Archive for the ‘Divorce’ Category

Marriage is Dead? The Case against “The Case Against Marriage”

In Abstinence, Child Development, Choice, Cohabitation, Divorce, Families, Feminism, Free Speech, Freedom, Government, Health Care, Marriage, Media, Meet UFI, Parenting, Research, Sexual Freedom, Single Mothers, The Family, Values on July 7, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Newly Married Couple ca. 2003

“Marriage is dead,”. . . or, at least,  no longer necessary was the Nietzchean-like declaration of two young, female writers in Newsweek.  In an article entitled “The Case Against Marriage,” Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison lay-out with dismissive nonchalance, and not a small amount of arrogance, the various reasons that they, and women like them no longer need marriage. “Once upon a time, marriage made sense,” they write.

“It was how women ensured their financial security, got the father of their children to stick around, and gained access to a host of legal rights. But 40 years after the feminist movement established women’s rights in the workplace, a generation after the divorce rate peaked, and a decade after Sex and the City made singledom chic, marriage is–from a legal and practical standpoint, anyway–no longer necessary.”

Well, from a “legal standpoint,” they may be correct. With the advent of no-fault divorce, and a growing welfare state, singledom is no longer legally disadvantaged, and as they claim, may be advantaged in some ways. However, from every other standpoint–practical or otherwise–they could not be further from the truth. Legal structures and societal trends may obscure this fact, but the truth is traditional marriage benefits everyone–men, women, children, and as a result, society. Marriage is in fact necessary. Why? Simply put: because marriage produces the best results for society and especially for women.

The danger is that the “Marriage is dead” crowd, so aptly represented by Bennett and Ellison, is getting louder, and with changes in public policy increasingly disadvantaging the married, and society increasingly glorifying “chic singledom” this crowd is becoming more persuasive. Fortunately, the facts are on the side of marriage. So please indulge us as we take on Bennett and Ellison, point by point, in our case against “the case against marriage.”

  1. Marriage is no longer necessary for child-rearing or, at least, society no longer expects women to be married to have children. Bennett and Ellison point out that the social stigma against marriage disappeared a long time ago, with 41 percent of births being to unmarried mothers. They also make the claim that this can be an advantage, for in Scandinavia, where unmarried parents are the norm, parents actually spend more time with their children. What Bennett and Ellison seem to forget are outcomes.

Yes, the social stigma against single parents may be gone, but the negative consequences for children are not. Study after study has shown that children living with a married mom and dad are better off. They are more likely to have better health, fewer behavioral and emotional problems, better cognitive and verbal development and greater education and job attainment. All the statistics are clear, traditional marriage is better for children.

As for the parent with child time ratio, if their facts are correct, Scandinavia would be the exception, an exception enabled by a cradle-to-grave welfare state in which the government compensates for the financial and social instability inherent to unmarried child-rearing. The more children are raised out of wedlock, the more government welfare programs are needed to compensate. That is a simple fact. And with government debt rising around the world, this is a responsibility most governments simply cannot afford.

  1. Marriage is no longer necessary to engage in sexual relations. It is true that many, some would argue most, no longer wait until marriage to engage in sexual intercourse. Bennett and Ellison fairly accurately, if a bit glibly, express the general attitude: “And the idea that we’d ‘save ourselves’ for marriage? Please.” Yet, as mainstream as this attitude may be, it is not one they should be touting as a reason to dispose of marriage.

No matter what societal mores may be, pre-marital sex leads to negative outcomes. It leads to more out-of-wedlock childbearing, more STDs, more violence in relationships, more mental and emotional trauma to women, and cohabitation contributes to a higher divorce rate–and that’s just the short list of the “contributions” of pre-martial sex. There is nothing about this trend that is healthy and good for society.

  1. Government programs and legislation no longer benefit the married, and probably advantage the single. Bennett and Ellison rightly point out that under current governmental policy; it sometimes doesn’t pay to be married. Unmarried couples have nearly all the rights of married couples, “federal law favors unmarried taxpayers . . . and under President Obama’s health plan, low-earning single people get better subsidies to buy insurance.”

But the duo forgets to mention that 75 percent of the $150+ billion dollars spent annually on various government welfare programs goes directly to single parents and individuals in non-traditional relationships. On the other hand, marriage is financially advantageous in nearly every other way. Here’s just a few facts:

– Marriage increases wealth over one’s lifetime. Among couples who marry and stay married, their net worth increases on average by 16 percent with each year. Over a lifetime that is, on average, a 93 percent increase in wealth over those who remain single.

– For those in poverty, particularly, marriage is even more important financially. According to one study, seventy percent of never-married mothers would be able to escape poverty if they were married to the father of their children.

No government program can tout such success in alleviating poverty. So government programs may not directly benefit the married, but the married are still better off financially, even without tax breaks.

  1. Women are not happier in marriage. Well, this one is just blatantly false. If you would like to talk superficially about marriage, as Bennett and Ellison do, you can certainly cite enough male shortcomings to discourage any woman from wanting to marry. But the truth of the matter is evidence indicates that both men and women are happier in marriage. Statistics show that married people are happier and wealthier than widowed, divorced, separated, or never-married people across the board. And not only are women happier in marriage, they also experience lower levels of violence, poverty, depression and emotional trauma. Not to mention, they also enjoy better sex lives and live longer than single women. So the amount of housework they do weekly may increase due to the simple fact of being married to a man, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
  2. Humans are not made to stay together for a lifetime, as illustrated by soaring divorce rates. “With our life expectancy in the high 70s,” write Bennett and Ellison, “the idea that we’re meant to be together forever is less realistic. . . . Healthy partnerships are possible, for sure–but the permanence of marriage seems naive, almost arrogant.” Let us suggest that what is “arrogant,” is assuming humans are not equipped for lifetime commitment (against centuries’ worth of evidence to the contrary) on the evidence that we are living a little longer and divorcing more often.

