NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, November 28th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up next … is marriage a bad deal for men? WORLD Opinions commentator Nathanael Blake takes on that question.
NATHANAEL BLAKE, COMMENTATOR: Anti-marriage influencers claim to be looking after men’s interests, but they are directing men toward unhappy, cowardly lives. The latest example comes from X, formerly known as Twitter, where social media personality H. Pearl Davis declared that “marriage is a terrible deal for men in 2023.” To the contrary, sociologist Brad Wilcox pointed out that married men are, on average, much happier than their unmarried peers (and the same is true of women).
The rejoinder from Davis and her followers was that the problem with marriage is in the potential for failure—sure a happy marriage might be great, but a bad one may be so miserable, or a divorce so devastating, that marriage is not worth attempting. Though Davis overstates the prevalence of these ills, they are real. Men can have their hearts broken, their bank accounts drained, and their children taken from them.
The critics are right that marriage is risky. Indeed, it is more than risky; it is a surety of suffering. There are, as one G.K. Chesterton character put, no prudent marriages. The end of a good marriage is one spouse mourning at the deathbed of the other. Those whose goal in life is to avoid suffering should avoid marriage. Indeed, they should avoid love of any sort.
As C.S. Lewis put it, “to love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken….”And it is not only love that makes us vulnerable, for all good and noble ventures entail the possibility of failure. Relying on other people for anything creates risk; whether friends or business partners, they may let you down or betray your trust.
Some risks are not worth taking, but marriage is not so intrinsically foolhardy as to be among them, even in 2023. Indeed, marriage is the vocation that the great majority of men are called to. Furthermore, men can do a great deal, both before and after getting married, to increase the likelihood of matrimonial success. Yes, there will still be instances in which men, despite their best efforts, find their marriages falling apart. In such cases, real men will persevere. They will continue to live, to serve God and others, and to find sources of joy in this life. Such men still rejoice in the happy marriages of those they know, rather than turning to bitterness and trying to drag others with them.
Marriage unites the two halves of the human race to provide for its continuation, establishing the primeval human relationships of mother, father, and child. Marriage vows are a commitment to this in defiance of both fate and one’s own future fickleness. And the vulnerability of binding oneself to others is inseparable from the flourishing it enables. Love, joy, and meaning come with risks and pains.
Cowards will shrink from this, but men—who want to live as men are meant to live—will welcome the dangers and satisfactions of love and marriage.
I’m Nathanael Blake.
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