(Photo: Reuters / Mike Segar)
To celebrate National Marriage Week, Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Research Institute has released a new study called "162 Reasons to Marry."
The findings reveal that married persons enjoy stronger relationships with their children, have better mental and physical health, and are less likely to commit a crime.
According to Dr. Patrick Fagan, director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, marriage is the foundational relationship of society because all other relationships stem from what children see displayed by their parents.
"[O]ther relationships thrive most if that father-mother relationship is simultaneously a close and a closed husband-wife relationship," he said. "Within a family built on a good marriage, the child gradually learns to value and perform five fundamental tasks in society."
Those tasks include raising a family, practicing religion, getting an education, finding a job, and participating in government.
The report points out that fewer than half of children in the United States are now reaching the end of childhood in an intact married family. With that, FRC believes "it will be good for all adolescents to learn again and again that an intact married life is a great good to aim for. If they are clear on the goal, they may be motivated to reach it."
Those raised in stable married families are more likely to practice sexual chastity, to worship more regularly, and to expect and attain more from their education, according to the study. They are less likely to experience poverty as children or to experience or commit violence.
The study was released as churches across the country celebrate National Marriage Week USA, which kicked off on Tuesday, with banquets, date night challenges, and conferences. The annual observance is part of an international effort (involving 16 countries) during the week leading up to Valentine's Day to help strengthen marriages and families, reduce the divorce rate, and increase the marriage rate.
Part of the goal of National Marriage Week is to get more people to pay attention to the state of marriage.
"Our campaign to strengthen marriage is quite timely," said Sheila Weber, executive director of National Marriage Week. "A recent Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data said that in 1960, 72 percent of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51 percent are a record low."
The weeklong initiative has been recognized by congressmen, including Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) who said Tuesday "it should always be our goal to keep that family unit together" especially at a time when divorce and broken families are prevalent.
Weber said in a released statement that most prisoners come from broken homes, or have grown up without a father in their lives.
The economic cost of that is huge. "In 2009, California judges ordered the state to release 27 percent of its prisoners due to overcrowding," she pointed out.
Aside from curbing violence and crime, marriage is also linked to a stable economy. "Taxpayers spend at least $112 billion a year for divorce and unwed childbearing. Marriage brings vastly more financial stability to individuals," she highlighted.
"Research shows that virtually all of the growth in child poverty in the United States since 1970 can be attributed to the nation's retreat from marriage."
FRC concluded in its study that the strength of the nation "depends on good marriages to yield strong revenues, good health, low crime, high education, and high human capital. Smart parents and smart societies pay attention to the state and strength of marriage."
To see the complete report on "162 Reasons to Marry," click here.