The truth is extended longevity accounts for only a tiny fraction of the increase in divorce from 1965 to 1980. And more importantly, over 70 percent of all people who have ever been married are STILL married to the same person. The other 30 percent are part of a marry-divorce, remarry-divorce, remarry-divorce pattern that drives the overall divorce rate to around 50 percent.

So perhaps a more accurate diagnosis of the problem is not human nature, but the unrealistic expectations on the part of a minority who continue to marry and remarry. Bennett and Ellison, themselves, identify that expectations of marriage have changed. “Young people today don’t want their parents’ marriage, says Tara Parker-Pope, the author of For Better–they want all-encompassing, head-over-heels fulfillment: a best friend, a business partner, somebody to share sex, love, and chores. In other words, a “soul mate”–which is what 94 percent of singles in their 20s describe what they look for in a partner.” Such expectation would doom any relationship to failure because they are based on selfish gratification which is a number one contributor to divorce. Seventy percent of the population has learned that real fulfillment comes through years of sacrifice and service as soul mates are created–not found!


Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison in “The Case Against Marriage,” aren’t the first to set out to disprove the benefits of marriage. In fact, such attempts are almost as old as marriage itself. A very inclusive study of this nature was attempted by a well known anthropologist of the early 1900’s named Joseph Daniel Unwin. He too set out to prove that marriage was irrelevant and even harmful. In his research he chronicled the historical decline of 86 different cultures and was forced to conclude that only marriage with fidelity could lead to cultural prosperity. In fact, he said, “Once a society departs from a social norm of absolute marital monogamy, social chaos ensues within three generations!”

United Families International acknowledges Unwin’s findings and we dedicate large amounts of time and efforts in protecting the institution of traditional marriage as the most basic unit of society around the world. Join us in this effort!

To see a list of studies documenting the importance of marriage as discussed above, go here. Or visit UFI’s website to see UFI’s Guides to Family Issues: The Marriage Advantage and our guide discussing the impact of Cohabitation.

How does a same-sex marriage harm your heterosexual marriage? Here’s how.

In Child Development, Divorce, Families, Gender Identity, Homosexuality, Marriage, Parenting, Same-Sex Marriage, The Family, Values on June 30, 2015 at 6:11 am

The happy “same-sex family” is more often than not built upon the back of a destroyed mother/father heterosexual family. 

In the same-sex marriage debate, how often have you heard this snarkily-delivered question:  “Well, how does a same-sex marriage harm your heterosexual marriage?”  With the obvious answer to be:  “Of course, there isn’t any harm…”  But writer Janna Darnelle shows us very clearly the consequences to marriage in her very sobering article entitled:

gay announcementBreaking the Silence: Redefining Marriage Hurts Women Like Me – and Our Children

By Janna Darnelle

The news is full of happy stories of gay and lesbian couples and their new families. But behind those big smiles and sunny photographs are other, more painful stories. These are left to secret, dark places. They are suppressed, and those who would tell them are silenced in the name of “marriage equality.”

But I refuse to be silent.

I represent one of those real life stories that are kept in the shadows. I have personally felt the pain and devastation wrought by the propaganda that destroys natural families.

The Divorce

In the fall of 2007, my husband of almost ten years told me that he was gay and that he wanted a divorce. In an instant, the world that I had known and loved—the life we had built together—was shattered.

I tried to convince him to stay, to stick it out and fight to save our marriage. But my voice, my desires, my needs—and those of our two young children—no longer mattered to him. We had become disposable, because he had embraced one tiny word that had become his entire identity. Being gay trumped commitment, vows, responsibility, faith, fatherhood, marriage, friendships, and community. All of this was thrown away for the sake of his new identity.

Try as I might to save our marriage, there was no stopping my husband. Our divorce was not settled in mediation or with lawyers. No, it went all the way to trial. My husband wanted primary custody of our children. His entire case can be summed up in one sentence: “I am gay, and I deserve my rights.” It worked: the judge gave him practically everything he wanted. At one point, he even told my husband, “If you had asked for more, I would have given it to you.”  Read the rest of the article at Public Discourse



Forests and Families

In Child Development, Choice, Divorce, Drug Use, Education, Families, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Religion, Sanctity of Life, Schools, The Family, Values on June 12, 2015 at 7:29 am

family in forrestby Tom Christensen

When driving through the arid national pine forests of Montana, Colorado, Utah and Arizona, one cannot help but notice large numbers of dead trees.   Mountain pine beetles about the size of a grain of rice bore into, lay their eggs, feed on and protect themselves in the soft phloem of an older tree, creating a deadly girdle cutting off the transmission of nutrients to the rest of the tree.

Vulnerable pine trees infested by the beetles quickly turn orange and die.  Abandoning a dead tree for one living, pine beetles spread from one tree to another until there are no mature trees left.  Literally millions of acres of pine forest have been destroyed in this manner.

Bark beetle infestation is a symptom of a sick forest already weakened by draught, disease and the aging process.  Pine trees when young and healthy have a natural internal defense mechanism against bark beetles.  They produce a pitch substance that encapsulates or drowns the beetles; and the beetles naturally avoid them.  When the trees grow older and are weakened by draught or disease, they are unable to stave off the beetles.

Bark Beetle.jpgA pine forest cannot be protected from the beetle by impractical artificial means, such as the regular injection of insecticide into trees, or by waiting for unreasonable natural means to destroy the beetles, such as extreme cold weather or forest fire.  The best approach is to steadily “replenish” the forest by planting and nurturing a fresh supply of seedlings and younger pine stock.

