Do You Have to Get Married to Be “Married”?

As a married dating coach for women who generally want to get married, it should be no surprise that I write a lot about marriage

There are many cases to be made for marriage, but today, I’m sharing a first-person article from the New York Times Modern Love column, entitled “The Secret to Marriage is Never Getting Married.” 

The author, Gabrielle Zevin, in her quirky, well-written piece, rightfully points out that two people can be best friends, have an easy, fun, supportive relationship, and build a happy life together – and that this is not at ALL dependent upon wearing a wedding band. She and her partner met up in college, didn’t get married for money-related reasons, and just kept going…for over 20 years.

Two people can be best friends, have an easy, fun, supportive relationship, and build a happy life together – and that this is not at ALL dependent upon wearing a wedding band.

Writes Zevin, “It’s just words to say I don’t believe in marriage. Having stayed with a person for more than 20 years, I must believe in marriage. I must believe that life is better in a pair than it is single.

When I say I don’t believe in marriage, what I mean to say is: I understand the financial and legal benefits, but I don’t believe the government or a church or a department store registry can change the way I already feel and behave.

Or maybe it would. Because when the law doesn’t bind you as a couple, you have to choose each other every day. And maybe the act of choosing changes a relationship for the better. But successfully married people must know this already.”

Marriage isn’t a panacea; it is, however, the most common path that committed couples used choose to signify to each other – and the world – that they’re in it forever.

And that’s largely my point when I advocate for marriage. It’s not that I give a shit about what society thinks or the Church thinks or your friends think; it’s that, in general, the people who tend to make for the best spouses – the ones who embody the concepts of selfless commitment and unconditional love – those people usually WANT to get married.

If you find you’re a commitment oriented person who DOESN’T want to get married, it would be wise to consider what’s underlying it. My guess is probably a painful divorce in your past or your parents’ past has made you question the institution of marriage, when, in fact, those breakups are not the fault of “marriage,” but rather individual examples of couples that were not a good long-term fit.

Marriage isn’t a panacea; it is, however, the most common path that committed couples use to choose to signify to each other – and the world – that they’re in it forever.

Your thoughts, as always, are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    S.

    I think the piece of paper makes a difference. For many years, I tried to fight this in my mind but it’s true.  I think that’s why so many LGBT folks fought for the right to get legally married.

    You guys know this is one of my favorite couples ever. 😀

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/670783/Elderly-couple-married-44-years-dating-living-together-Colin-Dunn-Sally-Smith

    But I don’t know many people today staying together for 44 years and not being married.  It’s possible, but yeah, the paper matters.

     

    1. 1.1
      Chance

      Hi S.,

       

      I think we should ask ourselves why the piece of paper matters.  If it’s the piece of paper that matters, would it suffice for the couple to create a certificate on their own – absent any legal entanglements – that illustrates their vows?  Or would that be insufficient?  If so, then is it really the piece of paper that matters , or is it the legal assurances for which the piece of paper provides evidence?

       

      Many would argue that a legally-binding contract that requires similar commitments of each partner is romantic because both partners now have skin in the game, and I would agree with that statement.  However, this isn’t what the legal institution of marriage does in North America.  It’s a one-way provisioning contract from the more financially secure spouse to the less financially secure spouse.  Only one spouse commits to anything.  This spouse’s commitment  becomes his/her liability, and becomes the other spouse’s assurance.  To me, that is decidedly unromantic.

       

      The legal institution of marriage also only recognizes, and compensates for, the sacrifices of the spouse who chooses to forego career opportunities for the sake of childcare.  However, it does not recognize the sacrifices of the spouse who continues to work to provide another adult with his/her entire livelihood.

      1. 1.1.1
        S.

        I agree about skin in the game.  Does signing and more importantly adhering to the terms of a prenup, take that skin out of the game? I don’t really know. I’m genuinely saying if the partner with less money signs one and doesn’t fight it upon dissolution of the union.  Sure, they might not . But for this example, I wonder how this changes thing? Is it the same as not getting married at all?

        It’s not just about that, though. I think about what if the spouse is incapcitated. Legally, the spouse has a say in that above the person’s birth family.  I never forget that scene in If These Walls Could Talk 2 set in 1961, where the woman sat outside the hospital room door while her lover of 30 years died and she never got to say good-bye or even see her since she wasn’t ‘family’.  And how the house she lived in was sold away since she was thought of as just a roommate.  Legal marriage protects people from things like that.

