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   Home  > Articles

Can Government Rescue Marriages?

By Dr Scott M Stanley & Dr Howard J Markman


There is a trend sweeping the country to make changes in legal codes to strengthen and stabilize marriages. There are two key thrusts emerging in state legislatures: the first involves changes in laws that would make it harder for couples to divorce; the second involves efforts to encourage or mandate couples to participate in premarital counseling.

It is hardly debatable that many of society's ills can be traced to the continuing high rates of marital distress and divorce. While divorce rates have fallen from the all time high in 1979, couples marrying for the first time today still have a 40-50 percent chance of divorce. Further, the links between poorly handled marital conflict and adverse psychological outcomes for adults and children are very strong--stronger, in fact, than the links between divorce and such outcomes. Added to these psychological outcomes of marital conflict, there are increasingly clear sociological effects of family fragmentation, including increased poverty, crime, and alienation between parents and children.

While strange bedfellows, there is a growing consensus among both liberal and conservative political and religious leaders that something must be done. Nevertheless, we believe that some of the trends in legal initiatives represent hurried solutions that could lead to serious unintended negative consequences.

New Fault, No Fault

In this article
- Introduction
- New Fault, No Fault
- The Move To Mandate Premarital Counseling
- Public Education: A Better Way That Works

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