Fwd: "Married, Spouse Present" - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael McManus <mike@marriagesavers.org>
Date: Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 12:06 AM
Subject: "Married, Spouse Present" - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,716
To: Bill Coffin <BillCoffin68@gmail.com>

July 16, 2014

Column #1716

“Married, Spouse Present”

By Mike McManus


            The Census Bureau reports that of the 250 million Americans who are 15 or older, only 49.1% are married with a “spouse present.” That’s a grim figure.  There are another 3.5 million whose spouse is absent and 5.6 million who are separated.  Many are facing a likely divorce.


            If we ask what percent of those aged 20 or older are married, spouse present, the figure is a more encouraging 53.5%.


            However, that is still quite low, down from 75% in 1971. 


            What’s tragic is that marriage seems to be slipping away from most Americans. A tenth of adults are divorced and un-remarried.  There are also 57.6 million Americans over age 20 who have never married. 


Yet millions are having children.   Among parents aged 26 to 31 who did not graduate from college, three-quarters of the mothers and 70% of fathers have had a child outside of marriage.


For 25 years nearly three-quarters of black children have been born out-of-wedlock. However, 36% of births to whites are now to unmarried parents – up from 7.9% in 1975.  In fact, 53% of all births to women under age 30 are to single women.


Why?  Are high school kids so drenched in sex that marriage is on no one’s horizon? No.  According to the Annual Report on Family Trends by Patrick Fagan of the Family Research Council, the percentage of high school students who have had sex has dropped from 82% for blacks in 1991 to only 60% in 2011; and it has fallen for white kids from 50% to 44%.


The deeper problem is the drop of family income of everyone.


The inflation adjusted average income for all men rose from $20,000 to $35,000 by 1970, inched up to $37,500 by 2010 but dropped to $34,500 in 2012. Even those with professional degrees have taken a hit. They earned $111,000 in 2000 but $100,000 in 2012.  The proportion of middle-income households dropped from 61% in 1971 to only 51% in 2011.


Falling income makes people hesitate to commit to marriage – particularly those in “Middle America,” who are 25 to 60 with a high school degree.  Four decades ago, these moderately educated Americans were as likely as college graduates to marry. Only 13% of high school educated mothers had children outside of marriage in the 1980s. That figure is now 44% - close to the least educated mothers, 54% of whom had unwed births.


However, the major marriage-killer is cohabitation.  This assertion would surprise many young people who go to weddings where two-thirds cohabited first.  However, of more than 8 million couples living together last year only 1.4 million married.   Four out of five broke up.


And 41% of them had a child.   What are the odds are that a woman with a child will marry?  Slim. Most men want to have their own child with whoever they marry, not another man’s.


What can be done?  Here are three answers.


While incomes have fallen in recent years, those who marry will fare much better than those who remain single. Median family income, adjusted for inflation of married couples grew steadily from $28,000 in 1947 to $55,000 in 1970, on up to $80,000 in 2010.  In just two years, it fell to $75,000 – but that’s good income.


Second, ask your pastor to preach a sermon on cohabitation.  I have asked hundreds of pastors if they have ever preached a whole sermon warning about the dangers of living together outside of marriage.  About one hand in 50 goes up.  It is easier to preach on Abraham – and far less useful to a generation who believes they ought to “test the relationship” first.


As one marriage educator put it, “You can’t practice permanence.”  The pastor should say, “The best way to test the relationship is by taking a test – a premarital inventory which asks the man and woman separately whether they agree or disagree with 150 statements like `I go out of my way to avoid conflict with my partner.’


“Then the couple should sit down with a trained Mentor Couple to discuss the issues which are surfaced.”


Finally, the government should stop subsidizing unmarried couples to have children. The cohabiting woman with a new baby has the benefit of her partner’s income as if married.  She should not be given $25,000 of subsidies, as if she were raising the child alone.  For cohabiting couples with children, governors should encourage them to marry by not cutting benefits if they marry for two years, with subsidies tapering off over three more years.


The states that subsidize marriage will have rising marriage rates, falling unwed births, and save billions of taxpayer dollars.

Copyright © 2014 by Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.





Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly


9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: Divorce - The Overlooked Cause of Mass Murderers - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael McManus <mike@marriagesavers.org>
Date: Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 10:42 PM
Subject: Divorce - The Overlooked Cause of Mass Murderers - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,710
To: Bill Coffin <BillCoffin68@gmail.com>

Ethics & Religion

A Column by Michael J. McManus


June 5, 2014

Column #1,710

Divorce – The Overlooked Cause of Mass Murderers

By Mike McManus


            Why did Elliot Rodger, 22, stab three men including two roommates, murder two girls in a sorority, and kill a man while driving his BMW, before killing himself?


            He posted a YouTube video in which he said, “You are animals and I will slaughter you like animals…Just for the crime of living a better life than me.  All you popular kids, you’ve never accepted me, and now you will pay for it.” 


The video so alarmed his mother, that she called the police who visited Elliott, who was so polite they dropped the matter.  (Why didn’t they ask to see the video, and search his apartment for guns?)  His parents were so frightened, they drove (separately) from Los Angeles to the Santa Barbara area, but got there belatedly.


Their parental concern was commendable – but 15 years too late.  The couple divorced when Elliott was 7, and he never recovered.


His father, who worked in Hollywood films – quickly found another girlfriend.  Elliot wrote, “How ironic that it is my father, one of those men who could easily have found a girlfriend, has a son who would struggle all his life to find a girlfriend.”


Michael Cook, writing for Mercatornet, reports that “Most of the men on the never-ending list of rampage killers in the United States came from homes where the parents were divorced or separated.”  Examples:


John Zawahiri, 23, killed five people in Santa Monica in 2013. His parents have been separated for years.


Adam Lanza, 20, killed his divorced mother, before slaughtering 6 teachers and 20 children in Connecticut, and killed himself.


Wade Page, whose parents were divorced, became a white supremacist who killed 6 Sikhs before being killed by a police officer.


Half of American children experience a parental divorce and only a tiny minority become killers.  However, Pat Fagan and Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation report that in Wisconsin, children of divorced parents are 12 times more likely to serve time in jail than children from intact, two-parent homes. 


What can be done to reverse these trends? I have two suggestions.


            Greg Griffin (770 310-7190), a pastor who got a divorce he didn’t want, has championed a “Children’s Hope for Family Life Act” in Georgia that would require couples with children to take a course on the impact of divorce on kids – BEFORE divorce papers can be filed.  Hopefully, that would persuade many to save their marriages. Second, his bill would extend the time before the divorce takes effect from a paltry 30 days to one year. And during the year, they’d be required to take classes to improve their skills of resolving conflict.  Those are all marriage savers.


Edwin Feulner, former President of Heritage Foundation, writes, “You can actually use the divorce rate in a given area to predict its level of crime, according to a University of Chicago sociology professor Robert Sampson, who studied 171 U.S. cities and found that the lower a city’s divorce rate, the lower its crime rate.”


My wife and I have helped the clergy of 230 cities to adopt a Community Marriage Policy that cuts city-wide divorce rates. An independent study by the Institute for Research and Evaluation of our first 114 cities found that the divorce rate fell an average of 17.5% in seven years.  In nearly a tenth of cities divorce rates were cut in half or better, such as Austin, Kansas City, KS, Modesto, CA, and El Paso, where the divorce rate actually plunged 79.5%!


Result: El Paso has had THE LOWEST CRIME RATE of any major city for the last four years!  This city of 665,000 had only 5 murders in 2010 when Washington DC, with 617,000 had 132 murders.  Austin, where divorces plunged 50%, was America’s 4th safest city.


What is a Community Marriage Policy?  It is a pledge by clergy of all denominations to take proven steps to save marriages at five stages:


Preparation that includes requiring all couples to take a premarital inventory with 150 items and discuss the results with trained Mentor Couples.


Enrichment to give a booster shot to all married couples on an annual basis.


Restoration troubled marriage by training couples whose own marriages had once nearly failed, to mentor those in current crisis.


Reconcile separated couples with a course, Marriage 911 taken by the committed spouse to spark such growth the errant partner is won back.


Stepfamilies normally divorce at a 70% rate, but if they join a Stepfamily Support Group, 80% of marriages are saved.


