Of Course Unemployed Men Are Disastrous for Marriage

This past week Tucker Carlson announced in a monologue that everyone’s goal should be “strong American families.” Sounds innocuous, right? Yet it isn’t, for precisely the reason Carlson gives: America’s elite refuse to address the greatest impediment to reaching this goal:

The dearth of employed men and the subsequent disintegration of marriage.

For pointing out the link between unemployed men and the decline in marriage, Carlson has been vilified. Our politically correct culture doesn’t allow problems that cause people discomfort to be discussed, let alone solved. So the problems just sit there and wait to be noticed. And grow bigger and bigger by the day.

What is America’s new controversial subject?

That hypergamy, or the tendency of women to marry men who make more money than they do, is still very much alive.

“Study after study has shown that when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them. Maybe they should want to marry them, but they don’t. Over big populations this causes a drop in marriage, a spike in out-of-wedlock births and all the familiar disasters that inevitably follow,” said Carlson.

Upending conventional gender roles, or having a marriage in which the wife and not the husband is the primary breadwinner, is problematic—and there’s ample research to support this.

I remember when Michael Noer of Forbes wrote an article in 2006 entitled “Don’t Marry Career Women.” It caused quite an uproar. In it, Noer highlighted research that shows marriages in which wives work more than 35 hours per week are less stable than marriages in which the wife works less or not at all.

“A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don’t marry a woman with a career. Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it.”

Again, that was 2006. Imagine if Noer wrote that article today! And yet he might as well, for the precarious nature of such marriages hasn’t changed.

In 2013, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business published a paper that looked at 4,000 married couples in America and found, as Mona Chalabi noted on NPR, that

“once a woman started to earn more than her husband, divorce rates increased. Surprisingly, though, this data showed that whether the wife earns a little bit more or a lot more doesn’t actually make much of a difference. So the researchers concluded from that that what really matters is the mere fact of a woman earning more.”

In 2014Lori Gottleib wrote in The New York Times about a study called “Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency in Marriage” which found that couples in egalitarian marriages, or marriages that make no allowance for sex differences, have less sex.

“If men did all of what the researchers characterized as feminine chores like folding laundry, cooking or vacuuming, couples had sex 1.5 fewer times per month than those with husbands who did what were considered masculine chores, like taking out the trash or fixing the car. It wasn’t just the frequency that was affected, either — at least for the wives. The more traditional the division of labor, meaning the greater the husband’s share of masculine chores compared with feminine ones, the greater his wife’s reported sexual satisfaction.”

In other words, there’s plenty of data to bolster Carlson’s claim that we “consider some of the effects” of women out-earning men. The fact is, he’s right. It’s not a boon for society—it’s a loss, for both men and women.

For men, because an unemployed man who lacks purpose in his life is downright dangerous. And for women, because they can’t find educated and employed men to marry. And for children, because the result for them is that they grow up without a dad.

It’s a G-damn mess, and it’s going to get messier.

Suzanne Venker

Suzanne is an author, a coach, and a podcast host committed to helping women let go of cultural beliefs that undermine their happiness in life and in love.