Interview: Marriage needs commitment and communication
Revd Paul and Christine Perkin have 40+ years experience in counselling hundreds of married couples and those wanting to wed. I took the opportunity to speak to them about some of the many marriage related questions I get asked by our supporters.
On the question of whether it makes sense to ‘try before you buy’ with cohabitation, Paul says, “it tends to undermine the very thing it is trying to test – which is a relationship of commitment”. He goes on to say that couples who cohabit before they marry are “twice as likely to divorce” than those who don’t. Furthermore, children living with a non-biological cohabiting parent are “40 times as likely to be abused” compared to children living with both natural parents.
Asked whether marriage is just a piece of paper, Paul and Christine say “it’s not less than a piece of paper”, but that it is “like a three-legged stool”. The paper represents formal recognition, our vows show a personal commitment beyond feelings, and the physical side creates strong emotional bonds. Together, they represent “the covenant you make to each other”.
Expanding the definition of marriage on the basis that “love is love” leads, they say, to “very dangerous territory”. What starts out as an argument for same-sex marriage, inevitably extends to polygamy and much worse.
On the topic of marital advice, Paul and Christine urge couples to “seek help early”, and “don’t allow things to grow”. If both are “willing”, they go on, “there is every possibility” that the marriage can be saved.
“We have to service our cars annually”, Paul says, “but marriage is so much more than a car”. Many churches run marriage preparation and refresher courses for non-Christians as well as Christians. If need be, “find another couple further down the road than you”, who you can both trust to help you along.
No-fault divorce, they say, “destroys marriage”. “You can’t have no-fault divorce without no-commitment marriage”, because it renders the vows “meaningless”. The overall cost to society will be immense.
At C4M, we recognise the overwhelming benefits for a civilisation built on stable marriages. The evidence across time and cultures is unambiguous. Supporting and promoting one man, one woman marriage is the route out of our culture war, and towards a more stable and flourishing society than the one we have around us.