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How to create an America that saves marriages.

Michael McManus Michael McManus may refer to:
  • Michael McManus (actor) (born 1962)
  • Michael McManus (columnist) (born 1942)
  • Michael McManus (UK politician)
 and Harriet McManus Founders and Directors of Marriage Savers Michael and Harriet McManus describe their approach to community-based marriage interventions, particularly focusing on churches and ministry organizations. Their marriage mentoring program is described with case examples. The authors' beliefs about why marriages are deteriorating de·te·ri·o·rate  
v. de·te·ri·o·rat·ed, de·te·ri·o·rat·ing, de·te·ri·o·rates
To diminish or impair in quality, character, or value:
 with recommendations of how government, researchers and communities can improve marriages are made. Finally, recommendations for future marital counselors are included.


Can you briefly describe what kind of work you're doing in support of Christian marriages?

In 1996 my wife, Harriet and I created Marriage Savers as a national non-profit group. Marriage Savers has worked with the clergy of 176 cities and towns to create "Community Marriage Policies" with the dual goals of pushing down the divorce rate and raising the marriage rate. How? Marriage Savers trains Mentor Couples to create a safety net under every marriage that can virtually eliminate divorce in local congregations. Here is more detail on these two strategies.

Reduce the Divorce Rate of a Church To Near Zero.

Our core strategy can be summarized in one sentence: Every church has couples with solid marriages, who really could be of help to other couples, but have never been asked, inspired or trained to do so. Marriage Savers has trained 1,500 Mentor Couples across the country and we have written a step-by-step Manual To Create a Marriage Savers Congregation to help other couples in their churches achieve the following six great goals (McManus, 2000):

1. Avoid a bad marriage before it begins by administering a premarital inventory, FOCCUS FOCCUS Facilitating Open Couple Communication, and Understanding, and Study (marriage preparation inventory)  that can predict with 80% accuracy who will divorce. About 10%-15% who take it decide not to marry. Their scores are equal to those who marry and later divorce. Thus, they have avoided a bad marriage before it begins.

2. Give "marriage insurance" to the engaged. If Mentor Couples administer the inventory rather than pastors, and devote five evenings to talk through scores of relational issues surfaced by the inventory, the divorce rate of those who marry is under 5%. In our home church, Harriet and I have trained 64 Mentor Couples since 1992. From 1992-2000, they mentored 302 couples. Of that number 21 couples dropped out, mostly to break up. Another 34 couples finished their preparation but decided not to marry. Better 55 broken engagements than 55 divorces! But of those who married, there have been only 7 divorces. That's a 3% failure rate over a decade. A 97% chance of success is marriage insurance (Latimer & McManus, And as noted below, other churches have saved an even higher percentage.

3. Enrich every existing marriage with an annual retreat for couples. There are many video series, which can be used to help couples rediscover Re`dis`cov´er   

v. t. 1. To discover again.

Verb 1. rediscover - discover again; "I rediscovered the books that I enjoyed as a child"
 one another (Gary Smalley This article or section needs sources or references that appear in reliable, third-party publications. Alone, primary sources and sources affiliated with the subject of this article are not sufficient for an accurate encyclopedia article. , Bruce Wilkinson Bruce Wilkinson is a Christian teacher and author. He was born (ca. 1940) in New Jersey and graduated from Northeastern Bible College (B.A. and Th.B.), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M.) and Western Conservative Baptist Seminary (D.D.). , David & Claudia Arp's "10 Great Dates," etc.). Couples can also be given REFOCCUS, an inventory to enrich existing marriages during a weekend retreat. A $20 manual outlines scriptures, prayers, responsive readings and a sermon before handing out an inventory that costs only $13.75 per couple with questions on communication, intimacy This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims.

Please help Wikipedia by adding references. See the for details.
This article has been tagged since September 2007.
, commitment, etc.

4. Save 80% of the most troubled marriages by training couples whose own marriages once nearly failed to mentor those currently in crisis, in a "Marriage Ministry." A couple who recovered from adultery adultery

Sexual relations between a married person and someone other than his or her spouse. Prohibitions against adultery are found in virtually every society; Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions all condemn it, and in some Islamic countries it is still punishable by
 can persuade a couple in marital crisis over infidelity that trust can be restored. "We've rebuilt trust. You can too." This is more effective than anything a pastor or counselor might say. We teach how to identify and train these "wounded healers Wounded healer is an archetypal dynamic that psychologist Carl Jung used to describe a phenomenon that may take place in the relationship between analyst and patient. ."

5. Reconcile separated couples with a course called "Reconciling God's Way," which is taken with a Support Partner of the same gender, and saves more than half of those who are separated. The abandoned spouse's connection to the Lord is deepened, and his or her confidence is restored, making them more attractive to their estranged es·trange  
tr.v. es·tranged, es·trang·ing, es·trang·es
1. To make hostile, unsympathetic, or indifferent; alienate.

2. To remove from an accustomed place or set of associations.
 spouse. Often marital reconciliation follows.

6. Save four of five stepfamilies with a Stepfamily step·fam·i·ly  
n. pl. step·fam·i·lies
A family with one or more stepchildren.
 Support Group where they can learn how to create a truly "blended family Blended family
A family formed by the remarriage of a divorced or widowed parent. It includes the new husband and wife, plus some or all of their children from previous marriages.

Mentioned in: Family Therapy
." Stepfamilies divorce in 65% of cases, but four out of five succeed in Stepfamily Support Groups. This was evidenced by Marriage Saver Congregations.

Marriage Savers gave awards last year to five churches, which implemented these strategies so well that they have had an average of only one divorce each in 4-6 years! That's a virtual elimination of divorce. They are very diverse, black and white, city and suburban, mainline mainline Drug slang verb To inject a drug  and evangelical. Three examples:

1. Christ Lutheran of Overland Park Overland Park, city (1990 pop. 111,790), Johnson co., NE Kans., a residential suburb of Kansas City; inc. 1960. There is printing and publishing, and the manufacture of apparel, aircraft parts, cement, prepared foods, salt, chemicals, marine accessories, and signs. , KS, is a church of 1,300 members which has trained a dozen Mentor Couples who have prepared 36 couples for marriage in the last five years, losing none to divorce. The church has also trained "back-from-the-brink couples" whose marriages once nearly failed, to come alongside 10 troubled marriages, all of whom were saved.

2. Bread o f Life in Kansas City Kansas City, two adjacent cities of the same name, one (1990 pop. 149,767), seat of Wyandotte co., NE Kansas (inc. 1859), the other (1990 pop. 435,146), Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties, NW Mo. (inc. 1850). , KS, with 140 members, has trained eight Mentor Couples who have prepared 10 couples for marriage, and worked with three troubled marriages, only one of whom divorced. Equally important, Pastor LeRoy Sullivan challenged seven couples who were cohabiting from the pulpit pulpit, in churches, elevated platform with low enclosing sides, used for preaching the sermon. In the earliest churches the episcopal throne served this purpose. , saying "There are some couples in this church who are living together. That's not God's plan. His plan is that couples should marry or live apart." The result: five couples married and two separated. Bread of Life is transformed from being a church of women and children to a church of married couples and children.

