There are three young men in my office that work in our IT department, none of which are (nor have they ever been) married. They don’t seem especailly happy nor do they appear to be all that unhappy. I guess the best I could say of the three of them is that they are merely… content. They are content with their bachelor’s lifestyle of childless freedom. Content, but as I said, not particularly happy.

Over lunch one afternoon, nosey parker and happily married father that I am (and someone that likes to encourage Christian marriage) I decided to ask one of these young men why he hadn’t yet gotten married? I figured the answer would be more in line with “…well I haven’t found the right woman yet…” or “…I am not the marrying kind of man…” or “…well I don’t know what love is…” or “…no woman has said yes yet, do you have someone in mind?” that kind of thing. No, his answer was completely unexpected, something that makes perfect sense from an economics stand point in our frighteningly real world of the bottom line:

“Unfortunately all the girl’s I’m interested in owe way too much on their credit cards or student loans. So I can’t marry them.”

And number two and number three? Similar situations with their girl friends, too much debt, too much risk.

The wikipedia definition for Dowry is as follows:

A dowry is a process whereby parental property is distributed to a daughter at her marriage (i.e. inter vivos) rather than at the holder’s death (mortis causa). A dowry establishes some variety of conjugal fund, the nature of which may vary widely. This fund ensures her support (or endowment) in widowhood and eventually goes to provide for her sons and daughters.

It was supposed to be for her should she ever become widowed. It is not intended to be a BRIBE paid by the parents of the daughter to the would be son-in-law for releaving them the BURDEN of the financial support of their useless and not-fully-functioning adult daughter (who is incapable of supporting herself), but it is quite often used in that manner in parts of Asia. This was also pretty customary in many parts of Europe prior to the Victorian Era even among Christian marriages (particularly ones of greater wealth where the daughter in question was of questionable character.) The belief here was that marriage was good for women (perhaps better for women than for men), and that in some cases, it was necessary to financially COAX the would be son-in-law to marry that girl if he knew that it would (in someway) elevate his lifestyle financially.

So fast-forward to today. Here we are with so many women walking around with Anti-Dowry. They got the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in (what? who knows what?) and with that, $100K or more in student loans for their $42K a year office job. They have to have all the nice shoes and boots and purses and clothes and make up and perfume and jewelry and what-have-you (all at the mall) and because instant gratification quite often trumps delayed gratification (as does lunch out ever day as opposed to bringing a sandwich), you have a girl (age 26, maybe 27) with $29,000 of accumulated debt on her 5 Visa Gold cards (of which she only ever makes the minimum payment.)

Ouch. Anti-Dowry. What man wants to marry that? What man is deserving of that? That isn’t fair. I know life isn’t fair but egads?

Quite often marriage today for young men means making her financially whole. He is going to have to step in and square those debts that she has been accumulating in her single years while she was having fun. Worrying about how she was going to pay for those loans, if you ask a few of these women (as I have) the common response was usually… (giggle) “…Oh I just figured my husband would someday pay for all that.” (Wink and a nod.)


Given these parameters that many young people deal with today, it should come as no surprise that our marriage rate is dropping like a rock. I means seriously, how am I (a happily married man) able to sell marriage for young single men given that this is quite often the reality that they will be facing? I CAN’T. It is just not going to happen. What I find even more distressing is that these kids of conversations are probably not happening enough. I am not even sure my three co-workers have expressed their discomfort with the whole thing. But I know men. Men care about this. They may SAY that they don’t care, but they do. They are just saying that to the women they love want to marry to make them feel good. These are serious problems, problems that society has a way of fixing by way of the free market. And right now the free market is stipulating that marriage is not a hot commodity. It’s a buyers (buyer = men going down on bended knew with diamond) market, the seller (woman offering her hand) has to scramble.

And soceity suffers as a whole, for it.


13 responses to “Anti-Dowry…”

  1. Bucho says :

    Not only will they be bringing extra debt into the relationship, but I’m sure they’d expect all this extra stuff for the wedding. Stuff like engagement photos, various showers, and an exotic honeymoon. Not to mention all the pomp and circumstance that goes on with the actual wedding (provided it’s not on the parent’s dime.)

    I think the economic times we lived through 10-15 years in have been an anomaly. A lot of these girls grew up in times where daddy had a good job could afford to pay their debts (or at least have access to cheap credit.) Not to mention that society seems to push the notion that no education is wasted. Having trouble finding a job? Why not hang out in grad school for a while and get a degrees that probably would give you any additional skills.

    No wonder these guys don’t want to marry girls with debt. It’s hard enough getting ahead in this economy, much less with the millstone of someone else’s debt slowing you down.

    I’d be interested in your friend’s response to your co-workers statement.

    • innocentbystanderboston says :

      Thanks for the post Bucho.

      What I think what is currently happening, is young men who are willing to work Hard have made the educated choice to “opt out” of marriage because of the debt. I think this term is MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way.) Some people are wrigint books about this recent development and people who resent this type of behavior respond in one of two ways: a WHO CARES! response from older men and fathers who pridefully want to defelct accountability on the part of their daughters OR an angry response from younger women (how dare you hold ME responsible for my actions), that kind of thing. Either way, they can’t force men to marry them so these women are not getting married.

      Yes the women want the nice wedding as well, all the pomp and circumstance and (quite often) the groom is expected to step up and provide the resources to pay for that since the father and mother of the bride aren’t going to do so. So it gets even worse.

  2. Skibum93 says :

    Significant amounts of debt are a disincentive to marriage for two reasons:

    1). Implies either poor analysis skills ($80,000 in student loans to buy a $50,000/year job?) or poor impulse control (Keep her away from GNO’s and Manolo the Pool Boy).

