Despite the fact that 50% or more of marriages end in divorce, men continue to suspend disbelief and think that somehow “my marriage will be different.” I can sympathize, as I was one of these poor bastards — I was married for 14 years. What follows are the reasons why men should not get married. I want to be clear that I am not opposed to monogamy. I think relationships are great. I just think that expecting your relationship to last a lifetime is unrealistic for the vast majority of people. So, if the odds are strongly against you spending the rest of your life with one person, why enter into a contract that will punish you financially should that relationship end?
Marriage is Not Necessary to Have a Committed Relationship
For some reason, people view marriage as a measure of the commitment to your loved one. As if somehow getting married will make it harder to end the relationship, or will make your loved one more faithful. From the evidence of widespread infidelity among married men and women, and the frightening divorce rates, we know this not to be true. It is just as easy for your wife to cheat on you or leave you as it is for your girlfriend.
Marriage only complicates the situation by injecting a financial component into the breakup, usually to the detriment of the man. Do you want to add losing half of your material possessions (and likely some of your future earnings) to your breakup? Then by all means, get married. Because that’s what marriage adds to your relationship — a mostly one-sided threat to the husband’s financial well-being.
Most of the Benefits of Marriage Can Be Obtained Through Other Means
But what about all of the benefits of being married — you know, all the rights that gays are currently fighting for? Almost all of these rights can be conferred through other means that don’t require you to risk half of your worldly belongings. Contracts, such as a durable power of attorney, can ensure that your loved one can be at your hospital bedside and make important medical decisions for you. Inheritance can easily be defined by a will. If you want to own property, such as house, jointly, there are contracts for that, too.
What about taxes? No, you won’t be able to file a “married filing jointly” tax return, but you’ll usually receive better tax treatment filing two separate “single” returns, anyway. The only real benefit I can think of is the ability for a spouse to be added to your employer’s health insurance (for those employers who don’t already allow domestic partners to be added). Of course, this problem stems from the U.S.’s anachronistic employer-based health care system. This problem should not be solved by marriage, but by joining the rest of the civilized world in adopting a single-payer health care system.
Children are Not a Reason to Get Married
Most people assume that if they want to have children, they should get married. Why? An unmarried, co-habitating couple can be just as stable a parental unit as a married couple. Given the fact that some married women retain their maiden names, most people will never know that co-habitating parents are not married unless they ask. Also, as the Alternatives to Marriage Project website points out, as it stands about 40% of children are currently born to unmarried mothers, and about 40% of those mothers are co-habitating with the birth father. It’s not that unusual an arrangement.
Love is No Reason to Get Married
As Tina Turner sang “What’s love got to do with it?” Can you not fully love someone without an official document from the state to prove it? Is risking your financial well-being necessary to prove your love to your future spouse? If so, perhaps you should further explore that person’s motives for wanting that piece of paper.
As I already stated, marriage is no impediment to your wife leaving you. In fact, it can provide a financial incentive — “I’ll lose him, but at least I get to keep half of his stuff and even some of his future income to start my wonderful new life!” Don’t think that your marriage will be safe as long as you’re a good husband. You can be emotionally supportive, faithful, a good provider, and she can still decide to leave you because “she’s just not happy.” No-fault divorce is just that: you don’t need to do anything wrong for her to leave you (and take your stuff).
The wonderful woman you marry today could change pretty dramatically over the following 5, 10 or 15 years. She could just grow bored with you through no fault of your own. The bottom line is that she can decide to leave you at any time, without cause, marriage be damned — and that piece of paper is no protection from her doing so.
My Own Cautionary Tale of Marriage and Divorce
As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, I was married for 14 years. I never cheated. I wasn’t abusive — either physically or emotionally. I was a good provider — I paid 90% of the bills (including the mortgage) despite us both being employed full time and having no children (by choice).
So, why did she bail on the marriage? I got depressed — a condition that I’ve battled nearly my whole life but which had recently become far worse. Full blown major depression, which lasted for months despite my seeing a shrink and trying several prescription solutions that ultimately didn’t work. She saw me as a sinking ship that was probably going to lose his job. I no longer made her “happy”. I threatened her financial security — God forbid she might have to carry me financially for a few months, or even *gasp* a year, as I had done for her for the preceding 10 years (ironically, as it turns out, I’ve done fine without any of her help and she’s fallen on hard financial times since). So, at this lowest point of my life, the woman I loved decided that it would be a good time to call it quits. The only small mercy she showed was not requesting alimony, probably because she thought I soon wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway (or that it might push me over the edge and drive me to suicide, which frankly, it might have). She still took half of my stuff, including two of our dogs and half of the equity in the house for which I had made all of the payments.
The point of my personal story is that I thought I had chosen my spouse wisely. I had one of the “good ones.” We were going to grow old and die together. Unfortunately, you never really can be sure of these things. We had lived together for 3 years before getting married. You want to know what changed when we got married? Absolutely nothing. Nothing, that is, except for her now owning half of my stuff.