To learn more, go to www.MarriageSavers.org or call 301 469-5873.

Copyright 2014 by Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.






Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers

and a syndicated columnist, writing Ethics & Religion weekly


9311 Harrington Dr.

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: How Stepfamilies Can Be Succesful - Ethics & REligion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael J. McManus <Mike@marriagesavers.org>
Date: Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 2:24 AM
Subject: How Stepfamilies Can Be Succesful - Ethics & REligion Col. #1,695
To: Bill Coffin <BillCoffin68@gmail.com>

February 20, 2014

Column #1,695

How Stepfamilies Can Be Successful

By Mike McManus


            Perhaps half of all marriages involve one partner who was previously married.  If children are involved, 70% of stepfamilies will divorce, putting everyone through another trauma.


            However, four of five of these marriages can be saved.


            Why do so many of these marriages fail?  “Putting together or integrating a stepfamily is one of the most difficult tasks for any family in America today. Integrating involves combining two unique family styles, various personalities and preferences, differing traditions, pasts and loyalties,” writes Ron Deal, in his must-read book on this subject, “The Smart Step-Family.”


            “Yet most people make the decision to bring two families together without consulting the instructions (God’s Word)…Blinded with a well-intentioned ignorance, couples march down the aisle a second or third time, only to discover that the building process is much more difficult than they anticipated – and the rewards are few and far between, especially at the beginning,” Deal writes.


            All children in stepfamilies suffered a major loss when their parents divorced. Usually they get little help with their emotional struggle because parents are immersed in their own emotions. 


            In time, however, the children form a deep bond with the parent whom they live with. They almost become “pals,” who enjoy sharing their lives together.


However, if either parent re-marries, the child experiences a new kind of grief – the loss of an intimate relationship between parent and child.  “I liked having Dad to myself when I go over there. We weren’t alone the entire weekend,” said Amy.


Two years later her mother remarried, and Amy experienced grief all over again –“the loss of the relationship she had developed with her parents. While the divorce was extremely traumatic for Amy, their remarriages were equally difficult. She had adapted to the divorce by becoming close friends with each of her parents. Now each of them had someone else and did not need her for emotional support anymore,” writes Rev. Dick Dunn in his book “Willing to Try Again: Steps Toward Blending a Family,” another excellent book. 


            The frequent reaction of children is open hostility: “I don‘t want a new Mom,” she says to her stepmother. “You’re the wicked stepmother!”


            That can drive the stepmom right out of that marriage.


            Alternatively, the biological parent often fails to see or understand the hostility of their child toward the new spouse.  They tend to think their spouse is not being considerate.


            The issue is compounded when both spouses bring children into the marriage.  That multiplies the potential for conflict – between the children as well as between the children and stepparents, and between husband and wife over the children.


            The first answer is to stop calling these families “blended families,” when in fact they are not blending but in seemingly perpetual conflict.  The euphemism is misleading.


            The most important solution is for a church to create a Stepfamily Support Group, the first of which was created by Dick Dunn, a Methodist pastor.  In such a group, couples immediately realize “It’s not us. It’s the situation.” Each person understands that it is not a matter that “My spouse needs to change.” Rather, both realize, “We have a problem that we can work on together. Our struggles are normal because stepfamilies are different.”


            Dunn tells of a couple who came to their group after they had already separated and filed for divorce. “As we listened to them talk and describe their situation, there was frequent laughter and smiles because every one of us had been there. Frequently, someone would say, “Sounds normal to me.  You’re not crazy. You live in a stepfamily.” That very week the couple moved back together.  They figured if these people can make it, so could they.


            Dunn wrote a manual on how to create a Stepfamily Support Group.  First, select five couples, at least four of whom need it to save their marriages. This Planning Team should be couples married less than four years and be willing to meet six times over two-three months. “It will be one of the most exciting things they have ever done,” he writes.


            He outlines what should happen at each meeting, the first of which begins with a prayer to God admitting “that we do not know what we are doing. But we see a need for a ministry with stepfamilies. Show us the way.”


