An Overview of Marriage Savers®
by Michael J. McManus
President, Marriage Savers
The Disintegration of Marriage
The central domestic problem of our time is the disintegration of
marriage. The 9/11 act of terrorism killed 3,000 people. However since
9/ll/01 there have been 8 million divorces shattering the lives of 8
million children. That is 2,666 times worse. Yet this tragedy
receives no public notice. There are four elements of the marriage
Marriage: The marriage rate has plunged 50% since 1970. If the same
percentage of couples were marrying now as in 1970, there would be a
million more marriages a year – 3.3 million marriages, not 2.2 million.
In 1970, when America had 200 million people, there were 25 million
married couples with children. In 2009, with a 50% population growth to
300 million, there still are only 25 million married couples with
Divorce: Half of all new marriages end in divorce. Jesus said, “What God
has joined together, let no one put asunder.” However, in America, just
since 1970, we have put asunder 44 million marriages since 1970 hurting
42 million children. There were 2.17 million marriages in 2008 and
1.06 million divorces. Not only is that a 50% divorce rate, but after
years of a modest decline, the rate rose in 26 states from 2005-2007 in
the last two years.
Cohabitation: Unmarried couples living together has soared 16-fold from
430,000 in 1960 to 6.8 million in 2008. Of that number, only 1.4 million
married, so 80% experienced a “premarital divorce.” This experience is
so searing that tens of millions have failed to marry. The number of
never-married Americans tripled from 21 million in 1970 to 63 million in
2008. And those who marry after living together are 61% more likely to
divorce than those who remained apart.
Unwed Births: Out-of wedlock births jumped eight-fold from 5% of all
births in 1960 to 40% in 2007, or from 224,000 to 1.7 million children.
Cohabiting couples are as likely to have a child under 18 as married
couples (41% vs. 46%).
The Legacy of Divorce
Every divorce is the destruction of a small civilization. Children of
divorce are three times as likely as those from intact homes to be
expelled or to have a baby out of wedlock as a teenager, five times as
apt to live in poverty and are 12 times more likely to be incarcerated
according to the Heritage Foundation.
Statistics do not reveal the pain of divorce, which is always tragic for
Reagan, son of Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman, wrote of his parents’
“Divorce is where two adults take everything that matters to a child –
the child’s home, family, security, and sense of being loved and
protected – and they smash it all up, leave it in ruins on the floor,
then walk out and leave the child to clean up the mess.”
Ironically, however, his father as Governor of California, signed
America’s first No Fault
Divorce Law exactly 40 years ago in 1969, which swept the country in the
early 1970's, pushing up the number of divorces from 639,000 in 1969 to
1,036,000 in 1975. President Reagan told Michael that his signing of the
first No Fault Divorce Law was his “greatest regret” in public life.
When children of divorce reach adulthood, only 60% marry and they are
more likely to divorce. Even those who avoid calamity find that their
structure of childhood itself is inextricably altered by their parents
divorce, leaving them with feelings of loss and loneliness, reports
Elizabeth Marquardt in her 2005 book, Between Two Worlds. “Kids with
divorced parents are kicked back and forth like a football,” she writes.
“Growing up in two worlds creates endless and often painful
complications for a child."
Nor is divorce good for adults. Divorced men are twice as likely to die
in any given year as married men of heart disease, stroke, hypertension
or cancer, four times as apt to die in accidents, seven times higher by
cirrhosis of the liver and pneumonia, 8-fold greater by murder.
Married men live ten years longer than divorced men. Divorced women
live four years less.
Houses of worship are responsible in part for this failure. They marry
86% of Americans reports a Hart Poll, but not well. Pollster George
Barna estimates that 39% of Protestants have divorced, more than the 37%
divorce rate of atheists and agnostics. And 35% of born-again
Americans have divorced. In fact, 23% of born-again Christians have
divorced twice! Among Pentecostals, the divorce rate is 42% (but only
25% among Catholics). Sadly, many churches, are “wedding factories.” On
the other hand, 10,000 pastors and priests in 44 states have chosen to
create Community Marriage Policies, creating a new future for marriage
The Community Marriage Policy®
or Community Marriage Covenant®
Marriage Savers has developed proven alternatives to these trends. We
have helped the clergy of 227 cities and towns (by October, 2009) to
adopt a Community Marriage Policy® (or, as some clergy call it, a
Community Marriage Covenant®). Their goal is to "radically reduce the
divorce rate in area churches," as Modesto, CA pastors put it in the
first covenant signed in 1986. Clergy join together across
denominational and racial lines in a city or county and sign a covenant
to make healthy marriages a priority in their congregations.
