The Thinking 

The Marriage Rules

September 28, 2017

MARRIAGE “EXPERTS” are often frustrated by the fact that “the uneducated” just don’t get it.

Ordinary people who will never be lawyers or human resource directors, and may even only be able to finish a mere 13 years of schooling (horrors!), just don’t get the Modern Marriage Rules. Here is the path to a happy marriage and family, promoted by the marriage “experts:

— Go to an overpriced institution of “higher education” to get a degree.

— Devote years of peak fertility to career-building.

Then and only then, after secure in a well-paid and satisfying job, find a loving and devoted spouse.

— Then and only then, have a baby.

The uneducated won’t do all this. Despite enlightened instruction from marriage experts and enough cheap contraceptives to prevent human birth altogether, they move in with a “fiancé or “fiancée” and have children at a way too early age and without marriage or their eternal salvation secured by a good job. Are these people stupid, or what? How many times do we have to repeat the words, “condom” and “abortion,” “college” and “career,” before these idiots catch on? Do they actually like working at McDonalds to support their ill-timed brats? 

Well, let’s not put it that way. Let’s just say, um, “marriage has become a mark of privilege:”

Just over half of adolescents in poor and working-class homes live with both their biological parents, compared with 77 percent in middle- and upper-class homes, according to the research brief, by W. Bradford Wilcox and Wendy Wang of the Institute for Family Studies. Thirty-six percent of children born to a working-class mother are born out of wedlock, versus 13 percent of those born to middle- and upper-class mothers.

The research brief defined “working class” as adults with an adjusted family income between the 20th and 50th percentiles, with high school diplomas but not bachelor’s degrees. Poor is defined as those below the 20th percentile or without high school diplomas, and the middle and upper class as those above the 50th percentile or with college degrees.

Americans across the income spectrum still highly value marriage, sociologists have found. But while it used to be a marker of adulthood, now it is something more wait to do until the other pieces of adulthood are in place — especially financial stability. For people with less education and lower earnings, that might never happen.

The solution:

Mr. Wilcox suggests a bigger emphasis in high schools and pop culture on what’s known as the success sequence: degree, job, marriage, baby. “The idea is that if people follow that sequence, their odds of landing in poverty are much lower,” he said.

In other words, if it doesn’t work, keep doing it.

One cannot help but conclude that marriage experts don’t want to find the cure and that they don’t really believe in marriage — not in marriage as God created it. They believe in figuring out how society can get around the real rules in such a way that a minimal number of families get blown to smithereens by individualism, sexual chaos, and indebtedness. They want fewer casualties. For them, the Modern Marriage Rules are sort of like a good form of eugenics. If they were truly followed, they would weed out the lower orders of society.

Marriage think tanks will continue to have plenty of work to do and will continue to document the decline, all the time missing — or not stressing — the most essential reality of marriage: it isn’t a man-made institution, and never will be. To their credit, they do try to keep condescension from marring their  documentation of the refusal of the uneducated to comply.

Fortunately, there is some sense in the ways of the uneducated. When it comes to family, they will always refuse to become slaves to progress. Given a choice between the chaos of widely-promoted hedonism and the heartlessness of obligatory self-sterilization, they will choose the former.

[Graph source here.]

— Comments —

Stephen Ippolito writes from Australia:

Some good points made in this article – which accord with my own admittedly subjective personal observations over 30 years in practice that included, but was not limited to, family law.

I am often saddened by,  but lose little sleep over, the ways that grown adults choose to organise their own personal lives but mourn for the children of the working class who bear, out of all proportion to their numbers, the burdens of dis-function  that seem to flow from being reared in single parent families: lower rates of school retention, higher rates of promiscuity, teen pregnancy, crime and poverty, etc.

Just to pass on a purely personal anecdote your posting prompted me to recall and which you or your readers might find interesting, that involves another class difference flowing from family formation these days.

I have experience acting as a lawyer  for all social classes: the well educated and wealthy from my time at large commercial law firms and then at my own small firm representing a client base of predominately business owners; and the less well-off during the almost two years I spent at a free community legal centre and again over several stints of full-time army reserve service as unit legal officer where I was privileged to deal with large numbers of private soldiers and their families.

