Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why fiscal conservatives should support marriage and family

The Heritage Foundation has a post up about the social costs of the decline of marriage and family fore adults, children and society.

…nearly four of every ten babies is born out of wedlock and only half of all teenagers live in intact families. Cause for alarm is also found in a bevy of academic studies revealing the impact of the dissolution of the nuclear family on the life prospects and well-being of adults and their children. Research has clearly shown the physical, emotional, and fiscal benefits that married couples experience, as well as the devastating impact that the decline of the intact family has for the next generation. Compared with peers living with both biological parents, children and youth in other family structures fare worse in terms of academic achievement, mental and emotional health, and problem behavior. A father’s presence and involvement can make a lasting difference in a child’s prospects for life.

A married father is more likely to be involved with his children…while unmarried fathers are “soon out the door” when the demands of family life inevitably occur.

And then there is this troubling observation about the way the next generation destroys their ability to succeed in marriage, even though they would like to marry!

Surveys have indicated that American adolescents’ attitudes toward marriage tend to be hopeful (76 percent said that the institution of marriage and family life are “extremely important” and 81 percent said that they expected to marry), but trends in their favorable attitudes toward cohabitation and premarital sexual activity belie that hope. Research indicates that cohabiting couples are more likely to experience divorce in a subsequent marriage and premarital sex is likewise related to an increased likelihood of divorce.

When families break down, government must increase in order to deal with the fallout of divorce and of broken homes. That can mean more government control, more expensive social programs, more courts, more regulation, more police, etc. That is why fiscal conservatives need to stand up for social conservatism – and that means strong families raising well-adjusted children.

Marriage is a job. Certain skills and character traits are needed in order to succeed. The character traits have to be developed by studying in order to form a worldview that makes marriage rational. The worldview should rationally ground 1) moral obligations, and 2) self-sacrificial love. The rational grounding should not be based on self-interest- because marriage is tough.

People also need to study how marriage and parenting works. They need to study the effects of behaviors like pre-marital sex and co-habitation on their ability to have a successful marriage. They need to study the effects of focusing too much on education and career on parenting. The need to assess whether certain ideas (e.g. – feminism or promiscuity) help or hurt their ability to marry and raise children.

The vast majority of young people today have formed opinions and performed actions that make them incapable of commitment and parenting. If people really wanted marriage and children, they should have studied and acted differently. Attitudes can only change as people study these issues and understand the consequences of their decisions, before they make them.

When I think of a leftist, I think of someone who jettisons the wisdom of centuries of civilization, based on their emotions. These people are perpetually surprised by the consequences of their actions and public policies. They have no idea why moral rules are in place, and what consequences follow from disregarding these moral rules. They do not understand, they oversimplify, then they are surprised by failure.

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Science Daily: Co-habiting before marriage is a bad idea

Story from Science Daily. This is old news, but maybe it will be new news to some of my readers.

Excerpt:

University of Denver (DU) researchers find that couples who live together before they are engaged have a higher chance of getting divorced than those who wait until they are married to live together, or at least wait until they are engaged. In addition, couples who lived together before engagement and then married, reported a lower satisfaction in their marriages.

…”Cohabiting to test a relationship turns out to be associated with the most problems in relationships,” Rhoades says. “Perhaps if a person is feeling a need to test the relationship, he or she already knows some important information about how a relationship may go over time.”

This is why I love chastity. Chastity is like the fine-tuning argument – you can’t lose the argument because you have all the evidence. Your opponent has unobservables hopes and dreams. And these moral rules like chastity are not just there to protect you from harm. Chastity allows you to relate to the opposite sex in ways you’d never dreamed of. And it works on people you aren’t even attracted to, as well!

Isn’t it interesting how disdainful we seem to have become of traditional wisdom in regards to sexual matters? As if  civilization worked one way for thousands of years, and then all of a sudden the feminists tell us how human nature really works.

Check out this article from Focus on the Family.

Excerpt:

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University find “it has been consistently shown that, compared to spouses who did not cohabit, spouses who cohabit before marriage have higher rates of marital separation and divorce.”3 Sociologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report, “Recent national studies in Canada, Sweden, and the United States found that cohabitation increased, rather than decreased, the risk of marital dissolution.”4 This was also found to be true in the Netherlands.5

A leading researcher on cohabitation from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, reports:

Contrary to conventional wisdom that living together before marriage will screen out poor matches and therefore improve subsequent marital stability, there is considerable empirical evidence demonstrating that premarital cohabitation is associated with lowered marital stability.6

Additional researchers found, “cohabitation is not related to marital happiness, but is related to lower levels of marital interaction, higher levels of marital disagreement and marital instability.”7 They conclude, “On the basis of the analysis provided so far, we must reject that argument that cohabitation provides superior training for marriage or improves mate-selection.”8

Research conducted at Yale and Columbia University and published in American Sociological Review found:

The overall association between premarital cohabitation and subsequent marital stability is striking. The dissolution rate of women who cohabit premaritally with their future spouse is, on average, nearly 80 percent higher than the rate of those who do not.

Other studies show that those who have any type of pre-marital cohabiting experience have a 50 to 100 percent greater likelihood of divorce than those who do not cohabit premaritally.10 This data has led researchers to conclude that the enhanced chance of divorce after cohabitation “is beginning to take on the status of an empirical generalization.”11

Marriage is not for people who are “in love”. And having things in common is not the most important thing either. What you need are two people who are trained and experienced in making commitments to do arduous, long-running tasks. People who come into a marriage thinking it will solve all their problems are crazy. And children make it even more stressful!

UPDATE: Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse podcast on the subject is here. (11 minutes)

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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