Are Men Opting Out Of Marriage?

Yet another topic about which I can say “I'm shocked!!


The trend of men opting out of marriage has been growing, with more of them deciding it isn't worth all the hassles that go along with a modern marriage. I started seeing this about 10 or 15 years ago, particularly among those men who have been married before. They had no desire to “put themselves into that position again.”

This is a phenomenon seen most among younger men (35 and younger). There are a number of reasons for this. Two of the most prominent causes: money and education.

Part of the answer is found in a Pew Research Center report released this week: A sea change in relationships is taking place as everyone adjusts to the new reality of women being better educated and in some cases more preferred than men in the workforce. Especially unsettling to some men is their role as second-best earner in the family. As the Pew report documents, 22% of men with "some college" are now outearned by their wives, up from 4% in 1970.

Personally, whether my spouse makes more or less than me hasn't been a concern. Growing up there were times when my mom made more than my dad and vice versa. None of us thought anything about it. (Maybe my parents did, but they never voiced opinions about it one way or the other to any of us that I'm aware of.) Maybe that means my folks were ahead of their time.

With the greater financial resources of today's single women, a long standing dynamic has shifted, and not necessarily for the better for such women.

Understanding this change requires dipping into the personal. "I've found a lot of Mr. Almosts, but I can't find Mr. Right," Ms. [Rachel] Downtain says. "I've been dating forever. Where is he?" When she brings men back to her very nice, four-bedroom home, they often comment about her success. A few flat-out say they're uncomfortable with her salary advantage, education advantage (master's degree), or both. The final blow comes when she tells them about all her prominent volunteer work in the Kansas City area. "I'm being honest and telling them about my life, but I feel like I'm coming across as too good for them. That is never my intention."

It may not have been her intention, but whether she realizes it or not she's sending out the wrong signal. Two commenters brought this up, too, and I have to agree with their analysis. The first one wrote:

I always find that interest in the other party is a good way to start off and maintain a relationship. Perhaps whatshername can remember this the next time she talks about herself and all her "accomplishments" on a first date. It sounds like bragging to me, which is a turnoff in either sex.

Followed by this response:

I liked the line about her being concerned the men might think she's "too good" for them. It comes off as conceited and high maintenance which isn't very attractive. Even if that first impression is wrong, not many people would want to stick around to find out.

More than a few of my younger male friends and associates have voiced the opinion that there's no way they'd get married as they see marriage as a losing proposition. Some few of them realized they could never measure up to their prospective mate's expectation of perfection and didn't want to be emotionally or verbally beat up because they failed to meet an unrealistic and unreachable standard. More than one stated too many women they've dated have the expectation that the men would have to change who they are without a reciprocal change on their part.

Their griping may be over the top, but there's a kernel of truth in it. I've seen too many relationships go down in flames because expectations or demands on one side were far out of proportion to the other, with the men being on the losing end of that imbalance far too often.

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