One of my colleagues died during my last year at Children's Hospital, having served on our university medical faculty for more than twenty-five years. During his tenure as a professor, he had earned
Culture challenge of the week: Does marriage matter to society?
If we're going to fight the toxins that constantly threaten our culture, we have to make certain that we go about it the right way.
It's going to involve a lot of vigilance and courage on your part. It's going to mean keeping a sharp eye out for the most pernicious influences and taking stands that may not be popular, either with your children or even with many other parents.
But there's something you have to do if you are to create a healthier culture and build a grounded, courageous and fulfilled family. It's one of the most important things you can do because it provides a steady force, a place of comfort for your children in a harsh world, and more joy for you than you could ever imagine.
Love your spouse.
Sounds a little too simple, doesn't it? After all, few of us would have married in the first place if we didn’t love that someone, right? Yet virtually all of us have experienced marital problems in some form or another—some much more severe than others—and we don't need piles of scientific research to know the harmful effects that marital problems have on spouses and on their children.
You are not a bad person because you've experienced hardship in your marriage, and neither is your spouse. It's important to recognize that the two of you are on the same team. I cannot stress how important it is to learn (or relearn) how to function as one.
The strength of a home is determined by the materials from which it is built. Build the house from straw, and you've got a weaker structure than one made from brick. It's as simple as the story of "The Three Little Pigs." The same principle applies to a society, but the building element in this case is the family unit. Change the composition or the strength of the marriage unit, and you end up changing the look, feel and strength of the society in which those families live.
A stable family unit is the foundation on which to build a stable society and to raise stable children. Creating sound, stable families is so obviously the answer to saving our society from a litany of social ills and heartbreak that it is often overlooked in a search for more complex and less-effective "solutions."
Government policy often endorses the broken family through handouts and endless programs and by creating penalty taxes against individuals who contribute to the stability of our society through marriage. Add to that the endless barrage of Hollywood propaganda that idolizes adultery, casual sex and divorce, and it’s no surprise that America shows a marked decline in the number of marriages created each year.
America must promote and encourage the inherent values in strong marriages and families if we are to survive as a nation. If we as a society continue to promote and casually accept rampant divorce and all other kinds of lifestyle decisions that threaten marriages and families, we can expect more poverty, more crime, more emotional problems, and more social chaos.
Clearly, there's nothing more important to a child’s future than to be raised in a home with both a mom and a dad who are committed to each other, and there is nothing more important to your own happiness.
How to save your family: Start with yourself
Commitment. Love. Integrity. Faithfulness. These are clear virtues upon which we must stand, both as individuals and as a nation. It's time for us to reach back for the sake of the future and reclaim those timeless values upon which our families and nation will rise or fall. There are right and wrong choices. When individuals make the right choices regarding a commitment to marriage and to their families, they and society are better for it.
You can start today with a fresh approach and firm commitment to your own marriage. If you need a marriage counselor, get a marriage counselor. I'm constantly amazed at how much time and energy people put into sports or hobbies and things that don't really matter in the end. Yet, they put very little time and effort into the single most important relationship of their lives. It might be tough going for a while to dig through all the emotions that have been buried for so long, but giving your marriage everything you've got, and then giving it more, is worth it in the end.
Passionate love is something every human being responds to. It's what makes men ready to slay the dragon and women to swoon. Giving sacrificially to your mate—meeting the needs of the other first—is the way to preserve or reignite the passion in your marriage.
No matter where and when you first fell in love with your spouse, you should frequently recall that moment. But don't forget, mere passion does not a marriage make.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of everyday life and forget the work that must go into every marriage. Part of this flows from our media-fed notions of romantic love—the idea that a relationship is worth preserving only as long as we're experiencing that pleasant head-over-heels feeling that couples have when they first get to know each other. Those feelings alone won't sustain a marriage; it takes commitment. As Stephen Covey notes in his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," it means recognizing that "love" isn’t just a noun; it's a verb.
It's also the most important action word of your marriage. Treat it as such, and you're well on your way to protecting your family and to affecting the culture in a manner that will uplift and inspire all those around you—especially your children.• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at [email protected]