Why should I go to Marriage Counseling?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 @ 12:59 PM

Lost The Love?

Marital Coaching is one of the best ways to delve into the recesses of your marriage relationship and rediscover the love that has been lost. In counseling there are a number of ways to recapture, sustain, and augment, the wonder and interest of the deep "in-love" connection that you may have experienced earlier with your spouse.

This once experienced "this is who I really want to spend time with” is much more than an emotion. It includes a covenant involving the ongoing thoughts (thinking), behavior (action), and choices (will) that continue to build an enduring foundation that repeatedly rearranges the stage of your relationship. When these three are accurately identified and modified, emotion (feeling) naturally follows. In short: Think better, Act better, Feel better.

You may be reading this article because you have no ongoing intimate relationship and wish to engage in one. Or, you may be looking for a way to increase the potency of your current relationship in order to make it even more gratifying. Or, you may be in that the place of final desperation and need someone to guide you and your spouse back toward the greener pastures of first love. Many times it is the people in this last group that are most willing to change. Whatever category you find yourself in, marriage counseling will empower you to become all that you can be in your current or future spousal relationship.

As you continue down the page you will find some disturbing statistics about the state of the marriage relationship in the United States. Every person married or considering marriage should be aware of what the trends in our current world are, so that they will be able to stand firm in spite of what others around them are doing. Knowledge put into action is power. As you read think of how the information can be used to benefit yourself and others in your life.

Marital Counseling Issues

Divorce rates in the U.S.:

"There is consensus that the overall U.S. divorce rate had a brief spurt after WW2, followed by a decline, then started rising in the 1960s and even more quickly in the 1970s, then leveled off [in the] 1980s and [has since] declined slightly."7 However, such gross statistics are misleading. There are a number of factors involved that obscure the real data:

  • The normal lifestyle of American young adults is to live together for a period of time in a type of informal trial marriage. These relationships frequently do not endure.
  • Couples enter into their first marriage at a older age than in the past.
  • A growing percentage of committed couples have decided to live in a common-law relationship rather than get married. This is particularly true among some elderly who fear reduction in government support payments.

The current U.S. divorce rate:

The media frequently reports that 50% of American marriages will end in divorce. This number appears to have been derived from very skimpy data related to a single county or state. However, it appears to be reasonably close to the probable value. Americans for Divorce Reform estimates that "40 or possibly even 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue." 7

Divorce rates among Christian groups:

The slogan: "The family that prays together, stays together" is well known. There has been much anecdotal evidence that has led to "unsubstantiated claims that the divorce rate for Christians who attended church regularly, pray together or who meet other conditions is only 1 or 2 percent". 8 Emphasis ours]. Dr. Tom Ellis, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention's Council on the Family said that for "...born-again Christian couples who marry...in the church after having received premarital counseling...and attend church regularly and pray daily together..." experience only 1 divorce out of nearly 39,000 marriages -- or 0.00256 percent. 9

A recent study by the Barna Research Group throws extreme doubt on these estimates. Barna released the results of their poll about divorce on 1999-DEC-21.1 They had interviewed 3,854 adults from the 48 contiguous states. The margin of error is ±2 percentage points. The survey found:

11% of the adult population is currently divorced.

25% of adults have had at least one divorce during their lifetime.

Divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience.

George Barna, president and founder of Barna Research Group, commented:

"While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages."

According to the Dallas Morning News, a Dallas TX newspaper, the national study "raised eyebrows, sowed confusion, [and] even brought on a little holy anger." This caused George Barna to write a letter to his supporters, saying that he is standing by his data, even though it is upsetting. He said that "We rarely find substantial differences" between the moral behavior of Christians and non-Christians. Barna Project Director Meg Flammang said: "We would love to be able to report that Christians are living very distinct lives and impacting the community, but ... in the area of divorce rates they continue to be the same." Both statements seem to be projecting the belief that conservative Christians and liberal Christians have the same divorce rate. This disagrees with their own data.

