Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Divorce – It wounds everyone around it!

What is the current divorce rate in America?
It is frequently reported that the
divorce rate in America is 50%. This data is not accurately correct, however, it is reasonably close to actual. The Americans for Divorce Reform estimates that "Probably, 40 or possibly even 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue.", which is actually a projection.

"50% of all marriages in the America end in divorce."
The above statement about the divorce rate in America hides all the details about distribution, however.

Age at marriage for those who divorce in America




Under 20 years old



20 to 24 years old



25 to 29 years old



30 to 34 years old



35 to 39 years old



The divorce rate in America for first marriage, vs second or third marriage
50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.”

According to enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America:
The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%

The divorce rate in America for childless couples and couples with children
According to discovery channel, couples with children have a slightly lower rate of divorce than childless couples.

Sociologists believe that childlessness is also a common cause of divorce. The absence of children leads to loneliness and weariness and even in the United States, at least 66 per cent of all divorced couples are childless.

In the last 20 years, divorce statistics have skyrocketed. Fifty percent of U.S. marriages are ending in divorce. The trauma to this country is overwhelming. We have to do something about stopping it.

American couples are marrying later, divorcing more frequently, and are readier to live together without marrying. Almost all the large increase in working women has occurred among married women, but the wife's contribution to family income has probably saved many marriages, for people in the lowest socioeconomic groups are more likely to divorce than those who "have it made."


The consequences of divorce are far-reaching. Divorce raises the risk that children won't graduate from high school or will themselves have children while they are still teenagers.

We used to think that preschool kids were most affected by divorce, but studies don't show that to be true. There's not one age that is clearly better or clearly worse. Kids are more at risk if their parents are still fighting after the divorce, especially if they use the children as pawns. Kids caught in the middle don't do well.

Divorce has an impact on these children's future in another way. The kids of divorced families grow up without learning the skills they need in their own relationships.

Divorce teaches them not to trust. When teenage girls become sexually active after their parents divorce, it can be because they reason that relationships never last, so why not?

Economic problems are increasingly given as reasons for seeking a divorce. Husbands complain they are fed up with meeting the mortgage or paying high rents. A growing number of men consider themselves better off single. One husband recently sought advice on divorce proceedings because he claimed his wife had just spent $750 - half his month's salary - on exotic plants for the living room.

A lot of couples want to live way above their means and they get into the red. For them, divorce is often the easiest way out.

According to popular beliefs, a rise in divorce statistics indicates that couples are not doing such a good job at keeping their vows. If partners love each other unconditionally, there is the understanding that whatever happened in the past, whatever is happening at present and whatever is to happen, will not change a couple s love for each other. This influences the passion with which the vows are made and kept

We can't reverse the historical trends that are pulling the family apart, nor, for the most part, would we want to. Making women subservient to men, restoring tough divorce laws and withdrawing Social Security would certainly force many families to stay together, but the hardship caused by these moves would far outweigh that benefit.

But if something isn't done to strengthen the social family, it will continue to dissolve, says David Popenoe, who has devoted his academic career to studying the family.

The most serious threat to the family - at least as far as children are concerned - is the high divorce rate, but there is currently very little interest in the problem.

"There are no national anti-divorce movements like those for anti-abortion, no national commissions examining the problem of divorce like those for pornography, and few indignant outcries from the pulpit about marital dissolution of the kind heard frequently about premarital sexuality," he wrote in a paper for the Institute for American Values, a nonpartisan think tank in New York that he helped to organize.

He also believes greater efforts should be made to accommodate women in the workplace, so parents will experience less when they try to combine a career with parenting.

Until recently, the workplace has been organized around a single earner married to someone who stays home with the kids.

The goal should be a system that allows both parents to spend more time with their children. The idea of affluence was to provide more leisure time, and yet we're working our tails off and neglecting our children.

The most significant changes must come in people themselves. We should stress that the individualistic ethos has gone too far, that children are being woefully shortchanged, and that, in the long run, strong families represent the best path toward self-fulfillment and personal happiness.

