There are marriage facts and advice aplenty on the Internet. Let’s start with the facts:
- The divorce rate is decreasing, but that is because fewer people are getting married.
- The average marriage that will end in divorce lasts seven to eight years.
- About forty percent of first marriages, sixty percent of second marriages, and seventy percent of third marriages end in divorce or separation.
- Wives file for divorce seventy-five percent of the time.
- Worldwide, the United States has the sixth highest divorce rate.
- The top five professions who divorce are: dancers, bartenders, massage therapists, gaming cage workers, and gaming service workers.
- The bottom five professions to get divorces are: farmers, podiatrists, clergy, optometrists, and agricultural engineers.
- Couples with strong religious beliefs divorces fourteen percent less.
- Conservatives divorce at twenty-eight percent; moderates at thirty-three percent; liberals at thirty-seven percent.
- If you have a baby prior to marriage, your risk of divorce increases by 24 percent.
- “Sixty percent of cohabiting couples will eventually marry. However, living together prior to marriage can increase the chance of getting divorced by as much as forty percent.”
- Pornography addiction contributed to fifty-six percent of divorces.
- Video game addiction increases chances of divorce 15%.
- “Each liter of alcohol consumed raises the chance of divorce by 20%. Factor in that the average American drinks 9.4 liters of alcohol per year, raising their divorce likely hood by 188%.”
- Couples with an annual income over $50,000 are 30% less likely to divorce.
- Couples with children divorce up to forty percent less than couples without children.
The following table of marriage, divorce, and single statistics comes from the Pew Research Center for Religion and Public Life, 2014 (https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/marital-status).
According to this Pew survey, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the most married, tied with Hindu for the fewest cohabiting, next to lowest in divorce rate, average in widowed, and next to lowest in never married, which speaks well for the church and culture. However, every divorce is something to weep over and affects generations.
Marriage takes work and commitment. Marriage is sacred. Marriage is ordained of God. President Nelson said: “Marriage is sanctified when it is cherished and honored in holiness. That union is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God (see Matt. 19:6).”
My husband is a list-maker, par excellence. He wrote an article: “Twenty Ways to Make a Good Marriage Great,” that was published in the Ensign in 1983.
- Night and Morning Prayer … to say thanks, to ask for help in your marriage and family, to worship together.
- A Weekly Planning Meeting … to discuss the calendar, talk over needs and problems, decide priorities and next steps. (Write decisions in a journal, including goals and discussion topics, and reasons for each.)
- A Daily Phone Call or Personal Conversation … to say “I love you,” to touch base, to discuss the day, to show you care.
- A Weekly Date … to a favorite park, a concert, the library, the gym; or staying home for a candlelight dinner, a game, or a mutual hobby.
- Patience Regardless … of missed meals, tardiness, forgotten favors, a thoughtless remark, impatience.
- Daily Service … helping with house or yard work, mending a piece of clothing, taking a turn with the sick baby, fixing a favorite meal. (Write it down. Do it!)
- A Budget … to tie down income and expenses, help set financial goals, and give you control over your finances.
- Listening … not only to what is said, but also to what is meant.
- Regular Attendance … at church—and where possible—the temple.
- Daily Scripture Reading … to learn the gospel, to receive inspiration for yourself and your marriage, to become more like Jesus.
- Working Together … caring for a garden, painting a bedroom, washing the car, scrubbing floors, building a piece of furniture, writing a poem together, team teaching a class.
- Forgiving Each Other … always learning from each other, trying a different way, being the first to make peace.
- Courtesies … like saying please and thank you, not interrupting or belittling, not doing all the talking, continuing the niceties of courtship.
- Soft and Kind Words … of tenderness, compassion, empathy.
- Learning Together by … reading to each other, discussing ideas, taking a class.
- Respecting … opinions, ideas, privacy.
- Supporting Your Spouse’s … Church callings and righteous goals.
- Caring for Your Spouse’s Family by … enjoying their company, praying for them, serving them, overlooking differences.
- Occasional Gifts … such as a note, a needed item—but mostly gifts of time and self.
- Loving with All Your Heart. “Thou shalt love thy wife [thy husband] with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her [him] and none else” (D&C 42:22),
All pretty good advice, right!
Recently, I listened to Brother Mark L. Pace speak at a BYU devotional. He is the General Sunday School President. The last section of his talk is under a bullet point: “Pray with a humble willingness to listen and act in faith.” Brother Pace illustrated with a personal experience.
The Best Marriage Advice
“My wife, Anne Marie, and I were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on November 21, 1978. We have now been married for more than forty-two years. Anne Marie is a woman of great talent and faith. She is extraordinary in every way. Her husband is well intentioned but just a regular guy.
“Throughout our marriage, we have had differences of opinion about various matters. This is not really surprising—we are different people from different backgrounds and see things from different perspectives. Nevertheless, early in our marriage, this was sometimes frustrating and difficult for both of us. At that time, I thought our differences were a weakness in our marriage. I have now come to realize that our differences are a strength. But those early days were challenging.
“When we disagreed, I usually concluded that the best solution was for Anne Marie to change her mind. I am embarrassed to say that, on occasion, when I was unable to change my wife’s perspective, I would pray and ask for Heavenly Father’s help that He would do it for me.
Well, as you can imagine, those prayers did not make much of a heavenly journey. I doubt they even reached the ceiling in our bedroom.
“With the passage of time, and with a bit more humility on my part, my prayers changed. I stopped asking Heavenly Father to change Anne Marie. Instead, when I really desired heaven’s help, I would kneel in prayer with a pad of paper and a pen. My prayer would be something like this:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I sure love Anne Marie. She means the world to me, and I am so grateful for her and our marriage. I desire to be a good husband. Recently we have had a difference of perspective in a few areas. I approach Thee in prayer seeking Thy direction. What can I do to make changes in my life that would bless our marriage? I am willing to change. I have paper and a pen here so I can take notes. Please forgive me for my weaknesses and let me know what I can do to be better.
“That kind of a prayer reaches heaven.
“I would then pause my prayer and pick up the pen. As thoughts came, I would write them down. There were often lots of thoughts. I would write and then pray, and pray and then write. Heaven was close during those prayers as the Holy Ghost spoke to me in my mind and in my heart.
“Then, when I got up off my knees, I went to work on the items on my list. As I did so, things always got better. Without fail, they always got better. Peace, unity, and love increased in our home and in our marriage. Heavenly Father knows how to bless and strengthen marriages and families. After all, “the family is ordained of God.”
“Praying with a humble willingness to listen and act in faith always brings heaven’s blessings through the influence of the Holy Ghost” (https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/mark-l-pace/his-sheep-still-hear-his-voice).
So, let’s say that Anne Marie is also praying, notebook in hand, ready to receive inspiration about Mark’s needs and their marriage. It is a recipe that refines, elevates, and lets God prevail in benevolent detail. If husbands and wives follow this advice, the good statistics for faith-filled marriages in the Church will become even better.