April 5th, 2013

Marriage: when?

In the annals of embarrassing-mother moments, Susan Patton’s letter to the Princeton paper—exhorting girls (women?) at the school to look around at wonderful guys such as her son (a student there) and consider them a great pool of marriage material the likes of which they may not find again in one place at one time—ranks way up there, not the least because of the huge blogosphere brouhaha it engendered.

Susan Patton is an alum of Princeton, and her advice basically boils down to “strike while the iron is hot.” I could argue with her tone here and there, but her most basic message still rings true, and is pretty much the same one that rang in our ears when I went to college, the wisdom of which we acknowledged at the time and did our level best to actualize.

Let me just say that almost all of my friends met their husbands-to-be in yes, in college. Almost all were married young (actually, very young for some), almost all are still married to that very same person, and almost all have had children and careers and the sorts of lives that most of today’s women profess to want (some of these friends of mine are what you might even call “eminent”). I was a bit of an outlier, having met my husband-to-be the first week of grad school at twenty-one, and getting married at the ripe old age of twenty-six, which did feel oldish at the time but of course was not.

So it has taken me a while to understand that Bookworm, for example, may be correct when she describes some of today’s women as actually passing up a man they think is their “soulmate” merely because the timing isn’t right. And Megan McArdle, who is certainly closer to college age than I am, says that people do meet the right person and break up because it’s not “the right time.”

But I wonder how many people—women or men—are actually doing this.

And at least this group is for the most part still interested in getting married.

20 Responses to “Marriage: when?”

  1. artfldgr Says:

    heck.. i have been at the front of the gender wars for 30 years… since the judge told me i have no rights.

    even now, they are just discovering that the debtors prisons that put 100k dads in prison, are now scooping up single mothers, and others too…. (oops… the 1983 unconstitutional status of it being ignored to catch evil deadbeats. same was done with drugs to make seizure of your property legal. i guess the women didnt really know what equal meant… ie. it means that if you come up with some really nasty thing that you want to visit on the other, your really inventing the big nasty thing to be applied to yourself. 40 years on, its screeming feed me seymour)

    look… the young guys, like my son, are now the third or fourth generation of men who have loved their fathers and watched them destroyed.

    you can give me all the bs you want, but with one side starting 80% of the cases, and getting 90% judgements in their favor, and allowed to create debtors prisons for dads… (with people like Thomas ball setting themselves on fire on court steps, trying to immolate its bad!)

    most people have no idea, even people like you that are on the other side of this business… the stories are amazing, and not rare. i have seen and experienced it all first hand, and i can even give you a tour of the different areas.

    but i will say, the one side you wont hear is the young guys and the nice guys side… the men who want to get married, wanted families, but cant accept bad mates as good mates becasuse the VIEW told the ladies that!!!!!!!!!

    this has spawned everything from PUA culture, to MGTOW, to fathers rights, hookup culture, etc.

    but ultimately, here is the script for the most part that msot women are following. not the smarter ones, not the really independent ones, but the majority under discussion, white middle class college bound women. women who are required to agree with womens studies to get their grades and for whom, the small world they live in validates every contradictory point imaginable. (like people who dont have babies being the future… how?)

    young ladies are bombarded with messages to hate their mates. not other races, but the mates they would end up with as a majority. this has caused a race row! as each group is now marrying others to avoid their own!!!!!

    they are told we live in a rape culture, that all men are rapists, and on and on it goes. this is reflected in school, on federal posters, in their textbooks, on tv shows, in magazines, and so on.

    and all of it fits a formula too… (makes it easy for the victims to understand how they should behave to be proper victims)
    [edited for length]

  2. vanderleun Says:

    “… since the judge told me i have no rights.”

    At least we can know for sure that this was one time a judge wasn’t legislating from the bench. He was doing it because he was right.

  3. vanderleun Says:

    As to the question of timing, I would think that college and immediate post college years these days are critical to avoid is that a man just isn’t taking a soul mate as a wife, he’s also taking on from 50 to 100K in that soul mates college loans.

    Think of it as a reverse dowry.

  4. davisbr Says:

    1. Marry young.
    2. Marry for love
    3. Marry for great sex
    4. Marry often (if 2 or 3 crashes)

    …and finally, keeping in mind the covenantal nature of marriage, and its history

    5. Marry for partnership. Start with commitment. Work things out. Don’t give up. Put your family first.

    Because love and great sex will happen anyways.

