Game Theory and the Marriage Matrix
We are living in interesting times.
All about us are stormy waters; the situation change on a daily basis, seldom for the better. Plotting a course to our hopes and dreams grows ever more difficult, as the incentives which make up the social fabric of society shift, and defection is prioritized over cooperation. These disruptions are occurring in all aspects of society – is patriotism rewarded? Hard work? Law-abiding behaviour? Frugality? – but nowhere are the effects so disastrous, both for the individual and for the future of our society, as they are in the present-day marriage market.
Marriage serves as the bedrock of civilization because it serves the most critical needs of both the individual and society. For the individual, it provides happiness, partnership, and meaning; for the society it provides investment, stability, and a well-adjusted future generation. It has its downsides, to be sure. On the individual level, those who marry give up the freedom of youth; the man is now stuck with one woman, and the woman must give up the attention she once courted… but for the most part this is nothing but the freedom to believe that the grass is greener somewhere else. Time ages you whether you will it or no, resulting in spinsters and burned out players when youth comes to an end. Society, meanwhile, loses out on the unmarried male genius, and the obedient predictability of unmarried women – it now has patriarchs to answer to – but again, the benefits of productivity, the reduction in criminality, and the fact that a new generation will be born more than outweigh these costs.
Marriage is the smart bet for all parties… but when you pervert the incentives, smart becomes the new stupid.
The Duties of Matrimony
The duties of husband and wife are complementary. A husband:
- Provides for his family, even if he has to work in the coal mine.
- Protects his family, from physical danger as well as economic turmoil.
- Makes love to his wife on a regular basis; doesn’t indulge in flings or pornography.
- Acts fairly and decisively as the head of the household.
- Organizes the family; ensures that the household is in order and all are fed.
- Nurtures the family; she supports her husband in his mission.
- Makes love to her husband; she doesn’t deny him, or drive him into the arms of another.
- Remains a faithful follower, even when she disagrees with his judgment.
The whole of a marriage is greater than the sum of its parts; when both partners fall into the roles which come naturally to them they become a powerhouse, a pillar of society, and both partners live richer lives than if they hadn’t sacrificed – but this is only if both partners commit themselves to the marriage. Defection is always a concern whenever two people interact.
The Marriage Matrix
Let’s just consider what happens when one or both parties defect:
The Deadbeat: This is where the woman cooperates, and the man defects. She remains loyal to her husband, supports him in his endeavours, and nurtures him by maintaining a good home. The husband, however, never takes his duty seriously: he abandons her for a mistress when she ages, he turns into a lazy, abusive alcoholic, or he gambles the family’s future on some pie in the sky fancy. The woman did her best, but her marriage turned into a failure.
Divorce Theft: This is the inverse of the last: the man does his duty as husband, providing and protecting the family and giving up his selfish desires and pie-in-the-sky dreams, but his wife doesn’t reciprocate. She doesn’t cook and clean for him; she doesn’t nurture him; she doesn’t rub his back when the world beats him down. He is, effectively, a single man taking on the world without any support coming from home, while she’s reduced to nothing but a roommate he’s tired of fucking. It may end in divorce, or it may last, but it’s not a partnership or a marriage; it’s just roommates with a lifelong lease.
Casual Sex: When both players defect, casual hookups is all you have left. Men and women compete directly with one-another in the marketplace, only coming together to satisfy their sexual desires. The sexual market becomes a ‘race to the bottom’ – since there’s no new production being added to the market, a vicious intra-sex competition occurs. Alpha males collect casual harems, while Mean Girls keep their fellow women in line. It’s winner take all, but the ‘all’ becomes less and less as the years pass.
The first two outcomes have always been inherent to the risk of marriage, and societal institutions (both formal and informal) have attempted to mitigate those risks. Modern institutions are doing the exact opposite. Some prominent examples of the destructive standards we’re labouring under are:
- The Sexual Revolution: neither men nor women are expected to be sexually faithful; this not only opens up “Casual Sex”, but provides constant temptation even when both parties are attempting to cooperate.
- No Fault Divorce & The Divorce Industry: marriage has moved from a commitment before God, to a contract with penalties for default, to no sort of contract at all; divorces are ruled by ‘mitigating circumstances’ each and every time, and there are a large number of people motivated by paycheques who want to see your marriage fail.
- Marital Rape: what was once a duty of marriage is now a liability (note: the act of forcing yourself on your wife would have been considered assault in years gone by, but she was still in violation of her vows by refusing her husband: violently forcing yourself on your wife was never endorsed by society).