3. Killearn United Methodist Church United Methodist Church, in the United States, religious body formed by the union in 1968 of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church (see Methodism).  in Tallahassee, FL, with 3,000 members is probably the largest Protestant church in Florida's capital city. Nearly 150 couples have prepared for marriage since the first Mentor Couples were trained in 1999 by Mike and Harriet McManus. None have divorced! Richard Albertson, a layman LAYMAN, eccl. law. One who is not an ecclesiastic nor a clergyman.  who has provided ongoing training, has also created a Marriage Savers team that has worked with at least 30 troubled marriages, only two of whom have divorced, but failed to complete the program. Every couple who completed "Marriage Ministry" and attended "Reconciling God's Way" classes are still married! So there have been zero divorces of those who completed the training.

Reduce Divorce Rates for Entire Metro Areas This article is about the music production team. For the article about population centers, see metropolitan area.

Metro Area are a Brooklyn-based dance music production team composed of Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani.

Marriage Savers has worked with local clergy to create 176 "Community Marriage Policies" in 40 states where many churches in a city agree to implement these reforms. The independent Institute for Research and Evaluation has invested 20 months to research the impact of Community Marriage Policies to reduce the divorce rate. Its report was sent out for peer review in September, 2003 examining the impact of 121 Community Marriage Policies (CMPs) that were signed through 2000. The Institute, run by Dr. Stan STAN Stanchion
STAN Stärke- und Ausrüstungsnachweis (German)
Stan Standard Man (human patient simulator)
STAN SEMCIP Technical Assistance Network
STAN System Trace Audit Number
STAN Star Trek Area Network
 Weed, used two rigorous yardsticks to measure CMP CMP (cytidine monophosphate): see cytosine.

(1) (CMP Media LLC, Manhasset, NY, Part of United Business Media, CMP is a leading integrated media company that offers a wide variety of publications and services in the information

1. A county's divorce for three years before the CMP was signed is compared with three years afterward af·ter·ward   also af·ter·wards
At a later time; subsequently.

Adv. 1. afterward - happening at a time subsequent to a reference time; "he apologized subsequently"; "he's going to the store but he'll be back here
, and with the year 2001. This approach eliminates single year aberrations.

2. Each CMP city's divorce rate decline is compared with that of three comparable cities in the state, using four characteristics which account for half of the differences in divorce rates: (a) percent of the population which is Catholic, (b) urban, (c) below poverty, and (d) the marriage rate. For example, the Institute found that 15 counties in Florida The links in the column FIPS County Code are to the Census Bureau Info page for that county.

List of 67 counties in the U.S. state of Florida:

Abbr. FIPS
State Code State
FL 12 Florida
Index # on Map FIPS County Code County Name
1 001 Alachua County
 all had bigger drops in the divorce rate than Tallahassee, a CMP city whose divorce rate fell 12.9%. However, all 15 counties experienced high immigration immigration, entrance of a person (an alien) into a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence. Motives for immigration, like those for migration generally, are often economic, although religious or political factors may be very important.  of Catholics, whose divorce rate is low. But seven counties in northern Florida, with a similar percentage of Catholics as Leon County Leon County is the name of several counties in the United States:
  • Leon County, Florida
  • Leon County, Texas
 (Tallahassee), experienced a divorce rate drop of only 13%, one tenth that of Tallahassee. The Institute wrote a letter to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (born February 11, 1953) is an American politician, and was the 43rd Governor of Florida as well as the first Republican to be re-elected to that office. He is a prominent member of the Bush family: the younger brother of current President George W.  saying that the 12.9% drop of the Tallahassee divorce rate was ten times that of comparable counties. "To put this in concrete terms, we estimate that 400 Leon County divorces have been averted a·vert  
tr.v. a·vert·ed, a·vert·ing, a·verts
1. To turn away: avert one's eyes.

 by the Policy," the Institute concluded.

I have only seen part of the analysis for the first 131 cities that have been examined. In my Marriage Savers Annual Report--2002 (, I reported initial results. Divorce rates have been slashed slash  
v. slashed, slash·ing, slash·es
1. To cut or form by cutting with forceful sweeping strokes: slash a path through the underbrush.

 in eight counties of CMP cities. I will briefly discuss these cities.

1. El Paso El Paso (ĕl pă`sō), city (1990 pop. 515,342), seat of El Paso co., extreme W Tex., on the Rio Grande opposite Juárez, Mex.; inc. 1873.  had an average of 2,206 divorces a year from 1993-1995. However, there were only 630 divorces in 2001 When population change is considered, that is a stunning 79.5% decline in the divorce rate. Further, its marriage rate has risen 11% since 1998, while the U.S. marriage rate has been falling.

2. & 3. Kansas City, KS and a two-county suburban area also adopted a CMP in 1996, led by Pastors Jeff Meyers Jeffrey A. Meyer is an Associate Professor of Law at Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, CT.

Jeffrey Meyer began teaching at Quinnipiac Law School as an Associate Professor of Law in January 2006, following many years of legal practice experience.
 and LeRoy Sullivan above. The divorce rate plunged by 53.3% in Wyandotte County, and by a remarkable 63.1% in Johnson County Johnson County is the name of several counties in the United States:
  • Johnson County, Arkansas
  • Johnson County, Georgia
  • Johnson County, Illinois
  • Johnson County, Indiana
  • Johnson County, Iowa
  • Johnson County, Kansas
  • Johnson County, Kentucky
 compared to the pre-years.

4. Modesto, CA, the first city to sign a Community Marriage Policy in 1986, has enjoyed a 57.1% decline in its divorce rate. And its marriage rate rose 12% when U.S. marriage rates fell 18%.

It should be noted that it took Modesto 16 years to cut its divorce rate by 57%. By contrast, El Paso and Kansas City slashed their divorce rates by even greater numbers since 1996, or a decade less time than Modesto.

The following are other cities whose divorce rates have plunged in half:
Salem, Oregon       -50.4%
Austin, Texas       -49.8%
Waxahacie, Texas    -47.9%
Yuma, Arizona       -47.6%

Not all the news from the Institute for Research and Evaluation is encouraging. Some counties had no decrease in the divorce rate, or suffered an increase. However, the Institute found that on average, divorce rates fall 23.4% in 121 Community Marriage Policy cities/counties over a decade. By contrast, they drop only 10.78% in control group cities. The CMP city divorce rates have fallen more than twice as much as that of control cities. This result is statistically significant.


Staff Only 10 CMP cities have been able to create full-time staff. Eight of the ten experienced divorce rate declines of 11% to 79.5%.

Mentor Couples: The first 70 cities where clergy adopted a Community Marriage Policy only responded to a speech I made. In 1998 we began training Mentor Couples to administer a premarital inventory and to teach exercises to improve a couple's skills to resolve conflict. Starting in 1999, our training expanded from 5 to 12 hours to include alternative ways to enrich existing marriages, save troubled ones, help the separated to reconcile, and stepfamilies to be successful. In 47 of the 92 cities with divorce declines, Marriage Savers provided training to clergy and Mentor Couples. (Harriet and I personally have trained more than 1,500 couples.)

