Is Marriage A Dinosaur.......
an outmoded institution on its way to extinction? Or are we at the dawn of a marriage
renaissance? Most of us don’t have enough information to join the debate.
Take this quiz and see where you stand.
1) True or False: Researchers can now predict which engaged couples will succeed or fail with better than 90% accuracy.
2) They base these predictions on: (pick one)
a) Level of couple agreement on three major issues: money, housework & vacations.
b) How the couple handles disagreements.
c) Similarity of backgrounds.
d) Level of love and commitment.
e) Sexual compatibility.
3) The optimism about reversing the divorce rate is based on research that found:
a) Irreconcilable differences are not the cause of divorce.
b) A successful marriage is based on divorce-proofing behaviors that anyone can learn.
c) It doesn’t take a licensed, degreed mental health professional to teach marriage skills courses.
d) All of the above.
4) True or False: A national survey reports that a long-term first marriage has become the new status symbol.
5) An Australian report estimates that divorce costs that country an estimated $6 billion a year. What does divorce cost America? (Hint: Australia pop: 20 million. America: 300 million.)
a) More than 30 times that of Australia because of the compounded effects of our much higher divorce rate of 50% for 30 years.
b) No one knows. No government, university, foundation - no U.S. organization - has tracked these costs.
6) True or False. Men are better off married. Women are better off single.
2). b All couples - those that stay happily married, and those that divorce - disagree the same amount and about the same basic issues. And, there are five issues, not three - sex, money, kids, in-laws, and time (leisure time/housework.) What distinguishes the couples that succeed from those that fail is not the content or number of their disagreements but how they handle them. They all start out in love and committed.. 3) All of the above.
a ) Research finds that all successful couples have approximately ten irreconcilable differences. Like Maitlin and Carville, couples that make it have the skills to dance in spite of their differences. They don’t operate on the expectation that true love means they should agree on things. Grounds for divorce should be changed based on this radical new information. Instead of granting a divorce for irreconcilable differences, we would grant on the irremedial inability to get skillful. Then only after a couple took several marriage education courses and failed. This might cut down on the remarriage rate! “Oh you are divorced, I guess you aren’t skillful.” b) Research finds that we are ALL capable of learning the basic marital skills - people of all races, classes, and genders. Even children-of-divorce. If we weren’t lucky enough to learn them at our parents’ knees, we can learn them now. c) A million dollar National Institute of Mental Health funded study found that trained lay leaders and clergy can teach the courses as well as or better than psychologists and counselors. Lay leader training takes only three days. Marriage isn’t a disease. It doesn’t require diagnosis and therapy. It requires the equivalent of “driver’s education” for marriage in classes which are highly cost-effective and can be made widely accessible. These aren’t group therapy or encounter sessions.
4) True. The Wall Street Journal reports that long-lasting first marriages are the new status symbol. So says a survey prepared for Fortune 500 companies interested in market strategies for the new millennium.
5) b. At the Smart Marriages conference Steve Nock will report on their early attempts to define the parameters of such a study and provide answers to legislators and journalists who are frustrated at their inability to find anyone who can give even an estimate of the cost to taxpayers or effects on our GNP.
6) False. We have operated with this mythology since the 70s. It was based on one flawed study. Both married men and women do better on measures of health, longevity, happiness, sexual satisfaction, and wealth than their single counterparts. It’s also true for children. For years we have been told that marriage did not make a difference. Children in intact families do better on all measures - wealth, health, school success, delinquency, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, even their own future marriages - than their counterparts in never-married, single parent, or step families. Children even do better in intact marriages with conflict. ®Copyright CMFCE For press registration contact: Diane Sollee The Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, L.L.C. 5310 Belt Rd, NW, Washington, DC 20015 CMFCE@smartmarriages.com www.smartmarriages.com