Being in the entertainment field places me in front of a lot of Millennials. Whenever a conversation shifts to love interests, I broach the topic of marriage. The typical response clarifies that they are monogamous with their girlfriend or boyfriend. Sometimes the topic shifts to talk about their kids, but I almost always find a way to ask, “Do you ever plan on getting married?”
Their response is slow, as the mere thinking about it touches a moral nerve, which they quickly point out is overridden by their fear of divorce. Some quote the media’s 50% divorce rate statistic and others point out that the church has an even higher divorce rate of 54% – fueling their lack of desire to attend church. In their mind the church is irrelevant to their lives and statistically worse off than the world at large.
After empathizing with their predicament, I usually clarify that the statistics were media driven and are not accurate. I then point out that the church is a place for those who are hurting and will attract more people struggling with divorce. In other words the church is not the cause or a proponent of divorce, nor does it lack the ability to help marriages stay together.
While my arguments are never enough to override the person’s decision based on their fear of divorce, the experience caused me to dive into the topic with some form of hope and enthusiasm. I was also given insights through an opportunity to help others work through a divorce recovery program. I quickly learned that many assumed or felt that the pain of divorce itself supported the media’s statistics.
Shaunti Feldhahn, a Harvard-trained social researcher, popular speaker and best-selling author (For Women Only, For Men Only and The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages), was featured as an expert in The New York Times and Focus on the Family, Cosmopolitan Magazine and The Today Show. I found that she too was diving more deeply into our cultural shift based on the media’s abuse of statistics.
Feldhahn says, “ I also had no idea that every one of the statistics I was quoting, statistics that fit both with conventional wisdom and what I saw reported in the media, were nowhere close to true!”
Feldhahn dove into eight years of research to find the truth. She quickly learned that according to the Census Bureau, “72% of those who have ever been married, are still married to their first spouse. And, the 28% of those who aren’t includes everyone who was married for many years, until a spouse died.”
That places the actual first time divorce rate at 20-25% and when including divorces from second and third marriages, it rises to 30-35%. The best news is that divorce is now on a downward trend, suggesting that those who marry are committed to their marriage.
Dennis LaComb, editor-in-chief at the Illinois Review (a political ezine), shared with me how the media over the past decade purposely spun their anti-marriage messages to help promote the LGBT agenda and same sex marriage.
This supported my understanding that the media and entertainment industry drives our social lifestyle and the messages that we take in without giving any consideration to its accuracy. By placing subtle themes and propaganda into movies, television and radio shows, the media are able to persuade our thoughts to a specific agenda.
Ministers who preached the media’s statistics as a warning from their pulpits, unknowingly added to the newly internalized fear factor. Those strong positions formed a sense of judgment that pushed many to other venues, rather than inspire diligence in protecting marriages. Thankfully ministers are now able to preach the good news with accurate statistics.
However, many have already made bad choices because of their phobia about marriage. Some have purposely avoided it in order to save face from an “eminent” divorce, which we now know statistically will not happen. It’s important for our media to step up and tell the truth about our successful marriage rate and stop promoting false statistics about the divorce rate. So, I’ll start…
Did you know that 75-80% of all first marriages last for a lifetime?
Or, how about…
Did you know that 65-70% of all second marriages succeed?
Let’s not focus on the negative, but the positive. Let’s not build fear into the hearts of those around us, but encourage everyone with words of wisdom and truth. And, let’s watch the media with a critical eye the next time they state something that isn’t good for the soul.