Boiling Mad/Rituals/Marriage-Ed Courses Sweeping Campuses -9/2/03
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Tue Sep 2 11:33:37 EDT 2003
subject: Boiling Mad/Rituals/Marriage-Ed Courses Sweeping Campuses -9/2/03
from: Smart Marriages®
- BOILING MAD ABOUT MCMANUS ARTICLE
- WEDDING RITUALS
- MARRIAGE-ED COURSES SWEEPING CAMPUSES
- BOILING MAD ABOUT MCMANUS ARTICLE
I received a dozen or so commentaries on the McManus article that share
these sentiments. I'll let this one speak for the many. - diane
> "The core black problem is that few marry. In fact, that situation has
> deteriorated. In 1970 only 20.6 percent of blacks had never married. In 2000
> the percent doubled to 39.4. In 1970, two-thirds of blacks were married.
> Today only a third are.
> White discrimination has nothing to do with this self-inflicted wound."
The above comments by Mike McManus (Martin Luther King's Dream: Crippled by
Non-Marriage - 8/28/03), in relation to the marriage rate amongst
African Americans, has me boiling!!!
White discrimination may not be the issue, but racism is, has been, and
continues to be a huge culprit.
1. Welfare rules that mandated women be single and receive no financial
support from the father. Work rules that required social workers to
inspect the homes of welfare recipients to make sure that no man was in the
In theory, welfare was intended as a safety net for needy families. So why
mandate single parenthood to qualify?!? [In fact, many initial welfare
families did remain intact, divorcing on paper only or signaling to the men
when it was not "safe" to enter the home.] However, the subsequent
generations of welfare recipients were not as fortunate. Perhaps a social
policy directed as household income rather than marital status may not have
provided an incentive for young women to bear children out of wedlock or
for fathers to abdicate their responsibility for providing for their
2. A criminal justice system that is biased in the arrest, conviction, and
sentencing of minorities.... biased against the poor in general, has
narrowed the "marriage pool" for African American women considerably.
These are just two off the top of my head. I can cite many more ways in
which slavery, racism, and discriminatory social policy has worked to erode
the foundation of African American families in this country over time. I
don't mean to preach. I enjoy reading this list immensely.
But the above comment was beyond the pail. No one disputes that marriage
is important and beneficial, for EVERYONE. But to imply that somehow
African Americans in this country have "self inflicted" this wound is
completely uninformed and incorrect.
And while we are on the subject, valuing marriage, making marriage work,
and keeping families intact is a challenge for all ethnic groups in this
country, not just African Americans!!! Which, to me indicates a larger
social problem, not a core problem of any one group.
Adrianne_McBride at irco.com
- WEDDING RITUALS
> The DJ at my son's wedding did something similar to Bill Doherty's story about
> playing the anniversary waltz at the wedding reception. As the longest
> married couple was left standing (my aunt and uncle who have been married 62
> years) - he asked them what advice they might give as to the secret of what
> makes a good, lasting marriage. My uncle did a wonderful job and included the
> ability to admit when one is wrong and say "I'm sorry" even when you think you
> were only 10% wrong; learning to laugh at ourselves and not take life too
> seriously. It was a wonderful tribute to them and an affirmation of marriage.
> And, at the rehearsal dinner, we took few moments of silence and then as a
> part of a prayer of blessing we called out the names of those who could not
> be in attendance (either deceased or for some other reason not able to
> attend). It reminded us of the importance those persons and the influence
> they have had and will continue to have on us and on the newlyweds as they
> begin their lives together.
> Bea Haledjian
MARRIAGE-ED COURSES SWEEPING CAMPUSES
September 1, 2003
By Frances Whittelsey
Marriage classes that attract mainly women are sprouting up on U.S.
campuses. The trend is part of an initiative led by the Bush administration,
with bipartisan congressional support, to try to lower the divorce rate and
encourage people to marry.
(WOMENSENEWS)--This fall, the students in Becky Adams' college class on
marriage--more than 80 percent of them female--will quickly be taught that
much of what they believe about marriage is a myth.
"They believe that love is all you need, that they'll never be angry with
their partners, that marriage will give them an identity," said Adams, a
professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., charged with teaching
four sections of her popular class. Adams will be informing her students
that conflict in marriage is inevitable and predictable. Finances, in-laws
and the first baby are top areas of conflict and the key to weathering them
is learning how to communicate and negotiate.
Ball State is one of a growing number of institutions of higher learning
that have added academic courses on marriage. A list compiled by Dr. Dennis
Lowe, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.,
indicates that 49 colleges and universities now offer such courses.
The movement to add them began about 10 years ago and has picked up momentum
in the past five years. The titles of the classes range from "Close
Relationships" at Amherst College, in Amherst, Mass., to "Intimate
Relationships and Gender Roles," at Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y.
Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., is offering "Marriage 101:
Building Loving and Lasting Partnerships," that, according to the course
description, is intended to serve as "a means to relationship enhancement
and as a 'primary prevention,' a sort of immunization against serious
marital troubles and divorce in later life."
The trend is part of a broad national movement, led by the Bush
administration with bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress, to try to lower
the divorce rate and encourage people to marry.
Classes Offer 'Road Map' to Success
A young couple marrying today has a 40 percent lifetime risk of divorce,
said Dr. Scott M. Stanley, a professor at the University of Denver and
co-developer of one of the most widely used marriage education curricula,
known as PREP, or the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program.
Proponents say their support of marriage classes is not motivated by
moralistic criticism of divorce, extramarital cohabitation or gay
relationships. They say that marriage skills are worth teaching simply
because statistics show married people and their children to be healthier,
happier and financially more secure than families split by divorce. "Whole
families disintegrate with divorce and it affects generations of children,"
said Diane Sollee, director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and
Couples Education, in Washington, D.C., and organizer of the "7th Annual
Smart Marriages/Happy Families Conference" in Reno, Nev., last June.
Young people, she continued, can "change their odds (of divorce), and get
smart about what to expect. We have very good road maps to hand them and can
tell them about the behaviors that will lead to success."
Not everyone, however, agrees that marriage is what makes people healthy,
wealthy and wise.
Pamela J. Smock, associate professor of sociology at the University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor, said that many scholars believe the correlation between
marriage, health and happiness is due to people with good economic prospects
and higher levels of education choosing to marry in the first place.
"If we want to encourage marriage," she said, "we have to make sure people
have stable jobs and high enough levels of income."
Federal Welfare Law to Fund More Marriage Promotion
Bill Coffin, special assistant for marriage education within the federal
Administration for Children and Families, said that pending congressional
welfare legislation could spur more colleges to add marriage-ed classes. If
passed, that legislation would mean that $300 million was available for
marriage promotion and education in a variety of venues, including colleges,
high schools and even prisons, Coffin said.
Some colleges and universities, however, have been reluctant to add the
courses, feeling they lack academic rigor, said John Wu, associate professor
of psychology at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and a
co-moderator of a workshop at the June conference in Reno.
Some feminists, legal scholars and social scientists also view marriage
promotion with suspicion, particularly as it applies to women on welfare.
Linda C. McClain, professor of law at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.,
said the underlying premise is that poor people with better families won't
need so much government support.
"Poor women marrying poor men is not the solution to poverty," said McClain,
an organizer of a marital-law conference at Hofstra last spring.
Coffin noted that the goal is not to keep people in unhappy marriages.
"Divorce is not necessarily a bad thing--some people should get divorced,"
he said. "But many people believe that the divorce rate is too high and that
some of that is preventable because people don't have the information
necessary to thrive."
Diane Sollee, in fact, said she believes "it's possible to get the
(marriage) failure rate down to 10 percent in seven years if we can let
people know what we know about marriage."
Two of the earliest pioneers of college-marriage education are Drs. Les and
Leslie Parrott. They have been teaching such courses for 10 years at Seattle
Pacific University in Seattle. Like Becky Adams' classes at Ball State, the
Parrotts' classes are very popular, with 250 students enrolled and a waiting
'Marriage Rallies' on Oklahoma Campuses
When former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating decided in 1999 to put $10
million into a comprehensive marriage-education effort, he invited the
Parrotts to take up residence in Oklahoma, for a fee of $250,000, and to
hold "marriage rallies" at the state's college campuses. Consultants had
convinced state officials that cutting the divorce rate was a way to improve
The Parrotts, co-authors of "Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts," spoke
at more than 20 Oklahoma colleges, letting the students know, for example,
that there's a shift away from the "starry-eyed experience of dating" after
marriage, according to Les Parrott. "We know from research that the man's
focus goes from wooing the woman to making a living," he said, "but many
times couples feel they married the wrong person because they don't have the
same passion they started with."
One of the problems with campus marriage-education efforts, however, is that
enrollment is "predominantly female," according to Pepperdine's Lowe, a fact
that Becky Adams bears out. "In a class of 45, I may have eight men," said
Adams, the Ball State professor. "I'm trying to encourage more males to
enroll, but our society's expectation is that women are the ones who make
Indeed, a 2001 study of the attitudes of college women indicated that while
83 percent viewed being married as "a very important goal." Yet, the
respondents believed their male counterparts had a very different viewpoint.
Only 61 percent agreed strongly or somewhat with the statement: "There
aren't many guys here who want a committed relationship." The study,
conducted by the Institute for American Values, a nonprofit think tank in
New York City, was based on a telephone survey of a representative sample of
1,000 college women, supplemented by in-depth interviews with 62 women on 11
Frances Cerra Whittelsey is the co-author of "Women Pay More: And How to Put
a Stop to It," and writes about women's issues, the environment, consumer
problems and travel from her home in Huntington, N.Y.
Sidebar: For more information:
Council on Contemporary Families:
Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program:
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