ASphotowed. Getty Images. Photosession of stylish wedding couple on catholic church.
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The Institution Of Marriage Is Under Attack From All Sides

I have spent a lot of time in my career defending the institution of marriage. I defend it because it is the bedrock of civilization, so it deserves defending. And I defend it because it is under constant attack, so it needs defending. One of the most troubling developments in recent years — which we’ve discussed on this show in the past — is that these attacks are increasingly waged not just from the Left but from certain noisy segments of the Right as well. Some right-wing influencers — with legions of young, mostly male fans — have decided that men should abandon marriage and family life and go their own way. These influencers — many of whom consider themselves a part of the so-called “red pill” movement — pretend to despise feminists, and yet have essentially arrived at the same conclusion as feminists: give up on the family. The two sides hate marriage almost as much as they hate each other.

One of these influencers is a woman named Pearl Davis who has garnered a relatively large following on YouTube and various social media platforms. She’s in her mid twenties, single, and childless, and yet full of opinions about modern marriage and family life — a subject she has no personal insight into whatsoever. She has spent the past few days on the internet complaining about “tradcons” like myself who, she says, promote the nuclear family despite not understanding what it’s really like. Yes, we men who actually have wives and children don’t know what it’s like to be married, but a woman who is not married and has no children does know what it’s like.

In one of her tweets she wrote: “The trad cons push marriage because they aren’t old enough to know better yet. They don’t know the reality of what they’re pushing.” This is accompanied by a picture of myself, Ben Shapiro, and Michael Knowles. We “aren’t old enough to know better” and “don’t know the reality of what we’re pushing.” Yet a woman who is younger than us, and single, does know better and does understand this reality.


In other posts she goes on to say that marriage is a “terrible deal for men.” She later explains: “Would you ever sign a contract that fails 75% of the time where your business partner is paid to break the contract? Why would you encourage men to sign that contract until the terms are fixed?”


You may be surprised to learn that marriages fail at a rate of 75%. The figure that people like this normally use is 50%. The claim that 50% of marriages end in divorce is already spurious. More on that in a moment. But 75%? I was wondering where that number came from, so I scrolled down and saw something she reposted from an alleged lawyer who said this: “It’s not 50:50 – that only accounts for divorces. Add another 25% on the negative side for miserable men trapped in “cheaper to keep her” marriages unwilling to risk financial destruction and loss of their children. 75% chance of a devastatingly bad outcome is just a bad plan. No sane person would enter into a commercial contract on such terms.” I did ask him where he got this 75% figure and he wouldn’t say. Apparently the magic statistic fairy came and whispered it in his ear.

For her part, Pearl later tweeted a picture of Pierce Brosnan with his wife of 20 years. She questioned whether the marriage “counts as successful” since Brosnan’s wife has put on some weight at the age of 60. Apparently even if they’re happy and have remained married for two decades, they still might fall into that 75% failure rate because they have not both remained in super model condition into their 60s.

This debate on social media brought out the rest of the marriage-skeptical crowd on the Right. A bunch of these “red pill” influencers decided to hop on an emergency Zoom call and spend two hours talking about me, and the rest of the Daily Wire crew, and our reckless promotion of society’s most fundamental institution. There’s a divorce lawyer who says that the failure rate for marriage is not 50%, not 75%, but in fact even higherA happy marriage, he says, is like winning the lottery. The thing about the lottery, though, is that almost everyone loses. This is a perfect summation of how this entire club views marriage. Sure it can be great, they concede — but only if you’re insanely lucky. Everyone else is screwed. It is a rather bleak view. Thankfully, it’s also nonsense. First of all, the claim that marriage isn’t “scalable” is obviously ludicrous. Marriage has served as the bedrock of human society since time immemorial. It has already happened at the scale of civilization for thousands of years.

What about the failure rate of marriages in our culture? We’ve heard 50%, we’ve heard 75%, and we just heard that they fail at a rate similar to the rate that people lose the lottery. Which would mean higher than 99%. Yet these kinds of astronomical odds are not based in anything but the doom and gloom speculations of the people inventing them. There is no evidence that having a happy marriage is as unlikely as winning the lottery, or that 75% of marriages end in misery. What about the 50% number? This at least is a familiar statistic — familiar, but bogus. One way that you know it’s bogus is that people have been claiming 50% of marriages end in divorce since I was a kid. That would mean divorce rates are static across time, but of course that isn’t the case. In fact, we know that divorce rates have gone down in recent years. So where does the 50% figure come from? Apparently, it’s a holdover from the 1980s, which is when people first started citing that statistic, and it’s not true today. It’s also not clear that it was true in the 80s either.

What is the actual divorce rate? Our best guess is based on U.S. Census data, which, according to the most recent figures, says that about 35% of American adults who have been married, have been divorced. 35% is high — way too high — but it’s not 50%, and it’s not 75%, and it’s not 99%, and it’s not lottery odds. Still, isn’t it terrifying to think that, if you get married, your chance of failure is 35% and the chance of success is only 65%, at the most? Isn’t that high enough that it should dissuade anyone from attempting it? The answer to that question is no. Here’s why.

WATCH: The Matt Walsh Show

If the divorce rate is 35% — or even if it’s 50% — it does not follow that your own particular marriage has a 35 or 50% chance of failure. I’m not saying that you should be cocky or reckless or see yourself as invincible. I am saying that you shouldn’t, on the other extreme, see yourself as passive debris floating helplessly on the tide of statistical likelihoods. You are an individual, your marriage is an individual thing, and its chances of failure are not set by society at large.