    …but always be very, very, very careful with procreation. You will get burned on 1, 2, 3, and 4 if you don’t/didn’t think things through for the long term; and your punishment will spread out in waves as of a rock dropped in a still pond, hurting everyone around you, including even those you would agree were undeserving of the pain.

  5. artfldgr Says:

    if you REALLY want to know whats going on, go to the mens sites.. they are the only ones you get logical stuff on (sadly interspersed with stuff that is just nasty and in frustration).

    you will find out anonymous is going after a woman who decided to help women in stem by screwing up the lives of two men at a python computer convention

    and here is where the big problem is.

    The backlash, mostly from her own peers, has been so indignant (and personal) that you’d think she were advising all women to aspire to be nothing but stepford wives. Never mind that Patton would probably be the first to assert, correctly, that feminism is all about giving women the choice to engage in such traditional pursuits

    ie. everyone believes that feminism is about helping women and is something that feminists dont say it is!!!!!!!!!!

    and this is where everyone doesnt get it…
    and why they cant put it together.

    i can put 100 quotes from the top feminists who lead the whole movement that basically contradicts that bolded type above.

    so women are supporting something else and feminsits are collecting the largess. as they are not what women believe they are supporting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    so when you have a woman like this, who has believed that feminism is about helping women, and equality, and not about totalitarian communism AS THE LEADERS SAY…

    heck they cant even believe their own leaders as to what the leaders say!!! how delusional that is?

    it would be like trying to be a member of a satanist church as you refuse to believe they are not catholic… and then ignoring or having a personal version of it so that the dissonance doesn’t wake you.

    so when she went out, she went out wanting to help women, and she is smart, and she then realizes that if women really want the things that women want in life, she has to do X.

    but if she was well versed in all this, and didn’t live it based on the beliefs but on the actual words and stated goals (much the same with communism. its wonderful, as long as you don’t actually read what will be)
    [edited for length]

  6. artfldgr Says:

    found one article that answers a lot of what neo wonders

    Why Are So Many Professional Millennial Women Unable To Find Dateable Men?

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/larissafaw/2012/12/05/why-are-so-many-professional-millennial-women-unable-to-find-dateable-men/

    My Millennial-aged girl friends and I never doubted that we would accomplish all of our life goals. Everything, thus far, has pretty much gone according to our plans. We were accepted into the right college, landed the dream job, and developed a network of amazing friends. Our apartments are beautifully decorated and we have closets full of stylish clothing. Romance hasn’t been entirely sidelined, but we don’t waste our time trying to cultivate a relationship unless someone is really amazing

    But now, a growing number of Millennial women are beginning to fret over the unanticipated consequences of prioritizing our careers before love. And I only need to look at my group of friends to see this reality. Again and again, year after year, my successful, gorgeous, and amazing friends remain kiss-less on New Year’s Eve. And on Valentine’s Day. And on the 4th of July. The only dateable men we encounter are either attached, gay, or otherwise involved in “it’s complicated” situations. We are coming to the realization that we were unwittingly playing a game of musical chairs — while everyone was pairing up, those focused on our careers are left standing alone.

    And we can’t figure out what is happening.

    no they cant… because they listened to someone tell them what to do, ignored their families, and now, they are alone, angry, confused, and basically EXTERMINATED…

    but you cant reach them. can you?
    they have all the answers

    (bet that woman who got hit with the baseball is rethinking metrosexual)

    “I don’t think the issue is that men used to be great and now they’re not,” says Jezebel’s Katie J.M. Baker. “Women used to feel more pressure to get married and have kids earlier, and prioritize those goals above the others.” Add to that women’s ability now to be self-sufficient financially and supported socially by so many friends in the same boat, it shouldn’t be that surprising so many Millennial women are single. Except to us singletons, it isn’t supposed to be this way.

    nop… its not… its women used to be great, now they are not… and they pissed on the guys, and this is repeating itself over and over, as their men are the younger men that didnt grow up in the nicer times when you were nice to women and women wer enice to you… they grew up in bi tch es and hos time where they all know that such people arent worth being with except for the one thing (Which expires later anyway)

    now, this is not my attitude, its the attitude of the men the women now have to date..

    read the rest neo!!!!!!!!

    it answers your question as to their attitude and so on

    they think that to marry a man less than god, is to sette. which is why divorce is so high. they either want the BBD that comes by, or they make such awful mates due to believeing they settled for the guy (Add t othat the guy cant earn or succeed as the other women are doing that, and no man is good enough!!!)