Press Coverage: The Kansas City Star gave excellent coverage to the Kansas City, KS CMP. However, the stories appeared only on the "Kansas Page" of the newspaper, which Missouri readers never saw. In the years Kansas divorce rates fell in half, Missouri's rate fell only 6%. On February 27, 1996, the Colorado Springs Colorado Springs, city (1990 pop. 281,140), seat of El Paso co., central Colo., on Monument and Fountain creeks, at the foot of Pikes Peak; inc. 1886. It is a year-round resort and a booming military, technological, and commercial city.  Gazette ran a front page story across six columns the day after a Catholic bishop led 70 pastors to sign a CMP in the offices of Focus on the Family. Without any subsequent training or staff, the divorce rate of Colorado Springs fell 21.5%.

A number of dangers to the institution of marriage have been proposed including cohabitation A living arrangement in which an unmarried couple lives together in a long-term relationship that resembles a marriage.

Couples cohabit, rather than marry, for a variety of reasons. They may want to test their compatibility before they commit to a legal union.
, increased religious heterogeneity het·er·o·ge·ne·i·ty
The quality or state of being heterogeneous.


the state of being heterogeneous.
, dual career issues, modern mobility, increases in the length of life and others. Over the next decade, what do you believe will be the greatest risks to the institution of marriage?

Most people know that half of America's new marriages are likely to end in divorce, a fact recently confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau Noun 1. Census Bureau - the bureau of the Commerce Department responsible for taking the census; provides demographic information and analyses about the population of the United States
Bureau of the Census
 (Kreider & Fields, 1996). Few realize, however, that the marriage rate has plummeted 40.4% since 1970, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 the National Marriage Project's 2003 annual report (Popenoe & Whitehead whitehead /white·head/ (hwit´hed)
1. milium.

2. closed comedo.

, 2003).

Why? The culprit is cohabitation, the single greatest threat to the institution of marriage. In 1960, only 439,000 couples were living together outside of marriage. The number who were cohabiting in 2000 soared 11-fold to 4,736,000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000, March). This is a stunning number. There are only 2.3 million marriages a year in America (National Center for Health Statistics National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

NCHS is the United States' principal health statistics agency.
, 2001). Thus, there are twice as many couples living together outside of wedlock at any moment in time, as marry in a single year. Sadly, cohabitation-not marriage, is now the primary way male-female unions are being formed in America. According to Pamela Smock (2000) of the University of Michigan (body, education) University of Michigan - A large cosmopolitan university in the Midwest USA. Over 50000 students are enrolled at the University of Michigan's three campuses. The students come from 50 states and over 100 foreign countries.  "the percentage of marriages preceded by cohabitation rose from about 10% for those marrying between 1965 and 1974 to over 50% for those marrying between 1990 and 1994," (Smock, 2000, p. 15). Millions of people-particularly women-think that cohabitation is a prelude prelude (prā`ld), musical composition of no universal style, usually for the keyboard. It was originally used to precede a ceremony and later a second, often larger piece.  to marriage. And for many it is. However, Smock (2000) reports that 45% of cohabitations end with no marriage. "The probability of marrying following cohabitation is declining," according to Dr. Larry Bumpass (1994, December) who has been conducting the National Survey of Families and Households at the University of Wisconsin in Madison since 1988. Many people live with one partner, and then another and another and never marry.


Millions Never Marry

First, it has diverted di·vert  
v. di·vert·ed, di·vert·ing, di·verts
1. To turn aside from a course or direction: Traffic was diverted around the scene of the accident.

 tens of millions from getting married at all. There were 21 million never-married adults (age 18 and older) in 1970 (Saluter, 1993, March). Those numbers more than doubled by 2000 to 48 million never married adults (Casper & Fields, 2000). However, America's population did not double in this time, but rose only 38% (U.S. Department of the Census, 2001). However, the percentage of never-married people from age 30-34 more than tripled, and from 35-44, more than doubled since 1970 (Casper & Fields, 2000):
Age    Percent  Never Married   Numbers in 2000     Males       Females
          1970         2000

30-34     7.8%          26%       5,071,000       2,899,000   2,172,000
35-44     5.9%        15.5%       6,932,000       3,981,000   2,951,000

However, these 12 million unmarried Americans are not sexually inactive in·ac·tive  
1. Not active or tending to be active.

a. Not functioning or operating; out of use: inactive machinery.

. Nor are they simply sexually active. In a paper presented to the Population Association of America, Larry Bumpass and James Sweet (1995, May) wrote, "By now about half of the population under age 40 have lived with an unmarried partner-in ten years that will be true for the population under age 50" (p. 65).

Why are so many cohabiting? Drs. Barbara Whitehead and David Popenoe of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University Rutgers University, main campus at New Brunswick, N.J.; land-grant and state supported; coeducational except for Douglass College; chartered 1766 as Queen's College, opened 1771. Campuses and Facilities

Rutgers maintains three campuses.
 blame the men. They conducted focus group discussions with young, heterosexual heterosexual /het·ero·sex·u·al/ (-sek´shoo-al)
1. pertaining to, characteristic of, or directed toward the opposite sex.

2. one who is sexually attracted to persons of the opposite sex.
 unmarried men in New Jersey, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Houston and wrote an essay, Why Men Won't Commit, as part of their 2002 annual report (Popenoe & Whitehead, 2002). It concludes "Men experience few social pressures to marry, gain many of the benefits of marriage by cohabiting with a romantic partner and are ever more reluctant to commit to marriage in their early years" (p. 1). They found that 44% of single men, 20-29, say they would not marry someone unless she agreed to live with him first. While men express a desire to marry at some point, they are in no hurry. The study cited 10 reasons why men won't commit:

1. They can get sex without marriage more easily than in times past

2. They can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying

3. They want to avoid divorce and its financial risks

4. They want to wait until they are older to have children

5. They fear that marriage will require too many changes and compromises.

6. They are waiting for the perfect mate and she hasn't yet appeared

7. They face few social pressures to marry

8. They are reluctant to marry a woman who already has children.

9. They want to own a house before they get a wife

10. They want to enjoy single life as long as they can.

Cohabitants Who Marry Are 50% More Likely To Divorce

According to Smock (2000), "Common sense suggests that premarital cohabitation should provide an opportunity for couples to learn about each other, strengthen their bonds, and increase their chances for a successful marriage ... The evidence, however, suggests just the opposite. Premarital cohabitation tends to be associated with lower marital quality and to increase the risk of divorce" (p. 6). "The degree of consensus about this central finding is impressive," says Smock (p. 6). It begins with lower levels of commitment and lower levels of relationship happiness, which are carried into the marriage, if there is a marriage to follow. This will come as a surprise to men who insist on living with a woman before considering marriage. In fact, they are playing with fire. "Marriages that are preceded by living together have 50% higher disruption disruption /dis·rup·tion/ (dis-rup´shun) a morphologic defect resulting from the extrinsic breakdown of, or interference with, a developmental process.  rates than marriages without premarital cohabitation" (p. 12), according to Dr. Larry Bumpass' analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households (Bumpass, Sweet, & Cherlin, 1989, August).

