Sometime we think we’re too unsophisticated to read the New York Times. Take, for instance, our reaction to the article, “More Men Marrying Wealthier Wives.” In it, Professor Stephanie Coontz of Evergreen State College says, just in passing, “We’ve known for some time that men need marriage more than women from the standpoint of physical and mental well-being.” Perhaps we missed a seminar or reeducation session, but right off the bat this struck us as counterintuitive — rather like saying, “We’ve known for some time that Marmaduke in the comic strips prefers the kibble his family serves him to food from other people’s plates” — yet no data points nor explanation are offered.
They they tell us about men who do not want girlfriends and wives who earn a nice living. These men are not heard from themselves, mind you, but discussed by unmarried women who complain of them, and by experts.
The news hook, according to a Pew report, is that “among all married couples, wives contribute a growing share of the household income, and a rising share of those couples include a wife who earns more than her husband.”
We found this excellent news, and put our courting clothes under our mattress to be pressed, but the upscale women interviewed in Sam Roberts’ article are less cheerful, on the grounds that this made men less inclined to marry them.
28-year-old stylist Beagy Zielinski, of whom a picture is provided, says she broke up with “her blue-collar boyfriend, who repaired Navy ships,” and that “he was extremely insecure about my career and how successful I am.” The sequencing suggests that the boyfriend became unsustainable as a lifelong mate because of the income disparity, though she never says so outright. We imagine ourselves toiling with a monkey wrench all day, and then acquiring a possible, attractive wife who makes enough for us to live on and more, and we wonder if the idea never occurred to the boyfriend to marry her, leave the ship-repair business, and take up something less exhausting, like freelance tennis instruction, or speculative ventures such as day trading or cards and dice.
Another subject claims “men call you high maintenance if you look like you don’t need anyone to take care of you,” though that sounds to us the opposite of high maintenance.
We will admit that we perhaps travel in different circles than those frequented by Times reporters, but where we come from, acquisition of a girlfriend who could take us out, and possible breadwinning mate, is an occasion for high-fives rather than flight. We spend a lot of time at our work, though, and may have missed a social revolution.