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Marriage Savers Resources

Marriage Savers Overview DVD

Our Newest DVD combines the recent ABC profile of a Community Marriage Policy in suburban Portland, OR with our 14-minute Overview of How To Cut Divorce Rates in Churches and Cities. 

It is not easy to persuade church leaders to adopt Marriage Savers answers to reduce the divorce rate. To help you convince others, we have a new resource, a lyrical video (on VHS or DVD) on Marriage Savers which can help any person communicate the importance of our work to others. It is only 14 minutes long, and is beautifully produced.

To see this lovely summary of why Marriage Savers is needed, and what our approach is, and how it has brought down divorce rates nationally.

We recommend that you buy this video on DVD or VHS for only $10, so you can show it to fellow church members, pastors or other leaders in your community. To order, call Marriage Savers at 301-978-7108, use our order form and mail in a check, or use our online shopping cart.

What the video summarizes is this data on the need, the solution, and evidence that Community Marriage Policies lower divorce rates:

The Need

  • Half of new marriages are ending in divorce
  • The marriage rate has plunged 40%. If the same number of couples were marrying today as in 1970, there would be a million more marriages a year
  • Cohabitation has soared 12 fold from 400,000 to 5 million, making cohabitation the DOMINANT way most male-female unions are formed in America, not marriage.
  • Those who marry after cohabiting are 50% more likely to divorce.

The Solution

We then outline what a Community Marriage Policy is, religious leaders pledging in a specific community 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 302 couples who prepared for marriage from 1992-2000, 21 dropped out of the course, mostly to break up. Another 34 couples completed the process, and decided not to marry. That’s more than 50 couples who decided NOT to marry. That is a very high dropout rate. However, of those couples who married, there have been only seven divorces. That's a

3% failure rate - or a 97% success rate over a decade. Other churches have done even better, with no divorces in 4-6 years. For more detail see "Marriage Insurance for Premarital Couples" on our website.

3. Enrich all existing marriages by conducting an annual week-end event at the church, using a marital inventory, speakers, or videos.

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 that was nearly driven apart by adultery – but survived, has something to say to a couple in a current crisis over adultery. The older couple can say, "We know adultery breaks trust. We’ve been there, done that. But we can affirm that trust can be restored after infidelity. We have done it. Let us tell you our story. And let us pray with you." The wounded healers have a credibility that no pastor or counselor has. This intervention is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous in which a man says, "I’m Ron, and I am an alcoholic. But I have been dry for 7 years. Let me tell you my steps of recovery," and he tells his 12-step story. He will inspire a man who was drunk last weekend, that perhaps there is hope for recovery.

5. Reconcile the separated using a self-guided workbook course, "Marriage 911" A same gender Support Partner meets with the spouse trying to save their marriage for 12 weeks. Marriage 911 heals more than half of the separated.

6. Help stepfamilies succeed by creating "Stepfamily Support Groups" that give couples with children from a previous marriage a place and a plan to learn how to be successful parents and partners. Instead of losing 65% of stepparents to divorce, this program saves four out of five remarriages.

Community Marriage Policies Lower Divorce Rates

A major new study was released April 5, 2004 at the National Press Club with evidence from

114 cities that if clergy cooperate across denominational lines with a conscious plan to reduce the divorce rate - they are able to cut the divorce rate. 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.

The Institute examined the impact of 114 Community Marriage Policies® (CMPs) in 122 counties that were signed by 2000. They ranged in size from 9,031 people to

2,265,208. The Midwest had the most sites (38%) followed by the South (28%) the West 23%, Southwest (11%) and the East 10%. It found that while there was no measurable effect in many counties, the impact was substantial enough in others for "CMP communities to enjoy a 17.5% decline in the divorce rate" over seven years while similar counties saw a 9.4% decline.

U.S. divorce rates have been declining slightly. Therefore, the Institute developed two ways to take the U.S. decline into account, which are summarized succinctly on the video/DVD:

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," the study reports. CMP county divorce rates declined by 1.4% per year before the Community Marriage 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 did which 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 Afterwards, the control cities divorce rate actually slowed in the same years CMP declines were accelerating.. To put this in percentage terms, comparison counties declined by 2.1% prior to the signing year compared to only a 1% decline afterwards.

Thus, CMP counties enjoyed a 2% greater decline in the divorce rate per year than did the comparison counties. For reasons that are not clear to me, the Institute gave another set of numbers that the divorce rate fell 17.5% in 7 years in CMP cities//counties and 9.4% in comparison counties. This more conservative number is what is in the video.

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," said Dr. Stan Weed, Institute President ."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 county-wide. 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." However, his paper to be published in "Family Relations" uses the more conservative figure of 31,000 averted divorces. Weed estimates that with 186 Community Marriage Policies in place, 50,000 marriages have been saved.

Cohabitation Rates Fall in CMP Cities

One other significant finding of the study (not mentioned on the video) is that counties with Community Marriage Policies were able to reduce their cohabitation rates, while they rose in comparison counties! Cohabitation rates for 1990 in CMP counties averaged 18.7 per thousand residents compared to 14.1/1000 in comparison counties. In 2000 the rates were 16.2/1000 in CMP counties and 16.1 in comparison counties. "Apparently, cohabitation rated decreased significantly from 1990 to 2000 in CMP counties and increased significantly in comparison counties," the report concluded.

To put those numbers in a more understandable form, the cohabitation rate fell 13.4% in Community Marriage Policy counties from 1990-2000 while it actually ROSE in comparison counties by 19.2%. This is the first evidence that it is even possible to lower the cohabitation rate, and it applies not just to one city or 10, but 114 cities studied by the Institute for Research and Evaluation.

Conclusion

The video or DVD concludes by encouraging churches to contact Marriage Savers for more information about training or help in organizing a Community Marriage Policy.