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Thread: Why men drag their feet down the aisle

  1. #1

    Why men drag their feet down the aisle

    Since marriage has been a topic lately, I thought this might be of interest. It's from today's (6/26) edition of USA today.

    Why men drag their feet down the aisle

    By Karen S. Peterson, USA TODAY

    Young men won't commit to marriage because they are so comfortable with their current arrangement — just living with a woman — that they don't see why they should bother, a new study from Rutgers University says. A divorce could cost megabucks. And as great as it would be to have kids, the men are a bit put off by the expectation that they will share child-care burdens equally with their wives. The findings are from Rutgers' National Marriage Project, which released a report Tuesday on the top 10 reasons young men won't marry. The observations won't startle anyone who follows the travails of the unmarried young. But still, the report will probably inflame the current debate on commitment that is taking place from academic campuses to singles' bars.

    Read more below

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    Audio USA TODAY's Karen Peterson: Men and marriage



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    "A tremendous amount of young men's reluctance to commit has to do with living together," says David Popenoe, the project's co-director. "Guys can postpone marriage indefinitely, with all the benefits of having a quasi-wife." Over half of all first marriages are now preceded by living together, he says.

    Excuses, excuses

    The top ten reasons why men are reluctant to commit to marriage, according to a new report from the National Marriage Project of Rutgers University:

    1. They can get sex without marriage more easily than in times past.

    2. They can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying.

    3. They want to avoid divorce and its financial risks.

    4. They want to wait until they are older to have children.

    5. They fear that marriage will require too many changes and compromises.

    6. They are waiting for the perfect soul mate, and she hasn't yet appeared.

    7. They face few social pressures to marry.

    8. They are reluctant to marry a woman who already has children.

    9. They want to own a house before they get a wife.

    10. They want to enjoy single life as long as they can.



    Popenoe's report will be debated at the "Smart Marriages" conference to be held by the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, July 11 to 17. Several other researchers there will talk about men, commitment and marriage. Some disagree with the premise that it is men who don't want to go down the aisle.

    Popenoe's study findings come from 60 not-yet-married heterosexual men, ages 25 to 33, interviewed in a total of eight focus groups in four metropolitan areas: Chicago, Washington, D.C., Houston and northern New Jersey. He says the report does not reflect rural America, but he thinks the study generally "gives a sense of what is happening around the country."

    Popenoe says the popular belief is true: Procrastinators are typically male. "It is men more often than women who are accused of being 'commitment phobic' and dragging their feet about marriage. Our investigation of male attitudes indicates that there is evidence to support this view," the study says.

    Men fear the economic effects of divorce, Popenoe says. "They are in that stage of life where they are building their income, their economic independence. The worst thing would be if they were to lose it all."

    None of the men expressed a "burning desire" for children, saying they were not ready yet. Another factor may be at play, Popenoe says. "They know they will have to be there equally with a wife and provide hands-on child care."

    Male reluctance to marry may have an impact on women who want to get on with it and have children, Popenoe fears. Men in their 30s, when they are ready for wedding bells, tend to marry younger women. Females in their 30s then marry older men, he says, many of whom have been married, had children and are not interested in having more.

    Both young men and women are marrying later, experts agree. The median age for first marriage for men is now about 27; for women, it is 25.

    Other presenters at the Smart Marriages conference have different takes.

    One reason young men balk at marriage is "they don't yet get it," says Atlanta psychiatrist Frank Pittman, author of Grow Up! The problem is they just don't realize what is in it for them, he says. "We have not done a good job of selling marriage to men. They don't know all the good things that will change their lives.

    "Married men are healthier than single men, wealthier, they live longer and happier lives, they have more sex," Pittman says. "They have somebody who knows them, and tolerates them anyway."

    Others say don't skewer young men: It is actually young women who fear commitment.

    Women often see marriage as a better deal for men than for women, providing a man with steady sex, a caretaker for the kids, a social planner, a domestic servant, and a second — sometimes larger- paycheck.

