Richard Cooper: Reasons Not to Get Married—Ever!

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Unplugged Alpha" by Richard Cooper. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Is it a good idea to get married and tie your life with one person in the 21st century? What are some reasons not to get married?

In his book The Unplugged Alpha, Richard Cooper strongly advises men against ever getting married. As Cooper points out, even if you do get married, you’re likely to get divorced.

Here’s why you should steer clear of marriage, according to Cooper.

Why You Shouldn’t Get Married 

Cooper contends that men should steer clear of marriage, the primary reason not to get married being the high risk of divorce. This is partly because the family law of many modern countries financially incentivizes women to divorce their partners: In fact, women are most likely to grow rich via divorce.

(Shortform note: It’s unclear why Cooper states that women gain their riches via divorce; rather, studies indicate that American women are most likely to reach the top 1% of earners by marrying rich men (and not divorcing them).) 

Cooper explains that a divorced woman receives three major financial benefits from her ex-husband that entice married women to divorce their partners. First, if he earned more than her, she’s entitled to alimony payments—and thus a significant chunk of his future earnings—so that she can maintain her previous lifestyle. Second, she’s entitled to half of the shared assets. This may include assets he had before the marriage—even if they signed a prenuptial agreement, since the judge may deem it no longer valid. Third, if she gains primary custody of the children (as most women do), she’s entitled to child support—an amount that often exceeds the needs of the children because it’s based on government data. 

How Divorce Harms Women’s Finances

Despite Cooper’s contention that women want to divorce because it financially benefits them, several studies have found that women often experience serious financial hardship after divorce.

First, despite receiving alimony payments, women’s household income falls by 41% after divorce, while men’s income falls by only 23%. This is likely because women are more likely to leave the workforce to care for children and thus, they have a gap on their resumé and can’t earn as much as they used to. 
Second, when splitting assets, women tend to choose assets that provide their children with stability but that are expensive, such as a house; men tend to choose appreciating assets like retirement funds. Women also must split not just the assets but the debts—and they’re often unaware of the secret debts their ex-husbands have accumulated. 

Finally, even when non-custodial parents are charged child support amounts based on government data, less than half of them pay the full amount—leaving the custodial parents (usually women) with a significant financial burden they’re often unable to meet.

In pursuit of these benefits, Cooper warns, women will go to extreme lengths that may harm your emotional health and put you at higher risk for suicide. She might try to get your children to hate you. Notably, she may make false domestic violence charges—which allows her to force you to financially support your children without contacting them or being involved at all in the day-to-day parenting. 

(Shortform note: Like Cooper, researchers suggest that alienation from one’s children may contribute to the high rate of suicide among divorced men. Unlike Cooper, researchers are unclear (due to a lack of evidence) whether women are likely to make false domestic violence charges, although one study did find that child custody evaluators believed that 26% of mothers’ allegations were false. But even if the domestic violence charge is substantiated, the risk of not being able to parent your children may not be as common as Cooper claims. In such cases, 40% of evaluators recommend joint legal custody—which means that both parents are able to make child-rearing decisions—”half of the time” to “always.”)

Richard Cooper: Reasons Not to Get Married—Ever!

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  • The three big lies modern men have been told about society
  • How to break free from the lies and become a high-value man
  • How you can use this newfound status to become sexually successful

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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