The State of Our Marital Unions
BreakPoint with Charles Colson
July 24, 2002
Tina wants to get married, but her boyfriend Ted just wants to move in. Ted is an exceptionally honest young man, so here is what he says: “Tina, I’m fond of you, and I want to live with you for the following reasons. First, it will make it easier for me to enjoy regular sex. Second, I want to protect my assets—assets I’d have to share with you if we got a divorce. Third, you already have kids, and I don’t want to support them. Fourth, I’m waiting for my perfect soul mate to come along. Until I meet her, I’d like to live with you.”
Sound convincing? Probably not. Tim’s arguments are incredibly insulting. And yet, according to a new study, these are exactly the reasons men want to live with women—reasons that not only insult women, but also make them big losers on the domestic front.
At Rutgers University, researchers with the National Marriage Project have published a report called “Why Men Won’t Commit: Exploring Young Men’s Attitudes about Sex, Dating, and Marriage.” The study offers the top ten reasons men are reluctant to say, “I do.” Among them: They can get all the sex they want without marriage. They want to enjoy the single life as long as possible. They want to avoid the financial pitfalls of divorce. And they’re afraid marriage will demand too many changes and compromises. Apparently, their live-in girlfriends can get used to their bad habits or leave.
Most galling of all is the admission by men that they don’t want to marry their girlfriends because they’re waiting for their “true love” to come along. Then they’ll tie the knot, buy a home, and father kids. Meanwhile, their live-ins can pick up their socks and provide sex-on-demand.
Grandma was right: Men won’t buy the cow if they can get the milk free.
Grandma was echoing the wisdom of the biblical writers. Read the Old Testament, and you’ll get a picture of how carefully the ancient Israelites protected unmarried women: They knew how predatory, how utterly selfish, men can be. Taking on the responsibilities of a wife and children involved hard work that would last a lifetime. And men were only motivated to shoulder those responsibilities because their culture demanded it.
Modern women have far more freedom of movement than their sisters in the ancient world. But human nature is still fallen. This means that men are as predatory as ever—and women today are paying the price for it in a culture that doesn’t demand marriage.
I hope this report serves as a wake-up call to women who think men who want to cohabit have marriage on their minds. Most of them do not. Pastors ought to make this report a subject of a sermon. And if they know couples in their congregations are living together, they ought to encourage them to either marry—or separate.
men are as predatory as ever—and women today are paying the price for it in a culture that doesn’t demand marriage.
I hope you’ll read the full Rutgers report. If enough women read it, maybe the day would come when men who invite women to live with them would get what they deserve: a slap in the face for that kind of insult.
For more information:
Armand M. Nicholi, Jr., The Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life (Free Press, 2002).
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe, Why Men Won’t Commit: Exploring Young Men’s Attitudes about Sex, Dating, and Marriage, The State of Our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America, The National Marriage Project, 2002.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 020523, Looking for Love (in All the Virtual Places): Hyperdating.
Wilberforce Forum Fellow Dr. J. Budziszewski has written two columns—“Who’s on First?” and “The Moves”—that, in the form of a conversation with one of his students, provide sage advice on how singles should approach dating.
William J. Bennett, The Broken Hearth: Reversing the Moral Collapse of the American Family (Waterbrook Press, 2001).
Prison Fellowship Ministries © 2002
Chuck Colson, “For Better or Worse…Mostly Worse: The State of Our Marital Unions,” BreakPoint, 2002.