Does marriage have value anymore, monetary or otherwise?

Aaron Clarey, a.k.a. Captain Capitalism, offers an intriguing look at whether dowries are something that may become part of the modern “marriage market” in the Western world, just as they were in the not too distant past (and still are in some other parts of the world).  I don’t necessarily agree with his arguments, but I have to admit that he poses questions that require an answer.

If you don’t know (or never knew) what a dowry was, it was a payment the father usually made to his would-be son in law to take his daughter off his hands and care for her into the future.  This was based on the premise that women did not work, would likely bear children, would stay home to rear said children, and would in a purely accounting sense be a financial liability to the family, earning no income.  And so, the would-be husband would be entitled, if not required, to some kind of financial recompense to take the financial liability of a woman off the hands of her father.

Fast forward 300 years later and I ask a very simple question;

How is it any different today?

If there was a time young women were not a financial liability, but an asset, it was the boomers and Gen X’ers.  These women were workers, they were employed, and they did take care of themselves.  But today’s generation of young women (who are also at the age of marriage) do not present young male suitors a similar financial proposition or condition.  Matter of fact, most young women today are horrifically bad financial liabilities, and any young man who commits to them risks tanking his own finances.

This isn’t primarily due to young women not working.  They most certainly do, and at labor force participation rates higher than any generation of women past.  But the financial liability nature of most young women today is due to student loans and the education scam that destroys their finances.  Young women … are lured too easily to go $120,000 in debt for worthless liberal arts degrees that offer them no employability.  Worse, the indoctrination they receive in college weaponizes them against men, instead of making them partners and lovers in life to help one another.  And with the repeated indoctrination that women should NEVER rely on a man, the end result is not only often a girl who is a financial risk, but is a girl no man wants.  Indebted, talentless, unemployable, and ideologically programmed to be against men, marriage, family, and love. Even women trained in STEM, who are eminently employable, are often times indoctrinated to be antagonistic towards men, increasing the risk of divorce, adding a huge legal risk to a financial one as well.

Traditionally, logically, and “accountingly,” such a proposition would require some kind of financial compensation for the legal and financial risks of committing to a modern day western woman.  And today, young men (or any man) is well within his rights to demand such a modern-day dowry.  But since most boomer and Gen X fathers have no money (and are likely financially compromised through matrimony as well), demanding a dowry today is moot.

. . .

Most men simply cannot afford to take on that risk, and even with a dowry the non-financial risks are just as costly and daunting as the financial ones.  Yes at the same time, men are biologically programmed, nay, compelled to want to get married and have kids. And so what is likely going to happen is what’s been happening for quite some time now – men are balking.  They’re going to punt.

The increase in cohabitation and the abandonment of marriage is a sign of men waking up and eschewing the legal and financial risks marriage presents to them … And such marriage-avoidant behavior will continue as the internet educates men about the unacceptable legal and financial risks marriage presents to them (or, frankly, they just saw their dad get butchered in divorce court).

And so what we’ve seen this past 20 years, certainly the past 10 will continue. With no “theoretical dowries” and marriage being such a bad deal, more and more men will simply leave the marriage market because they can’t afford it.

There’s more at the link.

Modern marriage is weighted heavily against a man in our legal system.  I’m aware of one situation going down right now, where a divorced father, with legal custody of his children, has seen his former wife simply take them and refuse to return them.  She’s gone so far as to interfere with his bank accounts, file false charges against him, and try to wreck his life, out of spite and vindictiveness.  I repeat – she has no legal right to custody of the children, but because she doesn’t want him to have them, she’s more than prepared to use them as a weapon against him (including lying to them that he doesn’t want them any more), and destroy his reputation in the process.  What’s more, law enforcement authorities appear powerless.  They’ve told him to get yet another court order for them to enforce, ignoring those he already has.  I don’t understand that.

When men see that sort of thing happening, and realize that our legal system is predisposed to believe the mother rather than the father, is it any wonder that many men are afraid to commit themselves to a relationship that may have those consequences?