Not only are the scores of dead trees unsightly, the non-reproducing dead trees contribute to soil erosion, mud slides and flash floods.  The dead trees also affect wildlife habitat, food chains, and a broad range of ecosystems.

The Devastation of the Natural Family

Like a majestic ponderosa or lodge pole pine forest, the future of an entire civilization turns on the health and strength of its families.  The greatest hope for society is the formation of impenetrable unions of strong, capable men and women who honor their marital covenants, care for their own, and produce a steady supply of young ones prepared to carry on the fight for life, liberty, and the family.

 Forest After Bark Beetle 2.jpg
The internal defense system of an enduring society is a stable family structure, elevated moral standards, and a willingness among parents to “multiply and replenish the earth.”  Like a pine forest, a human society is replenished when the older population renews itself with healthy, responsible young people who marry and continue the cycle of life.

On the other hand, a family’s internal defense system can be weakened by narcissistic dysfunction, addictions and attitudes.    Like pine beetles, negative social policies and conventions (such as those that disfavor traditional marriage, religion, childbearing and responsible parenthood), feed on families under stress.  However, unlike bark beetles, they target the young as well as the old.

Similar to the death and destruction of millions of acres of pine forests, the effects of the weakening and dissolution of families throughout the world are plain to see.  Nations depopulate, crime rates rise, schools fail, quality of life declines, and economies sink.

Preserving the World’s Families

What can be done to protect the health of the world’s families?

Family Working Together.jpgFirst, each family must strengthen its own internal defenses and immunities.  Stable families can resist those who would destroy them if they are well-organized, self-sufficient, and put their marriage and children first.  The best protections include living by a consistent code of rules and expectations; practicing forgiveness, integrity, thrift and industry; communicating with and loving each other; and playing, working, and worshipping together.

Second, individuals, families, communities and nations must resist harmful external influences such as media, policy, institutions, and peer influences that seek to penetrate them.  They must acknowledge that high-sounding policies of government paternalism, anti-capitalism, and moral relativism stunt economic growth and opportunity and destroy lives, families, and personal initiative.  Government policy too often addresses the symptoms of family decline rather than the causes of it.

Parents are the first line of defense.  Next comes the faith institutions, the school and university, and the community.  In some settings such as the United Nations, the opposition is so vast and organized that one cannot fight these battles alone.  To provide an effective voice of reason, families, churches and organizations must join with others, including professionals, to influence policymakers and to shape policies at distant, unreported venues.

In summary, the stakes are too high and the potential destruction too devastating to allow the enemy of the family free reign.  For a society to flourish, the limits of government must be understood, mature families must be replenished and strengthened from within, and the common characteristics and vulnerabilities of those who would destroy the family must be clearly identified. 

Strong Families Will End Poverty

In Abortion, Child Development, Choice, Cohabitation, Courts, Diane Robertson, Divorce, Drug Use, Education, Families, father, Free Speech, Government, Marriage, Religion, Religious Freedom, Same-Sex Marriage, Sanctity of Life, Single Mothers, The Family, Values on May 27, 2015 at 8:30 am

poverty stop itby Diane Robertson

During a panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, President Obama, and Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam chided Christian religious organizations for focusing too heavily on “divisive issues” such as abortion and gay marriage.

The New York Times reported that President Obama, “chided religious organizations for sometimes focusing too heavily on issues like abortion rather than keeping the pressure on politicians to confront poverty.”

President Obama said, “This is oftentimes viewed as a nice-to-have relative to an issue like abortion…I think that there’s more power to be had there, a more transformative voice that’s available around these issues.”

The Washington Post reported that Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam, went even further. Referring to Catholics and Evangelicals, he said that they “are the two largest faith communities in America. They have historically been involved in the public square. They’ve been emphasizing homosexuality and abortion and issues related to sex. If they employ the same strengths that religious institutions have on behalf of poor kids as they have on other issues, it would make a real difference.”

What President Obama and Mr. Putnam misunderstand is that religious institutions strengthen families, and strong families beat poverty. Marriage reduces the likelihood of childhood poverty by 82%. The Heritage Foundation reported that:

“Most poor children live in single-parent families. Seventy-one percent of poor families with children are headed by single parents, mostly single mothers. Compared to children raised in an intact family, children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; and drop out of high school.”

This means that the Christian religions focusing on marriage and the right to life fight poverty in a very real and meaningful way. The government already gives money to the poor, and has been for almost a century. But that has not gotten rid of poverty. Teaching the people about marriage, counseling with them, and helping them with the knowledge and resources to maintain strong marriages and families will give the people the resources they need to get themselves out of poverty.

The divisive issues of gay marriage and abortion are intimately related to family. Strong families believe in the right to life, and strong families lead the world in the fight against poverty.

How My Family Fell Apart

In Child Development, Divorce, Uncategorized on May 6, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Author’s name with held by request

divorce, split in twoOn October 26th, 2013 a phone call changed my world forever and caused me to reevaluate just how much my family had been impacted by my parent’s divorce. “I have terrible news,” my father said–a phrase that would prove to be a gross understatement. The night before, my younger brother, who was only 16 years old, had committed suicide in my father’s home. Unfortunately the years leading up to his death were difficult, as my brother had been the center of a custody battle that caused him great distress.

My parents divorced when I was a toddler and my brother was just an infant. Through the years I felt confused as my father was framed as the ‘bad guy’, and I let myself believe this for a while until one day I decided to form my own opinion of my father. I have tried to be more open minded, and even though this decision created a greater bond with my brother, it sadly created distance between me, my sisters and mom. As in many divorce situations, I felt torn between family members.

