Dec 10 2013
Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has a post up on his blog that postulates something I have believed for a long time. Marriage is no longer a relevant institution and needs to be re-vamped or done away with. He does not come out specifically state what I believe-namely that our ideas about monogamy are silly and have been for a long time; nonetheless he gets to the heart of the matter:
If you look at marriage the way an economist might, it is an exchange of services. Every marriage is different, but at its core you have two people who are choosing to provide one basket of services in return for a different basket. Historically, that meant the man provided protection and financial stability while the woman provided children, childcare, and household management. In modern times, the picture is more smeared, but in all cases the parties are getting something while providing something, including the emotional benefits.
Marriage made sense when the world was inefficient. You married a person nearby who could provide most of your important needs while hoping your lesser needs could also somehow be met. It made perfect sense in the pre-Internet age.
But today you can arrange for any of your individual needs via Internet. You can find lovers who don't want a commitment. You can find people willing to trade sex for travel experiences. You can find surrogates to have your baby, or you can adopt from another country. Then you can find a nanny who is willing to work primarily for room and board. You can find an intellectual partner, a business partner, a tennis partner, you name it. The Internet provides all.
For the first time in history it is feasible to create a virtual spouse comprised of a dozen separate relationships. And each would be optimized. Instead of dragging your spouse to the opera or a baseball game, you go with someone who loves your hobbies as much as you do.
From a transactional standpoint-marriage is a loser. Certainly the idea that there is one special person out there who somehow "completes" you. Do some women make better companions than others? Certainly. But even the best of friends need a break from one another.
When the exchange of services becomes a one way exchange ( e.g.. the S.O. doing all the taking and doing none of the giving-it can be less than fun.)
One of his commenters goes on to more explicitly point out what all of us who have been through the divorce wringer know already, that the system perpetuates marriage despite is now obvious flaws because women want it so.
Enter the legal system. Laws are designed to help society as a whole. Is the man better off because he's now legally bound to stay and help? Certainly not. He's looking for quantity, and sticking around to help is hurting his numbers.
But Marriage 1.0 wasn't invented to help him – it was invented to help her – and society as a whole. This is why religion pushes it. This is why governments push it. The good of the many over the good of the few, or the one. (Thanks Spock.)
But how does Marriage 1.0 do this? It uses TWO STICKS called Alimony and Child Support. Leave a marriage – and get hit with the Alimony stick. Have kids? Get hit with Child Support stick.
BUT #1: Marriage 1.0 shouldn't worry about keeping a couple together that has no children. The concept of Alimony has no legal purpose for childless couples. Sorry house-moms and dads! Society just doesn't think you add value by being married.
BUT #2: A man who has sex, whether through Marriage 1.0 -OR- "Wild night of sex", will get hit with Child Support.
Waaaait a minute:
If we abolish Alimony, and Child Support happens even without marriage, then what good is marriage?
Exactly. There's nothing left. Since children will be protected in either scenario, there is no longer a need to have it.
Quo es demonstratum
I'm very much on board with Adams idea that you can have several companions. Maybe one who makes a good roommate ( as the S.O. does)-and a couple of others who solve the passion needs. ( Which I need desperately). "One person was never meant to be your everything. That's why you have friends for playing sports, friends from work, friends for going to the theater, whatever. Expecting one person only to fulfill all your needs is a romantic notion (I blame Harlequin romances) that leads to much unhappiness."
The economics ( and the sexual needs of literally millions of disappointed men) demand it.