Here’s an example to illustrate what I mean. The obesity rate in the United States is over 40%. Does that mean that your own chances of becoming obese are 40%? No, it does not. Your chances might be 5%, they might be practically zero, or they might be quite a bit higher than 40%. That’s because obesity is the result of behavior and choices. If you do not engage in the behavior or make the choices that lead to obesity, you will not become obese. The fact that 40% of the people around you are fat does not mean that you automatically have a 40% obesity risk.

Let’s take another example: car accidents. Americans get into car accidents at a certain rate. I’m not sure what the rate is, and it doesn’t matter for our purposes. What does matter is that your own individual chance of getting into a car accident is not the same as every other driver on the road. The people who compile statistics will say things like “motorists have an (X)% chance of getting into a collision.” But you are not just a generic motorist. You are an individual. You can never bring your own chance of dying in a fiery car wreck down to zero, but if you are a responsible driver then obviously your chances of getting into an accident are much lower than the chances of someone who is not responsible. All of those stupid drivers who don’t understand the basic rules of the road, and like to tweet and eat while they drive, are inflating the numbers for everyone. They are also making the roads more dangerous for everyone — because of them your chances of getting into a car accident are actually higher. But your chances are not as high as their chances. You do not share their level of risk. Because, again, you are an individual not a mere statistic.

What about marriage? It’s true that even if you do everything right, things can still fall apart if your spouse doesn’t follow that program. That happens. It’s terrible, but it happens. It’s also true that there are many, many things you can do in your marriage to make it much more secure than the average. Obvious things. You can marry someone who shares your same fundamental values. You can state from the outset that you both, in principle, don’t believe in divorce and won’t consider it as a viable option for solving any marital difficulties you may experience down the line. Have a strong and shared faith. Establish from the beginning a habit of honest communication. Make time for each other. Continue to date even — or especially — as your lives get busier and you start having kids and so on. Make a strong effort to be patient with and grateful to each other. Take care of your body and your appearance. You can do all of these things, and more.

I’m not saying that if you do all of this it will bring your divorce chance down to zero. I’m not denying that there are plenty of people out there who did it all, at least on their own end, and yet still ended up divorced. That’s not my point. My point is that the “divorce rate” doesn’t take any of this into account. The people who take none of these basic steps are lumped in with the people who do all of it, and we’re supposed to believe that both groups have an equal chance of marital failure. That is just not true.

I don’t deny that there are real, serious problems with marriage in our society. The so-called “red pill” community, and others, raise totally legitimate and important points on that end. We need drastic reform; abolish no-fault divorce; the entire family court system has to be torn down and rebuilt. The system is stacked against men in many ways that are extremely unfair and have ruined countless lives. So, let’s absolutely fight for those reforms.

But this systemic problem is not going to be solved today, or tomorrow, or next week. Abolishing no-fault divorce is just the beginning of reforming the system. Lawmakers in a small number of red states have only just started to seriously consider that idea, which is merely step one. We are a long way off from fixing the system. It took decades to get us here, it will take decades to get us out, at best. This is a long-term struggle.

The question is what are young men — young people in general — supposed to do in the meantime? This is where the “red pill” becomes more of a hazy, foggy, ambiguous pill. They have no answer. They simply shout about “reforms” that are needed, yet have nothing to say to the young men in our culture today who will be old, if not dead, by the time the system is fixed, if it’s ever fixed at all. What are these young men supposed to do right now? What kind of life would you have them lead right now?

The answer, it appears, is that an entire generation of young men — if not multiple generations — should skip marriage while we wait for the system to improve. But this is not a viable solution. It’s not a solution at all, it’s a surrender. You are asking entire generations to give up their bloodline, their legacy, their chance of finding the transcendent joy and meaning that family life can provide. You are asking them to give up on themselves, and on civilization itself. For thousands of years human beings have always understood that their most basic purpose and obligation was to form families and have children — and yet you are telling these young men to ignore this calling. And do what instead? Live for themselves, alone, wasting away in front of screens, only to die with no descendants, leaving no lasting mark on the world? Think about the kind of misery you are consigning these men to. Think about the catastrophic, probably fatal effect this would have on our country. You can’t give up on propagating the species for a few decades and then pick it back up again like nothing happened. That doesn’t work on any level — individually or societally. It is a recipe for despair and collapse.


Am I saying that young men should accept the risk, then, and get married anyway? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. That doesn’t mean you should be reckless — I’ve already talked about the many practical things you can do to mitigate your own risk so that it is not a roll of the dice. You should do all of those things. Don’t go into marriage blind — but don’t run from it either. Even if you mitigate the risk to the extent possible, still there will be a risk. That’s true.

But here’s the rub: all good things come with risk. The more worthwhile it is, the worse and more disastrous it will be if you fail. If you take on more responsibility, then your life will be more consequential, and the more consequential your life is, the more cataclysmic your failures potentially become. A married man with children lives a life of greater consequence than a single man with no children. There are more people depending on him. He has a greater stake in the future. This means that if things go sideways, it will be a tragedy. If he screws up, or his wife screws up, or they both do, his life will be ruined, his children will be devastated, and the impact will reverberate down through the generations. This is what it means to live a high-impact, consequential life. These are the stakes, and yes they are quite high.

Sure, you can stave off that sort of catastrophe by staying by yourself, never going out on a limb, never taking any risks, never marrying, never having kids, never striving for anything great or meaningful. But then you are not avoiding failure and misery, you are guaranteeing it. You are ensuring that you never lose your family in a divorce by never having a family to lose in the first place, which is like ensuring that you never go bankrupt by being bankrupt to begin with. Not losing by having nothing to lose is a loss in itself. I don’t want that for anyone. It’s not a path to happiness and prosperity — for either you or society. It is a path to defeat — a preemptive and self-imposed defeat. And that is the worst kind of all.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  The Institution Of Marriage Is Under Attack From All Sides