Before Christmas I was catching up on some TV and was struck by a comment a female character on the show Hawaii Five-O said. Danno was driving with his female partner. She was a fairly new character, and so they didn’t know each other well. He was fiddling with his ring finger as he drove. She said something along the lines of “So, how long.” He didn’t understand the question, so she explained “You were rubbing where your wedding ring used to be. All divorced men do that when they are thinking about their marriage. So, how long has it been.” The conversation went on briefly, and her comment towards the end floored me. “Men just don’t seem to understand that marriages end.” This seems like such a simple comment, but it really does define where our culture is right now. She said it with an attitude that seemed to say that men are the stupid ones in this. That comment demonstrates two points in our culture right now. One, that women don’t view marriage as a life long commitment. Two, that men are foolish for seeing it as one. The second point I write with both sarcasm and sincerity. We are foolish for believing it is forever, because the majority of marriages don’t last forever. The problem is, it is supposed to be, and a man who enters into marriage generally has weighed the losses of getting married, and judged that the value of this life long commitment is worth the cost. Most would not make the same judgement when viewing it as a long term relationship stage with a ceremony for the express purpose of feeding the ego of the bride at a tremendous cost to the couple or their parents. Because the costs of divorce rarely are apparent to the women, they don’t view marriage as something more than a long term deal to have some kids without dishonor, and maybe enjoy the fruits of a mans labor for as long as they can, even after the marriage is over. I make no claim that women don’t pay a cost. Its an extreme cost, and one that the shallow view of marriage and divorce does not make apparent to them without spending some time looking around them. Most divorced women suffer financially over time, because the same short sighted view of marriage invades other parts of their life, and they tend not to plan for the future financially. The men who they left have fewer resources most of the time, yet they start to worry immediately about the next month, year, 5 years, and so on. They may flounder initially, but start to flourish again. They then have learned to live on a budget that is stunted by child support and maintenance, and when those payments are complete, they are able to turn that money directly towards investments and savings. They may be starting late, but are able to invest at a higher rate late in life to make up for it. The women on the other hand will have to deal with the fact that the money they used to rely on is gone, and if they fail to reduce their lifestyle they go bankrupt. The short sighted view of the women who view marriage this way also fails to account for the fact that these men are fathers to their children, and they will be in their life whether they like it or not. Most men in unloving marriages make the decision along the way that it is better to find a working relationship inside marriage than to divorce because of this. They take a long view.
We are at a crossroads. As time goes on marriage is unlikely to survive. Men don’t seek temporary long term relationships the way women have designed them. They will opt out of marriage, rather than deal with women who won’t honor their promises. Men don’t want a marriage that has been stripped of its meaning. Unless marriage can be turned back into something that people choose to end only in the most dire circumstances, then marriage will have shot its final shot in the west. I fear that this will be the end of the western world as well.