There’s also the very real problem that a hyper-sexualized society, where a “hookup culture” has taken root, is anything but the ideal climate in which to foster traditional marriage.  When both partners in a marriage come into that relationship with a past history of dozens, if not scores of lovers, and probably having lived with several of those partners, how can they pretend that there’s anything unique about their relationship?  There isn’t.  They’re just going through the motions they’ve been through many times before.  There’s nothing “special” to bind them together, because they’ve done it all before.  When it comes to arguments, they can put each other down with comments like, “Oh, so-and-so was much better at that than you are!”  There’s no foundation of “special” intimacy on which to build, because intimacy is no longer special.  It’s been trivialized.

Perhaps, if a dowry was required prior to marriage, both sides of the equation would realize that it signifies the value of their relationship in monetary terms.  Perhaps they might then attach more intrinsic value to marriage, instead of seeing it as an arrangement that may, or may not, endure, depending on one or the other party’s whims.  To me, of course, there’s also a deeply spiritual element to marriage;  but that’s not shared by many people, so I won’t emphasize it here.  I’ll simply note that I think it’s essential.

Aaron Clarey poses some very good questions, that force us to confront unpleasant realities, and which deserve answers.



  1. I think the answer is … yes and no, depending on who you are.

    Don't forget that while those with large amounts of debt and many past partners are widely discussed in the media, they are NOT average but the extreme that the media wants others to emulate.

    There are good women out there who want to work with good men and who haven't slept around or been poisoned against men.
    Many of them either didn't go to college or made wise decisions and graduated with little or no debt.

    It does take more effort and time to find a good partner than it used to, but that is highly dependent on one's social circle and geographic location.

    Don't forget that all of the above apply to women looking for a good man also.

    (A note that holding onto kids in custody cases works both ways; I'm aware of a current situation in Texas where the father won't return the kids to the mother even though she is supposed to have sole custody of them.)

  2. My son is 33 years old and making well into six figures in Florida, where the average individual earns less than $30K. He is financially stable, tall, good looking, and works in a field dominated by women- meaning that he is surrounded by attractive women who vie for his attention, and appears to be a pretty popular guy. In short, he has his pick of women.

    He has a live in girlfriend, who he has been dating for the past eight years. He has told her repeatedly that he has no plans of ever getting married or having kids because (in his words) "I haven't met a woman yet that I want to give half of everything I own to. Marriage is a horrible deal for men."

  3. There's something missing from the article which makes the dowry a non-solution. In some dowry cultures if not most, if the marriage dissolves, the husband must return the dowry. The woman is property herself, first of her father, then of her husband. The dowry is part of the transfer of ownership. Breakdown of marriage means her ownership reverts to her father, along with the dowry. I don't think that particular concept will fly well in the 21st century West…
    Otherwise, as Jonathan H has stated, the article refers to a minority group with tertiary education. Many of the rest of the population have other issues, as you describe Peter.

  4. There are people who still insist the earth is flat. They believe it with all their heart, mind and soul. Then there are people who think marriage is a wonderful idea.

  5. The single worst financial decision I ever made in my life was to get married.

    It ended up costing me my health, my mental health, and half of my family farm, and 5 years of my life recovering. Not to mention setting back my retirement by several years.

  6. Hey Peter;

    I will touch upon this, I had a discussion with a ladyfriend of mine, She works with my wife, we had just gone to the range(I took her shooting for the first time) she was congratulating me on being married 25 years(This lady is 15 years younger than I am, to give a timeframe). She bemoaned the fact that there ain't any good men anymore, nobody wants to make a go at marriage anymore. I replied "Well from my very limited experience, it is partially the hookup culture, it is also having to do with ownership, When I got married I was in my late 20's as was the spousal unit, ownership was part of how we were raised, you owned cars, you owned houses, you owned things and took care of it. now I am not saying marriage is you owning your spouse, no…You own the Marriage, you take care of it. Today people have been conditioned to leave less of a footprint, so they don't own houses, they rent, they don't own cars, they lease or use uber or lyft. It is the same principle. If you have ownership of something, you take care of it, you are responsible for it, you do the maintenance on it, you keep it in good working order. In my mind that is the problem, nobody wants ownership of anything, no ownership, no responsibility. If you have to take ownership, you choose wisely." I then took a sip of my drink. She looked at me strangely and commented, "wow, never thought of it that way."