Specifically, in Community Marriage Policies® (CMPs), religious leaders
pledge to train Mentor Couples to help other couples at every stage of
the marital life cycle to achieve six great goals:
1. Avoid a bad marriage before it begins by administering a premarital
inventory to give couples an objective view of their relational
strengths and areas for growth. Approximately 10% of couples who take an
inventory decide not to marry. Studies indicate that those who break an
engagement have the same scores as those who marry and later divorce.
They have avoided a bad marriage before it begins.
2. Give "marriage insurance" to the engaged
-- a 95% guarantee that their
marriage will go the distance. In the church of Mike & Harriet McManus,
of 288 couples who prepared for marriage from 1992-2000, 55 decided not
to marry. That’s a huge 19% of couples who decided NOT to marry.
However, of those couples who did marry, there were only seven divorces
by 2001. That's a 3% failure rate - or a 97% success rate over a
decade. That is virtual marriage insurance. Other churches have
performed even better, with no divorces in 4-6 years.
3. Enrich all existing marriages by conducting an annual week-end event
at the church, using a marital inventory, speakers, or videos. For
example thousands of churches have used a $50 DVD series, “10 Great
Dates,” to enrich all the marriages of a church for only $12 a couple.
Couples gather at the church for 10 consecutive Friday or Saturday
nights, watch a 20-minute video on a topic such as “Resolving Honest
Conflict,” or “Becoming an Encourager,” and then go on a 90 minute date
to discuss that evening’s theme. If they go to a restaurant, while
waiting to be served, they fill out a brief questionnaire from their $12
paperback, and discuss the issue. Guys like it, because it is a date.
Women welcome a chance to discuss unresolved issues.
4. Restore four out of five troubled marriages with trained
"back-from-the-brink couples" (whose own marriages once nearly failed)
to mentor couples currently in crisis. A couple nearly driven apart by
adultery who survived - has something to say to a couple in a crisis
over adultery. They can describe how they rebuilt trust and be a walking
parable of hope
5. Reconcile the separated using a self-guided workbook course, Marriage
911. A same gender Support Partner meets with the spouse trying to save
the marriage for 12 weeks, using a Support Partner Handbook to know what
questions to ask. The committed spouse also reads a Chapter of Proverbs
daily. Marriage 911 heals more than half of the separated. Cost: only
6. Help stepfamilies succeed by creating "Stepfamily Support Groups"
that give couples with children from a previous marriage or a previous
relationship, a place and a plan to learn how to be successful parents
and partners. Instead of losing 70% of stepparents to divorce, this
program saves 80% of stepfamilies. A kit to organize a Stepfamily
Support Group is $35.
Results of CMPs: Lower Divorce & Cohabitation Rates, Higher Marriage
However, if churches work together to reduce divorce, they are able to
do so. A major study was released in 2004 at the National Press Club
with evidence from 114 cities that if clergy cooperate across
denominational lines with a strategy to reduce the divorce rate - they
are able to do so. The study, “Assessing the Impact of Community
Marriage Policies® on U.S. County Divorce Rates,” by the Institute
for Research and Evaluation of Salt Lake City, cites a 2003 poll by
Peter Hart indicating that 86% of weddings are performed by pastors,
priests and rabbis. Gallup reports that 65% of couples are members of a
church or synagogue and that 40% attend in any given week. However,
while organized religion has access to most couples, the United States
has the world’s highest divorce rate.
