Saturday, April 04, 2015

Ring around the dollar


There are many problems with this article, not the least of which is that it's written by a man who directs something called the National Marriage Project (a fact mentioned only in the tagline). You might as well ask an Amway distributor whether you should get into Amway. Not surprisingly, there's more than a hint of a sales pitch here.

The author employs the typical simplistic picture: You're either a desperate loser living in your mom's basement going to dive bars every night, or you're a hardworking family man (and the sooner you make the jump, the better, because 19 is a pivotal age).

Or, according to him, you are a hardworking single man who takes care of business, but that isn't enough and you should be married to make more money to raise a family that costs more money.

To hammer home the importance of such, he starts one of his concluding sentences with: "The tragedy is, for all the good news we keep learning about the benefits of marriage, the institution is in retreat ..." Yes, it is a tragedy that more people see marriage as a personal choice than they used to. "Tragedy" is absolutely the right word for that.

This guy really, really likes marriage. 

That's not all that undercuts his case. The fourth of the four points he makes to bolster his argument is against the law, which even he acknowledges (and where he also points out, without really criticizing, the double standard that exists between the sexes in this regard). Typically, a strong argument isn't 25 percent illegal.

But is he really wrong?

I do think society favors the coupled. In general, America is a country that buys in bulk. Single people pay full price to go smaller, whether it's groceries or travel expenses or many other things in between. We pencil in many zeros on our 1040s where couples can write in big numbers. Beyond the monetary aspect, there is at least a subconscious suspicion of men past a certain age who aren't settled into the family life — the implication that those people are blowing all their money and wasting their lives, and probably have underlying personal issues contributing to their singlehood. (I'm one of those guys and even I've been guilty of that; it's that hard to shake.)

And I'm not going to argue that having a family isn't a significant motivator to do your best in the workplace. It absolutely is.

But you know what else is something of a motivator? Being responsible for yourself. One of the psychological trappings of living alone is that you check everything five times before you leave, because no one else is going to turn off your oven if you forget. Finances work much the same way for singletons.

Not to mention, there's personal pride. When I work, or do anything else, I try to do the best job I can. Everyone should, regardless of their situation. In fact, maybe that should be the thesis here: That working hard and smart is something everyone should aspire to, regardless of status.

But I guess then men wouldn't feel pressure to marry for the wrong reasons, and that would be a tragedy.

1 comment:

KBliss said...

Honestly, there are lots of way single men/women can benefit from life being single!

It's true that taxes are higher and things are bought often in bulk to save. But, single people can also work more hours to make more money, because they don't have to always schedule around their kids or spouse. They can save as much money of their income for what they want, because they don't have to share it with a spouse or kids.

Many of the authors points as far as motivators probably are true, but a single person can also be motivated (like you said) to be the best they can for themselves.

Sure I've known my share of lazy single guys, but I've also known a ton of hard workers.