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‘Get Married’ and the Grammys

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Tom Hoopes - published on 02/26/24

'Get Married' comes highly recommended from exactly who you want to see recommending a marriage book.

Brad Wilcox’s new bookarrived at my house shortly after the Grammy Awards show, almost as though it was meant as an answer to it.

Wilcox is the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. The title of his book gets right to the point. Get Married, he advises, and adds: Americans must defy the elites, forge strong families, and save civilization.

The Grammy Awards performance demonstrated exactly why his book is so needed.

Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs’s beautiful duet captured our culture’s dark view of marriage.

One of the greatest performances of the night was the 1980s pop hit “Fast Car,” which is experiencing a second life as a 2020s country hit.

In the song, a woman wants a fast car to speed her away from her unemployed alcoholic dad after his marriage fell apart, and, later, wants a fast car to speed her away from her own dead-end marriage. She yearns someday to “be someone,” but domestic life holds her back. She has to make a decision: “Leave tonight or live and die this way.”

As great as the song is, it reinforces the myth Wilcox says Americans have been telling ourselves since the “Me” decade of the 1970s. He sees it in everyone from TikTok misogynist Andrew Tate to Bloomberg journalist Molly Smith: Our zeitgeist insists that true happiness lies in staying unencumbered by marriage.

But our zeitgeist is wrong. Wilcox points out that, statistically, married men and women are much happier than unmarried men and women in many different ways.

Everyone singing along with Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers” should read Wilcox’s warnings about Japan.

Another of the vaunted performances of Grammy night was Miley Cyrus performing her Record of the Year, an anthem to living your life for yourself alone. In the song, Cyrus says she doesn’t need a man: “I can buy myself flowers / Write my name in the sand / Talk to myself for hours … take myself dancing … hold my own hand.”

This is exactly what is happening in Japan, and as Wilcox describes it, the solo life is sad and lonely, not bold and empowering.

After years of low birth rates and a culture that allows young people to cocoon themselves in private worlds, lonely men and women in Japan feel incapable of approaching each other, let alone committing to a lifelong relationship. Artificial-intelligence powered romantic companions are popular, and the numbers of people dying alone are so high a new industry specializes in cleaning up apartments after the decomposing remains of previous occupants are discovered days or weeks after death.

Sadly, America is following in Japan’s footsteps. 

In one sobering statistic, Wilcox reports that, beginning in 2019, for the first time in history, the percentage of American adults who are married with children is smaller than the percentage with no immediate kin — which, for adults, means those without spouses or children. 

Billie Eilish askedWhat was I made for?” Wilcox’s research offers an answer for her.

Another highlight of the night was the moody, breathy singer Billie Eilish performing 2024’s Song of the Year, “What Was I Made For?” from the movie Barbie. The song expresses Barbie’s existential crisis, but the question has resonance with an entire generation.

Wilcox cites statistics that suggest an answer. The happiest people on earth are not individuals seeking personal happiness (the self-seekers in his Chapter 5) but families seeking each others’ happiness (the “We not Me” folks in Chapters 6, 7, and 8).

Wilcox doesn’t mention it, but his research bears out the Catholic Church’s answer to Eilish’s question: “man and woman were created for one another.”  

Grammy performer Kirk Franklin, at least, was on the same page as Wilcox.

The broadcast included a medley of songs by Best Gospel Performance winner Kirk Franklin, who sang “God can do all things. Nothing is impossible,” and announced that even through the darkest days “I know God is working, so I smile.” 

Franklin invited the audience to get on their feet and “go to church” with him. They did. They should make it a habit. Wilcox’s statistics show that religious marriages are the happiest, giving married couples many reasons to smile: greater life satisfaction and even better sex lives.

So forget the Grammys and get Wilcox’s book.

Get Married comes highly recommended from exactly who you want to see recommending a marriage book, everyone from Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, to Arthur C. Brooks, who studies the science of happiness at Harvard University. 

It offers an important warning about what’s going wrong, clarification of myths we have fallen for, and a very practical instruction on how to make it right.

Tags:
BooksCultureMarriageMusic
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