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  • ... "[do] you demand truth for its own sake, or merely to prove yourself right? - p. 138,This Star Shall Abide

Saturday, April 29, 2017

PLOWING THRU: MARRIAGE TRENDS

 “[W]e recognize the signs of change. The rising median age of first marriage, now 27 for women and 29 for men, is linked to a rapid rise in cohabitation prior to marriage and a dramatic increase in the number of children born outside of marriage. A growing number of couples, both young and old, now live together with no plans to marry eventually. For first marriages recently formed, between 40 and 50 percent are likely to end in divorce. The divorce rate for remarriages is higher than that for first marriages."

(The State of Our Unions Marriage in America 2012; President’s Marriage Agenda for the ForgottenSixty Percent).

A moment in time, snapshot

Snowflakes
 are fragile, and fascinating.

Tiny flakes magnified against slick windbreaker. 

A single snowflake falls softly.

Paper Model

Floating down, almost unnoticed, it seems to matter little.

Isolated, single 3D snowflake, 

A societal trend toward divorce, starting in 1960 seemed, at first, like seeing a few flakes – of no lasting consequence.

Magnification on fleece near jacket zipper.

And a few single flakes little affect most.

Complex, yet individually different,
floating so lightly that a point-and-shoot photo shows structure

Seeing them, just those few flakes, laying about harmlessly – on my jacket or car – easily swept from my porch, I may ignore impending realities. 

On the car, mostly melting as they touch down.


Snowflakes can accumulate, however, and obscure perception.


Sometimes snowflakes begin unexpectedly, just a few at a time, after a single cold night, but as days change to weeks, and weeks to months, the cold of winter arrives - changing everything.

Piles and piles of snowflakes broken into individual 'feathers,' each a part of an exquisite original.  

I must make conscious, consistent efforts to clean walks and clear driveways to maintain safety and mobility.


The State of Our Unions Marriage in America 2012,” a joint publication of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values notes:

     “[S]omething astonishing has happened. In ‘Middle America,’ defined here as the nearly 60 percent of Americans aged 25 to 60 who have a high school but not a four-year college degree, marriage is rapidly slipping away (p.2),” and “living together is even more unstable than marriage, especially for children, and the pain of breakups does not appear to be much mitigated if no marriage vow was made in the first place (p.28).”

State of Our Unions Marriage in America 2012; Social Indicators of Health and Well-beingDivorce 

America as a whole, has startling statistics quietly drifting into potentially mountainous problems. Where are the plows?



Religious leaders worldwide are taking note. And speaking out.

Porch sign being buried into oblivion.

Marriage matters. Divorce, cohabitation, and single parenting erode well-being of children and adults.

Shoveling to clear snow before it becomes compacted ice
 prevents problems.

At the November 18, 2014  Vatican Summit, “The Complementarity of Man and Woman; An International Interreligious Colloquium,” a translation of Pope Francis’ address reminded all listening that men and women both contribute vital benefits to marriage and family life.


He said, “I would like to begin by sharing with you a reflection on the title of your colloquium. You must admit that “complementarity” does not roll lightly off the tongue! Yet it is a word into which many meanings are compressed. It refers to situations where one of two things adds to, completes, or fulfills a lack in the other. . . .
"Yet complementarity is more than this. Christians find its deepest meaning in . . . work[ing] together for the good of the whole-everyone’s gifts can work together for the benefit of each. (cf. 1 Cor. 12). To reflect upon “complementarity” is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all Creation. This is a big word, harmony. All complementarities were made by our Creator, so the Author of harmony achieves this harmony.

Pope Francis,
266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church 

“[T]he complementarity of man and woman . . . is a root of marriage and family.

. . . [W]e know, families give rise to tensions: between egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals. But families also provide frameworks for resolving such tensions. This is important. When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, let us not confuse that term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern. Complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the formation of their children — his or her personal richness, personal charisma. Complementarity becomes a great wealth. It is not just a good thing but it is also beautiful” (Pope Francis).

