Every successful marriage that I observe is quietly and furtively eighteenth century. — Jim Donald
I have my first kid on the way with my beautiful traditional wife. I’m blessed to have her, but our relationship was not a lucky accident.
A few years ago, I decided I was going to get married. So I did. I made plans, restructured my life, and developed the relevant skills. It worked.
I needed a bunch of careful thought to make that happen, but I’m not the only one. Many men in our generation theoretically want to get married, but aren’t on track to doing so. Sometimes that’s because we don’t think it’s possible or worth it, and sometimes because we don’t even realize the end goal requires concerted effort and action.
The antidote to both of these problems is a good strong dose of educational realism on the subject.
What follows is how I approached it—and would approach it. I’ll do my best to make it as general as possible, but you’ll have to fill in the blanks and do your own thinking and research.
Psychological Barriers to Marriage
The first problem men have is “Naïve Romanticism,” which is the belief that you can just cruise through life, relax, and not worry about getting married, and “the one” will come along at some point and sweep you off your feet like some kind of romantic comedy.
Few men will admit even to themselves that they believe this, but upon introspection, the belief really is present. This complacent ideology is pervasive in modern thinking around marriage. Its most subtly pernicious form is an aversion to thinking strategically about the problem and taking focused action to solve it.
“That’s so unromantic,” says modernity. “How can you be so cold and calculating about love? You just have to relax and the Universe will make it work.”
You know what else is unromantic? Dying alone with no children.
The fact is that this is the most important problem in your life. You need to take it as seriously as your professional career, starting a business, or planning an invasion.
There are two reasons moderns don’t take this problem seriously:
1. Cultural complacency left over from times when we had more robust matchmaking social technology.
2. Subversive Hollywood rom-com utopianism.
Our ancestors lived in a very different society. They had homogeneous, high-trust communities where their neighbors were of the same class, folk, faith, and social circles. They all grew up together, went to church together, and were well-integrated in a social fabric where everyone knew each other. As a matter of course, every young man knew multiple eligible girls who would make good matches. The parents, friends, busybody old women, tradition, and random happy circumstance would conspire to make successful marriage almost automatic. Naïve romanticism was a perfectly adequate strategy in such an environment, because marriage was supported by such a powerful social machine, which no longer exists.
We have not inherited an appropriate ethos to deal with our post-apocalyptic social conditions.
On the contrary, Hollywood and other media sources have been more than willing to guile us into ever deeper complacency with romantic comedies, mythology about “soul mates,” and propaganda against traditional social structures and mores that made marriage and life possible. These all serve as psychological and social barriers to successful marriage.
The next big problem, which prevents tackling naïve romanticism, is pride. You think you don’t have to change. You think the need to actually try doesn’t apply to you. You won’t listen to advice when it comes around. You don’t want to think about the problem.
In fact, you need to deconstruct and rebuild yourself to be capable of this great life mission. You need to harshly examine your own motivations and know where you are weak. Instead of giving up or wallowing in it, which is just another way of being too proud to change, you need to fix yourself and keep going.
The third psychological barrier is male feminism. Like naïve romanticism, no man with a shred of self-respect would admit to being a male feminist, but anyone raised in the modern world probably thinks like one. Male feminism will prevent you from treating the problem with the appropriate agency. The male feminist will react to the rest of this article with horror at how “oppressive” and “patriarchal” it is. This is just a way of avoiding responsibility.
There is a fourth barrier, of the opposite character, which is a sort of libertine despair that is wise on all the above, but doesn’t believe that successful marriage in the modern world is possible, and so prefers to simply “enjoy the decline”. It goes by many names: PUA, MGTOW, etc. Contrary to this attitude, I insist that success is possible, but you need the will to make it happen and you need patience. Marriage is hopeless and will fail if you approach it in the default, modern way. This article is about an older sort of marriage.
You first need to overcome psychological barriers that exist in your own mind: Naïve romanticism, pride, male feminism, and the black pill.
Wife Raid Mindset
To replace naïve romanticism, we need the fundamental masculine skill of life in the real world: the will and confidence to take a problem seriously and deliberately figure out how to solve it. You can sit down and think this problem through, come to an understanding, make plans, and reason things out. This is the only way anything real ever gets done.
In throwing out naïve romanticism, which is a fundamentally passive strategy, it is useful to have a much more active and high-agency model to work from. I’m not saying you should walk confidently into a bar stark naked and demand her hand in marriage, or come riding down from the hills with your war-brothers, set fire to her town, and carry her off, or add “wench carry (resisted) 300m” to your workout, but that is much closer to the proper attitude than the normal flaccid approach.