    Young women seem increasingly discouraged about finding a lifetime mate, says University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite. And there is a creeping reluctance on their part to marry, she says. "One of the things women have done is invest more in their own careers. They have put off forming close relationships and getting married."

    She outlines her case for the benefits of marriage to both sexes in the Case for Marriage.

    Young women are more reluctant to marry than young men, says Willard Harley Jr., author of His Needs, Her Needs. "It is harder for women to fall in love and to stay in love."

    His reasons will not comfort either sex. Women simply want more in a marriage partner than men do, he says. They are fussier.

    A man just wants a wife "to look good, provide great sex, join in his recreational activities and tell him he is wonderful," says Harley, a marital therapist based in White Bear Lake, Minn.

    Women's requirements are much broader, he says. "They want affection. They want to feel loved. They want a great conversationalist, a man who is funny, a good father for their kids, someone who is attractive, a good sexual partner, a man who is ambitious and successful. And most men are simply not" all these things, he says.

    The debate over commitment is a healthy one, Waite says. Popenoe's research "may be valuable for getting the subject out there and sparking others to develop the next set of tools to measure commitment."

    All four social scientists will present their perspectives on marriage at the Smart Marriages conference.

  2. #2
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    Yeouch. Doesn't exactly paint men in the most favorable light, does it?

    I have to take these studies with a grain of salt. So much of the result has to do with the way questions were phrased, the response rate (who actually answers and sends back these questionnaires?), the demographic that was polled, etc. All of this, if not reported along with the results, makes me think that the data has been skewed somehow.
    Last edited by RebeccaT; 06-26-2002 at 12:48 PM.
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    HHMMmmm, my DH proposed after 3 months.....Guess I was lucky>????
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  4. #4
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    I think there is a lot of truth in that article, unfortunately.

  5. #5
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    Hmm. My DH and I work with college students and young adults, and I have to say that this affirms a lot of what we see -- especially the connection with living together before marriage.
    “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”
    - C. S. Lewis

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by RebeccaT
    I have to take these studies with a grain of salt. So much of the result has to do with the way questions were phrased, the response rate (who actually answers and sends back these questionnaires?), the demographic that was polled, etc. All of this, if not reported along with the results, makes me think that the data has been skewed somehow.
    I agree. 60 men in four major metropolitan cities is not a representative sample of men across the country. And where did this conclusion come from: "It is harder for women to fall in love and to stay in love." What about this one: "We have not done a good job of selling marriage to men. They don't know all the good things that will change their lives." Who is "we" and why does the idea of marriage have to be sold?

    There are too many subjective conclusions and not enough solid data in this article.
    Positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time. - Inception

  7. #7
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    Do I hear someone's grandmother saying "Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free"? Actually, my grandmother never said that, but when I first heard the expression somewhere, I was outraged (since when are women cows?)

    I wonder if it has something to do with the long education process (college, grad school), which leads to a kind of extended adolescence. I don't think alot of "kids" think of themselves as "adults" until they're 30.

    I really hope it's not because men don't want to contribute to the housekeeping/child care. If so, that's just sad.

  8. #8

    Lightbulb

    I thought immediately "why buy the cow, when you get the milk for free." Only to read the last thread, I heard that saying for many years and it is as true today.

  9. #9
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    I think this article makes some excellent points...

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Posted: July 1, 2002
    1:00 a.m. Eastern



    By Dr. Laura Schlessinger



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    © 2002 WorldNetDaily.com

    From the Klickitat Wildlife area of Washington state comes this startling fact about gray squirrels: It seems that male squirrels are eager to mate two-thirds of the year, while females get passionate for less than a day … actually, for six hours.

    This is the explanation scientists have for the dwindling gray squirrel population. This means that males must cover a lot of ground in search of mates receptive to their advances. Many of them appear to give up.

    According to a recent report from the Rutgers University National Marriage Project, human males have not given up on mating (sex), but have given up on bonding (marriage). How to explain why young men are avoiding marriage? The thousands of calls, faxes and letters I get each month from my radio audience – a cross-section of America – has given me some insight into this problem.