President Henry B. Eyring
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

During the Colloquium, invited speaker President Henry B Eyring, counselor in the first presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, remarked: “a man and a woman, united in marriage, have a transcendent power to create happiness for themselves, for their family, and for the people around them.” Reading from“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” he reminded all listening that martial and family duties are sacred, and called for a “renaissance” of happy marriages.


Occasionally sudden fierce storms may force flurries to pile into every crevice and cranny. Action is needed, notice must be taken, and even potential emergencies declared so that broad societal and government policies and contingency plans may prevent widespread harm.


But, blustering blizzards with gale force winds or fluctuating temperatures may envelop homes or communities with the weights of ice or snow that down trees, destroy power grids, and immobilize whole populations.

Experts are forewarning America and the world of approaching disaster.


Penn State behavioral scientist and sociologist Dr. Paul R. Amato, in multiple meta-analyses with various collaborators, examines overall marriage and family trends in his 2005 article, “The Impact of Family Formation Change on the Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Well-Being of the Next Generation."

Amato describes a growing cultural divide of overall well-being between children of two married parents and children in step families, or of divorced, cohabiting, or single parents. The latter categories all having “lower average levels of cognitive, social, and emotional well-being,” with effects lasting “well into adulthood” (p.77).

“The State of Our Unions Marriage in America 2012,” quoting Amato and others, declares “[T]oday the greatest source of inequality in America is not economic but cultural, stemming from millions of Americans losing touch with founding virtues. (p.8).”

 “[M]arried couples on average build greater wealth than single persons do …. [It] stands to reason that stable families with two parents and two potential earners will have greater resources to weather bad times and to enjoy good times . . . (p.28).

Daily diligence is needed in stormy weather to keep pathways clear.
Does one choice matter?
It seems so insignificantly small.
Do the actions of one person make a difference? 

Amato offered this insight and suggestion:
     “Increasing the share of adolescents living with two biological parents to the 1970 level . . . would mean that 643,264 fewer children would repeat a grade. Increasing the share of adolescents in two-parent families to the 1960 level suggests that nearly three-quarters of a million fewer children would repeat a grade. Similarly, increasing marital stability to its 1980 level would result in nearly half a million fewer children suspended from school, about 200,000 fewer children engaging in delinquency or violence, a quarter of a million fewer children receiving therapy, about a quarter of a million fewer smokers, about 80,000 fewer children thinking about suicide, and about 28,000 fewer children attempting suicide” (p.13).

Storms, winter 2017,
layered heavy ice onto every surface repeatedly, requiring removal after each storm -
removal by persistently breaking the hazard into manageable bits! 

“[E]ven small, incremental changes that improve the health of marriage in America will reduce suffering for children and their families and will yield significant cost savings for taxpayers
(The State of Our Unions Marriage in America 2012, Executive Summary, pp. xi-xii)

We have a good snow shovel and an ice breaker. This winter we needed good tools when ice storms battered our community. Sadly, we had a few icy storms in the house too! We weathered the harsh winter by being prepared. Habits, promoting togetherness, help us turn to God and each other seeking solutions. And we asked for help, too. Having trusted resources can provide a safety net.

Cheery young neighbors repeatedly offered to shovel
as we chipped at ice to remove danger chunk by chunk. 

Every individual and every family must become aware, more prepared and more diligent.


Spencer W. Kimball, a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) Prophet looked to by millions, warned in October 1980, “The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us.”


Building, or even rebuilding, a family requires effort. Children need fathers and mothers. We all need stable, happy marriage and family relationships.

References

Amato, P. (2005). The Impact of Family Formation Change on the Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Well-Being of the Next Generation. The Future of Children, 15(2), 75-96. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3556564 

President Spencer W. Kimball, EnsignNov 1980, 4

§       State of Our Unions2012; The National Marriage Project.