Saturday, 24 November 2012

Sketching at the window of this train of thought

I have been meaning to start this blog for some time now, but it seems as though every time I herd my thoughts together, there are newer and more pressing concerns to address. I've already written several drafts, but I haven't really been happy with any of them as far as introductory posts go.

The matters I wish to discuss are as far-reaching as they are deep, and it has been more difficult to summarise my thoughts than I had expected. Therefore, I decided that perhaps it was better to just write something to get the ball rolling, and then see where I go from there.

What's this all about?

I have spent many years now reflecting, with some dissatisfaction, on the relationships in my own life, and on those of my friends. What I saw was an apparent disconnect between the way in which we idealised our relationships, and the reality that those relationships faced. Friends I saw making lifelong commitments to one another would not even be on speaking terms within a few years. My slightly younger friends were busy getting married, and my slightly older friends were busy getting divorced.

None of us expected these kinds of tragedies to occur to us personally. “Yes, I know that 60% of marriages end in divorce”, we'd say, then rationalise that those “other people” were obviously not as committed/faithful/devout/Christian/etc. as us and that of course we would be okay. And perhaps we were right – perhaps there really was something especially deficient in those broken relationships, something we could avoid. But maybe those people had felt no less sure than we do.

I was not content with just wishful thinking; I wanted to delve deeper into this disconnect between our idealisation and reality. If I were ever to marry or have children, I wanted specific reasons and hard evidence to indicate I was in the percentage of husbands that would never put their children through a divorce.

A few months ago, I stumbled across some blog posts about divorce and statistics that had been compiled. What I found was a shock to me – the high percentage of unilateral no-fault divorces initiated by wives (up to 70% of such divorces), the number of children born of married women estimated to be the result of affairs (10% or so), and the extent to which society encourages women to focus on their own personal happiness and use any excuse to divorce their husbands and take the house and the children.

The blogs looking at these issues, especially the degree to which they impact men, are part of what is called the “manosphere” – operated by those who have rejected the tried-and-failed relationship dynamics promoted by modern culture. A common refrain throughout the ‘sphere is that feminism has played a large part in creating this environment where relationships are set up for failure and set up to benefit women over men and benefit women over children. While being initially hesitant to reach these conclusion myself, especially insofar as relationships between Christians (which I had naively believed to be less influenced by secular feminism), the evidence has led me to the same conclusions.

At this point I wish to mention the blog which has been most influential in challenging me to rethink and reconsider my views on marriage and relationships: Dalrock – Thoughts from a happily married father on a post feminist world. For anyone who would like to know more, I strongly recommend you read his blog. For those who plan to be married for life (you know, nearly half-a-million hours or so), spending one or two hours reading a blog is more than worth it.

Recommended reading:

Why write my own blog?

Why not just keep my thoughts to myself, far more private from the eyes of those who might object (future employers, friends, relatives)? Well, here are a few reasons why I have decided to do this:

  1. I firmly believe that explaining our views to others helps to develop and accelerate our own understanding. Our brains are designed to focus on just a few things at once, so we often fail to notice gaps in knowledge or in our logic until we attempt to formally articulate our views. I fully expect that my opinions and ideas will change as I write.
  2. One way to articulate our thoughts is to write them in a private journal, but the advantage of a blog is that, hopefully, people will interact with you. I do not write for fame or glory, but iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17) and there is much I can learn from the comments and debates that people might bring to this blog. It's my hope that the interaction can give me motivation to continue to express (and so develop) my ideas.
  3. While there are already hundreds of blogs looking at these issues, I do believe I have something unique to offer. Firstly, there are relatively few blogs dedicated specifically to examining these issues from a Christian perspective. Secondly, while most Christian blogs in the manosphere come from the perspective of those who are already married or divorced, yet fewer blogs come from the perspective of young Christian men yet to find partners, so I hope to spend some time focusing on issues for the not-yet-married and newly-married. Lastly, it is my hope to contribute via some other skills like being able to dig up interesting research papers or perform new statistical analyses.

This post is already longer than I had intended, so I'm just going to leave it there for now. In the next few days I'm hoping to complete and publish some of the other draft posts I had written. Thanks for reading.

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