The following message was forwarded to me from a friend, a relative of the author. This author is an older male, writing to his younger male relative, on the occasion of the younger man’s announcement of pending engagement. As a manifestation of widely-held but seldom admitted attitudes on marriage, I thought it would be of interest to a general audience. My observation is that unfortunate prejudice is very effectively propagated when it is mingled with perfectly sensible and well-intended teaching. Try to see for yourself which of the following points are sagacious, and which outrageously misogynist.
I just found out that you are on the verge of getting engaged. I am writing because I want to share some thoughts with you.
Let me explain. First, I don’t know anything about your fiancé and that’s O.K. because this letter is just about you and what marriage means to most guys. Also, I want you to know that my comments are being made with the best of intent. Marriage can be a good thing but you have to get into it with open eyes.
Things your parents won’t tell you about marriage (and if they did, you probably won’t listen any way):
- Almost without exception, the woman is the major beneficiary of the “contract” we call marriage. Believe me, in a vast majority of the marriages, the mans life style is diminished. Are you ready for this? Have you had time for yourself and your career? A clear majority of women are career enders. Their drama gets in the way of the mans success.
- Does your chosen mate complement you? Would this person be with you if you were a pizza deliver man? They won’t tell you this, but most girls in the 22 – 26 age bracket are in a rush to the alter. All their friends are doing it, why not them? Would you be the target of their desire if you were delivering pizza’s? I see a soul mate each week here in Southern California. I’ve come to the conclusion that love is mainly a function of availability. Have you been available?
- Almost all women view men as a “meal ticket”. The man is their ticket to a better life and security. You, Mr. Just-graduated-from-Yale-Law-School, are one hell of a meal ticket. Money will never be your problem. And that’s a problem for you. Without proper planning, you could find yourself funding an ex-spouse quite handsomely. I see it every day. That won’t happen to me you say! Fact: 50% of all marriages end within the first 5 years….it’s 60% here in California. Have you protected your parents? Remember, marriage is a legal contract. It’s one thing when two people who are flat broke and whose parents are near broke get married (me), you are in a whole other world.
- Pre-nup. Even Derek know this. Get one. Use separate attorneys. The court won’t recognize the agreement if it is drawn up by one attorney. Also, do not set a date before the agreement is signed. If you set the date first then push the pre-nup, the court will rule that she signed under duress and rule it void. Then it’s pay day for the woman of your dreams who gave you the best 60 months of her life. What about your 60 months? Key pre-nup elements? She gets 0% claim on any inheritance. She gets $0 in alimony regardless of the situation. She leaves with only the money she earns or brought into the marriage less 50% joint expenses. What do you say when she won’t sign? You say, “I guess you are not mature enough to get married.” Your such a sweet ticket, she’ll sign and try to renegotiate. Is she bringing any assets to the table that you can put in the bank? If not, a pre-nup is beyond a must have item. Who’s her Daddy? You could be for longer that you can believe if you don’t plan.
- Still want to plow ahead? Only give a gold band. Why? Go back to Fact in item 3 above. Start with a gold band. When you hit the 5 year mark then get a solitaire with a diamond that can be remounted at the 10 year mark. At that point spend what you want.
- Where to live? Only live in an apartment. After 5 years, then consider a house. Enjoy the freedom of being able to do what you want. I was able to travel the way I did because I had freedom to move. Also homes are a distraction and you need to focus on your career.
- Children? Only after you hit the 5 year mark. Each child is worth 216 monthly support payments. In your case, these would be very large monthly support payments. Can you adopt me?
- Life insurance? Forget it until there are kids. If a car can be replaced regardless of how you treat it, then why take care of it? If you are worth more dead than alive, why should the wife look out for you? A meal ticket (you) that could end at any moment will be protected and maintained.
- The bedroom? Things always start off white hot and over time cool down. This is natural. The rate of decline is a direct function of “attitudes, conditions and issues.” The more “attitudes, conditions and issues” there are on day one, the faster things will certainly cool down. Again, going back to Fact in item 3 above, 50% of the marriages go from 100% to 0%+pay off within 60 months. Believe me, not one of those guys thought it would happen to them. It did. Ask my brother.
Johnny Carson said it best when he commented about marriage. He said, “Man does not know the meaning of the word lonely until he gets married.” Funny, in baseball, they say that pitchers don’t become great until they are injured. The message is the same. You have got to take care a yourself first. This isn’t being selfish.
Whatever path you chose, it will always be a gamble. Minimize risk and make informed choices. Don’t let choices make you.