The survey has come under some criticism from various individuals including David Popenoe and Tom Ellis, but this does not negate the facts of the study performed by the Barna Research Group. One reason for the discrepancy of beliefs about divorce rates among born-again Christians may be that their churches are unaware of the true number of divorcing couples in their midst.

Many couples would find it difficult to continue attending services in the same congregation after their marital separation. Meeting at church would be awkward. So, they drop out.

Many probably find that the climate in their church is very negative towards divorcing couples. So, they move to other congregations that are either more accepting of divorce, or are unaware of their marital status.

Barna report: Variation in divorce rates among Christian and other faith groups:

Denomination (in order of decreasing divorce rate)

% who have been divorced

Non-denominational **

34%

Baptists

29%

Mainline Protestants

25%

Mormons

24%

Catholics

21%

Lutherans

21%

** Barna uses the term "non-denominational" to refer to Evangelical Christian congregations that are not affiliated with a specific denomination. The vast majority are fundamentalist in their theological beliefs. More info.

Barna's results verified findings of earlier polls: that conservative Protestant Christians, on average, have the highest divorce rate, while mainline Christians have a much lower rate. They found some new information as well: that atheists and agnostics have the lowest divorce rate of all. George Barna commented that the results raise "questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families." The data challenge "the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriage."

Donald Hughes, author of The Divorce Reality, said:

"In the churches, people have a superstitious view that Christianity will keep them from divorce, but they are subject to the same problems as everyone else, and they include a lack of relationship skills. ...Just being born again is not a rabbit's foot."

Hughes claim that 90% of divorces among born-again couples occur after they have been "saved."

Variation in divorce rates by religion:

Religion

% have been divorced

Jews

30%

Born-again Christians

27%

Other Christians

24%

Atheists, Agnostics

21%

Ron Barrier, Spokesperson for American Atheists remarked on these findings with some rather caustic comments against organized religion. He said:

"These findings confirm what I have been saying these last five years. Since Atheist ethics are of a higher caliber than religious morals, it stands to reason that our families would be dedicated more to each other than to some invisible monitor in the sky. With Atheism, women and men are equally responsible for a healthy marriage. There is no room in Atheist ethics for the type of 'submissive' nonsense preached by Baptists and other Christian and/or Jewish groups. Atheists reject, and rightly so, the primitive patriarchal attitudes so prevalent in many religions with respect to marriage." 2

StopTheReligiousRight.org had some scathing comments as well:

"We hear an awful lot from conservatives in the Bible Belt and on the TV about how we all should be living. Certainly a culture that teaches the conservative religious values of the Christian right must have clean living written all over it. And lots of ripe fruit from their morally superior lives abounding." "It doesn't. Far from it. People that talk the loudest may be the ones walking the slowest. Joining its history of Biblically correct bigotry and discrimination, it is an area with the highest divorce, murder,

STD/HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, single parent homes, infant mortality, and obesity rates in the nation. As a region, the Bible Belt has the poorest health care systems and the lowest rates of high school graduation." 12

Variation in divorce rates by age:

Age group

% have been divorced

Baby boomers (33 to 52 years of age)

34%

Builders (53 to 72 years of age)

37%

Seniors (above 72 years of age)

18%

Many seniors were married in the late 40's or early 50's at a time when divorce rates were much lower than they are today.

Variation in divorce rates by location:

The Barna Group study found:

Area

% are or have been divorced

South

27%

Midwest

27%

West

26%

Northeast

19%

The Associated Press computed divorce statistics from data supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health.4 They found that Nevada had the highest divorce rate, at 8.5 divorces per 1,000 people in 1998. Nevada has had a reputation as a quickie divorce location for decades. People from other states visited Nevada, fulfilled their residency requirements, got divorced and returned home single.

The data showed that the highest divorce rates were found in the Bible Belt. "Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma round out the Top Five in frequency of divorce...the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average" of 4.2/1000 people.

11 southern states (AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, MS, NC, NM, OK, SC and TX averaged 5.1/1000 people. (LA data is not available; TX data is for 1997).

Nine states in the Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT) averaged only 3.5/1000 people.

