at any time, and as AskMen writes, “Women tend to keep the kids, the house, the dog, the car, and half the property.”
As I’ve written previously, men are disengaging from society. And one way to fix this problem is to make gender dynamics – cultural and legal – more advantageous for men. Otherwise, we may end up going the way of Japan, where a disinterest in marriage, or any relationships, has led to an aging and shrinking population. Via The Week:
Hundreds of thousands of young men are known as hikikomori, shut-ins who eschew human contact and spend their days playing video games and reading comics in their parents’ homes. (…) The marriage rate has plummeted, and with it the birthrate, since out-of-wedlock births are rare in Japan. In 1975, just 21 percent of women and 49 percent of men under 30 had never been married; by 2005, the figures were 60 percent of women and 72 percent of men.
As a Christian, looking at these sobering statistics, I can’t help but think of what the Apostle Paul wrote, 2000 years ago, in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, New International Version:
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.