Teaching about Marriage can be a challenge sometimes because you want to give the students an understanding of the Sacrament while not offending those whose loved ones are divorced, live together, or are remarried outside of the Church. How can you teach the students why it is important to prepare for strong marriages without seeming to condemn students’ families?
There are multiple ways of being sensitive and using “objective” data about marriage is one of them. “Secular” scholars conduct multiple studies on marriage in the USA, and much of what they find supports Church teaching about the importance of marriage and the potential dangers of cohabitation. Some studies also mention the economic impact of various relationships on adults and children.
Secular Studies on Marriage
The National Marriage Project regularly publishes The State of Our Unions, Marriage in America (SOU) studies. The final section of the 2012 document, “Social Indicators of Marital Health & Well-being, Trends of the Past Five Decades,” provides statistics about marriage, divorce, unmarried cohabitation, the role of the child, fragile families and information about teen attitudes about marriage and family.
Although the National Marriage Week Website can point you to some in-depth research, it also has some shorter resources that can help discussions such as the two page summary of Why Marriage Matters, Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences, Third Edition, and “The Ten Myths of Divorce.”
Ideas for Using the Resources
• You may want to use the information in the State of Our Unions to compare their own hopes to the 88 percent of American teens who wanted to marry someday. (SOU, p. 107)
• Ask if their experience corresponds with the data that married adults are happier than single, widowed, or divorced adults. (Over 60 percent of married people said that they were “very happy” in their marriages.) (SOU, pp. 62, 68)
• See if they agree with the statistics that say that children and their issues are receiving less attention than they did in the past. (SOU, pp. 84 – 88)
• Look at the handout, “The Top Ten Myths About Divorce” with your students and ask them to compare some of the information against their own life experience.
• Ask students, Why would a couple live together rather than marry? Do you think that living together benefits both men and women equally? Do children benefit equally when their parents’ live together and when they marry? (SOU, pp. 76 – 78)
• Ask them to think about why married people are wealthier than their single counterparts? (SOU, pp. 79-83)
As a summary, you may then want to strategize with them about the best steps to take going forward to increase their chances of having a successful marriage.