The Thinking 

The Frustrating Search for a Wife

August 14, 2009


Jeffrey W. writes:

I couldn’t help but react with some bemusement (and perplexity) to the response from the single-man in his mid-twenties you received to your letter. I am the same age as your correspondent and my experience searching for a spouse has been made difficult by the fact that very few of my peers seem to be interested in seriously pairing off at all and my efforts to get to know women with the sought after purpose of marriage is frequently met with derision (I am frequently told not to desire a wife so much). From my perspective courtship and flirtation are not so much hurried as non-existent. Egalitarian play is the essence that composes most social interactions among young adults with the result of there being a marked lack of wooing and encouragement to seek out marriage. Those among my peerage who are married usually describe themselves as having stumbled into it by accident or were overtaken by it like an impersonal force of nature.

Laura writes:

The amount of group activity that takes place among single people in their twenties amazes me. “Egalitarian play” is a great term for it. Conversation is the greatest of aphrodisiacs. It seems hard to engage in this art at its highest when one is always traveling in a herd.

This is the ultimate triumph of the Marxist project: the destruction of the foundations of love.  When people feel awkward and constantly uncertain in the civilized pursuit of romance and attachment, family – and all that is naturally anti-statist – are cut off in their delicate, embryonic state.

I’m sorry if this sounds heavy. After all, we are talking about something very commonplace: the nearly universal desire for a mate. But, I cannot help but see the demise of courtship as an event of great consequence and as a threat to our way of life. It has been destroyed by ideas. Make no mistake about that. One of those ideas is that ‘mating’ happens naturally. We are liitle different from gorillas in the bush.

A good illustration of just how far we have come is the courtship, which I wrote about here, between Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine. It is hard to imagine these two people having existed as a couple outside the form and structure of Victorian love, which was very ritualized and in its own way highly sexual. The Victorians created what Linda Lichter has called a “religion of love,” with its own sacred practices and totems, down to the ribbon-wrapped bundles of letters from a suitor that a young woman would keep in her drawer. This is not to say they worshipped love, but they knew that it was largely built from human artifice and that without this it was unsatisfying. With all our sexual libertinism, we are far more prudish than the Victorians. They truly knew how to be in love and to woo each other. Their famous “cult of domesticity” was not a cult, it was civilization in its highest form. While the Victorians were “prudish” about sex, we are prudish about masculinity and femininity themselves. We are spiritual prudes, embarrassed by the loftier possibilities of love and by the need for others.

This leaves us with the question of what does a healthy, normal young person do about this?  He holds onto his ideals and never departs from them. There are others searching for him. Ideas have consequences. To see things as they are and as they should be is not a passive thing. It influences the world and changes your life.

I should also add that there is only one word that can accurately describe the women Jeffrey meets who are indifferent to marriage even though they are in their mid-twenties: Stupid. Most of them are no doubt good girls by today’s standards. They have been convinced marriage is beneath them until they have impressed the world with their accomplishments and are making good money. What fools. Their femininity has been all but surgically removed.


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