    When it comes to romance, Millennial women are typically described using several broad strokes that don’t reflect nuance or contradictions. We are the hook-up generation. We are afraid of commitment. We are ball-busters or fairy-tale dreamers. Each cliché may have elements of truth, but the fuller story is a result of several influencing and interconnected factors.

    For one, it’s not as if we are holding out for Jake Gyllenhaal, but we do have certain non-negotiable expectations for potential mates that include college degrees and white-collar jobs. Life has always gone according to our plans, so why wouldn’t we land a man with these (reasonable) requirements?

    This unwillingness to settle for less than we think we deserve is joined by a lax attitude towards searching for potential mates. We’re busy dominating the world. We don’t have time to hang out at bars. While some of us explore online dating or take a more proactive approach, the majority of Millennial women have long assumed we would meet Prince Charming via friends, or through their own social circles. “Why should we waste our precious time and energy unless we meet someone we really connect with and care about?” asks Baker. “I think it’s great that Millennial women are picky and don’t feel as much pressure to be in monogamous relationships as did previous generations. I do think all Millennials, not just women, are used to the idea of being able to ‘curate’ experiences — that’s why so many people are into online dating, because you can pick and choose character traits — and that makes people wary about settling down, especially when, in a city like New York, there are so many options.”

    Unfortunately these assumptions bump up against the growing inequality between the two genders. Millennial women have taken it for granted that they will pair up with equal partners. But increasingly, there aren’t enough of these men to go around. Women now outnumber men on college campuses, and single, childless women out earn their male counterparts. In fact, as author Liza Mundy writes in her book, The Richer Sex, Millennial women are increasingly finding two options when it comes to romance: marry down or don’t marry. “There needs to be a cognitive behavior change in what are [considered] important traits,” says Mundy. “I talk to so many women who are obsessed with finding men on their level. They want someone as ambitious, engaged, and high-achieving as they are. They maybe need to rethink that to seek a partner who is supportive, rather than competitive.”

  7. vanderleun Says:

    So eager to share. Sort of like a puppy that needs an electric dog collar.

  8. Martel Says:

    “But I wonder how many people—women or men—are actually doing this.”

    A lot. I come from the darker reaches of the Manosphere, and I could point you to some sites that would leave you absolutely horrified as to the state of the young modern American female.

    They’ve been fed the “Sex in the City Myth” wherein they can satiate themselves sexually and put everything off for their job in order to postpone marraige for that mythical “someday, just not today”.

    And when that day comes, they’re not as physically attractive they wonder “where have all the good men gone?”

    As one blogger puts it, “You left them behind in your twenties.”

    It’s a mess, Neo. Take my word for it.

  9. Lizzy Says:

    Intellectual snobbery aside, her advice to “strike while you’re still hot” doesn’t seem that awful. If you look at it as a mate market place, college age and immediately after seems to be when a woman is most competitive (vs. other women ages 21+ looking to settle down).
    If a woman waits until age 30+ many potential soul mates are already married and the pool of remainders includes a higher percentage of confirmed bachelors and divorced men who have either sworn off remarriage and/or are entangled in their ex’s lives because of children. That, and these older women are competing with younger, fresher women. It may seem unfair or misogynistic, but it’s also reality.

  10. Martel Says:

    A 35 y/o male has a much better shot with a 25 y/o woman than vice versa. Like Lizzy says, “sexist” or not, it’s how it is and no amount of re-conditioning is going to change it.

    A 35 y/o female therefore has to compete with 25 y/olds who are not only more attractive, they’re usually a lot less bitter.

    This sums up the predicament rather humorously:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-gfxjAaZg0

  11. Charles Says:

    One of the issues that I take with her advice is that she says (in so many words) somehow or other college women shouldn’t marry down.

    Says who?

    She is a snob; but, being from Princeton that doesn’t surprise me at all.