Even though at the beginning my mother had custody of us, my father always wanted one or more of us to live with him. When my mother needed to move out of state, my father decided to fight for custody of my brother, claiming that all teenage boys need their father. Even though in theory I believe this to be true, part of me felt that perhaps it was pride that drove my father’s decision.

At the beginning of what I refer to as “the war,” my mom fought diligently for my brother as he had informed her that he wanted to live with her. Things slowed down for a little, but soon my dad fought for custody with much more vigor, which led to my brother deciding to give my dad a chance. This decision though changed things even more in my family as my mother felt betrayed because she had spent so much time, money and effort in fighting for custody of him, as that had initially been my brother’s desire. This escalated tense feeling among family members and unfortunately my brother had to deal with pressure from both sides as he knew that no matter what he did – he couldn’t win or please everyone.

When my dad came to pick him up after the custody settlement, my mother sent my brother with only the clothes he wore and flip flops on his feet. I think she meant it as a way to get at my dad, but I doubt my brother saw it this way. My brother was an example of how children can get caught in the crossfire of divorce. When I say that I know firsthand the heartache, pain, and suffering that can come from divorce, it’s because I have experienced it.

The morning that I got the “terrible news” from my dad, I nearly fell apart. Some may say my case is extreme, and I wish that were totally true, but a study conducted by Franklyn Nelson concluded that, “A study of teen suicides in California [that] found that in 52 percent of the cases investigated, the decedent’s parents were divorced or separated.” This study reveals perhaps depression and other unresolved issues that can occur in a divorced family.

Even though more studies need to be conducted to confirm the connection between suicide and divorce, it is clear that divorce is a key contributor to many serious social issues, including lower GPA’s, decrease in economic security, and increase in emotional distress which can be found in United Families International’s, “Divorce 100 Reasons Not To…”. Regrettably, I witnessed firsthand the impact of each of these areas in my family following the divorce.

I do not want such heartache and pain to be felt by other families. The negative impact on our family caused by the divorce and incredible loss that I felt upon hearing that my brother had committed suicide is something I would never wish on anyone. This experience though has given me the desire to speak up in behalf of the traditional family based upon a mother and father who are faithful to each other.

How can we do this?

One answer starts with a change in us. A change in me took place upon my brother’s death. I realized what selfishness and hatred could create, and the negative domino effect it can cause to family members. This is when I made my decision to forgive and to love. I knew holding a grudge will just add to the cycle. When I made this decision, I felt incredible peace.

What have I learned for my own marriage? I’ve learned to not be selfish. I do my best to not hold a grudge, but to instead put my energy into loving my husband and strengthening my marriage–a marriage which will one day welcome children who will live in a home full of love and acceptance.

Selfishness is something that I believe destroys families. In divorce, people can think of themselves and how hurt they are, while ignoring the hurtful things perhaps that they do. I recognize that divorce may be necessary for some individuals due to particular circumstances; however I tend to believe that many divorces are caused by selfishness.

What if society could let go of this mindset? What if we could stop thinking so much about ourselves and expand to think of others? What if we could think about the future children that will come into this world and what will be best for them? I for one have made it a personal goal to work to forgive more and be less selfish, so that on a smaller scale I can stop this trend in my own family. I invite you to do the same.

Name withheld by request.

Instant Divorce – Mix In & Stir Well

In Divorce on May 1, 2015 at 1:53 pm

By Laura Chesley

Stir wellIt was 1973, deep into the uproar and chaos of the sexual revolution. The winds had begun to shift concerning marriage and families; it was time to hurl the historic chains of domination by men to the ground and take control of personal destiny. Equal Rights was the call sign for every self-respecting feminist and Jimmie was one of them. She gloried in having a name that belonged to men and enjoyed the discord between the name and her bra-less body. She wore the garment of self-fulfillment proudly, proclaiming her right to do as she pleased with her body and her life. The fact that she was married, and had children, wasn’t really an issue. She was determined to shed the oppression of the ages by doing just as she pleased.

At that time her marriage was unsatisfying and her husband, boring. The excitement was gone and what was left was comfortable, but dull. She and her husband had moved to another state only a year earlier, in search of greener grass and brighter rainbows. What she found was the same monotony she’d left in the previous state. Thanks to Ronald Reagan, though, she was considering a quick divorce – severing the ties to her husband without any accusation of wrong doing or fault – and moving on to those greener pastures she’d hoped to find a year before. Surely they were out there.

The History of No-fault Divorce

Prior to 1969 divorce laws required that there be a reason for a marriage to be dissolved. There were a number of legal reasons allowed: adultery, abandonment, drug abuse, neglect, criminal conviction or even mental illness, among others and depending on the state the couple resided. Divorce was a civil process in court, similar to bringing a lawsuit against another person; it required proof and the determination to see it through to the end. It often wasn’t pleasant, but it was an effective brake on ending a relationship too quickly.

In 1969, Ronald Reagan, a staunch social conservative, signed a ‘no-fault’ divorce bill into law in the state of California. He was the first. Many states would soon follow in California’s footsteps, to the unfortunate demise of many marriages. Within approximately 15 years nearly every state had some form of no fault divorce.  California has always prided itself about being progressive and forward thinking; they have a long history of blazing the trail to greater innovation – socially and economically – but this was a social experiment that has failed.

The Whys of No-Fault Divorce

There were many ideas behind no-fault divorce at the time, but one in particular was the main driver: no fault divorce was meant to make the process of divorce easier and less hostile. If no one had to prove the other at fault, it would make the whole break up less messy, less antagonistic, less expensive, and easier on everyone, including children. There was even the idea of a good divorce that floated around certain parts of society. Surely children would be better off with parents who were no longer angry, bitter people.  The legacy of no-fault divorce includes individuals left wondering what happened to their marriage, as they watch their spouse leave them high and dry without firm reasons and with little to no accountability.  The acrimony associated with divorce did not go away; it simply moved into lengthy custody battles and rancor over asset distribution.  No-fault divorce has been a gift to divorce lawyers and the negative impact to children has been incalculable.

