Janice Shaw Crouse

Marriage Matters for People and Pocketbooks - June 13, 2015

Janice Shaw Crouse
June 15, 2015
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It'll be very succinct. Thank you. It's wonderful to be here and I'd like to express my thanks to the Ucoonans. This is an extraordinary conference, I attend probably 12 a year and this is so well organized, so gracious, so warm and welcoming to all of us, so thank you so much for this.

I want to begin yes- I want to begin by telling you about a young man that I met on an airplane. I was flying from DC to Boston and Jason sat beside me. I had settled down to read on the flight and had not planned to talk, but he was in the mood to talk. He turned to me and asked me lots of questions about my family and so forth.

When he learned that I was happily married he began telling me about all the sadness in his family. His parents were divorced, it was a terrible experience for him, but what was particularly devastating to him was his sister's divorce. He was absolutely destroyed by the fact that her marriage didn't last, and he said to me, ‘I never intend to get married. I don't believe in love anymore.’

Jason is not alone. Jason is very typical of his generation. Far too many of them have seen too much divorce, they've seen too many miserable marriages, they think that marriage is outdated, they think that marriage squelches love and romance. In fact Dr. Neil Warren of Clarke Warren who is the founder of EHarmony which is one of those dating internet set up people for marriage sites, has interviewed 500 young people. He asked them one simple question: tell me about a happy marriage in your acquaintance. Sadly, nearly half of the young people that he interviewed, over 200 of them, could not think of a single example of a happy marriage in their acquaintanceship.

These young people are in a world that you and I know very little about. Their cultural messages are that love does better without commitment, that marriage limits your freedom, that it limits spontaneity, it limits affection. That's the result of 40 years of these kinds of messages to our young people. The marriage rate now is half of what it was in 1969. Fewer people are getting married, and they're waiting longer to get married. The average age for women today is 26, for men 28. The divorce rates today are 60% higher than they were in 1960 and cohabitation, living together without marriage, is up a thousand percent since 1970.

There's a whirlpool of controversy around the world and a civil dispute across cultures about the role and significance of marriage. Just in 2009, the cover story on Time magazine was ‘Does Marriage Matter?’ The bottom line, the conclusion of the study was there is no other single force causing as much measurable heart- hardship and human misery as the collapse of marriage. Newsweek a year later ran an article calling the death of marriage, and said marriage is no longer desirable or necessary.

These cover stories show something that I think is very, very important: they do not conform with the scientific data. Social science data is very clear, the research is very uniform, marriage is best for individuals and for society. Across cultures, across nations, across civilizations, marriage and family have been the foundations of nations. All civilized societies have a special place for marriage, its a special institution and it is by its very origin and nature a contract of national and natural law.

I've worked for over two decades now in Washington DC producing and analyzing data related to the well-being of both children's- children and adults. These years of studying demographic trends convinced me that the rejection of Judeo-Christian values and morality is at the root of broken relationships and cultural disintegration. I'm going to focus today on two very specific points because of the time limitations. First is marriage is best for people and then second, marriage is best for pocketbooks.

Let's look first at marriage being best for children. The Children's Defense Fund in the United States has a very simple line drawing for its logo. The picture is a small child in a small boat in a vast wide sea. That child is alone and defenseless, and only the most hard-hearted amongst people can look at a defenseless child and not be tremendously moved. Yet in the United States, forty-one percent of the children in our country are born without a father's protection. The absence of marriage leaves children very vulnerable to very predictable risk and very specific outcomes that have been outlined by social scientists across the world. The poverty rate without a father is five times higher than it is with children in married couple families, two-thirds of all poor children are in fatherless households. There's been, and this is one of the most horrendous statistics I've seen, a hundred and forty nine percent increase in child abuse and child exploitation over the last year's that correspond with the increase- in the decrease in marriage and the increase in cohabitation and fatherless families.

Marriage is the foundation for building values and morals in our children. It's the training ground, but one of the things that I think many people over look is that it's not just enough to teach morals, you have to model morals. Morals are something that are absorb- that are absorbed by children. They have to see it lived out in front of them, it's not enough for parents to say do what I say. Children will do what they see done in families, and so our families have to be the embodiment of responsibility, caring, compassion, fairness, honesty, generosity. Those kinds of qualities can only be absorbed and taught within a family.

Robert Bork one of the most distinguished jurist in my country said a nation's moral life is the foundation of its culture. No wonder our culture is so awful and has disintegrated to such a point because our morals have disintegrated. Marriage conveys both educational and cultural advantages for our children. No wonder so many parents are turning to homeschooling now. It has increased 77 percent from 1999 to 2007.

Several years ago in 2010 in Britain, a study was published called A Good Childhood. This was the most comprehensive and important study that has ever been done on children's well-being. The conclusion of that study really shook up the Great- Great Britain and the rest of the world because the study said blankly, very pointedly, our children are desperate for love, for time, and affirmation of their fragile self-esteem, and we substitute toys, TV, and Facebook. And that answers a question earlier today about our children being spoiled and yet not given the kinds of training that they need. The study went on to say children are materially spoiled, but ignored. They are deprived of moral instruction and left without a spiritual foundation.

Let me point out this was a government study, this was not a religious study, and they've been pointed precisely the weaknesses in the way our children are being raised today. Children should be raised to learn about the outside world from their parents, but today children- parents can't shield children from the outside world, they learn about the outside world through TV, internet, video games, DVDs, cell phones, and iPads.

So those are the things that I think marriage conveys in terms of good things and bad things when marriage is absent for our children. Marriage also conveys very specific benefits for adults, but for adults, they are very gender specific. For women marriage is the safest place they can be. You are 62 percent- a woman is 62 percent more likely to be abused by a live-in boyfriend than she is by her husband. Women are better off financially, health-wise, with their well-being, they sleep better, they spend less time in a hospital, if they are married.

Men too are healthier and live longer, but men also have more stable employment, higher earnings, more wealth. In fact, marriage increases a man's income as much as getting a college education. Men who are married typically avoid risky behaviors, they have better sex, they have better relationships, and better emotional health.

Marriage is also best for pocketbooks. Economists call this the ‘marriage premium.’ Married baby boomers increased their wealth on average 16 percent every year, twice that of single people. The Pew Research Center did a study on the economics of marriage and discovered that married couples share cost, that means all the major things like housing and utilities and so forth, are shared so they benefit in that regard.