Marriage Makes Men Better

I want to begin, in talking about marriage and men, with a story. It is a story about a guy named Doug. I talked to him awhile ago about his work and his family and his life in general. He said to me, “Prior to getting married, I really didn’t have a care in the world.” At that point, he was living in Ohio in his parents’ basement and working at a minimum wage job at a local factory.  After Doug got married and had some kids, his perspective changed. He said, “I had to step up and think about something besides myself and start taking care of them.” So he enrolled in the Army. He was very intentional about maximizing every opportunity that he could get to increase in rank and responsibility and also to increase the income that he could bring in for his family. Then he realized that there might be some opportunities for him in the private sector that would be even more remunerative for his family, and so he has recently joined a dealership as a finance manager. Bear in mind that this is a man who did not get a college degree, but has worked in a very deliberate way to serve his wife and his kids both practically and financially. In his words, “It is my responsibility to work hard once I took the vows of marriage.” I am just quoting him, but I could not have designed a better archetype for this topic. He really is emblematic of the ways in which marriage, even today in America, helps make men better, helps to transform men in ways that on average improve their performance and their perspective in the economic arena. It is important first to respond directly to the idea that marriage is just a piece of paper. When I was conducting interviews in New York City back in 2005-2006, I heard over and over again from a lot of young adults, “It is just a piece of paper. It doesn’t really matter.” What they did not realize is that the science is telling us a very different story about how marriage affects women and especially men. Men are transformed
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