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Fwd: National Marriage Week - Ethics & Religion Col.

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From: Michael McManus <>
Date: Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 12:42 AM
Subject: National Marriage Week - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,851
To: Bill Coffin <>

Ethics & Religion

A Column by Mike McManus


February 16, 2017

Column #1,851

National Marriage Week

By Mike McManus


            It is National Marriage Week, a good time to assess the health of marriage in America.   “The institution of marriage represents the very foundation of human social order,” writes Dr. James Dobson. “Everything of value sits on that base. Institutions, government, religious fervor and the welfare of children are all dependent on its stability.”


            When Gallup asked couples to grade their marriages, 68% gave it an A and 23%, a B. Only 6% gave it a C and 1% each, a D or F.  By contrast, 64% of cohabiting couples who were preparing for marriage, ranked their relationship in the “low satisfaction group.”


            Nor do unhappy marriages stay that way: 86% of bad marriages become good ones!


            However, divorced men are twice as likely as married men to die from the four big killers: heart disease, stroke, hypertension and cancer.  My wife and I report in our book, Living Together: Myths, Risks & Answers, “Auto accidents and suicide death rates for the divorced are almost four times higher; cirrhosis of the liver and pneumonia death rates are seven times higher; the rate of death from murder is eight times greater.”


            Not surprisingly, therefore, being unmarried chops nearly ten years off a man’s life. Married women will live four years longer, and their children, five years longer.


            “Loneliness is a lethal force with the power to break the human heart,” writes James J. Lynch in A Cry Unheard. A married couple cares for each other. For example, a wife watches their diet and objects if her husband pours a second drink.  But when one of them dies, the will to live is extinguished for many.


            Married couples are far wealthier.  Those who never marry experience a 75% reduction in wealth. Married men earn 10% to 40% more than single men with similar education and job history. Why? Married men have a greater work commitment, lower quit rates, healthier and more stable routines.


            According to The Case For Marriage by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, “On the verge of retirement, the typical married couple had accumulated about $410,000 compared to $167,000 for the never-married, $154,000 for the divorced, and under $96,000 for the separated.”


            We write, “Marrying offers balance. Spouses are invested in each other and in the well-being of their joint future. He proposes to buy a new car; she says, `That’s a waste of our money. Let’s remodel the screen porch and turn it into a sunroom.’ Result: the investment increases the value of their home.  The single guy buys the car or vacations in Cancun and by retirement can claim fewer assets.”


            Married people also have more and better sex than singles.  TV shows like Sex and the City give the impression the happiest people are those who jump in bed with someone new every Friday night.  But the National Sex Survey reports 43% of married men had sex at least twice a week – compared to only 26% of single men.


Married people also enjoy their sex more, both physically and emotionally than their unmarried counterparts. Married women are almost twice as likely as divorced and never-married women to have a sex life that (a) exists and (b) is extremely emotionally satisfying.


What about cohabiters? While cohabiting couples have at least as much sex as the married, they don’t seem to enjoy it quite as much. For men, having a wife beats shacking up by a wide margin: 48% of husbands say sex with their wife is extremely satisfying emotionally compared to just 37% of cohabiting men.


Therefore, I have a tough question.  Why were there more marriages in 1970 (2,159,000) than in 2015 (2,077,000)?  The population grew from 203 million to 319 million.  If the same percentage of couples were marrying now, there would be 1.3 million more marriages per year!


First, I blame America’s churches for not making a better case for marriage. Four in ten people attend church weekly – giving clergy huge access. Yet, in my 70+ years of attending church, I can remember only one sermon, a recent one - that held up Christian marriage. 


Second, two-thirds of young couples think they should test the relationship by living together.  There were 8.3 million couples cohabiting in 2015, but only 1.3 million of them married.  The rest mostly break up over time. And women who cohabit are 33% more likely to divorce than those who remained apart till marriage.


Churches should insist that cohabiting couples move apart for months before the wedding – to increase their odds of success.


Sadly, few do so.

Copyright © 2017 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. To see past columns, go to  Hit Search for any topic.







Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: How to Avoid "Divorce Month" - Ethics & Religion Col.