The Institute examined the impact of 114 Community Marriage Policies® (CMPs)
in 122 counties that were signed by 2000. U.S. divorce rates have
declined slightly 1982. Therefore, the Institute developed two ways
to take the U.S. decline into account:
1. Before and After Comparison: It measured the annual decline of the
divorce rate in CMP counties for five years before clergy signed the CMP
covenant, compared to what happened after the CMP was signed. In fact,
the divorce decline “accelerated” to fall “almost twice as fast on
average as before the Community Marriage Policies were signed.” CMP
county divorce rates declined by 1.4% a year before the CMP Policy was
signed, and by 2.3% a year afterwards.
2. CMP Counties vs. Comparison Counties: The Institute then compared the
results of CMP counties with comparison counties in each state whose
divorce rate decline was virtually the same before the signing, but
which did not sign a CMP covenant. The Institute also found counties in
each state whose divorce rates were falling about the same before the
CMP was signed. The divorce rate fell in CMP county divorce rates fell
2% more per year than did the comparison counties.
These numbers were projected for seven years because of the varying
years that CMPs were agreed upon. Divorce rates in cities or counties
without a CMP fell by 9.4% over seven years, while those with a
Community Marriage Policy fell by 17.5% on average. Thus, CMP divorce
rates fell at nearly twice that of paired cities. In fact, divorce rates
plunged by 48% or more in seven cities such as Austin and Kansas City,
KS, Modesto, CA, El Paso and Salem, OR. In fact, Kansas City slashed its
divorce rate by a stunning 70% from 650 divorces in 1995, the year
before signing a CMP to only 196 in 2005.
Deck Stacked Against Any Results:
At the press conference, Dr. Stan
Weed, President of the Institute for Research and Evaluation, said, “The
results are important, not because of their magnitude, which is modest,
but because there are any results at all. The deck was stacked against
finding a program effect. Community Marriage Policies depend on local
volunteers of varying degrees of motivation, commitment and ability and
with high turnover. There’s wide variation in program implementation.
The proportion of signed congregations is often small, while the data is
countywide. Serious training of mentor couples began in 1998. Under
these conditions, finding a significant program effect is actually
pretty surprising.” Weed estimated that in the 114 cities “about 31,000
divorces were averted and that is a conservative estimate. It is not at
all unreasonable to say there were 50,000” saved through 2001.
Communities have had six more years to implement Marriage Savers reforms
and 109 more cities have created Community Marriage Policies, pushing
avoided divorces up to perhaps 100,000 or more.
Cohabitation Rates Fall in CMP Cities
One other significant finding of the study is that counties with
Community Marriage Policies were able to reduce their cohabitation
rates, while they rose in comparison counties. From 1990-2000,
cohabitation rates fell by 13.4% in cities with Community Marriage
Policies while they increased by 19.2% in comparison counties. By
decade’s end, CMP cities had cohabitation rates one-third lower than the
carefully matched control cities (13.4 +19.2 = 32.6%).
Marriage Rates Rise
For several years, most counties see no rise in marriage rates. But as
cohabitation rates fall, marriage rates do rise. Catholic Bishop Gerald
Gettelfinger of Evansville, IN wrote to us thank us that not only did
the divorce rate fall 20%, “We are particularly proud to report that the
number of marriages has risen” from an average of 1,143 marriages per
year to 1,324 per year. “That is a 16% increase in the marriage rate.
What makes this especially important is that in the same time, the U.S.
marriage rate fell by 9%.” In Modesto the number of marriages has
doubled from 1,300 in 1986 to 2,700 in 2007, though that is partly due
to an increase of population.
David Blankenhorn of the Institute of American Values hosting the press
conference, asserted, “This is the first national study which has shown
us with hard evidence that the programs are having the desired effect of
strengthening marriage and lowering the divorce rate.”
Dr. Wade Horn, then HHS Assistant Secretary, added, “One criticism of
the President’s “Healthy Marriage Initiative” is that there’s no
evidence that this will actually work. This study addresses that
question. The fact that they found effect for a program that had
variable implementation is nothing short of extraordinary. And this
happened not in one or two cities, but in more than 100 cities.”