Why? There are two theories. First, it is what is called the "selection effect". Those who live together before marriage differ substantially from those who do not. Among cohabiting women, 60% are high school dropouts while only 37% are college graduates. Cohabitants are more liberal, less likely to be religious, and are more likely to be children of divorce themselves. The other and more probable theory about why it doesn't build stable relationships is that the experience of cohabiting changes young adults in ways that are likely to increase their chances of eventual divorce. Smock (2000) explained that "through cohabitation people learn about and come to accept the temporary nature of relationships and in particular that there are alternatives to marriage" (p. 7). Unfortunately, that does not stop them from having children. The number of babies born out of wedlock wed·lock  
The state of being married; matrimony.

out of wedlock
Of parents not legally married to each other: born out of wedlock.
 has soared along with cohabitation from about 225,000 in 1960 to 1,346,000 in 2000. Smock asserts that this rise in "non-marital childbearing child·bear·ing
Pregnancy and parturition.

childbearing adj.
 is largely due to cohabitation, and not to births to women living without a partner" (p. 7). A stunning 40% of all children will live with a parent in a cohabiting relationship--either before there is a marriage, or after a failed one, according to Bumpass and H. Lu in a 1999 study (Bumpass & Lu, 1999).

With a 37% decline in the marriage rate since 1960, there should have been a significant drop in the divorce rate. In fact, the divorce rate has doubled since 1960, from 2.2 per 1,000 people to 4.0 per 1,000 in 2001 (National Center for Health Statistics, 2001). I should add that the divorce rate has declined somewhat from its peak of 5.3/1000 in 1981 Nevertheless, even with this modest decline in recent years, the Years, The

the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]

See : Time
 overall divorce rate has doubled in the same 40 years the marriage rate has fallen 37%. Why? As the percentage of those who have cohabited before getting married has soared, a greater percentage of those marriages are failing. Cohabitation is thus holding up America's high divorce rate.

Follow up: What do you believe is the cause of high levels of divorce in the Christian community today?

I have asked pastors in scores of cities, "Have you preached on cohabitation?" Only one hand in 50 will go up. The church has been part of the problem. Clergy take one of two equally untenable positions. Most pretend they do not notice the couple has the same address. Though they know the couple is at much higher risk of divorce, they will not say so, rationalizing to themselves, "If they marry here, this will legalize le·gal·ize  
tr.v. le·gal·ized, le·gal·iz·ing, le·gal·iz·es
To make legal or lawful; authorize or sanction by law.

 their relationship." But many live-in relationships are not healthy and should not lead to marriage. Other clergy tell couples who are living together, "We won't marry you unless you separate," making marriage preparation contingent on Adj. 1. contingent on - determined by conditions or circumstances that follow; "arms sales contingent on the approval of congress"
contingent upon, dependant on, dependant upon, dependent on, dependent upon, depending on, contingent
 their moving apart. Consequently, such couples simply go down the street to another church. We at Marriage Savers suggest a middle ground position. Tell the couple, "We will not marry you unless you separate. But whether you do or not, we will give you a Mentor Couple who will support you, a premarital inventory that can help you assess the quality of your relationship, and Mentors will teach you communication and conflict resolution skills." Thus, the church takes a proper stand against cohabitation, while allowing their Mentor Couples to help them work on the unique risks that cohabitation has induced. Most do separate for the months before the marriage. This is standing against the sin while loving the sinner sin·ner  
1. One that sins or does wrong; a transgressor.

2. A scamp.

Noun 1. sinner - a person who sins (without repenting)

Furthermore, Marriage Savers has prepared materials to help churches address this sensitive issue with their Mentor Couples, and we train Mentors how to handle it (Buettner, Buettner, McManus, & McManus, 1999, December). For example, Mentors ask the members of the couple if they are having frequent arguments over money. Cohabitors are likely to acknowledge arguing over "my money" vs. "your money," and what is the proper share each pays for rent and food. Our Mentors suggest that those arguments would largely dissipate dis·si·pate  
v. dis·si·pat·ed, dis·si·pat·ing, dis·si·pates
1. To drive away; disperse.

 if they moved apart until the wedding. Mentors make a case that in moving apart, their wedding day becomes very special, a fresh beginning for their marriage. And Mentors say, "If you want God's blessing you need to consider playing by His rules." This approach usually works, with the couples separating for a few months until the wedding.

George Barna George Barna is the founder of The Barna Group, a market research firm specializing in studying the religious beliefs and behavior of Americans, and the intersection of faith and culture.  conducted a poll with a large sample nearly 4,000 adults and asked if they had been divorced (Barna, 1999, October/ December). He found that though 11% are currently divorced, 25% of all adults have experienced at least one divorce. However, 37% of those ages 53 to 72 and 34% of "Boomers" have endured a divorce. Remarkably, only 21% of the unchurched un·churched  
Not belonging to or participating in a church.

(used with a pl. verb) People who do not belong to or participate in a church considered as a group. Used with the.
 were divorced, the same as Catholics and Lutherans. However, Mainline denominations--Presbyterians, Episcopalians and United Methodists divorced at a 25% rate, the same as the U.S. average. No denomination's divorce rate was higher than the Baptists (at 29%). However, 34% of those who attend mostly evangelical nondenominational non·de·nom·i·na·tion·al  
Not restricted to or associated with a religious denomination.

Adj. 1. nondenominational - not restricted to a particular religious denomination; "a nondenominational church"
 churches have suffered dissolution. Barna (1999, October/December) also found that "divorce is much less likely in the Northeast than elsewhere. Only 19% of the residents of the Northeast have been divorced, compared to 26% in the West and 27% in both the South and Midwest" (pp. 1-2). Why? The Northeast has the nation's highest percentage of Catholics, who divorce at a lower rate. Barna's poll is corroborated cor·rob·o·rate  
tr.v. cor·rob·o·rat·ed, cor·rob·o·rat·ing, cor·rob·o·rates
To strengthen or support with other evidence; make more certain. See Synonyms at confirm.
 by divorce data gathered state-by-state. The region with the lowest divorce rate is the Northeast where more than 40% of the population is Catholic. Massachusetts has a divorce rate one-third that of Baptist Oklahoma. In 1998 there were 2.2 divorces per 1,000 residents in Massachusetts, vs. 6.5 per 1,000 in Oklahoma and 6.8 per 1,000 in Nevada, the highest divorce rate of any state.

To put it differently, virtually all Protestants have higher divorce rates than Catholics, as well as the unchurched. Why? In 22 years of writing my column, "Ethics & Religion," my conclusion is that most churches are "wedding factories." Polls reveal that three-quarters of Americans get married in churches or synagogues A list of synagogues around the world.