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael McManus <>
Date: Wed, Dec 14, 2016 at 4:10 PM
Subject: How to Avoid "Divorce Month" - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,842
To: Bill Coffin <>

Ethics & Religion

December 14, 2016

Column #1,842

How to Avoid “Divorce Month”

By Mike McManus


January is the worst “Divorce Month” of the year.  No one wants to file over Christmas.  They want the kids to have a happy time. 


Will the children feel better about the divorce in January?  Of course not. 


Divorce is the worst event in any child’s life – or that of most adults, for that matter.  Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman, experienced their divorce as a boy and wrote about it in his book, Twice Adopted:


“Divorce is where two adults take everything that matters to a child – the child’s house, family, security and a sense of being loved and protected – and they smash it all up, leave it in ruins on the floor, then walk out and leave the child to clean up the mess.”


Yet half of all marriages in America end in divorce. Children of divorce are three times more likely to be expelled from school or to have a baby as a teenager as are children from intact homes; are five times more apt to live in poverty, six times more likely to commit suicide, and 12 times more apt to be incarcerated, according to the Heritage Foundation.


Those who marry a second time have a 70% chance of a second divorce.


Therefore, couples with troubled marriages ought to consider five different strategies to restore their marriage for themselves and their children.


1.      Marriage Encounter is a weekend retreat that is so powerful, that if every married couple attended it, America’s divorce rate would plunge.  My wife and I attended in 1976 and fell back in love that weekend. It was life-changing.  Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, reported: “Marriage Encounter gave Shirley and me the opportunity to occasion the deepest, most intimate exchange of feelings we had known in 20 years of marriage.” About half of couples attending Marriage Encounter had marriages they described as “average” or “unhappy.”  Yet one study reported that nine in ten couples gave the weekend high marks.  It is not designed for a marriage in deep crisis. (See the Retrouvaille weekend described below.) But it will give virtually all ho-hum to mildly troubled marriages a big booster shot. About 4 million couples have attended over the past five decades.  For more information about one near you go to


2.      Couple mentoring.  If there’s been adultery which seems like an unforgiveable sin, ask a pastor if he knows a church couple who survived infidelity.  Odds are, he does.  The survivors can say, “This is what we did to restore trust.”  That’s exactly what Couple B needs to hear - not expensive counseling.


3.      Retrouvaille is a weekend retreat led by three couples whose marriages nearly failed.  They tell their stories of recovery and are walking parables of hope.  After a talk, they put the men in one room, women in another, and ask them to write for ten minutes on an assigned topic, such as: “What do I have difficulty talking to you about?”  Couples then meet privately, read what each other wrote, and talk.  They return to hear another Lead Couple tell their story, and write to each other on another topic. By Sunday afternoon, couples arms are typically around each other.  Over 150,000 couples have attended Retrouvaille and four of five couples save their marriage! Go to, look for your state and see when one is scheduled.


4.      Stepfamilies normally divorce at a 70% rate.  A child says, “I don’t want a new Mom,” and can make her life so miserable, she leaves.  The answer is to create a Stepfamily Support Group, where couples learn from each other how to make these marriages work.  It works so well 80% are successful.  For a kit to create one, call me:  301 978-7105.


5.      Reconciliation is possible even if one spouse insists on a divorce.  Four out of five spouses want to save their marriage, and Marriage 911 is a 12-week workbook course that committed spouses take to win back their mate.  It is taken with a friend of the same gender.  There is a Support Partner Handbook for the friend to know what questions to ask. It is designed to help the committed spouse grow so much, the unhappy partner is won back.  Of 50,000 couples who have taken Marriage 911, about half are able to reconcile. The materials cost only $28.  Call me to order: 301 978-7105.


These are all much better options than a divorce in January.



Copyright © 2016 Michael J. McManus is President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. To see past columns go to, and hit Search for any topic.







Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: Attend Marriage Encounter to Build a Lasting Marriage - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael McManus <>
Date: Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 9:46 AM
Subject: Attend Marriage Encounter to Build a Lasting Marriage - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,827
To: Bill Coffin <>

Editors: This is a particularly important column, suggesting that all married couples attend a Marriage Encounter weekend retreat.  I tell our personal story of attending one after ten years of marriage – with rather embarrassing details about my ignorance of major flaws in our marriage. More than 3 million couples have revived their marriage by  attending. A colleague, Marco Ciavolino, found the perfect illustration for it, and added an email contact.  If you are interested in a one-shot publication of my column, call me at 301-978-7105.




Ethics & Religion
September 1, 2016
Column #1,827
Attend Marriage Encounter to Build a Lasting Marriage
By Mike McManus


Men are generally not as religious as women. But this is a mistake that can be rectified. If he asks her to go to church, she will be impressed. A man open to God is a man who can win over a woman who is more apt to be a believer. 

Why is this so? A study of the 2006 National Survey of Religion and Family Life, found that church-going was a positive for relationships. Couples who attend church are happier - 11% more apt to report they were "very happy" or "extremely happy," compared with non-attenders. Couples who pray together are 17% more likely to report marital satisfaction. 

I did not know that in the first decade of our marriage. We went to church weekly from the beginning, and I was very happy in the marriage. But by Year 10 Harriet was not. I did not know this until we went to a Marriage Encounter, an intensive weekend retreat that has been attended by 3 million couples. 

Several couples at church encouraged us to go to Marriage Encounter. I asked, "What is it?" They were rather mysterious about it, only saying that it "will strengthen your marriage." 

I replied, "I already have a good marriage." 

"But Marriage Encounter is designed to make a good marriage better. It is not aimed at the troubled marriage," I was told. When I asked for details on what happens, one man replied, "I can't reveal details, but it was the best thing my wife and I ever did together." 

That sounded good enough to me, though the mystery was annoying. However, when I suggested to Harriet that we go, she was cold and firm: "No." Why? "We can't just leave. We have three small children." 

When one of the couples encouraging us to go again approached us, I replied, "We have three boys at home." They replied, "That's no problem. Some of us would be glad to take care of them."

Harriet countered, "But we can't afford a weekend at a motel." Our friends responded, "You don't understand. You way has already been paid. People here love you enough to make it possible for you to go."

Wow! That impressed me. "Come on, Harriet, let's go." She relented. 

Some background on our situation. We lived in Connecticut so I could produce a series of TV programs on 18 New York TV stations framing choices on how to reduce poverty, for example. We also gave people a way to "ballot" on the choices, and 133,000 ballots were mailed in. One result was passage of the Earned Income Tax Credit subsidizing poor families.

I wanted to create American Town Meetings involving network TV, TIME and newspapers. I found federal funding to explore the possibility, but had to work in Washington. For a year I got on a 2 am Monday train and got home at 11 pm Friday.

At Marriage Encounter, three couples shared their marriage struggles. Their key message was that "Emotions must be expressed - not repressed. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They simply are. However, you can't expect your spouse to know them unless you share them."

We were then asked to write a "love letter" to each other on assigned topics, and then to speak with each other in private. One topic was to share something that "I have wanted to share with you that I couldn't or didn't share." Harriet wrote, "You left me for over a year. I felt deserted."

I was shocked. In our conversation afterward, she added, "This is no marriage! I never saw you during the week, and when you came home, you would fall asleep. You are not a husband and are not a father!"

Stunned, I asked, "What do you mean?" 

"Now you come home every night, but you have no time for me and the kids. You work all weekend. I asked you on Sunday to take the kids for a swim and you said, `I have to write.' You always have to write. You love your career more than me and the children!"

I broke down and cried. I was so absorbed by the difficulty of my life I had no idea of its impact on Harriet and the kids. I asked for her forgiveness and resolved to change.

We began getting up early to read Scripture daily and pray. We learned to put Christ at the center of our marriage.

Today we have an imperfect but healthy marriage that has thrived for over 50 years.


Marriage Encounter World Wide:
Copyright (c) 2016 Michel J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For previous columns go Hit Search for any topic.




Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: Children Are Hurt by Marriage Failure - Ethics & Religion Col.

