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January 21, 2007

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I am speaking of aggregates here. Of course I recognize that not being in a marriage is better than being in a bad marriage. And I may not have been explicit that this is really one more argument for reducing inequality and for making education more widely available. These are polcicies that I hope to see the Dems enact, but the data on marriage should provide at least some conservatives with a reason for supporting such things as higher minimum wages, fairer tax policies and more readily available health care.

I heard a prose poem spoken on a local radio station while driving the asphalt road from city to country last week; reading your paean to marriage, a marriage that works, reminded me of that seemingly savy artist whose liberated couplets momentarily froze the airwaves on that journey, though all I could find was the following linked digressive essay that covers every politician from Dickens to Bush and some orphans seeking happy homes between, there.

This is an old Times article, at least a week. Since the divorce rate in America is at 50%, half the women are single and live alone. Duh. This stuff ain't rocket science.

I wonder what in the Hell is considered "educated".
Is your maxed out Credit Card the Criteria for being called educated?
It it your Government at all levels,fighting and attacking other Nations,while Inflation is raging and bankrupting the Nation, called "educated"?
Is it the cell phone Bimbo in her SUV,abandoning her children during the Day,going to 'work' to prance around the Office?

It's obvious why fewer people are married now. YOu can cite all the 'studies' you want, but people used to get married because A: religion and social convention demanded it. B: Birth control wasn't an option, women had few employment opportunities, and society needed to bond adult men to wives and children they might otherwise abandon. C: You had to have kids to work the family farm. I'd also contend that males didn't used to be able to get sex without marriage, and women weren't safe in sexual relationship unless they were married. None of that is the case any longer, couples can engage in sex without the religious, family and legal entanglements of the marriage contract.

Nowdays, machines work the ever-fewer farms. And for many career adults, marriage is a handicap, not a benefit. Take two career corporate executives who are married. They'll never see each other. The kids must be nannied out. And what happens when one is suddenly transferred to another branch office? Corporations used to offer employees a reasonably stable workplace, but that model is long gone.

Hey, I've been married three times, (still in third) and I have no opposition to marriage. My divorces were rancor- and lawyer-free. No children from any. But even for people in a long-term, loving relationship, there is very little reason to be married these days - aside from children. And despite the usual thicket of social 'studies' I'd contend there isn't any great benefit for society either. Any study that correlates single status to antisocial behavior has a chicken & egg problem. Are people more stable because they're married, or are inherently unstable people simply less likely to get or stay married? I'd contend that people are simply no longer forced by religion, convention, or economics into this rather arcane tradition.

The idea that somehow a lack of being married means that you're a social island without connections to others is really rather simplistic. As are most newspaper stories on the subject. You can be vulnerable to, committed to, and in a loving relationship with, your partner without marriage. And that is what both men and women are choosing.

If I'm not mistaken, the criterion for being considered 'educated' is to have completed a given level of education - High School, a four-year degree, or what have you. Duh.

Inflation? Dude, where have you been?

Based on my experience with professional women, the concept of "the cell phone Bimbo in her SUV, abandoning her children during the Day, going to 'work' to prance around the Office" is a vile slander. Those who promulgate it deserve a good hard slap in the face.

I've already spent too much time on this, but I was bored.

Divorce is below 50%, and some divorced people (particularly men) remarry. A rising percentage, particualrly of women, never marry. And widowhood, as I noted, accounts for some of the women who live without spouses. I didn't say that not being married makes you an island; I said that I think that the evidence is that humans are social creatures, and that thinking of people as go-it-aloners doesn't accord with what we know of humans in general. Personally (since I am forbidden to marry) I include committed relationships whether with benefit of governmental sanction or not.

My Catholic extremist Munchausen by Proxy mom disfigured me to keep me an old maid. Plastic surgery didn't help. Anti-birth control fanatics have outsourced marital sex to starving underage girls in the Third World. The Gulf Wars have added to the male shortage, not to mention previous wars.

Funny... when I read a similar article in the Times the other day I took away a very different message. As a life-long Single Person, I've felt very much in the minority for quite a while; but after reading that article I was happy to learn that there are many people (especially women) who, like me, have discovered they PREFER to be on their own. Having a good education actually enables this lifestyle, since that provides an entré to better-paying jobs and the ability to support oneself without anyone else's help.

From what I can see, a LOT of people prefer marriage because they are too insecure to live alone -- especially men, many of whom never develop the emotional fortitude that being happily single requires. Of course people are social creatures -- but unlike the other animals, we are conscious and capable of making choices about how to live our lives; we don't have to satisfy our need to connect with other people primarily through a relationship with a mate unless we aren't creative enough to live life differently.