Contents: Top - A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  • Afganistan: Charshi Torabazein Synagogue (Kabul), Yu Aw Synagogue (Herat)
  • Albania: Valona Synagogue (Vlorë)
. Thus, organized religion has access to most couples. Yet America's divorce rate is higher than that of any nation (other than Russia and Estonia). Demographers measure the divorce rate as the number of divorces per 1,000 people in a year. By that measure, there were 4.6 divorces in Estonia, 4.7 in Russia and 4.3 in the U.S., according to a table published by The Washington Post (October 4, 1997). By comparison the rates in other nations were 3.3 in Britain, 2.7 in Norway, .8 in Spain, 1.0 in Poland and .4 in Italy. Estonia and Russia had a 65% increase in their divorce rates in 1996 compared to 1991 when the Berlin Wall fell. In that time, the U.S. rate fell 1.1%. It should be noted that a higher percentage of Americans marry than any other nation, despite the U.S. decline in the marriage rate. In 1996, there were 8.8 marriages per 1,000 in the U.S., vs. 5.6 in Britain, 5.9 in Russia, 8.1 in Taiwan, 6.8 in Poland, and 4.9 in Italy. Americans grind out Verb 1. grind out - produce in a routine or monotonous manner; "We have to crank out publications in order to receive funding"
crank out

produce, bring forth - bring forth or yield; "The tree would not produce fruit"
 weddings without much thought as to whether they will be successful. Most marriage preparation has little impact. Meeting with a pastor several times is the extent of marriage planning. Attending a few lectures or watching a set of videos is of little value. Two-thirds of those marrying do not take a premarital inventory. Without one, a couple has no objective view of their strengths and issues, which need resolution. A major reason why marriage preparation is non-demanding is that Protestant pastors are hoping the couple will join the church. This is not an issue for Catholic priests This is an annotated list of men primarily known for their work as Catholic priests. Catholic priests who are mostly known for their non-priestly work should be placed on other lists. , whose churches are ten times larger than the average Protestant church. Also, Catholic dioceses typically require 6 months to a year of marriage preparation during which couples take a premarital inventory and meet with older couples to discuss relational issues. During that time weak relationships will break up short of marriage. This tendency is one reason why Catholics have lower divorce rates. Protestants have no minimal preparation period and usually do not require the taking of an inventory or meeting with an older couple. However, Protestants do agree in Community Marriage Policies which require at least four months of marriage preparation, the taking of an inventory, and are led by Mentor Couples (this is one reason for CMP's tendency to push down divorce rates).

If the inventory is administered by a long-term, happily married couple, a bridge is built across the generations. The inventory can give the Mentor Couple an X-ray of that couple's relationship, so that they can help the younger couple grow by focusing on the issues that have surfaced. For example, if the man is giving the woman "the silent treatment," she may have never complained about it, for fear of "rocking the boat." However, she will answer honestly if asked on an inventory whether she agrees or disagrees with the statement: "At times I am concerned about the silent treatment I get from my future spouse." The inventory report compares what the man and woman said on each issue. Mentors can then ask the young man to explain his behavior. They might add, "The silent treatment doesn't work in a marriage. It can damage intimacy and trust." Mentors can also teach skills on how to resolve conflict. Yet not one couple in 7,000 getting married in America has a Mentor Couple to pass on their wisdom.

Following the wedding, most churches offer nothing to nurture NURTURE. The act of taking care of children and educating them: the right to the nurture of children generally belongs to the father till the child shall arrive at the age of fourteen years, and not longer. Till then, he is guardian by nurture. Co. Litt. 38 b.  or offer care for the marriages. Not one church in 1,000 has an annual retreat to enrich existing marriage. Perhaps only about 100 churches have trained "back-from-the-brink" couples whose marriages once nearly failed to mentor those in current crisis. Yet Retrouvaille, a weekend retreat run by lay Catholics, that has been attended by 70,000 couples in crisis, routinely saves four out of five marriages. Why? Retrouvaille is led by wounded healer couples, who feel led by the Lord to share how they overcame adultery, alcoholism alcoholism, disease characterized by impaired control over the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcoholism is a serious problem worldwide; in the United States the wide availability of alcoholic beverages makes alcohol the most accessible drug, and alcoholism is , abuse or whatever nearly drove them apart. Very few churches have strategies to help separated couples reconcile or to help stepfamilies be successful.

David Blankenhorn recently suggested that a shift in how partners see marriage has occurred. He noted that couples today often see the partners as bigger than the marriage. In the past, partners saw the marriage, and faith or community-based commitments to marriage, as bigger than themselves. What are the consequences of this shift in values away from faith or community-based covenants?

David Blankenhorn is absolutely correct that today's young couples believe their partners are more important than the institution of marriage. That's why so few couples seem able to live the vows they exchanged on the altar altar, table or platform for the performance of religious sacrifice. In its simplest form the altar is a small pile, with a square or circular surface, made of stone or wood. Its features vary according to its purpose.  of God. Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher (2000) summarize sum·ma·rize  
intr. & tr.v. sum·ma·rized, sum·ma·riz·ing, sum·ma·riz·es
To make a summary or make a summary of.

 many studies in their book, The Case for Marriage. They report a 1993 poll which asked if a couple with young children "should not get divorced even if they are unhappy," 61% of Americans said this was a view they 'No longer believe in." Years ago, the norm was that couples did stay together "for the sake of the children." Today divorce is seen as a solution to ending conflict, which adults believe is harmful to children. However, the authors cite a study that even children from high conflict marriages which stuck together had an average GPA GPA
grade point average

Noun 1. GPA - a measure of a student's academic achievement at a college or university; calculated by dividing the total number of grade points received by the total number attempted
 of 3.6 while teens from divorced high-conflict families had an average GPA of just 2.4. Further, two-thirds of those divorcing are not in high conflict marriages (Waite & Gallagher, 2000). Waite analyzed an·a·lyze  
tr.v. an·a·lyzed, an·a·lyz·ing, an·a·lyz·es
1. To examine methodically by separating into parts and studying their interrelations.

2. Chemistry To make a chemical analysis of.

 the National Survey of Families and Households and found that "86% of unhappily married people who stick it out find that, five years later, their marriages are happier ... In fact, nearly three-fifths of those who said their marriage was unhappy in the late '80s and who stayed married, rated this same marriage as either 'very happy,' or 'quite happy' when re-interviewed in the early 1990s" (p. 148).

The Bush administration, under Wade Horn, is searching for ways to support marriages in America today. Marriage interventionists have tried to assist marriages in a variety of ways including church-based marriage enrichment enrichment Food industry The addition of vitamins or minerals to a food–eg, wheat, which may have been lost during processing. See White flour; Cf Whole grains. , pastoral counseling Pastoral counseling is a branch of counseling in which ordained ministers, rabbis, priests and others provide therapy services. Practitioners in the United States are subject to the standards of the American Association of Pastoral Counseling and many are either licensed as a LPC  professional counseling, marriage mentoring, and pre-marital counseling. If you could make a recommendation to Wade Horn today, what would you recommend his office attempt to make a difference in marriages?

Dr. Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Noun 1. Department of Health and Human Services - the United States federal department that administers all federal programs dealing with health and welfare; created in 1979
Health and Human Services, HHS
, was a founding member of the Marriage Savers Board. He is impressively convincing the DHHS DHHS Department of Health & Human Services (US government)
DHHS Dana Hills High School (Dana Point, California)
DHHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
DHHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
 to create a "Healthy Marriage Initiative." First, he persuaded President Bush to add a $300 million federal program to promote marriage as a part of welfare reauthorization. The bill has now passed the House twice, and at this writing in August, 2003, it is expected to pass the Senate in May or June as part of the reauthorization of welfare reform.

Dr. Horn has made a second important innovation, changing existing federal grant programs so that they encourage marriage. The largest of these existing federal funding streams is called the Safe and Stable Families Program, which has $385 million appropriated in FY 2002.

