1. Why is
a Community Marriage Policy® needed?
Marriage Disintegration Continues Nationally
The need for the work of Marriage Savers can be seen in national data which
reveal the continued disintegration of marriage in America.
Who can start a CMP? Anyone who has a passion for the vision
and outcomes of a CMP can play a vital leadership role in starting and
sustaining a CMP in their community. Typically, the spiritual leader of
a house of worship lifts up the vision for a CMP for his or her
community to the clergy of other congregations. Personal leadership is
critical. Lay leaders may catch the vision first and become vision
casters who draw in their spiritual leader and potential mentor couples.
Why is this important? The central domestic problem of our time is the disintegration of marriage.
Since 2001 there have been 6 million divorces involving 6 million children. Yet
this tragedy receives no public notice.
There are four elements of the marriage crisis
- 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.
Those who have never-married aged 30-44 have tripled from 6.8% in 1970 to
20.4% in 2005.
- Divorce: Half of all new marriages end in divorce. There have
been 42 million divorces since 1970 hurting 40 million children. One quarter
of all adults age 18-35 have grown up in divorced families.
- Cohabitation: The number of unmarried couples living together
soared 12-fold from 430,000 in 1960 to 5.4 million in 2005. There are only
2.2 million marriages a year. Thus, cohabitation has become the dominant way
male-female unions are formed. Couples who marry after living together are
50% more likely to divorce than those who did not.
- Unwed births: Out-of wedlock births jumped from 5.3% to 37.4% or
from 224,000 to 1.5 million children from 1960-2004. Cohabiting couples are
as likely to have a child under 18 as married couples (41% vs. 46%).
Community Marriage Policies can reverse all of these trends. They have
reduced divorce and cohabitation rates and raised marriage rates in scores of
Marriage Savers Has Answers
Saving marriages must happen community by community. It's up to you. We have
the chance to rebuild the very foundation of our nation.
- Divorce Rate Falls: Clackamas County’s 15% divorce rate drop is
an average result. An independent study by the Institute for Research and
Evaluation of the first 114 CMPs signed through 2000 reported that divorces
fell 17.5% in seven years. Seven cities/counties slashed divorce rates by
48% or more (Austin, Kansas City, KS, Salem, OR, Modesto, CA and El Paso).
There were 650 divorces in 1995 in Kansas City but only 196 in 2005. That is
a 70% plunge. The Institute said that 30,000 to 50,000 divorces were averted
in CMP cities by 2001. With six more years and nearly twice as many CMPs
(220 by 12/07) 100,000 marriages may be saved.
- Cohabitation Rate Falls: From 1990-2000 the cohabitation rate of
CMP cities/counties fell 13.4%, while it rose 19.2% in carefully matched
counties in each state. Thus, at decade’s end, CMP cities ended with a
cohabitation rate one-third lower than counterparts (13.4 + 19.2= 33%)
- Marriage Rate Rises, but not immediately. Evansville, IN’s
divorce rate fell soon after signing a CMP in 1998 but marriages remained
flat until 2004-5 when they rose16%. The pattern was similar in Modesto, but
marriages jumped from 1,100 in 1994 to 2,500 in 2005.
No other organization has reduced divorce and cohabitation rates in more
than 100 cities/counties and begun increasing marriage rates. This is one reason
you should consider contributing to Marriage Savers. But there are other reasons