Clarence Hill Jr., executive director of Eye to Eye Marriage Enrichment Community, said the increasing failure of marriages is an unrecognized crisis and that “big family equals small government.”
“A lot don’t see the level of crisis we are in right now, but we are in a crisis even though it doesn’t look like it,” Hill said.
Compared to married people, unmarried individuals have higher rates of mortality – about 50 percent higher among women and 250 percent higher among men, according to “The Impact of the Family on Health: Decade in Review” in the Journal of Marriage and the Family.
The biggest gap between married and unmarried mortality rates occurs in early middle age among adults 35-45 years of age. Married men are less likely to take part in risky and self-destructive behaviors, especially alcohol abuse, and married women reduce their smoking, drinking and drug use, according to studies. Studies have also shown that unmarried couples that move in toghether did not motivate young men and women to reduce unhealthy behaviors.
Married men and women report less depression, less anxiety and lower levels of psychological distress than those who are singled, divorced or widowed, according to Social Causes of Psychological Distress. Divorce is especially damaging to a women’s mental health. Surveys have shown divorcing women are more likely to suffer from depression, low self-esteem and less personal growth.
“We have been talking about the mental health issues we deal with at the state level and it seems like marriage ties into them also,” McCullough said. “I think we have to talk about working on mental health issues at their source, rather than at the back end.”
Other studies have shown that marriage leads to greater wealth. For those raising children, married families accumulate the most money while single mothers and cohabiting couples had the lowest media wealth. Married couples in their fifties and sixties had a median net worth of more than $132,000 while those who were divorced had a median net worth of $33,670 and those who had never been married had a net worth of $35,000.
“Marriage is not just an emotional relationship, but also an economic relationship,” said McCullough. “The rise of the welfare state is very closely tied to the breakdown of marriage. I support efforts such as the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative, which incentivizes a little marriage counseling for couples who are tying the knot and other policy ideas that promote marriage. Marriage really is the stepping stone to a better life.”
McCullough is the author of House Bill 1548, which would reintroduce limited fault into divorce law. Previously, he has authored “covenant marriage” legislation that would have required pre-marital counseling into the marriage process.
“Ironically, most Oklahomans value traditional marriage derived from our strong, Biblical heritage. I reach out to the faith community to redouble their efforts on strengthening and preserving the families in their own walls and communities.”
Other speakers who participated in the event include Keith Burkhart, family minister director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; Carol Gordan of Heartmenders; Kendy Cox, director of service delivery for the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative; Jack Myrick, project manager of the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative Service Delivery System; and the Rev. Dr. David Kimmell with the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative.
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