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The stark reality of child brides

Not all weddings have happily ever afters.

For 15 million girls and young women around the world, their wedding day is not a happy one – their childhood is ripped away and they are put at risk of rape, violence and abuse.

Their wedding marks the end of their freedom.

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This is the message behind a powerful new campaign from UNICEF, aiming to put a spotlight on the grim reality of child brides and end child marriage.

The campaign was released to coincide with International Women’s Day, a day when women, girls and gender equality are at the forefront of our minds.

In the video, made in collaboration with popular bridal blog Bridal Musings, viewers are given an insight into Lilly and John’s “storybook” wedding.

Lilly is 11 – her husband is 35.

On the blog, it says: “Lilly took the day off school so that the couple could make use of the mid-week discount at their wedding venue – not that disrupting her studies really matters as Lilly won’t be going back to school this September.

“She’ll have far more pressing matters to deal with such as keeping house and rearing children in her new role as John’s wife.”

UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake says the new global programme will help drive action to reach the girls at great risk.

“This is critical now because if current trends continue, the number of girls and women married as children will reach nearly one billion by 2030 – one billion childhoods lost, one billion futures blighted,” Lake says.

The UNFPA-UNICEF global programme to end child marriage is being supported by Canada, the European Union, Italy, Netherlands, and the UK.
Read more at http://www.adnews.com.au/campaigns/the-dark-reality-of-child-brides#0E6UBvf4ZegJ14Le.99

THE LEFTOVER WOMEN IN CHINA VIDEO REPORT

It is said that if you are a Chinese woman and over 25years & unmarried you are branded as a ‘leftover’ woman

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Henry Sapiecha

Women, please stop marrying yourselves girls…

Calling all single ladies!

Calling all single ladies!

Calling all single ladies! Are you tired of society’s stigma surrounding your relationship status? Want a way to stick it to the haters? Well, this hot new trend is for you! It’s called marrying yourself and it’s come to the fore recently, most likely because it’s seen as a feminist act. There was one in Taiwan. Then one in the UK, followed by a small number in the US.

Reading about the public ritual of self-love takes me back to my early twenties. A time when my attendance at weddings was so prolific it felt like a part time job. It seemed like every second week there was a new destination, another day to take off work, a new bridal registry to navigate. I never had a ‘plus one’ – no takers, only heartbreakers – so the pressure to ‘scrub up well’ with the hope of graduating from the ‘singles table’ at these #LifeEvents was immense. After roughly 2 years of bride and groom bonanzas I made a promise to anyone who would listen: I would marry myself.

“Oh haha! Great joke, Nat!’

My oath, it was. The destination would be a remote part of Australia – reached only via seaplane. No church, no Chuppah, just a full length mirror, one that I would maintain piercing eye-contact with while reciting my vows. The ceremony would climax with a poem that had the word ‘climax’ in it. At the reception guests would have to wear orange – the colour of self-confidence – and each give a speech on why I was the perfect person for me.
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Friends and family laughed good-naturedly at my idea – they were too polite to speak the truth: I was bitter. I felt left out of an overblown ritual I had no respect for anyway. I thought that I’d never have a functional relationship, much less a wedding, (spoiler alert – I never did. I eloped).

So rather than accept the privilege of celebrating these heart-warming ceremonies or choosing not to be defined by a single day, I instead became consumed by it. I accused brides of self-indulgence and yet here I was, full of it myself. What Lena Dunham once wrote of her college years, ‘I hate myself … I cover up this hatred with a kind of aggressive self-acceptance’, could easily have applied to my situation.

So to the women marrying themselves, (and it’s always a woman, funny about that), I want to say, ‘Sister, I know you. You think you’re making a statement about empowerment? Pulling a Carrie Bradshaw with her shoes? Don’t you remember what Audre Lorde said?

‘For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.’

