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    For many years I've publicly challenged the widely-held belief that one of two marriages ends in divorce. It was obviously not true. Some academics incorrectly calculated this ratio by noting that 1.2 million divorces and 2.4 million marriages were reported for 1981. The truth finally prevails. A Louis Harris poll now calls the one-of-two divorce rate a myth. "What was left out is that there are 54 million other marriages that are going on very nicely. By combining ongoing and new marriages in any single year, only 2 percent of existing marriages will end in divorce. A number of academics made a sensational splash out of it." Dr. Lee Salk comments, "This survey is incredibly important. It tells us that TV's Cosby family is depicting a better picture of American family life than anything else." 

    J. Allan Petersen in Homemade, October 1987.

    More and more people seem to forget Henry Ford's sage advice when asked on his 50th wedding anniversary for his rule for marital bliss and longevity. He replied, "Just the same as in the automobile business, stick to one model." 

    Christian Clippings, p. 27.

    Fifty years ago parents were apt to have a lot of kids. Nowadays kids are apt to have a lot of parents.

     E. Lawson.

    Divorced couples in Albuquerque, New Mexico, can take advantage of a new business in town. The company is called Freedom Rings: Jewelry for the Divorced. Founded by jeweler and divorcee Lynn Peters, the company makes custom jewelry out of wedding rings. Each customer at Freedom Rings pays a fee, and the ring-smashing ceremony begins--complete with champagne and music. Just before the smashing the M.C. says, "We will now release any remaining ties to your past by transforming your ring--which represents the past--into a token of your new beginning. Now take the hammer. Stop for a moment to consider the transformation that is about to begin your new life. Ready? With this swing let freedom ring!"

    She then uses a four-pound sledgehammer to whack her emblem of love and fidelity into a shapeless piece of metal. And the ceremony ends. The fact that women are pounding their wedding rings into pendants and men are grinding theirs into golf ball markers doesn't surprise me. We've all heard the divorce statistics. But let's focus on the women for a moment: How many American women stop short of divorce, but would love to make a clean break from their marriage if it were convenient? How many Christian women feel the same way? 

    Brian Peterson, New Man, October, 1994, p. 8.

    "Come into the living room, children. We have something we need to tell you." That's how our parents told us they were not going to be together anymore. After they told us they were divorcing, I sat under the table and my mind replayed again and again the words my father said. I didn't know then what it all meant, but I soon learned. After Dad left, I looked through the drawers where he kept his clothes and found an old sweat shirt he left behind. I hid it in my room and kept it for years. I would cling to it when I was lonely for him. My father came back to see us a few times, but his visits became less and less frequent. Finally his visits stopped completely. I always wondered where he went. I wondered if he thought about us very much. I hoped that he did. But I guess I'll never know. 

    H. Norman Wright, Always Daddy's Girl, 1989, Regal Books, p. 86.

    Item No. 583B in our Love and War man's files is a report on the bequests to his former wives of the socialite yachtsman Fuller E. Callaway, Jr. It stands as a commentary of the chances for happiness in multiple marriages. He left $100,000 to his first wife, $10,000 to his second, and $1 to his third. 

    L.M. Boyd, Spokesman-Review, July 28, 1992.

    I thought of how important the strength of a marriage is to children when I saw a quote by Pete Rose, Jr., recently. The betting scandal his father was in meant little to Petey. He still dwelt on his parents' years-old divorce. His father was remarried with a new child and another on the way. His mother was tending bar in Cincinnati. Petey is a better-than-average big league prospect himself, and athletes at that stage in their careers are usually single-minded and driven. Yet Petey said something like this: "I would trade whatever future I have in big league baseball to see my parents get back together." It was as if he hadn't read the papers, didn't know the truth about his parents' marriage. Pete, Sr. had such an incredible reputation for chasing women, and such nasty, impossible-to-take-back things had been said by each about the other, that no one would give two cents for the possibility of any civility, let alone a reconciliation. And with Pete, Sr., remarried, there's no chance. Yet that comment from little Pete, if he were my son, would haunt me to my grave. 

    Jerry Jenkins, Hedges, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1989, p. 128.

    Tod had left his wife and children for another woman, but Linda, his wife, refused him a divorce. She said that she still loved him and that he could still love her. One morning, after a night of empty sex and not much sleep, he drove to their house and saw his wife through the window getting the breakfast ready and the children off to school--as he said, "doing what she had to do to keep their life, her life, my life intact." He was overcome with a sense of her commitment to holding together a warm good life. He asked her that day to let him come back, recognizing that she was his very right, and much beloved wife. 

    Reader's Digest, August, 1982.

