[Editor: Commenter Tom Smith suggests that the reasons behind the decline in marriage are largely a result of economic circumstances – such as debt and the recession – that leave young men without the means to start families]
Many of you seem to think the lack of marriage in the young (25-29 year old men) is due to “footloose and fancy free” young women. Let me offer the two largest reasons for the lack of marriage (though not addressed by the article):
1) The lack of living wage jobs for Americans, particularly men. For a man to have a desire to get married, he must have a financial base. He understands that there will be financial expectations placed upon him by the woman. A man’s expectations for himself in this situation means a) the purchase of an engagement ring; b)setting aside money to buy a house; and c) with an expectation that a child may be born, setting aside money to pay for the medical (and other related) expenses of the child.
In today’s U.S. society, real wages have slipped- and by this I mean the entry level workers in the post-war generation made more in today’s dollars than entry level workers do now. For people in the 25-29 generation, these are people with limited work experience, high educational debt, and particularly for men, unbelievably high unemployment. Most graduate work was funded for members of the post-war generation. This is certainly not the case today; students must incur massive ongoing debt to attend graduate school (as if the debt incurred in undergraduate school was not enough). And educational debt generally is non-dischargable debt in a bankruptcy — the only way to “beat it” is to die.
Marriage (the ring, the ceremony, and “setting up house”) costs. And without money, why should a man take the chance?
2) Men’s traditional values. While women may have “changed,” men have not. Men realize that some women are for fucking (category 1) and some are for marrying (category 2). While the best place to meet a wife may be in high school or university, no man wants to marry a woman who he has seen “passed around” through all of his schoolmates (such is a category 1 woman ). And men – and I happen to be one of them – are generally put off when a woman decides to have sex on the first date.
Women of the marrying sort (category 2) are much harder to find. While most men would like them to put out after a period of dating, if they “go to fast” the man will be equally put off (and put them into category 1).
Women in category 2 understand that a man wants to have his financial house in order before committing to marriage. This type of woman will not push the man in the marriage direction, and she will wait for the man as he gets things together before making such a serious commitment. Once married, she will be understanding if a man loses his job (a typical situation these days) and will be willing to financially support him. She will not withhold sex as a “punishment” but instead realizes that sex in a married relationship is something which is expected and freely given.
Accordingly, because most men of the 25-29 generation borrowed heavily for education (or were lay-offs from skilled trade work due to lack of seniority), they are “not ready” financially for marriage. Given the poor economy, many such men are living with their parents (albeit not willingly). They are working Mc-Jobs which barely gives them enough money to go on dates, much less move out of their parents’ home.
Such a man has such a low level of self esteem that he lacks the ability to distinguish between either category of woman. For men who are in this age group and not working, they are ashamed and disillusioned. They cannot make a living, have to depend on their parents, and all they believed in (i.e. work hard, study hard, and get a living wage job) seems to be a big lie.
Men of this age group have two choices if they want to get on their feet and marry. Option 1 is to borrow heavily (again) to start a business, and invest nearly 3 years of sweat equity to make it work. Option 2 is to organize and pressure the politicians in Washington to get the economy back on its feet so men can return to living wage employment. With regard to Option 2, no one in Washington seems to give a damn.