Some of the factors that contribute to a high divorce rate in the Bible Belt, relative to Northeastern states are:

More couples enter their first marriage at a younger age.

Average household incomes are lower (OK and AR rate 46th and 47th in the U.S.)

They have a lower percentage of Roman Catholics, a denomination that does not recognize divorce. Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Southern Baptist Convention in Oklahoma commented: "I applaud the Catholics," says Jordan. "I don't think we as Protestant evangelists have done nearly as well preparing people for marriage. And in the name of being loving and accepting, we have not placed the stigma on divorce that we should have."

Some factor in conservative Protestantism -- which is prevalent in the Bible Belt -- may causes a higher level of divorce.

Associated Press' confirmation of Barna's results:

The Associated Press analyzed divorce statistics from the US Census Bureau. They found that Massachusetts had the lowest divorce rate in the U.S. at 2.4 per 1,000 population. Texas had the highest rate at 4.1 per 1,000. They found that the highest divorce rates are found in the "Bible Belt."

According to the Boston Globe:

"The AP report stated that 'the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average of 4.2 per thousand people.' The 10 Southern states with some of the highest divorce rates were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. By comparison nine states in the Northeast were among those with the lowest divorce rates: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont."

One reason for the higher divorce rates in the Bible Belt may be the lower percentage of Roman Catholics in the South. Their denomination does not recognize divorce. Other reasons could be related more to culture than religion:

Couples in the South enter their first marriages at a younger age.

Family incomes in the South are lower.

Educational attainment is lower in the South: One in three Massachusetts residents have completed college. while only 23% of Texans have. 11

Divorce among Protestant clergy:

A 1997-AUG survey by Barna among 601 senior Protestant pastors revealed that the vast majority are married (95%). Only 13% have ever gone through a divorce. This is about half of the rate among the general population. "Just 3% of all current senior pastors are divorced and have not remarried." 6

References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

• "Christians are more likely to experience divorce than are non-Christians," Barna Research Group, 1999-DEC-21, at: http://www.barna.org/ Barna no longer has this report online. However, a review of the report is at: http://www.adherents.com/

• AANews, Posting #699, issued by American Atheists on 2000-JAN-2.

• Michael Inglis, "Survey of the Unification Church 1982 marriages," at: http://www.unification.net/

• "Bible belt has nation's worse divorce rate," CNN.com, 1999-NOV-12. Online at: http://www.cnn.com/ (Cache copy as of 2000-FEB-11. The page has since expired.) A similar report is at: http://www.divorcereform.org/

• David Crary, "Deep in the Bible Belt, a counterattack on the nation's worst divorce rate," Detroit News, 1999-NOV-11, at: http://detnews.com/

• "Survey provides profile of Protestant Pastors," 1998-JAN-6, at: http://www.barna.org/

• "Divorce statistics collection: Summary of findings so far," Americans for Divorce Reform, at: http://www.divorcereform.org/

• "Fresh Thinking Needed on Divorce Issues," Jesus Journal, at: http://www.jesusjournal.com/

• John Rossomando, "Born-Again Christians No More Immune to Divorce Than Others, Says Author," CNSNews, at: http://www.cnsnews.com/

• Donald Hughes, "The Divorce Reality." 109 pages. This is an eBook written from a positive, conservative Christian. It can be purchased and then downloaded from Theatron Media at: www.Bookstore.TheatronMedia.com

• William V. D'Antonio, "Walking the walk on family values," The Boston Globe, 2004-OCT-31, at: http://www.boston.com/

• James Veverka, "The moral hypocrisy of the Bible Belt," Stop The Religious Right, undated, at: http://www.stopthereligiousright.org/

• Arland Thornton, "Children and Marital Stability," Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 39, #3, 1977-AUG, Pages 531-539. Abstract at:http://www.eric.ed.gov/

• Aandrew Cherlin, "The effect of children on marital dissolution," Demography©, Vol. 14, #3, 1977-AUG, Pages 265 to 272. Abstract at: http://links.jstor.org/

• "Bible Belt Leads U.S. In Divorces," National Center for Policy Analysis, 1999-NOV-19, at: http://www.ncpa.org/

• "U.S. state divorce rates...including 2004 data." Divorce Reform, at: http://www.divorcereform.org/

The Impact of Divorce

The Cost of Divorce with Children (DivorceSupport.com, 2008) provides a practical scenario of financial cost associated with divorce.

