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Big Wedding ==> Happy Marriage?!?!

Christopher Harris

Back in 1997, David Popenoe, a Sociology Professor from Rutgers University, started the National Marriage Project (NMP). The project remained at the New Jersey state school until 2009, when it was moved to the University of Virginia, where it is now directed by Associate Professor of Sociology, W. Bradford Wilcox.

The mission statement of the NMP is to provide research and analysis on the health of marriage in America. They are a nonpartisan, nonsectarian, and interdisciplinary organization that focuses on analyzing “the social and cultural forces shaping contemporary marriage, and to identify strategies to increase marital quality and stability.”

Now me personally, I like to refer to a well known and rather authoritative book that references marriage by saying “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (NKJV).

It seems that “intellectuals” are just now starting to validate the good book on this subject. Their latest research draws a correlation (but not necessarily claiming causation) between couples who have happier marriages, and certain activities prior to, and leading up to the marriage. Apparently, having had fewer sexual partners before marriage, making an intentional decision to get married, and then having a bigger wedding, are things that tend to lead to happier marriages.

This is all well and good, but the book I like to read (nightly) already told me that, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4 (NKJV). It also told me that, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV)

The latest National Marriage Project report, co-authored by psychologists Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley, explores the association between premarital experiences and post-marital quality among today’s young adults.

The report makes three key points:

1 – What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. In other words, past relationship experiences—and their consequences—are linked to future marital quality. For instance, men and women who had a child before marriage are less likely to enjoy a high-quality marriage.

2 – Sliding versus deciding. Couples who make intentional decisions regarding “major relationship transitions” are more likely to flourish than those who slide through transitions. For instance, among those who cohabited, couples who decided to live together before marriage in an intentional way are more likely to enjoy happy marriages, compared to couples who just slid into cohabitation before marriage.

3 – The Big Fat Greek Wedding Factor. Americans who had more guests at their nuptials are more likely to report high-quality marriages than those with a small wedding party, even after controlling for their education and income.

Rhoades and Stanley came to these insights by analyzing new data from the Relationship Development Study, a national study based at the University of Denver and funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Between 2007 and 2008, more than 1,000 Americans who were unmarried but in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, and between the ages of 18 and 34, were recruited into the study. Comparing the make-up of that parent sample of 1300 subjects to 2010 Census data indicates that this sample was reasonably representative of unmarried adults in the United States in terms of race/ethnicity and income. Over the course of the next five years and 11 waves of data collection, 418 of those individuals got married. The authors looked closely at those 418 new marriages, their respondents’ prior romantic experiences, their spouses’ relationship history, and the quality of their marriages. This new report is based on their analysis of these American couples.

Now I wonder how long it will take for “intellectuals” to validate this. “25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body,[a] of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:25-33 (NKJV)

But here is what I know…the more we build stronger marriages, the faster we will repair towns and communities, and the faster we can move towards an Unhyphenated America.

 

 

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