I totally get how marriage has evolved from its original functions, that being the trading of one (virginal) woman in exchange for resources, the confinement of sex and the production of children. But some hallmarks of the ritual remain: the engagement ring, the father walking his daughter down the aisle, the white dress – all of it rooted in a less than classy idea of ‘woman as property’.

Of course, many of these crass traditions become diluted in the face of love. But if, as a self-professed powerful lady, you’re determined to mimic the basic tenets of this tradition, can you really lay claim to liberation? Weddings are a rite that women have been co-opted into aspiring to so that they may gain credence within society. Oh but she’s celebrating herself! Because weddings are about love! No, relationships are about love. Weddings are about symbolism of love and stage fright – and increasingly about pomp. True, we all have a relationship with ourselves. But must we borrow the worst parts of a patriarchal system to prove it?

Grace Gelder tried to find love for six years before deciding to marry herself. But if her ‘process’ – from proposal to ceremony – was truly ’empowering’ as Gelder said, why did it happen after she gave up on dating? Can’t she date and still marry herself? Even Chen Wei-yih, who married herself five years ago, conceded that societal pressure played a large factor in her decision.

Yasmin Eleby took a vow that if she hadn’t found ‘the one’ by forty she’d marry herself. In a statement on her Facebook page, she wrote, ‘Don’t be afraid to take risks’. But what role can bravery play if you’ve already given yourself a conservative cut-off age? Wouldn’t it be braver to discard the script altogether and celebrate yourself in a way that has nothing to do with being coupled or single?

As with so many questions about life, one need only look to Beyonce. The superstar has found infinite ways to celebrate herself across a range of platforms. Indeed, her most recent incarnation, the celebration of herself as a sex-positive feminist, has only added to her iconic status.

Rituals imbue our lives with meaning and reverence. But love – whether for another or oneself – is found not in grand gestures so much as old fashioned consistency. And real love, to quote the most over-used bible verse at weddings, ‘does not boast’. So if these women have to put on a show to trumpet their own esteem, may I gingerly suggest, as someone who has been there, that what these ladies are really feeling deep down is not love and self-acceptance, but something approaching its opposite.

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Henry Sapiecha

Runaway brides from Vietnam vanish after marrying men from poor area in rural China

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Chinese police are seeking more than 100 Vietnamese brides who vanished after marrying bachelors from a poor rural area, with reports saying an organised ring could be behind the disappearances.

The grooms, from Quzhou in northern Hebei province, were introduced to the women by Wu Meiyu, a Vietnamese bride who had lived in the area for 20 years, the China Daily said.

Ms Wu, who received payments of more than 100,000 yuan ($19,000) if the introductions were successful, also disappeared with the 100 women, the report added.

The state-run newspaper cited an unnamed local official saying an organised ring might be involved in the mass disappearance.

“With the advanced communication techniques of today, it’s easy for all the brides to leave at the same time,” the man told the newspaper.

Buying wives from south-east Asian countries has become increasingly common in some of China’s poor rural areas, where a gender imbalance has developed due to a traditional preference for sons and the country’s family planning policies.

Across China, 118 males are born for every 100 females, according to government statistics.

In some rural areas men can be expected to own a house, car, and have considerable wealth before they can attract a Chinese bride, a cost the China Daily said could reach 400,000 yuan.

But with many unable to do so, the trade in overseas brides, which is often linked to human trafficking, has grown in China.

AFP

Henry Sapiecha

THESE THINGS ARE MORE IMPORTANT TO WOMEN THAN GETTING A HUSBAND

“Financial independence is a great thing, but you can’t take your paycheck to bed with you.”

