Is Marriage Actually Worth It? - Brad Wilcox

Is Marriage Actually Worth It? - Brad Wilcox

Is Marriage a Bad Deal for Men & Women? (00:00:00)

  • People on the internet, such as Andrew Tate and Pearl Davis, claim that marriage is a bad deal for men and women.
  • This view is partly due to the difficulties younger adults face in finding a suitable spouse.
  • The "Midas mindset" emphasizes work, money, and personal branding over marriage and family.
  • Women on the left prioritize financial security and independence, while men on the right are encouraged to pursue individualism and career.
  • The marriage rate in the adult population has declined by about 65%.
  • Currently, just under 50% of adults are married.
  • Projections indicate that 30-50 years ago, the marriage rate was around 75%.
  • It is projected that more than one in four young adults in their 20s today will never get married.

Causes of Society’s Lack of Marriage (00:04:29)

  • Economic factors:
    • Affluence has reduced the economic dependence on marriage.
    • Decline in the economic value of certain male occupations has made them less attractive as husbands.
  • Policy factors:
    • Some policies, such as Medicaid, unintentionally penalize marriage.
  • Cultural factors:
    • Shift towards individualism has led to a focus on self rather than others, affecting marriage and family.
    • Decline in religiosity has contributed to the decline in marriage rates, as religion is a predictor of getting married, staying married, and having children.
    • "Midas mindset" driven by the rise of the internet, smartphones, and urbanization has led people to focus more on status and prospects than on commitment and family.
    • Technology, particularly social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, promotes transient and short-term values, delaying marriage and parenthood.

What Normal People Are Saying About Marriage (00:07:40)

  • Some people are not ready for marriage and want to focus on their career.
  • People in lower-income strata mention public policy penalizes marriage.
  • Women say men lack maturity and direction.
  • Men say women are too materialistic and focused on financial security.
  • Divorce rates have decreased since 1980, but remain around 40%.
  • The decrease in divorce rates aligns with decreasing marriage rates.
  • Today, those getting married are more educated, affluent, and religious.
  • Immigrants are more likely to be married than native-born Americans.
  • There has been a rise in unpartnered Americans, especially young men.
  • Dating has also declined, with a record share of young adults not getting married.
  • Fertility rates are projected to continue declining in the US.

Is Marriage a Bad Deal Financially? (00:12:07)

  • Married couples generally have better financial outcomes compared to single individuals, with married women being less likely to be poor and having more assets in retirement, while married men earn more and accumulate more assets.
  • Prenups can negatively impact marital happiness and increase the likelihood of considering divorce.
  • Certain behaviors and social factors can reduce the risk of divorce, including regular date nights, religious attendance, avoiding infidelity, surrounding oneself with stably married couples, and choosing friends who are in stable marriages and living family-friendly lives.
  • Negative examples, such as the case of former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, highlight the importance of choosing friends who positively influence one's marriage.

Does the Happiness of Marriage Outweigh the Sacrifices? (00:18:48)

  • Marriage involves sacrifices but provides meaning, purpose, and happiness, especially for married parents.
  • A good marriage is a strong predictor of overall life satisfaction, surpassing other factors like money, career success, and religious attendance.
  • Being generous towards one's spouse and living for others contribute to a sense of meaning and happiness in marriage.
  • Marriage requires risk and sacrifice but can bring meaning, direction, and happiness, even in failed marriages through relationships with children and grandchildren.
  • Certain groups, such as Asian-Americans, religious Americans, college-educated Americans, and conservative Americans, have higher odds of happy and stable marriages.
  • Marriage is strongly associated with life satisfaction, happiness, and reduced loneliness.
  • The benefits of marriage are most significant during midlife, particularly in the 40s and 50s, when challenges like raising kids, health changes, career changes, and mortality awareness arise.
  • Being married acts as a protective factor against the period of lower mood during midlife, with married men being less likely to die from drinking, drugs, or suicide.

The Mimetic Nature of Marriage (00:30:42)

  • Social media and the internet can create unrealistic expectations about marriage and motherhood.
  • Studies show that married mothers tend to be happier and more fulfilled than single and childless women.
  • Marriage positively impacts mental health, reducing depression and anxiety, and increasing overall happiness.
  • Married couples tend to experience better health outcomes compared to unmarried individuals, including reduced risk of premature death, especially for men.
  • Loneliness plays a role in the health benefits of marriage, as married individuals often have stronger social support networks.
  • Marriage provides stability and companionship, contributing to overall well-being and flourishing.
  • While some individuals thrive in singlehood, on average, married people tend to experience greater fulfillment and happiness.

The Role of Desiring Children in Marriage (00:38:48)

  • People who want children are more likely to get married in order to provide a stable and nurturing environment for their kids.
  • In countries where marriage is optional, couples often choose to marry after having their first child or before planning to have a child.
  • Children are more likely to benefit from having married parents.
  • Having a baby can be stressful for couples and may cause a temporary dip in marital quality, especially after the first child arrives.
  • However, couples usually adjust and reach a new equilibrium within six months to a year after the baby's arrival.
  • Parents today are happier than childless adults, and married parents are the happiest group of all.
  • Childless adults may have fewer social resources and connections, leading to feelings of loneliness.
  • Being involved in child-related activities and having less free time may help reduce excessive use of technology among married parents.

