Monday, June 13, 2016

Somewhat Surprising Similarities. . .

National Survey of Family Growth, 2006-10.
A recent article pointed out the striking similarities between ages of first marriage, endurance of the marriage over 5 and 10 years, and the satisfaction with the marriage among whites and Latinos.  Though the economics are very different -- Latinos earning 25% less than average white households and more than twice as many Latino families at the poverty line as whites, the perspective on marriage is remarkably similar.  What are strong ties in both are the familial identities and relationships.  In other words, Latinos and whites both have strong family systems from which those seeking marriage come and which provide support for those couples when they do marry.

The problems of Black families in America are well documented.  The absence of a strong Black father figure in the family is not new but it remains and urgent issue.  The disproportionate number of young Black males in trouble with the law/imprisoned is another statistic that casts a shadow over the entire Black community.  Some of this may be the reason why Black women first marry about 6 years later than the average for whites and Latinos.

Without spending time unpacking this, suffice it to say that marriages of men and women who grew up without strong role models (both male and female) tend to produce not only less happy marriages but also marriages more likely to end in divorce.  Without the strong familial support and sanction for marriage, there is greater pressure upon a couple to face the challenges of their lives together and to do so apart from the encouragement and assistance of their families.

Curiously, even though the Church is often portrayed as the voice of doom about such things as abortion, pre-marital sex, and GLBT issues, those who attend together are 15% more likely to characterize their marriage as happy as non-church goers.  This does not change regardless of the denominational affiliation of the church or whether the couple is white, Latino, or Black.  Those attending church are less likely to have children out of wedlock (perhaps a rather obvious conclusion) but they also seem to have stronger marital relationships than those who do not attend.

All that said, the tendency toward divorce and marital dissatisfaction is aimed in the same direction for whites, Latinos, and Blacks -- the trend is higher for divorce and lower for happy marriages.  While we can rejoice in the role family and church play in supporting marriage and family, the reality is that the future is filled with similar challenges for all groups -- all of them equally find the direction less than positive and the outcome sure to weaken marriage and family for whites, Latinos, and Blacks.  This is a sober wake up call for the role of the church in directly addressing some of the issues these couples are facing and providing healthy discussion and preparation for those choosing to enter marriage.

1 comment:

John Joseph Flanagan said...

I am 71 and I met my wife at 23 years old. She was 20. We are married almost 46 years. We love one another deeply still, and our love is even stronger in our older years. If I could talk to every young man...I would say...."Find one good Christian woman, seek her out, marry her, love her, communicate, and never stray.". It is God's way...and the best way.