I write this as a woman happily married for 15 years. We met in graduate school and neither one of us had any real understanding of the risks legal marriage involves, so we did it. It’s wasn’t about having a wedding, either. We got married in a park with only close family and friends present and then we went for pizza. I bought my dress the day before. To us, it was about making a lifelong commitment and pledging to love one another, til death do us part.
If I knew then what I know now, I might have made a different choice.
Being legally married is like having a loaded gun in my hand. I can choose not to pull the trigger, but ultimately his life is in my hands, and that is unfair. No one should have the right to destroy another person, but legal marriage gives women exactly that power. 70% of young men in the US are unmarried, and for the 30% who went ahead and put a ring on it? Good luck. Here are 5 reasons no man should consider getting married, and one reason he might.
1. You’ll be considered her personal property
Once upon a time, getting married and settling down and having kids and taking on a mortgage was the definition of manhood. All those things made you an adult, worthy of respect and admiration. In 2015, those things make you a chump. Father knows best has been replaced with the image of fathers as bumbling, slovenly idiots who would be sleeping in a dumpster if it were not for the controlling, condescending shrew he married.
2. Your sex life will die
According to Dr. Helen Smith, who wrote Men On Strike: Why Men are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood and the American Dream, married men have more sex, on average, than single men, but the men having the most sex, and the most satisfying sex are men cohabiting, but not married to their partners. Unmarried women know that sex is part of the deal, and refusing regularly jeopardizes the whole relationship. Married women understand they can use sex as a weapon, because the costs of divorce are so high.
3. You will lose your space
In most marriages, women treat the house and all the rooms in it as theirs. You might get a mancave or a closet to keep your things in, but you can be sure whatever space you have is not going to be in the main section of the house. Gone are the offices, the dens, the rec rooms, the billiards rooms with a wetbar. Spaces designed for the comfort of men have been torn out of family homes, reflecting a new social reality in which men are not considered central to the family.
4. Divorce will financially ruin you
Getting legally married is like betting half your stuff she won’t cheat on you. No matter what she contributed, or did not contribute to the marriage, half of your stuff is hers. It works in reverse too, if she happens to be wealthier than you, but in general, men earn more money than women, so the reality is she’ll be taking your stuff. If you are not married, she has no claim on your assets, nor you on hers. That fact alone makes rejecting marriage the smartest financial move a man can make.
5. You’ll lose your family
If you have kids, she’ll be taking those, too. Women get custody of children 80% of the time, and you will be lucky to see your children a few weekends a month. You will have to pay her for the privilege of seeing your own children, too, but you have no legal right to make certain that money is being spent caring for your children. If she spends the money at the hair salon, that’s her business. If you refuse to pay her, you’ll go to jail. Oh, the children don’t even have to be yours. You can and will be made to support children she fathered with another man.
So why the hell would any man marry? It only applies to men who want children. If you do not legally marry the mother of your children, those children legally belong to her. You have no legal right to be a presumed parent to your children, and it is virtually impossible for an unmarried father to gain access to his children if the mother does not agree.
All things considered, marriage is a shit deal for men. When I got married, I had no idea I was asking my husband to take these risks. He didn’t know either. We do have children, so I’m glad we married, but it’s completely depressing to know the main function of my marriage is to keep me from being a complete monster to him by running away with his children. Obviously, I would never do that, but reality is reality. Gloria Steinem once said that “women’s total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage,” but the truth is that it is men who have the most to lose when they legally wed.
Men should think very carefully before saying “I do”. It can easily turn into an “I’m fucked.”
[Ed note: this post originally appeared at Thought Catalog and is reprinted with permission.]