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Thus speaketh Suzanne Venker in a charming apologia for domestic servitude published this week entitled “Why Women Still Need Husbands”. She’s the spokesperson for a US website called “Women for Men”, a social commentator unencumbered by an objective appreciation of reality, and an avowed anti-feminist. Venker holds the kind of convenient “boys don’t make passes at smart girls in glasses” opinions that get you on Fox News in the US

She’s back on TV this week discussing the interview in a clip that’s gone viral, advocating her latest skull-smack-wood brand of advice to American women. Her central message is that if you wish to be happy – drop your career, stop fighting for equality, find a husband and become financially dependent on him, while doing all of his housework and raising his kids. For Venker and Fox, you see, there’s just no girl as happy as an indentured domestic slave girl. I am writing this article so you don’t have to rage-blister your eyeballs by reading hers: Venker’s advocacy of women eschewing careers and financial independence cites benefits like the chance to “make more time for exercise”. I suppose this is because there is no man so unhappy as one paying for a slave girl whose buns are not tight.

Certainly, Suzanne Venker is posing the right question when she asks how women “can gain more control over their lives”, but her answer to allow one’s hunted-down husband to “bring home the bacon” so he can enjoy “a sense of purpose” while you scrub the skidmarks out of his underpants, stay buff and bang him for spare change is the nonsense of Opportunistic Fox Bananaland.

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That so many women feel so disempowered and stressed by competing demands of public and private life is not, of course, an individual issue remedial with the application of one husband, but as a syndrome caused by social factors that have to be addressed collectively. Here are the four things women need far bloody more than any individual husband, boyfriend or man-bot could ever provide.

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1. Free, Accessible Childcare

Government-provided childcare enables families to make practical and shared choices around parental leave, work commitments and career development as well as socialises children among one another, provides them with early-onset educational benefits, and creates networks for the families of an entire community. Why millions of dollars are being committed to a parental leave scheme that benefits only a handful of women well when it could be directed to childcare and therefore benefit the whole community extremely well is as suspicious as it is impractical. That the heavily female-dominated childcare work industry has just been denied yet another payrise is shameful in its disregard of the benefits that quality childcare provides everyone.

2. Equal Pay

“Unlike women, a man’s identity is inextricably linked to his paycheck. That’s how most men feel a sense of purpose,” writes Venker, for whom size really does matter as she equates a desire for more and more money an “integral part of masculinity”. Perhaps it’s Venker’s persistent, dark ages belief that a penis is so “integrally” related to an income which is one of the other great causes of women’s stress – the gender pay gap which in her own home of the United States sees women, despite the law, receiving 23% less income than men for doing the same job. In Australia, it’s up to 32.3% in some industries – and widening.

3. Social Parity

While women remain underrepresented in cultural depictions, positions of leadership and in non-traditional industries, the social status of women remains less than that of men, making women vulnerable to insidious sexism, discrimination and gendered abuse. While women are portayed as objects and not subjects by culture – as “love interest” rewards for masculine heroic achievement in mainstream narratives and cum-canvasses in the overwhelming majority of porn – women are therefore treated as objects, generalized, stereotyped, and socially unconsidered. This leads not just to the stress of being invisible in the workplace, ignored for promotions, burdened with stereotyped expectations like a capacity for “multi-tasking” (aka doing more work for less money). It’s also the financial pressure of keeping up idealized physical appearances as well as fear of the ultimate gender objectification: rape and sexual assault. Suzanne Venker would do well to remember that majority of violent crimes against women are committed by the spouses she encourages us “to lean on”.

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4. Reproductive Rights

It’s a significant cause of stress for women that their right to determine whether to become mothers or not is a choice that governments around the world are progressively trying to deny them. The demands of motherhood aren’t always chosen and sometimes not shared: gender roles purported by the likes of Suzanne Venker persistently represent parenting as a female role, and therefore culturally enable too many men to eschew equal parenting responsibility without consequence. To deny the right of every child to be wanted and every mother willing by denying women their reproductive agency for ascribing “personhood” to foetuses is fomenting in legislation such as Zoes’ Law in New South Wales and the activism of renegade anti-choice MP Geoff Shaw in Victoria. With a threatened return to the coathanger era of reproduction politics, is it any wonder women are stressed?