    2). Men understand the possibility of alimony, but that is uncertain to amount and probability of occurrence. Existing debt, OTOH, is impossible to argue with. The prospective groom can do the math and know it is $1,000/month out of the joint pocket if he marries her.

  3. wgdupree says :

    I have observed that women tend to be more impulsive and posess less of a tendency to plan for the long term. Couple this with the perceived empowerment of women pushed by feminist rhetoric, which encourages economic independence of women, and you have a formula for disaster for not only the young men who may be unfortunate enough to have to marry such a girl, but also for the young women themselves.

  4. anonymous says :

    There was an article in the LA Times a while back about a man who broke off his engagement when he discovered that his wife to be owed $200K for a degree in photography and then went back to school and became a dental hygienist.

  5. Jerry says :

    Great blog! I’d like to give an example of the anti-dowry of today.. I was dating a woman for a while and she had about $50K in student debt for her liberal arts degree. I could have lived with that but she also had $15K in credit card debt that she ran up during school but mostly after she graduated when she took 3 months to go travel around Europe with her younger sister. I’m pretty sure she hooked up with a bunch of guys when she was staying in hostels with her younger sister during that trip, and now I’m supposed to help her pay off all that debt? She had two maxed out cards with 15%+ interest rates, no savings and $60K in student loan debt for a job paying her $35K/year and pretty weak prospects for advancement.

    Parents need to educate their daughters about debt and how it is going to mess with their ability to attract decent, hardworking, marriage minded men. I’m tall, fit, good looking, marriage minded, and almost free of my own student debt. I never ran up debt on a credit card. Good men aren’t going to be marrying women with piles of stupid debt. Especially high interest credit card debt. I’ve decided that I’m going to ask all the women I see these days up front about their debt, very early so I don’t waste my time or theirs. I’ve spent the last 8 years working hard and spending very little so I could be debt free, not so I could pay off some chick’s VISA card that she ran up while sucking and fucking her way across Europe with her sister after college.

    • innocentbystanderboston says :

      Agreed Jerry, and welcome.

      The situation you describe is far from unique, unfortunately. I guess the real question is, this woman you met with the $50K in student loans and $15K in credit cards, would you have actually married her were it not for the debt? I’m guessing yes.

      Please post more on my blog. But in the future, please cut down on the f-bombs because young people read this. Thanks in advance.

  6. Jerry says :

    No problem. I’ll watch what I type around here in the future.

    It is pretty common these days. I think if we broke it down and looked at the numbers young single women have way more debt of all kinds than young single men. Its a huge deal, most of these college educated women with huge debt loads truly expect their future husdands will take care of it for them.

    I was thinking about marrying her. She’s is a sexy woman, a couple of years younger than me, really hot bod. I’m looking for a wife, have been for the last few years. We dated for almost seven months before I ended it. The student loan debt wasn’t that big of a deal. I did have about the same amount when I got done with school myself back in 06, the interest rate on her debt was like 3% or 4%. Her credit cards killed it though, and he attitude towards all of her debt was “so what – If you want to be with me you will help me deal with it” or, “I work and make my own money, so I will pay all my debt on my own”.. Meaning, her money would be going to her debt and my money is for everything else?
    No..that’s not going to happen. Plus the extra slap in the face that most of the credit card debt came from a three month sex vacation across Europe with her younger sister when she was 23.

    It wouldn’t have worked out in the long run for us. We are very different people and the debt showed me that. It allowed me to be able to see past her tight body and the sex. I’ve spent the last 8 years paying off debt the bankers and elites wanted me to carry for the next 25 years making the min payment every month. Its almost all gone, I’m very proud of myself that it will be gone before the end of 2014. I have no other debt. I drive a 12 year old paid off Ford Ranger and live in an apartment that’s not the best.. but the rest of my life will be better off because of the sacrafices I made over the last couple of years.

    Once my student debt is totally paid off later this year, I’m thinking about taking my own months long vacation across Europe or Asia. I’ll pay for it with cash savings. If I don’t find a wife overseas maybe I’ll start to consider women with a bunch of high interest debt from traveling around without me, but I’m going to go travel around the world on my own before I ever do a thing like that.

  7. Opus says :

    When I was a teenager my parents never gave me any advice as to women to avoid. In those days it probably wasn’t needed; to begin with there was no student debt because further education (in England) was free (I never paid or owed one penny – and I attended two very different Colleges at Bachelor level for two Degrees) and few people undertook tertiary education in any event. There were no credit cards and your Bank Manager would be highly unlikely to grant you a loan unless he was pretty certain it would be repaid with interest and on time – always assuming you had a Current account [Checking account] and many did not, hence the Truck acts for payment of wages in cash. I was debt free and so were my girlfriends.

    Dowry had gone the way of the dodo long before my time but divorce was largely unknown. My own mother was scrupulous about what she spent – and she could have spent a lot, being wealthy in her own right – had she had a somewhat different nature to the one she had – but she didn’t. Impecuniosity was unknown.

    Promiscuity – by reason of early marriage, if nothing else – was also largely unknown.

    • innocentbystanderboston says :

      From my own personal experience, I think the “motive” for parents and grandparents to NOT give you advice as to what women to avoid is rooted in “chivalry.” Basically, how dare you hold her accountable for her actions? How dare you say she should be responsible for what she’s doing and you (as the man) need to step up, cut her some slack, and give her a chance just the same because… she is a woman. I’d say this is learned behavior on people born in the Greatest Generation and also, the Baby Boomers. Neither of these generations had to deal with the dating/marital issues that Gen-X (born 1965 to 1975) and the millenials are dealing with today. You could get by with chivalry back in the day.

      It doesn’t work that way anymore, not with 100K in debt at age 23. Not with the SAME 100K in debt at age 43. These are the things that Gen-X and the millenial men are seeing in the women they socialize with and that is a damn shame.

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