Corporate Support for Marriage

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Concerned Women for America (CWA) and the Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI) note and praise a subtle shift taking place in corporate America: Some companies are finding ways to support marriage. This budding trend is a significant development that signals concern for the well-being and future of the nation’s children. A current example is the Father’s Day flyer from Lord & Taylor stores. The recent advertisement counters both fatherless families and cohabitation in tasteful, subtle and very effective pictures.

Some of the male models in the Lord & Taylor advertisements are a bit older than is typical, and some of the models in these pictures are shown with young children as is appropriate for Father’s Day. What is unique and notable is that in all the pictures where a “father” is shown with his children, he obviously and prominently wears a wedding ring.

In our country, the percentage of children born outside of marriage has increased dramatically over the past six decades. In 1940, less than 4 percent of children were born out of wedlock. By 2002, over a third of the nation’s children were born outside of marriage. When all the evidence shows significant negatives on children’s well-being when families lack a father, the Lord & Taylor advertisement represents laudable corporate responsibility. When the steepest growth in unwed births occurs in a demographic that constitutes a major target for customers for the prestigious Lord & Taylor stores (women aged 20-24from 45 percent in 1994 to 52 percent in 2002), the corporation’s action takes on added significance.

Simply put, the birth rates for unmarried women have nearly doubled since 1970 that means that today a third of all children and more than two-thirds of black children are born out of wedlock. It is little wonder that our culture has seen such a dramatic decline in children’s well-being children in non-intact families have roughly twice the risk of social and behavioral problems compared with children in married-parent families. Far too many children today live with problems that researchers have identified as associated with fatherless families emotional upheaval and struggles with anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other psychosocial difficulties.

The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-New York) famously expressed his view that fatherless families were producing “chaos” in American culture and that nothing like the disintegration of the two-parent family had ever happened in 2000 years of recorded history.

One of the best things that we can do for children today is to strengthen marriage and families. At a time when everyone is concerned about the nation’s children, one of the best things that we can do is to take steps to create a marriage-friendly culture that encourages and supports healthy marriages and families. Thankfully, we have an ally in one of the nation’s elite department store chains, which effectively illustrates the importance of fathers being married to the mother of their children.

Countering Cohabitation

Likewise, the Lord & Taylor Father’s Day advertising brochure features a young couple wearing pajamas and the male model’s wedding ring is prominently shown in the picture. CWA/BLI praises Lord & Taylor for leading the way in countering cohabitation a popular current lifestyle trend that produces dismal outcomes for both women and children.

Today, cohabitation is a lifestyle choice for many romantically involved couples research produced by CWA’s Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI) tracks the upward trend toward cohabitation and reveals an increase in cohabitation of over 72 percent since 1990; at least one-third of the cohabiting couples have children.

Other BLI research indicates that among cohabiting couples, break-up is the norm; in fact cohabiting relationships usually last only 18 months. Cohabitation is a recipe for failed marriages; men and women who favor cohabiting are likely to be less committed to the idea of marriage; furthermore, there is apparently something about the experience of cohabiting that has a negative effect on future marital stability. It is illogical to think that a marriage could start out stronger after a period of cohabiting, because that relationship lacks the very thing that makes a marriage strongcommitment between a man and a woman. The research is unequivocal: Married people feel more fulfilled in their lives financially, emotionally, sexually and physically.

CWA is most appreciative of the leadership shown by Lord & Taylor in taking such significant and subtle steps in promoting marriage over cohabitation. We’d like to encourage other corporations to follow their example in providing cultural leadership.

Dr. Janice Crouse is senior fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute.

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