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Henry Sapiecha

GETTING MARRIED COSTS HAVE ESCALATED, SO MAYBE THE $$$ SHOULD HAVE GONE TOWARDS A HOME..!

The price of weddings has gone up. Again. Now, a survey by a national bridal magazine shows, people will spend upwards of $54,000 on their nuptials.

money marriage image www.goodgirlsgo.com

When economics journalist Jessica Irvine wrote about her wedding while still at Fairfax Media last year, the average cost was about $35,000.

That was Only. Last. Year. The current rate of inflation is 2.2 per cent. A $19,000 increase is well in excess of that at 54.2%. And annual GDP growth sits at about 2.6 per cent – so it’s not like we’re all suddenly much better endowed and able to spend big on dowries.

So how did the average price of a wedding rise so much, so soon? Are the rich spending more and so lifting the total for everyone? Are we spending more in general? Or did the sneaky merchants of matrimony somehow figure out how to jack their prices up by half?

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Whatever the reason, it seems like a ridiculous price to pay for one big day. Especially when you consider what else you can buy for $54,000.

Like a house.

RP Data says the median price for houses in the capital cities of Australia is $490,000. Various banks suggest 5 to 20 per cent of the house price is good enough for a deposit. Is the price of a wedding really worth your own home?

And $54,000 is also about 64 per cent of the average Australian wage. Of course, if we’re talking couples, that means a larger income pool to draw on (do the bride’s parents still foot the bill?).

But even if a couple is sharing the cost, and presuming they’re each earning the average wage, a wedding could equate to 35 per cent of their combined annual income. That means one third of all the work they do in one year is devoted to a ceremony and reception that runs roughly as long as one working day. In other words, each party would need a job that paid about $3300 an hour to make the whole exercise worth a day’s work.

Chances of that? Pretty slim.

So what’s the point? Why spend so much on a wedding? And keep in mind that an average is only calculated on a sum of parts. Some people spend far more on their bridal bash than the paltry $54,000.

Yet, as someone planning a wedding, I know how easy it is to part with the cash. Even for a small, intimate gathering such as ours – although our costs may have something to do with a guestlist comprising journalists and political types and two families who know how to enjoy good champagne.

And why shouldn’t your wedding be a big celebration? Why shouldn’t you afford yourselves and your guests the pleasure of nice food and drink and fragrant, tastefully arranged centrepieces? You’re only going to do it once, right? May as well do it in a dress that fits and looks fantastic, in a place as memorable as your vows, with cake they can eat, with pleasure, till the small hours of a momentous occasion. Hang the cost and enjoy the celebration!

You won’t live to regret it. Right?

Well, I know a couple who did. They had sunk tens of thousands of dollars they didn’t really have into a wedding they didn’t really want. The debt they carried almost destroyed their relationship, not to mention the relationships they shared with the family and friends who set the standard so high. They are still paying for one day years later, in more ways than one. They’ll make it through because they love each other deeply. And they didn’t need a big wedding to prove it.

And that’s the point. A wedding isn’t a marriage. A wedding is a ceremony that officiates the union between two people. Specifically, a man and a woman in Australia’s current, narrow view. A wedding is also a great excuse for a party. But a party that costs as much as a very nice new car? Or luxury round-the-world trip? Is it wise to pour so much money into just one day?

Ultimately how much money is spent on a wedding is a decision every couple should make for itself. It’s a decision that should be balanced against their future together, not the immediate expectations of everyone around them. It’s about living within one’s means, not how one wishes one could.

We do need to put a stop to this culture that demands overspending. Far better to cultivate a community that values the bigger, deeper meaning of now and forever than the flashy, splashy blingy things that have become hitched to the sentiment.

Yet the cost keeps going up.

Have we lost the battle?

