Marriage: What's Love Got To Do With It?
I have seen several reports over the past few months that say that fewer Americans are getting married. In fact, married people are now the minority. The prospects are even worse for Black women, with all the problems with finding "suitable" Black men. Furthermore, Americans who do decide to marry are generally waiting longer. But few of the reports dare to mention the real reason behind the decline.
Fewer marriages are no surprise. It basically comes down to economics. Few news outlets look at the relationship between marriage and money. What is marriage really??? Marriage is basically an arrangement or contract of economic convenience….and it’s been that way for Centuries. This was especially the case up until the 1950’s and 60’s, when fewer women worked (right before the Nuclear Family began to fade). Women were more dependent on men for financial security at that time.
Today, women are able to (& are encouraged to) make their own money. As a consequence, dating and marriage options for men are getting tougher, especially over the past 10-20 years. Women have generally had more options in terms of being more picky about who they choose. But in the last decade or so, with the cost of living increasing, women are once again seeking financial security. So now we have a situation where women still have options, but when they do settle on a mate, it is usually after a longer and more scrutinizing process. Why? Because women are looking for men who have reached a certain level financially. Women can now afford to be more picky on the question of money, and they are taking full advantage of the opportunity.
Now, what do women primarily look for in a mate? Good careers, & success (financial prowess)- these are the primary benchmarks, despite anything else you hear. It basically comes down to money. Women seek men who can provide “Security”, and for many women, “Security”= financial security. Women judge men & determine who they want to date based on a guys financial worth. Everything else is secondary to this pre-condition. A mans success with women is ultimately tied to his career or how well he is doing financially. Generally, the more money he has, the more successful he will be with dating. The less money he has, the worse off he will be in terms of opportunities with women. A "well-off" man is often the ideal. Look at all of the TV shows that reinforce this norm. Most women will say "financially stable", but this is just code for a very steady & "comfortable" income.
Women are checking a mans ability to provide a home & steady income for her and the children. The Bread Winner role, has been the role of men since the beginning of time. But in today’s economy it is becoming harder and harder for men to play this role. In fact, I think it’s harder now than ever.
Studies show it time and time again. About half of marriages end in divorce. And the #1 reason for most of these divorces????? You guessed it. MONEY. When men hit hard times....get laid off, fired, etc, usually the next thing to go is the wife and family. That's why so many men go postal when they lose their jobs or source of income. They know that the loss of their job and income will probably lead to the loss of their wives and children (not in all cases of course...but it many cases, this is often the eventual result). So I can understand why these men snap. I don't condone it.... but I understand it. Men today are under enormous social and economic strain to prove that they are "worthy". In decades and Centuries past, if a man owned a little land, if he could farm, if he could hunt and live off of the land, or if he had some sort of manufacturing or industrial job.... that was considered enough. He was considered worthy and viable as a date, boyfriend, husband, etc. Today, this is no longer good enough. So in many ways, we are under more strain than our forefathers, despite the Civil War, WWII, the Depression, Social Injustice (civil rights era), Vietnam, etc.
In the last several years, it has become harder for men to find meaningful employment (emphasis on the word meaningful). This is leading to a situation where 90% of available women are competing for the same 10-20% of available men…. (the men who happen to be the top wage earners in this country). Women are less willing to “settle” for the other 80-90% of men. That’s right, women who don’t get the Attorney or CEO hunk, or the Entertainer type, consider the hardworking guy who earns $25,000 or $30,000 busting his ass at some bull---- (Republican economy) service job, as something that they “settle” for. This is what is leading to fewer marriages. Women are waiting longer and longer…. Hoping to get something more than the $25,000 per year loser. It’s becoming a common situation to find 30 something and 40 something women who are single, waiting to run across a high wage earner (that means at least $50,000-$60,000 per year).
So what is a guy to do? On one hand there is this economy where it is harder to get a good paying job, with the job security and benefits that people need. In fact, employers are decreasing the amount of benefits that they offer and are looking at more ways to cut their payrolls (I work for one of these dreadful companies). Yet on the other hand, there is this Oprah, Bachelor & Bachelorette TV show, Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire female culture that tells women that they should marry into wealth. In fact, women are taught this from the time that they are old enough to play with dolls…. It comes from their mothers, from society in general, where it is reinforced by what they see on Television. Now i'm not blaming women.... I say go for it. I'm just pointing out that for men, it is becoming harder to meet these requirements.
Sure, jobs are plentiful, but as I have suggested, that’s misleading. Jobs are not good enough anymore…. What men need today are careers, not jobs. Jobs are plentiful, but careers are harder to obtain. There is a big difference between “jobs” and “careers”. If you’re lucky you can find a job that pays $25,000-$30,000 per year ($13-$15 per hour) with decent benefits. If you’re lucky. But this amount of income is not enough to provide for a family. Soon, there will be no meaningful benefits provided at all, as companies cut back. A man is hard pressed to find a woman, marry and raise a family on that kind of income. It’s hard to even date and meet someone when you are in that Socio-economic class.
Careers on the other hand, pay considerably more and usually require AT LEAST a Bachelors Degree and more often require a graduate education….or some special skill learned through Trade school. But competition for “career” employment is becoming more fierce. There are more people coming out of college and more people being laid-off & re-entering the job market than there are good jobs or careers opening up to absorb them. This leaves more good workers in the workforce each year and thus increases competion. Bush keeps touting his employment figures, but they don’t tell the American people what kind of jobs are counted in those figures. Seasonal work, Part-time work, Temp Agency work, certain internships, and low paying service jobs are all included in those figures. In fact, low wage jobs and Temporary Agency jobs make up the majority of the monthly jobs figures that are put out by the Department of Labor. With good paying manufacturing jobs being outsourced overseas or eliminated due to global competition, and with slow growth in other industries in this country, good paying work is harder to come by.
In other words, the pool of “viable” men is limited. “Viable” meaning men with incomes (at least) at or near $50,000 per year. Women have a narrow definition of what “viable” means to them. But it is this economic reality that is creating this social condition. Some call these women Gold Diggers… There is some truth to that. Who can really blame women these days? Hell, if I had the opportunity to marry money, I probably would. Not saying that this is the moral or virtuous thing to do. I would personally want to have a genuine relationship above all else. But economics dictate a lot of these relationships. Women will act based on what will benefit them & their children financially in the long run. Others might say that this is a casualty of modern capitalism, with the fierce global competition that is sucking jobs out of the U.S. Both are probably correct. All of it is related and connected.
But I see this problem continuing to get worse. I don’t see the prospects for College graduates improving….unless they go into a field such as Medicine, or the legal profession, or obtain a rare special skill that will be in demand (I should have gone into Computers....by the time I realized this, it was too late for me to change college majors. But my dumb ass wanted to go into the Social Sciences to save the world....That decision- I am convinced- has led to my single status and financial struggles.).
I am one of those Americans who busts their asses for the lower yearly incomes mentioned above. Let’s just say that women are not exactly knocking down my door for dates, lol. My life experience has proven a lot of this to be true. If I do meet someone and marry, I will be well into my 40’s or 50’s when my financial status has improved (when my stock rises so to speak). I have yet to reach the level of “viability” that is required.