The full names and correct spellings of the children of all these unions – well off and the not so much – was obviously imperative for the drawing up of various documents and applications so I had reason to dig below the surface when clients would mention their children.

I learned quickly that one could tell the educational level of the parents from the name of their children.

At first blush, names such as Sam, Tosh, Sonny,  Honey, Dai , Toya, Mercedes and Chanel may seem class-neutral but they most certainly are not. These, I came to learn quickly, were children of the working class and the uneducated. Sam often wasn’t really a Sam but “Samsung”; Tosh rejoiced in the full name “Toshiba”, Sonny’s name was actually “Sony”, Honey was sometimes just that but was often a “Honda”, Dai a “Hyundai” and Toya a “Toyota”. Mercedes and Chanel were of course just that. Not always, but so often these parents used their children to honor or signal what was most important to them: their material possessions.

The educated I found to be often just as selfish and pernicious – just in a different way. The children of this class were often named in ways that their parents intended would reflect and signal their own perceived superior virtues and accomplishments.

It was almost as though, not feeling so much the need to signal their net material worth, the well-off chose to virtue-signal their supposed sophistication and superior spiritual values or wider travels or even their more cultivated tastes – through their children.

I did not meet any Apples or Moon Units in this class but I did encounter amongst my wealthier private clients and  the army officer class quite a few Karmas, Harmonies, Mystics, Epiphanies,  and Petras. I even met a Cayenne and a Chardonnay once.

Lauras and Marys and Steves and Johns and Bills are increasingly passe and on the way out. I suspect, though, that in the way of such things, the US working-class, and only that class,  will soon yield a bumper crop of Donalds, Melanias and Ivankas.

Laura writes:

Thank you.

People once named their children after saints, heroes of virtues and potential patrons throughout life. Now they name their children after celebrities, who are beautiful in body and ugly in character.  It’s like naming your children after demons.

Lawrence Auster did some excellent entries at VFR on names, including the bizarre words that blacks have invented. There’s a fixation on novelty among both blacks and whites, which comes from the Masonic cult of man and its elevation of each human being to god-like status. No one can be ordinary. So even common names must be given new, weird spellings. The worst, in my opinion, is when girls are given boyish names.

George Weinbaum writes from Houston:

FDR said, “If something happens in politics, you can be sure it was planned that way”. Milton Friedman said, “We economists don’t know much, but we do know two things: If you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want less of something, penalize it”.

I note the chart begins in about 1963. The “War on Poverty” (WOP) began in 1964. The WOP, through its various programs subsidizes the production of out of wedlock children and opposes marriage. Hmm? You don’t suppose LBJ planned this, do you?

Why get married with our current tax code? Many times your income tax goes up! Hmm.
Consider what were illegitimacy rates in 1960? What are they now? Why?

Laura writes:

Family structure has been deliberately destroyed.

What gets me is how little people of the higher classes care about the effects of family breakdown on the “working class.” They could care less about what the Sexual Revolution has done for poorer children. Feminists couldn’t give a flying fig about father-less children committing suicide or men stripped of their few assets and their children. As long as they have good jobs, what difference does it make?

Pan Dora writes:

The solution:

Mr. Wilcox suggests a bigger emphasis in high schools and pop culture on what’s known as the success sequence: degree, job, marriage, baby. “The idea is that if people follow that sequence, their odds of landing in poverty are much lower,” he said.

I don’t know how much more emphasis we can get these days. My son told me a few days ago that one of the school counselors came into his class that morning to discuss post-high school planning, with the first subject being college. What his instructor found perturbing was that this is a technical high school, one that teaches trades.

Macrina F. writes:

Melania IS the name of a saint.  St. Melania is commemorated in both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church on 31 December.

Our daughter (who is ten) was named after this holy woman. While it is frustrating when people hear her name now and think of Melania Trump, it gives us an opportunity to inform them of who St. Melania is.

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