Is Marriage Obsolete?

TIME magazine this week features a TIME/Pew Special Report with the cover asking in big red letters WHO NEEDS MARRIAGE? TIME takes an in depth look at the changing rates, statistics and expectations about marriage in the United States and the world in some instances.  TIME says, “What we found is that marriage, whatever its social, spiritual or symbolic appeal, is in purely practical terms just not as necessary as it used to be……yet marriage remains revered and desired.”(page 49, Nov. 29, 2010 issue)  The article also talks quite alot about cohabitation and makes this observation, “Cohabitation seems to have no negative effect on a marriage’s chances if it’s preceded by an engagement, no previous live-in lovers and no children.” (page 54)  This affirms one of the points in our book My Heart Got Married And I Didn’t Know It, that serial heart marriage relationships are not helpful in creating healthy relationship habits and can actually set the stage for divorce.

We’ll be blogging about this article for the next little bit-  hope you’ll check back in!

Lora & Barbara


Heart Marriage — Stealing Your Youth!

Believe it or not some people actually stay in relationships for five, or seven or sometimes fifteen years beginning in their mid-twenties, only to have it NEVER result in marriage and a life long commitment. These folks are “heart married.” They are married in every way except the “paper-work.” Their break-ups feel exactly like a divorce — devastating and heart breaking. They are empty. Especially in cases where the female wants to have children — she is  now left wondering if that will ever happen. She is in her late thirties and she has seen her child-bearing years tick away while thinking “surely the proposal will come!” One lady told us that she felt like “her youth was stolen.”

Of course, you may be saying, “well its good they didn’t marry, have children and become another divorce statistic.” While that is true — it isn’t really the point! The point is that these relationships, nine times out of ten, have been signaling “danger” for a long time in many ways. In our book, My Heart Got Married And I Didn’t Know It, we talk about the danger signals, how to listen to them and steps that can be taken to stop this thief before it takes away too many years.

Check out our book on our website, If you know someone in this situation, maybe you would want to give her a copy. You can buy it on-line!

Barbara and Lora

More Statistics About Marriage — Could Cause Heart Marriages to Skyrocket?!

We have been discussing recent US Census data that indicates that the marriage rate is declining and the cohabitation rate is increasing. In another article lately we have read that the college educated couple is more likely to marry than those without a college degree. Now that is something to think about……. not sure why this is true. The other interesting statistic is about the age that couples are marrying. Couples are older today when they marry. The average age of both those with and without college degrees when they first marry is 28.

In our book, My Heart Got Married and I Didn’t Know It, we introduce the concept of heart marriage and naturally we wonder about the implications of these new statistics on this relationship phenomenon.  How may these new trends affect the rate at which couples become intimately bound together as if they are married, when they haven’t made that commitment? You may remember this is the definition of heart marriage and heart marriage is most likely to happen when couples are together for a long time, are monogamous, sexually intimate, and often cohabit. If couples are waiting longer to marry, it just makes sense that heart marriage may begin to occur at higher rates.

What does all of this mean for long-term happiness? We would love to hear from you.

Barbara & Lora

First Buy A House Together — Then Get Married….. Or NOT?

In our book, My Heart Got Married And I Didn’t Know It, we talk about how behaviors like cohabiting can bind a couple together in a “heart marriage,” even though the union is not legal.   We caution couples to be aware of this and to fully discuss with each other the direction in which they want the relationship to go.   We have written in this blog about the most recent Census Data that tell us that the rate of cohabiting is rising.  For those couples who look at cohabiting as “trying the relationship out,” you should know that statistics do not indicate that marriages after cohabiting are any more successful than if a couple hasn’t cohabited. The flip side of that is that the statistics don’t seem to indicate that they are less successful either.

Another phenomenon that goes a step beyond cohabiting and certainly seems potentially problematic  is that more and more unmarried couples are purchasing houses together without making any commitment to marry.   In the past few weeks, we have heard of 3 or 4 couples who have or who are in the process of buying a house together, but are not married or making any definite plans.  Hmmmm …. let’s see ….. they are willing to commit to a 20-30 year mortgage, but haven’t committed to each other for that length of time!  Even if they aren’t saying it, we believe  it is very likely that at least one of the two persons in those relationships is hoping that a marriage will ensue. If so — this step of homeownership certainly has the potential to be both emotionally and financially risky.    Hopefully they have a contract that spells out “who gets what” if the relationship doesn’t work!

In our book, we introduce a couple who was in this boat to no good end. Also, recently one of our readers talked about a young woman who was devastated — literally paralyzed with depression — because after a long-term relationship that included joint homeownership, the relationship broke up. Talking about breaking up feeling just like a divorce — dividing property is not pleasant, especially when your heart is breaking!

What do you think?

Barbara & Lora

Europe and Marriage

Lots of folks stop us at the grocery store or church or on the street to share their thoughts about our book My Heart Got Married And I Didn’t Know It. Several people have mentioned the statistics that show marriage is on the decline in the U.S. and have pointed out that marriage rates in Europe have declined even more.  There is a term in Europe that describes relationships as “life stage partnerships” and the underlying assumption is that relationships don’t last forever, marriage is unnecessary and romantic relationships last for a season. Hmmmmm……what does this mean for our understanding of heart marriage? We maintain that when couples embrace marriage like behaviors – sex, cohabitation, monogamy- especially early in the relationship, they become deeply bound even if the relationship is troubled and will have difficulty and heart ache when they try to break up.

So, whether you live in Europe or the states, live with intention and don’t rush your romances!!

Lora & Barbara

One more new term- Serial heart marriage

So….our book, My Heart Got Married And I Didn’t Know It, names and defines the concepts of heart marriage, heart divorce and serial heart marriage.  No surprise that serial heart marriage describes a person who moves from one heart marriage to another in succession.  Why would someone do this?  Well, relationship behavior is like other behavior, it is habitual.  So a person could have a long term relationship with the markers of heart marriage but when it dissolved, they may not do the hard work of trying to figure out why the relationship didn’t work.  They meet someone new and before taking the time to know them well, they quickly become sexually intimate and monogamous.  The comfort and ease of cohabitation follow as that is the person’s habit.

I recently met a guy who told me he hadn’t had his own place in 12 years! Really, he had lived with a woman for 6 years and when they broke up, moved immediately into his new girlfriend’s apartment where he stayed for 4 years.  When that fell apart, he moved in with his current girlfriend, where he has lived for the past 2 years.  He tells me he wants to get married but just hasn’t met the right woman yet.  This is the perfect example of serial heart marriage and this guy will need to change his behavior and intentionally slow things down to figure out what he really is looking for in a life partner. Serial heart marriage…something to think about.

Lora & Barbara

WOW — New US Census Data Reflects New Marriage Trends

The most recent US Census data is reflecting new trends in marriage.  For the first time, there are more individuals in prime marriage age, 25-34, who have never been married than those who are or have been married. Statistics are further indicating that among all ages, the marriage rate is 52% as compared with 72% in 1960. At the same time the number of couples who are cohabiting are skyrocketing.

The economy, changing attitudes, the desire to be on sure footing in a career are all cited as some of the reasons. People are waiting until they are older to marry these days.

One very interesting finding, however, is that even though marriage rates have fallen among young people, there is still a 90% probability that a person will marry sometime in his/her life.

What does all this mean for our discussion of “heart marriage” in our book My Heart Got Married And I Didin’t Know It? What do you think?

You can click on the link below to read about the newest census data.

Times are changing for sure!
Barbara & Lora