  7. We see a lot of women (and men) making poor educational choices. But it isn't simple choice of STEM vs Liberal Arts. There is a wide range of administrative and caretaker jobs–like social workers–that are essential parts of our modern machinery. And they are increasingly filled with women.

    But another point Clarey skips is that women are also rejecting marriage, with as long a list of grievances as the men. Women are seeing they can meet their goals of financial stability and a family without tying themselves down to a man. Immature men are as much a financial liability to them as the other way around.

    I don't have an easy answer for this.

  8. To work off of what Antibubba said.

    Yes, there are a lot of women who have reached financial and physical success (money, property, part of the reason for olde-tyme marriages.) And then, either married or unmarried, they suddenly decide to have children. And then due to childing, find out that financial success as a career woman with kids is very difficult, even if one is rich enough to afford nannies and other pseudo-mothers.

    The whole system is broken. From beginning to end. Parents often have already given dowries in the form of loan assurances or outright paying for the education of their female child.

    What is interesting is that there IS actually a movement back to the concept of the 1 parent working, 2 parent marriage with kids. It's slowly growing in popularity, and doesn't get talked about a lot, but it's happening.

    Why? Well, the free love, everyone works, babies are bad culture that took over in the late 60's means that there are lots of selfish people out there who sucked at being parents and when time for their children to be kids who acted just like them, the pool got smaller and smaller. These are the people that the Left and Media cater to. Single children of single children of single children. Broken remnants of broken families of broken promises.

    But the upswelling of traditional Christian families, where the man works and the woman stays at home, is happening. It's not just families like the Duggars on TV. That's actually happening all over. Families have discovered it is just as expensive to have both parents work as just one parent work. And with only one parent working, the other parent can do homeschooling and preschooling and all the other things that normally suck money out of a family.

    I've seen a move amongst a lot of people to get away from the Princess Diana type wedding and go to a more frugal start, thus saving money at the beginning and making their own dowry, basically. Save all the 'wedding' money to pay off bills and get decent quarters and vehicles.

    Of course, all of this is happening in Not-Crowded-City-Leftist-USA, so not a lot is being written about it. It's happening, much like the slowly swelling conservative movement, basically unacknowledged by the leftist controlled media and governments.

    Give it time. The next generation, if we survive that long, will be more conservative overall and more traditional as both of those concepts seem to be taking hold strongly in America.

  9. None of the Christian preachers want to address how legally marriage provides zero value to men. We also have 'Go Vagina!' screamed every day in the media (see LinkedIn), so women are happy to take jobs men would do except the dirty ones, but then can't take the idea that a man may not have a job or as good as a job as she does. It's a one way street with this equality BS.

  10. 1) Go back to requiring cause for divorce. Abandonment, abuse, infidelity. Require proof sufficient to convince a jury in civil court. Hearsay from either party is inadmissible. Proof, or no deal.
    Proof of infidelity resulting in granting the divorce would also constitute a binding civil judgment of alienation of affection on the third party, with minimum civil damages starting at $20K, and no upward limit. If that impacts a second marriage, the guilty party is solely responsible for all judgments, out of their own assets, and, solely at the discretion of the other aggrieved spouse, a summary grant of Legal Abandonment (see #5) shall be issued.

    2) Absent the proof for #1, a divorce may be granted if both spouses consents. They may have up to 6 months to come to mutually agreeable terms. Up the filing fee for all such divorces to $1000. If either party refuses, r they cannot come to such agreement, they must opt for #1, or #5.

