On Monday night, speaking in the Q&A following his speech at the University of Minnesota, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro had a hilarious exchange with a young conservative man asking for advice on how to expose his leftist girlfriend to conservative ideas. The back-and-forth elicited plenty of laughter from the audience at the beginning before it segued into a serious discussion of the centrality of shared values for a good marriage.
Here’s how the exchange went:
Young man: Hi.
Young man: So let’s say that hypothetically there’s a young man here who is dating a young woman who’s essentially very far Left. (laughter and applause)
Shapiro: Sorry: before you go any further, is she present right now?
Young man: No, she is not.
Shapiro: Good, so I can be honest. (laughter)
Young man: How might — do you have any advice for how this young man might go about exposing her to some new ideas without the relationship crashing and burning?
Shapiro: Oh, you’re an optimist. (laughter) So, you, my friend, are making a very large mistake. (laughter and applause) I’m sure she’s wonderful; I’m sure she’s supremely attractive; I’m sure all of those things. It depends on what the relationship is for. Are you in it for marriage? You actually have to give me a — what’s the end goal here?
Young man: Yeah, marriage.
Shapiro: So if you’re in it for marriage, then the number one thing you must have in common with your spouse is values. Interests come after values. Most people are interested in lots of things; there are lots of interesting things in the world — liking the same movies; liking the same art — virtually worthless. What is important is that you have the same value system. So politics are a reflection of values. Now, there are a lot of people who never connect their politics with their values, so you have to determine whether she’s politically left because this represents her core values, or just because she’s been told a bunch of slogans and now she repeats all these slogans.
When I first dated my wife, for example, my wife thought of herself as pro-choice and the more we discussed the issue it became very clear to her that she was actually pro-life and hadn’t really considered the issue in a serious way; it was just she was told on college campus that it was a good thing to be pro-choice, and so she said she was pro-choice. And the same thing was true of gun rights, for example. She didn’t know anything about guns; she had been told guns were bad, and then when I explained gun rights to her, and when it turned out her father was a member of the military, then she shifted a little bit.
Politics is the tip of the iceberg; the question is whether your girlfriend’s politics, or this unnamed person’s girlfriend’s politics (laughter), are a floating bit of flotsam on the top of the ocean or whether there’s actually a structural underpinning for what she’s thinking. So you first have to determine that. If there is a structural underpinning, and if she really believes this stuff on a strong level, you’re really going to have to think about whether this is something you want to go through for the next eighty years.
Because when it comes time to raise your kids, forget about you; in my view, marriage, not “relationships,” marriage is about bearing and rearing children, ideally. My wife and I have two children; that is the end goal of marriage; that is the telos of marriage. Marriage was created so that we could bear and raise our children. And that means that we have to have very similar perspectives on how we want to raise our kids.
Now, if you want to raise your kid with traditional ideas of virtue and decency, and she wants to raise your kids with traditional ideas of multiculturism, for example, and all cultures and all opinions being equal, all behavior being equal, this is going to be a real conflict when it comes time to parent your kids.
So you have to ask yourself two questions: one: is she movable? And two: if she’s not movable, what is your end goal here? Because there’s lots of fun to be had in life, but when it comes time for marriage, marriage is — as all the married people in the room know, marriage is not the time for fun. (laughter) When it comes time for marriage — not totally, I love my wife and we have a great marriage — (laughter) see, I know she’s watching — (laughter) when it comes time for marriage, it is deeply important that you put values before all the other ancillary things. You have values in common, your marriage can outlast anything; if you don’t have values in common, then the first break and the thing’s over.