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marriage

Cheap Sex Isn’t Free

contraception, feminism, Hanna Rosin, marriage, sexual revolution 1 comment
Obed Bazikian, Intern

Carolyn Moynihan, of Mercatornet, discusses the sexual revolution and its multiple negative effects upon women. One contemporary writer she highlights is Hanna Rosin, who recently wrote an article for the WSJ, which is based on her upcoming book The End of Men. Rosin explains, “Women no longer need men for financial security and social influence. They can achieve those things by themselves. No one is in a hurry to get married, and sex is, by the terms of sexual economics, very cheap.”

Is sex really “cheap”? Perhaps birth control does not have much monetary cost. Rosin goes on to say, “Thanks to the sexual revolution, they can have relationships—and maybe some drama—through their 20s and early 30s and not get tied down with a husband and babies. If the price is a little more heartache, so be it.” But how do you quantify a “little heartache” and is it really possible to measure the internal and emotional effects that come from broken relationships? Moreover, is that all these young ladies take away from broken relationships? There are numerous social, physical, and emotional consequences of promiscuity. Incurable STD’s is just one of them. The “price” of “cheap” sex is anything but cheap. Often, it has a lifetime price tag.

Moynihan concludes that while there had been problems with “marriage and the status of women in America […], cutting sex adrift from babies and marriage was patently not the solution.” Our culture is constantly pushing women to lower their standards and dreams regarding sex and relationships. Men are encouraged to act irresponsibility and often persuade women to do the same.

There is a reason God designed sex to be within the bounds of marriage. It was not because He did not want us to have fun. On the contrary, He created it to be the healthiest, happiest, and most fulfilling within commitment, and social science research backs this up!

Marriage Still Stands

cohabitation, divorce, marriage No comments
Obed Bazikian, Intern
The Associated Press (AP) wrote an article in the Christian Science Monitor entitled, “Cohabitation before marriage? It’s no greater divorce risk.”  The article used a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the US National Institute of Health, which sought to discover “trends and group differences” between marital statuses of those aged 15 to 44 years. When analyzing the AP article to the actual study, the article turns out to be rather misleading.
The title the AP used implies that divorce is not more likely for those who cohabitated before marriage than for those who maintained chastity. However, when going to the CDC study itself, this statement is found false. The study examined marriage survival of men and women in 5-year intervals from 5 to 20 years. In every interval, those who did not cohabitate with their future spouse had a greater chance of marriage survival than those who did cohabitate. The probability between these categories is often close in comparison, but the title blatantly misrepresents the facts. It would have been accurate to claim that in some of the year intervals, the difference was statistically insignificant. The study even specifies, “Looking at 20 years duration, women who had never cohabited with their first husband before marriage had a higher probability of marriage survival (57%), compared with women who had cohabited with their first spouse before marriage.”
There are more examples than just comparing the title, and discerning readers should examine both texts. This is yet another example of the media attempting to alter our culture’s perception of marriage, and to make cohabitation more palatable. However, even with their quoted data, marriage still stands. For further critique of the AP’s paper, check out Glenn Stanton’s article in National Review magazine. Also, for numerous publications and research that support marriage, please visit the Marriage and Religion Research’s website.

Individualism in Marriage

children, cohabitation, marriage, social institutions No comments
MARRI Interns
An increasingly disturbing trend in Americatoday is the growing emphasis and view that marriage is about personal and mutual fulfillment with no essential link to children. Much of this mindset is synonymous with a more individualistic outlook on life. Mercatornet describes the typical individual as believing that marriage is “being there for the other person and helping them when they’re down, helping them get through tough times, cheering them up when they’re sad.” Ricky says, “You know, just pretty much improving each other’s lives together.” In other words, marriage is about mutual help and companionship.
 
While part of marriage is in fact about relationship between two individuals, this definition leaves out the emphasis on children. Mercatornet further foundthat “young adults’ belief in marriage as commitment and permanence comes with an asterisk: so long as both spouses are happy and love each other.” The growing idea that marriage is simply a union between two people to make each other happy is incomplete. According to Amber and David Lapp, marriage is about something more than simply two separate individuals coming together.
 
According to the Survey of Consumer Finance, the net worth of cohabitating families with children was only $16,540, as opposed $120,250 for intact families (“Child’s Right to Marriage of Parents”).In addition, according to Robert Whelan, Broken Homes and Broken Children, children living in cohabiting homes are also 33 times more likely to suffer serious child abuse than children living with their biological parents (“Child’s Right to Marriage of Parents”).
 