One of the areas for which funding can be sought is called "Community Marriage Initiatives." It sounds familiar! Here is one particularly encouraging goal for which funds can be sought:

Establish partnerships with community and faith based organizations to train couples to be mentors and to train leaders to organize "marriage saver" programs in their area. These Community Marriage Initiatives will include marriage preparation programs, marriage enrichment programs, programs for "back-from-the brink" couples and programs for stepfamilies.

What else could Wade Horn do?:

1. Update divorce data, which has not been credible since 1997 and has not even been collected since 1998. There used to be five people working on marriages and divorces at the National Center for Health Statistics (part of the DHHS). The Clinton Administration Noun 1. Clinton administration - the executive under President Clinton
executive - persons who administer the law
 fired them. To my knowledge, no new people have been hired by the Bush Administration. While some data on marriage is available from Census, there is no longer state-by-state data on divorces and no national data on the numbers of divorces in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  since 1998. There is also none of the analysis that the National Center of Health Statistics used to provide on length of an average marriage that ends in divorce, or the number of children involved.

2. Require states to spend some of their TANF TANF Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (previously known as AFDC)  money on marriage. The stated goals of welfare reform legislation are to "reduce out-of-wedlock births" and "increase the number of two-parent families" in the states. Promoting marriage is the obvious solution, but few states do anything. Why? The DHHS oversees TANF.

Follow up: What should churches be doing to support marriages in their congregations and community?

Make marriage a priority in the church. Marriage was God's first institution, but all too often, it is the local church's last institution. Church members could usefully answer this question: Who is in charge of marriage in your church, other than the pastor, who is in charge of everything? Most important activities in a church have lay leaders with an assigned responsibility such as Sunday school Sunday school, institution for instruction in religion and morals, usually conducted in churches as part of the church organization but sometimes maintained by other religious or philanthropic bodies.

In England during the 18th cent.
, the choir, urban outreach Outreach is an effort by an organization or group to connect its ideas or practices to the efforts of other organizations, groups, specific audiences or the general public. , missionaries, and adult bible study Bible study may refer to:
  • Biblical studies, the academic examination
  • Bible study (Christian), sometimes known as "Devotions" or "Quiet times"
Other terms related to the study of the bible:
  • Biblical criticism
  • Biblical hermeneutics
. However, no lay people take responsibility for marriage preparation in an average church, or for enrichment, or for saving troubled marriages. We suggest that couples with different marital histories be assigned responsibility. Place couples in solid, long-term marriages in charge of marriage preparation. Those whose marriages once nearly failed could lead a ministry to help those in current crisis. Couples in stepfamilies could create a "Stepfamily Support Group," to help those marriages succeed. These various couples have quite different but parallel tasks. Their first duty is to become trained on what can be done, and then to train other couples to help.

Marriage Savers regularly provides this sort of training at three different kinds of events. Churches send a pastor and up to three Mentor Couples to a National Training To Create a Marriage Savers Congregation that we usually hold twice a year. Alternatively, churches may send up to five couples and a pastor to one of the regional trainings we conduct around the country, after the signing of a Community Marriage Policy, listed on our Travel Schedule on our Web site (see Or if a church organizes a dozen other churches for training, Marriage Savers will come to any community. Finally, we are creating a video series so that any congregation could train couples in their home church that will be available in 2004.

John Gottman John Gottman, Ph.D. is known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis through direct observations. The lessons learned from this work represent a partial basis for the relationship counseling movement which is based on specific training and education of behaviors  has proposed that training couples in communication skills is not as effective as marriage interventionists have believed. For example, he found that "master" couples who have demonstrated the ability to create a strong marriage only use the skill 4% of the time. Consequently, there is a debate among marriage interventionists about the utility and efficacy of communication skills training. Where do you fall on the current issue?

John Gottmann, is incorrect in saying that training in communication skills is unimportant un·im·por·tant  
Not important; petty.

unim·portance n.
. George Gallup George Horace Gallup (November 18, 1901 – July 26, 1984), American statistician, invented the Gallup poll, a successful statistical method of survey sampling for measuring public opinion. Life
Gallup was born into a dairy farming family in Jefferson, Iowa.
 polled couples who had divorced, asking what was the cause of their divorce (McManus, 1995). He found that 5% divorced due to physical abuse; 16% due to drug or alcohol abuse; and 17% due to adultery, although there was some overlap. The overwhelming cause of divorce cited by those who went through it was "incompatibility The inability of a Husband and Wife to cohabit in a marital relationship.

incompatibility n. the state of a marriage in which the spouses no longer have the mutual desire to live together and/or stay married, and is thus a ground for divorce
." Related to that were arguments over money, family or children (10%). "However, stated differently, three-fifths (57%) of marriages failed due to poor communication or conflict resolution skills" (McManus, 1995), I wrote in Marriage Savers. Of course, all of those couples thought they had good communication when they married. More likely, they found one another physically and sexually attractive Adj. 1. sexually attractive - capable of arousing desire; "the delectable Miss Haynes"

desirable - worth having or seeking or achieving; "a desirable job"; "computer with many desirable features"; "a desirable outcome"
, which gave them the impression they were compatible.

The good news is that communication skills can be taught, as evidenced by the documented success of the PREP program (Stanley et al., 2001). Further, intensive premarital preparation with a premarital inventory and Mentoring Couples training young couples in conflict resolution skills at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, MD, had only a 3% divorce rate over a decade, as noted earlier (Latimer & McManus, 2003).

Explain to the readers how you integrate your faith/theology with your approach to marital intervention. How do you approach marital interventions and marital research in respect to your faith?

I believe the most important verse in Scripture with regard to marriage is Ephesians 5:21: "Submit to one another in reverence for Christ." Southern Baptists Noun 1. Southern Baptist - a member of the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention - an association of Southern Baptists

Baptist - follower of Baptistic doctrines
 do not agree with this, even though the rest of Ephesians 5, starting with "Wives, submit to your husbands ..." explains what mutual submission is all about. Nine verses are devoted to telling men how they are to submit, loving their wife as Christ loved the church (dying for her) and only 3 verses summarize the woman's role. Significantly, many states with high percentages of Southern Baptists have very high divorce rates, such as Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama (Maher, 2002).

On the other hand, there is much wisdom in the proverb proverb, short statement of wisdom or advice that has passed into general use. More homely than aphorisms, proverbs generally refer to common experience and are often expressed in metaphor, alliteration, or rhyme, e.g. , "The couple that prays together, stays together." The late Dr. David Larson, founder of the International Center for the Integration of Health and Spirituality, formerly the National Institute for HealthCare Research, has written, "Couples who are religiously committed are protected against divorce." Or as he put it less reverently rev·er·ent  
Marked by, feeling, or expressing reverence.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin rever
, "If you want to die early, don't go to church. Play golf on Sunday." In 1981, the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. conducted a survey that found the most religiously committed people are the happiest in their homes and at work and the least likely to get divorced (1981). To determine their level of religious commitment, people were asked if they not only attended religious services regularly and prayed, but felt that God loved them, and if they read the Bible, attended church social events, and had "something you call a religious experience." Some 60% of the most religious, if unhappily married would "try to reconcile the problem at all costs," only 33% of the least religiously active would do so.