Modern women also have all kinds of little psychological blocks that will derail your chance at marrying them, unless you go in with an iron will to bust through all their silly resistances and win them. My own courtship, for example, was full of rocky uncertainty, resistance, and lack of will on her part. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t disregarded all that and put my will into making it happen. She sure is glad that I did. You thought I was joking above when I said this should be like planning an invasion, but I wasn’t. Wife raid mindset.
Which brings us to “consent”. Modern consent theories of moral action in this area are badly broken.
As the man, you need to be comfortable with taking leadership over your potential wife and the courtship process, despite her potential objections. This is the basis of patriarchy, which is the basis of civilized marriage. Part of the appeal of naïve romanticism or libertinism is that it allows one to avoid this responsibility.
We need confidence in a better theory of moral action, based on an objective view of what makes a good match, if we are to act with the iron will needed to actually get married these days. More importantly, a theory of what makes a good match helps us target the right things.
The romantic soul mate theory is wrong. What makes a strong marriage is not anything magic, but objective marriage fundamentals. There are a few areas to look at:
- Sexual Market Balance. If either partner is out of the other’s league, then the marriage will be unstable, as one party can get a better deal by defecting.
- Social and Ideological Support. Marriages only work if they have support through the rough patches from family, friends, and expected norms. You both need a commitment not just to the other person but to the idea of marriage itself.
- Traditional Marriage Culture. You want to go into the marriage with a strong tradition of what marriage means, what the division of labor will be, and what the rights and duties are. Marriage is social technology, and if you do it wrong, it will fail.
- Cultural compatibility. If each family has their own cultural expectations for how marriage works, there will be conflict in the scripts. Avoid this: you want as much cultural compatibility as possible.
- Personality compatibility. The partners need to get along and like each other at a personal level. This is not hard, given cultural and lifestyle compatibility.
- Virtue of Partners. If the partners in a marriage are vicious, the marriage will not work as well as if they are virtuous. This is the nature of virtue.
If you find a good partner and build a good relationship by these metrics, it will most likely be successful. If not, then not.
People often don’t keep their eye on these fundamentals and become confused with ideas about true love and such. But love is a side-effect, not a fundamental. If the fundamentals are good, love will come. If the fundamentals aren’t good, love won’t help. Consider the outcomes of arranged marriages, where the families set up marriages with good fundamentals without regard for love. They are very stable, and they end up in love anyways.
You may even want to actively ignore feelings of love during the courting phase so you can keep your head and focus on these fundamentals.
This is the objective basis for knowing which relationships are good, and which are not. If you have a woman with whom you have a good match by these metrics, you should push through resistance and make it happen. If you are not well matched by these standards, then no amount of persuasion or determination will make it work.
Calibrating your Standards
Many men have an unrealistic view of their own marriage value. We all want an 18-year-old politically aware, traditional Christian virgin blonde with supermodel looks and an IQ of 140. Those girls are few and far between these days and you aren’t meeting them. You need to deconstruct and recalibrate that part of yourself that is unwilling to be realistic about this.
On the other hand, many men who have never put much effort in will have standards that are too low once some self-improvement effort starts to pay off.
Here’s a heuristic for where your standards should be: once you’re really on top of your game, about twice a year you should meet a girl you would go for, who would also go for you.
A year or two is a very reasonable amount of time to spend looking, once you’ve got yourself up to snuff and your searching process is set up. Two per year gives you some selection and abundance, which frees you from falling into one-itis, while still maintaining tight, realistic standards. If you are meeting more than two good women who would go for you, you can afford to raise your standards; if you aren’t meeting two good women per year, you need to change one of three things:
1. Adjust your standards.
2. Improve your own marriage value.
3. Improve your searching and courting process.
Your approach should be to improve your own marriage value and courting pipeline first as much as you can in a timely fashion, and then calibrate your standards from there. You can’t know what your standards should be until those other two points are under control.
But to improve your search process and build your own value in the right direction, you need to know what you’re looking for. Most of what you want is obvious: attractive, smart, likable, etc. But some are less obvious, and men get confused about them. Here are the things men screw up. Keep in mind that these are ideals to look for, not hard requirements. A girl meeting all of these is going to be rare and out of your league:
- Is she available? Don’t pine after a taken or otherwise difficult woman. There are plenty more, you can get a better woman by waiting for the right circumstances, and if she left him for you, she’ll leave you for the next guy.