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SIGNS THAT YOUR RELATIONSHIP MAY BE IN TROUBLE, SO CHECK THEM OUT HERE

We know the big signs of relationship trouble: abuse, addictions, infidelity, deception, control, anger, etc. Many relationships don’t have these problems, but they’re still rife with other issues. They are the smaller red flags you’re not paying attention to that—when done every day—chip away the foundation of your relationship. These things happen to the best of us because we don’t think of them as that bad and we can always find a way to justify our actions. As in, I might be mean to him, but at least I don’t lie to him. He lies to me all the time. Team GEM has come up with 10 signs that your relationship might be in trouble. We don’t like to leave you wondering, so we offer our ideas on what you can do about it, too.

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1. STRANGERS GET BETTER TREATMENT THAN YOU GIVE EACH OTHER

This happens in all kinds of relationships, whether romantic or platonic. We’re nice to strangers because we only see them for a few minutes and it’s easy to be on our best behavior. It’s easy not to snap at them or nag them. But the person we see every day—who left his dirty laundry on the floor or locked her keys in the car again—doesn’t always get the best treatment because we’ve seen that person at his or her worst and, quite frankly, we’re sick of it.

What you can do about it:

Take a day to observe your own behavior. Be honest about whether you have a mean edge in your voice when you talk to your partner. If you do—don’t worry! You’re human and we all behave badly sometimes. Now that you see yourself, take another day to think before you speak to your partner. If you feel the urge to say something mean, bite your tongue (figuratively, of course). Say what you want to say without the nasty edge. Throw in a sincere compliment. Your partner may not notice or appreciate what you did, but keep doing it. Lead by example.

2. NEITHER OF YOU IS FOCUSING ON WHAT’S RIGHT

There is no way that one can be in a relationship and not have struggles or problems arise. As conflicts happen, there’s a tendency to have tunnel vision about fixing them by looking at everything that’s going wrong. You both feel like you’re doing the right thing by discussing your relationship, but you’re in the defensive mode of picking at every bad thing about it in the name of strengthening it.

What you can do about it:

Reframe your thinking about your relationship. What’s right in it? Seriously, think about the things you love, the stuff that’s going well, the last time you had a good time together. When you’re discussing your relationship, highlight the good stuff. Ask for more of it and do more of it yourself. You’ll feel better and so will your partner. It doesn’t mean that you don’t deal with pressing issues; it means that you change the conversation to one that’s empowering to the relationship.

3. YOU LIKE EACH OTHER BUT DON’T LOVE EACH OTHER

On your first date, it really was kinda cute the way your partner scraped her teeth with the fork at dinner. It wasn’t so bad the way he started every comment with, “Hey, you know what?” Now months or years have passed, and you think you’re going to lose it if you see that bad habit One.More.Time.

What you can do about it:

If love is still present, then you still have a chance to work on the “liking each other” aspect of the relationship. First of all, recognize that you yourself have habits that annoy your partner. Then, understand that there’s a good chance that your partner is not trying to annoy you! It’s impossible to hold on to the “first date façade” for months and years at a time. Let go of your annoyance and anger about small things that irritate you. It won’t be easy, but every moment you hold on to poisonous feelings is another moment that will steal your chance to be happy with the person you chose.

4. YOU DON’T MAKE TIME FOR INTIMACY

Sex is falling to the wayside or has stopped completely. You don’t hug or kiss each other. Communication doesn’t go much beyond the topics of kids, bills, and chores. You’re not connecting physically, emotionally, and mentally. This is a dangerous place to be because one or both of you is heading toward indifference—if you’re not already there. The textbook definition of indifference is a lack of interest, concern, or sympathy. It’s difficult to overcome a lack of concern for your partner

What you can do about it:

One place to start is to physically connect with your partner. For some couples, that could mean making love more often. For others, that might mean holding hands when you ordinarily wouldn’t. Human touch enhances the level of attachment we feel to others. Touch can send a powerful message of comfort, love, and security. It is a way to sympathize with people and show your care and concern. Your partner probably deserves your intimacy.

