Benefits Men By Giving Them Positive Identity, Book Asserts
Oct. 20, 1999 -- Marriage improves men. They
work more, have better jobs, give to charity, and attend church
more frequently, an award-winning book shows.
impressive as those findings are, the book goes one step farther.
It attempts to answer the baffling question "why?"
in Mens Lives," given the 1999 William J. Goode Book
Award by the American Sociological Association in recognition of
its significant contribution to understanding family relations,
says marriage positively changes men because it allows their masculinity
to develop and thrive and leads people to trust and respect them.
by Steven L. Nock, a University of Virginia sociology professor,
and published by Oxford University Press, the book 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.
on a national database of 6,000 men who were interviewed yearly
since 1979, Nock found that marriage with its expectations, rules
and customs gives husbands a way to fulfill traditional roles as
fathers, providers and protectors.
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
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
changes men because it is the vehicle by which adult masculinity
is developed and sustained," Nock said.
more closely a mans 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 couples reliance on others or having children, lead to
significantly higher levels of achievement among men.
research shows that marriage increases mens 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.
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.
in modern society crave well-being, comfort, luxury and prestige,
and marriage affords a means of achieving those things within circumscribed
legitimate boundaries," Nock said.
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
has strong negative consequences for men, Nock found. It reduces
mens commitment to work, which lowers their occupational prestige,
more information, contact Nock at (804) 924-6519 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a review copy of "Marriage in Mens Lives," contact
Oxford University Press at (212) 726-6000.
Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857