If marriage could not possibly result in children, then it would be fine for individuals to only consider themselves in their future. However, that is clearly not the case. Marriage is not simply the union of two consenting individuals as long as they remain happy; marriage is a lasting bond and commitment that not only includes the man and the woman, but also the children, who together define the family.

Marriage as a Public Good

human capital, MARRI, marriage, social institutions No comments
Julia Polese, Intern
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute is running a series of articles on Public Discourse this week about the follies of a conception of marriage that is exclusively private. Answering slogans like “Get the government out of the marriage business” and “Leave it to the churches” that are popular in some libertarian circles, Morse outlines the public goods of marriage. It is in civil society’s best interest – even the smallest of government, night watchman state-touting libertarian’s interest – to maintain traditional marriage as a public good. As a primary mitigating institution between the citizen and the state, marriage provides a stopgap to the encroaching central government on civil society, maintains order in raising children with a mother and a father, and, moreover, Morse argues, is inextricably linked with the current societal involvement of the state. “The government is already deeply involved in many aspects of human life that affect people’s decisions of what kind of relationship to be in,” she writes. “For instance, government’s policies regarding welfare, health care, and housing have contributed to the near-disappearance of marriage from the lower classes, not only in America, but throughout the industrialized world.”
Despite the difficulties social contract libertarians following John Stuart Mill’s intellectual tradition may have in articulating a justification for the covenant-based institution of marriage, Morse’s argument from protection from encroaching government appeals to such a political theory. Jean Bethke Elshtain explains the role of the family in a democratic society in her article “The Family and Civic Life,” calling on totalitarianism’s interest in destroying the family, a particular, in favor of the state, a universal: “to destroy private life; and most of all, to require that individuals never allow their commitments to specific others – family, friends, comrades – to weaken their commitment to the state. To this idea, which can only be described as evil, the family stands in defiance.” Thus, it is a good sign the state is involved in the “marriage business,” encouraging a civil institution that has its own authoritative structure separate from legislatures and executive branches. Morse argues this point from the problem of parenthood: if marriage disintegrates, the state becomes the de facto parent, becoming literally paternalistic.
 
The Marriage And Religion Research Institute’s research and publications corroborate this theory of the family with social science research. A paper entitled “Our Fiscal Crisis: We Cannot Tax, Spend, and Borrow Enough to Substitute for Marriage” points out the human capital provided by marriage that is essential to a flourishing society apart from the state. It is in the citizens’ best interest for the state to recognize the traditional intact married family and, thus, it should be promoted and upheld.

Marriage and the Economy: There is a link

human capital, MARRI, marriage No comments
MARRI Interns

A recent study published by the Brookings Institute on the relationship between marriage and economics overlooks the causal importance of marriage in economic growth.  When discussing the lamentable recent decline in middle class income, the article rightly fingers macroeconomic features as culpable.  But marriage is also a decisive factor in the economic health of families, and the distinction between marriage and macroeconomics is not as stark as might be inferred from this study. “Globalization, technological changes, and changes in labor market institutions” must be accounted for in any diagnosis of the recent global economic malaise, but the omission of marriage from such a study results in a myopic diagnosis and a deficient prescription. 

The Brookings study posits a unidirectional model of causation: macroeconomic stagnation is responsible for the decline in marriage, and macroeconomic stability (not familial stability) is the only solution to the problem: “Rather than focusing on changing values, a more effective approach to addressing both poverty and marriage may be to improve economic opportunities for all Americans.” Thus the author of a New York Times article about this study may be forgiven for echoing that same causal logic: “The rich are different from you and me: they’re more likely to get married.” But this analysis is unidimensional and therefore deficient. The social science data is clear in its insistence that marriage itself improves the economic performance of the partners. A preferable, though no doubt more controversial, headline would read ,”Marrieds are different from you and me: they’re more likely to be rich.”
Our Fiscal Crisis: We Cannot Tax, Spend, and Borrow Enough to Substitute for Marriage, a recent piece of original MARRI research, highlights the numerous economic benefits of marriage, including a 0.9% increase in income per year for men after they marry. Another piece of original MARRI research entitled The Divorce Revolution Perpetually Reduces U.S. Economic Growth shows that “the rate of change in earnings year over year are consistently higher for men in intact marriages than among single or ever-divorced men.” Both of these studies emphasize that the causal link between marriage and economic success is the reverse of that implied by the Brookings study, and those seeking to resolve the nefarious economic straits faced by Americans today embark upon a fool’s errand if they continue to ignore these salutary benefits of monogamous, stable marriage.

