Among the many causes for the breakdown of American marriage is this: sloppy thinking.
For all their education, for all of their student loan debt, American intellectuals don’t know how to think.
How else to explain the fact that a woman can tell you that she wants to get married but does not want to be a wife.
This has some obvious consequences. If a wife makes it a point of feminist honor to refuse to perform the tasks or to assume the responsibilities that are associated with being a wife, this will certainly not improve the quality of her marriage.
Since women are essential to the division of household labor and the harmonious functioning of a household, a wifeless marriage produces a dysfunctional household. Many people have discovered, to their chagrin, that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Our elite intellectuals have overthought the institution of marriage. Perhaps they thought that they were engaging in an amusing exercise. Perhaps they thought that they could facilitate the revolution if they undermined the basic patriarchal institution. Whatever the reason, they have deconstructed marriage and have assaulted it with rounds of critical theory.
So, more and more couples are foregoing it altogether. After all, if marriage is just a piece of paper, as we were reliably told by the cognoscenti a few decades ago, why bother?
Strangely enough, the only people today who are clamoring to get married are those who belong to the same gender. Some have said that same-sex marriage will save the institution. In fact, it will transform the institution by disassociating it from mating.
Since a same-sex couple cannot become mother and father, they cannot become husband and wife. In what has universally been considered as a marriage, it is perfectly clear who is the husband and who is the wife. In a same-sex marriage, it is perfectly unclear.
When a woman gets married she becomes a wife. Everyone sees her as a wife. Everyone addresses her as a wife. If she zealously abhors the role of wife she should not marry.
Our best thinkers are transforming the institution of marriage. The question is: for better or for worse.
We are reliably informed that women are increasingly unhappy with their marriages. Women initiate most of the divorces in America today. When they divorce, women are less likely to remarry.
Feminists tell us that this affirms the truth of their analysis. Marriage is fatally flawed because it oppresses women.
If marriage is oppressive to women, then married women need to be in a state of permanent rebellion. In place of the old-fashioned cooperative marriage, feminism has produced the modern contentious marriage. When the kitchen becomes a battleground in the culture wars, women lose.
One continues to be impressed by the fact that feminists do not believe that they themselves bear no responsibility for the current state of American marriage.
As the old saying goes: they broke it; they own it.
Yesterday, Vicki Larson made a salient point: husbands and wives are not involved in the same marriage. It’s not so clear what she means by that, but it certainly contains a kernel of truth.
If Larson believes that being a husband and being a wife is not the same thing, one must concur. We ought to extend the notion to the fact that when Jack and Jill engage in carnal relations they are not having the same experience.
The problem with modern marriage, Larson suggests, lies in the fact that married women, aka wives, still do most of the “emotional caretaking."
She quotes from the work of two feminist sociologists:
Typical studies of the household division of labor do not begin to capture all the unpaid caring work -- for friends, extended family, schools, and religious and other community organizations -- that women disproportionately do. Nor do they capture wives' planning, organizing, and structuring of family life.
Larson adds her own commentary:
It's exhausting being the one who always has to be on top of the emotional temperature of a relationship and keep the ties to family and community going. Plus, that kind of work often goes unnoticed or undervalued -- and sometimes even resented -- which, they note, "can lead to marital tension."
One assumes that it is even more exhausting when the woman is working outside of the home.
Does anything change when the couples have contracted what they call an “equal marriage?”
What about in so-called equal marriages? Nope, the wives still "tended to be the ones who monitored their own and their partners' contributions to their relationships." Even when the imbalance was duly acknowledged, nothing changed, "leading to feelings of resentment and frustration."
Of course, Larson and her experts suggest that this situation can be remedied with increased consciousness. But, didn’t increased consciousness get us into this mess in the first place. When a woman decides that being a wife is akin to being a slave or a concentration camp inmate, doesn’t this influence how she conducts herself in her marriage.
If Larson believes that women who make the kitchen into a battleground are more advanced than men, she must also be suggesting that men need to capitulate.
They can do so by shouldering more of the responsibility as emotional caretakers.
But, here’s the problem. These same serious thinkers believe that men are reptilian creatures who are congenitally incapable of caring for anyone emotionally, beginning with themselves.
I will tell you another secret. Any man who dares to take on the role of emotional caretaker will be greeted with a wave of feminine contempt whose sting will be felt for a long time to come.
Women might have been taught by feminism to resent their roles within marriage, but most of them, given the choice would prefer to keep the emotional caretaking in the hands of the person who is most capable and most competent of doing it. That would be: the wife.
If women are better at it, that does not make it demeaning.