During the 1960s and ‘70s the United States experienced a deep social change. The post World War II baby boom generation was growing up in relative prosperity and peace, and given the sexual revolution, relationships were more fluid. It was more about being true to yourself than settling down to raise family – with all the responsibility and duty that entailed. If someone was unhappy, then it was time for a change of scenery or job or relationship – even if that meant divorcing. These feelings of entitlement – to happiness, fulfillment, and contentment – permeated popular culture and made the idea of ending an unsatisfying marriage just another step on the way to finding oneself.

The Result After 46 Years

Divorce, valentine heartMarriages still end in acrimony. Children are still affected by parents who take every opportunity to fight and argue; divorce does not end the contact the parents have with each other. Relationship problems that existed during the marriage continue after the divorce, with the only real remedy being limited contact and emotional maturity.

No-fault divorce solved few problems, but it created many. Before no-fault laws, many women were awarded full custody of the children, ownership of the family home, and alimony. But with the push for equality with the Equal Rights Amendment, newly minted no-fault divorce laws made those economic cushions less commonplace and many newly single mothers found themselves living in poverty. That trend continues today.

What Can Be Done?

Michael J. McManus, president of Marriage Savers, has written about three ways of reforming no-fault divorce laws. They are not perfect solutions, but a good start:

  • Divorcing couples with minor children would be required to have mutual consent to the divorce. One spouse should not have the ability to end a marriage with children on his or her own.
  • A legislative act that is already currently being looked at in twelve states would require that divorcing parents participate in a marriage education course and wait a year before filing formally for the divorce.
  • States would identify a parent who is committed to saving the marriage as the “responsible spouse” and award half to two thirds custody of the children and as much as 100 percent of the family’s economic assets.

There may be another way to overcome the negative affects of no-fault divorce laws, but it is relatively new. Three states (Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana) have created a legally distinct type of marriage. In Arizona the requirement is a statement that must contain three things:

  • A specific proscribed statement acknowledging that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, proof that the couple has participated in premarital counseling, and the signatures of both people, witnessed by a court clerk.

Covenant marriage statutes don’t ensure that marriages will last, but it is an attempt to roll back some of what’s happened since no-fault divorce laws changed the landscape. It is worth a try.


I am the daughter of Jimmie. She was successful in getting her much-wanted, no-fault divorce from my father, but never found the greener pastures. The easy come, easy go siren call of marriage and divorce was a sham. There were no perfect men, or marriages for that matter, out there. She is currently married to her fifth husband, though this one will most likely be the last. The entitlement attitude has faded, replaced by a marriage in its 16th year. Her life is filled with predictability and general comfort, the best to be had now that she’s in her 70s. It’s been a long road, this path she’s trod, in the search for herself. Unfortunately, her choices left broken hearts and homes in her wake, but the tide has turned – she’s learned and settled down. It appears she has finally come to understand that there are no short cuts to finding happiness.

Laura ChesleyLaura Chesley is a wife, mother and grandmother. She is currently a student at BYU-Idaho majoring in Marriage & Family Studies. She anticipates graduating in July 2015 and beginning the Masters in Social Work program at Arizona State University in August. She and her husband, Phil, have been married 31 years and enjoy being grandparents to 7 amazing young people.

What’s My Role? – The Grandparent Dilemma… or Opportunity?

In Child Development, Divorce, Education, Families, father, Grandparents, Health Care, Media, Parental Rights, Parenting, Sanctity of Life, Technology, The Family, Values on April 13, 2015 at 6:30 am

Grandpa and grandsonby Chuck Malone

Indeed one of the most fascinating, albeit frustrating, challenges facing any family unit is trying to understand and adjust to changing roles. The constant challenge to the definition of family in today’s changing environment makes that challenge even more difficult.

In a nutshell, let me set the stage for the object of this blog – “the grandparent.” What do we do with them? What does it mean to be without them? Who loses if they are not in our children’s lives?

My children had grandparents during their childhood years, but my parents struggled with that role. They were so careful not to interfere, that they became almost ghost-like; appearing and then almost as fast… disappearing, leaving evidence of their visit in the form of gifts, food, and/or a little chat about “what’s new with the kids?” Or “you are pregnant… again?”

My wife’s mother on the other hand was made to be a grandmother. She loved her grandchildren as much, or more, than her own children… and treated them as such.

So now my wife and I are “the grandparents.” Interesting, isn’t it, how fast time flies? I got to thinking about what makes someone a good grandparent “now that I are one,” with the goal of discovering some qualities that I don’t now possess, and work toward getting better at understanding my role, because I have to admit… I am lost here!

Because I had never been a grandparent before, and even now after 17 years of practice I still consider myself lost when it comes to understanding my role… so I looked into the fountain of all wisdom – the “Internet.”

What I found was like reading a daytime soap opera. Grandparent
estrangement? Narcissism? Increasing divorce rate among grandparents? Grandchildren

being raised by grandparents because the adult parent-child is not responsible enough to care for his/her own children? On and on…


As disturbing as it was, however, to read about this drama enveloping the family unit, it was even more disturbing to learn that the majority of those polled agreed that having grandparents in their children’s lives had benefit, but they didn’t know how to extract it.

So when both sides of the conflict are confused, no wonder we have, as one writer put it, “erosion within the family unit.”

Ok, I’m going to get personal here on the bet that at least a few readers of this UFI blog will relate. I’ve had my hands slapped several times because I overstepped the boundary of my YouAreNotTheParentofMyChildren status. I didn’t even know I had status to begin with, and now what little I had was taken away when my children became parents?