The article I read a couple of days ago included quotes from women in their 40s and 50s who had discovered that they're actually very happy to be living alone; it sounded like it had taken them a while to figure out how many advantages the single life has because they'd followed a traditional path and didn't have a chance to explore alternative lifestyles till later in life. Really, there are obviously pros and cons to both lifestyles. Is it necessary to point out that marriage is not the key to happiness, just because a lot of people do it? Atlas is right about changing times affecting the decision to get married; but I would go one step further and say that it's possible to live a fulfulled, socially involved life without a partner at all.

Hey Mimikatz, beauty is inside. Your head seems swell. I'm sure you are, too.

No one hit a very big point : Any American struggling along, that has amassed ANY asset, including their totally inadequate retirement fund or their mortgage-engangered equity, any asset, will see it all held ransom to their health insurance. A change in jobs, a loss of insurance, and the bills become a family wipeout. If two asseted people, each say, 40 with a child, meet and wish to become one family, there needs to be a permanent, steady insurance, or else each other's assets are endangered by each other. If they don't marry, a financial wipeout caused by uninsured medical bills cannot cross to the partner. The family, though undocumented, goes own.

How's that for social engineering?

Just one of many reasons we need national health care for everyone.
How about entrepreneurs? - same story of freedom to try. And even hire.

"Among other reasons, because marriage attaches a person to society as a whole,..."

Wot?

The article seemed to me in a way counter-intuitive, because the women with the most choices (educated) are the most likely to marry and stay married. The women (and men) with fewer choices are less likely to marry.

The reasons are largely economic, as marriage is now seen as "settling down" in a way that requires more economic resources, and, as the article said, many epople simply won't get there.

My real point was that this has implications for society as a whole, because we all live in a web of culture and social relationships, and in general (though not for everyone), being bound through this web to society as a whole is healthier and more conducive to happiness. It is also better for society. And this was my real point. To the extent the web of our culture is fraying so much under economic policies that many people feel they can't afford to marry, this is not good for any of us. None of us lives in isolation from society as a whole, and the more people that are "left out", the more unstable society is. Therefore, it behooves conservatives to rethink their opposition to economic policies that produce greater fairness and less inequality. The more atomized society is, the more vulnerable it is to authoritarian solutions, as well, so it behooves liberals to support such polcies too. More available quality education and health care, and fairer tax polixies, so the top 1% doesn't pay half the effective tax rate of the middle and lower middle class.

While the general image is that marriage connects people to society, recent research is showing that actually married people have fewer significant relationships outside of marriage than unmarried people. Even relationships with parents and siblings tend to weaken among married people, and while the end of marriage reverses this somewhat, if I'm remembering right it doesn't do so entirely.

I don't have the citations in front of me, but there's a good, fairly short, piece on this by Naomi Gerstel and Natalia Sarkisian in the sociology magazine Contexts, an issue from this fall.

I have no idea what you just said. If you're stating that married people settle down, buy houses and accumulate car payments, that seems to me to be connected to a bank, not to society. Connecting to society is a whole 'nuther thing.

During the 90s, around the time of the "welfare reform," I worked on a project that interviewed many women who were either on or just recently off public assistance. Most were "unmarried" though usually informally partnered.

About half wanted very much to be married, thinking of marriage as promising financial stability and/or social respectability.

About an equal number had no desire to get married. They thought of partnering legally with a man as something like bringing another dependent child into the house and did not believe that any financial support their family unit (consisting of themselves and children) would get would equal the burden on them that marriage would create.

Altogether, doing hundreds of interviews was fascinating. These women were drowning economically and grossly disadvanted socially, but they weren't stupid.

A couple of things that I found interesting. Glancing at the article, I don't see a comparision to marriage rates in the 1960s or 50s. I would bet the differences between now and then are more dramatic than the differences between educated and uneducated women. I have several attractive friends with good jobs in their mid-to-late 30s who have never marry. I think that would have been even more of an anamoly a few decades ago.

Also, although Maureen Dowd complained in "Are Men Necessary" that too many men "marry down", I wonder if the fact that, in reality, people marry more and more within (broadly defined) social class will make class differences even more entrenched.

Paul McCartney has always been a silly hero for me, "Paul" was my Roman Catholic confirnation name.

Looking at the McCartney-Mills marriage... why would I ever put myself in that position?! $2000 per hour, thank you very much.

The only woman I'd even begin to think about marrying would be some self-supported person who wouldn't want to take half my salary over some BS argument - I'd probably ensure that this would never-ever happen.

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