Looking For Love 5. Growing Old Together

I was originally thinking of adding (Is This Even Possible?) to the title?

     I’m not old yet, so I guess I don’t really know. I do know this, though: Bad Information leads to Bad Assumptions leads to Bad Perspective.
     Is it possible to find that one person and grow old together with them? You and I are hoping so, even if it didn’t work out that way the first time around for you, I’ll bet you still think it could happen?
     We were told something about Marriage and Divorce that was completely wrong a few years ago. It is new information and you will not want to attempt marriage without it!
     “The earth is flat!” Bad information. A Myth.
     If you think the earth is flat, your creativity and potential will stay locked up in your own civilization. You won’t be able to do anything else. Why? Bad info = bad assumptions = bad perspective = bad decisions.
     Let’s just sail a little farther…. Wait! Stop! Quit exploring! Thrown the towel in! There’s no telling where the edge of the world is! Civilizations would be very tight. No solution or talent sharing. No commerce outside of what you yourself can produce. Here’s hoping you can at least grow coffee in your country! Coffee is the lifeblood of champions! (I like coffee)
     There are many who suppose that Columbus sailed west to prove that the world was round. That was another myth. No serious scholar within a thousand years or more was propagating the idea that the earth was flat anymore. It is believed that the rumour was started following an author writing a “highly romanticized” book (Wikipedia) called “A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus” (Washington Irving 1828). The book was “mistaken by many for a scholarly work” (Wikipedia).
     The argument flying around Europe was that Columbus thought the earth was much smaller than it actually was. In fact, he reached the Caribbean Islands right where he had calculated Japan should be. He was wrong and lucky all at the same time. His opposition were trying to tell him that ships of his size simply could not make the journey to Asia going west because they couldn’t hold that many supplies to sustain them. They were right and he was lucky because his calculations would have killed his crew with starvation.
     Bad info, bad assumptions, bad perspective, bad result.
Have you heard that 50% of marriages are going to end in divorce?
Have you heard that 50% of marriages inside the church are going to end in divorce too?
I found this on the catalystconference.com website.
     Enjoy! From an article called “Everything we think we know about Marriage and Divorce is wrong!” (I believe the stats are from the States)

The Good News

Perhaps most surprising, half of all marriages are not ending in divorce. According to the Census Bureau, 72% of those who have ever been married, are still married to their first spouse! And the 28% who aren’t, includes everyone who was married for many years, until a spouse died. No-one knows what the average first-marriage divorce rate actually is, but based on the rate of widowhood and other factors, we can estimate it is probably closer to 20-25%. For all marriages (including second marriages, and so on), it is in the 31-35% range, depending on the study.

Now, expert demographers continue to project that 40-50% of couples will get divorced – but it is important to remember that those are projections. And I’m skeptical because the actual numbers have never come close, and divorce rates continue to drop, not rise! Even among the highest-risk age group –baby boomers—seven in ten are still married to their first spouse. Most of them have had 30 years’ worth of chances to get divorced…and they are still together.

Now any amount of divorce is still too high! But still, knowing that most marriages last a lifetime is good news that urgently needs to be part of our conventional wisdom.

Another myth that is begging to be debunked is the notion that “Barna found that the rate of divorce is the same in the church.” Actually the Barna Group found no such thing and George Barna himself told me he would love to correct this misunderstanding. Because he wasn’t studying people “in the church.”

The Barna Group studies were focusing specifically on the divorce rates of those with Christian and non-Christian belief systems and didn’t take worship attendance into account. So I partnered with the Barna Group and we re-ran the numbers: and if the person was in church last week, their divorce rate dropped by 27%. And that is one of the smallest drops found in recent studies: overall, regular church attendance lowers the divorce rate anywhere from 25-50%, depending on the study you look at.

“The implications are enormous”

A few years ago, when I first shared these facts and others at a conference of marriage and family pastors, one ministry leader came up to me with a stunned look on his face. “If this is true,” he said, “the implications are enormous.”

Since then I have heard similar statements from hundreds of pastors, counselors and average men and women. They have felt as though for too long they were – as one put it – “held hostage to bad data that we couldn’t contradict.” And they see the dramatic difference it will make to know the truth… and be able to share it.

Imagine the difference for pastors to know that they can stand on stage and tell their congregations with confidence that going to church matters for your marriage.

Imagine the difference to be able to tell a struggling couple, “Most people get through this, and you can too.”

Imagine equipping the average young person with the ability to counter the cynical statements of his college professors or the “why bother getting married” comments of friends who are living together, with the solid truth that, actually, most marriages last a lifetime. (And are happy! We cover that in The Good News About Marriage, too.)

Those of us who work with marriages may secretly wonder whether there is reason for our ministry, if the news about the divorce rate is better than we think. And the answer is a resounding yes. Because I have seen in the research what every marriage counselor knows intimately: divorce isn’t the greatest threat to marriage. Discouragement is.

What marriages need today is hope. And of all people, we in the Body of Christ should be the most ready to offer hope – not just for our spiritual life but for our marriages. And now, we can.

Shaunti Feldhahn is a Harvard-trained social researcher, popular speaker and best-selling author of For Women Only, For Men Only and The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, which have sold more than 2 million copies in 22 languages worldwide.  Her research is regularly featured in media as diverse as The New York Times and Focus on the Family, Cosmopolitan Magazine and The Today Show.  With The Good News About Marriage, Shaunti is eager to support leaders in moving marriages from discouragement to hope.  Get updates at www.goodnewsmarriage.com.
     Church community does 3 things:
     1. Sheds light on Issues
     2. Confronts Selfishness
     3. Confronts Isolationism
You want to Grow Old Together? Go to church together!

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