Diane Sollee, Director of Smart Marriages, told reporters, “I come out
of what I call the therapy industry. As therapy grew in power and
acceptance in 60s, 70s and 80s, we took marriage away from congregations
and the community. Sophisticated clergy persons knew that if a couple is
having trouble, they should refer them out to the experts. This research
and this Community Marriage Policy® program with Marriage Savers
Churches shows how important it is to put marriages back into the
churches and the communities who can take better care of them.”
Marriage Counseling Increases the Odds of Divorce
Diane Sollee’s impression that the professionals, “the therapy
industry,” were unsuccessful in saving marriages is not a casual
observation, but from a person who is a former Associate Director of the
American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). She should
know. However, a major new study confirms her conclusion. Louisiana
passed a “Covenant Marriage Law” designed to protect and strengthen
traditional marriage by giving couples who believe their marriage is for
life, the opportunity to make a deeper than usual commitment. They agree
to take premarital counseling, to seek counseling should their marriage
ever get in trouble, and to waive their rights to No Fault Divorce. A
book on the first 10 years of the law was recently published, Covenant
Marriage by Steven Nock et al. It studied 600 marriages between 1999
and 2004, half of which were a standard marriage, and half a Covenant
Marriage. It found that premarital counseling, if it involves multiple
sessions, reduced the likelihood of divorce by 50%. However, the book
reported that couples whose marriages got in trouble, who sought marital
counseling “are substantially more like to divorce than those who forego
this option...Marital counseling is associated with at least three-times
higher odds of separation and divorce.” Why? “Many couples sought and
obtained divorce counseling (rather than counseling to avoid divorce).”
Compare that with being mentored by a “back-from-the-brink couple” whose
marriage nearly ended in divorce. Four out of five of these crisis
marriages can be saved, with a weekend intervention called Retrouvaille
that has been attended by 75,000 couples (retrouvaille.org).
How To Cut America’s Divorce Rate In Half
All of the reforms outlined above are pastoral reforms – ways that
individual churches, and indeed, whole communities can reduce the
divorce rate. While perhaps 100,000 marriages have been saved from
divorce by the creation of Community Marriage Policies, that is a
cumulative figure over 23 years. It is a modest number compared to more
than a million divorces annually since 1975.
Therefore, Mike McManus wrote a political book in 2008 whose ambitious
goal is encapsulated in its title: How To Cut America’s Divorce Rate in
Half: a Strategy Every State Should Adopt. It suggests a change in
law, because bad law is responsible for America’s high divorce rate. It
is called No Fault Divorce, which allows any spouse to get a divorce by
claiming “irreconcilable differences” in 49 states. Only in New York
does one spouse still have to prove that their mate is guilty of major
fault (adultery, physical abuse) to get a divorce. The respondent can
provide evidence to the contrary and prevent the divorce. In No Fault
states, that is impossible. Although the other spouse in four out of
five cases argues that the marriage was reconcilable, the divorce is
always granted. In 1969 then Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the first No
Fault Law when there were 639,000 divorces. Pushed by divorce attorneys
and feminists (without significant opposition by church leaders), No
Fault swept the country so that by 1975 there were 1,036,000 divorces, a
McManus proposed a change in state law, a reform of No Fault Divorce to
require written Mutual Consent of both parents of minor children, except
in cases of proven adultery, physical abuse, etc. Both legal experts and
religious leaders believe Mutual Consent could cut America’s divorce
rate in half.
Evansville Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger wrote in an
Endorsement: “By giving the spouse who wants to save the marriage an
equal voice with an unhappy mate, many marriages would be restored,
perhaps saving most of them.”
Divorce Attorney John Crouch, Director of
Americans for Divorce Reform, explains how Mutual Consent would work:
“The law would guide people to postpone the decision until they had
worked out the details of how the divorce would actually work. A large
proportion of divorces would be avoided altogether, and most of the rest
would be settled out of court. Divorces would be fairer to both parties
with less legal fees. I believe it could reduce divorce rates as much as
50 percent. Changing the rules about ending a marriage would prevent a
lot of marriages from breaking down in the first place. They would not
only influence the decision to divorce, but the behavior and choices
that lead to divorce.”
