The latest topic in the Gospel Coalition blog series, “9 Things You Should Know About…” is that of marriage. In honor of Nation Marriage Week (culminating in Valentine’s Day) Joe Carter has put together a list of 9 things statistics and trends show about marriage as it currently stands in the United States. For example…
“6. Marriage has shifted from being the cornerstone to the capstone of adult life. No longer the foundation on which young adults build their prospects for future prosperity and happiness, marriage now comes only after they have moved toward financial and psychological independence.”
Crosswalk author and relationship counselor Debra Fileta touches on this mindset in her piece 10 Secrets You Should Know About Marriage. It is incredibly limiting for Christians to think of marriage as the end destination, she writes.
“Before you’re married it’s easy to see marriage as the grande finale. It’s the thing we dream of and live for. It’s the force propelling us forward into this destination we call life. And then it finally comes! Now what? There’s this strange moment when you realize that this relationship that God has blessed you with is a fraction of the grand scheme he has for your life. Your purpose and passions will extend far beyond the reach of your relationship with your spouse. Even more exciting, is seeing God at work because of this relationship that he’s given you as the love between you and your spouse is reflected to the world around. Marriage is not the end, it’s only the beginning. God’s got so much more up his sleeve.”
The next point on TGC list reminds us that, while it’s more of a reflection on past marriages than an absolute guarantee for the future for every demographic,
“7. The national divorce rate is almost 50 percent of all marriages.”
Megan Pacheco, writer and content manager for Finicity (provider of Mvelopes and Money4Life Coaching) reminds Crosswalk readers that disagreement over finances is one of the chief reasons marriages end in divorce today. In her piece 4 Financial Issues to Consider When Searching for a Spouse she cites a Gallup poll which found that,
“spending too much and saving too little is the most common issue that causes strife among married couples.”
Her advice is to have conversations about debt, credit, spending habits, and saving habits before saying, “I do.”
As it were, the final marriage fact featured on 9 Things You Should Know About Marriage in America also relates to money. Carter writes:
“9. If a person has been to college, has an annual income over $50,000, is religious, comes from an intact family, and marries after age 25 without having a baby first, their chances of divorce are very low…”
These statistics remind us that individuals and couples don’t exist in a vacuum. Our marriages are affected by our worldviews, the choices made by our parents, whether or not we give ourselves time to mature before heading to the altar (or the nursery!), and even our education and income level. That’s why Crosswalk author Jason Cabler urges engaged couples to start patterns of honesty, transparency, and hard work before exchanging vows.
“Your future spouse should know everything about where you stand financially…Even share those details you may be embarrassed about,”
“It may seem innocent to hide a credit card with a big balance or a bill you don’t want your spouse to know about, but innocent it is not. When, not if, your spouse eventually discovers what you’re hiding, they will feel betrayed and upset because of your lack of honesty. Now is the time to be totally honest. One of the worst things you can do is to start your marriage out with secrets that will rear their ugly head at the worst possible time in the future, causing pain in your marriage.”
We can’t always do much about our income level, but Cabler reminds us that married couples can get ahead and stay strong by deciding how to handle debt, learning to make a budget, and combining “his” and “her” money into “our” money.
What do you think of the state of marriage in America today? Visit The Gospel Coalition to read the rest of the 9 points!
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: February 11, 2014