Free choice: marraige edition

Let’s say that you get to make a choice under two circumstances:

1) Under this set of circumstances, you can choose to marry someone and it will be very difficult to get unmarried to that person. Only certain actions will allow the marriage to dissolve and, once dissolved the marriage is actually over – i.e. there is no remaining legal relationship between formerly-married parties. If the marriage ends, you’re on your own.

2) Under this set of circumstances, you can choose to marry someone and choose to divorce someone at will. Once the marriage dissolves, you can force your former spouse to support you.

My assertion is that a person making a choice under 2) is significantly less free than a person making a choice under 1).

Circumstances 2) essentially treat the decider (i.e. the woman) as not responsible for her actions. If you don’t suffer the consequences of your actions, they’re not free actions.

Progress in marriage then, inspired by feminism, has ended up reducing the freedom of women.

Of course, I’ve written before that modern "freedom" means old-fashioned freedom of a child. Children are free to act and avoid the consequences of their actions. That’s modern freedom.

(This post inspired these thoughts)

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7 Responses to Free choice: marraige edition

  1. Handle says:

    The problem that emerges is that some kind of process for divorce with support will always continue to exist, and the incentive emerges for a giant legal battle to establish (or fake) or disprove (or cover up) the evidence of occurrence of fault.

    Let’s say a man, let’s call him “Arnold Black-Plowman”, have an affair with his ugly maid which produces offspring and pays her off to keep is a secret for years. Or, in the alternative, let’s consider “Panther Woods” who has been whoring around with triple-digits of slutty home-wreckers.

    Traditionally, we are sympathetic to the innocent, victimized wife, and the law will also give her a divorce, custody of the kids, and make the wealthy man give her lots of money and support. In blatant circumstances like these I think this is just fine.

    But to a person of bad-faith who wants a divorce without justified cause and would have to walk away with nothing with an amicable negotiated agreement, this is a huge pot of gold that makes it totally worthwhile to exercise the leverage against her spouse that if he doesn’t grant similar concession, she’ll unleash a giant, lengthy, soul-crushing, lawsuit full of legal-fictions on him on the matter of determining fault and/or make his marriage a living hell in the meantime. As I understand it – this is how it worked until 9 months ago in the last “fault-required” state of New York (which was mostly a boon for divorce lawyers, this year “no-fault” is universal).

    The problem is a deep one in our legal system. It’s very hard to achieve justice, because you have to have some exception for people that deserve it, but then everyone else tries to squeeze through that hole too and it’s very difficult to draw clear lines. And since the process is the punishment – the truth of the matter is irrelevant because it can’t save you from the ordeal.

    • K(yle) says:

      The problem with this reasoning is we ostensibly aren’t supposed to be criminally punishing people for immoral behavior. The husband in the case of being at fault for a divorce still isn’t guilty of a crime. He’s just responsible for continuing a financial/social arrangement with his wife that she theoretically had no or little part in ending.

      So punishment doesn’t even enter into it.

  2. Leonard says:

    “Free” is an ill-defined word. Perhaps you could say more about, but I find neither situation “freer” than the other. In both cases, both parties have the option to make the choice to marry or not.

    Once married, then the situations are still equally free if you consider both parties. Your (1) is more symmetric, but I cannot say more or less free. In (2) one party has more power — usually the wife — but outside of the left, power and freedom are usually thought of as different things. And it is still true that collectively, it is zero sum. If the husband has lost power (“freedom”), then the wife has gained it.

  3. Doug1 says:

    Men are much less free under marriage condition 2, which is of course what we have now.

    Even if she makes more money, and only 22% of wives did than their husbands in 2007 and it’s particularly rare that she makes a lot more, unlike the reverse, if they have kids he still has to pay a huge percentage of his after tax income in child support=also stealth alimony. That was jacked way up in the late 80s and early 90s under feminist pressure.

    In 2007 96% of alimony was paid by men to women.

    Also until the 1970s marriage was not deemed to be an equal economic partnership. Men did not have to give their wives half (which ends up being more than half considering transaction costs etc., and his paying her lawyer and supporting her during the pendency of the divorce action) of their wealth no matter how great. Instead men had to support her to something like the style she’d become accustomed if the ex wives own income wasn’t sufficient. Before the 70s far fewer women were employed in middle and upper middle class jobs than now. There’s no good reason these to require either alimony (whether called that or as a stealth component of two high child support) or the equal division of assets regardless of who holds title or who earned them.

  4. Hugo says:

    “If you don’t suffer the consequences of your actions, they’re not free actions.”

    Nonsense. Could you please explain?

    • Foseti says:

      If you don’t suffer the consequences, someone else does. You can’t be a free actor while constantly imposing consequences on someone else.

  5. […] Foseti – “Random Thought“, “Free Choice: Marriage Edition” […]

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