National Marriage Facts and Statistics
The Problem – A Devastating Marriage Crisis
The four primary elements of the marriage crisis:
Marriage - The marriage rate has plunged 43% since 1970. If the same percentage of couples were marrying now as in 1970, there would be a million more marriages a year.
Divorce - Half of all new marriages still end in divorce. There have been 38 million divorces since 1970, impacting 35 million children. Children of divorce are three times as likely to be expelled or to have a baby as a teenager, five times as likely to live in poverty, and 12 times more likely to be incarcerated according to the Heritage Foundation. Even worse, when children of divorce become adults, only 60% marry, they are more likely to divorce, and divorced men die 10 years sooner than married men.
Cohabitation - The number of unmarried couples living together has soared 12-fold from 430,000 in 1960 to 5 million. There are only 2.2 million marriages a year. Cohabitation has become the dominant way male-female unions are formed. However, those who marry after living together are 50% more likely to divorce.
Unwed births - The percentage of children born out-of-wedlock rose again in 2003 to a stunning 35%. Cohabiting couples are as likely to have children as married couples.
The Possibility – Community Marriage Policies (CMP)
According to the Heritage Foundation, “A well executed community marriage covenant can save up to 80% of marriages headed for divorce, reconcile more than 50% of separate couples, enable 80% of step families to be successful parents and marriage partners”
A community marriage policy (CMP) consists of a signed pledge by a coalition of clergy representing a diverse cross-section of congregations in the community to make marriage a priority in their church. Specifics vary by city, but the CMP core ingredients include: 1.) minimum time of marriage preparation, 2.) require anyone getting married to take a premarital inventory, and 3.) train older couples in good marriages to mentor other couples (in different stages).
The Impact – Community Marriage Policies (CMP)
Modesto, CA - divorce dropped 57%, new marriage increased 11%, teen pregnancy decreased 30%, school dropouts decreased 20%, cohabitation decreased 14% (while increased 20-30% nationwide)
Tallahassee, FL - Live the Life Ministries has pushed down Tallahassee’s divorce rate by 23% and has built a CMP with a budget of $600,000 raised locally.
Dalton, GA - From 2003 to 2005 the number of divorces fell from 1,050 to 789, a 24% drop. Judges who perform civil weddings were also encouraged to require premarital couples to take an inventory.
Austin, TX - After 252 pastors signed its Community Marriage Policy in 1996, the average number of divorces fell to 2,319 in 1999-2000, a steep 29% drop in the divorce rate.
Kansas City, KS - In Johnson County, a suburb of Kansas City, the divorce rate fell 65.9% while it rose by 11.2% in comparable counties.
Shreveport, LA - Shreveport slashed its divorce rate by 31% in its first year after a CMP signing.