It is supposed to be funny. “Married Man” was playing on one of those morning radio ensemble programs. You know the kind, where multiple “radio personalities” talk and giggle and play comedy bits. The segment, “Married Man,” has a theme song. As I recall, it includes a refrain about having a wife, having some kids, having a life that’s “on the skids.” Making fun of marriage is nothing new. Phyllis Diller (are you old enough to remember her?) used to laughingly describe her marital relationship with her husband, “Fang.” Diller’s “comedy” was back in the days when alcoholic stories were considered funny, too. It’s time to say the same about “marriage humor” that we have long since concluded in regard to jokes about being drunk: It’s not funny anymore.
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America’s urgent challenges include crime, poverty and educational issues, but the Center for Marriage and Families concludes that the nation’s single most important problem is the weakening of marriage. How so? Today, more than one of every three children is born to a never-married mother. Today, about 45 percent of marriages end in divorce. Today, only about 60 percent of U.S. children are living with their own biological or adoptive married parents. These are not religious conclusions, but rather objective observations of facts in society. The Center for Marriage and Families quotes an item, “Marriage Promotion in Low-Income Families,” a fact sheet published by the National Council on Family Relations, published in April 2003: “A large body of social science research indicates that healthy, married-parent families are an optimal environment for promoting the well-being of children. Children raised by both biological parents are less likely than children raised in single- or step-parent families to be poor, to drop out of school, to have difficulty finding a job, to become teen parents or to experience emotional or behavioral problems. Children living with single mothers are five times as likely to be poor as those in two-parent families.” The Center for Marriage and Families observes that married people earn more, save more and build more wealth, compared to people who are single or who are living together. A center publication, Fact Sheet No. 1, February 2006, concludes that the weakening of marriage creates untold suffering for millions of children and society as a whole, and that it also costs taxpayers billions of dollars — in more jails, welfare payments, medical costs, court costs, remedial education and juvenile justice systems.
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Much has been written in reflection about the first miracle in John’s Gospel, that Jesus turned water into wine for the Wedding Feast at Cana. There is certainly a depth of meaning in the Scripture, which must include notions of transformation, celebration and community affirmation of married life.
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Take the time to examine the studies available on the benefits of married life. One place to begin is the website, www.americanvalues.org. Find out how your church or your local community supports marriage, pre-marital preparation and marriage enrichment, and do what you can to support such efforts. Do what you can, too, to support those who provide shelter and assistance to persons who have been injured in harmful relationships. Acknowledging a reality does not diminish the desire for the ideal. Celebrate an anniversary — yours or another’s. Read the Gospel of John, and see how Jesus made a difference in the Wedding Feast at Cana.
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