I soon learned that although it is not written in the grandparent’s handbook I received (wait! I didn’t get my copy) there “are” boundaries now. My past role as the leader of the pack, the solution to every problem, the get it done guy… all gone! Instead, I am “bra-man.”

I am here to “support.” Not to lead. No voice! No authority! Actually, that’s ok. I just needed to know that, because it was a change. These new parents… our adult children, are now responsible. So I need to let them be, and accept my new role… to support and to love unconditionally!

So now that we know there are boundaries… let’s set some for the adult children too. We grandparents have a life. Just because it may look like we have nothing to do when you drop in unexpectedly with high hopes for grandma and I to watch the little darling(s) while you go out for a while, it “may” be that we do (or did) but are hesitant to expose that for fear we might never see little precious again. So parents, please heed the wall plaque in our home for all to see: “Grandchildren Welcome Anytime; Parents by Appointment!

Ok, on to the next grandparent boundary… Keep your mouth shut! As Anne Rolphe, shares, as one of the 27 writers in the NYT bestselling Eye of My Heart… “Ah, my poor tongue is sore from being bitten.”

When an adult child decides to move his/her family across the ocean in pursuit of their own dreams, and takes our grandchildren with them, it is very hard not to cry and stamp our feet while yelling, “unfair – unfair!” As hard as it may be to accept, our children deserve to make their own road in life… even if the road they choose isn’t the road “we”

would have taken and it gets bumpy at times. And even if we might have saved them from making a big mistake, had they listened… no one will leave earth life without getting bruised a few times. And they will become all the better for it. So wish them the best and learn how to skype.

“I am Ari’s Grammie. I live in Dallas and he lives in New York. We don’t get to visit in person that much, so we video-chat most days. Thanks to 21st century technology, we are virtual grandparents. We have eaten dinner together, played with toys, and sung. We’ve watched him reach many milestones like walking, thanks to technology. We stay updated, though we wish we lived closer. We cherish the times we actually get to spend with him and hope there will be many more to come.” –Michele Kesner (As quoted in HuffingtonPost.com)

Now let’s talk about a word society seems to have forgotten – Influence. A grandparent is in a wonderful position as support to grandchildren. Without skin in the game, we can observe from the bleachers and cheer and yell encouragement, and then head home before the locker room rant starts.

Yet, the wise adult child will recognize the benefit of having grandparents as an ally and not just as a guest or spectator. But parent and grandparent need to work together… and that is where the rub comes in for most. Grandparents still think they should parent and the adult child wants to show he/she is in charge, and in walks the conflict.

So grandparents, back off and remember your role, bite your tongue, and listen to what your adult children need from you in the way of “influence” over their children.

“I was extremely close to my grandparents and their presence in my life greatly formed my perceptions of food, gardening, my Swedish heritage and the essence of family love generation after generation. I couldn’t be more delighted to see my parents evolve the teachings of their parents as they interact with my 1-yr old daughter, who couldn’t love her “gamma and gampapa” more. The more love the better, and without grandparents, we’d be missing one of the most important relationships in life.” -Jamie Smith (As quoted in HuffingtonPost.com)

My wife loves to “sit and knit,” to the point she has become very proficient in the art. One of our adult children had some concerns over the recent behavior of her soon to be teenage daughter and mentioned it to her grandmother. It so happened that our granddaughter loved “sitting and knitting” with grandmother. They would talk together during these times, and soon grandmother was able to provide some insight into the mother’s concern over the welfare of her daughter. Now that’s working together.

It helps if the adult children speak kindly and generously about the grandparent(s) in front of the children. It is amazing how much they pick up when appearing to not be listening to a word you are saying.

There is certainly more to say on the topic, for both sides to learn. But if you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren to love… and if you, parents, have someone in your life who loves your children as only a grandparent can, please remember this, as quoted in Grandparents.com: “Family – we may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”


Marriage, the Kitchen, and the Bedroom

In Abstinence, Child Development, Cohabitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Drug Use, Families, Feminism, Gender, Human Rights, Marriage, Media, Meet UFI, motherhood, Parenting, Research, Sexual Freedom, The Family, Values, Violence, Women's Rights on April 9, 2015 at 9:38 am

woman in the kitchenTashica Jacobson

Laura Bunker’s recent UFI alert struck a cord with me, and I haven’t been able to get her message out of my mind. Not only did it bring up this year’s trip to the UN, which brought up wonderful memories for me, she quoted Kate Gilmore’s shocking comment at the CSW side event.

We discovered that for millions and millions of women that marriage is not much better than an arbitrary detention cell; that the kitchen is a torture chamber; that the bedroom is a site for the gravest of human rights violations.”

While it would be false to say that every marriage and family situation is good, taking the other route and advocating against the marriage institution is even more destructive. I bring up the following points in defense of the institution that can and will bring about the most good for society, if we promote strong marriages and families.


Marriage is more than a piece of paper and it’s more than a private relationship, it is a public commitment and responsibility for one another. And it should always be viewed as more than just one individual’s happiness, even though that is part of it.

Marriage promotes many benefits to many different people. It benefits the couple and their children, and it also benefits society. And when marriage is entered into in a responsible way these benefits are even more pronounced.

Married couples are typically better off financially, physically and mentally. And they are able to fully invest in a relationship that is protected by the promise of permanence. Another benefit is pooling: couples bring their abilities, income, and skills together. And then these tools benefit both parties rather than just one individual. Overall happiness is increased by marriage, which in itself promotes positive change in lives.

Children do better when raised by their biological married parents. They do better in school and have better relationships with their parents, while the likelihood of drug use and delinquent behavior decrease.

