Are men marriage material?
That’s the question that has been on many minds the past couple of days, as different reports from across the Web have pointed out some noteworthy trends when it comes to women, men and marriage.
Let’s start with Naomi Cahn and June Carbone’s Slate article, which called for working-class white women to stay single mothers.
Cahn and Carbone tell the story of a Lily character who broke up with her male partner Carl because she had the ability to support herself when Carl wasn’t working and he was mooching off her.
“A generation ago her decision would have seemed narrow, misguided, and difficult to understand. But now we have to conclude that it makes a lot of sense,” Slate wrote. “Although it defies logic, socioeconomic, cultural, and economic changes have brought white working-class women like Lily to the point where going it alone can be the wiser choice. And the final irony: The same changes that have made marriages more equitable and successful among elite couples have made it less likely that marriage will look attractive to Lily.”
The authors also say marriage might not be as strong when wealthy and stable men find love.
“The women ready for marriage in this group have grown larger than the group of marriageable men who would be good partners,” the Slate article said. “These men — the ones with better jobs and more stable lives — have become more reluctant, in turn, to settle for only one woman.”
Ross Douthat of The New York Times took some umbrage with the article noting that working-class fathers or people like Lily’s main man Carl, aren’t getting help when it comes to economic policy. Sometimes, Douthat wrote, American men’s “marriageability” isn’t always helped by policy.
“What Lily pretty clearly needs from Carl — and what Carl’s children, female and (especially) male, need from Carl — is a man who won’t quit his job every time he fights with his boss, a man who won’t sit on the couch playing video games when his family needs him to be out looking for another job. But what liberalism sometimes wants to give to the Carls of the American working class are policies that either raise wages with one hand while making it much harder to find a job with the other, or else policies that cushion them against a bad economy while also giving them yet more reasons not to swim against the economic tide.”
So what can men and women do to find a successful marriage? Joy Pullmann of The Federalist wrote that women can have a positive influence on men through "encouragement and attraction," increasing their commitment to pursuits that will sustain a family, and vice versa.
“That may be the entire point of marriage—it’s not a proclamation of two people’s individual perfection, but a path towards mutual improvement. That’s a path we can all take,” Pullmann wrote.
But women might want to be careful with how they respond to some men. Time magazine reported Friday that women tend more to believe what they hear about a man’s reputation. If someone says something negative or positive about a man, a woman will take that as fact, wrote Charlotte Alter for Time.
“So what does that mean for guys who get mixed reviews on apps like Lulu that rate men?” asked Alter. “It means they should clean up their act, because one negative comment could be enough to turn dates away.”