What makes intelligent, well educated and independent men and women still want to get married in today’s world?
With so much against the institution of marriage, is marriage just another “bad” habit that we need to break; like smoking or eating too much red meat? What is marriage anyway?
Marriage, as most people, especially in western countries regard it, is seen as the “prize” at the end of a relationship between a man and woman (although this too has changed in recent times). Although many marriages have a religious component and are regarded as being “sacred”, many modern couples are opting for civil marriages instead.
However, it seems that marriage has become more about planning the wedding that few people really want to attend, wearing pointless dresses that cost a fortune and will inevitably never be seen or heard of again, taking staged and awkward photos of “the lovely couple” and their families, spending 5 times a man’s monthly salary on buying wedding rings, or changing ones Facebook status in the midst of numerous envious well wishers, than actually about being married to the same person for the rest of your life.
It seems that no matter how much bad publicity marriage actually gets; it is still on top of the list for many people.
Yet, what is it about being married that makes guys want to do it, even though getting married in today’s world has become a risky business? Statistically almost 50% of marriages end in divorce, so out of every two couples who get married today, one of them is guaranteed to get divorced; a gambling man would not take those odds.
Add to this the fact that men usually have to part with 50% (or more) of their money and assets during a divorce, and it’s not unreasonable to ask, why would men want to get married at all?
Then there’s the stories that appear in the media on a regular basis that are certainly not doing marriage any favors; stories about women throwing gaudy divorce parties to celebrate the end of their marriages, gold-diggers looking to snag rich husbands, or even women condoning extra marital affairs to keep the love alive in their marriage, are putting men off getting married even more.
However, good or bad, guys are still popping “the big question” all the time, so the (even bigger) question is: Why get married, and who benefits the most from marriage?
Why Do People Get Married in the Modern World?
To quote The Beatles, “Love, love, love, all you need is love….”
The number 1 reason why couples get hitched today is love. Yet, although love is a great motivator for getting married, if statistics are anything to go by, that love only lasts half of the time.
Yes, most people get married expecting it to last forever, but realistically speaking, there’s only a 50% chance that it will, so obviously love is not good enough. So what other reasons are there for getting married?
What’s in it for the Modern Woman? Is Marriage Now a Good Thing For Women and Bad Thing For Men?
The modern woman is a far cry from her ancestors. She is independent, confident, self reliant and perfectly capable of doing everything a man can do and of taking care of herself. So why does she get married? Yes, love of course, but she gets a lot more out of it than that.
For example, although the modern woman is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, can have her own job (and even a high-powered career), owns her own home, and if she chooses can even have a child without ever laying eyes on the child’s father, marriage is still a lucrative deal. For most women being taken care of and feeling protected by a real man is a very appealing prospect.
Yes there are feminists everywhere who say men are no longer needed in what is been called “a woman’s world,” but in truth the average woman just wants to get a husband; it’s just that most of them don’t like to get caught out saying it.
As Judith Woods from The Telegraph put it, “When I heard the news that these days modern women crave a wealthy breadwinner rather than a high-flying career, I had to pause and think about it. For a nanosecond! Of course we do! Since when did the bleedin’ obvious qualify as news?”²
So what’s in it for women; well let’s see…
- When a woman gets married she has the choice of either pursuing her own career, or giving up her job to stay at home and paint, write her great novel, do what she always dreamed of, have babies, or all of the above.
- When a woman gets married she has the security of knowing that no matter what happens during the course of that marriage, there’s a guy who is going to take care of her and their children (if they have any).
- When a woman gets married she fulfills a social need not to be “left on the shelf” and have to endure the humiliation of being referred to as a “spinster” or an “old maid”, while all her friends around her get married.
Today’s woman can object to marriage as much as she wants to, but the truth is it’s a sweet deal, because even if that marriage fails, divorce can prove to be even sweeter.
Do Women Gain Even More if They Choose Divorce?
According to statistics, almost 70% of divorces are initiated by women. Why? Is it because men are so terrible that the poor woman cannot bear to take it any longer, or is it because today’s woman has become more selfish and self-serving and isn’t prepared to “put in the effort” like her ancestors would have.
As Dr. Tara J. Palmatier states on her blog Shrink4Men, “In my opinion, the primary reason women initiate divorces in 70% of divorces cases is because most women stand to gain far more than they have to lose if they choose to divorce.”
