- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2010


A recent report from the Pew Research Center generated coast-to-coast headlines about how marriage is on the rocks.

Bloomberg News, CNN, the Associated Press, USA Today, CBS and even the Christian Broadcasting Network trumpeted the news that 39 percent of nearly 2,700 adults agreed with the statement: “Some people say that the present institution of marriage is becoming obsolete.”

Notice that nearly 60 percent of respondents did not agree with that statement, but that didn’t stop the “obsolescence” campaign.

Also, as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins later noted, “only 5 percent of Americans under age 30” told the Pew researchers they didn’t plan on marrying.

That doesn’t sound like “the end of marriage,” he said.

He’s right. I have an observation to add and then a list that should act as an antacid for anyone - and I know there are millions of you - who was annoyed by those headlines.

The observation is this: Researchers want to know whether youths are interested in marriage, so they ask. Report after report (Mathematica Policy Research in 2008 and Child Trends in 2009, to name two) has found the same answer: Very high numbers of teens - usually more than 80 percent - plan to marry, and this sky-high marital ambition is found in all racial groups.

Youth studies like these show that marrying cannot be obsolete, because more than eight in 10 teens and young people want to do it. If you still doubt the vitality of marriage, listen to the authors of “Eleven Reasons That It Is Great to Be Married Forty Years.”

“We certainly don’t think marriage is obsolete,” said Jim Strickland, who has been married 54 years to Bea. “We have a relationship that we are very proud of and that we try to share with others.”

“We are in love,” Mrs. Strickland said.

The San Jose couple lead marriage-education events in California as part of the Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment, now known as Better Marriages. They interact with couples of all ages and emphasize that successful marriages go hand in hand with active marriage education. Marriage is “truly the way to get a close, personal relationship,” Mr. Strickland said.

Fourteen years ago, when they reached their 40th anniversary, the Stricklands penned 11 reasons they were glad to have been together so long:

11. No one keeps score anymore.

10. You have someone to help you find your glasses.

9. You’re used to each other, so you don’t actually scare each other when you see how you look in the morning.

8. You have someone to help finish your sentences when you can’t remember the … uhhh … .

7. You have learned to share chores around the house. He does what he wants. She does what she wants. And the rest does not get done.

6. He does not have to suck in his gut for her. She does not have to wear a Wonderbra for him.

5. Ninety percent of the communication is without words, and he understands 51 percent of it.

4. You both give more than you get.

3. You feel comfortable saying “no,” as in “No, I don’t want to go dancing” or “No, I don’t want a new pickup truck.”

2. She has someone to tell her what she is after when she finds herself in the kitchen and can’t remember why she is there. He has someone to tell him what he is after when he finds himself in the bedroom and can’t remember why he is there.

And the No. 1 reason why it is great to be married 40 years is grandchildren, grandchildren, grandchildren and grandchildren.

The Stricklands recently joked with me that since they’ve passed their 50th anniversary, they should update their list and add a 12th reason. Mrs. Strickland recently e-mailed that last reason to me.

Being married for 54 years means “54 years of happy memories for us to talk and laugh about again and again. (And no one enjoys our memories as much as we do.)”

c Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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