Being Raised by Married Parents (00:43:23)

  • Children from married homes are more likely to flourish educationally, socially, and emotionally compared to children from non-intact families.
  • Young men from non-intact families are more likely to spend time in prison or jail before the age of 30 than they are to graduate from college.
  • Young black women from intact two-parent families are more likely to graduate from college compared to young white women from one-parent families.
  • Young black men from intact two-parent families are less likely to be incarcerated compared to young white men from one-parent families.
  • Boys who grew up apart from their biological father are about twice as likely to land in prison or jail by age 30.
  • Fatherlessness is a better predictor of incarceration than race or growing up poor.
  • The majority of upper-income moms are married, while a lower percentage of middle-income and lower-income moms are married.
  • Often, the biggest privilege that children have is not how much money their parents make, but whether or not their parents are married and in a decent relationship.
  • A decent or great marriage is the best context for children.

How Political Affiliations Impact Marriage (00:46:31)

  • Marriage rates are higher among college-educated, religious, and conservative individuals.
  • Single adults under 30 face challenges in finding partners who share their ideological commitments, leading to difficulties in dating across the aisle.
  • Couples who disagree on issues related to work, family, and child-rearing face significant struggles in their relationships.
  • Despite political differences, couples can find common ground on family values and household responsibilities to ensure a harmonious relationship.
  • Progressives face challenges related to marriage and family, including a growing interest in polyamory and a decline in support for traditional marriage norms.
  • People who are left of center tend to be less happy than their centrist and right of center counterparts, and their worldview discourages them from getting married, which could improve their happiness.
  • The gap between conservatives and liberals in terms of marriage and fertility is growing, which may have long-term implications for the ideological makeup of society.

Are Soulmates a Real Thing? (00:55:19)

  • The soulmate myth, which emphasizes finding a perfect partner for love and marriage, overlooks the realistic factors involved in a successful relationship.
  • A more practical view of marriage considers aspects like finances, companionship, and children, recognizing that love involves seeking the other person's well-being.
  • Mia Khalifa's perspective that marriage lacks specialness and should end if it doesn't promote personal growth suggests a low likelihood of marital success.
  • Cultural trends and influences shape our beliefs about marriage, making it difficult to adopt traditional views.
  • Despite the perception that elites have stable marriages, they may not always practice the individualistic views they advocate.
  • Marriage traditions that promote stability, such as fidelity and joint checking accounts, are often disregarded in mainstream media and education.
  • Experimental evidence shows that couples with joint checking accounts have happier and more stable marriages compared to those with separate accounts.
  • Many marriage and family traditions emerged from social wisdom but are challenged by individualistic messages in media and online platforms.
  • Resisting individualistic thinking and norms is crucial for a flourishing marriage and a happily married partner.

The Importance of Male Income in Marriage (01:01:44)

  • Male income and the ability to provide are important factors in determining eligibility for marriage.
  • Women are more likely to be attracted to men who are successful and have a stable income.
  • Stable full-time employment is more important than the specific division of labor in predicting marital quality and stability.
  • When a woman loses her job, it does not affect the stability of the marriage.
  • When a man loses his job, the risk of divorce increases by about one-third.
  • Men's sense of identity and respect from their wives are often tied to their full-time employment.
  • Men who are not employed full-time face greater challenges in starting and sustaining successful marriages.

Brad’s Advice to His Sons (01:04:02)

  • Women are happier when they perceive their partners as physically stronger and more competent.
  • Men should prioritize physical fitness and develop a sense of purpose in both their professional and civic lives.
  • Women appreciate men who take initiative in dating and demonstrate competence in various areas.
  • Excessive screen time and video games can hinder young men's development of agency and competence, which women find attractive.

Is the Manosphere Getting Anything Right? (01:09:59)

  • Some manosphere advice is problematic.
  • The manosphere promotes a self-centered approach to masculinity.
  • Women are often talked down in the manosphere.
  • This can create needless suspicion in men.
  • People need to be discerning when choosing a spouse.
  • The manosphere paints an overly negative view of women in marriage.
  • The manosphere encourages men to be selfish, which reduces their odds of succeeding in marriage.
  • Unmarried and divorced men are more likely to be floundering and end up sad, lonely, and vulnerable to deaths of despair.

Dating & Marriage Advice for Women (01:12:14)

  • Women who want to get married should let their friends and family know they are interested in finding a partner.
  • Religious communities are more marriage-minded than non-religious communities.
  • Women can signal receptivity to potential partners by smiling, giving compliments, and showing extra attention.
  • Online dating services can be a good way to meet potential partners, but it's important to choose a service that is oriented towards marriage or serious relationships.

Overwhelmed by Endless Content?