    Statistics and Stuff

    "Almost half of children of divorces enter adulthood as worried, underachieving, self-deprecating, and sometimes angry young men and women." reports Judith Wallerstein, director of the Center for the Family in Transition and author of Second Chance (Ticknor & Fields, 1988). Her conclusion is drawn from interviews conducted over a 15 year period with 60 families, mostly white middle class. Other Wallerstein findings: Three out of five youngsters felt rejected by at least one parent. Half grew up in settings in which the parents were warring with each other even after the divorce. 

    Reported in Time, 2/6/89.

    In order to uncover the processes that destroy unions, marital researchers study couples over the course of years, and even decades, and retrace the star-crossed steps of those who have split up back to their wedding day. What they are discovering is unsettling. None of the factors one would guess might predict a couple's durability actually does: not how in love a newlywed couple say they are; how much affection they exchange; how much they fight or what they fight about. In fact, couples who will endure and those who won't look remarkably similar in the early days. Yet when psychologists Cliff Notarius of Catholic University and Howard Markman of the University of Denver studied newlyweds over the first decade of marriage, they found a very subtle but telling difference at the beginning of the relationships. Among couples who would ultimately stay together, 5 out of every 100 comments made about each other were putdowns. Among couples who would later split, 10 of every 100 comments were insults. That gap magnified over the following decade, until couples heading downhill were flinging five times as many cruel and invalidating comments at each other as happy couples. "Hostile putdowns act as cancerous cells that, if unchecked, erode the relationship over time," says Notarius, who with Markman co-authored the new book We Can Work It Out. "In the end, relentless unremitting negativity takes control and the couple can't get through a week without major blowups."  

    U.S. News & World Report, February 21, 1994, p. 67.

    Why do toy makers watch the divorce rate? When it rises, so do toy sales. According to the analyzers, four parents and eight grandparents tend to compete for children's affections, so buy toys. 

    L.M. Boyd, Spokesman Review, March 15, 1993.

    A five year study of children of divorced parents in California questions that children are better off when their parents divorce than when they stay in an unhappy marriage. Many of the children would have been "content to hobble along in an unhappy marriage and they did not experience the divorce as a solution to their unhappiness." Most of them harbored fantasies of a "magical reconciliation." The divorced family is less adaptive economically, socially, and psychologically to the raising of children than the two-parent family. 

    Psychology Today, in Homemade, July, 1985.

    A study of divorced couples with preschool children shows that after a year of divorce, 60% of men and 73% of women feel they made a mistake and should have tried harder to make marriage work. People have no idea how much anguish and stress is caused by divorce. 

    Dr. E. Mavis Hetherington in Homemade, October, 1989.

    60% of all divorces involve children. Approximately 1,000,000 children each year are affected by divorce." 

    Marriage and Family, April, 1980.

    75% of divorced people remarry--and 60% of them already have children. If current trends continue, stepfamilies could outnumber traditional families by the year 2000. 

    Dr. Nazli Baydar, in Homemade, October, 1989.

    Divorce rates, from U.S. Census Bureau reports:

    1920, 1 divorce per 7 marriages
    1940, 1 divorce per 6 marriages
    1960 1 divorce per 4 marriages
    1972 1 divorce per 3 marriages
    1977 1 divorce per 2 marriages

    Children from broken homes cause a strikingly disproportionate share of discipline problems in schools and fare far worse academically than their peers from two-parent homes, according to an extensive new study. For every two-parent child disciplined, the study says, teachers took to task three one-parent children. Comparing children from broken homes to those with both parents, the ratio for dropouts was 9 to 5; for expulsions, 8 to 1. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the rising divorce rate means 48% of school children during the next decade will come from one-parent homes. 

    Chicago Tribune, quoted in His, Nov, 1980.

    The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that 6 of 10 women in their 30's will have their first marriage end in divorce. The problem is charged to changing male-female roles, the massive entrance of women into the work force and social revolutions in the late 60's. 

    USA Today, quoted in Intercessors for America, June, 1986.

    Doctor George Crane, M.D., Ph. D., the clinical columnist in newspapers throughout North America, has calculated that when a married couple are active together in the same church they have about a 50 times greater chance of avoiding divorce; and that only one in 500 marriages breaks up where there is a family altar. . . Nine out of ten of both sexes attach maximum priority in life to a happy marriage. 

    John W. White, What Does It Mean to be Born Again?

    Practice doesn't make perfect. According to studies by the Barna Foundation and the Census Bureau, people who cohabitate before marriage--that's half of all adults under the age of 30--are more likely than others to get divorced, and 60 percent of second marriages eventually split up. With that kind of failure rate, perhaps it's time to stop practicing and get into the game for good. Marriage is for life. 

    Break Point with Charles Colson, Vol. 1, No. 6, August 1991.