Here is W. Bradford Wilcox, writing on the three biggest myths about marriage for The Atlantic.
What are the three biggest myths? Glad you asked.
Well now. We’ve left out a tiny little detail, haven’t we W. Bradford?
Unequal for whom?
Unfair to whom?
Unhappy for whom?
Let’s take a gander at W. Bradford’s “analysis”, shall we?
There is only one problem with the dour and dismal portrait of heterosexual marriage painted by Liza Mundy in this month’s Atlantic cover story. It’s wrong.
In her bleak rendering, contemporary marriage comes across as unequal, unfair, and unhappy to today’s wives.
Oh, there we go! It’s the ladies, pissing and moaning, yet again. You’re shocked, right?
Wives are burdened with an unequal and unfair “second shift” of housework and childcare, husbands enjoy “free time” while their wives toil away at home, lingering gender inequalities in family life leave many wives banging “their heads on their desks in despair,” and one poor woman cannot even have a second child because she does “everything” and her husband does nothing. Mundy also suggests that recent declines in women’s happiness can be laid at the feet of “lingering inequity in male-female marriage.”
Oh god, men just SUCK, don’t they. Lazy fuckers, playing video games while their poor women slave themselves to the bone, doing housework and taking care of the children in between slamming their heads against their desks in despair and curtailing their fertility.
Let’s take a look at the evidence.
When you combine paid work with housework and childcare, it looks like it’s MEN who are actually doing more work.
It’s true that married mothers do more of the housework and childcare, but in most households this doesn’t amount to an onerous burden for them. That’s because most married mothers do not work full-time (43 percent work full-time) and do not wish to work full-time (just 23 percent wish to work full-time, a fact rarely mentioned in media accounts of work and family life).
Oh, there are some media outlets that will tackle the icky little truth that women don’t really want to work. Just today, the Daily Mail wrote about the looming crisis in the UK’s national healthcare system because all the lady doctors trained at great expense by the state and taxpayers simply do not wish to work.
I wonder how many hours the male applicants to medical school who were rejected in favor of female candidates were prepared to work? According to the American Medical News,
In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time
And who are these men working less than fulltime?
Two of the fastest-growing physician demographics — men near the end of their careers and women at the beginning or middle — are the most likely to demand part-time or flexible work schedules, according to experts in physician recruitment.
Men at the end of their careers. Rather than simply quit, they work fewer hours as they slow down. A well-earned reward.
Okay, so we have established that in terms of work, marriages are indeed unequal. Men work more.
What about fairness?
The rough parity in total family work hours enjoyed by most couples, combined with the fact that most married mothers don’t wish to work full-time, may explain why most husbands and wives judge their marriages to be fair. In fact, 73 percent of married fathers and 68 percent of married mothers reported that their marriage was fair, according to the 2010-2011 Survey of Marital Generosity.
That research was conducted by some guy named Bradford Wilcox. Hmm. The name rings a bell.
Looks like women are more likely to consider their marriages unfair. Which women?
Mothers who work full-time.
The most notable exception to the positive marriage portrait I have painted here can be found among married couples with children where both spouses work full-time—the one group that featured prominently in the statistics cited by Mundy. In these marriages, there really is a “second shift” for many married mothers; wives in these marriages do about five hours more of total work per week and enjoy six hours less free time per week than their husbands, according to research by sociologist Suzanne Bianchi. Such marriages may indeed be more vulnerable to the kinds of tensions and unhappiness Mundy dwelled upon.
Well, okay. How many hours does the husband work?
In the UK, the Office of National Statistics found that in families where both parents work full time, it is fathers who work more hours and get less sleep.
The new ONS survey shows that life is also extremely tough for fathers with young families, particularly those whose youngest children is under the age of four.
They sleep less, works more and do more “domestic” work than any other “type” of man, such as one with older children or one with no children.
A typical father whose youngest child is under four gets less than eight hours sleep a night and does more than three hours of domestic chores every day.
They are also working more than one hour a day longer than their male colleagues who do not have children.
We can take a guess at which men reported their marriages to be unfair – the ones married to a woman working full-time, but still likely fewer hours than her husband.
Now let’s tackle happiness.
More men than women are happy with their marriages, despite working longer hours, on average, than their wives.
Again, I would guess that the men and women who were the unhappiest were the ones trying to manage a family while both holding down full time jobs. The Pew Research Council agrees:
Among mothers with children under age 18, married moms are happier overall than unmarried moms. Fully 43% of married mothers say they are very happy with their life these days; only 23% of unmarried mothers say the same. There is also a significant gap in happiness between working and non-working mothers: 45% of non-working mothers say they are very happy, compared with 31% of mothers who work either full or part time. When other factors (race, ethnicity, income and education) are taken into account, marriage is a significant predictor of a mother’s happiness while employment status is not.
Unequal? Yep. Men work more hours than women.
Unfair? Only when the wife works full time.
Unhappy? Only when the wife works full time.
So what’s the moral of this little story? Women are encouraged to believe that working full time will bring meaning and happiness and fulfillment. Lean In, says Sheryl Sandberg.
And when they do, women are unhappy and feel they are being treated unfairly by their husbands.
What’s the answer to that?
Divorce won’t change how unhappy women are at all. Know why? Because it’s not marriage that makes women unhappy.
It’s working full time.
Men aren’t the cause of women’s unhappiness. Women are, especially the ones trumpeting the lies about how full time employment is the only meaningful contribution a woman can make to the world.
Mothers who work full time jobs spend just 19 minutes a day with their children.
That’s a tragedy, for all of us.
It’s time to start telling women the truth. Stop blaming men for your unhappiness. Take the blinders from your eyes and throw the chains away. Stop listening to the lies other women tell. Don’t quit your marriage. Quit your job.
Equality is valuing husbands and wives for their differences. Fairness is understanding that when one person does the paid labor, the other person does the unpaid. Happiness is caring for your husband, being there for your children and loving them all.
Those are no myths.
Lots of love,