“Sorry, sweetie. I’m bored and you don’t meet my insatiable needs for attention and I’m not in love with you, in fact, I don’t know if I ever was in love with you, so it’s over. Except for supporting me with the money you work hard to earn. I still want access to that…and your retirement.
What do you mean it’s ironic that I complained about how much time you spent at work while we were married to support our family because I refused to work, but still expect you to support me after the divorce with money from your job that I complained about incessantly?
I sacrificed my career for you. True, I never wanted to work, but I would have had a career if you didn’t marry me. Get it?”³
Does this sound a little far fetched? Then think about what happened to all the guys in the news you’ve heard of who had a little too much “love dust” in their eyes and forgot to get a prenuptial contract before saying “I do”.
- Back in May 2014, Dimitry Yevgenyevich Rybolovlev, a Russian businessman, investor, philanthropist and the owner of AS Monaco FC, found himself being ordered by a Swiss court to pay $4.5 billion dollars (his net worth being $8.8 billion) to his now ex-wife. Why? Because he failed to have a prenuptial contract.⁴
- Sir Paul McCartney is still licking his wounds after his gold-digging wife of less than four years, Heather Mills, walked away with £24.3 million of his hard earned money.⁵
- Billionaire oil tycoon Harold Hamm hasn’t settled his “bill” yet with his soon-to-be-ex-wife, but because he never signed a prenuptial contract he stands to lose $3 billion.⁶
And the list goes on and on.
But it gets even more outrageous… Not only is the modern woman initiating divorce at the drop of a hat and walking away with 50% of her husband’s assets, women are now taking things a step further; they are throwing parties to celebrate the end of their marriage!
Women Having Divorce Parties. Acceptable?
It’s fair to say that when a marriage has reached the point where both the husband and wife are no longer going in the same direction or want the same things, then it should be perfectly okay to pack it in, wish each other good luck and go your separate ways.
The point of marriage should be that both parties are bringing out the best in each other, when this stops happening, making a new start without each other can be a good thing. However, regardless of how amicable the divorce is, is it acceptable to celebrate it as vigorously as you did the marriage?
Well apparently for Jo Wallace, a 31-year-old from Hove, East Sussex, it is a brilliant idea. Jo, who already spent £30,000 on her dream wedding only 3 years earlier, decided to invite her 10 closest friends to a “celebratory end-of-marriage bash.”
As Jo put it, “Most people who get divorced often just mope around their homes for months, but I decided to celebrate what is for me a new beginning.”⁷ Great for Jo who wants to make a fresh start, but this kind of behavior puts men off marriage even more.
Quite a far cry from the way things used to be back in the 1900’s wouldn’t you say?
Marriage in the 1900’s vs. Today
Obviously marriage has changed a lot over time.
In the ancient world for example, marriage served primarily as a means of preserving power, with kings, noblemen and rulers marrying off their eligible daughters to prevent wars, to forge alliances, acquire land, and produce legitimate heirs to carry on the lineage.
Even in the lower classes, women had little say over who they could marry and it was not uncommon for a father to marry his daughter off to be released from the “burden” of feeding another mouth. In most cases women were married off for the sole purpose of producing a legitimate heir.⁸
In more recent times, men needed to get married to have a companion who could not only cook, clean and look after them, but also to have someone who could provide them with permanent sexual favors.
Seeing as sex before marriage in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was not condoned at all, marriage was a great way for a man to fulfill his needs, and get an heir to carry on his family name at the same time.
Women too, looked forward to getting married because for them marriage meant security. They knew that they would be looked after and at the same time were fulfilling their social obligations.⁹
We all know that marriage was necessary in the past, but all those old reasons are no longer relevant to the modern man and woman. Today, men can take care of themselves, they can hire a maid to cook and clean for them and they can pick up a woman anywhere, anytime for a one night stand and no-one will blink twice about it.
Women have even more advantages. Gone are the days of being forced to get married to benefit her family or to secure her future. Old marriage traditions that governed a woman’s ability to get married, such as being a virgin on her wedding night, having a dowry or asking her parent’s permission to get married have all become redundant in the modern world.
Prudish ideas about premarital sex, especially for women, are a thing of the past and today’s woman is not only independent she also lives with the same sexual freedom that men enjoyed in the past.
For example: More and more women enjoy one night stands, choose to live with their man before deciding to get married (if they ever do), and some women even believe in having “open” marriages.
Hooray for women’s rights but are they not taking things a little too far?
Can Cheating Keep the Marriage Fires Burning?
