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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 Council.

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 CBS "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.