benefits men by giving them positive identity, book asserts
By Ida Lee Wootten
again, wild and crazy bachelors. Marriage improves men. They have
better jobs, work more, give to charity and attend church more
frequently, says sociology
professor Steven L. Nock in his award-winning book, Marriage in
impressive as these findings are, the book goes one step further.
It attempts to answer the baffling question "why?"
Drawing on a national database of 6,000 men who were interviewed
yearly since 1979, Nock says marriage positively changes men because
it allows their masculinity to develop and thrive and leads people
to trust and respect them. The book recently received the 1999
William J. Goode Book Award from the American Sociological Association
in recognition of its significant contribution to understanding
asserts that marriage contributes to and enhances males' images
of themselves and their masculinity, driving them to be more successful,
more generous and more concerned about the welfare of others.
He found that marriage with its expectations, rules and customs
gives husbands a way to fulfill traditional roles as fathers,
providers and protectors.
Public opinion, the law and religion clearly define the standards
of what a good marriage should be, Nock says. Married men are
assumed to be mature, productive and faithful providers for their
wives and children.
these standards are so widely known, men can easily determine
if they are good husbands. In meeting those expectations, men
come to see themselves as good providers, which reinforces their
sense of masculinity.
"Marriage changes men because it is the vehicle by which
adult masculinity is developed and sustained," Nock said.
The more closely a man's marriage conforms to the norm, the greater
are his work accomplishments and involvements in community organizations,
Nock found. Shifts in married relationships, such as decreases
in the couple's reliance on others or having children, lead to
significantly higher levels of achievement among men.
research shows that marriage increases men's achievements as reflected
in earnings, labor force commitment and occupational prestige,"
asserts that marriage not only leads men to work and earn more,
it also prompts them to participate in social functions and engage
in philanthropy because such behaviors are expected of adult males.
"Marriage does not appear to add or subtract to the total
amount of time husbands spend with others so much as it reorganizes
the total amount of contact men have with other people,"
said Nock, who researches the causes and consequences of change
in the American family.
studied interviews with men before and after they were married
to see how their lives changed over the years. He found that marriage
brought predictable changes. Married men saw less of their friends,
went to bars less often and dropped memberships in such unstructured
organizations as health and hobby clubs. They were more likely
to engage in functions with clear expectations, such as church.
"Men in modern society crave well-being, comfort, luxury
and prestige, and marriage affords a means of achieving those
things within circumscribed legitimate boundaries," Nock
remarriage had the opposite effects, Nock found. "Without
the formal and informal rules that exist for first marriages,
remarriages produce fewer benefits for men," he said. The
sociologist believes that men feel less compelled to fulfill roles
as good providers and fathers because there are fewer assumptions
or standards about remarried life.
has strong negative consequences for men, Nock found. It reduces
men's commitment to work, which lowers their occupational prestige,