- Is she young? Fertility and beauty start falling at 20, so marry them young. And you don’t need a “mature life partner” immediately; you’ll get that in five or ten years as she grows up. A girl of 25 is the upper limit of the “sweet spot”.
- Is she of your own people? Mixed marriages don’t work as well. You want maximum shared cultural understanding, minimum awkwardness, acceptance from your own people, kids who actually look like you and don’t have weird identity issues, and to preserve and strengthen your folk.
- Is she feminine and traditional? You want a traditional woman who acts like such. Many “anti-feminist” women don’t practice what they preach, so watch out. She should feel comfortable taking the feminine role in marriage.
- Is she apolitical? Good women are either apolitical, or supportive of the mainstream. The mainstream ruins its women these days, so you only want women who are apolitical. A woman being involved in non-mainstream politics is a sign of bad character, not a benefit. This will change once we are the mainstream.
- Is she a virgin? You don’t want the kind of girl who did a lot of “partying” before “settling down”, you don’t want the baggage, you don’t want her thinking of you as her retirement, and you don’t want the spectre of those other men haunting your marriage.
- Does she have good domestic and family skills? Can she keep house, cook, clean, deal with finances, decorate, host, sew, fix, and so on? Is she good with kids? Is she comfortable and happy doing these tasks?
- Does she want to be a wife and mother to lots of kids? Women can be hard to convince. Big bonus if she already wants a big family.
- Does she believe in traditional marriage and oppose divorce? There will be times when she doesn’t like you anymore. For the marriage to work, she has to be committed anyway, because she believes in marriage. Make sure she’s committed to the idea of marriage itself, not just to you.
- Do her friends and family support traditional marriage? One of the worst ways that marriages get undermined is modern friends and family who not only won’t encourage her to stay in the marriage, but will actively encourage her to leave.
- Does she have few or no male friends? Many male friends is a bad sign. It can mean she likes to string men along for the attention, and it means she has more opportunity to stray.
On the other hand, there are things that aren’t absolutely essential:
- True Love. Again, love is a side-effect, not a fundamental. Don’t worry about it during courting, unless a lack of love is a clue to some more specific issue.
- “She’s the One”. Men get all kinds of stuck on particular women who they think are uniquely valuable. This cripples your ability to court with the right attitude. The cure is clear thinking and exposure to more good women. All women have that extra special magic beyond the rational value points listed above, so don’t worry about it; focus on the rational points of value. If she seems unique, either your standards are too high, or you’ve not met enough women.
- Shared Hobbies and Interests. She’s not your best friend or one of the guys, she’s your wife. You should get along with her and have lifestyle compatibility, but if she’s not into your obscure southeast Asian basket weaving hobby, that doesn’t matter. You’re going to be changing your interests as you grow together, anyways.
- “My Intellectual Match”. Women are almost always not going to be able to keep up with everything you’re reading and thinking, and not going to be a great intellectual partner. Of course, it would be nice, but this is too rare and weird to be worth looking for. As long as she’s reasonably intelligent and is sympathetic to your views, you’re fine.
- Formal Education. Except as a proxy for intelligence and competence, formal education is pointless, even a negative. She doesn’t need a degree to be a good wife and mother, but a degree now comes with lots of anti-marriage and anti-motherhood ideology
Get a woman who is good on all the important points, ignore the other stuff, and you’ll be doing well. But again, you need to compromise and be realistic about your standards. Interpret the above list as valuable things to look for, not hard requirements.
Your Own Marriage Value
Particularly for men, there is considerable leeway to either sabotage or develop your genetic potential. If you dress and act like a slob, never learn to talk to women, stay skinnyfat, and have an unparalleled anime collection, your good genetics aren’t going to matter. If you present yourself well, court women fluidly, and take care of yourself, you’ll be able to find and compel the best women.
Your target in self-improvement is the classical masculine noble hero of myth: Think of Odysseus, Beowulf–heroic, powerful, masculine, socially and spiritually well-developed, and generally virtuous. In more recent memory, the 1950s respectable masculine archetype is familiar and appropriate.
Women are attracted to classical masculine virtue. There was a reason Penelope patiently waited 15 years for the uncertain return of her king, and it was not just her own virtue.