        However, it does not recognize the sacrifices of the spouse who continues to work to provide another adult with his/her entire livelihood.

        This reminds me of another thread. Why would someone agree to that in the first place if it’s not something they want to do? I don’t really understand. If someone wants a working spouse, marry a working spouse and support their career.  If both agree one should stay home with children, it’s an agreement.  There should be terms of how long that should last.  I didn’t grow up around people where moms stayed home. Moms had to work. We turned out okay. 🙂  But yeah, both spouses get to decide.  If both are working and that’s a value both want and have, then no one is providing anyone with their entire livelihood should the marriage end.

        1. Gala

          Legal marriage protects people from things like that.

          So do healthcare proxies and joint forms of property ownerships. If you unmarried lover is not willing to do those things, you gotta wonder why that is. Simple legal illiteracy or may be they are not that committed in the first place.

      2. 1.1.2
        S.

        @ Gala

        Have to agree.  Especially if you’re with someone for decades.  Marriage is one form of protection but there are others.  I think if people are committed they would want to look out for one another.  Life insurance, pensions, etc.

        That said, the seniors in my first comment still married after decades when I suppose all of that had been worked out.

        So interesting.

      3. 1.1.3
        Henriette

        I agree with much of what you wrote here, @Chance.  But, where I reside, living together for 3 years or living and having a child together for 1 year makes one common-law.  So, as far as I can see, there’s not much benefit to being in a relationship and Not marrying, either.  The only way to keep the government out of it is to maintain separate residences and even then… can you prove – if it comes down to it in court – that you spent more time at your own home than together?

        So, I think the best route is to be deliberate about picking a mate and then go all in with a real, legal marriage.  By all means, go for a prenup, but realize that its power is limited.

        1. Chris

          I think even in locations which recognize de-facto relationships, they aren’t as legally strong as actual marriages. But in any case marriage is a fundamentally a legal contract, and as with any legal contract you should read the fine print, so to speak, before signing it. Learn the advantages, disadvantages, and also what will happen if either party decides to leave the contract and what you can best do to prepare yourself for that possibility. The same thing applies for commingling finances or moving in together.

        2. Chance

          Interesting @Henriette – thanks for sharing.  Indeed, that does limit your options.  Here in the States, only 10 states recognize common law marriage (for all practical purposes).  There are steps one needs to take in order to avoid palimony, though.

  2. 2
    Stacy

    The paper absolutely makes the difference (psychologically and physiologically). And if it didn’t make a difference, people would take it a whole lot less lightly than they do even now. I don’t understand people who think otherwise.

  3. 3
    Valeri

    Meh, paper matters to some and doesn’t matter to others.  Anyone who has been married for 40 plus years had fewer, less easy options /alternatives.   And  yeah, I think most who marry believe and hope it will be forever but that don’t make it so!

    1. 3.1
      Chris

      Almost everyone who marries believes, sincerely, it will be for life. But if marriage is indeed supposed to be for life, then why not eliminate No-Fault Divorce and make marriage very difficult to get out of legally, as it was 45+ years ago?

  4. 4
    Gala

    My guess is probably a painful divorce in your past or your parents’ past has made you question the institution of marriage, when, in fact, those breakups are not the fault of “marriage,” but rather individual examples of couples that were not a good long-term fit.

    I disagree. Most marriages that ended in a bad divorce did not start out bad. They started out as romantic relationship and starry eyed proposals. So what did them in? How can anyone confidently say that those couples were not a good fit, or may be the problem for those couples was the institution of marriage itself?

    I am one of those people who wants commitment without legal marriage. I simply don’t want my partner to grow complacent. I want them to know that yes, if they fuck up, I will up and leave, period, end of story. There will be no opportunity for them to use the court system to “punish” me. And, the same is true for me. I think that legal marriage gives people comfort which I don’t want my partner to have. That knowledge that the other person is legally tied to you and has no easy out just encourages worse behavior. It is so obvious I don’t know how one could even argue against it. Yes, in different people it will produce different results. Some people are more selfish and more prone to abusing the situation than others. But why risk finding out?

    Also, what ARE those financial benefits that people keep referring to?? Has anybody read the tax code and heard of the marriage penalty? Yet another reason to not legally married, especially later in life when both parties may have pre-existing dependents.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Gala:
      “I disagree. Most marriages that ended in a bad divorce did not start out bad. They started out as romantic relationship and starry eyed proposals. So what did them in? How can anyone confidently say that those couples were not a good fit, or may be the problem for those couples was the institution of marriage itself?”