According to Sydney-based author Holly Hill, cheating is a good thing. She believes that “‘negotiated infidelity’ is a great way to preserve a happy and healthy home life rather than destroy it, especially when you take into consideration different partners’ sex drives.”
According to Holly, “If you only ever drink Grange Hermitage and don’t go near plonk, you don’t fully appreciate how good the Grange is. It’s the same with your partner. The quickie with the woman from the pub is never going to be as good as what he has with you.”¹⁰
Very open minded of Holly (and her man), but opinions like this, only end up confusing people and making it seem okay to mess with relationships.
This sort of opinion doesn’t give men confidence in terms of commitment from modern women. Even though only one woman is giving her opinion (which we at The Modern Man disagree with), guys who lack experience with women will often mistake this for the “norm” and be afraid to commit to a woman.
If this is the state of marriage, why are we even bothering? If a woman wants to have sex with other guys and visa versa why go to all the trouble (and expense) of getting married to her?
So What’s in it for the Modern Man?
We hear this from guys all the time, “I don’t want to get married because I’ve seen my parents, aunts, uncles and friends get divorced and the man ends up getting screwed every time.”
Is this really the truth, and even though guys are getting so many mixed signals from women, why are so many of them still falling over themselves to “pop the question”? Yes, marriage to the modern woman has its setbacks, but ultimately what’s in it for the modern man?
The good news is it’s not all bad.
Here are 4 reasons why the modern man can benefit from marriage:
- According to a Virginia Commonwealth University study, it seems that married men earn 22% more than their equally experienced but single colleagues.
- A UCLA study found that married men have an 88% chance of living longer than their single counterparts.
- In 2006, British researchers reviewed the sexual habits of men in 38 countries and found that in every country, married men are the ones who are having more sex.
- A study conducted by the U.S. Navy found that married men receive higher performance ratings and get promoted faster than their single counterparts.¹¹
Marriage in the Modern World: Is it Still Worth it?
Ultimately, nobody needs to get married anymore, and nobody needs to stay married. Yet, at some point in their lives, approximately 50% of men and women will commit themselves to one person for what they hope will be for a lifetime.
Even though most people know that the odds are stacked against them and the chances of making it work are slim, they do it anyway, and the question must be asked: Why do we still get married?
Maybe it’s because you love each other. Maybe it’s because you want to have kids. Maybe it’s because she wants to and you don’t have a good excuse to get out of it. Maybe it’s because your parents want you to. Maybe it’s because everyone else seems to be doing it.
¹ Haviland, W. A., Prins, H. E. L., McBride, B., Walrath, D. (2011). Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge (13th ed.). Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0-495-81178-7.
² Woods, J. (2011, January, 05). Do women really want to marry for money? The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/8239530/Do-women-really-want-to-marry-for-money.html
³ Palmatier, T, Dr. (2011, September, 28). Marriage and Divorce: A Rigged Game for Men, But Also Ultimately Bad for Women and Children. Shrink4Men. Retrieved from http://www.shrink4men.com/2011/09/28/marriage-and-divorce-a-rigged-game-for-men-but-also-ultimately-bad-for-women-and-children/
⁴ Dmitry Rybolovlev. Wikipedia. Retrived from
⁵ Mills awarded £24.3m settlement. (2008, March, 17). BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/17_03_08_mills_mccartney.pdf
⁶ Reuters Reporter. (2013, June, 14). Oil tycoon could lose BILLIONS to wife of 25 years in divorce settlement as there was no prenup. Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2341792/Oil-tycoon-lose-BILLIONS-wife-divorce-settlement-prenup.html
⁷ Arthurs, D. (2009, June, 5). Ex wife celebrates end of marriage with bawdy divorce party’ – and guess what? The bride wore white (so did her friends). Mail Online. Retrieved from
⁸ How marriage has changed over centuries. (2012, June, 1). The Week. Retrieved from http://theweek.com/article/index/228541/how-marriage-has-changed-over-centuries
⁹ Pop Culture World. History of Marriage in America: 1800s and Early 1900s. Hub Pages. Retrieved from http://popcultureworld.hubpages.com/hub/History-of-Marriage-in-America-1800s-and-Early-1900s
¹⁰ Field, M. (2011. November, 27). Can cheating keep the love alive? National Features. Retrieved from
¹¹ Maltby, A. The Benefits of Being Married. MH Lists. Retrieved from http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/benefits_of_marriage_and_commitment/index.php?cm_mmc=MSN-_-Health-_-Can-love-be-unhealthy-_-benefits-of-marriage