The Purpose of Marriage: A Response to the Pew Research Center

By

Charles D. Schmitz, Ph.D.
Elizabeth A. Schmitz, Ed.D.

"the marriage doctors" and Authors of the Book
Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage
(Available at Amazon.com) .

We read with much interest the recent Pew Research Center report entitled "As Marriage and Parenthood Drift Apart, Public Is Concerned about Social Impact." While the Pew report has much merit, we would like to offer a different perspective based on our two and one-half decades of research on successful marriage.

For the past 25 years we have conducted interviews with successfully married couples representing the collective wisdom of over 12,000 years of marriage! We have reported the results of our exhaustive research in our new book entitled Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage (for more information about the book see www.GoldenAnniversaries.com. Our principal conclusion based on those interviews – marriage is alive and well in the United States.

In fact, we have found seven pervasive characteristics present in all successful marriages. And guess what - the quality of the relationship between husband and wife trumps everything else in a marriage! And you know why - it's simple, really - without a positive, loving, and thriving relationship between mom and dad, children often don't prosper, they are not well-adjusted, they don't do well in school, and they are not as healthy, both physically and mentally. In all of our interviews with these wonderfully successful married couples over the years, not one of them ever mentioned that the purpose of their marriage was to have children. Oh, to be sure, they loved their children very much. They were delighted they brought children into this world and were very proud of them for the most part. But they also reported to us time and time again that it was the strength of their relationship with each other that made their marriage happy and allowed them to attend to all the myriad of responsibilities and issues present in their marriage.

The troubling thing about the Pew Research Center article is that they may have missed the central point of all this - marriages thrive and survive more than anything else because of the quality of the relationship between mom and dad. It’s no more complicated than that.

Let's look at the facts - 73% of women 30 years old and older are currently married or widowed. Most importantly, 94% of all women will have been married at least once by the age of 50.

The truth is, American's love marriage! We just need to learn how to get it right the first time around instead of having nearly one out of every two of our marriages end in divorce. And the simple truth is, 60% of those that re-marry after divorce get divorced again. So you see, the relationship between mom and dad does trump everything else. Get it right and good things follow. Get it wrong and lots of bad things often happen!

A women quoted in the Washington Post on July 1, 2007 got it right when she said, "When I think of marriage I don't think of children at all. I have them. But with marriage, I think of a husband and a wife, and I don't think it's the children that make it work."

The purpose of marriage within the historical and social context is strengthened when the focus is on the development of a strong, positive, and blissful relationship between husband and wife. That relationship trumps everything else. Make this relationship work and everything else follows. Think about it.

Author's Bio: 

Now you can order the Doctors' new book entitled , Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage at Amazon.com. With 25 years of research experience on successful marriage and their own 41-year marriage, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz know what makes marriage work. From their hundreds of interviews with happily married couples, representing 15,000 years of marriage, they've discovered the seven pervasive characteristics present in all successful marriages. Their book exposes the secrets for success through these poignant, real life stories.

Get started with “the marriage doctors” by taking their Marriage Quiz or asking them a question at Ask The Marriage Doctors or downloading their FREE eBook at Salad Recipes For Love and Health.

During their distinguished careers the Doctors have received some 60 local, state, and national awards; published nearly 200 articles and manuscripts; delivered over 1000 speeches, workshops and public presentations; traveled throughout the world; and appeared on radio and television and in the print media. Dr. Charles D. Schmitz is Dean and Professor of Family and Counseling Therapy at the University of Missouri in St. Louis and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz is President of Successful Marriage Reflections, LLC.