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What exactly does marriage offer men today? “Men know there’s a good chance they’ll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and — if it all goes wrong — their family,” says Helen Smith, Ph.D., author of “Men on Strike.” “They don’t want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over.Men aren’t wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment phobes. They’re being smart.”

Unlike women, men lose all power after they say “I do.” Their masculinity dies, too.

This came from a woman. Now it’s my turn to follow-up.

The biggest misconception is that the only two choices we have are to get married or stay single. If you’re basing off of that then all arguments hold true. However, what are the benefits that would make a man who is already in a happy and committed long term relationship living with his woman take the next step and get married? If he has all those things, then he is essentially getting these same benefits minus some legal benefits. And the question now becomes does these legal benefits of marriage outweigh the legal consequences of divorce?

Here’s the thing. Most men get married because they want to start a family. But he also knows that if he gets divorced, then she’ll most likely have custody of the kids and he’ll have to pay child support and live a sad and depressed life trying to maintain the lifestyle of his kids and himself at the same time. Divorce is never in our interest, thus why you never really see men threaten it or initiate it. On the other hand, women use divorce as a neutralizer. It gives her all of the power in a marriage. I’m divorcing you, taking the kids, taking the house, and half of everything else I am entitled to. So in essence, it’s not that marriage is bad. It’s that marriage puts us in a law binding agreement where if we don’t do what she wants, she can threaten us with divorce and take away what we worked so hard to get married for. How does that benefit us?

This is where the whole “happy wife, happy life” thing came from. Marriage can only last if the wife is happy. It isn’t contingent upon our happiness. Our happiness comes second or last as she is the one calling the shots and pulling the trigger on whether we stay married or divorced. In order to do that, we must keep her happy, even if we don’t agree with it or it makes us uncomfortable. That’s what they mean by losing your manhood. Your decision as a man is neither the strongest or final decision when you’re married. She calls all the shots in the long run.

So why should I as a man get into a law binding agreement (marriage) which has penalties if I breach, knowing that all it takes is unhappiness for my spouse to leave resulting in me suffering socioeconomic and emotional consequences? Why not just stay in a long term relationship where we can both leave if we are unhappy? For us men, the consequence of divorce is the fear that keeps us in it, even if we aren’t happy. Women don’t often have that restriction, except maybe staying for financial reasons.

I think the disconnect is the expectations of marriage and what it means to people. For most men, we get married because we want to start a family. Marrying for love is one of the problems. And for most men who are the breadwinners, marriage isn’t the problem. It’s the consequences that come with divorce that disproportionately affect us. The only benefit I see from marriage is starting a family. But people conveniently avoid the conversation about the fact that once we get married, the power shifts to the woman. While we are in a relationship, the man has a majority of the power because the woman still has to show us why we should marry her. Once we get married, we have to do everything she wants and says in order to keep her from becoming dissatisfied and filing for divorce. Granted, there are valid reasons for divorce such as cheating or abuse, but nowadays people treat marriages like long term relationships with a ring. They file for divorce like it’s a simple break up.

As a man who got divorced, I spent the final year of my marriage on egg shells simply because I did not want to be separated from my children. A happy marriage may have it’s benefits, but it does not outweigh the trauma of divorce or a bad marriage.

Love isn’t enough. Marriage requires the will to make it work through the most difficult of circumstances and not using divorce as an easy way out. And with today’s state of mind, people see marriages as regular relationships in the speed at which people get divorced when they are unhappy. Just not the type of environment to be taking risks that aren’t beneficial.
Bryant A. Buntin, MPH, is the author of the urban relationship fiction novel, Dear Women I Haven’t Slept With, Book One and Two. He’s a college professor of Health Care Administration and a Healthcare professional. He is a Contributing Editor for Don Diva Magazine.

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