Marriage Encounter, a weekend retreat run by couples in renewed marriages, that has been attended by 2 million couples-is built on the thesis of mutual leadership and responsibility. It effectiveness has not been thoroughly studied. But a doctoral thesis by Rev. George McIrath, found that while only 55% said they came from "good marriages," (45% were "average" or "unhappy"), "fully 80% to 90%" of attending couples said that Marriage Encounter "demonstrates clear effectiveness when its participants are involved in rigorous and controlled pre-and post-weekend research."

Equality of the sexes and mutual submission is central to the job of being a Mentor Couple. That mutual respect-and a loving marriage-is what we are modeling for those we prepare for marriage. It is also the core innovation for troubled marriages. This approach replaces the failing "expert" approach of most churches. The pastor marries the couple, so he is expected to provide marriage preparation, or any help if their marriage falters. A couple with marriage difficulties is told by many clergy they should see a Christian counselor. Why? Their success rate is less than 20%, according to Diane Sollee, former Associate Director of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) represents the professional interests of over 24,000 marriage and family therapists throughout the United States and abroad.

Founded in 1942, the AAMFT is a recognized accreditor in North America.
 and now head of Smart Marriages. Mentor Couples whose own marriages once nearly failed, save 80% to 90% of the marriages they work with, the mirror opposite.

A man and woman who have rebuilt their marriage are a living model of the importance of mutual submission. They acknowledge they have both contributed to the pain of their marriage at an earlier stage, and they have both sought forgiveness Forgiveness
Angelica, Suor

is forgiven by the Virgin Mary for ill-considered suicide. [Ital. Opera: Puccini, Suor Angelica, Westerman, 364]

Bishop of Digne
 and learned to show love for their mate when they did not feel like it, but were biblically submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. At a training for mentors in Reading, Pennsylvania Reading (IPA:/ˈrɛdɪŋ/) is the county seat of Berks County, Pennsylvania and the center of the Greater Reading Area. , I asked if there were any couples whose marriages were once on the rocks, who might be willing to share with the group how they rebuilt their marriage. A couple met with me during the break. A man I'll call Pete said, "I got into alcohol, drugs and pornography pornography

Depiction of erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement. The word originally signified any work of art or literature depicting the life of prostitutes.
 and found myself at age 34 sitting in a local jail cell for statutory rape Sexual intercourse by an adult with a person below a statutorily designated age.

The criminal offense of statutory rape is committed when an adult sexually penetrates a person who, under the law, is incapable of consenting to sex.
 with a teenager. I faced the possibility of 5 years in prison. I gave my life to the Lord in that cell, praying, 'Lord I have made a mess of my life with my management of it. I give it to you, and ask you to help me out of this mess."' His first answer to the prayer is that his wife did not leave him, though the newspaper ran a story with his picture, profoundly embarrassing "Alice" and their teenage children. He was released on probation, and now has an excellent marriage. Imagine a couple suffering from adultery in your church meeting with Pete and Alice, who were able to re-build a marriage after statutory rape. Wouldn't that make their adultery crisis seem manageable?

Put simply, why do marriages fail? Selfishness self·ish  
1. Concerned chiefly or only with oneself: "Selfish men were . . . trying to make capital for themselves out of the sacred cause of human rights" Maria Weston Chapman.
. Why do the best ones succeed? Selflessness self·less  
Having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself; unselfish: "Volunteers need both selfish and selfless motives to sustain their interest" Natalie de Combray.
. How do we move a troubled marriage from selfishness to selflessness? By showing the couple in crisis a walking parable parable, the term translates the Hebrew word "mashal"—a term denoting a metaphor, or an enigmatic saying or an analogy. In the Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition, however, "parables" were illustrative narrative examples. Jewish teachers of the 1st cent. A.D. , a couple who has moved from selfishness to selflessness, who can tell their inspiring story to that couple in crisis. If the issue is alcoholism. The older couple can say, "We went through alcoholism for 10 years in our marriage. I was the drunk," the man might say. "My wife was disgusted and embarrassed. But she persuaded me to go to AA, and we can say hope can be restored in a marriage after alcoholism. We know. We have done it. You can do so too. Let us tell you how we rebuilt hope in our marriage and then let's pray about your situation." Those who have "been there, done that," have more credibility than any "expert" whether he is a pastor or counselor.

Correspondence concerning this article may he sent to Michael J. McManus, Marriage Savers, 9311 Harrington Dr., Potomac, MD 20854. Email:

Empirical study of Christian marriage and religious marital interventions is seriously lacking. In your opinion, what are the most important studies that need to be conducted to advance our understanding of Christian marriages and Christian marriage interventions?

There has been an acute lack of research to back up every assertion made in this paper about how Mentor Couples can be "marriage savers," and how the divorce rate can be reduced at the community and church levels. Fortunately, one of the last things Wade Horn did at the National Fatherhood Initiative The National Fatherhood Initiative is US-based non-profit, non-partisan organization that aims to improve the well-being of children through the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood. , before he become Assistant Secretary of the DHHS, was to get Marriage Savers a $50,000 grant to research the effectiveness of Community Marriage Policies. As noted earlier, the Institute for Research and Evaluation led by Dr. Stan Weed in Salt Lake City has evaluated all 144 Community Marriage Policies signed through 2000. It found that "divorces plunged in numerous cities," though some had an increase. Its report was in peer review in Spring, 2003, when this article was written. What needs additional research is why eight cities were able to slash their divorce rates in half, while others actually had an increase in their divorce rate. Our hope is that local researchers in communities, which adopted CMPs, will study the practices of their community and congregations. How many have trained Mentor Couples? How many couples have been trained in communities with varying results? What percent of them are actually mentoring couples? What do the mentees think of this intervention?

More broadly, the single most effective intervention to save troubled marriages is Retrouvaille, which has been attended by perhaps 70,000 couples (see Anecdotally, its directors in 20 cities have told me that the weekend retreat, run by "back-from-the-brink couples"--saves four out of five marriages. But there has never been a rigorous study of Retrouvaille. Its apparent success has never been documented by a credible research project. It would not be difficult to write to the 2,000+ couples who have attended in metro Washington or 3,000+ in Detroit, to see how many of them are still together, and what they saw as Retrouvaille's role. Similar studies are needed of Marriage Encounter, which was once attended by 100,000 a year, but now is down to the 15,000/yr range. Other analysis is needed to examine the impact of Family Life Weekends, which are growing in attendance by more than 25,000 couples per year. With what result? There are many video series available to enrich existing marriages, such as those by Gary Smalley, Gary Chapman Gary Chapman may refer to:
  • Gary Chapman (author), the author of the Five Love Languages series
  • Gary Chapman (musician), an American singer/songwriter and former television talk show host
, Bruce Wilkinson, David & Claudia Arp, and Family Life. Which are the most effective? Why? Others, such as "Choosing Wisely- Before You Divorce," try to halt discussion of divorce and move couples to work at their marriages, appears to help many marriages. Some 7,000 churches have bought that series. With what result? Another set of workbooks and videos is "Reconciling God's Way," which can be used by just one spouse who wants to save a marriage. How effective is it? All we have now is anecdotal anecdotal /an·ec·do·tal/ (an?ek-do´t'l) based on case histories rather than on controlled clinical trials.
anecdotal adjective Unsubstantiated; occurring as single or isolated event.

