With National Marriage Week USA beginning Feb. 7, Christian couples are questioning how they can strengthen their own marriage, especially since recent statistics indicate marriage in the U.S. is on the decline.
According to a study released by Pew Research Center in Dec. 2011, the percentage of Americans who marry has dropped from 72 percent in 1960 to 51 percent in 2011. The number of new marriages fell 5 percent from 2009 to 2010.
Many attribute this decline to the sour economy. Fights over money, as well as the insecurity that accompanies one's inability to provide for his/her family can create marital strife.
As the founders of Marriage for Today Rev. Mike and Trisha Fox confirm, although a poor economy can weaken a troubled marriage, the sharp decline in marriage is a result of a deeper problem: America has forgotten about "the value and importance of the sanctity and relevance of marriage itself."
The Foxs contend that currently there is a "war against godly, traditional marriage and its importance" by those who have allowed themselves to be deceived by the media and liberal-leftist agenda.
To counteract this deception, America's couples are in need of re-prioritization through action and prayer, referencing the James 3 Bible passage which states "faith without works is dead."
"Enough praying about it - get out and do something about it. We're not lowering the value of prayer, but emphasizing our responsibility as stewards of God," the Foxs told The Christian Post.
Both marriage coaches and authors, Trish and Mike also contribute to The Christian Post as columnists.
Dr. Karen Ruskin, a marriage and family therapist, agrees that keeping a marriage healthy takes work. According to Ruskin, couples must "water the plant of marriage every day."
"Take ownership each day for what you can do for your spouse and do for the couple. Each day make it a point to do one thing just for your spouse so they feel special and do one thing for the couple so the couple feels connected," Ruskin advises. These points are outlined in the "3 techniques for a lasting marriage" found in her recently released book, Dr. Karen's Marriage Manual.
Ruskin says sexual intimacy, emotional intimacy, and physical intimacy – all under the umbrella of good communication – are what keep a marriage feeling whole.
A study conducted by Larry Bumpass, of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Kelly Musick, of Cornell University, shows that after a few years married couples and cohabitating couples are equal on measures of well-being and social ties.
The information garnered from this study may prove daunting to those hoping to wed, as it indicates that marriage is not necessary in achieving lifelong bliss with a significant other.
As Dr. Ruskin tells CP, marriage is still very much an integral part of a couple's life together.
According to Ruskin, the experience of having a stable, eternal soul mate would not be complete without marriage.
"[Marriage] becomes a statement of fact as it is a decree, a document, and a ring signifying complete unity, a unit of two separate beings coming together as one unit, while remaining separate, two separate wholes make one whole," she added.
The Foxs ascertain that the study indicates how important long-term relationships truly are, and "there is no better, stable, noble, godly, honorable and foundational long-term relationship than marriage," they tell CP.
Without marriage, "there is no binding of true commitment and faithfulness and without such anyone for any reason can leave the relationship without consequences outside of their emotional state."
The studies referenced in this article indicate that the institution of marriage is in fact endangered.
Dr. Ruskin believes that America is currently at a crossroads with the institution of marriage.
"I believe we are in a marital relationship revolution re-evaluating and re-defining what marriage is defined as and what our expectations are and can be," Ruskin told CP.
"The more we as a culture support this decline rather than support what efforts we can take to enhance marriages it will continue to decline," she added.