    3) Abolish alimony. It's archaic. You leave, you lose. Stop incentivizing divorce financially. Marriage ends? Financial obligation ends. Easy peasey. Your spouse worked, and you didn't? Your choice. You reap the consequences.

    4) To redress two generations of skewed family court rulings, require all custody, property, and other decisions to be decided 100% in men's favor, until such time as all rulings still in force (i.e. both parties alive and receiving payments) in the given state reaches 50:50 parity. If, at any point, parity becomes more than 5% skewed, the 100% rule is reapplied, as appropriate, until parity is re-achieved. Any judge more than 5% out of line over time from 50:50 parity of rulings is automatically removed from office, and barred from further service, the minute they hit 44.9% either way.

    5) No-fault would still be allowed, but the name shall be changed to Legal Abandonment. The filing party defaults all claims on property or custody, and assumes financial responsibility for support of any children until majority. Deadbeats of either sex have wages garnished, or go to prison. They get no custody, none of the assets, no support, no nothing. Agreeing to this is a condition of granting the status. The filing fee is $5000, with 3/5ths of that amount payable to the abandoned spouse the day it is granted.

  11. (cont.)
    6) Any child proven by DNA testing to not be the issue of both partners in a marriage is solely the financial responsibility of the birth mother and father, even if custody is sought by and granted to the non-father. Said non-father may, at their sole and express discretion, refuse and turn out the bastard child, to the custody of the birth mother, and are under no further liability for the upkeep of said child. The child shall revert to the surname of the birth mother unless the non-father consents otherwise, and has no claim on future assets or heirage benefits, under the same provision.
    Any such birth shall be considered prima facie grounds to grant a divorce under #1, without any further evidence. The father shall be civilly liable for alienation of affection summary civil judgment under the same terms as in #1, plus any medical bills stemming from the pregnancy and birth.
    (The only exceptions are legal adoptions, including surrogacy agreements, in place before the child became part of the marriage. In short, mothers catting around lose their marriage, their children, and inherit the financial responsibility for the bastard produced, and the full costs of child support until majority if they fail to name the actual father, confirmed by DNA evidence.)

    7) No agreement or legal judgment levied in any other state with respect to any marriage shall be valid unless both plaintiff and defendant agree to it. I.e., no more running to an easier state to file to end the marriage, and avoid the legal penalties in the home of record. Any such flight and filing constitutes prima facie abandonment, under #1.

    Do the above, and marriage will once again be an equal partnership, with equal rewards for faithful spouses, and no incentive for faithless ones.

    Anyone who wants out can leave, at whim, but without getting a meal ticket for life, nor a license to torture their former spouse endlessly.

    Until that is reality, marriage remains a sucker bet for men, and a total blindfolded crap shoot, with any longevity subject to the whims and caprices of the wives, since women file something like 70-80% of all divorce cases currently, because they're "not happy".

    That fact alone should be proof that the system is rigged against men, with malice aforethought, and has been ever since some jackhole thought up "no fault".

  12. It's a culture thing. Want strong marriages and families then build a strong family centric culture.
    I remember when the tax code penalized marriage… Thankfully that got corrected during the Reagan administration.
    Throughout history any civilization that had policies that supported the core family unit survived. When a culture/civilization descended into hedonism and values that damaged the core family unit the collapse of that nation/empire occurred within a few generations.
    Reference the Israelites sacrificing their children to Moloch.
    Europe today is collapsing and being overrun by Muslim barbarians. Europe as a whole abandoned solid family values generations ago. The writing is on the wall regarding that outcome…
    America is well down that path with abortion, divorce and sexual deviance… We are well into the fourth turning. The America that a I grew up in is gone and its not coming back. We may be able to rebuild a culture with many similarities but it will be a different culture. Hopefully our descendants will listen to our tales around the campfire and learn from our mistakes. The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

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