Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Good News Is....

Have you heard these statements before?

"50% of all marriages end in divorce."

"The divorce rate within the church is no different than that of the general public."

"Marriage is HARD."

These so-called facts paint a pretty bleak picture of the state of marriage in our society. No wonder so many people are discouraged and giving up on the idea of healthy marriage relationships. The GOOD news is, those statistics are faulty.

Book cover for "The Good News About Marriage"

Last week several of us had the privilege of hearing Harvard graduate, analyst and author Shaunti Feldhahn speak at the D6 Conference on family ministry. She brought a message about restoring HOPE in relationships based on her social research. Her book titled The Good News About Marriage goes into detail about her findings. You can find it here:

Over 12 years of research, Shaunti has discovered that one common denominator in whether a marriage survives or fails- or whether a couple even gets married to begin with- is whether the couple has a sense of hope or a sense of futility.

"If a struggling couple believes 'Yeah, this is tough, but we're going to make it,' they usually do. But once people start to think otherwise, they all too soon employ the logic of futility: if the ship is going to sink anyway, why bother working hard to bail it out? That poisonous doubt- which is really about the possibility of marriage working in general- gets into our minds years before we approach the altar."

A young couple, full of of hope!
We, and our society, need to be reminded that a lifelong, abundant, joyous marriage is possible!  From her experience, here are a few things Shaunti wants you to know:

  • The most depressing statistics we hear floating around about divorce (such as that ominous 50% rate) are not even close to true.  According to the census bureau, 71% of people are still married to their first spouse. The 29% who are not even includes those who were married until a spouse died. No one exactly knows the divorce rate, but in all likelihood, it is much closer to 25%. And millennials- those most scared away from marriage to bein with- have an even lower rate of divorce than their parents at the same ages. 
  • Church attendance matters! The fact that you're sitting in church today, in community with other with other believers, means you're doing something to help strengthen relationships. Those who regularly attend church DO have a lower divorce rate. In her book, Shaunti goes into detail on that often quoted but misunderstood Barna research study about the rate of divorce of those in church. She later partnered with the Barna group to re-run the numbers together. They found that regular church attendance lowers the divorce rate anywhere from 25-50%.
  • Happy marriages are the RULE not the EXCEPTION! We've gotten into a bad habit of using phrases like "marriage is HARD!" Think about it- that's not exactly the best advertisement for future generations, is it? The fact is, although marriages certainly have issues to work on, most people, about 80%, truly enjoy being married. Let's change the message to "Marriage takes hard work, and it's worth every bit!" 
  • Little things make a big difference. Although some marriages are broken up by "big ticket" issues, such as forms of abuse or serious depression, many more are affected by misunderstanding. Two spouses who love each other but may be working hard in the wrong areas, or hurting one other without intending to. Getting help and seeking to make seemingly minor changes can have a big impact. 
  • Commitment is powerful. If couples stick together through the tough times, 80% report being happy together 5 years later. If you're going through a rough patch right now, that should be great news!
Jack and Alice B., my grandparents, smooching on their 50th anniversary.

No matter what you're relationship status is today, I hope that you will be encouraged. There is HOPE. A great marriage IS possible!

*The research and quotes from this article are summarized from Shaunti Feldhahn's talk at the D6 Conference on September 17, 2015 and from an article, "Restoring Hope for Marriages In the Next Generation-and the Current One!" in the D6 Conference booklet.

No comments:

Post a Comment