State Legal Reform
Don Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Association, praised our
Divorce Reform book by saying, “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 nice words. AFA bought 1,000 copies of the book for their
activists. One copy moved Bryan Fischer at the Idaho Values Alliance to
seek and win the support of the Speaker of the House to make the issue a
major goal for 2009. Similarly, the Family Research Council bought 1,000
copies, and distributed them to Family Policy Councils. in 39 state
capitals. One prompted John Stemberger, President of the Florida Family
Policy Council to email Mike McManus, “We are ready to roll!” He asked
Mike to speak to his staff and then his Board’s Executive Committee.
Result: Mike met with Florida State Legislators for breakfast on
February 3, 2009. That was followed by a mid-morning press conference
and a noon luncheon with the Policy Council’s full board. Similar
breakfasts with legislators were held in Lansing, Michigan in March
organized by the Family Rights Coalition of Michigan and with Wisconsin
legislators in May, organized by Wisconsin Family Councils. Mike McManus
will address conservative state legislators from all 50 states at a
WallBuilders conference Nov. 6 in Dallas, and will speak at a conference
in Atlanta organized by Leah Sears, who served for years as the Chief
Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. She notes that divorce cases
account for 70% of all civil court time.
Living Together: Myths, Risks & Answers
Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, published a second book by
Mike and Harriet McManus in 2008 on the second major threat to marriage:
cohabitation: Living Together: Myths, Risks & Answers to put a
spotlight on this largely neglected issue. A noted marriage educator
asserted, “You can’t practice permanence.” Yet two-thirds of those
marrying are living together. Cohabiting couples soared from 430,000 in
1960 to 6.8 million in any month of 2008. But only 1.4 million
cohabiting couples married. Thus, 5.4 million or 80% of cohabiting
couples experienced premarital divorce that often is as painful as a
real divorce. One study estimates that those who marry after living
together are 50% more likely to divorce. A more recent study estimates
cohabiting couples are 61% more likely to divorce, by Dr. Paul Amato and
others at Penn State. Couples say they are in a “trial marriage.” No,
that is a myth. Nine out of ten are really in a “trial divorce.” The
only issue is whether they will break up before the wedding or
afterwards. Cohabitation has also diverted tens of millions from
marrying. In 1970 there were 21 million never-married Americans, but 58
million in 2008 – a near tripling. That’s why the marriage rate has
plunged 50% since 1970. Some 41% of cohabiting couples also have a child
-- virtually the same as the 46% of married couples. No wonder
out-of-wedlock births soared from 224,000 in 1960 (5% of births) to 1.71
million in 2007, 39.6% of births.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “Test everything. Hold onto the good.
Avoid every kind of evil.” Couples who live together are embracing evil.
That what a 90% failure rate is. However, our book reports some churches
are giving couples a better answer. First, clergy should ask cohabiting
couples to move apart if they want a church wedding. Whether they do so
or not, however, churches can offer them a premarital inventory which
gives couples a better way to test the relationship. They also train
couples in healthy marriages to be Mentor Couples who talk through the
issues surfaced by the inventory and teach skills to resolve conflict.
“The message sent? We care about your relationship, and we will help you
build a better one,” praises columnist Maggie Gallagher. “Rebuilding the
next generation’s faith in love, the McManuses say, needs to become a
more urgent priority.” Pollster George Barna adds, “This book not only
describes how to equip couples to be influential (marriage) mentors, but
provides the statistical back-up as to the difference such coaching
makes in relationships.” Barna also praises our Community Marriage
Policies® as a “united and productive action undertaken across church
lines” that “every pastor should consider adopting.” Marriage Savers has
persuaded 10,000 clergy to adopt these reforms in 227 Community Marriage
Policies as of September 2009. These CMPs begin with solid marriage preparation
but also include post-marital innovations now missing in most churches:
The Core Answer: The Mentor Couple
Why do Community Marriage Polices reduce divorce and cohabitation rates
marriage rates? Marriage Savers offers a core solution that can be
implemented by any church,
synagogue or mosque. As noted above:
In every congregation there are couples in healthy marriages who could
helpful to other couples, but have never been invited, inspired or
trained to do so.