If you have children and decide to move out of the marital home, you need to consider the cost of having two homes. In the beginning of your divorce, you and/or your spouse will be faced with many extra living expenses which will make it difficult to live the lifestyle you are accustomed to. Let’s take a look at an example... James, a father of two, has decided to leave his wife and move into an apartment. He has also decided his children are to remain with his soon-to-be ex-wife. James now must pay for all expenses associated with his new apartment combined with a monthly support amount (spousal and child support). He must also consider the cost of moving. This includes first and last month’s rent, moving expenses, time off of work to move, utility hookup fees, and rental storage. However, the cost of moving is negligible in comparison to the total cost over time. To put this scenario into a clearer financial picture, let’s assume James’ salary is approximately $50,000 per year. Before the divorce, James’ bring home pay after taxes was approximately $36,000 per year ($3,000 per month). But after the divorce, James is ordered to pay spousal and child support in the amount of $1500 per month ($18,000 per year).

In some cases, the assets are completely obliterated in legal fees. If this were the case for James, he would be starting over financially. Instead of owning a home with a take-home pay of $3000 per month, he is now forced to live in an apartment with half of his original take-home pay. With this situation, it will take a number of years before James is able to get back on his feet financially again. Since James has children, he will need to have a room for them. Instead of living in a studio or one bedroom apartment, he will need at least a two-bedroom apartment. If James is like most fathers, he will only be able to see his children four days out of the month (every other weekend). The remaining 24 days out of the month the children’s room will not be in use. On the contrary, James’ soon-to-be ex-wife will be trying to maintain the past standard of living for the children and herself on half of the monthly income that once was available. If his soon-to-be ex-wife decided to get a job or increase her hours at an existing job, the expenses of child care will easily offset the additional income earned. Some individuals move into a relative’s home, with a friend, or a hotel. If you have a girl/boyfriend it is advised not to move in with them. The knowledge of you having a romantic involvement during the divorce is like putting gasoline on a fire. Spouses become very hostile when they discover the presence of another. This is an emotional time. Try not to add additional emotions to an already turbulent situation. If you are dating someone, keep it as discrete as possible. Even a year after the split, you should consider keeping your personal life in cognito. Another cost most spouses do not see is the total financial burden over a lifetime. This includes child support until the age of 18 or the age of majority is reached and spousal support up to the age of retirement. For example, let’s say you were married at age 20 and divorced at age 31. You are now considered a long-term marriage (over 10 years). Let’s also say your spouse does not remarry. This means you could be faced with paying support for another 34 years. If the support amount were $1,000 per month, your overall payment would be $408,000. This figure does not include any increases in the award.

The Effects of Divorce on Children

The Heritage Foundation's June 5, 2000 Report on The Effects of Divorce on America states that children of divorce suffer from more depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, have higher rates of suicide, feelings of rejection, drug and alcohol abuse, delinquency and criminality and diminished learning capacity which leads to more school failure. They have poor interpersonal relationships, are increasingly the victims of abuse and neglect, and are two times as likely to divorce than children from intact families.

Mavis Hetherington's For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered (Norton 2002) states that 25% of children from divorce have serious social, emotional, or psychological problems. They are depressed, impulsive, irresponsible, or anti-social. 20% of children in stepfamilies are emotionally troubled in contrast to 10% of children from intact families. Fewer than 20% of young adult stepchildren feel close to their step moms. 70% of young people from divorced families see divorce as an acceptable solution,

even if children are present. Only 40% of children from intact families have this attitude. With this baggage the pro-marriage generation has a lot of weight to carry up the hill of successful matrimony.

In our work we have also found some common wounds of adult children of divorced parents

• The inability to trust in relationships

• Fear of failure and doom—the sense that "the other shoe is going to drop" anytime things go well.

