Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Love and Marriage

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In the earlier years of my ministry I worked with colleagues from other congregations to provide marriage preparation events for the couples who would tie the knot in our churches. We ran Friday night, all day Saturday events which looked at a number of important areas of married life, including spirituality. Of course, all the couple in the 80's and 90's were heterosexual because same-gender marriage didn't exist yet.

They were well attended because couples still got married in churches back then and some even attended them! Couples were nearly always grateful for the experience, even when they were reluctant to attend. We felt that we were doing something to address the growing rate of divorce in those days. The statistic that half of marriages would end in divorce was bandied about a lot but it was never true in Canada. Still, a fair percentage of marriages foundered and we wanted to respond in a positive way with the couples we were marrying. 

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Now many ministers in mainline denominations preside at just a few weddings each year and some don't conduct any. Couples tend to be less religious and more likely to get married in a barn than a church. So, I'm intrigued to read that American Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, are less likely to divorce than Baby Boomers. A Toronto Star article on the subject begins:

Americans under the age of 45 have found a novel way to rebel against their elders: They’re staying married. New data show younger couples are approaching relationships very differently from baby boomers, who married young, divorced, remarried and so on. Generation X and especially millennials are being pickier about who they marry, tying the knot at older ages when education, careers and finances are on track. The result is a U.S. divorce rate that dropped 18 per cent from 2008 to 2016, according to an analysis by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen.

Go figure. Evangelicals of the previous couple of generations were disturbed to discover that their divorce rate was pretty much the same as the culture around them. Even though they preached the "sanctity of marriage" it didn't always show up in reality. It would be nice to think that vows of commitment within a Christian relationship made a difference to the longevity of a marriage, but that's not always the way it turns out.  

I decided a long time ago that judging others about their marital status was unkind and unfair and I was always willing to marry divorced couples. I am glad that couples are more likely to stay together for a number of reasons. All three of our children are Millennials, and two are married with partners we love. 

Any comments about this changing trend or your own experience in marriage? 

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