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The Upper Hand
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Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's!

The image of the twenty-something man living out of his parents’ basement while practising to be a Guitar Hero champion is quintessential to our society. Young men are lazier than they ever have been. And we tend to blame this on the schools, the parents, or even the men themselves.

What if, instead, it’s a perfectly logical reaction to the way our society is changing?

Rather than asking why today’s generation is so lazy, maybe we should be asking why prior generations were not. Certainly The Great Depression, when people were desperate to work to eat, had an impact. Two World Wars forced millions of young men to grow up all too fast. But it isn’t only in this century that young men have become responsible earlier. It’s throughout our cultural history.

What made them mature? I think it was the fact that they could not get what they most wanted—a secure future with a wife and children—unless they were financially stable. Marriage was pretty much everyone’s goal, since it was the only way to experience any kind of romantic relationship, and so most people strove for it.

Today marriage is superfluous. Marriage is only to be desired after people have had time to find themselves and spend years partying. Even after that point many don’t want to marry. There’s often no real incentive. Romantic relationships are certainly not confined to marriage anymore. It’s relatively easy to find a partner even if you’re not offering a lifetime commitment. And lifetime commitments can be risky—she might have an affair and take half your money! With so many women running around today, it’s often rational for men not to want to commit. And if you don’t have to offer a lifetime commitment, then you also don’t have to grow up. You don’t have to get your own place. You don’t have to get a real job. There’s no downside to staying a kid.

Of course, laziness is not limited to the male gender. Plenty of females don’t want to grow up, either. We all know women who ditch marriages frivolously, or refuse to commit to willing young men. But eschewing marriage altogether is still largely a male phenomenon, for the simple reason that women have biological clocks. If they want babies, they have to get to it before they’re 35. Men don’t have a time limit.

And in any transaction, the one who wants it the most has the least bargaining power. If the woman wants a lifetime commitment, but the man doesn’t, he ends up calling the shots because she needs him more than he needs her. And on a population wide basis, when women want marriage more than men do, men on the whole decide how relationships should go.

At one point women had the upper hand, because if men wanted access to sex they had to commit. Now we’ve lost that upper hand. And interestingly, it’s largely been done in the name of feminism. Women don’t need men, the feminists cried. Marriage is an oppressive institution. Women’s sexuality needs to be freed!
Well, we’ve won freedom, girls. This is what it looks like. We can get any job we want, any role we want, any salary we want. We can do whatever we want in bed with whomever we want. We just can’t always get the marriage we want.

Is this what life was supposed to look like?

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At 10:56 AM , Blogger Janet - AKA: Latte Lady said…

Amen sister!

As a Pastor's wife, I know a lot about what is going on in marriages in our area. I know of many struggling marriages and all of them are because the woman has left the man. Most of the men were (at the time) jerks. Now, they are born again and on fire for God. The women still don't want them back. The women are not Christians and have no idea the kind of man that is waiting and praying for them.

One man called his wife up just to wish her a good night and she told him to _____ off. Then she told him she wanted a divorce. The next week, he moved across the country to be with her. God is working!

Go God!




At 5:55 PM , Blogger Mary R. said…

Yes, what you said is about right. Our society doesn't encourage growing up, no need to. And feminism has wrecked marriage.


At 10:51 PM , Blogger Wendy Eckwielen said…

What a great post Shelia! I think we really need to be paying attention to this as we raise our children. Also much prayer is needed for our children and the person they will marry someday.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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