Career defines a man to a significant degree.
A recent op-ed in the Washington Post entitled “For millennial women, ‘the one’ must have a steady job” mentioned a recent report which found that both men and women want a spouse with similar ideas about raising children.
For women this primarily means a man with a good job.
Post writer Catherine Rampell notes that,
She advocates helping Millennials advance economically. And certainly this is important.
But boys falling behind starting in elementary school through university must also be addressed. Further, we must go beyond the “who will our daughters marry?” line of thought and acknowledge that we must help boys primarily because their lives matter, even apart from women and girls.
Going beyond this, however, I would note that single 40-something women also complain about the difficulty of finding a man.
But employment isn’t the only issue. I’m in my early 40s and have been employed full-time post-college except for two brief periods when I worked as a temp while looking for a job, and the year I went to grad school (though never finished the master’s degree).
But I’ve steered clear of a second marriage, and at this point in my life I’ve closed off the option of having children. And I doubt I’m the only man with a solid work history who avoids marriage.
Am I irresponsible? Quite the opposite: After divorcing just as the housing bust hit I lost everything I had worked for the past decade. I created a five-year plan to eliminate all debt, increase retirement savings to 15% of gross salary, and put six months of net pay into a savings account. And I did it all on schedule by working two jobs for a few years.
I plan to retire at 70 because given family history and current health status I expect to live to be 95. I’m on track, even if Social Security benefits are 20% lower by the 2030s.
But marriage, with the risk of another divorce, could ruin my elder years. On the other hand, marriage could benefit my elder years. But the benefit/risk ratio is too great.
I didn’t date for two years after my divorce, but the first woman I dated began talking marriage after only a few months. I said no. We hadn’t been together longer enough, and at the time I was still paying a mortgage on a place where I didn’t live (the housing bust made it impossible to sell quickly). I knew that she thought marriage would mean an increase in her standard of living (though that’s dubious considering my desire to be debt free), and I knew she expected me to support her daughter. I told her I wouldn’t make promises I couldn’t keep. She thought I was being selfish and unreasonable.
About a year after we broke up over my “fear of commitment” I was at a restaurant with a group of people. I mentioned this situation. One woman looked at me with disgust. Another woman said she understood and that I was right not to make false promises.
I realized that my ex-girlfriend and the disgusted woman at the restaurant saw men as a means to an end. They weren’t willing to carry their own weight. And that was a problem in my marriage too – my codependency and her dependency.
Obviously this is my issue to deal with. But I don’t think it would be smart for me to marry someone who earns significantly less than I do, or who has much less in assets. The only person I can rely on to take care of me when I’m old is me, or a nurse paid by my insurance.