Why are Mentor Couples able to save 80% to 90% of the worst marriages
when therapists save less than 20% according to Consumer Reports? The
major reason marriages fail is selfishness, while selflessness makes the
best ones joyous. How do you move a couple from selfishness to
selflessness? It requires a moral choice, not therapy. Each spouse can
choose to be less selfish. How? We think the best motivator is a walking
parable of a couple who has done it, a “back-from-the-brink couple,” in
which one couple whose marriage was nearly destroyed by the drinking of
one spouse, for example, meets with a couple in crisis over the excesses
of drinking. Couple A can say, “We know alcoholism can destroy a
marriage. It nearly killed ours. But Bill became a member of AA, and I
joined Al-Anon. We can testify that alcoholism can be controlled. We
have done it. You can too. Let us tell you our story and pray with you
Marriage Savers shows how to recruit and train those mentors who can
save up to 9 out of 10 troubled marriages. These couples are an untapped
resource of marital knowledge. Some have survived crises such as
alcoholism, abuse, or infidelity. Others successfully transformed a
stepfamily into a blended family. Many exemplary marriages have gone the
distance without major crises. But the wisdom of these couples lays
dormant in most congregations.
Marriage Savers trains couples in healthy marriages to be Mentor Couples
to help other couples create stable relationships at every stage of the
marital life cycle. Following is how Mentors prepare couples for
A. The PREPARE/ENRICH Assessment
Mentors administer the PREPARE/ENRICH premarital assessment which
includes up to 200 relational issues to discuss. The engaged couple
agrees or disagrees with statements such as:
- I go out of my way to avoid conflict with my partner.
- Sometimes I wish my partner were more careful about spending money.
The inventory gives a premarital couple an opportunity to talk about
issues they didn't know they needed to discuss. The inventory results
are a bridge across the generations, giving the Mentor Couple specific
issues that the young couple needs to discuss and a rare opportunity for
the Mentors to pass on the wisdom that has made their marriage
successful. Mentors might say, "The silent treatment does not work in a
marriage; it provokes needless anger." Or "Neither of us will spend more
than $100 without consulting the other."
B. Couple Exercises:
Trained Mentors also administer up to 20 exercises in a PREPARE/ENRICH
Workbook to help couples prepare a budget, improve communication and
conflict resolution skills, and set personal and couple goals. Marriage
Savers has created additional exercises that will be included such as an
"Optional Premarital Sexual Covenant," an opportunity for premarital
couples to pledge chastity until their wedding. Of 60 couples personally
mentored by Mike & Harriet McManus, only ten were chaste. Of the
remaining 50, 43 signed the Covenant, promising abstinence and
accountability to their Mentors. Results: The mentorees all agreed that
their communication improved and their respect for each other increased.
Of the 60 couples, 9 chose not to marry. But we only know of one divorce
of the rest.
Marriage Savers® has also created unique exercises for cohabiting
couples to address this problem in a positive way. Using these materials
with Mentors can reduce the likelihood of divorce and increase the
probability of marital stability. Mentors are also equipped with how
they might persuade couples to move apart, reducing conflict, aligning
their relationship with God's will, and giving them a fresh beginning at
their wedding. In fact, Mike and Harriet McManus explain the mentoring
process in their book on this issue, Living Together: Myths, Risks &
Marriage Savers Congregations Virtually Eliminate Divorce
What's most important to individual pastors and couples is that divorce
can be virtually eliminated in the local church. Marriage Savers has
given churches "Marriage Savers Congregation Awards" because they had a
total of only about one or two divorces each in 5-10 years! Four of the
churches have 1,000 or more members. How is this possible? Marriage
Savers Congregations have implemented all of the reforms outlined above
and have Mentor Couples working at every stage of marriage. The Mentors
have virtually created a "safety net" under every marriage. Examples:
1. Killearn United Methodist Church, the largest Protestant church in
Tallahassee with 3,000 members, has prepared more than 200 couples for
marriage since 1999, none of whom have divorced! Each year it works with
20-30 couples whose marriages were headed toward divorce, 90% of which
were saved. Furthermore, Richard Albertson, who inspired this Marriage
Savers Congregation, created a Tallahassee Community Marriage Policy
that pushed down citywide divorces by nearly 30% in a decade - 10 times
the divorce drop in similar Florida cities (850 668-3700).