            A kit to create a Stepfamily Support Group includes the Manual, “Willing To Try Again,” a chapter of which is read by couples before each meeting, plus a CD by Dunn.  Cost: $35. Call 301 469-5873.


            Results: His Stepfamily Support Groups saved 80% of these marriages, instead of losing 70%.


Copyright © 2014 Michael J. McManus is President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.





Mike McManus is President of Marriage Savers.

He also writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column,

Ethics & Religion.

301 469-5873

Potomac, MD 20854




Fwd: The Need: "A Married Mom and Dad" - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mike McManus <marriagesaversmd@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 10:20 AM
Subject: The Need: "A Married Mom and Dad" - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,692
To: Bill Coffin <BillCoffin68@gmail.com>

January 29, 2014

Column #1,692

The Need: “A Married Mom and Dad”

By Mike McManus


            In his State of the Union Address, President Obama said that one of the best “investments we can make in a child’s life is a high quality education.”


            Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, demurred: “Mr. President, you neglected to mention the very best investment in a child’s life – a married mom and dad.”


            He cited a new Harvard study proving that children of married parents are much more likely to be able to move up the income ladder than those of single parents.  An intact family is better off financially than one that is broken. Its children do better in school and graduate college in greater numbers than those from non-intact homes.


            Obama asserted that “the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job.”  Perkins responded, “No, Mr. President, it is a married mom and dad.


He added, “President Obama’s remarks didn’t address a key reason our economy is just bumping along – the continued dissolution of the American family.  Only 45 percent of our 17-year-old children have grown up in an intact married family. The mother and father of the remaining 55 percent have at some time rejected each other as husband and wife.” 


Either they never married or they divorced.   Unwed births are now 41 percent of all births, and America’s divorce rate is the highest of any industrialized nation.


Children of broken homes are three times as likely as those from intact homes to be expelled from school or to get pregnant as teenagers.  They are six times more apt to live in poverty and 12 times more likely to be incarcerated, according to the Heritage Foundation.


Unfortunately, federal programs exacerbate these differences.  For example if an unmarried couple has children, she is eligible for about $25,000 of benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit and housing subsidies.  Obamacare similarly skews benefits to the unmarried, not married couples. If the couple marries, they lose those benefits.


No wonder the percentage of adults who are married has plunged from 67 percent in 1960 to only 48 percent today.


The President was correct in asserting that “corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged.  Inequality has deepened.  Upward mobility has stalled.”


He called once again for a higher minimum wage, saying that “no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.”  He noted that in the last year five states have raised their minimum wage above the U.S. level of $7.25 an hour.  In December, fast-food workers walked off their jobs in a day of strikes for better pay.


  Two-thirds of Americans agree with an increase in the minimum, as do I. But the President was silly to pledge raising the minimum of corporations with federal contracts, virtually all of whom pay far above the minimum.


I also applaud Obama’s call “to fix our broken immigration system.” He said,” When people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone.”


Even Republicans seem open to legalizing the nation’s 11 million undocumented aliens.


Predictably, Obama defended his Affordable Care Act which he said is about “the peace of mind that if misfortune strikes, you don’t have to lose everything.”  He mentioned Amanda Shelley, a physician’s assistant who had to undergo surgery six days after she signed up.


However, Obamacare undermines religious freedom.  All employers must offer not only free contraceptives but also sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs – even Catholic hospitals and universities.  Jane Belford, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington, charges, “We must violate our religious beliefs or face crippling fines and penalties of at least $4.2 million a year.”


Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York told CBS: “This is about religious liberty.  The President says it is about women’s health. This is about religious freedom, not about contraception.”


Fortunately, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving two companies whose owners object on grounds of religious liberty. And dozens of additional cases are in the courts.


As Tony Perkins puts it, “Mr. President, it is not an American value to trample someone else’ conscience.  It is not an American value to use the federal government to undermine the will of the people in states that believe marriage is between a man and a woman and that children do best with a mom and a dad.”


Obama ignores the importance of faith and marriage.

Copyright © 2014 Michael McManus is President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.





