of Living Together by George Barna
By Mike and Harriet McManus
Publisher: Howard Books
Hardback; 202 pages; $20 retail
Marriage is in trouble in the United States. You can see it in the declining
people who get married. It is evident in the fact that the U.S. has the highest
among developed nations. You can sense its deterioration based on the effort to
gay marriage. Even public opinion about the importance of marriage is slipping.
This new book by Mike and Harriet McManus addresses a critical aspect of that
cohabitation. Based on the McManus’s extensive experience with seeking to
traditional marriages, this volume is a welcome addition to the practical
literature on the
subject, offering viable strategies for enhancing marriage as well as recent
about the state of marriage and cohabitation.
Early in the book you will read why cohabitation is something we should be
attention to if we care about saving marriages. A useful tool is the list of
cohabitation. The book notes that people cohabit for a variety of reasons, but
the result is
generally the same, regardless of the motivation: a failed relationship, whether
ensued or not. Among the reasons cited for the break-up of cohabiters are the
marriage, the lack of positive experience with marriage in their family of
absence of male commitment, increasing cultural acceptance of both cohabitation
divorce, and financial benefits.
Surprisingly few people seem to be aware of the risks inherent in cohabitation.
among those is the potential for experiencing violence. A different but no less
risk is that of bearing children without a committed family bond. Economic
rampant infidelity, legal entanglements and more are detailed with depressing
Depending on your faith perspective, of course, there are all kinds of arguments
that can be
made in relation to the cohabitation experience. It is biblically forbidden. It
ineffective. It pales in comparison to legitimate marriage as a satisfying or
But cohabitation has become an accepted way of life in America, despite its
failings. What can be done? The authors use the second half of the book to
variety of means that churches can implement to blunt the harsh effects of
people living together. Drawing on their successful endeavors related to the
Savers ministry, they offer a practical approach to counteracting cohabitation.
among their detailed recommendations for churches are implementation of a
inventory; training and assignment of mentor couples; providing the skills to
conflict; establishing and supporting a church policy regarding cohabitation;
and a process
for educating couples about cohabitation and marriage.
Perhaps the most important step in this approach that is widely overlooked is
the role of
married mentors. While identifying and preparing married couples to be effective
is a challenging task, the impact of those mentors can be staggering. This
news to us; coaching is critical in every aspect of development, from leadership
the athletics to child development. Good coaches or mentors change people’s
shouldn’t we expect that to be the case in marriage, as well? This book not only
how to equip couples to be influential mentors, but provides the statistical
back-up as to
the difference such coaching makes in relationships.
The book concludes with a chapter about the Community Marriage Policy, the
of the Marriage Savers strategy enacted through churches. The brief explanation
policy and its impact to date is compelling. In an age where marriage is under
churches are overwhelmed by the challenges related to marriage, and there is
united and productive action undertaken across church lines, the Community
Policy is something that every pastor should consider adopting.
This book doesn’t take long to read. But if you take the information and
to heart, its impact will be long-lasting.