British Religious Leaders Learn To Cut Divorce Rate
Mon Aug 9 12:21:23 EDT 1999
from: smart marriages
August 9, 1999
For Immediate Release Contact: Nicholas Guilliford in the UK
432 420) or Mike McManus 301 469-5970
British Religious Leaders Learn How to Cut the Divorce Rate
British Anglican, Roman Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist
religious leaders will meet August 16-18 with Michael McManus, President
of Marriage Savers, Inc. to learn how the American organization has helped
push down the divorce rates of two dozen American cities by as much as 35
percent. The first meeting will be 10:30 a.m. August 16 at Advent Centre,
37-39 Brendon Street, London W1H 5HD (Marble Arch).
McManus, author of the new 166 page "Manual To Create a Marriage
Savers Church," will also lead two days of training August 17-18 in
Taunton, Somerset of religious leaders who will learn how to help their
churches create similar programs, training "Mentor Couples," couples in
solid, fulfilling marriages, who will be trained to help other couples:
Avoid a bad marriage before it begins by giving a
premarital inventory that can predict with 80% accuracy who will divorce,
which prompts a tenth of couples, those in weak relationships, to break
Give "marriage insurance" to the engaged, an assurance
that with 95% certainty, that they will have a lasting marriage
Strengthen existing marriages in every congregation
Save 80%-90% of marriages headed toward divorce
Reconcile more than half of the separated
Enable 80% of those in stepfamilies to be successful
"What God has joined together, the church should hold together,"
says McManus. "Unfortunately, too many churches are `wedding factories'
which grind out weddings with little thought of they will work or not.
Sadly, that is as true in Great Britain as it is in the United States. I
was shocked to learn that British divorce rate now equals that of the U.S.
In 1997, there were 308,700 marriages in England, Wales and Scotland, and
161,100 divorces according to the Office for National Statistics. Since
1973, there has been one divorce for every two marriages in the U.S. In
1997, for example, there were 1,163,000 divorces and 2,384,000 marriages.
"We can do better than this," McManus added. "Marriage Savers has
set a goal to bring down the divorce rate by 50%, by the year 2010, so
there would only be one divorce for every four marriages. There are
300,000 churches in the United States, whom we hope to mobilize, teaching
them how to train `Mentor Couples' who can help other couples to build and
sustain life-long marriages.
Marriage Savers, Inc., founded by Mike and Harriet McManus, has
already persuaded the clergy of 110 cities in 37 states to adopt
Marriage Policies," covenants which include Catholic, Mainline and
Evangelical Protestant Churches from up to 30 denominations, that are
bringing divorce rates down dramatically. Modesto, California, the first
city in which 95 clergy signed a Community Marriage Policy in 1986, has
seen its divorce rate fall 30% in 13 years. Peoria's divorces fell 22% in
More recent cities with a covenant have gotten a higher percentage
of pastors involved and better press -- have seen even more rapid declines
in divorces. Nationally, U.S. divorces fell only 1.3% in 19 years (from
1,179,000 in 1979 to 1,163,000 in 1997). By contrast, in a single year,
divorces plunged 14% in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 15% in Evansville, Indiana
and 21% in Dalton, Georgia. Thus, those cities' divorces are plummeting
11-16 times faster than the United States in one-nineteenth of the time,
200-300 times the US rate. Divorces also fell 35% in Kansas City, Kansas
(and its suburbs) from 1,530 in 1995 to only 1,001 in 1997.
In a Community Marriage Policy, clergy agree to require rigorous
marriage preparation over a four-month period that involves taking a
"premarital inventory," a questionnaire of more than 150 questions and
meeting with an older solidly married Mentor Couple" four-five evenings to
discuss the issues on the inventory. Mentors also train couples how to
improve their communication and conflict resolution skills. Clergy are
also agreeing to train "back-from-the- brink" couples whose marriages once
nearly failed, to help those now considering divorce to reconsider. The
model is analogous to Alcoholics Anonymous, in which people who have
conquered their drinking problems tell the currently addicted of their
steps back to sobriety.
The "Manual to Create a Marriage Savers Church" gives step-by-step
suggestions on how to create a mentoring program to help couples be
successful at every stage of the marital life cycle -- from selecting a
mate, revitalizing an existing marriage to restoring a troubled one.
However the Manual is not for sale; it is only given during two days of
training by Marriage Savers.
Mike McManus is not a member of the clergy or a counselor, but is
journalist. He is a former TIME magazine correspondent who has been a
syndicated columnist since 1977. His column, "Ethics & Religion" is
syndicated by The New York Times, and appears in 60 newspapers. He and
wife, Harriet, have been leading marriage preparation at Fourth
Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD since 1992.
He is also the author of four books on marriage such as Marriage
Savers: Helping Your Friends and Family Avoid Divorce and Marriage
Insurance: 25 Proven Ways To Prevent Divorce. His work at Marriage Savers
has been featured on four major TV networks in the United States, ABC'
"World News Tonight", NBC's Nightly News, CBS' "48 Hours, PBS, "Oprah,"
on BBC and CBC. Articles have appeared about it in TIME, Newsweek, U.S.
News & World Report, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles
Times, Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer and hundreds of other
"Around the Coalition" shares information on marriage and divorce and on
skills-based educational approaches. Opinions expressed are not
necessarily shared by members of the Coalition.
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