5. ONE OF YOU THINKS YOU ARE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

A self-centered attitude will drag a relationship down subtly, but quickly. It’s hard to be in a relationship with someone who insists on always having his own way, who makes unreasonable demands, or who is unwilling to compromise. It sends the message that the other person’s needs are unimportant.

What you can do about it:

If your partner is the self-centered one, there isn’t much you can do about it since you can’t change other people. But, you have unlimited power to change your response. If he wants you to pick up the dry cleaning and it’s inconvenient for you, then communicate what you can do. You could say something like, “I can pick up the dry cleaning or pick up the kids, but I can’t do both. I can do one and you can do the other. What do you prefer?”

If you are the self-centered one, you have to ask yourself what you’re really trying to achieve in your relationship if your behavior is a source of unhappiness. If you want to salvage your relationship, you have to be willing to do the hard work of self-reflection and then take action to balance your partner’s needs with your own.

6. YOU HAVE NEW INTERESTS THAT DON’T INCLUDE EACH OTHER

Healthy couples should have separate interests. It’s part of what contributes to making each of you more interesting to the other. At the same time, it’s a problem if you—or your partner—have new pursuits that take the time you used to spend together or you have some of the same hobbies, but you no longer do them together. Of course, it may not mean anything to pick up a hobby, but beware if the hobby is leading either of you to spend more time with other people.

What you can do about it:

Bring your partner into what you’re doing and ask to join in what he’s doing. If you don’t enjoy golf, you don’t need to play 18 holes. Take a quick trip to the driving range instead. He may not want to join your theater company, but invite him to a rehearsal or show. The point is to find opportunities to come together sometimes.

7. YOU DON’T MAKE THE EFFORT TO IMPRESS EACH OTHER

Remember the days when you used to impress each other? You used to plan how you were going to look, think, and act when you were together. You put a lot of thought and effort into your appearance and behavior. Maybe now you don’t even bother to throw on lipstick and you no longer feel the need to stay abreast of issues your partner cares about. Impressing your partner in word and deed shows your investment in the relationship. If you do not impress each other, you’re losing your investment.

What you can do about it:

Time to start investing in impressing. Take a look at what you can do to pique your partner’s interest. It really won’t take much effort to look like you made an effort. If your usual date attire consists of sneakers, jeans, and a T-shirt, switch to nice jeans, a colorful blouse, and heels. You haven’t changed much, but it will look like you did. If your partner likes football and you only pretended to like it to seal the deal, then wow him with a nugget of information that you can easily get from watching ESPN on TV or online. There’s no need to be phony; you don’t have to learn the rules of football. But, you can talk about a human-interest story like the death of Adrian Peterson’s son.

 8. YOU ARE TURNING AWAY FROM EACH OTHER

Very little hurts more than your partner approaching you about something—anything—and your response is to literally and/or figuratively turn away. No matter how you feel, it shows a lack of care and concern not to respond—even if that’s not the message you intended to send. If your partner is turning away from you, then you know the pain.

What you can do about it:

Sometimes the problem is that the person doing the turning away is angry and doesn’t want to say something hurtful. Sometimes you—or your partner—don’t know what to say, so you figure it’s best to walk away without saying a word. You can prevent a bigger problem by acknowledging your partner as a person in a relationship with you. It could be as simple as saying, “I don’t know what to say right now. Let me think about it.” Or allow your partner some time to process his thoughts. You could say, “I know you need to think about this, but I do need to hear from you, too. Can we talk tonight?”

By doing so, you’re acknowledging that you understand your partner’s needs as well as your own.

9. YOU’RE TALKING TO THE WRONG PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP

There’s nothing wrong with seeking advice from friends and family about certain things. The point of having people in your life is that they help you on your journeys. The caveat here is that friends and family may not be very helpful when it comes to your relationship. Even if your aunt and uncle have been married for 50 years, even if your college roommate is a licensed marriage and family therapist, your connection with them is too close to look at your relationship objectively.