Fwd: Answers for the Disintegration of Marriage - III - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mike McManus <marriagesaversmd@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 2:42 PM
Subject: Answers for the Disintegration of Marriage - III - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,691
To: Bill Coffin <BillCoffin68@gmail.com>

January 21, 2014

Column #1,691

(Last of a 3-part series)

Answers for the Disintegration of Marriage – III

By Mike McManus


            Marriage in America is disintegrating.  According to Census in 2013 only 48% of people were married – a substantial plunge from 67.3% in 1960.*


            A major reason for the decline of married couples is divorce.  In 1960, only 2.8 million people were divorced.  By 2013 that figure jumped nearly ten-fold to 25.3 million divorced.


            America’s divorce rate is actually the highest of the civilized world triple that of Britain and France, for example.  After 5 years of marriage, 23% of Americans are divorced vs. only 8% of British or French. 


            Why?  If a British woman wants a divorce, but her husband does not – they must wait five years to divorce!  Six years in France.  Five or six years allows time to reconcile.


            By contrast, 27 states have a ZERO waiting period, and three states require only 30-60 days.  Why are these “Hot Head States” pushing couples to divorce? 


            An earlier column quoted Jennifer Rivera: “After being together 11.5 years, the Family Court of Miami-Dade County was able to legally end it in 11 days.  If we had more time to wait it out, such as a legalized separation, our divorce would not have happened. It was like a Drive-Thru Divorce. That’s how it felt.  They have a waiting period to get a marriage license.  There should be a waiting period to get a divorce.”


When the couple stood before the judge, they were holding hands and crying. That night they had dinner together and spent the night together.


            This divorce should never have happened.


            It would not have occurred in Illinois or Pennsylvania which require couples to wait two years if one spouse opposes the divorce.  As a result those states have nearly America’s lowest divorce rates.  Clearly, a longer waiting period allows hot heads to cool down.


            Their divorce rates are almost half that of 13 Hot Head States with No waiting – NV, WY, ID, TN, KY, AK, FL, AL, NM, MS, CO, AZ and OR. 


            According to Frank Furstenberg and Andrew Cherlin’s book, Divided Families, four out of five divorces are opposed by one spouse.  Yet in America, one spouse can file for divorce and always get it.  In the old days, one would have to prove their spouse was at fault – due to adultery, abandonment or abuse.  However, in 1969 California Gov. Ronald Reagan signed America’s first “No Fault Divorce” law, allowing just one spouse to declare there were “irreconcilable differences.”


            Most states passed similar No Fault Divorce laws in the 1970s, and the number of divorces nearly doubled from 639,000 in 1969 to 1,189,000 in 1979.


            In my book, How To Cut America’s Divorce Rate in Half, I argue No Fault Divorce is unconstitutional.  Both the 5th and 14th Amendments supposedly guarantee that no person “be deprived of life, liberty or property without the due process of law.”  Yet how can there be “due process” if every divorce is granted?


            Divorce deprives people of life.  A divorced man will live 10 years less than a married man; a divorced woman, four years less; and their children, 5 years less.  Divorced people and their children are also deprived of liberty.  A typical father can see his kids only two weekends a month. Certainly, husbands and wives lose property when they divorce.


            Yet there is no Constitutional protection for 80% of spouses handed an unwanted divorce. Therefore, I helped design a bill introduced in Georgia called the Children’s Hope for Family Life Act. It would increase the waiting period from 30 days to one year.


            The bill would also require couples with kids to take a course on the impact of divorce on children before a divorce is filed.  Hopefully, that would persuade many to repair their marriage. And during the year, the couple would be required to take classes to improve their skills of conflict resolution.  No state has such educational requirements.


            Greg Griffin, a pastor and counselor who got a divorce he did not want, has led the battle for the bill, spending 17 months at the state legislature, meeting scores of state senators and state legislators, plus the governor.


            He has “positioned this as a children’s rights bill, asking legislators to view the bill through the eyes of a child, and give them every opportunity to grow up in an intact home.” He asks that they think of it as looking out for the safety of children like mandatory bike helmets.


            I dream that the Children’s Hope for Family Life Act passes and becomes a model for every state.


*These figures are of all people aged 15 and up, who were married and living together in 1960 and 2013.

Copyright © Michael J. McManus is President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.