• Insecurity which causes them to become controlling in relationships or become passive-aggressive and resist the requests of their partner.

• The inability to communicate effectively.

• No role models of problem solving or conflict resolution because their parents' only solution to their problems was dissolution.

A common marital scenario

The marital issues are starting to really get under your skin – the constant fighting over money, sex, parenting and the ensuing emotional distance and even thoughts or threats of divorce are becoming more common. Something has to be done. It is either go to the dreaded therapist's office or the much more foreboding, and usually much more costly attorney's office – an easy choice, the lesser of two evils. The attorney route is too daunting right now, so for the first time in your life you are actually seriously considering trying to locate a good Counselor who can accurately diagnose and treat the problem. But how do you locate the best choice for yours situation? What qualifies one as a good therapist and for that matter what qualifies a therapist as being 'good'? You really don't want to bring your family or friends into the fray – why get them all worked up about something that probably isn't that serious? Besides, that is our business and I don't want to air our dirty laundry. I don't want to just pick one out of the phone book – that seems like a real crapshoot, I could easily pick a real flake that could cost us thousands of dollars and then actually make things worse. Things aren't that bad. My parents' marriage seemed a lot worse and they have stayed together all these years. Maybe I should just tough it out for a while and see how it goes. This type of internal dialogue is not very far from the reality of many unhappily married people. Since you are reading this now, let me take this opportunity to introduce Advent Counseling and Training Services to you as a possible solution for not just your marital issues, but family and individual concerns as well. We have helped thousands of people through the years.

Additional Marriage Data

Dr. John Gottman, marriage expert, states that there is about a 90% chance of divorce if couples exercise (from least to most destructive) defensiveness, stonewalling,criticism, and contempt.

According to Divorce Magazine and the National Center for Health Statistics, In Focus (2008), here is a sampling of some of the most recently available statistics on marriage and divorce in the United States of America:

• There were approximately 2,230,000 marriages in 2005 -- down from 2,279,000 the previous year, despite a total population increase of 2.9 million over the same period.

• The divorce rate in 2005 (per 1,000 people) was 3.6 -- the lowest rate since 1970, and down from 4.2 in 2000 and from 4.7 in 1990. (The peak was at 5.3 in 1981, according to the Associated Press.)

• The marriage rate in 2005 (per 1,000) was 7.5, down from 7.8 the previous year.

• In 2004, the state with the highest reported divorce rate was Nevada, at 6.4 (per 1,000). Arkansas was a close second, with a divorce rate of 6.3, followed by Wyoming at 5.3. The District of Columbia had the lowest reported divorce rate, at 1.7, followed by Massachusetts at 2.2 and Pennsylvania at 2.5. (Figures were not complete for California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, or Oklahoma.)

• 8.1% of coupled households consist of unmarried heterosexual partners, according to The State of Our Unions 2005, a report issued by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. The same study said that only 63% of American children grow up with both biological parents -- the lowest figure in the Western world.

• As of 2003, 43.7% of custodial mothers and 56.2% of custodial fathers were either separated or divorced. And in 2002, 7.8 million Americans paid about $40 billion in child and/or spousal support (84% of the payers were male).

• Americans tend to get married more between June and October than during the rest of the year. In 2005, August had the most marriages at about 235,000 or a rate of 9.3 per 1,000 people. The previous year, July was the highest month at 246,000, or a rate of 9.9; this doubled the lowest month in 2004, January.

Other Marriage and Divorce Facts (2002)

Percentage of population that is married: 59% (down from 62% in 1990, 72% in 1970) Percentage of population that has never married: 24% Percentage of population that is divorced: 10% (up from 8% in 1990, 6% in 1980) Percentage of population that is widowed: 7% Median age at first marriage: Males: 26.9 Females: 25.3 Median age at first divorce: Males: 30.5 Females: 29 Median age at second marriage: Males: 34 Females: 32 Median age at second divorce: Males: 39.3