    I’ve known many a happy and healthy marriage that involves “mixed” educational backgrounds. And they are, by far, better matches than those of “educational equals.”

    Yet, once again, those from the liberal world show their bias.

  12. Martel Says:

    “One of the issues that I take with her advice is that she says (in so many words) somehow or other college women shouldn’t marry down.”

    Not unlike my previous comment on the reality of age & women, this isn’t a question of good or bad; it’s reality.

    We can talk all we want about how a Princeton grad should see beneath the rough exterior of the plumber and consent to marry him if he’s a good man, she’s not going to want to. By nature, women want to use marraige (if they marry) to increase their social status.

    (Status isn’t purely a function of socioeconomics, but it’s a huge factor. If a dentist and a plumber share the same looks, humor, etc., she’ll choose the dentist every time. There are ways for the plumber to overcome this, but that’s way too complicated for here.)

    I’m no fan of the Ivy League and the condescending attitudes it fosters, but certain things just are. Women prefer men with status to men without it. That’s how it is in Jane Austen’s books, how it was in ancient Rome, and how it is today.

  13. Mr. Frank Says:

    Going through high school and college young people live in an age dense situation where they are surrounded by single people their own age. In college there may be thousands of people who are single and close to your age within a few square miles. Most young people think this is just the way things are. When they get a job they are shocked to learn that most of their colleagues are either married, older or both. They wonder why they don’t meet anybody. They are fishing in a fished out pond.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Martel: although you are correct about the antiquity of women’s attraction to men with status and power, actually, it’s even more basic than that. People are attracted to each other for a host of reasons. Men are more wired to be attracted to looks and to be somewhat less interested in the rest. Women are wired to be attracted more to personality as well as what you might call status, and for looks to be less important. It’s not that women are immune to looks, or men to personality. It’s just a question of the bottom line of attraction, which is part of why people get married.

    Intelligence can go along with status (amount of money made, profession, etc.). But it doesn’t necessarily. Intelligence is also connected to personality—for example, the types of conversations two people can have, the type of sense of humor, that sort of thing. I personally have women friends with graduate degrees who are married to blue collar guys who did not finish college—but the guy is intelligent, despite the lower status and educational level. That’s very important, I think.

  15. Martel Says:

    “They are fishing in a fished out pond.”

    This plays itself out a bit differently for the sexes. Males often find that when they first get out, their options dwindle a bit. Then, as they get a bit older, more confident and established, they creep back up.

    For women, especially those who relocate to a major urban center, initiall there’s not much of a drop in her male options. This continues until one day BAM no guys want her any more. Or those that do will seem woefull inadequate relative the guys who gave them all sorts of attention two years prior.

    However, the phenomenon you describe is essentially valid. It’s just that it can be postponed and a bit more jarring for females.

  16. Johnny Says:

    You should be careful learning the manosphere, neo. Leave your pre-conceptions of what dating is supposed to be like behind, because the manosphere tries to paint the painful truth in stark descriptive language.

    The commenters in this area of the web (of which I am one) are often men who were often rejected at the ages that women reject worthy men.

    The long and short of it all:
    Women are gifted with the greatest power in the dating game, beauty. But it is a fleeting thing and must be capitalized on when it’s available, or it’s lost forever. Men are never virgins in body, they are virgins in commitment. The greatest value of a man is in his utility towards the family unit and society at large. Women will be judged by men on how many men they shared their greatest dating-market value (their body) with. Men will be judged by women on their greatest value, i.e., how many women they have committed financial (for lack of a better term) resources to. This is just a basic truth, it cannot be cultured away.

    There are many ways a woman’s value can be violated, but the worst one is rape since it de-values her greatest dating-market asset. Women instinctively know this, which is likely the source of their own historical culture of silence over rape. There are actually many ways a mans value can be violated, and the worst one is divorce since it de-values the commitment/work he put forth towards his family and marriage and turns him into a slave. There is also (unsurprisingly) a culture of silence about how horrible divorce in the developed world has been on the men. Rape statistics are sketchy in terms of finding out just how many men are truly rapists. We have good numbers on number of rapes, but percentage of the male population who are rapists is hard to nail down. The best anyone can say is that in terms of percentages, the number of rapists in the developed world are very low. On the other hand, divorce is commonplace, and our statistics here do not lie… 41% of all first marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, and nearly 80% of all divorces in the U.S. are initiated by the women.

