Judging from the title, "Census: Divorces Decline But 7-Year Itch Persists," it would appear that no one at the Courier Times actually read "Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009" (United States Census Bureau, 5/17/11). In that report, the Census Bureau does NOT say that divorces are on the decline but only talks of "the leveling of the divorce rate" from 1996 to 2009.
While the Census Bureau may be reporting that the overall divorce rate has not gotten any worse, it also reports that fewer people are getting married and that far more people are cohabiting. The Courier Times has applied a simplistic, Happy Face spin, instead of taking a serious look at the report. For example, the Census Bureau tells us that, "While 70 percent of men who married between 1960 to 1964 stayed married for at least 20 years, only about 60 percent of men who married between 1980 to 1984 stayed married as long." Is the divorce rate "leveling" primarily BECAUSE more people are living together and not bothering to marry in the first place?
"So what?," you may ask. Well, scholars from the Brookings Institution and Princeton University maintain that such trends are of enormous significance:
- "Although it was once possible to believe that the nation’s high rates of divorce, cohabitation, and nonmarital childbearing represented little more than lifestyle alternatives brought about by the freedom to pursue individual self-fulfillment, many analysts now believe that these individual choices can be damaging to the children who have no say in them and to the society that enables them."
Those same scholars remind us of benefits to society from marriage, which our great-grandparents likely took for granted:
- "marriage is associated with better health, higher earnings, and greater wealth among adults as well as with academic success and mental health among children."
Simply put, society has a vested interest in the preservation of marriage and families. Yet as reported by Steve Weatherbe, "Social scientists are concealing the harm that divorce, single parenting and stepfamilies do to children. Not only that, they are also hiding the benefits which even unhappy marriages bestow, not just on children, but on the couples involved. So claim the heads of several organizations devoted to defending traditional marriages."
I believe that insufficient attention is paid to factors associated with successful marriages. For example, as per the Institute for American Values and the National Marriage Project at the University of Virgina: "if you are a reasonably well-educated person with a good income, your parents stayed together, you are religious at all, and you marry after age 25 without having a baby first, your chances of divorce are very low indeed." Now, except for the marrying at 25+, doesn't that constitute the core of what your great- grandparents would have advised – or expected from - your grandparents, regarding marriage?
- Be prepared & ready to properly support your family!
- Check that your intended has a good example of solid marriage from her/his own family.
- Honor God always!
- Sexual intimacy is only for marriage!
"Natural Family Planning" (i.e., fertility awareness to achieve pregnancy or to postpone pregnancy) includes the absolute foregoing of contraceptives/abortifacients. For those with a serious reason to avoid pregnancy, Natural Family Planning has been found to be highly effective. While it may come as a shock to some, its use is another factor associated with marital success - Among those who follow Natural Family Planning, the divorce rate has been reported to be 0.2% (Yes, that is correct. About 1/5th of 1 percent!).
To kick off the 2011 Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, Holy Trinity in Morrisville is hosting a talk by Dr. Lester Ruppersberger (Saturday, July 23rd, 9:30 a.m.). For additional information, please contact Canon915@verizon.net.