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Why Marriage Minded Women Outnumber Marriage Minded Men

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Why Marriage Minded Women Outnumber Marriage Minded Men

I’m hard pressed to find anyone who will disagree that there is a gap between the number of marriage minded women in the US and the number of marriage minded men. But that gap is widening, and widening at an accelerating rate. Here’s why.

In a study conducted by University of Virginia and Harvard University called, “Intimate Inequalities: Love and Work in a Post-Industrial Landscape,” the leading co-investigators, Harvard sociologist Jennifer Silva and Sarah Corse, associate professor of sociology in U.Va.’s College of Arts and Sciences, believe that in general, middle-class workers with college degrees or better are more likely able to “recover from the destabilizing effects of insecure work than the working class, and therefore can seek and find stability in relationships.”[1]

The opportunity to “seek and find stability in relationships” is being directly correlated to education, and job prospects.

The authors state that those who participated in the study which had less job stability, and prospects than others, expressed feelings of “fear and distrust in their intimate relationships” and “an inability of imagining being able to provide for others.” Silva and Corse point out the value in making “emotional investments” in relationships like date nights and therapy but also that the cost considerations put “people who are living in an unsecure and unstable situation” at a disadvantage.

It doesn’t have to be expensive to invest in bettering your relationship though.

When you combine the “material or financial obligations” that come with marriage along with the “emotional and psychological commitment” it requires, to those facing tough times in the job market merely the thought of this responsibility exacerbates the already stressful and often discouraging situation they’re in. Survival mode takes over. Silva and Corse say that these people (which I consider to be “in survivor mode”) “are prone to being distrustful of possible partners because of the risk of betrayal”.

Silva underscores her point unequivocally by stating, “Marriage has lost its relevance as a marker of adulthood.”

The taboo of lengthy cohabitation and having children out of wedlock is gone. Across all demographics its becoming more socially acceptable. An article in USA Today points out that “the percentage of women who cohabited as a first union increased for all races and ethnic groups, except Asian women.”[2] The article quotes sociologist Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who states, “What we’re seeing here is the emergence of children within cohabiting unions among the working class and the poor. They have high standards for marriage that they don’t think they can meet for now, but increasingly, it’s not stopping them from having a child. Having children within cohabiting unions is much more common among everybody but the college educated.” The article surrounded a report published by The National Center for Health Statistics. The report was based on in-person interviews conducted between 2006 and 2010 with 12,279 women ages 15–44. As a first union, 48% of women cohabited with their male partner, up from 43% in 2002 and 34% in 1995. Also, the data show that 70% of women without a high school diploma cohabited as a first union, compared with 47% of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Among women ages 22–44 with higher education, their cohabitations were more likely to transition to marriage (53%), compared with 30% for those who didn’t graduate high school. This supports the findings of Silva and Corse.

Marriage, as opposed to cohabitation, is highly correlated to education and job security.

Based on another study conducted by three professors from Ohio State University and Pacific Lutheran University and funded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that included interviews with about 9,000 men and women in their 20s and the analysis of data from a national longitudinal study of youth from 1997 to 2011 showed that not only do women go to college at a higher rates than men, but they’re less likely to drop out once they get there. Female grads now account for about 60% of U.S. bachelor’s degree holders. [3]

According to college tuition rates are at an all time high. Student loan debt has topped $1 trillion dollars and the current default rate on federal student loans is at the highest level its been in 15 years. Its no wonder that with education more expensive than ever and marriage markedly more popular among college graduates and the gainfully employed, when 60% of bachelor’s degree holders are now women, and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among men 16 and over is 7.7% versus 7% for women (10% more men are unemployed than women) the marriage rate in this country is “at its lowest point in more than a century” and like I said, there are far more marriage minded women out there than marriage minded men. [4]

Corse says, “Marriage is becoming a distinctive social institution marking middle-class status.”

Marriage is considered a status symbol, which, for better or worse, is seemingly why it’s even considered important or relevant anymore.

I’m reminded of the line by Alec Baldwin in, The Departed, “Marriage is an important part of getting ahead…A married guy seems more stable. People see the ring and they think ‘at least somebody can stand the son of a bitch.’ Ladies see the ring, they know immediately that you must have some cash, and your &^%$ must work.”

The marriage minded gap has also created tremendous imbalance among the “eligible” men and women out there. In my anecdotal experience I would estimate that there are probably five fit, healthy, good looking, successful, educated, faithful, marriage minded women out there for every one fit, healthy, good looking, successful, educated, faithful, marriage minded man. The disparity in and of itself is making matters worse. The most eligible men out there are more reticent than ever to go off the market because their stock continues to rise. Men naturally feel that they can afford to wait as long as they like to start a family. There is less social and biological pressure to waiting for a man than a woman.

My advice to the eligible woman out there is to keep on kicking ass. Keep closing that income gap. Keep on earning those degrees. If you have the time and energy to sort through misfits on Match or weed out the wannabes on Tinder, there are diamonds in the rough. I’d estimate 1/10 men dating online are available, interested in and capable of a relationship. That means that I’d go so far as to say that 9/10 men dating online are either in a relationship, uninterested in a relationship, incapable of a relationship or all of the above. As a professional matchmaker my job is to source opportunities and arrange introductions to likeminded, well-intentioned individuals. If you’re tired of doing the work yourself, you might want to consider enlisting our support.

[1] Samarrai, Fariss. “Love and Work Don’t Always Work for Working Class in America, Study Shows.” University of Virginia. UVA Today. 13 August 2013. Web. August 2013

[2] Jayson. Sharon. “Cohabitation first is new norm for unmarrieds with kids.” USA TODAY. 4 April 2013.

[3] Fisher. Anne. “Boys vs. girls: What’s behind the college grad gender gap?” CNN Money. Fortune. 27 Mar 2013.

[4] Jayson. Sharon. “Marriage rate may be low, but more weddings predicted.” USA TODAY. 17 June 2013.

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