These benefits then transfer over to society, because when the individual people benefit, the society also improves, and people have more time and resources to devote to bettering the community.


The kitchen is actually my favorite room in the whole house. Do I cook? NO, but it’s so much more than cooking. Growing up, the kitchen was the center of my home. It was where we gathered together at the start of our day and where we finished our day. It was where we greeted each other through the comings and goings. It is one of the things that brought us together as a family.

Research has shown the benefits of the family meals together. These benefits range from better academic performance to lower risk of delinquency and depression. Kathleen Ferrigno, the director of marketing for CASA said, “The magic that happens over family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the communication and conversations around it.” And the same could be said for the kitchen as a whole. It allows ample opportunity for family members to connect with one another.

Time in the kitchen also allows time for all members to contribute and work together. Family work has changed over time and what used to be time together, is now typically isolation. That is what needs to be avoided when doing kitchen chores. It should be a time to remember your family and the service that you are doing for them and a time to work together. Kitchen chores are one way children can feel like they are part of the family, even if they don’t enjoy completing them.


The bedroom and intimacy shared between husband and wife can be a source of conflict in marriage but we also need to keep in mind that it is also a way to bring a couple together and unite them in a way like no other.

When intimacy is shared within a marriage, with care and concern for the other, it enhances a marriage. And because the couple has already made the ultimate commitment to one anther it provides a safe environment to be vulnerable.

In his book How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, Dr Van Epp describes the relational aspects of sex. “The primary reason why sex is always relational is because you cannot separate your body from the rest of who you are.”(p.289) meaning that casual sex is not beneficial. Sex needs to be allowed in the context of a relationship with the maximum commitment, which is the marriage relationship.

Marriage actually improves ones sex life and studies have shown married couples are actually more satisfied with their sex life. Access to partner, commitment, exclusivity, all contribute to the increased satisfaction. Care and concern for each other throughout all parts of married life contribute to care and concern in the bedroom.

 All parts of family life play an important role in strengthening the family and society, but they also add to individual safety, security, and happiness. This is why we need to continue to promote healthy families. Despite the opposition married intact families do continue to achieve the best outcomes for individuals.

Millennials and Marriage: Don’t Count Us Out Just Yet

In Divorce, Families, Marriage, Research, Values on April 7, 2015 at 11:09 am

piano duetKelsi Marie Shipley

18 – 35 year old Millennials are constantly a topic of conversation with older generations. We are too liberal. We have more opportunities than any other generation before us. We don’t have the respect that we should. Today, let’s discuss my personal favorite: we are not getting married.

Generation X, the Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation have a right to be concerned. When they were our age, 36% of Generation X, 48% of Baby Boomers, and 65% of the Silent Generation were married. Compared to the 26% of Millennials married now, there is cause for worry. However, if we don’t look at the whole picture of modern marriage, we miss the reasons why Millennials are waiting for marriage.

  A recent PEW study described three reasons why Millennials are not getting married.

First, we are not ready to settle down or feel too young.

Second, we are not financially prepared.

Lastly, we just haven’t found what we are looking for.

This leaves out the increasing rate of divorce, our friends and families failed relationships, pornography, and the many heartbreaks we have personally endured.

Right now you are probably thinking, “OK, I get it. Relationships are hard.” Yes, yes they are. Interestingly enough though, we are better off financially and emotionally when we are in safe, committed marriage relationships. While I share all of the fears listed above with my fellow Millennials, research debunks some of the myths associated with them.

Finances. You worry about them when you are single, and you worry about them when you are married. 26% of Millennials ages 18-24 do not feel financially prepared for marriage. This also applies to 34% of 25-34 year olds, and 20% of those 35 and older. Both Time magazine and CNN Money proclaim that many Millennials do not want to be married because they are uncertain about the future.

Finding a job for many college graduates is not as easy as it was ten years ago. I often worry about being able to take care of a family, or if my husband will be able to take care of us. The irony in this is that with two incomes, married couples are often better off financially than someone who is single. Married couples also have more specific goals: kids, house payment, etc. Because of this, married couples may keep better track of their finances.

Another concern is the divorce rate. If we were in person, and I asked if you knew someone who was divorced, you could probably give me the names of three or more couples. Divorce is everywhere. 40 -50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Guess what? That doesn’t have to be you.

I am personally guilty of bringing past fears into relationships. Being open with your partner and setting goals together, will help create the security that is needed to help avoid divorce. Marriage is not always going to be easy. A good marriage relationship has to be fostered daily.

For those of us who are not ready to settle down, and feel like we are too young: if you are not ready emotionally to be married, you are not ready. You should never jump into a marriage. That’s how divorce happens. However, if you are holding off because you love golf on Tuesday with your best friend, or that you can do whatever you want whenever you want, you might want to reevaluate your personal emotional readiness.

Many Millennials feel like they haven’t found the right person. Good for you! Don’t set your expectations beyond reach, but don’t settle. In a world where the divorce rate is high, financial situations dominate everything we do, and pornography is everywhere, you can’t just marry anyone.

John Bytheway, a famous youth speaker, has compared marriage to playing a duet at the piano. You have the music, you are playing it, but it does not sound quite right until someone sits next to you and plays the other part. Unfortunately not everyone knows how to play the music. Some try to play, and it doesn’t sound right, others look at it and walk away, but one day someone will sit down and the music will sound more beautiful than it ever has before.

As a Millennial, I can’t wait to sit next to the right person at the piano. Even with all of the hardships concerning marriage, I know that it can be the most satisfying relationship. To Generation X, the Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation, don’t give up on us Millennials just yet. We have always surprised you, and will continue to do so.






