This flies in the face of everything we’ve been hearing for a couple of decades.
It’s long been believed that half of America’s marriages end in divorce and the problem is just as bad in the Church as the rest of the country.
But when Harvard-trained researcher Shaunti Feldhahn tried to find the actual research to prove those points, she couldn’t. It started her on an eight-year odyssey to find the actual facts.
In her book, The Good News About Marriage, Feldhahn lays out what she found during her eight years of investigating the complicated, complex divorce statistics.
First, the divorce rate is way below 50 percent and much lower for those who attend church.
Feldhahn estimates the overall divorce rate for the country is around 31 percent. The studies of people who regularly go to church all show a much lower divorce rate for them.
“Maybe 15 percent, maybe 20 percent for all marriages. First marriages, second marriages, third marriages,” Feldhahn explained.
Feldhahn cited one example where a pastor tracked 143 couples who he had married.
“It was 25, 27 years later. Less than 10 percent had been divorced,” she stated.
So, heterosexuals had not actually made hash out of the concept of marriage, despite all the no-fault laws and a slackening of belief in “‘Til death do us part.” There goes one argument for changing the definition of marriage now.
As a society, we have spent the last 30 years or so unlearning some obvious things. Work is beneficial. All religions don’t in fact teach the same thing or lead to the same place. Church attendance is generally good for you and your family. Married couples tend to be better for kids than single parenting. Marriage is worth preserving. Choosing not to live together before marriage contributes to creating a stronger marriage.
“People who decide not to live together before they get married, that has been proven to have a really good effect on the marriage,” she said as an example. “And so you might get down to the 5, 10 percent divorce odds.”
We’re still unlearning. It’s difficult at this point to see us stop the unlearning and start learning again.