Women’s attractions are often seen as barbaric by modern men, but these are just as often the parts of masculinity that modern “civilized” men have forsaken. That said, women’s attractions, untempered, can be barbaric, or at least run counter to civilization. Civilization, patriarchy, monogamy, and the civilized classical masculine ideal, to some extent have to be imposed on women whether they like it or not.
But imposing your own objectively more correct construction of masculinity, instead of trying to construct yourself to be attractive to women, is itself a power move which makes you more attractive. A man should conform himself to the immovable objective factors of the universe, and let woman conform to him, rather than attempting to conform himself to the protean nature of woman.
We can unpack this ideal into particular things the modern man needs to work on. There is plenty of material available on the net for this, so I will just summarize and point you in the right direction:
- Game. One of the biggest value-boosts is being fluent in the skill of talking to and courting women. There is a lot of good material on this, though the virtue-seeking man will have to filter a lot of degeneracy out of it.
- Good Grooming. Neatly trimmed haircut and beard. Clothes as sharp and formal as the respectable men around you or one level sharper, fitted but not tight. Clothes and body clean. These are the basics, but the basics are what matters.
- Physical Fitness. Don’t be fat. Don’t be skinny. Be strong. Train with barbells. You need to be able to throw her around and impress her with your physique.
- Goal-Orientation. It is the purpose of a good man to sacrifice himself for his family, his comrades, his superiors, and his people. You should have a mission in life that is larger than yourself. All self-improvement must be subordinated to this mission. You don’t want to be one of those guys who narcissistically makes self improvement for its own sake his life’s focus. Women do pay attention to this.
- No Bad Habits. If you smoke, drink heavily, watch porn, or have other vices, these kill your value. Nobody good wants to be married to a degenerate. As always, sainthood should be your target.
- Badassness. Nobody likes a soft, emotional, soy-fed bugman. Every woman wants to be captured by a bronze age warrior from the steppes, or at least a man with the strength of character to successfully break some rules and get his way in the world.
- Determination. She doesn’t want to have to convince you to be with her. She wants you to take her. She also wants you to be the kind of man who can set his mind on something he wants, and go get it.
- Justice. You need to have a sense of right and wrong that goes beyond your own self interest. You need to recognize when you are wrong, so that she can trust your decisions as being just.
- Masculine Skills. Women rightly like a man who can fix things, build things, and otherwise has power over his environment.
- Humor, Social Wit. Everybody likes a man who makes an aura of fun, adventure, laughter, and social smoothness around himself.
- Kindness. It is important to be charitable, thoughtful, and kind in your interactions, giving others the benefit of the doubt, so that a woman can feel that she would be cherished and trusted by you.
- Self-Examination. A key skill in any emotionally intensive activity is the ability to examine your own psychology, correct yourself, and be reflective. This gives her confidence in your development trajectory, so she doesn’t worry you will never improve.
- Money, Power, Status. If you can get more, do so. Women love money, power, and status, and it’s real convenient for family formation. But de-emphasize these during courting if you have a lot, or you’ll end up with a materialistic woman who will leave you when times get tough.
- Heroic Greatness. As it has always been, the single best thing to attract women is to be a hero of some kind. Win renown, honor, and greatness and you’ll find your options much improved.
Every one of these points is a set of skills, or can be gained through the application of skills. None of them is strongly limited by innate talent or genetics; you can and should improve in all of them. You don’t even have to achieve grandmaster status; a modest and realistic improvement in most of these areas will get you much better results from women.
So to increase your marriage prospects, you need to man up, but as usual, not in the way moderns mean it.
The Courtship Pipeline
The final big piece of the puzzle is your courtship pipeline. You need a system to find, meet, woo, filter, and court women for marriage. The stronger your courtship process, the more women you will be able to try with, and the less you have to compromise your standards.
The courtship pipeline itself is like a sales or recruiting funnel. You have a number of stages of prospect development, each stage losing and filtering out more prospects, but bringing you nearer to the close.
Let’s look briefly at the overall process as a series of intermediate goal states and what to do to get to those states. Much of this you may already know, but it’s good to go over the detail for clarity and to form a structured outline that you can fill in with your own research:
- Social proximity. You need to maximize the number of good women in social proximity. The more good women moving through your social network, the better. This means changing your lifestyle, social circles, and activity level. Some places are going to be much better than others; search for the places and social circles with the most good women. Good traditional churches, hobby groups, friend circles, parties, family networks, charity organizations, where you live, even dating apps. Whatever you have or can get should be used.