In Divorce, Free Speech, Media, Pornography, Technology, Values on April 6, 2015 at 6:17 am

crazy spring break selfiesRebecca Mallory

Let’s pretend that you are a bigwig with a large company in the human resources department. You get to hire the newbies. You have a position to fill and post it online. One week later you have 200 applicants. Forty of those have passing resumes. Some of those look awesome. How do you narrow it down from there? Social media, of course. What people say and post online gives employers a much better window into future employees’ lives than any resume. Employers are using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc to delve into the personal life of an applicant like never before. We all know that a resume has slightly elevated kudos about ourselves whereas what we post on Facebook tells employers volumes about who we really are. Fair? Doesn’t matter. They’re doing it. Plus, even though some states have deemed this illegal, an employer can easily make up some other reason why they didn’t hire you if they’ve discovered through Facebook, etc that they don’t want you representing their company.

Many young people view social media as vital to their freedom of expression and that they’re free to say anything they want, whether crude, vile, mean, intimately personal, etc. And they’re right. However, the unintended consequences might come back to bite them. It’s often difficult to express the correct emotion you’re feeling when posting. Are you angry? Being sarcastic? Trying to be funny? These are hard to convey through the ethernet. You have the freedom to write anything, but you don’t have the freedom to choose how a future employer might interpret that information. For example, have you complained about past jobs, bosses, co-workers, etc? Do you post hilarious selfies of you and your friends doing crazy things and having wild parties? Those might be funny to your friends, but extremely offensive to a future boss. They want someone who can professionally represent their company; not someone potentially embarrassing to their team. Turns out you have to use judgement with social media.

Just doing a small amount of research for this blog turned up numerous examples – mostly negative – of young people using social media to broadcast what they’re doing at any given moment. For instance, March is Spring Break crazy time. A time seemingly devoid of any moral behavior. I just watched a news report where a journalist went to Panama City Beach, Florida to see what was happening during Spring Break. What she found was shocking and even dangerous. College kids doing what college kids do but this year it was different. Hard illegal drugs and guns were everywhere. Guns mixed with alcohol and hard drugs?? She reported of one girl passed out on the beach with several men “having their way with her” and she had no idea it was even happening. One of the guys posted it on Twitter. How would you feel if that was your daughter? College kids up and down the beach were taking selfies and videos, apparently attempting to “one up” each other on how stupid they could be. The reporter asked one girl, “How do your parents feel about you being here?”  “_____ my parents!” Was the girl’s response. What do you think will be the result of these kids applying for that coveted job upon graduation, and having future employers make a judgement call between two seemingly qualified applicants but one appears to be wildly out of control? Even if you knew it was stupid and you’re really, really, really sorry you did it? Unintended consequences are a bummer sometimes, huh?

A perfect example of arrogant social media posting is the story of Adam Smith, an ex- CFO with a medical company in Arizona making over $200,000 a year. He thought it would be super brave to do a YouTube video of himself as he drove through a Chick-fil-A store and berated the innocent window clerk about the “hateful and terrible company that Chick-fil-A is” because of their religious stand on gay marriage. This innocent girl responded only with grace and maturity at his vile attack. This guy not only got fired the next day, but lost his house, was forced to move his wife and four kids into a trailer, and is living on food stamps. Every time he goes into a job interview, the interviewer asks, “Oh, you’re the Chick-fil-A guy, right?” and he doesn’t get the job. His personal views and principles should be respected, but not the way he treated this innocent human being. Hard lesson to learn, huh?

I know someone who was headed for divorce. He and his wife would post anything and everything about each other and their problems on Facebook. Not only is that nobody’s business, but most people don’t want to read about your dirty laundry. It’s a downer and speaks volumes about you not being respectful and loyal of sensitive relationships. Save it for the shrink, ok? You have no idea who will read that information and use it against you someday. Would you be a loyal employee if you would stoop to posting derogatory comments about your own spouse? Is it fair for someone to judge you like that? Doesn’t matter because you chose to post it for the world to see. Not that the employer cares what you say about your mean and selfish, blah, blah, blah spouse, but because of what those posts say about your character. How will you treat future colleagues? Company authority? What will you do when the going gets tough at work? Can they trust you?

Is it fair that future employers use social media to judge you as a potential hire? Absolutely! Many feel that this isn’t fair but we have such an absence of honesty in the American culture right now, that social media seems like the only place that many people don’t try to fake who they really are.  Worse than that, perhaps, are those whose posts serve one purpose: to make someone think they’re tough and cool. There’s something small and immature about posting anonymously and being vicious to another person. How cowardly to bully someone or say something vile that you wouldn’t consider saying to their face? Yet many young people think they’re safe hiding behind a computer screen to spew their anger falsely thinking that they’re the only ones who will know the truth. How naive! You posted it for the world to see!

Here’s a personal example from just this week. My piano teacher is a musician who sings and plays the piano professionally almost six nights a week. During my lesson this week we were discussing this blog topic. Boy! Did she have an opinion? She said that just the night before, she saw posted on Facebook, a post from a “prima donna” who auditioned for a  part in a performance but felt it beneath her to do what the directors were asking her to do. In her arrogance, she posted on Facebook biting and nasty comments about the directors, the music she was asked to perform, etc. You can guess the outcome. My instructor told me that not only would this girl not get the part, but that this director would see to it that she never worked another day in this state in the performing industry! So there ya go…did her insipid post come back to bite her? Self-inflicted shot in the foot.  And she may never know why.

So here’s the bottom line. Use your God-given brains before you succumb to what has become in many instances, the cesspool in social media. There is a lot of good there, but the vile and crass seem to be taking over. Please warn your children, parents, and friends. Once you press “send” your only choice is to live with the consequences of what you posted. Step away from the keyboard America! Think before you post.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 155 other followers