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From: Michael McManus <>
Date: Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 1:05 PM
Subject: Children Are Hurt by Marriage Failure - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,824
To: Bill Coffin <>

Ethics & Religion

August 10, 2016

Column #1,824

Children Are Hurt by Marriage Failure

By Mike McManus


            We all know that half of America’s marriages fail – and have for decades.  What’s less well known is that America’s marriage rate has plunged in half and unwed births soared 8-fold.


            Who is most wounded by divorce and non-marriage? Children - innocent victims of their parents’ selfishness.   Only 46% of American kids are being raised by their married parents, reports Patrick Fagan of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI).


More than half of America’s kids are hurt and confused by their own parents! They give children the one event that is disastrously life-changing.


            This is not news.  According to an eight decade study begun in 1921 by Dr. Lewis Terman, children of divorced parents are 44% more apt to die early, a lifespan shortened by an average of 4.5 years.


            Terman said parental divorce – not parental death – is the risk. “In fact, parental divorce during childhood was the single strongest social predictor of early death, many years into the future.”


For example, children of divorce are more likely to contract cancer of the digestive tract, pancreas, lungs and cervix – than children reared by their married parents. 


In addition, children from divorced families have more emotional and behavioral problems, negative feelings and less psychological well-being than those from intact families. Upon the divorce of their parents, children experience a wide range of emotional reactions such as sadness, anger, loneliness and depression (which frequently lasts into adulthood), heightened anxiety, worry, lower life satisfaction, lower self-esteem and self-confidence.


David Popenoe of the National Survey of Children reports that parental divorce sparks such mental health problems in their children as depression, withdrawal from friends and family, aggressive, impulsive or hyperactive behavior.  They either behave disruptively or withdraw from participation in the classroom.  They may also develop mood disorders, bipolar/disorder, mild chronic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.


When children experience parental divorce before age five, they are particularly vulnerable to emotional conflicts when their parents separate, reports MARRI’s Fagan.  They will frequently cling to their parents and “regress” to bedwetting and other behaviors more characteristic of younger children.


Older children, rather than clinging, frequently withdraw from home life and seek intimacy elsewhere. If the divorce occurs while the children ate teenagers, they tend to react in one of two ways.  Either they attempt to avoid growing up or to “speed through” adolescence. Early sexual activity, substance abuse or dependence, hostile behavior and depression are all more likely to occur after divorce.


One tragic result is the soaring percentage of children born to unmarried parents. The U.S. unwed birth rate was only 5% in 1960, but jumped 8-fold to 40%. That figure is 20 times the 2% unwed birth rate of Japan!


America’s high unwed birth and divorce rate is having a devastating impact on the academic achievement of our kids.  For example, Japanese children academically outperform U.S. kids.  Compared to children from 31 countries on international math tests, U.S. kids scored at the bottom, 31st vs. 8th for Japan.  Japanese kids were #3 in science vs. #24 for U.S.  In reading, Japanese kids were third best, and Americans, 21st.  Other Asian countries, with low unwed birth rates and divorces all scored as good as or better than Japan. 


U.S. children of divorce and non-marriage are three times more likely to be expelled from school or to have a child as a teenager as are children from intact homes, are five times more apt to live in poverty, six times more likely to commit suicide and twelve times more likely to be incarcerated, reports a Heritage study by Patrick Fagan and Robert Rector.


However, statistics blur the eyes.  Behind them are kids who are vulnerable and confused.


These tragic results should prompt America’s pastors to make a new commitment to strengthening marriage.  Marriages have plunged 57% since 1970.  There were actually more marriages in 1970 than in 2015!  If the same percentage of couples were marrying now as in 1970 – there’d be 1.3 million more marriages a year! Never-married Americans nearly quintupled from 8.7 million to 41.3 million.


These trends are not healthy for adults.  Divorced men live 10 years less than married men, and divorced women, four years less. More importantly, non-marriage or divorce is devastating to America’s children.


How can marriage be re-established?  The nation’s pastors, priests and rabbis should take on promoting of marriage as a high priority. America’s faith leaders care about marriage, but have sat on the sidelines as God’s first institution has deteriorated. 


It’s time for pastors to pastor.

Copyright © 2016 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.




Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: My Goals in Writing This Column - Ethics & Religion Col.