2. Christ Lutheran Church in Overland Park, KS, with 1,700 members, has
prepared 50 couples for marriage since 1996 and worked with a score of
couples in crisis. Again, there have been no divorces of premarital
couples and only two divorces of troubled ones mentored by this Missouri
Synod Lutheran Church thanks to Pastor Jeff Meyers (913 345-9700). He
also created a Community Marriage Policy that has cut divorce rates by
more than 50%.
3. Bread of Life Church is 10 miles away in the ghetto of Kansas City,
KS. With 140 members, Pastor LeRoy Sullivan first enriched the marriages
of eight Mentor Couples, who then enthusiastically helped a number of
couples prepare for marriage, few of whom have divorced. They also
worked with three troubled marriages, losing one to divorce. Equally
important, Pastor Sullivan challenged seven couples who were living
together to marry or move apart. He hesitated to do so since most were
tithers. "My biggest sinners were my biggest givers," he observed.
Remarkably, five couples did marry and two separated. That transformed
this inner city church from mostly women and children to couples and
children (913 371-5433 or 816 803-6771).
1. Calculations by Mike McManus, based on annual reports of the National
Center for Health Statistics.
2 The State of Our Unions 2006, The Social Health of Marriage in
America, The National Marriage Project by David Popenoe and Barbara
Dafoe Whitehead, with a phone update July, 2006.
3 This is an estimate by the Census Bureau which includes 4,855,000
couples who acknowledge they are living together, and additional
heterosexual couples who do not admit it, but are sharing the same
household. Some are sexually inactive roommates. Source: U.S. Bureau of
the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P20-537; America’s
Families and Living Arrangements: March 2000; and U.S. Census,
Population Division, Current Population Survey, 2005 Annual Social and
4. Ibid, McManus calculations.
5 Claire M. Kamp Dush, Catherine L. Cohan and Paul R. Amato, “The
Relationship Between Cohabitation and Marital Quality and Stability:
Change Across Cohorts?” Journal of Marriage and Family 65 (August,
6 America’s Families and Living Arrangements 2003, page 17.
7 Pat A. Fagan,. & Robert Rector, Heritage Foundation Backgrounder, The
Effects of Divorce on America, 2000.
8 Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected
Legacy of Divorce, Hyperion, New York, 2000
9 J.J. Lynch, A Cry Unheard: the Medical Consequences of Loneliness,
2000, Bancroft Press, Baltimore.
10 Linda Waite & Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage: Why Married
People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially, Doubleday,
New York, 2000.
11.September 8, 2004 poll by George Barna.
12.See Marriage Insurance for Premarital Couples, by Michael J. McManus
and Catherine Latimer, a paper on the website, www.marriagesavers.org.
(Click on Resources, then go to the Research section.)
13 Paul James Birch, Stan E. Weed and Joseph Olsen, “Assessing the
Impact of Community Marriage Policies on County Divorce Rates, Family
Relations, 2004, 53 495-503. (Available on marriagesavers.org.)
14. Divorce rates fell from 1980 to 2005, but have risen in 36 states
from 2005 to 2007. See How to Cut America’s Divorce Rate in Half: A
Strategy Every State Should Adopt by Mike McManus, page 95 for a table
of marriages and divorces by state 2005 to 2007.
15Steven L. Nock, Laura A. Sanchez, and James D. Wright. Covenant
Marriage: The Movement To Reclaim Tradition in America. 2008, Rutgers
University Press, New Brunswick, N.J. and London., Page 122.
16. Mike McManus, How To Cut America’s Divorce Rate in Half: A Strategy
Every State Should Adopt, 2008, Marriage Savers, Potomac,MD.
17. Mike & Harriet McManus, Living Together: Myths, Risks & Answers,
2008 by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, New York, Toronto,