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Get Married, or at Least Read This Book

March 13, 2024


In his terrific new book Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization, Brad Wilcox busts multiple marriage myths. These myths harm young people who forgo getting married and end up more lonely and more impoverished as a result.

You’ve heard it said that in the contemporary world marriage is of no benefit to men or to women. Right-wing online influencer Andrew Tate claims, “There is zero advantage to marriage in the Western world for a man.” Feminist Amy Shearn writes in the New York Times that “married heterosexual motherhood in America . . . is a game no one wins.” 

But Wilcox provides evidence that “nothing predicts happiness in America like a good marriage—not education, work, money, or even sex.” He continues, “The data tells us that men and women who are in a good marriage are a staggering 545 percent more likely to be very happy with their lives compared to their fellow Americans who are unmarried or in unhappy marriages. Moreover, no group of American men and women (aged 18-55) are happier than married mothers and fathers.”

You’ve heard it said that you should prioritize making money over marriage. But Wilcox points to research that “men and women who get and stay married earn more and save more. This is why married men and women have about ten times the assets of their peers who are single in their fifties. And they are significantly less likely to be poor across the course of their lives.” Indeed, he points out, “Stably married men heading toward retirement have a staggering 10 times more assets than their divorced or never-married male peers, the NSLY data indicate.”

You’ve heard it said that you should love your spouse only as long as it makes you feel happy. But research indicates that almost all couples go through serious difficulties at some point in their marriage. Wilcox talks about his own challenges: “I navigated the first year of twins with difficulty. Overwhelmed with the responsibilities of fatherhood, I was often distracted, snappish and unhappy. I was less affectionate and less emotionally present as a husband. Not surprisingly, there was plenty of bickering, long silences, and sober stares between Danielle and me. My happiness—and our marital quality—took a definite dip that year.” I have talked elsewhere about my own struggles. These problems do not mean that the relationship will remain in its unhappy state forever. For his marriage, and mine, and countless others, a season of marital storms does not mean winter weather forever. Data indicate that couples can get through bad times by being faithful to the marital vow “to love, in good times and in bad, as long as we both shall live.” 

Some people today choose not to pursue marriage because of online misinformation and media manipulation.

You’ve heard it said that having kids makes your life and your marriage miserable. But Wilcox points to empirical research showing that “marriage and family are strongly associated with happiness. The General Social Survey shows that a combination of marriage and parenthood is linked to the biggest happiness dividends for women. . . . Indeed, the 2022 General Social Survey indicates that marriage is also linked to greater happiness for men ages 18-55. And here again, married fathers are happiest.” 

You’ve heard it said that marriage makes no difference for raising kids. But the data show that kids raised by their married parents do better on average than kids raised by single parents or cohabiting couples. Wilcox points out, “In fact, for many outcomes, the advantages of being raised in an intact family have grown in recent years. For instance, the connection between family structure and school suspensions, as well as college graduations, has grown tighter in recent years. More generally, kids raised in intact, married families are significantly more likely to be thriving financially, socially, and emotionally. Probably the most striking finding regarding kids is that young men raised in any kind of non-intact family—from a single-parent to a stepfamily—are more likely to have spent some time in jail or prison than to have graduated from college. This is very much the opposite for young men who grew up with their own married parents.”

You’ve heard it said that practicing faith is irrelevant for marriage. But the reality shows that “Churchgoing couples are 30-50% less likely to divorce.” In fact, Wilcox points to the empirical research that couples that go to church together are more sexually satisfied and that they have a lot more sex than secular couples. 

If every young person read or listened to Wilcox’s book, our country could grow happier and wealthier, less lonely and less hopeless. After researching marriage for more than thirty years, Wilcox has this advice: 

If you’re in a good relationship, get married. If you’re married, invest more in your relationship. Date nights help, as do shared checking accounts to minimize your chances of landing in divorce court. And if you’re not dating but would like to, expose yourself to more in-person activities—from joining your local church to volunteering at the area food bank to attending that office party you’re tempted to skip. In short, defy the atomizing, me-first messaging of our solipsistic age—and say “I do.”

Of course, some people rightly discern that they are not called to marriage. The decision whether to marry must always be a free choice. But choices aren’t really free unless they are informed by reality. Unfortunately, some people today choose not to pursue marriage because of online misinformation and media manipulation. Wilcox’s book Get Married dispels marriage myths so that people can make informed decisions and lead better lives.