and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
What does it mean to be faithful? Faithfulness entails loyalty, trustworthiness, dependability, and stickability—when things get tough in a relationship, the faithful stick it out.
When I think of faithfulness, I immediately think of marriage. For centuries, marriage has been the foundation upon which society was built, “an ironclad institution that was held together by law, by religion, by family pressures, by economic dependency.” (Dr.David Popenoe, co-founder, National Marriage Project, Rutgers University).
The marital and family landscape of our nation is dramatically changing. Data on divorce from 2002 paints a picture in which a couple will marry in their mid to late twenties, divorce in their late twenties to early thirties—after seven years of marriage—and remarry within three to four years. Sixty percent of these second-time-around-ers will revisit the divorce court after another seven years, possibly completing the marriage-divorce-remarriage-divorce cycle in less than twenty years, and by their early to mid-forties.
Given that over fifty percent of first marriages in American crash and burn, why even bother with the formalities of marriage?
You would be amazed at the number of young moms I see in my therapy practice who have never been married, but have several children, each of whom has a different father. Many of these dads are “deadbeat dads,” taking little to no interest in, or responsibility for, their children.
What truly alarms me is that these young moms don’t even realize that they and their children deserve better! This is the norm for them. It’s the life their moms lived. They “survived” childhood without dads, so what’s the big deal? Typically these young mamas come from very dysfunctional homes characterized by uncontrolled anger, chronic conflict, addictions, abuse and neglect. Sadly, many do not have a high school diploma or GED and they work part time for minimum wage (which, of course, means they have no insurance or benefits and live paycheck to paycheck, constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul).
Why do these young women settle for this kind of life? Because: they are starving for the love and affection of a daddy; because they are scared to death to be alone; because they don’t have anyone in their lives they can truly rely on. Why are the daddies so undependable? Because their own dads were absent and they have no clue on how to be a faithful spouse or parent.
In the U.S., we have 913,000 divorced, single dads, 3.392 million divorced, single moms, 693,000 never married dads and 4.181 million never married moms. Fifty-nine per cent of kids in the U.S., under the age of 18, live in a single parent home. The U.S. comes in dead last in the Western world in terms of the number of kids who grow up with both biological parents.
Are you shocked? I hope so! What a sad, scary commentary on the state of the family in America!
So what can you do to make a difference?
- If you are in a troubled marriage, swallow your pride and seek counseling. Make the time. Find the money. And, guys, read the marriage and relationship books your wives are begging you to read. NOTHING is more important—especially to your kids—than your marriage!
- If you’re in a healthy marriage, show it! Be a model for young couples and youth. Teach your kids and grandkids relationship skills and the value or commitment.
- If you are the child or teen of divorced or never married parents, take heart. Learn everything you can about healthy relationships. Break the cycle!
- If you are a single parent, be encouraged. You have the most difficult job on earth! There are counselors, social agencies, and churches who want to support you. Reach out!
- If you are among the growing population of grandparents raising grandchildren, God bless you—you are saints! If you know such grandparents, help them out! Every one of them will tell you, “I’m too old for this job!”