Divorce & Marriage

"Love and Marriage" may "go together like a horse and carriage," but if the marital track record of the crooner who popularized this 1950s tune is any indication, they go together for only so long. In fact, since those days, Frank Sinatra-style multiple marriages have become the expected course for many Americans. According to a Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas) study, "For the first time in history, a married couple is as likely to be parted by divorce as by death" (www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/fam-div.html).

Yet, social science data and endless fodder generated by the popular culture testify to the harmful effects on those touched by divorce--all the way out to the society at large. Intact marriages, it is widely claimed, produce everything from more satisfying sex to stabler children. But neither choice is easy, all would agree.

Is cohabiting the answer? According to the Web site All About Cohabiting Before Marriage, "By the year 2010, if the present trend continues, there will be 7 married couples for every cohabiting couple." Yet, the benefits of monogamous marriage stand in sharp contrast to the serious problems--including a greater incidence of abuse--that arise among cohabiting couples. Cultural commentator Chuck Colson states succinctly, "Cohabitation: it's training for divorce." Researcher Larry L. Bumpass wrote in 1994, "The majority of cohabitors either breakup or marry within two years."

So we're back to the issues of divorce and marriage for most people, regardless of whether one "test-drives" a relationship. We serve up an eclectic menu of articles and reviews in our Special Focus on the tightly related topics of divorce, marriage and cohabitation for your consideration, from a broad Christian viewpoint.

—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University

Articles on Divorce:

Why Marriages Fail
Kerby Anderson
Kerby Anderson explores four negative risk factors that can destroy intimacy in a marriage and possibly lead to divorce: escalation, invalidation, negative interpretations, withdrawal and avoidance.

End No-Fault Divorce?
Maggie Gallagher and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead
In this article both sides of the issue of no-fault divorce are considered.

Marital Safety Nets: Community Marriage Policies
Charles Colson
"Community Marriage Policies are now in place in 150 cities and the results have been phenomenal. In Modesto, California, the first city to adopt a Community Marriage Policy seventeen years ago, divorce rates have plunged an incredible forty-seven percent. Other cities are witnessing similar eye-popping results."

The Abolition of Marriage
Review by Kari Jenson Gold
Did the institution of marriage crumble on its own or was it dismantled intentionally? Kari Jenson Gold reviews Maggie Gallagher's book, The Abolition of Marriage, which tries to answer that question.

Articles on Marriage:

Educating for Marriage, Sort Of
Dana Mack
Americans are seriously interested in reviving a culture of stable marriage. Part of this renewed interest has been stimulated by public policy makers who, recognizing the troubling social, emotional, and economic legacy of divorce, have decided to act. Determined to test new ways to encourage lasting marriages, they have directed many of their efforts toward encouraging marriage preparation programs in schools and churches.

Steps to Healing a Marriage
John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D
Many relationships today are in need of healing, especially marriages. Here are some practical steps to starting the process of ending the pain.

For Fidelity: How Intimacy and Commitment Enrich Our Lives
Review by J. Budziszewski
Budziszewski demolishes author Wallace's alleged defense of marital fidelity. Provides insight into perspectives sometimes touted as pro-marriage.

Making a Good Marriage: There's Only One Way
Steven Garber, Ph.D.
There is only one way into a good marriage, and that is through the vision and virtues of friendship, says author Steven Garber. This article serves both the unmarried or the "wanna' be" married and the married. Who knows, it may offer helpful insight for the divorced.

I Do?
David Blankenhorn
It is common for couples today to customize the vows for their wedding. Do the words that they select have anything to do with their actual marriage?

"Catholic Gobbledygook"
Robert Royal
The author considers the Catholic annulment process in America. The issue of annulments raises several interesting questions: the nature of marriage, the laxity of American Catholics and the difficult problems in broken relationships.

Marriage Reminders
Jerry Solomon
The communication and responsibilities in marriage, as well as those little extras, are discussed in this article.

A Weekend for Reflection Upon a Life of Relationship
John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D
Most married couples do not understand the basic principles on which marriage is based. It is good to take some time to learn them. The discussion here provides a step in that direction.

From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition
Review by Romanus Cessario
Cessario reviews Witte's account of the shifting interplay of law, theology, and marriage in Western civilization within the context of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican traditions. Despite taking exception to a "skewed" representation of the Catholic view of marriage in later centuries, Cessario writes, "All in all, the book makes fascinating reading, and should be studied by those who want to discover more about the present configurations of marriage among Christians of all denominations."

Articles on Cohabitation:

Myths Surrounding Cohabitation
All About Cohabiting Before Marriage
From All About Cohabiting Before Marriage, a Web site dedicated to a full disclosure of the subject, including research on the social, medical, psychological and relational impact. Many of the reasons people live together out of wedlock are ill-founded or just plain false.

Sociological Reasons Not to Live Together
All About Cohabiting Before Marriage
The sociological arguments against cohabiting are many, including, "Those who have 'trial' marriages do not have better marriages," and "Those having premarital sex may be fooled into marrying a person who is not right for them."

Psychological Reasons Not to Live Together
All About Cohabiting Before Marriage
The psychological arguments against cohabiting are compelling. They include: "Those who live together before marriage abuse each other more often and more severely than dating couples or married couples," and "Those who live together before marriage suffer from greater depression and anxiety."

Recommended Sites:

Family Life
"Life-changing resources for your family," including written materials and books, conferences, radio broadcasts and more.

All About Cohabiting Before Marriage
"The goal of this web site is to help couples build strong quality relationships that will grow into marriages lasting a lifetime. Its purpose is to (1) detail the harmful effects of living together on the stability and satisfaction of relationships, in general, and marriage, specifically; and (2) suggest ways to help minimize these adverse effects in order to have a successful marriage."

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