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From: Michael McManus <>
Date: Wed, Jul 13, 2016, 10:55 PM
Subject: My Goals in Writing This Column - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,820
To: Bill Coffin <>

Ethics & Religion

July 14, 2016

Column #1820


My Goal In Writing This Column

By Mike McManus


            With this column, I complete 35 years of writing Ethics & Religion.  This anniversary might a time to outline to readers what I am trying to do each week, and some of the results of the column.


            My pledge to editors is that I would address America’s toughest moral problems - but would always suggest an answer.  The subliminal message: hope!


            For example, in recent months I have offered answers to alcoholism, abortion, drunk driving, the federal deficit, pornography and ISIS persecution of Christians.


            In 1990 I wrote a column about a question Rev. Richard McGinnis asked his church:

“Are there any couples here whose marriages were once on the rocks, but who have come off of them and restored their marriage? If so, meet with me after the service.”  Out of 180 people in church, 10 couples met with him.


            He told them he was overwhelmed trying to save marriages in crisis. Then he thought about how Alcoholics Anonymous got started, with “Bill” and “Dr. Bob,” working together to keep each other sober. They developed the “12 Steps of AA” that have helped millions to stay sober.


            Father Dick asserted, “I want to meet with you to see if there is anything of a common nature you had to do for your marriage to be restored.” Seven couples agreed to tell their stories.


            At first, their stories seemed wildly dissimilar.  One woman had been in adultery for eight years. A husband was an alcoholic who was out of work for two years. There was a workaholic dentist and a bisexual who had homosexual affairs.


            Yet the couples were able to agree on 17 “Action Statements” like the 12 Steps of AA. One was, “Through other Christian testimony and personal example, we found hope for our marriage.”  Each couple decided “to follow Jesus as my Savior and Lord.”  Each husband and wife also “realized the problem was with myself, and began to change with the Lord’s help.”


            The result was a “Marriage Ministry” in which those seven couples met with 40 couples in crisis over five years, saving 38 of them!


            I provided Pastor McGinnis’ address, sparking 1,500 letters!  No column had such an impact.  But in calling back a sample of those who wrote in, not one created a “Marriage Ministry.” My column appeared to be a failure.


            However, in researching my column, I have found other strategies to better prepare couples for a lifelong marriage, to enrich existing ones and save those in crisis. For example, 4 million couples have taken PREPARE-ENRICH, a premarital inventory which asks couples to respond to 150 statements:


·         I go out of my way to avoid conflict with my partner.


·         Sometimes I wish my partner were more careful about spending money.


My wife and I trained couples in our home church to administer the inventory and talk

through the issues it surfaced.  Of 288 couples prepared for marriage in the 1990s, 58 decided not to marry.  But of the 230 who did marry, we know of only 18 divorces in two decades!


            Thirty years ago, I suggested that the pastors of Modesto, California consider requiring every couple marrying in the city to take the inventory in a “Community Marriage Policy.” Some 86 pastors signed on.  The result? Modesto’s divorce rate plunged in half!


            My wife and I have now helped the pastors of 230 cities create Community Marriage Policies which included the Marriage Ministry described here, plus three other interventions:


            “10 Great Dates” is designed to enrich existing marriages.  Couples come to church on 10 Friday nights, watch a brief DVD on a topic such as “Resolving Honest Conflict” and then go on a date to discuss it.  It’s a fun way to reinvigorate marriages.


            What if one spouse in a crisis marriage refuses to seek help? The committed spouse can take “Marriage 911,” a 12-week workbook course with a friend of the same gender, designed to help him or her grow so much they win back their errant mate. It usually works.


            Seventy percent of couples with stepchildren divorce.  But if a church creates a Stepfamily Support Group, it can save 80% of stepfamilies.


            An independent study of Community Marriage Policies reported they cut divorce rates by an average of 17.5% in seven years, saving 100,000 marriages, reduced cohabitation by a third and raised some marriage rates.


            Thus, writing this column led to a national ministry that is saving marriages.


            Would you like to create a CMP in your city?  Call me 301 978-7105.


Copyright © 2016 Michael J. McManus is President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.  For earlier columns go to and hit Search for any topic.








Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly

9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854