Can Cohabitation Lead To Fulfillment?

abstinence, Christianity, cohabitation, marriage, religion No comments
Obed Bazikian, Intern

Marriage Savers President Mike McManus relays in a recent articlea talk Pope Benedict XVI gave to United States Catholic Bishops in which he urged them to address the issue of cohabitation. Pope Benedict stated, “It is increasingly evident that a weakened appreciation of the indissolubility of the marriage covenant, and the widespread rejection of a responsible mature sexual ethic in the practice of chastity, have led to grave societal problems bearing an immense human and economic cost.”

There is a devaluing of the idea of commitment in our culture that is affecting U.S.couples from pledging their lives to each other. A possible cause for this is the population has become unhealthily focused on themselves. The individual is so elevated over his neighbor or community that if anything endangers personal happiness, it is avoided. Sadly, this has included marriage. However, science has claimed the opposite. One studyhas shown that “married couples enjoy more relationship quality and happiness than cohabiters.” The modern understanding of personal fulfillment and relationships has blinded us to the reality that in covenant there is actually increased happiness.
Perhaps an analogy can better explain the difference between cohabitation and marriage. If I could hold in hand my life, and then close my hand, I would certainly have and be able to enjoy my life. However, I would be unable to receive anything from others because my hand is closed. I may show at times what is in my hand, but in fear of losing what is mine, I never let go. However, if I was to open my hand and give up my life, only then am I in the position to receive life from another. It is the same regarding cohabitation and marriage. A cohabiter allows a glimpse to their partner, but never fully gives up his life. Only in the true commitment of marriage can one fully and wholeheartedly give and receive life and happiness.

“17 Filles”

education, fathers, marriage, poverty, teen pregnancy No comments
MARRI Interns
Raising children is something that is considered to be serious but very rewarding; it is not to be taken lightly. However, a recent movie, 17 Filles (“17 Girls”), by French directors Delphine and Muriel Coulin, demeans and trivializes what it takes and what it means to raise children. The arthouse film is based on the events at Gloucesterhigh school when 17 girls made a pact to all get pregnant and raise their children together. While there was overall displeasure with the events at Gloucester high school, 17 Filles in many ways encourages and glorifies these ambitious young women. The movie depicts the main character Camille as having killer looks and a Mean Girls-ish personality. She convinces the other envious girls that “having a bun in the oven is way cooler than having lots of friends on Facebook.”
Not only does this movie trivialize the responsibilities of raising children, but it also fails to convey the importance of raising children in an intact home. According to R. Rector: Analysis of CPS, in 2001 there were 3.93 million children living in poverty (See “Child’s Right to Marriage of Parents“). If those same parents were married, 3.17 million of those same children would leave poverty.
In addition, children living with a never married mother are 4.3 times more likely to get expelled or suspended from school than those living in an intact home. Finally, according to the Adolescent Health Survey, children raised in an intact home achieve significantly higher GPA’s than those living with a never-married mother, 2.9 v 2.5.
 
While single mothers should not be condemned or looked down upon, it is wrong to encourage and praise deliberately raising children without a father and completely dismiss the consequences.