      “Marriage” isn’t what’s wrong with marriage. It’s people. Always people. You can’t blame an institution for insecurities, communication failures and a couple’s inability to figure out their compatibility BEFORE they get married. That’s about individuals, not “marriage.” Assigning the blame to an institution is a passive way of failing to take responsibility – like blaming the government for your failure to get a job or “women” for why a guy is sad and lonely.

      Of course, relationships start off great. But if you’ve joined Love U or listened to anything I’ve written here, that is IRRELEVANT to whether you’ll last for forty years as a couple. People need to develop the skills to date with confidence, figure out who the high character partners are, and invest heavily in being better partners themselves.

      Finally, “who’s to confidently say those couples were not a good fit?” I am. Because, by definition, if they WERE a good long-term fit, they wouldn’t be divorced. You seem to think that if two people are “in love” that means they’re a good fit. It doesn’t. It just means they’re in love. I’m teaching people skills to become happily married, not just blindly in love and SHOCKED when the relationship doesn’t work out down the road.

      1. 4.1.1
        Gala

        No, i am not even remotely that naive to think that two people in love are automatically a good fit. That’s not what i said either. My point is that perhaps the institution of marriage does not bring out the best in everybody. There were these well know psychological experiments conducted. There are different variations, but basically otherwise normal people would be split into groups randomly and some would be “assigned” authority over the other group. Invariably, the group in power would grow to abuse the other group. The point being that power corrupts. Marriage DOES give people power over the other spouse. Some people, who may be wonderful otherse, may just not be able to handle this power well. Are they had people with character flaws? Perhaps. But then again, if they didn’t have that power may be that never would have been an issue. And we all have flaws. So yes there can be an argument made that the problem is with the institution itself.. what’s good for some people proves to be bad for others.

        1. xxxxxx

          Yes, Gala. Marriage does provide some protections for some parties within a marriage. And when people do enter into marriage, they willingly and knowingly put themselves in a very vulnerable position if they are the party who will be disadvantaged if a marriage failed. The act of doing this is a huge leap of faith, and speaks to the love, belief and trust in the person they are marrying. This is all well and good if you have a very very good and realistic knowledge of who it is you are marrying, and enough self awareness to be marrying for the right reasons.

          All is well and good when you and your partner are a good long term fit. However, even with this idealistic situation, people can and do CHANGE, and not always for the better. Usually after a traumatic, self changing event like a bereavement or a near death experience, but not necessarily so. One partner can suddenly and inexplicably wake up one morning and decided they have changed so much that their partners were no longer a fit. It is really not enough for two people to be a long term fit, they need the emotional intelligence and skills to evolve the relationship as they, their partners and their life circumstances change. Sometiems their efforts do not work out, and this is when both parties even try to make that effort. Many change to the extent that they don’t want to make that effort. When this happens, the weaker party is really at the mercy of the stronger party, and dependent on him or her not to exercise the power that marriage accords them, unfairly.

          Some people are just too jaded and cynical and burnt out by life to be able to make t leap of faith. For people like this, they are not going to be supporting marriage, no matter what Evan says, or how many happy long term couple they come across.

  5. 5
    Brenda

    Marriage means you have to live together (share toothpaste, bank accounts, take turns cleaning the toilet, etc), and not everybody is well-suited to that kind of lifestyle. Some people are simply not made living with others and need to have personal space in order to maintain their basic sanity. It isn’t necessarily a reflection of their ability to love faithfully. I know a couple who has been happily in love for decades, but they live in different homes. The white picket fence isn’t necessarily everyone’s dream come true.

  6. 6
    Yet Another Guy

    Call me naive, but I always assumed that the institution of marriage exists to protect children. I live in a state that has two different sets of no-fault divorce rules.  There is one set of rules for couples with minor children in common and a different set of rules for couples without minor children in common.  Guess which type of no-fault divorce takes longer to execute?  We are talking about significantly longer on average.

    1. 6.1
      Chance

      Hi YAG, could you please elaborate?  How does the legal institution of marriage protect children?

