Shaunti Feldhahn is one of my favorite authors dealing with men, women and marriage. What I appreciate about her books is that she doesn’t just give her opinion and back it up with an example from her life. Ms. Feldhahn apparently does a lot of research to make sure her assumptions are correct.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her latest effort The Good News About Marriage. With her co-author Tally Whitehead, she went back and looked at the studies and “facts”which are constantly cited in newspapers, magazines and even sermons. What she found was very exciting.
Evidently, the average person does not have a solid understanding of either statistics or the requirements of a valid research project. As a result, many of the facts we think are correct about marriage are totally wrong. (I remember having a conversation with my ob/gym when I was pregnant. I was concerned because someone my age was x% more likely to have a child with a birth defect. He reminded me the actual chance of the problem was something like 1% – meaning my x% did not mean I had that percentage of risk, but more like 1.2% risk instead of 1%. Did I mention I hated statistics?)
Perhaps the most encouraging is that about 50% of marriages don’t end in divorce and never have. In fact, the divorce rate has declined steadily since 1980. Feldhahn spends a good bit of time not only examining how these false truths came to be common knowledge but also the negative effect this false information may be having on marriages.
Because she had previously used the incorrect information in her own marriage talks, she checked with other ministers and Christian counselors. She realized many of them went into counseling people with a defeatist attitude because they “knew” they only had a 50/50 chance of success. And what about the couples who were struggling and decided that if that many other people couldn’t make it work, how could they?
What would change, she wondered, if couples knew actually two-thirds of first marriages last until the death of one of the partners? What if they realized the vast majority of marriages were actually happy most of the time? What if people knew the rough patches don’t last forever, and the vast majority of couples are happy again in five years or less?
As this book and her research are so new, we won’t know how her findings might change things. It was interesting to me though that although some facts about marriage turned out to be urban legends, some were true. Living together does greatly increase the chances your marriage won’t last. Couples who are active in Church are much less likely to get divorced. In fact, she found if you controlled your marriage for a few factors, your chances of divorcing dropped to practically a statistical zero.
This book will be a quick, encouraging read for many of you. I highly encourage you to jot down a few reminders and then pass this book on to the ministers and elders in your church and others who may be counseling those with troubled marriages. While people do need to put effort into their marriages to make them strong, having this encouraging news could give them the spark to keep working instead of throwing in the towel “like everyone else”.
This book was provided to me for free in exchange for my honest review.