Gov Keating Seminar Examines Marriage -Oklahoma 3/23/99
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Wed Mar 24 23:36:18 EST 1999
Seminar Examines Marriage
03/23/1999 By Paul English Capitol Bureau
Some 24 million children in the United States will go to bed tonight
without a father in the house to read them a bedtime story or get them a
glass of water, the president of the National Fatherhood Institute told
Oklahomans on Monday.
Wade Horn urged those attending the Governor and First Lady's Conference
on Marriage to focus on the devastating effects of divorce on children.
Other guest speakers provided statistics showing the effect that divorce
often has on a child -- from poorer health and lower grades to violent
The 200 participants in the daylong meeting at the pavilion on the
grounds of the Governor's Mansion also heard about ways to enhance
marriage and reduce divorce rates.
Gov. Frank Keating said in his inaugural speech that he wants the state
to reduce its divorce rate one-third by 2010. Oklahoma has the second-
highest divorce rate in the nation.
"There is no other governor that has taken on promotion of marriage,"
Jerry Regier, Keating's secretary for health and human services,
introduced the Keatings, saying, "They've been a tremendous model to the
state of Oklahoma in terms of their marriage and their family."
First lady Cathy Keating replied, "I'm thrilled to be chairing this with
my best friend whom I happen to be married to for over 26 years, and ours
is a work in progress. It's not perfect.
"It always makes me a little nervous when someone says they've been a
good model, because it's been a lot of ups and downs over the years."
She said she and her husband have been helped by "a steadfast commitment
to make it work and our love for each other, but it's not perfect."
The day's final speaker, David Ferguson of Intimate Life Ministries in
Austin, Texas, said he was pleased that the first lady described her
marriage as a work in progress.
"None of us has got this all figured out; we're all in it together," he
Ferguson said parents need to let children know that relationships take
time and struggle, but they're worth it.
Belinda Biscoe of Higher Horizons said many Oklahomans marry at a very
young age, a group that has a higher than average divorce rate.
Some people blame the high divorce rate in Oklahoma on an "old frontier
mentality," which approaches a problem with a "my way or the highway"
attitude, she said
Biscoe said Oklahoma does not collect much data about divorces. She said
having data would help officials develop a solution to the problem.
Nationally, women file 75 percent of divorce cases. The top two reasons
cited for divorces are a spouse's drinking and untrustworthiness.
Conference participants suggested a variety of possible actions to
promote marriage, including:
Require premarital counseling.
Have ministers in a community adopt a policy that they will not marry
couples who haven't had premarital counseling.
Mark laws "family friendly," particularly tax and welfare laws.
Repeal the state's "no fault" divorce law.
Raise the awareness level of Oklahomans about the value of marriage to
strengthen the culture.
Slow down the process of getting into and getting out of a marriage.
Require mediation in divorce cases.
Teach young people the value of commitment to vows.
Pat Fagan of the Heritage Foundation said for 100 children born in 1950,
12 children were born into a broken family in that year.
"In 1993, ... for every 100 children born, 58 enter a broken family. It's
probably 60 now," he said.
"These are children suffering essentially what I would call the
alienation of their parents."
More information about the SmartMarriages