Another area where research is needed is at the local church level. Why have five churches had only six divorces in five years? To find out, I have obtained a research grant for Stan Weed to do a follow-up study after he completes his work on Community Marriage Policies. I think what he will discover is that churches which have trained Mentor Couples to make certain types of interventions, such as administering a premarital inventory and talking it through over five sessions--have a great impact in preparing couples for a lifelong marriage. I think he will find that back-from-the-brink couples can also be very effective in saving troubled marriages.

There are two widely-used premarital inventories: PREPARE and FOCCUS. They are now used by perhaps 800,000 couples a year. With what result? Which is the most effective? Why? Under what circumstances are they best used--by a pastor or priest, or by a mentoring couple? There has been no independent study of either instrument, to my knowledge.

Beyond the need to research existing work to save marriages, research is badly needed on how to make a case to those having babies out-of-wedlock--that they should consider marriage to give that child a protected environment in which to grow up, and for their own happiness as adults. There is not even any significant experimentation being undertaken in this field. "Fragile Families" research suggests that the best time to make a case with such couples is just before or just after the birth of the child. At the birth of the child, 50% are living together and another 30% are romantically involved, and most say they are open to marriage (Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Well-being). We at Marriage Savers have been trying to obtain funding to train mentoring couples at inner city churches to reach out to the pregnant mothers and offer to give the mother and father of the child an inventory, and training to resolve issues of communication and conflict.

Another area for research is why clergy are so reluctant to deal with the issues of marriage, divorce and cohabitation. Surely Scripture is clear that God hates divorce. That must mean He loves marriage. Yet many have never preached on these issues. Are their own marriages so shaky, they feel insecure in·se·cure
1. Lacking emotional stability; not well-adjusted.

2. Lacking self-confidence; plagued by anxiety.

 in addressing the issue? Perhaps the problem is that seminary seminary

Educational institution, usually for training in theology. In the U.S. the term was formerly also used to refer to institutions of higher learning for women, often teachers' colleges.
 training in this field is virtually non-existent for most clergy. As a syndicated columnist defines a syndicated columnist as, "[A] person hired by publications or broadcast organizations to produce written or spoken commentary about specific feature subjects. , writing "Ethics & Religion" since 1981, I have had the privilege of traveling widely in this nation and examining many efforts to prepare, enrich or save marriages. Many of the best innovations have been piloted at a single church. However, my 2000 Manual To Create a Marriage Savers Congregation, summarizes these interventions, and how to plant them in individual churches across America.

If you were to give advice to someone who is training to work with marriages, what is the key piece of advice you would like to share?

First, of course, marry well. I gave a Commencement Address on this subject to Samford University Not to be confused with Stanford University.
Samford University is a private, coeducational, Baptist-affiliated university located in Homewood, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham. As of 2006, Samford ranks number four in the South among master's degree institutions in this year's U.
 in which I said that my four decades as a journalist convinced me that sociology backed up the Scriptural scrip·tur·al  
1. Of or relating to writing; written.

2. often Scriptural Of, relating to, based on, or contained in the Scriptures.
 admonitions to "flee flee  
v. fled , flee·ing, flees

1. To run away, as from trouble or danger: fled from the house into the night.

 fornication Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other.

Under the Common Law, the crime of fornication consisted of unlawful sexual intercourse between an unmarried woman and a man, regardless of his marital status.
" and remain chaste chaste  
adj. chast·er, chast·est
1. Morally pure in thought or conduct; decent and modest.

a. Not having experienced sexual intercourse; virginal.

 till marriage--quite the opposite of what the world suggests, to sleep around and live with someone first. By that I mean take a premarital inventory and meet with a Mentor Couple to discuss the issues that surface. Follow the scriptural admonition Any formal verbal statement made during a trial by a judge to advise and caution the jury on their duty as jurors, on the admissibility or nonadmissibility of evidence, or on the purpose for which any evidence admitted may be considered by them.  by Paul: "Test everything. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil" (I Thess. 5:21-22). (Regrettably, however, I noted in my address that if Samford graduates went to their own churches for such preparation, they would not find it. I challenged the parents and faculty at Samford to create that opportunity. It has not been done so yet.)

Second, attend every possible marriage enrichment opportunity with your spouse, such as Marriage Encounter or Family Life Weekends. This can be done at least annually to refresh (1) To continuously charge a device that cannot hold its content. CRTs must be refreshed, because the phosphors hold their glow for only a few milliseconds. Dynamic RAM chips require refreshing to maintain their charged bit patterns. See vertical scan frequency and redraw.  your own marriage.

Third, read aloud with one's spouse the book, The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason Mike Mason (born 1985-02-28 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina) is an American football wide receiver who currently plays for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League. He was signed as an undrafted free agent after completing his career at Tennessee State. . It was written during his year of engagement and a year after his wedding, and is remarkably wise and beautifully written. Read other books cited in this paper, most notably, The Case for Marriage by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher and The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, which provides evidence of the harm of divorce to children, based on Wallerstein's study of 100 children of divorce over 25 years! It is the only longitudinal study longitudinal study

a chronological study in epidemiology which attempts to establish a relationship between an antecedent cause and a subsequent effect. See also cohort study.
 of divorce's impact on children. The "unexpected legacy" is that the impact of divorce hits the children of divorce most cruelly when they themselves try as adults to bond to someone of the opposite sex and are usually unable to do so. Of the 100 adult children of divorce, 60 married and 24 divorced, leaving only a third still married!

Finally, I urge anyone training to work with marriages to begin mentoring programs in your own church. This will give you a hands-on feel for both the difficulties (of recruitment, for example) and of the blessings (many avoided divorces).

Marriage Savers has demonstrated that churches can make a radical difference in saving marriages both in local congregations and at the community level across the nation. These lessons need to be taken to America's 380,000 congregations. Nothing could be more important for the health and stability of our children and generations to come. If more young people join this great cause, the ripples of their contribution to marriage will touch the lives of unborn generations.


Barna, G. (1999, October/December). Christians Are More Likely to Experiance Divorce than Non-Christians. The Barna Report. See

Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Well-being, Princeton University Princeton University, at Princeton, N.J.; coeducational; chartered 1746, opened 1747, rechartered 1748, called the College of New Jersey until 1896. Schools and Research Facilities
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McMANUS, MICHAEL J. Address: Marriage Savers, 9311 Harrington Drive, Potomac, MD 20854. Title: President and Co-Chair, Marriage Savers. Degree: A.B., Duke University, 1963. Specializations: Marriage public policy; ethics and religion.

McMANUS, HARRIET E. Address: Marriage Savers, 9311 Harrington

Drive, Potomac, MD 20854. Title: Co-Founder and Co-Chair,

Marriage Savers. Degree: AA, Pine Manor College Pine Manor is located on an old estate which used to be a part of Wellesley College. Many of the school's buildings are original to the estate and have been renovated to accommodate the college. .
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Author:McManus, Harriet
Publication:Journal of Psychology and Theology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2003
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