There are many causes of divorce, but the most commonly cited reasons for divorce include financial pressures, unrealistic expectations from one or other partner, media pressure and arguments over the upbringing of children. All valid causes of divorce and all actual reasons people divorce, so let's take a look at them in more detail:

Financial pressures are often cited as the largest causes of divorce.

Most couples experience financial difficulties, whether short or long term. With financial causes of divorce there may be a clash of ideals, with one partner wishing to 'live now, pay later', while the other prefers to live always within their means without borrowing money.

It often emerges over the decision whether to take a mortgage for house purchase, or whether to spend on an expensive vacation. However, spending on gambling, drinking or compulsive shopping can raise equally thorny causes for divorce.

Usually the couple manages to compromise on financial issues, but in some cases the dispute is severe enough to threaten the relationship. There is no 'right' way to handle money, and each couple will make their own arrangements. Some individuals feel that it is helpful to keep some savings in their own name, however close and involved they are with their partner. This may not imply an intention to separate, and is certainly no reason for divorce - and it may actually make separation less likely because the person feels more secure because of the savings.

Expectations fostered by the media can be causes for divorce

Pressures on the stability of relationships are also felt as a result of media publicity. There is at present a tendency to idealize marriage as an institution and at the same time to attack it. The media is full of stories about the infidelities and separations of celebrities, and their reasons for divorce. There are also regular features on how to improve your relationship, how to achieve a better sex life and how to live a fuller life. This carries the risk that couples who read about these things will look at their own relationship and see more causes of divorce, and conclude that, because it doesn't come up to standard, it is no good and they should separate.

It hardly needs saying that you need to weigh these media pronouncements against your own experience, and not disparage the good things that you have in your own 'good enough' relationship. This is one of the hardest causes of divorce to get to grips with, as it's always plastered across some glossy magazine or other each week. Just because someone writes about it in a magazine (and claims it's one of the common causes of divorce) does not mean it's a reason for divorce in your relationship. Don't be intimidated by the media.

Jan Andersen, associate professor at CSU Sacramento, had heard the conventional wisdom, too. Far from being a skeptic, he wanted to prove the link when he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject at Utah State University. Andersen had long taught courses in personal finance and, as the child of divorce himself, liked the idea that improving people's money skills could help their marriages.

Unfortunately, he found research in this area has been thin, to say the least. The only survey Andersen could find that showed a strong link between money and divorce was one culled from data collected in 1948. When this survey of postwar divorced women was asked what ended their marriages, the leading response was "nonsupport" -- meaning their husbands hadn't provided enough money for the basic necessities of life.

Needless to say, a few things have changed since then, including more women in the workforce and less financial dependence on men. Andersen also points out that nonsupport was one of the few grounds for which you could get a divorce back in the old days. What's more, the survey focused only on the women; opinions of ex-husbands weren't solicited.

Look at broader causes of divorce

The more recent research Andersen reviewed relegated money to a lesser role in divorce. Rarely was it ranked higher than fourth or fifth, with other causes -- incompatibility, lack of emotional support, abuse and sexual problems -- typically ranking higher.

Money causes friction, of course. In a study of married couples from 1980 to 1992, 70% reported some kind of money problems. When Andersen looked deeper at that database, however, he found that those problems didn't necessarily lead to divorce.

"As a predictor of divorce, money problems are … so minor," Andersen said. "If we look at all the causes of divorce, financial problems can only account for 5% of the effect."

It's important to note here that Andersen wasn't looking at popular opinion polls -- what people think causes divorce or even what people are willing to tell a telephone survey caused their own divorce. He was looking at sociological research that had some intellectual rigor and scientific controls. He wanted to determine whether money could be singled out as a predictor of divorce, rather than something most married couples struggle with.

Andersen speculates that money may be a socially acceptable reason for divorce, while other issues -- like incompatibility, abuse or sexual problems -- could be harder to talk about.

"No one is going to say, 'I got divorced because I was a jerk,' Andersen said.”It's more acceptable to say, 'We had money troubles.' "

For this husband and father, the bottom line is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor (spouse) as yourself.” When we place God first in our lives, He prioritizes our lives for us based on His good and perfect Will. That Will is focused on His love and design for each of us as His creation.

