With the seemingly endless assault on marriage and the related benefits for the both the family and community structure, marriage experts point to the increase in cohabitation as one cause for the current decline of marriage.
Marriage experts cite the fact that nearly half of all cohabitating relationships don't survive- it's a statistic that drives home the point that a relationship with a strong foundation based on respect and devotion provides for a more satisfying experience with a partner.
The onus, according to Mike McManus, author of "Living Together: Myths, Risks and Answers," falls squarely on churches, who are responsible for adequately preparing couples for marriage. They are to take a more direct approach of emphasizing the importance of marriage for couples who simply want to live with a person.
"We now know unequivocally that cohabitation doesn't work. Churches – the gatekeepers of weddings – can delay no longer. They must educate, equip and elevate marriage to the position it deserves," McManus wrote in his book.
To aid in this effort, McManus co-founded Marriage Savers in 1996 as a way to engage local churches in their communities in order to bring down the divorce rate.
Marriage Savers has enlisted the help of churches in over 200 cities across the country to lower the rate of cohabitation and to make current marriages stronger. As part of the plan, churches sign a public marriage policy in which they pledge their support to work with the community and other churches to reduce the rate of cohabitation and divorce in their cities.
The Marriage Savers program has seen significant decreases in the rate of divorce in cities where churches have signed the pledge. The average divorce rate has fallen 17.5 percent in cities with marriage policies compared to only a 9.4 percent decrease in cities where churches are not participating, according to McManus.