      1. 6.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        @Chance

        That is something that should go without question.  Legal marriage is an institution that was originally created to protect children from being impoverished as well as to protect wives from being impoverished in fruitless marriages. Until relatively recently, it was taboo to have children out of wedlock. Parents would send unwed mothers off to homes to have their “bastard” children (it is enlightening to see the rosters for these homes in the census data). It is an uncontested fact that the majority of children who grow up with single mothers do so less advantaged than they would have if they had grown up in an in tact families because income is spread across two different homes (a man’s income can end up being spread across more than two homes if he remarries, fathers more children, and decides to divorce, which can result in lower child support payments to each former spouse).  A lot of men do not pay child support or pay it sporadically; therefore, divorce often places the burden of supporting children on the state.  That is why some states make it more difficult for couples with minor children to divorce. They want to make divorce more painful than reconciliation.

        1. Chance

          @YAG – I see.  I wasn’t questioning the obvious benefits of having two loving and committed parents raising a child, but I’m not seeing how marriage (the legal concept, that is) protects children in today’s environment.  If anything, it creates a strong incentive for each parent to limit the other parent’s % of physical custody should the relationship between the parents erode to the point of being irreconcilable.  It either forces parents who can’t get along to stay together under one roof (not good for the children), or go through a painful legal process that thrives on conflict by driving an emotional and financial wedge through the family.

        2. GoWiththeFlow

          Chance,

          You are only looking at the issue through the lens of divorce.  And while a lot of people will divorce, everyone will die at some point.

          When my mom died, my father got pension and social security survivor’s benefits.  The house and all of their property legally reverted to him as sole owner without going through probate or paying taxes.  With out that little slip of paper, our family would have been in a financially precarious situation because my mom brought in over half of the household income at that time she died.

          The Windsor case, which overturned DOMA and legalized gay marriage in all states was largely a tax case.  Edie Windsor got hit with a $200,000 plus tax bill because the state of New York did not recognize her marriage to her spouse.  They were together for 40 years and had accumulated substantial assets together.  No they did not have kids, but you can see where a family estate value would be severely degraded if the surviving spouse paid full inheritance taxes, and then when they died, their kids and grandkids inherited substantially less because of the extra non-marriage tax penalty.

          Justice Kennedy was said to have been swayed to the majority in the Windsor case largely because the kids of these relationships were essentially left without the protections that kids of married heterosexual couples receive. On top of death benefits, there are other benefits that married couples can share that unmarried ones can’t.  A biggie is health insurance.

          A couple living together can be bankrupted if one partner gets sick and is uninsured.  Or if the ill partner can’t work due to the illness and they lose their insurance and can’t get on their partner’s.  Gloria Steinem said that health insurance, more specifically her husband’s deteriorating health and lack of insurance, was a big motivator for them getting married. (She is now a widow.)

          Getting back to the protection of kids, less money in the household is less money available for the raising of kids, or helping out adult children when they are older.  Parents of newly launched twenty-somethings tend to get calls when there is a dental emergency.  It’s happened to about a dozen friends of mine!  Married people accumulate more assets than their single peers, including cohabitating couples.

          IMHO so many people are freaked out by the potential financial ramifications of divorce, they let that drive their relationship decisions and it winds up really biting them in the rear end down the road when a partner falls ill or dies.

        3. Yet Another Guy

          @Chance

          However, no matter how one slices it, children are better off financially in an in tact family.

          https://www.heritage.org/poverty-and-inequality/report/marriage-americas-greatest-weapon-against-child-poverty

          Being married has roughly the same effect in reducing poverty that adding five to six years to a parent’s education has. Interestingly, on average, high school dropouts who are married have a far lower poverty rate than do single parents with one or two years of college.

          While I will probably get slammed for posting a quote from a right-wing think tank, I believe that the data does highlight the value of marriage when it comes child poverty.  The data also dovetails what was discussed recently in another blog entry related to marriage (or lack thereof) in lower class America.

          As far as to forcing two people who cannot get along to stay together, well, that is a good thing for everyone involved. Most of the reasons why two people cannot stay together and act civilized to each other can be summed up under the inability to make sacrifices for the good of all. It is a matter of being too selfish to see the big picture. It is called learning how to pick one’s battles.  Sadly, a lot of people make it into adulthood without mastering that skill.  Some people never master that skill, which is why they never marry or cannot seem remain married. I will admit that I was a little slow on the draw when I first got married. However, it did not take long after my marriage started to go south when my children where little to realize that there was a lot more at stake than my happiness. Marriage is not about the husband and the wife. It is about the family.  I may appear to be anathema to many women who read this blog, but I endured more than most men would endure to hold my family together because to do less would be nothing short of failing my children.  Even today, I feel like I failed them in a way.  Had I left earlier, my children would have taken a sizable hit lifestyle-wise.  I had worked too damn hard and made too many sacrifices to take the easy way out. Far too many couples divorce because they think that marriage is about their happiness when it is in fact in institution to protect the family.

