W. Bradford Wilcox discusses need for marriage mindset


W. Bradford Wilcox, an American sociologist and director of the National Marriage Project, addressed BYU students on Nov. 28.

The University of Virginia professor was invited to speak about his new book, “Get Married,” and began his forum by expressing his gratitude to BYU.

“I know of no other university in the world that has as many talented scholars focusing on marriage and family,” Wilcox said. 

Wilcox then introduced one of the main themes of his book with the story of King Midas.

“King Midas had a good life,” he said. “He worked hard to protect his kingdom, was respected by his subjects and loved his daughter. But it wasn’t enough for him.”

Desiring to be the richest monarch in the land, King Midas accepted an offer for everything he touched to turn to gold, Wilcox said.

After his beloved daughter gave him a kiss on the head and was turned into gold, King Midas realized he had made a mistake, he said.

“So this ancient fable, I think, could not be more relevant to us in this day. Because the new elite messaging that we’re often getting in the media, in the academy, and online, about work, and freedom and family is advancing a kind of ‘Midas Mindset,’” Wilcox said. 

He mentioned that this mindset is found not only in the mainstream media but also in the “Red Pill Right” with online influencers like Andrew Tate.

These influencers make the argument that men are oppressed and that marriage is an obstacle for men to be able to flourish, Wilcox said.

This mindset found both on the right and left, he said, is creating a growing problem as it filters down to young adults.

“Basically, the thought process is that relationships and love are risks and you always have your career and success to fall back on,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox showed data he had collected for his book that demonstrated the correlation between marriage and happiness.

“The odds of being very happy … with life increase by 545% for those in a good marriage,” he said. 

Wilcox shared the story of Scott O’Sullivan, an American who should be doing just fine by the media’s standards, Wilcox said.

Even with a college degree from Clemson, an engaging career and a six-figure salary, Scott still feels lonely and worried about his future, Wilcox said.

“I want to acknowledge, of course, that there are many American adults who are single and flourishing,” Wilcox said. “But there are also many more Scotts out there as the ranks of singles continue to mount in this country.”

For one of his last points, Wilcox focused on the value that religion brings to marriage. 

“We can see that when it comes to religion, the family-first values, virtues and social networks supplied by religion typically strengthen and stabilize marriage in America today,” he said.

Wilcox closed the forum by challenging the audience to revive a marriage mindset for the 21st century in schools, on social media, in churches and in homes.

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