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Men and Women and Marriage


Men and women often do not understand each other's views of marriage. In this article, I'll put forth a perspective of marriage you may not have heard before, and I'll tell you what I've gathered about most women's and most men's attitudes about marriage. I warn you that I will use words like "stupid" and "naive". So, if these words bother you, I suggest you stop reading right now.

One reason men and women have different attitudes about marriage is they don't know how marriage has evolved over time. Here is a link to an excellent presentation of the history of marriage. It's geared toward Mormons, but nearly everyone will get valuable information from it. I suggest that you begin reading at the section entitled, "Bring Back Common Law Marriage". To summarize the important part of the article, a thousand years ago, when a man and a woman wanted to get married, here is how they did it. The man said to the woman something like, "I take you as my wife." The woman then said to the man something like, "I take you as my husband." Then, they went off and lived together and had children. That was it. The church and the government had no part in this.

Then, hundreds of years ago, the church decided that in order for it to be able to punish unmarried people for living together, it had to know who was married. So, the church began strongly pressuring all brides and grooms to invite members of the clergy to their marriages to make records of them. As things evolved, soon the clergy were performing the marriages.

Governments didn't get involved until later. In fact it wasn't until around a hundred years or so ago that anyone in the United States had ever heard of anything called a marriage license. Marriage licenses came into existence, because governments wanted a way of controlling the terms of marriages. The rationalization went that if a government issued a license, it would then have the right to dictate the terms and conditions that would have to be met for two people to be married. In other words, as governments saw it, marriage licenses gave them the right to interfere in marriages in whatever ways they saw fit. What governments don't tell us is that we do not need a marriage license (i.e. a government's permission) to be lawfully married. The reason is that a marriage is a covenant, and almost all governments recognize the right of individuals to enter into covenants with each other. Governments that recognize the right to covenant cannot logically pass laws forbidding two people from being married according whatever covenant the couple chooses. Note that there is a difference between a lawful marriage and a legal marriage. The example of a marriage that I described as having occurred a thousand years ago is one example of a type of marriage that is lawful today. A legal marriage requires a marriage license. I suggest you read more about this in the article on the history of marriage that I provided a link to above. It is very informative.

Another thing governments don't tell us is that we can override their marriage rules simply by creating a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a way for a couple to substitute their own rules for their marriage in place of a government's rules.

Now, back to men's and women's attitudes about marriage. Most people are unaware of the extent to which churches and governments have usurped control of their own marriages. Mere wishes and attitudes are all that remain, now that, through ignorance, almost all couples have lost the control that they would have had over their own marriages in ancient times. Many of these wishes and attitudes come from the stupid things our parents tell us about marriage. These stupid things come from the stupid things their parents told them. And so on. One of the stupid things fathers used to tell their sons (and that some still do) is that a man is responsible for supporting his wife and family, because that's what "men" do. One of the stupid and self-serving things that mothers used to tell their daughters is that their husbands should treat them like princesses. Wives should never have to have a job, mow the grass, take out the garbage, open a door for themselves, etc. And there are many more examples of stupid things fathers are now telling their sons and mothers are now telling their daughters. I used out-of-date examples of stupid things, because I don't expect the average person reading this article to be interested enough in thinking for himself to to get anything out of a discussion of current examples. For those of you who are, I apologize for talking down to you.

Now, we are to the point where I can talk about men's and women's lack of understanding of each other's attitudes about marriage. Reasonably intelligent and informed men in the West don't want to get married, because they recognize that, thanks to western governments' laws about marriage, marriage is a bad deal for them. In eastern countries, it is young professional women who don't want to get married, because the laws of many eastern countries dictate that when a woman is married, all of her property is owned by her husband. Yes, there are many stupid, or perhaps just naive, western men who don't object to western marriage laws and are perfectly happy to marry their sweethearts, thinking that this will somehow make them their wives forever. You see, most men marry for love. As I said, many men are stupid. In countries where men and women can divorce for any reason at all, or for no reason at all, marriage doesn't protect men from being left by their wives. This is because there is no significant financial penalty to a woman who divorces her husband. The financial penalty is almost always to the man. With this understanding, you should not be surprised to learn that in the United States, 75% of the time it is the woman who files for divorce, nearly 100% of the time when there are children involved. Stupid and/or naive men don't understand this until they get into a divorce court, and then it's too late.

In contrast, from what I've observed of women's behavior, most women marry for money. Some of them marry several times for money. You see, women understand why marriage exists. It exists to ensure that women will be provided for while they raise their children. This is why so many marriages are dissolved after the children leave home. From the woman's perspective: no more children, no more reason to be married.

Unfortunately, many men and women marry young. They marry before they have matured to the point where they are capable of understanding each other's motivations for marriage. If you don't understand what your spouse is expecting to get from a marriage with you, there is a reasonable likelihood that you will not meet those expectations. And this, in my opinion, is one of the biggest reasons that there are so many divorces. This is why so many people get married two, three, or more times. In order to have a lasting marriage, both spouses must mature to the point where they are capable of understanding the other's motives for wanting to be in a marriage, and they must be capable of adequately assessing their own desire and ability to provide what the other person will be happy with. Notice that I said, "what the other person will be happy with", not, "what the other person expects and wants". The reason I said this is that, as people mature, they often become more capable of correctly perceiving reality. As a result, the stupid ideas their parents gave them often begin to fall away. When that happens, what they expect and want changes. And, they learn how to be happy without getting everything they want. Do I need to go into the likelihood that two twenty-three-year-olds will be able to accurately predict what their spouse will be happy with when they are 70?

I'm not a marriage counselor, nor do I play one on TV. So, I have no words of advice to give you for improving your marriage. You probably wouldn't listen, even if I did. If you're married or considering marriage, all I can say is, "Good luck. You're going to need it."



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