        4. Chance

          @YAG – once again, no one is debating that children being raised by two loving and committed parents, under the same roof, who get along well, isn’t optimal.  I also respect your devotion to your children and the sacrifices you made to ensure that they had a solid upbringing.  However, both of these points are independent of the legal institution of marriage (i.e., marriage isn’t necessary to raise a child with a life partner, and it isn’t necessary to “stick it out” for the sake of your children).  Does the legal construct of marriage make it more difficult for some people (e.g., the traditional male provider) to exit the arrangement than it would be if he was in a committed life partnership?  Yes.  However, those same legal entanglements make it easier for the wife in that situation to leave than it would have been if she was in a committed life partnership, which very well may not be good for the children.  So, the notion that marriage protects the children by making it more difficult for the parents to go their own way isn’t accurate IMHO.  It makes it more difficult for some parents in some situations, and it makes easier for other parents in other situations.

           

          @GWTF – I was thinking more in terms of protecting children as parents are raising them, and I also think that some of these examples are a reach.  A lot of what you’re discussing could possibly affect the sons/daughters when they are fully grown.  Besides, estate taxes don’t affect the vaaaaaaaast majority of people anyways.  Financial assets can be transferred to a beneficiary without probate being involved.  Might have to get probate involved for other assets, but with a will, it should be a minor distraction.  I agree with you regarding the SS survivor benefits as it is technically possible that it could assist a parent in ensuring the kids inheritance is maximized (assuming the surviving parent doesn’t spend it).  Many parents don’t intend to leave much, if anything, to their kids because they don’t see it as their obligation.  Agree on the health insurance…. while more employers are offering it for domestic partners now and one can still buy insurance on his/her own, it technically could impact the kids in the form of less money….. don’t know how profound the impact would be, though.

        5. Yet Another Guy

          @Chance

          Does the legal construct of marriage make it more difficult for some people (e.g., the traditional male provider) to exit the arrangement than it would be if he was in a committed life partnership?  Yes.  However, those same legal entanglements make it easier for the wife in that situation to leave than it would have been if she was in a committed life partnership, which very well may not be good for the children. 

          Man, you have a twisted sense of reality.  Please elaborate on why you believe that marriage only makes it more difficult for the man to exit the arrangement?  Having been through the process, watching you attempt to explain your way out this hole will be fun. Marriage is a contract that binds two people together in ways that someone who has never been married cannot begin to fathom. If you are focused on resources, well, then you clearly date down in social class because the court strives for equal division of the marital assets.  Premarital assets are excluded from the settlement agreement.

          In the case of cohabitating parents, a man is still on the hook for child support.  If a man fathers a child, the state will ensure that he provisions the child.  Most states have child support enforcement agencies. If a man fails to pay child support, most states will garnish his wages.

        6. GoWiththeFlow

          Chance,

          Regarding the belief that the legal constrains of marriage make it easier for a woman/mother to leave than if she was just cohabitating, a woman I work with went with her SAHM friend when she had an appointment with a divorce attorney.

          This SAHM was told she would need to immediately get a job, before even separating, because the court does not look favorably upon non-working spouses.  Even with two young children and years out of the work force, the most she could expect would be 2-4 years of alimony.  And that since the state uses standard formulas, there would be no way she would be able to support herself off of alimony and child support.  Ergo, she was not getting the free financial ride that so many people wrongly believe women divorcees get.  Evan recently posted a link to a study on how men fare better financially than women after divorce in a response to Tron on a recent blog post.

          On a big picture level, it seems that on this thread, that how people regard marriage and evaluate the risk of divorce is largely related to whether they view most marriages as unhappy and divorce inevitable, or they view most marriages as content/happy and divorce, while a risk, isn’t an inevitability.  I guess since my parents were content and married until death did they part, both sets of grandparents the same, and only 1 aunt and 1 uncle divorced out of 7 total in that generation in my family, I don’t view divorce as inevitable or even as a big risk.

        7. Yet Another Guy

          @GWtF

          Evan recently posted a link to a study on how men fare better financially than women after divorce in a response to Tron on a recent blog post.

          A metric truck load of misinformation is being spread by the manosphere with respect to the dangers of marriage for men.  Show me a man who was taken to the cleaners during divorce, and I will show you a man who married a woman for her hotness instead of marrying an equal.  The reason why the man got taken to the cleaners is because he allowed his libido and his desire to have arm candy rule his judgement.  He traded provisioning for beauty and wondered why that decision had long-term financial implications.