“Cootie Contagion” and choosing marriage

culture, MARRI, marriage, social institutions No comments

MARRI Interns

Nostalgia for the middle school years gone by rarely rushes into the mind unaccompanied by a twinge of regret birthed by memory of our regrettable social ineptitude.  Awkwardness abounded at school social events, when the hermetically isolated genders were thrust together onto the middle school dance floor.  Those are days to which few would happily return.  Yet recent polling of young singles in Americasuggests that many in their 20s have not yet overcome their fear of the “cootie contagion,” and are therefore worried about commitment to marriage and relationships.
USA Today reports that in a poll of 5,541 adults who are either never married, or widowed, divorced, or separated, only 34.5% of the respondents answered affirmatively when asked “Do you want to get married?”  27% answered no, and 38.6% were uncertain whether they wanted to enter into a marital commitment. 
These findings illustrate broader trends, as Americans tend to view marriage as a nonessential social institution, and consequently neither desire nor pursue it for themselves.  Instead, sexual activity is increasingly detached from marital fidelity, as 55% of respondents report having a one-night stand, and 56% of respondents report having suffered infidelity.
But apart from these issues of sexual exclusivity, marriage confers numerous salutary benefits upon those who choose to engage in it.  Indeed, these benefits are some of the most unassailable and verified findings in all of social science.  Drawing on an abundance of social science research, the Marriage and Religion Research Institute has compiled some of these benefits into the convenient 162 Reasons to Marry in order to educate the public about the desirability of marriage.  If the polls cited above confirm that marriage is on the decline among young Americans, the social science data from numerous sources confirms that those who flee from marriage forfeit its numerous benefits and do themselves a disservice.  If we would avoid this preventable development, it is worthwhile to reevaluate our analysis of the marital bond.  In short, marriage deserves another look.  

Marriage, Reconcilliation and Hope

divorce, MARRI, marriage, no-fault divorce No comments
By Obed Bazikian, Intern

Andrea Mrozek of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada wrote an articleabout strengthening marriage by addressing the issue of divorce. Mrozek advocates for reform to the no-fault divorce law in Canada, which not only allows couples to divorce without providing any legitimate reason, but a spouse can divorce their mate even if the other wants to work out their relationship. To be clear, this law has and does benefit those who are mistreated or in abusive relationships, which was the intention behind establishing no-fault divorce. However, since its establishment in Canada and like laws in other Western countries, divorce has become all too common.

 Mrozek references some interesting findings from The Institute for American Values. One studystates that of couples who have filed for divorce, 40% of one or both of them have a desire to be reconciled. Among Minnesota’sdivorced population, 66 percent wished that they would have tried harder to reconcile with their former spouse. An astonishing final study states that “two out of three unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation were happily married five years later.”
If the partners would make every effort to work out their differences, as the last study references, over 60 percent of potential divorces could be reconciled successfully and result in a happy marriage. That is exciting news. Marriage is hard work and requires a new level of self-sacrifice that most are not used to prior to their “I do’s.” But, if you stick it out, there are benefits on so many levels. The Marriage and Religion Research Institute’s 162 Reasons to Marry provides a detailed window into these different areas a committed marriage can profit not only yourself, but society. So if divorce is on your mind, seek a counselor and get help! There is hope for you and your marriage!

Meaning of Marriage

children, MARRI, marriage, poverty 3 comments
MARRI Interns
Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart has sparked a remarkable conversation about growing inequality in American culture. The upper and lower classes – or “Belmont” and “Fishtown” – “diverge in core beliefs and values,” which, in turn, begets a divergence in the role of marriage in society, as previously discussed on this blog. An article entitled “For Richer (Not for Poorer): The Inequality Crisis of Marriage” appeared in The Atlantic this week, continuing the discussion of growing class divergence in marriage rates. Author Nancy Cook argues that the economic consequences of increasing intermarriage among Belmont-dwellers and declining marriage rates in Fishtown could continue to sow the seeds of inequality. “Then consider the impact on the next generation,” she urges. “Well-educated, wealthy Americans will have more resources to spend on their children’s education, health, and enrichment; low-income people can offer fewer opportunities to help their offspring get ahead.”
 
Because, in Cook’s words, Americans are no longer “starry-eyed about marriage as an aspiration,” increasingly the definition of the institution becomes more obscured. What is marriage for, anyway? David and Amber Lapp went into Fishtown to ask this very question for Public Discourse. The majority of responses cited a subjective feeling of happiness or a “spark” with little consideration for permanence, service, or even children. Curiously, marriage was still considered to be a solemn, almost sacred, institution that should not be entered into lightly. “It is not out of disdain for marriage that working-class young adults delay marriage and begin families,” the Lapps write, “but out of reverence for it as something that ought not be broken.”

Marriage then becomes an empty set: it should not be entered into lightly, but what is it a couple is entering in the first place? While research from the Marriage and Religion Research Institute has demonstrated that marriage does have a positive effect on happiness, it appears this cannot realistically be the ultimate purpose of the institution if it is to last. Nevertheless, a number of the responses the Lapps received can be found in marriage, as MARRI’s 162 Reasons to Marry suggests. A reexamination of the meaning of marriage could help Fishtown out of its economic and social doldrums.