Home » Opinion | Less Marriage, Less Sex, Less Agreement

Opinion | Less Marriage, Less Sex, Less Agreement


I wrote a column recently lamenting the decline in marriage rates, noting that a record half of American adults are now unmarried. As a long-married romantic myself, steeped in statistics suggesting that marriage correlates with happiness, I found that sad.

My readers, not so much.

Many women readers in particular dismissed heterosexual marriage as an outdated institution that pampers men while turning women into unpaid servants.

“Marriage is generally GREAT for men,” declared a woman reader from North Carolina whose comment on the column was the single most liked, with more than 2,000 people recommending it. Wives get stuck with the caregiving, she added, and “the sex that receives the care is gonna be happier than the sex that doesn’t receive the care.”

The second most recommended reader comment came from a woman who said that when she and her women friends get together, “We all say, ‘Never again.’ Men require a lot of care. They can be such babies.”

I think these skeptics make some valid points — we men do need to up our game! — even as I remain a staunch believer in marriage for both straight and gay couples. But put aside for a moment questions about marriage. The deluge of annoyance among some women readers intrigued me because while it’s anecdotal, it aligns with considerable survey evidence of a growing political, cultural and social divide between men and women throughout the industrialized world.

A poll across 20 countries by the Glocalities research group found “a growing divide between young men and young women” in political and social outlook, while The Economist examined polling across rich countries and likewise found that young women are becoming significantly more liberal as young men are becoming somewhat more conservative.

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