    It is the unusual caller or listener of any age who isn't divorced, divorcing or the product of divorce. These multiple losses and failures do not make young people of either gender feel secure and hopeful about commitment. But, why might males respond more negatively? Simple. Men know that when there is a divorce, they all-too-often lose their children.

    There isn't one day on the air that I don't take calls from men who want out of their marriages because their wives have shut off sex, love and intimacy, or have had an affair. These men are devastated. They feel completely victimized by a legal-social work system that will readily relegate them to visiting their own children some four days a month, no matter how much more competent they are as parents than the wives, whose behavior toward them or the children has destroyed the home.

    Then there are the calls from career women who have hit their late 30s and figure that they may never have children if they don't make 'em right now. Because they make good money, they just don't need a husband. I can't believe how effective the feminist movement has been with brainwashing women that money replaces husbands, fathers and marriage! I tell these women that it is cruel and self-centered to intentionally rob a child of a father, and inquire how will they raise a son to value his place in life, society and family?

    Men, largely brought up by nannies, day-care centers and baby sitters, are starting to see family life as peripheral to their main focus of success and acquisition. Many men no longer take traditional pride in supporting their families. In fact, many demand that their wives work to help them attain the life style they would like, no matter the cost to the children or the marriage.

    Then, of course, there is the liberated sexual atmosphere of today. Middle school girls are performing oral sex on boys in the classroom. High school and college girls are "hooking up," which means sex without context, without love, without promise, without commitment or obligation. The irony is that these girls and women – liberated from the so-called double standard – are not happier.

    On the contrary, they are ultimately devastated by the lack of respect and security they experience, and grow in cynicism about even attaining intimacy. Nonetheless, the men have discovered that they can get sex and companionship for nothing! Men are astonished to discover they don't even need to court a woman, tell little romantic lies about love or the future. All they have to do is show up!

    Evidently, I shock the audience when I tell women callers who are having sex or shacking up that they are foolishly behaving like unpaid whores. I say that men used to, at least, have to pay hard cash for a little action without deeper meaning, and now they are just serving it up for nothing.

    Last, but definitely not least, is the disdain I ordinarily hear from women about their men. Women have become remarkably crass about meeting the needs of men they are committed to and condescending about masculinity, in general. I take calls everyday from women who belittle their husbands' feelings and resent their perfectly reasonable requests for love and attention.

    Put all of this together and it is easy to see why young men are not interested in committing themselves to a woman. Like the gray squirrels, it's hard to find a female who's really interested in love.

  10. #10
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    Re: Why men drag their feet down the aisle

    Originally posted by SusanT

    3. They want to avoid divorce and its financial risks.

    4. They want to wait until they are older to have children.

    6. They are waiting for the perfect soul mate, and she hasn't yet appeared.

    9. They want to own a house before they get a wife.
    Well, good for them! I'd be happy to find someone who's put off marriage for those reasons.


    Originally posted by SusanT
    All four social scientists will present their perspectives on marriage at the Smart Marriages conference.
    Interesting that these scientists will all be speaking at a pro-marriage conference. You can only wonder how much that may have influenced their research ...
    --Mary Kate--

    "In all our woods there is not a tree so hard to kill as the buckeye. The deepest girdling does not deaden it, and even after it is cut down and worked up into the side of a cabin it will send out young branches, denoting to all the world that Buckeyes are not easily conquered, and could with difficulty be destroyed." - Daniel Drake, 1833

  11. #11
    I certainly hope all men aren't as shallow as these guys. I do think the marriage therapist Haney quoted in the article does vastly overgeneralize and mis-state the needs of the genders in relationships. Men and women both want partners who love, respect and appreciate them. I really don't think that our needs are as vastly different as this Haney guy would have you believe.

  12. #12
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    You have to take Dr. Laura's article with a grain of salt. Her listeners do not represent a cross section of America- they represent people with problems!! The way she writes, you get the impression that most men just want to use women and don't want to make a commitment. Personally, in my whole circle of acquaintances, I do not know one man with this attitude. I'm sure some men feel that way, but it is a small minority.
    Positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time. - Inception

  13. #13
    You know, now that I think of it, I don't know any men like this either...

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