Marital breakdown and divorce in the United States have reached far greater levels among all Americans.
And the #1 reason for divorce is infidelity.
The reason for concern, is the long-term impact of divorce on a societal level. Marriage is the circle of life in our society. It holds the family structure together, so to provide safety and community for the family members.
Each person in this community has a role, and through this role, a person feels “whole” – because they have a place in the world.
After divorce, this structure breaks down. The immediate impact, is a breakdown in security – home, money, parents, schooling, work, friends etc. Long term, the message divorce sends is –
“Relationships are not permanent. Nothing lasts forever. Look out for #”
Affairs send a message to a marriage which cannot be ignored. A couple needs to take the time to address this message. For most couples, the relationship CAN be saved. For the couples who seek the answers, and do the work required to strengthen their marriage, they are far happier with their choices. The choice to forgive. The choice to fight for their love.
In order for all families to have the greatest opportunity to thrive in the 21st century, it is crucial that we as a community see the bond of marriage as sacred, and something to fight for.
Why it is important for children to grow up in a family
Tragically, family breakdown, including the decline in marriage and the rise in unwed childbearing and divorce, leave children in fragmented families and at significantly greater risk for poverty and other negative outcomes that can hinder their opportunity to thrive. Furthermore, marriage protects children against delinquent activity.
- First, children in single-parent homes are at a much greater risk for poverty. Compared to their peers in married-parent homes, children in single-parent homes are more than five times as likely to be poor.
- Children in single-parent families also experience diminished educational opportunities. They are less likely to graduate from high school and to attend and graduate from college
- Teens in father-absent households are significantly more likely to engage in criminal activity and are also more likely to be incarcerated.
- Teens from single-parent households are also at greater risk for abusing alcohol and drugs.
- Teens in non-intact families are also at a greater risk for engaging in early sexual activity and of becoming a teen parent.
Why the law has failed the family unit
Did you know that it was infidelity was once illegal?
Past policy makers knew the importance of family & community. You will notice that most states have laws against infidelity, however these laws are rarely invoked. Traditionally, states advanced three goals in support of their adultery laws:
- the prevention of disease and illegitimate children;
- the preservation of the institution of marriage;
- safeguarding of general community morals.
Today, in many of the 50 USA states, infidelity is still a criminal offense. However, it is hard to get a conviction. Courts in the jurisdictions still prohibiting adultery have openly questioned whether adultery laws in fact serve these goals.
Policymakers and other leaders must find ways to strengthen marriage. They can start by ensuring that policy does not undermine marriage. Furthermore, policymakers should send a clear message about the crucial importance of marriage and the intact family, particularly with regard to how strong families protect children from poverty and other risks. Hertiage.org says they can do this through “a public advertising campaign, following the model of anti-smoking campaigns and campaigns that have encouraged youth to ‘stay in school.'”
Leaders in all sectors should utilize their resources to strengthen and nurture healthy marriages. Churches and nonprofit and community-based organizations must also make the strengthening of marriage and family a priority.
Hertiage.org says, “It will require great courage from leaders to push back against the prevailing cultural trend of family breakdown, particularly since America is now seeing second-generation and third-generation fragmented families. However, these efforts are necessary if America hopes to restore and expand opportunity for all Americans.”
Further Resources & References
- Robert Rector, “Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty,” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 117, September 5, 2012, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/09/marriage-americas-greatest-weapon-against-child-poverty.
- “Family Structure and Children’s Education,” Heritage Foundation Family Facts Brief No. 35, http://familyfacts.org/briefs/35/family-structure-and-childrens-education.
- “Marriage and Family as Deterrents to Delinquency, Violence and Crime,” Heritage Foundation Family Facts Brief No. 26, http://familyfacts.org/briefs/26/marriage-and-family-as-deterrents-from-delinquency-violence-and-crime.
- “Keeping Teens Safe: How the Intact Family Buffers Against Teen Substance Use,” Heritage Foundation Family Facts Brief No. 24, http://familyfacts.org/briefs/24/keeping-teens-safe-how-the-intact-family-buffers-against-teen-substance-use.
- “Teen Sexual Behavior,” Heritage Foundation Family Facts Brief No. 12, http://familyfacts.org/briefs/12/teen-sexual-behavior.