Talk to your children and family members
Don’t shy away from sharing with your children that marriage, although challenging, is worth the effort and central to a happy and successful life.
Celebrate your anniversary each year and have a conversation about it. Show your children your wedding photos. Tell them your love story and how you knew your spouse was the right one for you. Even if you’re a single parent, you can use still have these conversations with your children.
Let your children see that no one comes between mom and dad, not even them. Exemplify: “We are on the same team. We don’t compete with each other or keep score. We work together and sacrifice for each other.”
Older Teens and Young Adults
Help young people understand that marriage is not what is portrayed in popular media.
Teach your children that you don’t just fall in and out of love. Marriage is not a one-time act; it’s a continuous decision. Love is a choice.
Explain the intergenerational aspect of marriage and help them understand that they are part of something that came before them and they will have an impact on those who will come after them.
Talk to your friends
Question for dicussion
Does the government care about who you love? If not, then why over centuries have societies and government been involved in marriage?
What are the benefits of marriage to you/society?
In your opinion, what is the optimal age to get married? Why is this?
Engage the Broader Community
Support legislation that encourages pre-marital counseling and mandatory counseling and waiting periods prior to a divorce (See Parental Divorce Reduction Act).
Monitor your child’s school curricula and textbooks watching for positive messages about marriage and family. When you find messages that undermine marriage and family, be vocal and seek change.
Model healthy marriage. Show and share how it is done. Don’t be afraid to speak openly about the challenges and the goodness of marriage.
Support other people in their marriages: attend weddings and receptions; let young couples know they are part of something bigger and that the community has a stake in their marriage being successful; pray for your marriage relationship and for others’ marriages; babysit children so others can have a date night; start a small group to study marriage topics, etc.
Live Out the Truth of Marriage
Husbands and wives must be faithful to one another through thick and thin. Mothers and fathers must take their obligations to their children seriously. The unmarried must prepare now for their future marital lives so they can live out the vows they will make.
Whatever the law or culture may say, share the fundamental truths about marriage: that men and women are distinct and complementary, that it takes a man and a woman to bring a child into the world, and that children deserve a chance to be raised by their mom and dad.
The economic benefits of marriage are not limited to the middle class; some 70 percent of never-married mothers would be able to escape poverty if they were married to the father of their children.
Robert Rector, Kirk Johnson, Patrick Fagan and Lauren Noyes, “Increasing Marriage Will Dramatically Reduce Child Poverty,” Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis Report No. CDA03-06, (2003, 20 May).
On average, children reared in married-parent families were less vulnerable to serious emotional illness, depression and suicide than children in nonintact families.
“State of Our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America, 2003,” (Piscataway, NJ: The National Marriage Project), (2003): 8, 16, 18.
“The size of the health gain from marriage is remarkable. It may be as large as the benefit from giving up smoking.”
Chris Wilson and Andrew Oswald, “How Does Marriage Affect Physical and Psychological Health? A Survey of the Longitudinal Evidence,” Institute for the Study of Labor, Discussion Paper No. 1619 (2005).
People who were married reported the highest levels of well-being, regardless of whether they were happily married or not. “Even when controlling for relationship happiness, being married was associated with higher self-esteem, greater life satisfaction, greater happiness and less distress.”
Claire Kamp Dush and Paul Amato, “Consequences of Relationship Status and Quality for Subjective Well-Being,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 22(5) (2005): 607-627. 20.
Among couples who married and stayed married, the per person net worth increased on average by 16 percent with each year of marriage. Compared to those who remained single, getting married increased one’s wealth, on average, by 93 percent.
Jay Zagorsky, “Marriage and Divorce’s Impact on Wealth,” Journal of Sociology 41(4) (2005): 406-424. Cited in: Want to be Wealthy? Try Marriage, Cable News Network, (2006, 18 January).
A study of adolescents convicted of homicide in adult court found that at the time of the crimes, 42.9 percent of their parents had never been married, 29.5 percent were divorced and 8.9 percent were separated. Less than 20 percent of these children were from married parent households.
Patrick Darby, Wesley Allan, Javad Kashani, Kenneth Hartke and John Reid, “Analysis of 112 Juveniles Who Committed Homicide: Characteristics and a Closer Look at Family Abuse,” Journal of Family Violence 13 (1998): 365-374.
Marriage, and a normative commitment to marriage, foster high-quality relationships between adults, as well as between parents and children.
“Virtually every study of mortality and marital status shows the unmarried of both sexes have higher death rates, whether by accident, disease or self-inflicted wounds, and this is found in every country that maintains accurate health statistics.”
Robert Coombs, “Marital Status and Personal Well-Being: A Literature Review,” Family Relations 40 (1991): 97.
Unmarried individuals had higher rates of mortality than married people — about 50 percent higher for women and 250 percent higher for men. Married people had better physical health and psychological well-being than divorced, separated, never-married or widowed people.
“The Benefits of Marriage,” National Center for Policy Analysis, Daily Policy Alert, (2006, 4 January).
Marriage is not only a private vow; it is a public act, a contract taken in full public view, enforceable by law and in the equally powerful court of public opinion. When you marry, the public commitment you make changes the way you think about yourself and your beloved; it changes the way you act and think about the future; and it changes how other people and other institutions treat you as well.
Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially, (New York: Double Day, October 2000): 17.
Married mothers were less likely to suffer abuse than never-married mothers. In fact, even when the very high rates of abuse of separated and divorced mothers were added into the statistic, the rates of abuse among mothers who had ever been married were still lower than the rates of abuse among women who had never married and those who were cohabiting. Among mothers who were currently married or had ever been married, the rate of abuse was 38.5 per 1,000 mothers. Among mothers who have never been married the rate was 81 per 1,000 mothers.
National Crime Victimization Survey. Cited by: Robert Rector, Patrick Fagan and Kirk Johnson, “Marriage: Still the Safest Place for Women and Children,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder (Working Paper) 1732 (2004): 2-3.
Marriage strengthened the bonds between fathers and their children. Married men were more involved and had better relationships with their children than unwed or divorced fathers. In part, this was because married fathers shared the same residence with their children. But it was also because the role of husband encourages men to voluntarily take responsibility for their own children. Paternity by itself does not seem to accomplish the same transformation in men’s lives.
Steven Nock, “Marriage in Men’s Lives,” (N.Y: Oxford University Press, 1998); David Popenoe, “Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence That Fatherhood and Marriage Are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society,” (New York: The Free Press, 1996).
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Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Birds of a feather do flock together and that is essential in advocacy efforts. Be open minded about the individuals you engage and advocate with. It is rare to find an individual – let alone an organization
or a religion – which you agree with on every tenet, topic or issue.
When you find common ground with someone on an issue, go forward together. You don’t have to agree on every issue, just the one that is before you.
The days of not being willing to engage with others on policy efforts because that person doesn’t share your religion, is a different race, or comes from a different socio-economic group are over. You will need every person who shares your perspective on an issue. Get acquainted, share expertise and experience. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet others and engage in an important cause – together.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” —African Proverb