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The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier and Better Off Financially Paperback – October 9, 2001
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Advance Praise for The Case for Marriage:
"In this book Maggie Gallagher and Linda Waite make a compelling defense of a sacred union. The Case for Marriage is well written and well argued, empirically rigorous and learned, practical and commonsensical. It is a very valuable contribution to the debate about marriage in modern American society."
-William J. Bennett, author of The Book of Virtues
"Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher have written a truly revolutionary book. Amassing powerful resources of data and theory, they attack the current anti-marriage conventional wisdom and devastate it. Married people are healthier, happier, more productive, and enjoy better sex. On reflection one wonders how anyone could have possibly thought otherwise. Future discussion of marriage and family will not be able to ignore this work, no matter how much the anti-marriage ideologues would like to."
-Reverend Andrew M. Greeley, priest, sociologist, and bestselling author
"This is an important book that makes the central arguments for marriage. In this cynical, high-divorce culture, this book is a MUST read for every citizen. We need to know the facts about what marriage does accomplish, and here, finally, are the facts, in understandable terms."
-John Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and Why Marriages Succeed or Fail
"Is marriage just another lifestyle choice? If you think so, read this book. You will be surprised at how much harm has been done by the popular culture's seemingly benign and well-meaning efforts to characterize all family forms as equally valid. It is time to start talking about the 'M' word and this book should spark the conversation."
-Isabel V. Sawhill, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Linda J. Waite is a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and the author of New Families, No Families. She lives in Glencoe, Illinois.
Maggie Gallagher is Director of the Marriage Program at the Institute of American Values, a nationally syndicated columnist, and the author of Enemies of Eros. She lives in New York City.
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The authors give a plethora of interesting facts and points about marriage far too numerous to list, but let me give just a few examples: only 8% of American women consider remaining single dividing chores in a totally equal fashion is unproductive economically as it removes the benefits derived from specialization of labor approximately 50% of Americans aged 35-39 are or have in the past been in cohabiting relationships  80% of married couples see the relationship as permanent as opposed to only 50% of cohabiting couples who either break up or get married withing two years  women who felt a career was very or extremely important mere more likely to cohabit than those who didn't - not a big surprise on that one  between 1979-1981 of approximately 12k suicides, widowed or divorced persons were 3X more likely to commit suicide than married persons  60% of never married and 51% of divorced cohabiting females had sex 2 or more times a week, while only 55% of cohabiting men had sex as often - YOU GO GIRLS!  at the same time cohabiting females were 8X more likely to cheat than married females - YOU STOP GIRLS! After just reading this last paragraph perhaps you can see how statistics can make for difficult reading. The book has slightly over 200 pages of narrative, with the rest being cites and references for further study.
I have little problem with what the authors said excepting the dearth of reasons to ever get divorced, but still think it would be worth your while to read the book and judge for yourself. This is certainly an area where we can all benefit from as much knowledge as we can get. In any case, I think the authors are most sincere in their beliefs regarding marriage and its benefits to children and society as a whole.
This work is useful for anyone concerned about marriage: the person on the street, the young single, the counselor, the clergyman, the sociology prof, the individual considering divorce or the candidate for marriage. Despite a few quotations using offensive language, this work is ideal for all adults. It must be read slowly, because it is filled with facts, figures and statistics and you may want to do a lot of underlining (as I did).
There were a couple of points that would have made the work better. For example, the authors constantly refer to a near 50% divorce rate in the U.S. Although true, it is important to point out that only 27% of FIRST marriages end in divorce. [note: over just the last few years, new stats suggest a 41% rate, which still means that most first marriages succeed]. What brings the statistics up are the serial divorcers.
Their chapter titled, "Why Marriage is in Trouble" is weak. It sights a few possible reasons for the rise in divorce, but not the main one: people are more messed up than they used to be. People are less social, have a less realistic understanding of what is normal and realistic (partly because they believe TV and Hollywood, but partly because of THEIR upbringing), and the social push toward "demanding" our rights rather than being cooperative and compromising. They did get it right, however, when they stressed that too many people think about "their happiness" and not about the misery divorce will bring to them and to their children.
Let me share this one: "86 percent of unhappily married people who stick it out find that, five years later, their marriage are happier.... In fact, nearly three-fifths of those who said their marriage was unhappy in the late 80's and who stayed married....rated this same marriage as either "very happy" or "quite happy" when reinterviewed in the early 90's." We need to get the word out!
I would label this an important book and highly recommend it. If you are involved in "people helping," this book is not luxury, but necessity.
Waite and Gallagher provide the full treatment for this last, perhaps most important element of poverty prevention. Hillary Clinton missed the point: Families, not villages, raise children. And, if we follow Clinton, we'll all be the sorrier for such a loss of the real, meaningful social and economic foundation of society: the family.
Families generate economies of scale and job specialization. Children in families become investments, not expenses. Families provide built-in, free baby sitting, day care, education, tutoring and entertainment.
A student once responded to my question about teaching abstinence to prevent AIDS, implying my position as a moralistic, religious sanction. Sorry, she was wrong. Just because it's morally correct does not mean that there is no rational basis for the belief.