- Domestic Violence Legislation: while wife beating has always been an indictable offence, the present regime is farcical. The man is effectively considered guilty until proven innocent, and mental illness on the part of the woman is used as evidence to support the idea of him being the one at fault, rather than pinpointing her as the unbalanced and abusive one.
- Affirmative Action & a Dying Economy: thanks to the former, a woman’s standards for what constitutes “Provide” have been elevated beyond all reason; women have the same, if not greater, earning potential as men, and yet they expect the man to earn more than them. The fact that the economy has been dying since the 70s only exacerbates the fact that providing for your family is much harder today than it was for our parents’ generation; good luck being as successful as her father.
- An Overall Shirking of Responsibility: Both sexes have been promised freedom from accountability. The principle of doing your duty whether you like it or not is a thing of the past, even among the best of us struggle with this.
With all of these forces pushing the individual towards defection, let’s consider what the payoff matrix for marriage looks like:
Marriage (5,5): obviously this is the best option for both parties, but it only works if they both cooperate.
Deadbeat (4,-5): The man enjoys all the benefits of marriage, without having to perform his duty; the wife sacrifices her youth, her happiness, and her dreams for this worthless man, although she is still able to maintain an income through government subsidy. He doesn’t respect himself as much as a married man, but he doesn’t have to struggle to overcome all the obstacles that are in his way.
Divorce Theft (-10, 4): As the above, only it’s the man who is left penniless or in debtors prison upon the whim of his ex-wife, who enjoys the privilege of a married lifestyle without having to do her part. While a single mother (or absentee wife with a social calender) won’t be as happy as a devoted woman, she likewise doesn’t have to put in much effort.
Casual Sex (3, 2): Neither party gets what they truly want, but they both enjoy the occasional short-term romance and sexual fling. Men make out slightly better due to women’s rapidly depreciating beauty, but neither enjoy the benefits of a full-time partner they can trust.
As progressivism continues to erode the institutions of our society, the risks of marriage continue to grow, for both men and women. Marriage is still the best option, but defection is not only more likely, it’s far more disastrous when it does occur. The man facing Divorce Theft is the worst off – precipitating the ‘marriage strike’ coming from men – while the single mother married to the Deadbeat is the next worst off (ergo women are more likely to pursue marriage, but they’re also upset by how poorly it turns out); she doesn’t go to debtor’s prison, but she is nevertheless ‘used goods’ in most men’s eyes.
What’s a Man to Do?
Women are attracted to two main attributes in men: power and sexiness. Power can take the form of wealth, capacity for violence, or social influence. Sexiness can summed up as physical fitness, skill mastery, or social charisma. In the evolutionary sense, these traits are essentially the same thing (social charisma leads to social influence, et cetera), but for the modern context it’s useful to sum up these attributes as “Career” and “Game”. Put them on a Cartesian plane and you get the following:
Have a good career but no game? You get to marry an alpha widow with two children, who’s liable to cheat on you in the future. Have game but no career? Welcome to the life of a Player: women will flock to you, but they won’t stick around, since they probably earn more than you. Have neither game nor a career? Enjoy euphoria, senpai.
But when you have both – a successful career, and you’re chock-full of game – then you just might be able to pull off a real marriage.
One problem, though: all of those destructive influences I mentioned above? They shift the point of “Alpha Marriage” further and further into the North East. Thanks to Affirmative Action and the declining economy, the sort of career that will impress a woman hovers close to the six-figures range; less than that, and your Toyota Camry fails to impress. As for Game, you’re competing with the sexual revolution and unlimited choice: you can’t, simultaneously, be sexier than her college professor and the lead singer of her favourite band and Christian Grey – they all have you beat in one way or another.
As Virs we pursue self-improvement, of ourselves and our careers, improving our frame and our prospects, and edging towards that point in the North East… but at some point you have to ask yourself: is marriage still worth it? One of the greatest assets a woman brings into your life is the nurturing and support she offers as you perform your mission; supporting you through your callow youth, as you demand success out of the real world. Once you’ve already achieved this success on your own – once you’ve fought, struggled, and bled to claim your birthright, on your own without any support – what good is a wife, exactly?
It’s the story of the Little Red Hen. Now that you’ve succeeded she’ll gladly enjoy your success, but where was she when you were struggling?
I pity young maidens today; reality demands that they possess wisdom of a crone.
Remember, ladies: it’s later than you think.