Last week, The Washington Post ran an article entitled “Don’t be a bachelor: why married men work harder, smarter and make more money.” According to the article,
Men who get married work harder and more strategically, and earn more money than their single peers from similar backgrounds. Marriage also transforms men’s social worlds; they spend less time with friends and more time with family; they also go to bars less and to church more. In the provocative words of Nobel Laureate George Akerlof, men ‘settle down when they get married; if they fail to get married they fail to settle down.’
The article goes on to describe the statistics supporting these assertions, and concludes that what gives married men the edge over single men is: (1) marriage provides a new sense of identity; (2) marriage motivates men to maximize their income; (3) wives provide valuable advice and encouragement; and (4) like it or not, employers simply have a preference for married, male employees.
After I read the article, I couldn’t help myself: I sent the link to a couple of single male friends. One said he appreciated the article; the other bristled a little bit, and I understand why. When I, as a married man, share an article like this with a single man, I run the risk of communicating that I think I am better than he is and that he will never be as good as I am until he gets hitched. Moreover, I’m sure that’s how many single men feel when they hear some of the “man up and love a real woman” messages from writers like me, their pastors, or in conversations with mentors and married friends. But I don’t believe that’s the intent — at least it’s not mine.
I’m reflecting on my own life before marriage, and I see the drastic difference between who I was then and who I am now. Thanks to my wife, I’m a lot happier, more spiritually disciplined, more efficient at work, and I’m in a much better financial position than I was in my single days. So forgive me for projecting, but I tend to make the general assumption that my single brethren will fare as well as I have if they tie the knot with a good woman. And when an article like the one in the Post comes along, I can’t help myself. It confirms all of my biases, and the next thing you know, I’m firing off emails to my single friends practically begging them to get married.
I know it can come across as a bunch of finger wagging from a know-it-all brother when married men do this, but don’t take it that way. Take it as a compliment to the man’s wife, a testimony of his happiness — and a giant flashing billboard advertising the life you could have if you would just wake up, notice the many lovely women God has placed around you, choose one, and get on with the happier, wealthier, more stable life you could have if you would just get married (aw man, I did it again).