        8. GoWiththeFlow

          YAG,

          I also think it’s interesting how it’s mostly money that is talked about when the issue of marriage and divorce comes up.  Nothing about the emotional and practical lifestyle issues divorce brings.

          Since I mostly talk to women friends about this, single men may be surprised to know that the biggest issue many women consider is what divorce means for their children.  You are never rid of someone once you have a child with them.  Your child(ren) will often be the spitting image of their Dad or have Dad’s personality characteristics.  Even if you divorce, you will be parents and grandparents together for life.  I’ve known more than a few women who stay and work to get through the hard times because they have respect for their husband as a father and they want their kids to have that daily interaction with their dad.

          Another misrepresentation that red pill people make is that women divorce for frivolous reasons.  They like to throw out the statistic that women file 70% of divorce actions.  The implication being that there aren’t serious reasons for filing for divorce.  My one aunt who divorced was the one to file the petition because her husband literally ran off with a neighbor woman and disappeared.  What option did she have?

          For balance, my uncle divorced his first wife, and even got an annulment from the Catholic Church, after she had a psychotic break and tried to blow up his parent’s house by sabotaging the gas stove!  People have real big reasons for seeking to end a marriage.  They don’t decide to do it because it’s Tuesday.  My uncle went on to remarry about five years later.  They had a child and were married for almost 25 years when my uncle passed away.

        9. Chance

          @YAG – Please elaborate on why you believe that marriage only makes it more difficult for the man to exit the arrangement? Having been through the process, watching you attempt to explain your way out this hole will be fun.”

           

          I don’t think I’m in a hole.  I also didn’t say that marriage only makes it more difficult for the man to exit the arrangement.  What I provided was an example to illustrate how something that can make it more difficult for one spouse to leave a marriage (relative to being in a life partnership), that same thing can make it easier for the other spouse to leave (again, relative to being in a life partnership).  While it’s more likely that the husband will be in the former position due to a number of factors, there certainly are women out there who’ve been hosed financially.

        10. Yet Another Guy

          @GWtF

          I had an almost drama-free divorce, and it was still difficult. What I found to be the most difficult thing to accept was the reality that my nuclear family was over.  I went living with a wife, two children, and two dogs to being in place by myself.  The silence was eerie and unsettling. I went on an online dating marathon to keep myself busy in order to avoid having to deal with it.  It was not uncommon to have four or five dates scheduled between Friday night and Sunday evening when I did not spend time with my children (teenagers have their own lives).  During the week, I immersed myself in the gym and cycling. For me, it was not the pain of having start all over financially that cut to the bone. We were good financial partners and split the assets evenly. It was the fact that the ideal around which I had planned my life, the thing for which I had fought so long and hard was history. It was the realization that “I do” no longer meant “till death do us part.” It leaves one with the question, “What do I do now?”  That is when I remembered something my father said to me when I was young about the measure of a man’s character not being about how many times he gets knocked down, but what he does after he gets back up.  At that point, one needs to get back up and move forward with one’s life because nothing is ever going to be same, and like you mentioned, one is tied to one’s ex for the remainder of one’s life via children.

        11. Shaukat

          While I will probably get slammed for posting a quote from a right-wing think tank, I believe that the data does highlight the value of marriage when it comes child poverty.

          YAG, the problem with this Heritage ‘study’ is that it puts the cart before the horse. While it’s true that children born to single parents are more likely to live in poverty, this does not illustrate that the collapse of marriage is the cause of poverty. The latter is primarily determined by monetary policy, labour market variables, economic crises/recessions, housing availability, geographical location, incarceration rates within a community, etc. The article below, written by a sociologist, who cites academic studies, demonstrates this point. Pay close attention to the graph. It clearly shows that child poverty rates have been declining while single parenthood has been on the rise since the 1990s.

          https://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-n-cohen/poverty-single-mothers-an_b_731142.html

           

        12. Yet Another Guy

          @Shaukat

          Do you know what one of my girls said when my ex and I informed our daughters that we were we planning to divorce?  Of all of the things that could come out of a teenager’s mouth, having her say, “we will be poor” is not something that one expect.  Where do you think she got that idea?  It came from watching her friends live through divorce. In most cases, children are worse off financially in a divorced home than they were when their families were in tact. That reality should be apparent to anyone with a brain.

