Take your pick. Whether you are looking for ideas for a date night, Valentine's Day or a bigger solution to preserving your marriage this year, National Marriage Week USA, celebrated on February 7-14 annually, will help you find much more than a rose and a box of chocolate for your troubles.
Touting the financial, health and social benefits of marriage in a video at nationalmarriageweekusa.org, executive director of the organization Sheila Weber noted that married adults lead longer lives, have greater personal happiness, and better health. "…Marriage is really the unsung anti-poverty program because single motherhood is the greatest source of impoverishment for both women and children," said Weber in the video.
Pointing to a recent Brookings Institution analysis, she also noted that, "if we had the marriage rate today that we had in 1970, we'd have 25 percent less poverty." She also highlighted that in 1970, nearly 80 percent of all adults in America were married. That number is now down to 52 percent.
This year's National Marriage Week USA campaign features nearly 1,000 events, classes and conferences nationwide geared at helping married couples keep their relationship strong. The offerings are listed in a searchable database on the campaign's website.
Offerings include a free eight-week series of marriage help sessions facilitated by Jean Claude Lukunku of the Godspeak Church of the Revelations in the Bronx, NY.
"These sessions are really for couples whose marriages are cold and are looking to bring back the fire," explained Lukunku in an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday. "For those who are ready to divorce, we usually send them to professional marriage counselors," he added.
When asked what inspired them to host the sessions sponsored by the Family Dynamics Institute, Lukunku cited concern for the current state of marriage in America. "It's pretty much looking at the Christian couple and knowing that statistics for the Christian marriage is not much different from secular marriages," he said. "The divorce rate for secular couples and Christian couples are also very close," he added.
According to research cited by the movement, American taxpayers spend at least $112 billion a year on divorce and unwed childbearing. Some 40 percent of all U.S. babies today are born outside of marriage, compared to less than 5 percent in 1960. The National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting notes that 72 percent of all African American babies are born outside of marriage today.
Couples can also find the discounted services of highly trained professional like Dr. Viviana Arango Coles, lead psychotherapist at Houston Relationship Therapy in Houston, Texas. She is a doctor of marriage and family therapy, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified sex therapist.
"I deal with couples or individuals dealing with intimacy problems and it can be emotional or physical," she told CP on Tuesday. Among the more popular issues she encounters in her practice are romance issues, sexual dysfunction, low desire and infidelity.
"There is a link between physical intimacy and emotional issues," she said. "I see people having issues in the bedroom and I usually discover [they are due to) a lot of issues outside the bedroom," she added.
She said that National Marriage Week USA is a great effort at preserving marriages because it helps to highlight the advantages and challenges of being married while showing that it "is a wonderful gift and privilege to be married."
"I think it really helps people understand that treating marriage with respect is going to help everyone in the long run," she explained.
National Marriage Week USA works to promote the benefits of marriage and lets people know where they can get help for their own marriages or how to help others. It's part of an international movement in more than 20 countries during the week leading up to Valentine's Day.