Joe-Lize's review: How to improve the world? Get married!

A bridegroom straightens his bride's wedding veil. Photo AFP, Sergei Supinsky

How to get rid of society's unhappiness, loneliness, and poverty? Get married, says American author Brad Wilcox.

Many of America's biggest problems lie in the failure of marriage, Wilcox argues. Just look at the decreasing fertility rate, which leads to a declining population, or take the increasing number of people who feel lonely or unhappy, he writes in his book "Get Married: why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families and Save Civilization" that was published shortly.

In today's society, marriage is greatly undervalued, says Wilcox. He refers to a study by the renowned American Pew Research Centre, which showed last year that only 21 per cent of parents in the United States believe it is important for their children to get married. And no more than 20 per cent see it as important that their children have children. In comparison, 88 per cent are convinced that it is important for their kids to become financially independent and choose a career they enjoy.

Dream careers

It is no wonder that an overwhelming majority of society does not see marriage as a great institution, Wilcox believes. The story that one needs to realise his or her own ideals, freedoms, and potential, even if that happens at the cost of marriage, is promoted by the media, influencers, and universities. People are encouraged to ensure they take care of themselves first and foremost, focus on what they like best and pursue their dream careers.

Wilcox shows that he is not deaf to the mainstream ideas about marriage, family and children. In his book, he debunks three important "myths".

The first myth is that marriage does not benefit men and women; the second is that all families are equally good and beneficial and only love and money matter; and the third is that a marriage can only be good if you are married to your soulmate. Although many people believe these stories, Wilcox demonstrates that these ideas are devastating for marriage and, thus, for the future of the American nation.


Surprisingly, the key to happiness does not lie in self-realisation and unlimited freedoms but in conservative family values that are abhorred by many in modern society. It is remarkable, Wilcox says, that many progressives preach liberal family values but practice conservative family lives. While upper-class families tend to be especially vocal about the importance of diversity in families, about rejecting traditional gender roles and about equal choice and freedoms, they tend to live family lives where the man is the main breadwinner.

It is not the only remarkable conclusion Wilcox draws in his scientifically backed book. One of the other surprises is that most women –whether they are liberal or conservative in their outlooks– are still drawn to men who adhere to the old ideas of masculinity. "Ambition", "confidence", and "physical strength" are things that women, liberal and conservative, appreciate in a man, as research shows. Following that, spouses living in a traditional marriage of a man and a woman are more likely to have a good marriage.


At the same time, Wilcox warns that the ideas about traditional masculinity should not go to extremes. "Women are less likely to be happy in a marriage to a man they do not rate as very attentive", he writes. If a man is not emotionally engaged with his wife, the quality of his marriage is likely to suffer as well.

Another benefit of a traditional marriage is that it provides children, albeit there are exceptions, with the safest environment possible for children to grow up with their biological parents. That way, they are more likely to have two people who love them unconditionally and are willing to invest significantly in their education and future. And a bonus is if their parents do not see divorce as an option, because that gives children the security that they have a stable basis to fall back on.

Stable marriage

Wilcox's case for the importance of solid marriages is strong. He supports this statement not only by his mere convictions but also by countless academic studies and graphs.

Although Wilcox focuses strongly on the United States of America (this can be seen in the examples he mentions, and the studies he quotes), the lessons about marriage can definitely be applied to other parts of Western society as well.

Whether you are convinced of the importance of a stable marriage between a man and a woman or whether you are not, the book is a must-read. Not only does the author provide a decent view of marriage from a Christian perspective, but he also provides solid academic arguments for his statements. If you weren't convinced of the importance of marriage, you might likely be at the end of the book.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.