What you can do about it:

Stop talking about your relationship with friends and family. One member of TEAM GEM got this piece of great advice from her mother when she was a newlywed: “If you want me to love your husband as a son, then you can’t tell me all the things he has done to hurt you. You will forgive him and move on, but I won’t be so quick to forgive because you are my daughter and I love you more.” Your relationship will be better off if you talk to your partner first, then take your problems—individually and as a couple—to a licensed therapist. Can’t afford it? See if any colleges around you offer a degree program in therapy. You may be able to use the services of supervised graduate students and the fees are usually on a very reasonable sliding scale.

10. YOU’RE NOT SURE IF YOU SHOULD STAY OR GO

You’ve talked about all your issues, you’ve fought, and you’ve cycled through good and bad times. But, you wake up in the morning and you’re thinking that maybe your relationship is over.

What you can do about it:

Whether you stay or go is a decision that only you and your partner can make with some pretty deep soul-searching. If you choose to work things out, give it your all. Bring out your best self and treat your partner respectfully. Fully engage with your partner and really listen when he speaks. Avoid fighting. Wait at least three months have passed to evaluate whether your relationship has a future.

rsAfter two decades as a television news anchor, including four years on CBS’ The Early Show, Rene decided it was time for a change. Tired of reading from a teleprompter, René was determined to find her own voice and inspire women like herself – juggling busy lives, raising children and trying to live up to impossible parenting ideals. The result is René’s missive on modern motherhood, Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting and its subsequent website www.goodenoughmother.com.

As the daughter of two, breast cancer survivors, René underwent a preventive mastectomy in 2007 and now works tirelessly to promote early detection.

Rene is a regular guest on CNN, BET, Anderson, The Bill Cunningham Show, The Today Show and The Doctors and is an in-demand speaker. She is a proud wife to Buff Parham and parent to Casey and Cole.

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THE ILLUSION OF MARRIAGE – WHY MEN NOW HAVE MORE CHOICES THAN EVER BEFORE

THE SYSTEM HAS TURNED MORE & MORE MEN AWAY FROM THE UNION OF MARRIAGE BECAUSE OF THE CHOICES AVAILABLE TO THEM NOW

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It seems that fewer and fewer people in general are getting married these days, and even fewer men seem interested. Men no longer see marriage as being as important as they did even 15 years ago. “According to Pew Research Center, the share of women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997–from 28 percent to 37%. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent.” Why?

In the course of researching my new book, Men On Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – And Why It Matters, I talked with men all over America about why they’re avoiding marriage. It turns out that the problem isn’t that men are immature, or lazy. Instead, they’re responding rationally to the incentives in today’s society. Here are some of the answers I found.

1. You’ll lose respect. A couple of generations ago, a man wasn’t considered fully adult until he was married with kids. But today, fathers are figures of fun more than figures of respect: The schlubby guy with the flowered diaper bag at the mall, or one of the endless array of buffoonish TV dads in sitcoms and commercials. In today’s culture, father never knows best. It’s no better in the news media. As communications professor James Macnamara reports, “by volume, 69 percent of mass media reporting and commentary on men was unfavorable, compared with just 12 percent favorable and 19 percent neutral or balanced.”

2. You’ll lose out on sex. Married men have more sex than single men, on average – but much less than men who are cohabiting with their partners outside of marriage, especially as time goes on. Research even suggests that married women are more likely to gain weight than women who are cohabiting without marriage. Men’s Health article mentioned one study that followed 2,737 people for six years and found that cohabiters said they were happier and more confident than married couples and singles.

3. You’ll lose friends. “Those wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine.” That’s an old song, but it’s true. When married, men’s ties with friends from school and work tend to fade. Although both men and women lose friends after marriage, it tends to affect men’s self-esteem more, perhaps because men tend to be less social in general.

