By John Crouch
If you have opinions about “the government getting involved in marriage”, you need to get some facts about it, too. I can’t think of a better place to start than this article by Scott Stanley. Dr. Stanley had been a leader in marriage skills education, and in studies of its impact, long before conservatives or the media ever heard of it.
The image of officious moralizers “promoting marriage” to the great unwashed is what political people on both extremes WANT to have a debate about, but it has no relation to what the people who design and deliver these services actually do. They actually help couples improve their marriages and other relationships, and also teach individuals relationship skills to help them build healthy relationships – – but just as often, to avoid or end bad relationships.
Studies portrayed as finding that the programs didn’t help actually found, in one case, a 20 percent increase in family stability after three years, and in the other case, “modest” positive impacts. Which sounds, well, modest, but when you actually look at researchers’ definition of “modest” and compare it with all other studies of government programs, it’s about as much impact as any government program ever has on individuals’ outcomes.
Much more is at “About Those Controversial “Marriage” Programs Funded by the Government”, by Scott Stanley on the “Sliding Versus Deciding” Blog.
Alan Hawkin’s new book The Forever Initiative comes to the same conclusions, and has a lot of detail about government funded initiatives to promote marriage and discourage divorce. He has some discussion of it in another article on this website a few months ago. Be sure to get a copy.