Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Linda & Richard Eyre: One trend toward commitment to family and marriage

By Linda & Richard Eyre, For the Deseret News

Published: Wed, March 19 10:45 a.m. MDT

 In America as a whole, marriage is losing ground. But there is a countertrend going on within a particular demographic group where both the quantity and the quality of marriages are on the upswing.

In America as a whole, marriage is losing ground. But there is a countertrend going on within a particular demographic group where both the quantity and the quality of marriages are on the upswing.

(Shutterstock)

We have used this column in the past to bemoan the sad trend away from marriage and commitment — more and more young couples choosing to cohabitate rather than to marry.

Of course, highly religious people continue to value marriage. But in America as a whole, marriage is losing ground.

But there is a countertrend going on within a particular demographic where both the quantity and the quality of marriages are on the upswing. Let us tell you about it through our own experience:

One of our main speaking clients over the past couple of decades has been the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a worldwide association of corporate presidents and CEOs. To join, you must head a multimillion-dollar company before you turn 40. Thus, by definition, these are young, educated, aggressive, type-A personalities who want to be the best at everything they do, including their parenting and their marriages. They are, in a way, the prototype of a new kind of marriage and parenting and a new kind of family that combines the best from the traditional strong-commitment marriages of the past and the equal-partnership, role-sharing marriages many aspire to for the future.

YPOers are — as evidenced by how often they bring us in to speak to them in their various chapters around the world — very, very interested in developing strong and lasting marriages and families and in raising responsible and highly motivated kids.

Their divorce rate is low, and their kids are, generally speaking, solid, polite and high-achieving. These parents prioritize their families and devote a lot of time and mental effort to their marriage relationships and to their parenting.

And while we can’t take much credit for any of it, most of them are poster families for the mission statement of our writing and speaking company, which is: “Fortify families by celebrating commitment, popularizing parenting, validating values and bolstering balance.”

Curiously, what is happening in the world today is that highly educated and economically successful families are prioritizing and committing themselves to marriage and parenting with much more regularity and dedication than lower-income, less-educated parents. Frankly, hands-on parenting and real partnership in marriage is becoming “the thing to do” among young upwardly mobile couples.

According to Richard Reeves, writing in The Atlantic, “a new version (of marriage) is emerging — egalitarian, committed and focused on children. There was a time when college-educated women were the least likely to be married. Today they are the most important drivers of the new marriage model. … Their marriages offer more satisfaction, last longer and produce more successful children.”

Reeves goes on to write, “Against all predictions, educated Americans are rejuvenating marriage.”

Fathers in this new model of marriage spend much more time with their children and are much more likely to share household duties with their wives.

And the great thing about it, at least from our observation, is that these committed, aspiring families are not doing it out of duty but out of joy. They are working at their relationships because they have concluded that relationships are what matter and what will make them happy.

Generally, it is the very demographic we are talking about here — the better-educated, higher-income segment of society — that sets patterns and starts trends that are then followed by more and more of the population. We can only hope that this will be the case with more lasting and celebrated commitments and more popular and energetic parenting.

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at EyresFreeBooks.com or valuesparenting.com.

Recommended
1. george of the jungle
goshen, UT,
March 18, 2014

When it's more than a conclusion, it's a commitment. When you give your word to love, honor, cherish watch out for each other. How big of a lie r does divorce make us.

2. dr.bridell
mclean, VA,
March 18, 2014

I guess the reason this article resonates with me is that I think marriage--real, unconditional commitment marriage--gives so much security.....its just the smartest thing to do and the smartest way to live. I love that it is the smarter, more educated portions of the population that are embracing marriage, and I too hope they will be trend setters and that the marriage commitment idea will become a trend and an example that the rest of the population follows.

3. Furry1993
Ogden, UT,
March 19, 2014

Love, commitment and devotion (and excellent parenting of their children) can also be found in the many, many, many same-sex couples who have been togther for decades. They are finally starting to be able to obtain legal recognition for their families. It's good to see that starting to happen.

4. Opinionated
Sandy, UT,
March 19, 2014

RE: Furry1993
Oh please. Why do you post to a story about marriage? Legal recognition will be trumped by God's law every time. Supporters of "Same-sex marriage" must deny the existence of a God and any kind of plan for the perpetuation of the human family. The human family exists because men and women get together. That's the plan. End of story.

5. Tyler D
Meridian, ID,
March 19, 2014

“They are working at their relationships because they have concluded that relationships are what matter and what will make them happy.”

This and the sentence preceding it were my favorite in the article because, and perhaps unintentionally, it points to a new (well, not so new actually) foundation for ethics based on happiness and human flourishing.

People in the developed world are giving up the old thyme religions in droves and this trend is not likely to reverse anytime soon. And while there is much that is positive about this trend (reason supplanting superstition, for one), the success of the 3000 year marketing campaign to convince people that religion is synonymous with morality has left many people in the modern world floundering for objective morality when they can no longer believe the myths (a sad and unnecessary situation when we consider that it is our own moral intuitions that tell us, for example, what is good in the Bible vs. what is deplorable – e.g., stoning your children for talking back).

Thank you for helping people to recognize the moral intuitions at the core of our deepest selves.