        13. GoWiththeFlow

          Chance,

          LOL! No I’m not off point at all.  Your position is you think marriage benefits women more than men financially.  That women are financially incentivized to divorce their husbands because finances are what drive the divorce decision.  But then again you are anti-marriage, and have said you are on this pro-relationship and marriage blog to “fight back” against women.  So it’s what I would expect.

        14. Chance

          @GWTF – Respectfully, I think you are way off topic in your last two comments.  I think you are talking past me here. I’ll copy/paste my prior comment to you to reiterate my position:

           

          My belief is that the legal constraints of marriage can make it easier or harder for anyone to leave relative to life partnership depending on the circumstances…. and, often times, the same issue that makes it easier for one spouse is what makes it harder for the other…. which is unromantic IMO.

        15. Chance

          @GWTF I also never said that finances drive a decision to get divorced.

        16. Yet Another Guy

          @GWtF

          Guys who have never been married get their information from disgruntled men who somehow believe that divorce benefits women.  In reality, both partners lose in divorce. Even though women file most divorces, it does not take being a rocket scientist to see which gender suffers the most emotionally during and post-divorce. All we need to do is to compare and contrast the difference in divorce support networks. Divorce support groups for women are plentiful, not so much so for men.  Even if they initiate the process, most women go through a grieving process. A man’s idea of post-separation grieving is to go get laid (that is what I did). The ink is barely dry on their divorce decrees when many men remarry.  The same is not true for women.

          In reality, the guys who take it firmly in the backside during divorce are the guys who marry  stupidly. They are their own worst enemies. They married women where there was a large disparity in earnings power/potential. These guys bartered provisioning for looks. Due to being unattractive/plain betas, they married down in social class in order to obtain a trophy wife.  Women who engage in hypergamy are looking to better their lots in life. They are doing what primal instinct drives them to do and that is to secure a better life for their children using the means that they have at their disposal, which in this case is by trading looks for comfort.  When the marriage goes bad, these men think that they can walk away with all or at least most of the assets. The court does not see it that way.  Wealth that was built during a marriage is jointly owned by the husband and the wife and a father is by law responsible for providing for his children.  It does not matter who files. The law is the law. The moral of the story is if a man brokers money and power for looks/youth, it comes with an associated cost and there are no guarantees; therefore, a man should think with the head on his shoulders when choosing the woman he takes as his bride. Maybe a man should accept a woman who is closer in looks to his own who knows how to use the head on her shoulders for more than hat rack when choosing a wife.  Wow, what an interesting concept?  You cannot fix stupid.

        17. Nissa

          One of my favorite jokes:

          (Picture of a smiling couple with a lawyer) with a voiceover: Divorce. Because it’s worth it.

        18. Chance

          “For once, YAG, we agree.”

           

          Too bad his comment wasn’t even remotely relevant to our discussion (nor was it accurate IMO).

        19. Evan Marc Katz

          I’m not issuing points on who is winning your argument. I’m agreeing with his comment.

        20. Chance

          @Evan – Fair enough.  Did I go outside the bounds of what is allowed on the blog by linking that study in a prior comment?  I was just wondering why it was deleted.  No need to explain why you deleted it if it had nothing to do with me breaking any rules…. I just want to make sure I’m not wandering off the reservation as far as what is allowed.  Thanks.

        21. Evan Marc Katz

          I deleted nothing and don’t know what you’re talking about. Really.

        22. Chance

          Ah, damn, I must have forgotten to paste it.  Here’s the study I meant to link in my comment #6.1.2:

           

          http://web.archive.org/web/20180105063746/https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/family-finance/articles/2017-08-14/why-women-should-rethink-their-finances-after-divorce

           

          I actually like this study more than the article from the Atlantic because it’s a bit more straightforward, it links the study to the article, and it is based on American data as opposed to Britain and mainland Europe.  Of course, the problem with these studies is that they are myopic at best.  It’s true that the average’s woman’s household income goes down by a greater % post-divorce than the average man, but that’s often the result of “marrying up”.  One has to consider how much each spouse’s household income and assets were supplemented by getting married in the first place.

        23. Shaukat

          That reality should be apparent to anyone with a brain.

          I’m a child of divorce, and my mother lived in poverty for awhile after the fact, so I know the financial risks involved. My argument was one about causality, and the evidence I linked wasn’t addressed.

      2. 6.1.2
        Chance

        @GWTF“Regarding the belief that the legal constrains of marriage make it easier for a woman/mother to leave than if she was just cohabitating, a woman I work with went with her SAHM friend when she had an appointment with a divorce attorney.”