- Spotted. You need to keep an active lookout for good women, so that you actually notice them. You’re screening for the more visible factors: is she pretty, is she young, is she feminine, how does she dress, is she of your people, how does she carry herself, does she look virtuous, what does her social interaction look like, who is she associating with?
- Hooked in Conversation. Given a particular woman, you need to get her hooked in conversation. The game literature has a ton of material on how to naturally and impactfully strike up a conversation. The “hook” means she’s changed her plan from what she was doing, to talking to you. This is much easier in social contexts where she expects random flirty conversations, like a party, which is also a good time to drop a tasteful and appropriate but politically incorrect comment, showing you can break the rules well. I hooked my wife with a context-appropriate joke about who built the Great Zimbabwe.
- Flirting, Rapport. Once in conversation, the goal is to build rapport, get to know each other a bit, display your value, and solidify a flirty tone of conversation. You’re also looking for potential disqualifiers, as usual.
- Get Her on a Date. Get her number, wait a day or two to get back to her, then quickly recover a basic rapport and get her out on a date. There is a ton of good material on “text game”, but don’t spend too much time not face-to-face.
- Formal Courtship. Across a few dates, your goal is to escalate to formal courtship, meaning an exclusive relationship of some kind. This may involve escalating physical intimacy, which is a good test of the chemistry and intent. The less tradition and social structure you have to rely on, the more you have to resort to physical intimacy to solidify the nature of the relationship.
- Serious Marriage Evaluation Relationship. Given a relationship, you should bring up the marriage question early. The goal is to define the relationship formally as a tryout for marriage. Set a time limit, like six months. In six months, it is very possible to know whether you should get married and establish a good relationship basis.
- Engaged. Once the time limit is up, you have to make the final decision. Does the relationship have good fundamentals? Will you be satisfied? If so, propose. If not, cut it off politely. Don’t bother with expensive diamonds and all that. That’s cultural cancer. Consider the $20 tungsten carbide special from Amazon. Cheap, looks fine, and indestructible–a token of practical frugality, rather than materialistic excess.
- Married. In the fairy tales, they get married the next day. Keep that in mind. The modern extended engagement and huge over-planned wedding is more cultural cancer. There is no gain to putting off the marriage. Move the engagement along as quickly as you can and have a simple, frugal wedding.
- Seven Kids and Happily Ever After. You want seven kids. People think two kids is replacement, but that’s not true. Two kids gets you physical replacement, but the genomes are slightly degraded, so you want three kids to make sure two of them are on average healthier than you. But you also want the eugenic effect of higher quality people having more kids, so: four kids. But you also have to take into account that some of your kids will not reproduce, because they will be killed in battle, die of sickness, or get brainwashed at college, so that makes five kids for basic eugenic replacement. You should also have at least two spares just to be sure, and to replace the losses of the 20th century. Seven kids.
This model worked for me (though only one kid so far). It can also work for you. Do some thinking, research, and field experiments to fill in the details. Tweak the model to adapt to your local social circumstances, especially in the section between the first date and formal marriage courtship.
The whole process, all added up, goes like this:
1. Realize that you need to actually try to solve the problem.
2. Break down your own psychological barriers to action, which are naïve romanticism, pride, male feminism, and black pills.
3. Fully process and adopt “wife raid mindset” as how you have to think about this.
4. Reconstruct yourself to improve your classical masculinity, to be more like Odysseus and Beowulf, or maybe your grandfather.
5. Build up your social activity and courtship pipeline skills.
6. Recalibrate your standards based on what actually matters and the two-good-women-per-year heuristic.
7. Spend a year or two looking to find her and having false starts with women who won’t work out.
8. Spend about a year courting her and planning the wedding.
This adds up to three to five years from couch to marriage. You will need to be patient about this. You will also need to start approximately now.
Most men should not get married before 25, because you are not mature enough yet. But you shouldn’t wait too long past that, either. That means if you’re 23, you’re not too young to worry about it, you need to be working on it right now, so that the pieces are in place for when it’s time. Even if you’re 17, you can spend the next 10 years building and refining your value and courtship pipeline and have very good prospects at 27. And even if you’re 35, you can still make it work with a good woman.
Getting into a non-marriage “long-term relationship” is a bad idea. You’re either going to marry her, or you aren’t. If you’re going to marry her, do it now. If you aren’t, don’t waste your time getting tangled up in something you wont have the strength to end.
So, in all cases I recommend thinking seriously about the problem, starting now, but not actually settling down with a woman until you’re at least 25.
Good luck, but you’ll need more than luck to make this happen.