Does marriage matter?
As we forge ahead into the new millennium, some people may believe that there¹s no place for supporting marriage. They may consider marriage an antiquated idea. There are so many forms of connections, they say, why should we be thinking about giving special recognition to this one particular mode of bonding?
The answer is simple: marriage is the only social arrangement that statistically 1) improves the health and well being of children, and 2) decreases the poverty of adults and children. You¹ll note I use the word ³statistically,² because there are many children, 60 percent, according to the 2000 Census growing up in homes without both of their biological parents, and many of these children live rich and full lives. Moreover, there are, no doubt, more than a few children who reside with both parents, yet live in destitution. But according to the ³Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study² (2003), when two parents choose not to marry or stay married, the chance of a child¹s living in poverty increases three-fold.
Poverty isn¹t the only unintended consequence of divorce for children; the risk of teen pregnancy, emotional problems, substance abuse, school truancy and dropping out increase 2 1/2-fold once parents split apart. Kids who are raised by married parents are two-thirds less likely to be victims of crime or incarcerated for committing a crime. Through their behavior, often through their words, our children are telling us that growing up without their two biological parents takes its toll. But sadly, kids can¹t make parents marry, or stay married; only their parents can.
Not only does marriage protect children, it tends to make life better for adults too. Joining and staying joined together in matrimony not only increases health and wealth, it actually reduces the incidence of domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse and premature deaths of the individuals in the marriage.
Taken from an editorial, Rhode Island should support marriage education, in The Providence Journal, Friday, February 15, 2008, by Scott Haltzman.
Scott Haltzman, M.D., is a clinical assistant in the Brown Medical School¹s Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and medical director of NRI Community Services, in Woonsocket. He is author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife¹s Heart Forever and The Secrets of Happily Married Women: How to Get More Out of Your Relationship by Doing Less.