        My belief is that the legal constraints of marriage can make is easier or harder for anyone to leave relative to life partnership depending on the circumstances…. and, often times, the same issue that makes it easier for one spouse is what makes it harder for the other…. which is unromantic IMO.

        We both could, undoubtedly, cite personal anecdotes in perpetuity to support our points.  I can think of many personal instances that are certainly more harsh (from the alimony payer’s POV) than the story you presented.  However, the SAHM in your story very likely could have received no compensation for her choice to sacrifice her career in order to stay at home if she were in an unmarried cohabitation arrangement (which is exactly what the spouse who supports the SAHS within a marriage or unmarried cohabitation arrangement gets for his/her sacrifices btw).  Therefore, on some level, it was likely easier for her to leave than it would have been if she weren’t married, and of course, it’s also not all about alimony.  When someone can receive half of marital assets, but the other spouse made 90% of the income and had much higher earning power (regardless if the lower-earning spouse was working), it can be a pretty good prospect to collect half of those accumulated assets over the course of the marriage.

         

        “Evan recently posted a link to a study on how men fare better financially than women after divorce in a response to Tron on a recent blog post.”

         

        It wasn’t a link to a study.  It was a link to an article that apparently used a study as a source, but the article did not not attach the study itself.  This is important because articles commonly misrepresent the information that is contained within the study (e.g., the Time article that we discussed regarding how it portrayed men doing less, but the data actually showed that men did more).  It’s also hard to determine the relevance of the information within the article because it is 1.) vague, and 2.) based on data from the U.K. and mainland Europe where divorce laws aren’t known to be abusively draconian in the way they are in the U.S. and Canada (e.g., the concept of alimony doesn’t exist in most of Europe as I understand it).  The following article is much better because it’s based on American data, it provides a link the data, and the facts are more clearly presented in the article:

         

         

        Articles like the one I linked above have been peddled to the public for decades.  The problem with these types of articles is that they are myopic at best, and intellectually dishonest at worst.  The reason being is that they generally only consider how much household income decreases for each spouse in the event of divorce without considering how much each spouse’s household income increased by getting married or how much the household income increased due to a rise in the other spouse’s income during the course of a marriage (a la Evan).  I personally know a handful of divorced friends (both male and female) where the wife’s household income dropped by a much higher percentage, but getting married was the best financial decision she ever made, while getting married was the worst financial decision the husband ever made, due to differences in income and wealth supplementation through getting and being married.

        1. GoWiththeFlow

          Chance,

          Interesting that you write paragraphs nit picking through to who’s financial advantage it is to divorce or not, but you completely ignore the subject of whether finances are even the main motivating factor in the stay or leave decision.

          ” The problem with these types of articles is that they are myopic at best, and intellectually dishonest at worst.  The reason being is that they generally only consider how much household income decreases for each spouse in the event of divorce without considering how much each spouse’s household income increased by getting married or how much the household income increased due to a rise in the other spouse’s income during the course of a marriage (a la Evan).”

          Um so what are researchers supposed to measure?  Say a woman made $40k a year when she was single.  So after twenty years of marriage where in the last year they had a combined income of $120k, and their first year post divorce income breakdown is $55k for her and $65k for him, she somehow made off like a bandit because he “supplemented” her during the marriage and now she is in awesome shape because her income is $15k more a year than it was when she was single?  Of course the researchers are going to measure post divorce finances in relation to finances in the last part of the marriage.  That’s the financial starting point from which there is the change.

          You make the same mistaken assumption Evan says some women make about marrying a partner that makes less than you do.  If I make a $100k a year and I marry a man who makes $60k, I’m not getting screwed because he make less.  I’m gaining access to an additional $60k of resources.  And that doesn’t take into account the benefits of having the support, companionship, and love of a committed partner.  Like YAG said it’s the emotional and lifestyle (being alone vs. having the constant companionship of a family) changes that a divorce will bring that are the most daunting to consider when contemplating a divorce.

        2. Chance

          @GWTF you’re getting off topic.  My points relate to the differences between marriage and lifelong unmarried partnership.  Those differences are financial.  Also, my point stands in regards to those studies.

        3. Yet Another Guy

          @GWtF

          If I make a $100k a year and I marry a man who makes $60k, I’m not getting screwed because he makes less.  I’m gaining access to an additional $60k of resources.

          I believe that you are dealing with a mental leap that many of those who have never been married cannot make.

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