Females: 37 Median duration of first marriages that end in divorce: Males: 7.8 years Females: 7.9 years Median duration of second marriages that end in divorce: Males: 7.3 years Females: 6.8 years Median number of years people wait to remarry after their first divorce: Males: 3.3 years Females: 3.1 years Percentage of married people who reach their 5th, 10th, and 15th anniversaries: 5th: 82% 10th: 65% 15th: 52% Percentage of married people who reach their 25th, 35th, and 50th anniversaries: 25th: 33% 35th: 20% 50th: 5% Percentage of people who have ever been married by the age of 25: Males: 32% Females: 50% Percentage of people who have ever been married by the age of 35: Males: 77% Females: 84% Percentage of people who have ever been married by the age of 45: Males: 87% Females: 90% Percentage of people who have ever been married by the age of 55: Both males and females: 95% Number of unmarried couples living together: 5.5 million Percentage of unmarried couples living together that are male-female unions: 89%

MARRIAGE STATISTICS

Latest Statistics from US Census Bureau

The latest US Census Bureau and National Center for Health Statistics contain updates through September, 2006. Since collection of records of total divorces ended in 1998, some charts are no longer being updated. Although the charts here are based upon the best statistics available, there are limitations. Please refer to the original statistical tables in the footnotes for known limitations.

• The ratio of marriages to divorces is 2 to 1 (Marriages and Divorces ).

• Total Marriages showed a sharp drop in 1998.

• Marital Status for Females 15 and over (1950 - 2005) shows that the population of unmarried women will soon surpass the number of married women. This indicates a rejection of the Divine Institution of Marriage by the population.

• The number of Unmarried Couple Households (liveins) is increasing steadily.

• Where are the children living (with one or two parents) due to divorce? Children living with only one parent has increased from 9% in 1960 to 30% (29.52%) in 2005. Of those 83% of the children live with the mother.

 

Contents

Marriages and Divorces

Total Marriages Divorces Marriages and Divorces

Marital Status of Population

Unmarried Population 15 & Over Marital Status Female Population Unmarried Couple Households

Children

Children Living with Parents

Marriage, Divorce Rates

Marriage and Divorce Rates Marriage Rates 1993-1997 Divorce Rates 1993-1997

Marriages and Divorces2

Marital Status of Population1

Children

Marriage, Divorce Rates

Marriage Rates

Divorce Rates

References

1. Source of CPS data: U. S. Bureau of the Census, Internet Release, "Families and Living Arrangements." http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam.html

2. National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics Reports. Births, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Monthly vital statistics report. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics: Vol 43 no 12, July 14, 1995, Vol 46 no 12, July 28, 1998; Vol 48 no 19, 1999; Vol 50 no 7, 2001, Vol 50 no 14, Vol 52 no 22, Vol 53 no 21, Vol. 54 no 20. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr48/nvs48_19.pdf http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr50/nvsr50_07.pdf http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr50/nvsr50_14.pdf http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr52/nvsr52_22.pdf http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr53/nvsr53_21.pdf http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr54/nvsr54_20.pdf

All material appearing above in Marriage Statistics is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission. Larry Wood (Revised November 23, 2006).

The Problem with Christian Relationships

Lest you think that being a “Christian” necessitates an increased marital bliss statistic and decreased divorces, Religious Tolerance.org (2008) cites the following about divorce and remarriage and gives the U.S. divorce rates for various faith groups, age groups, & geographic areas.

David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University has said that the survey doesn't make sense. He based this belief on his assessment that Christians follow biblical models of the family, making a bond that "the secular world doesn't have...It just stands to reason that the bond of religion is protective of marriage, and I believe it is."

Tom Ellis of the Southern Baptist Convention suggests that the Barna poll is inaccurate because the people contacted may have called themselves born-again Christians, without having previously made a real commitment to God. He said: "We believe that there is something more to being a Christian...Just saying you are [a born-again] Christian is not going to guarantee that your marriage is going to stay together." 9

Some researchers have suggested that religion may have little or no effect on divorce rates. The apparently higher rate among born-again Christians, and lower rate among Atheists and Agnostics may be due to the influence of financial and/or educational factors.

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