4. You’ll lose space. We hear a lot about men retreating to their “man caves,” but why do they retreat? Because they’ve lost the battle for the rest of the house. The Art of Manliness blog mourns “The Decline of Male Space,” and notes that the development of suburban lifestyles, intended to bring the family together, resulted in the elimination of male spaces in the main part of the house, and the exile of men to attics, garages, basements – the least desirable part of the home. As a commenter to the post observes: “There was no sadder scene to a movie than in ‘Juno’ when married guy Jason Bateman realized that in his entire huge, house, he had only a large closet to keep all the stuff he loved in. That hit me like a punch in the face.”

5. You could lose your kids, and your money. And they may not even be your kids. Lots of men I spoke with were keenly aware of the dangers of divorce, and worried that if they were married and it went sour, the woman might take everything, including the kids. Other men were concerned that they might wind up paying child support for kids who aren’t even theirs – a very real possibility in many states. On my blog, I polled over 3200 men to ask how they would react to finding out that a child wasn’t theirs after all. 32 percent said they would feel “anger and fury at the mother,” 6 percent said they would feel “depression,” 18 percent said “anger and depression,” 2 percent said “none of the above,” 32 percent said “angry at the system that forced them to pay,” and only 2 percent “didn’t care.” One man commented that his ex-wife had taunted him with the knowledge that his 11-year old son wasn’t actually his: “I was angry at the mother…I severed all ties to the boy. Some may see this as a failing. I see it as self-preservation, and to those that ask the question of whether or not the courts will make a non-biological parent pay child support, pay attention: YES THEY WILL! They see you as nothing more than a source of cash for the child. It seems that a person in these situations should be able to sue the real father for child support.”

6. You’ll lose in court. Men often complain that the family court legal system is stacked against them, and in fact it seems to be. Women gain custody and child support the majority of the time, as pointed out in this ABC News article: “Despite the increases in men seeking and receiving alimony, advocates warn against linking the trend to equality in the courtroom. Family court judges still tend to favor women, said Ned Holstein, the founder of Fathers & Families, a group advocating family court reform. “‘Family court still gives custody overwhelmingly to mothers, child support overwhelmingly to mothers, and courts still give almony overwhelmingly to mothers and women,’ he said. ‘The family courts came into existence years ago in order to give things to mothers that mothers needed,” he said. ‘The times have changed and the courts have not.’”

7. You’ll lose your freedom. At least, if you’re charged with child support that you can’t pay, you can be put in jail – and if you can’t afford a lawyer, you don’t have the right to have one appointed because, according to the Supreme Court, it’s technically a civil matter, never mind the jail time. Fathers and Families found that it’s the men who are jailed rather than women: “A new report concludes that between 95% and 98.5% of all incarcerations in Massachusetts sentenced from the Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts from 2001 through 2011 have been men. Moreover, this percentage may be increasing, with an average of 94.5% from 2001 to 2008, and 96.2% from 2009 through 2011. It is likely that most of these incarcerations are for incomplete payment of child support. Further analysis suggests that women who fail to pay all of their child support are incarcerated only one-eighth as often as men with similar violations.”

8. Single life is better than ever. While the value of marriage to men has declined, the quality of single life has improved. Single men were once looked on with suspicion, passed over for promotion for important jobs, which usually valued “stable family men,” and often subjected to social opprobrium. It was hard to have a love life that wasn’t aimed at marriage, and premarital sex was risky and frowned upon. Now, no one looks askance at the single lifestyle, dating is easy, and employers probably prefer employees with no conflicting family responsibilities. Plus, video games, cable TV, and the Internet provide entertainment that didn’t used to be available. Is this good for society? Probably not, as falling birth rates and increasing single-motherhood demonstrate. But people respond to incentives. If you want more men to marry, it needs to be a more attractive proposition.

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