    So yes, there is a frightening dynamic in play. Women have taken to equality like a fish to water, and years later when they want a bicycle, all their work learning to swim has done them no good at learning to ride that bike. Worse, it has pushed them out of the dating market entirely in many cases. It has likely forced them to reject nice guys who might have stood by them while they went to school (or heck, even finished their degree by correspondence while raising a family) because they did not consider their fleeting beauty. Women have the greatest power in the dating market, and they are squandering it on the pursuit of equality.

    Women should have pushed for equity, not equality.

  17. neo-neocon Says:

    artfldgr and Martel: actually, I have looked at a lot of those websites that cater to young and resentful and angry men, and young and resentful and angry women. I know that, for the people who post on those websites, the situation IS a mess.

    But I’m not at all sure how representative that sample is, although of course it exists and it is not insignificant. But blogs are not the world. And the people I know best—which is the young people I know (and I know quite a few)—are not like that at all. Most of them are married, although they got married at a somewhat older age than my crowd, and fewer of them met their spouses in college. But I don’t see much bitterness or games-playing.

  18. RigelDog Says:

    These recent articles have really hit home for me. You see, I felt old-fashioned and a little odd for having come to this exact conclusion on my own. Especially since I have a daughter who just graduated from college, and I sometimes resemble a parent from the 18th century, fretting about finding a suitable match for her—and sooner rather than later.
    In my own life, I was stupendously stupidly stupid for passing up some wonderful guys because I had this idea that my REAL life would begin after law school, when I would live a vaguely-imagined but glamorous life, meeting guys with creds that would knock my socks off. I was considered very attractive, and eligible men came knocking on my door with the frequency of a Manhattan subway train.
    But after law school, the single men I met were, overall, a lot less appealing; there were a lot fewer prospects overall, and I had no opportunity to even form a serious relationshipd for several years. It was almost as though a faucet had turned off.
    By God’s grace, and I believe that literally, I met my husband when I was 29 and he was recently divorced. He is an amazing, fantastic man, and not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate that fact.
    I work with many women who are now middle-aged and involuntarily single. When they were in their twenties and beautiful, accomplished women, they were way too picky and way too focused on the idea that they should get their education finished and their career established before they settled down. Several of them have adopted children from foreign lands because they realized around age 40 that it was the only way they were going to be able to become parents.
    I do not want my daughter to make the same mistake, and, frankly, in this economy and with her relatively useless BA in psychology, I’d like to see her take advantage of her youth and beauty to focus on dating young men who–as dated as this sounds–have good prospects.

  19. Rachel Says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t buy this stuff…this is sounding like women should go to college for their MRS degree instead of a degree to take care of themselves if Mr Right ends up being Mr Wrong. Sorry, y’all are forgetting that 50% of marriages end up in divorce.

    To me, this is push for college marriage a step backwards. For one, you are still too young .And it reflects the part of conservatism that keeps people (esp women) from voting for them, even if they agree with them fiscally. I’m also beginning to hear this idea of women should be back in the home – excuse me? If you want to be SAHM, awesome, but a few too many articles are implying that women who work are failures somehow and that SAHM is THE WAY. This is 2013!!!

    I’ve seen way too many women of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds have to divorce, and most likely being a single parent. My mom was one – she did *exactly* what you all are suggesting, yet she divorced my dad 13 years later.

  20. neo-neocon Says:

    Rachel:

    Exactly what who is suggesting? I didn’t suggest anything–I described the article, and then described my own experience quite a few decades ago.

    In addition, that 50% statistic you cite is not relevant to this topic, because it turns out that the divorce rate has never been 50% and is actually considerably lower than that. What’s more, among college graduates, it is even lower. Take a look.

    Nor is anyone advocating for getting married while in college (although I know people who did that, too, and it worked out just fine). The article is advocating doing one’s best to meet a mate while still in college and most especially if one does happen to meet a potentially wonderful mate at that time, not rejecting him out of hand because you think it’s too early and you fear your career will suffer.

    Finally, the author of the letter, Susan Patton, appears (as best I can tell) to be a feminist and a liberal, not a conservative.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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