Fwd: Answers to the Disintegration of Marriage - II - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mike McManus <marriagesaversmd@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Jan 15, 2014 at 10:41 PM
Subject: Answers to the Disintegration of Marriage - II - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,690
To: Bill Coffin <BillCoffin68@gmail.com>

January 15, 2014

Column #1,690

(second of three parts)

Answers to the Disintegration of Marriage – II

By Mike McManus


            Fifty years ago President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty, proclaiming, “For the first time in our history, it is possible to conquer poverty.”


As a TIME correspondent it was exhilarating to cover the launching of Medicare, Head Start, food stamps and the first federal aid to education to help poor children.  Looking back, what has been accomplished?


Percentages of those in poverty don’t appear to have changed much. In 1982 15% were below the poverty line, and in 2010 it was still 15%.  Robert Samuelson, a Washington Post columnist, notes that official figures do not count non-cash payments, such as food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit.  If included the poverty rate is only 5%.


However, the number of families headed by a single parent has tripled since LBJ.  Unwed births have soared 8-fold to 41%.  That’s 20 times Japan’s 2%.  (No wonder Asian kids score far better academically than Americans.)


Almost none of the stories on the War on Poverty note the connection between poverty and the disintegration of marriage. However, the Heritage Foundation has reported, “Marriage drops the probability of poverty by 82%.” 


Churches can do much to increase the odds that marriages will endure.  Last week I urged pastors to preach that cohabitation fails in 9 out of 10 cases, either before or after the wedding.


I outlined a healthier way to prepare couples for marriage, by requiring a premarital inventory and discussing it with trained Mentor Couples.  Although it is self-serving, I’d like to outline four more answers that my wife and I offer as part of our “Marriage Savers” ministry to churches:


Enrichment: All marriages run down over time and need a booster shot. Churches can use many DVD packages to help couples rekindle their love. “10 Great Dates” are sparked by a brief DVD on such topics as “Resolving Honest Conflict” or “Becoming an Encourager” that can be scheduled for 10 Friday nights. Couples watch the clip and then enjoy a date to discuss that theme.  It’s fun and easy.  “Love and Respect” are longer DVDs ideal for a weekend event.


Restoration of troubled marriages is best achieved by training couples whose own marriages once nearly failed, to mentor those in current crisis. Every church has couples who have survived adultery who can be trained to tell their story of recovery to a couple in current crisis over infidelity.  They can share how they rebuilt trust. This is far more effective than sending couples to counselors who, according to one major study, actually increase their odds of divorce. 


Reconciliation of separated couples, when one spouse wants a divorce, is best achieved with a 12-week “Marriage 911” workbook course designed to help a committed spouse grow so much, he/she attracts back an errant mate. It is taken with a friend of the same gender who is given a handbook to know what questions to ask.


Stepfamilies usually divorce at a 70% rate.  However, we help churches create a Stepfamily Support Group that saves 80% of these daunting marriages.


Marriage Savers has helped more than 10,000 churches jump-start these reforms in “Community Marriage Policies,” the 230th of which was signed recently in Livonia, Michigan. Catholic and Protestant clergy gathered on the steps of the local courthouse to pledge implementing marriage initiatives outlined above to revive marriages in their churches. 


Equally important, they sent couples in healthy marriages to be trained to serve as Mentor Couples to help other couples prepare for, enrich and restore marriages.


An independent study of our work by the Institute for Research and Evaluation reported that on average, divorce rates fell 17.5% in seven years for a city or county. Nearly a tenth of cities – such as Austin, Kansas City, KS, Salem, OR and Modesto, CA cut their divorce rates in half.  Based on Institute estimates, more than 100,000 marriages have been saved from divorce.


In addition, the Institute estimated that cohabitation rates fell in cities with Community Marriage Covenants by one-third compared to very similar cities in each state.


Marriage rates in some cities have increased, such as Evansville, IN where Catholic Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger wrote “We are particularly proud to report that the number of marriages has risen. From 1997-2003, there were an average of only 1,143 marriages per year. But there were an average of 1,324 marriages in 2004-2005. That is a 16% increase in the marriage rate,” while the U.S. marriage rate was plunging.


