Monday, August 20, 2012

Strengthening Marriages in Michigan

With the support of civic leaders, clergy, among other marriage advocates issued a Macomb Community Marriage Covenant, March 6, 2009.

Efforts aim now to issue a similar policy for Oakland and Wayne Counties, Michigan.

More than 100 clergy and couples converged on Sacred Heart Church in Roseville, MI., for a "marriage summit," where they declared their support for an approach that claims to sharply reduce divorce rates.

Civic leaders, including Roseville Mayor John Chirkun, among other Macomb officials attended.

The Community Marriage Policy (CMP) for Macomb was signed by clergy and advocates of marriage from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith traditions, among others.

Its signing marked the 224th CMP in America, as a movement to reduce divorce spread across the nation.  It relies on counseling and mentoring to keep marriages intact.

It was presented to Archbishop Allen Vigneron when he reutrned from leading the diocese of Oakland, CA., to serve Detroit. He said he'd take his lead from the Michigan Catholic Conference, and, his own staff in a meeting I had with him the week of the summit.

Others were more encouraging of the covenant, however, including local Muslim and Jewish leaders.

When couples are really hurting, they finally do something and take action, hopefully. 

Some don't and everyone loses, including children and society.

The focus is on strengthening marriage. 

There is no other agenda.

As much as the media wants to distract us and go down other roads, our purpose is to support marriages in crisis, young marrieds, and those marriages that are working also.

There are seasoned marriages who can assist others.  They want to help them.
We're trying to be proactive.

Currently, 61 percent of Macomb marriages fail. 

Clearly, the rates is even more devastating in Wayne County, for example.

And, leaders want to help.

Five basic ways are proposed for couples to enhance their marital bond:

Participating in four to six months of pre-marriage preparation, led by a trained mentor couple who teach communication skills and conflict resolution.  The newlyweds would also attend at least two post-wedding mentoring sessions.

Attending an annual retreat at a local worship site.

Having volunteer couples who once faced separation or divorce themselves engage in mentoring those who are considering divorce.

Reconciling separated couples by having the departing spouse take a 12-week class that relies on a textbook called "Marriage 911."

And, creating a step-family support group for those engged in a second marriage and struggling to make the new family connections work in such merged households.

This CMP concept was hatched in 1996 by Michael McManus at

He leads a nonprofit, Marriage Savers.

He wrote tomes on the topic of marriage, and, insists that this approach can cut divorce rates in half, if not eliminate failed marriages altogether.

Data is tracked.

Places that have met with success with this policy include Austin, exas; Kansas City, Kan.; and El Paso, Texas, to mention a few.

The strategy was tried and put to the test by McManus' local church in Bethesda, Md.  It helped 288 couples over 10 years.  After counseling and mentoring, 55 couples decided not to wed.  Of the 233 who did marry, only 7 later divorced.

An independent study shows that the first 114 cities to embrace the CMP saw divorce rates fall 17 percent over 7 years.

Rabbi Mordehi Waldman, formerly of the Congregation Beth Tephilath Moses in Mt. Clemens, MI., was on hand at the signing and issuing of the Macomb CMP.

"I truly believe there should be some kind of organization that promotes the idea of reconciliation and conflict resolution," Waldman said, "rather than running to the divorce lawyers right away."

Area clergy and couples, among others, are launching this massive offensive for marriage in Wayne and Oakland Counties.

It will be proposed to the Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network (DION) today.  Rabbi Dorit Edut steers the group comprised largely of internet membership of hundreds across metropolitan Detroit.

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