Tag Archives: marriage campaign

Celebrate National Marriage Week: Be a Marriage Advocate –Part II

We continue our discussion with Susan Dutton Freund, Executive Director of thinkmarriage.org, on why marriage is relevant and important in 2010…Read Part I here.

“Marriage is worth fighting for as a society and personally,” says Susan, who draws parallels to other causes that were meant to help society—anti-smoking campaigns, drunk-driving campaigns, fighting for civil rights and for the environment. She says with all the well-documented evidence for marriage, we should all advocate for healthy marriages. “When it’s not working, people suffer, especially children who are helpless to keep their own homes together. Adults become helpless, too, when the court divides assets and children.”

“In this country, we think relationships and marriage are all about adults’ happiness.  This is very short-sighted and self-centered. It’s not that adults shouldn’t be happy, but we know they can learn skills to be quite successful in marriage. They need to have patience and perseverance to pursue that, and not throw it away,” says Susan. This leads to thinkmarriage.org’s new campaign:

Go green with your relationships. Don’t throw away your marriage; recycle it. Don’t’ pollute the human environment with unhealthy interactions and poor communication.

Susan suggests we can all become marriage advocates and champions by entering the public debate, by standing up for marriage, and by educating others about why it is important. The web site thinkmarriage.org offers a free Myth Busters Guide about marriage, which can be offered to others when you hear common myths, such as “children are resilient after a divorce,” Susan says. In reality, she says research shows divorce has lifelong effects on children, “so it’s worth trying really hard before you choose that option.”

While 70% of divorces are from low-conflict marriages, Susan warns that not all marriages can or should survive. There are three cases in which a marriage needs professional intervention, such as medical/psychological help, or therapy, for a chance at survival:

  1. Physical abuse—as well as serious verbal or emotional abuse
  2. Mental health issues—true mental health issues make it very difficult to have a healthy relationship
  3. An active, ongoing addiction—to a substance, pornography or sexual addiction, or gambling—addictive behaviors make an individual unable to sustain a healthy relationship

 However, she adds, “The vast majority of divorces are not as a result of these difficult circumstances, and 40 percent of children are now born outside of marriage, so we are out of balance.” Where’s the solution? “We all need to take part in a movement to restore marriage to the centerpiece of American life,” she says.

What do you think? Is advocating for marriage is difficult in today’s society? Do you feel like you’re forcing your viewpoints on others when you speak highly of marriage? Is it possible to support single parents and children/families who have experienced divorce, while also raising awareness about healthy marriages?

Celebrate National Marriage Week: Be a Marriage Advocate –Part I

In honor of National Marriage Week, which is celebrated this year from Feb. 7th to Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share a recent interview I had with Susan Dutton Freund, Executive Director of thinkmarriage.org. Her organization, based in Wisconsin, provides education, online tools and local programs to build healthier relationships. Susan is also part of a national movement to support healthy marriages.

Susan believes marriage education is “more important than ever.” She should know, after growing up in a high-conflict marriage, marrying and divorcing at a young age and raising two children on her own, and finally building a healthy and stable marriage in which to raise a family the second time around. She says our society isn’t preparing individuals for relationships as it did a century ago, when manners were taught in tight-knit communities by positive role models. “Today we live in a mobile society and are loosely networked,” Susan says. “There’s less emphasis on social mores, a do-your-own-thing mentality, separation from extended family, and an easy exit from marriage.”

Despite these challenges, a couple who works on their relationship can be successful, she says. “With a little time, thought, and effort, you can see really great things happen in your relationships.” Susan says a love letter is a tiny example of what should be in a good marriage—“pouring yourself and your affirmation, love and encouragement into another person.” She adds that a love letter not only makes your mate feel good, it also reminds you of your partner’s great attributes. That’s why her organization is offering interactive love letter kits for a nominal donation of $1.99. What a great idea for Valentine’s Day!

Susan says her organization teaches three positive messages, which she says have resonated within her community, and on a broader scale:

  1. Marriage is a public good that is beneficial to both adults and children. Research has shown married adults have more wealth, greater happiness and psychological wellbeing, lower rates of chemical abuse/addictions, less physical violence, better sex life, longer life, and better health. Children within intact families have greater academic achievement, greater lifetime earnings, lower rates of drug use, lower rates of teen pregnancy, higher physical health, emotional health, and fewer problematic behaviors.
  2. Divorce is preventable when you learn skills. Susan says two truly critical marriage skills are positive communication and conflict resolution. If a couple has these, they can manage other areas of conflict, such as finances, sex, housework and childcare. She adds that marriage retreats, seminars and courses are offered around the country to help couples improve these two skills.
  3. Children need both of their parents in their home to do their best. “As long as humanity keeps producing children, marriage will always be relevant,” says Susan. “Family is the building block of society, and when the family fractures, society fractures.”

 Stay tuned for Part II of our discussion tomorrow.

 How do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day and National Marriage Week? 

Is the Government Stimulating Your Marriage?

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is funding a new campaign aimed to promote the benefits of marriage to young adults. Benefits being touted include better health, greater wealth and increased happiness for those who marry, and improved wellbeing for their children.  While they aren’t telling anyone to run out and get married, the campaign’s goal is to encourage individuals in their 20s not to underestimate the benefits of marriage.

Declining marriage rates haven’t gone unnoticed by the government. Just released statistics report that in 1986, there were 10 marriages per 1,000 people; in 2008 that declined to 7.1 marriages per 1,000.

The $5 million national media campaign is to launch this month using online ads, YouTube video, radio shows, bus and subway ads. A new web site has also been launched, twoofus.org, which provides relationship tips and advice with different sections for couples who are dating, engaged, married and for parents. The web site compiles advice from a variety of relationship and marriage experts and includes podcasts, articles, video and audio.

Of course there is some controversy over using these funds to promote marriage, especially when our country is faced with so many problems at present. While I sympathize with those who say the money needs to be redirected to help fight poverty, I believe that stronger families can better equip our country for the future and can help us ride out the tough times. Research clearly shows that in general children are healthier, safer, better educated and less likely to live in poverty when raised in an intact married family. It also shows that married adults are more likely to be healthier and happier and financially better off when they are married.  (See previous posts for details.)

The bigger question is will young adults—a fiercely independent group—pay attention to the ads? Proponents say they have used public campaigns successfully to change behavior in the past, such as using seat-belts or avoiding smoking or drugs. Time will tell if the campaign will be effective. The campaign budget is at risk of cuts from the new administration due to the worsening economy, so it may not even have time to work.

What do you think? Should the government stay out of our private lives, or is this investment important? Do you think the campaign is a good use of money, or will it fall on deaf ears?