Churches can reverse the disintegration of marriage – if they implement proven strategies to do so.


Sadly, few are doing so.


Copyright © 2014 Michael J. McManus is President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.




Fwd: Answers for the Disintegration of Marriage - Ethics & Religion Col.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mike McManus <marriagesaversmd@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 10:56 PM
Subject: Answers for the Disintegration of Marriage - Ethics & Religion Col. #1,689
To: Bill Coffin <BillCoffin68@gmail.com>

January 8, 2014

Column #1,689

(first of three parts)

Answers for the Disintegration of Marriage - I

By Mike McManus


            Marriage is deteriorating in America – and churches seem indifferent to it.


            There were 2.1 million marriages in 2011, but 2.4 million in 1970 when there were only 203 million Americans.  With 314 million today, there should have been 3 million marriages.


            America’s congregations who perform 86% of all weddings – appear indifferent to the marriage crisis.  No Protestant denomination has issued a report on the decline of marriage let alone suggested any answers.


            To their credit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a Pastoral Letter on Marriage in 2009.  They quote Pope John Paul II as saying that the “future of humanity depends on marriage and the family.”  And they express concern about how “reluctant” Catholics are to “make the actual commitment” to marry.


            However, in their 60-page Pastoral Letter, they do not cite the grim evidence of that fact.  In 1970 there were 426.000 Catholic marriages, but only 167,000 in 2012.  That’s a stunning 61% decline – more than double the 30% decline of U.S. marriages.


            Catholics at least track the numbers.  The Assemblies of God, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church could not tell me how many married in their churches.


            Why are they indifferent to God’s first institution? 


 Genesis states, “The Lord God said, `It is not good for man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.” After doing so, we read, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”


            What might be done?  In this column and two future ones, I’ll suggest some answers.


            First, pastors should preach on the importance of marriage – and the risks of the popular alternative: cohabitation.  National Marriage Week (Feb. 9-16) is a good time to start.


            Last year 8 million couples lived together – nearly four times those who married. Why? Many are children of divorce who fear marriage and hope to test the relationship by living with a potential mate. Seems logical, but is in error.


            I suggest pastors offer three sets of numbers to prove conventional wisdom wrong:


1.      Two-thirds of those who married were cohabiting. But that’s only 1.5 million of the 8 million cohabiting couples.  What happened to the other 6.5 million? Most broke up – proof that couples cannot “practice permanence.”


2.      In our book, Living Together: Myths, Risks & Answers, we report that the risk that women are 18 times more likely to be assaulted by live-in partners than by a husband and are five times more likely to suffer “severe violence.”


3.      Couples who live together before marriage are 50% to 61% more likely to divorce than those who remained separate before a wedding, report two studies.


Therefore, pastors should ask, “Why live together if the couple is five times more likely

to break up rather than marry – and more likely to divorce?”


            Few cohabiting couples attend church.  But many of their parents do. Pastors could suggest they ask their cohabiting children:  “Do you want a 9 in 10 chance of breaking up before or after the wedding?”


            Additionally, I have a question for clergy:  Why marry couples who are living together?  Scripture is clear: “Flee from sexual immorality.”          Clergy who marry cohabiting couples contribute to the problem.  They should add to their sermon on marriage:  “I will no longer marry any couples who are cohabiting – unless they move apart for three months.  That will increase the odds they will marry and that their union will last.”


              Paul wrote: “Test everything. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”  Cohabitation is clearly evil.  But how can couples test their relationship?


            In the 1990’s my wife and I pioneered the training of couples in our church for healthy marriages by requiring them to take a premarital inventory and meet with trained Mentor Couples to discuss 150  issues such as:


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

·         When we are having a problem, my partner often refuses to talk about it.


  Of the 288 couples we prepared for marriage, 58 decided not to marry.  That’s a big 20%.  Studies show that such couples have the same scores as those who marry and later divorced.  Thus, they avoided a bad marriage before it began.  However, of the 230 couples who did marry in the 1990s, we know of only 16 divorces.


That’s a 93% success rate over two decades – virtual marriage insurance.


We want to have healthy marriages for our children and grandchildren.



Copyright © 2014 Michael J. McManus is President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.