About Mike and Harriet McManus and Marriage Savers
Mike & Harriet McManus are Co-Chairs of Marriage Savers, a ministry whose
goal is to help churches and communities cut their divorce rate and raise their
marriage rate. They have helped the clergy of more than 200 cities adopt a
Community Marriage Policy, an agreement across denominational lines, to make
marriage such a priority in their churches that divorce rates fall.
According to a study by the Institute for Research & Evaluation, divorce
rates dropped in the first 114 cities with a Community Marriage Policy saving
30,000 to 50,000 marriages by 2001. With six more years and 100 more CMP cities,
perhaps 100,000 divorces have been averted.
Mike McManus, 68, a Duke graduate, was TIME magazine's youngest
correspondent in 1963. He worked in Latin America initially and then in
Washington. Since 1981, he has written a weekly syndicated column, "Ethics
& Religion." He wrote a book, "Marriage Savers: Helping Your
Friends and Family Avoid Divorce," published in 1995. Its last
chapter tells how one city, Modesto, CA, became the first city to adopt a
"Community Marriage Policy", as the result of a speech Mike made in 1986 to
local pastors, in which he suggested how the city could cut its divorce rate
in half. That city's divorce rate has since plunged 50%. Other cities
slashing divorce rates in half are Austin, TX, Kansas City, KS, Salem, OR and El
Paso, TX. Mike has been married for 43 years to Harriet and in the spring of
2008 he and Harriet co-authored "Living Together: Myths, Risks and Answers,"
published by Howard Books.
Harriet McManus married Mike Oct. 16, 1965. She was a homemaker,
helping three sons grow into maturity. She was the first editor of
Marriage Savers and edits every column Mike writes. Together, they began
a marriage ministry in their home church, Fourth Presbyterian Church of
Bethesda in 1992. They pioneered the training of couples with healthy
marriages to be Mentor Couples who prepared 288 couples for marriage from
1992-2001. It was so rigorous tht 55 couples decided not to marry, a big 19%
of the total. But of the 230+ couples who did marry, there have been only 7
divorces. Thatís a 3% divorce rate over a decade, or a 97% success rate.
Thatís marriage insurance.
The Marriage Savers Ministry: In 1996 Harriet began traveling with
Mike to help create Community Marriage Policies and to train Mentor Couples and
clergy. In 1996, Mike and Harriet McManus co-founded a non-profit corporation
called Marriage Savers whose goal is to push down divorce and cohabitation rates
and raise marriage rates. The key strategy is for local clergy to adopt a
Community Marriage Policy (in 223 cities by 12/08), a signed covenant by
churches across denominational lines, to take specific steps at five stages of
marriage to prepare couples for a lifelong marriage, enrich existing ones, save
troubled marriages, help the separated to reconcile and stepfamilies to be
successful. Marriage Savers then trains
clergy and Mentor Couples in participating churches to help other couples
achieve the goals outlined above. More than 10,000 pastors and priests have
signed CMP's. An independent study by the Institute for Research and Evaluation
of their first 114 CMP's reported that on an average, county divorce rates fell
17.5% over 7 years, nearly double the 9.4% drop of very similar cities in each
state. Seven cities such as Austin, Kansas City, Modesto and El Paso slashed
divorce rates 48-70%. Cohabitation fell 13.4% from 1990-2000 in CMP
cities/counties while it increased by 19.2% in control counties. Thus, at the
end of the decade, CMP counties had a cohabitation rate on-third lower than
counterparts. Marriage rates rise in CMP counties, though it normally takes 6-8
years, as in Modesto and Evansville.
Books: Two McManus books were published in 2008. Mike and
Harriet co-authored Living Together: Myths, Risks & Answers,
"In this ground-breaking book, Mike and Harriet McManus dispel the
myth that living together before marriage leads to 'happily ever after'
and give the secrets for making marriages succeed," says David and
Claudia Arp, authors of "10 Great Dates." Pollster George Barna reviewed
the book, praising its list of myths, the risks that "surprisingly few
people seem to be aware of," and the answers "churches can implement to
blunt the hard effects of unmarried people living together," such as
taking a premarital inventory and "the widely overlooked role of married
mentor couples," the impact of which "can be staggering." Columnist
Maggie Gallagher's review notes that churches have "passively tolerated
cohabitation." She praises the McManus answers, "a free, extensive
marriage-preparation course given by experienced married mentor
couples." Mike McManus published a second book in 2008: How to Cut
America's Divorce Rate in Half: A Strategy Every State Should Adopt.
Gov. Mike Huckabee wrote the Foreword and 13 legal and religious
experts wrote Endorsements for his suggestion on how to reform No Fault
Divorce, which grants every divorce one spouse asks for, even though
divorce is opposed by the other spouse in four out of five cases. "Mike
McManus puts his finger on a simple but profound answer: require that in
cases involving children that both parents would have to agree to a
divorce, except in cases of adultery or physical abuse. I believe this
change in the law could cut the divorce rate in half. That would spare
500,000 children from seeing their parents divorce each year and save
$50 - $100 billion in taxpayer funds," wrote Rev. Richard Cizik,
Vice President of the National Association of Evangelicals. Don Wildmon,
Chairman of the American Family Association, wrote: "The divorce reform
proposed by Mike McManus is revolutionary and absolutely unprecedented.
It would save millions of marriages and stabilize American families,
giving kids a much better start in life. I can't think of any reform
that could make America a better place." These were not just words. AFA
bought 1,000 copies for its activists, as did the Family Research
Media: Their work has attracted national media coverage, most recently
a profile of a Community Marriage Policy in suburban Portland Oregon on
ABC World News with
Charles Gibson on October 22, 2007.
The Coral Ridge Hour broadcast an 11 minute
segment about Marriage Savers on Father's Day, 2005.
The CBS Early Show
broadcast a story June 2004 on Mike and Harriet mentoring their 50th couple.
Focus on the Family interviewed them May 21, 2004. A Washington Post Magazine
cover story Feb. 29, 2004 featured Mike and Harriet mentoring a Nigerian couple.
Their work has been reported on NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, and
"48 Hours". He's appeared on MS-NBC, Fox, BBC, CBC, Oprah, The O'Reilly Factor.
TIME, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and
hundreds of local papers have reported on their work.
Family: Mike and Harriet have been married 42 years and have three
married sons and six grandchildren. Their sons are all achievers. Adam McManus
hosts a daily radio talk show 3 hours a day in San Antonio, TX. John McManus was
the staff director of the Ways & Means Health Subcommittee which added drug
benefits to Medicare; he now runs The McManus Group, providing consulting and
lobbying for the American Medical Association, various drug companies and
equipment manufacturers. Tim McManus is CEO of a hospital in Gulfport, MS.