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?

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