We will “naturally” tend toward self sacrifice (as opposed to selfishness and self absorption) as we seek Him. The Apostle Paul took the model directly from Jesus Christ when he wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .” Of course, those words are preceded by the “infamous” (to women’s lib folks) words that wives should “submit” to their husbands, but the context back then had a very different meaning than some kind of subservient, groveling woman.

Anyway, the state of marriage, especially in America, is the responsibility of all members of society. Strong marriages yield strong, healthy children, and strong families are truly the backbone of our society. It’s no wonder that things seem to be crumbling rapidly everywhere the more marriage and family are assailed by popular culture and the media!

Pray, pray and pray some more that God would draw us back to Himself, including in our marriages!

Only by Grace,


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Keys to a Joyful marriage . . .

Some of you will probably think, "Duh, Pat! Did you just figure this one out?!" As often happens, God awoke me very early this morning, this time to give me the "Keys to a Joyful Marriage" (at least that's how I "heard" it.)

#1 - Love Me (God)

#2 - Love each other

Yes, I'm fully aware that sounds very familiar. From Matthew 22:36-40:

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Of course, these two "keys" or commandments really apply to all of life. In these are found the path to the "abundant life" Jesus promised us. But, God was clearly speaking to me about marriage this morning. In this world where such a premium is placed on self-fulfillment . . . (sic) SELFISHNESS . . . well, let's just say placing God and others first is not promoted. However, it has become exceedingly clear to me (and Patti) that we cannot have "successful", Joyful marriages without putting these commandments into practice in our lives.

God must be first, above all else. It is in the total surrender and dependence on our Creator that we find our "true" selves, "who" God created us to be. It is there that we find ultimate Peace and Joy, it is in that surrender that we discover our true character . . . a reflection of Jesus. I spoke earlier of that holy irony of losing our life only to find it.

Even in good marriages and families, it is often very hard to place God ahead of our spouse and children. But we cannot, we will not succeed in having Joyful marriages and families without doing so. It is a "risk" in worldly terms, and often we shrink back from the "commitment" it requires. For those of us who have taken the step, or are taking those steps (for it is a continual surrendering) hindsight gives us affirmation and blessing.

When we have surrendered our selves to God, He "equips" us to do the second . . . love others. Love our spouse as Christ loves His Church, love our children as God loves them, love others with God's "eyes", even love our enemies!

It is so sad to watch marriages crumble due to selfishness. We see people (often husbands) chasing after fulfillment (worldly), only to find fleeting happiness and leave behind destroyed marriages, families and people. I got my haircut today. My "barber" is a Christian woman whose husband left her and his daughter to "fulfill himself". She spoke of "commitment" as some kind of "dinosaur" which is now extinct.

I talked with my pastor recently about marriage and parenting, (a blessed time it was too.) However, we both felt overwhelmed with the task of saving marriages. How do we battle the world; media, movies, etc. that send such false and damaging messages every day . . . brainwashing young and old alike. How do we convince people that God's plan is so much better, so much more fulfilling . . . that we are made for His plan?! Even in this we must surrender. We pray, we do our best to love our wives, to place them above ourselves, to seek to cherish them, treasure them, to see them through God's loving and affirming eyes. In short, we try as best we can in God's Grace to reflect Jesus as husbands, fathers and friends. And, we don't always get it right, but we also strive to be humble in confessing and seeking forgiveness . . . from God and those we may have hurt, including our wives.

I am painfully aware of several men (I'm sure there may be some women as well, just not personally aware of them) that continue to selfishly seek their own satisfaction to the detriment of their wives, their children, even their extended families. They are living deluded, escapist lives in search of "happiness", but they are forfeiting the Joyful life God had intended for them. I wish there was a way for me to somehow "instill" the Truth, the Grace, the incredible, amazing JOY and Peace I have in my marriage in their hearts and minds. I wish I could somehow show them, help them "glimpse" this Heaven on earth that I experience, even in the midst of struggles and pain.

Pray for your marriage if you are married, pray together with your spouse . . . cover your relationship with God's Grace and protection. If you are not married, pray for those you know who are, because those marriages and families are truly important to you, your community, your church. Pray that God's Truth will prevail in a dark, broken world by the Grace of Christ Jesus and in the Power of the Holy Spirit.