This article was first posted on December 29, 2011, at

Celebrity therapist and “life coach” Dr. Keith Ablow just jumped on the “let’s get the government out of the marriage business” bandwagon. I have been writing against the “privatizing marriage” mantra, going all the way back to 2005. (See also here and here.) I do not wish to rehearse those arguments here. But Dr. Ablow’s contribution to this unfortunate genre is doubly regrettable. He is, first of all, deeply mistaken about the government’s role in discouraging people from marriage. As a psychiatrist, he has no particular expertise in policy analysis, and I am sorry to say, it shows. My second regret about his foray into policy analysis is that he forsakes the area of his greatest expertise, namely, helping people live happier lives. His proposal to “get the government out of the marriage business” substitutes an easy exit strategy for the genuine work of building up marriage and family relationships. (more…)

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The Impact of No-Fault Divorce

Marriage has long been considered a binding, serious contract of love, happiness, and commitment between two individuals who promise to cherish and forgive one another.  Couples committed to work out conflicts and adapt to changes in circumstances and personality.  Divorce was seen as a very significant event that often brought pain and unhappiness to many.  Yet attitudes about marriage have dramatically changed.  Many now consider marriage as an institution easily entered into and requiring little commitment and adaptation.  These changing attitudes about marriage also brought about changes in divorce.  Divorce morphed into a common quick-fix band-aid that was sought after any significant trial forced the spouses to rely on their lack of commitment.  These dramatically different divorce laws—called the No-Fault Revolution—have negatively affected so many facets of society.

No-Fault Revolution

History shows that the law regarding grounds for divorce revolved around fault-based policies.  The law required fault such as infidelity, abuse, or drunkenness to be present in one or both spouses in order to grant a divorce.  These laws were created to signify the seriousness of divorce the magnitude of commitment marriage expected from each spouse.  Marriage was not to be entered into lightly and was intended to be a lasting union bringing happiness to each spouse and their children.  (more…)

The Crossroads of Divorce: A Nationwide Survey of Statutes Affecting Reconciliation Efforts


With divorce being so common, the merits and effectiveness of reconciliation are of concern. Reconciliation efforts appear, for the most part, ineffective and unsought. This paper focuses on reviewing reconciliation-focused statutes surrounding the divorce process to discover what helps are available to struggling couples. Recommendations are given which would bring reconciliation resources and options to the forefront sooner in the divorce process in order to increase their effectiveness and people’s receptivity of them. It is hoped that these changes can help preserve and strengthen marriages. Future research needed in the area is suggested.

I. Introduction

Have you ever become lost while driving in unfamiliar territory? If so, you know the feelings of uncertainty that come each time you come to an intersection and must choose a path. Uncertainty haunts you even as you continue down a road you thought was the correct one, but as you continue down it, now you are not so sure. In situations like these, road signs and maps are helpful.

For couples undergoing marital difficulty, the situation can be similar. The territory is unfamiliar. Feelings of uncertainty are present as you try to choose the correct path but are not sure if it will really lead you to your desired destination. You are at a crossroads. Sometimes couples get on the road to divorce unwittingly and aren’t sure if they want to be on it. How do they get back on the road to marital harmony? Are there any roadmaps or signs? The road to divorce seems like the correct road because it is busy and so many people are traveling on it. However, if they don’t stop soon, before they know it (and it does happen quickly) some find themselves reading a sign that says, “Welcome to Divorce.” (more…)

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Adolescent Attachment and its Potential Compensating Mechanisms

Until recently, family researchers have shied away from the chaotic whirlwind of the teenage years, focusing instead on infant/child attachments (Bowlby, 1980) and how they affect adult relationships (Behrens, 1999; Crowell, 2005.) They posit that secure attachment is developmentally vital and that without it a child will flounder in adult relationships (Campisano, 2004). But, by skipping over the teenage years, researchers have ignored one of the most insecure and developmentally important times of a person’s life. Some, however, have begun to fill the gap by studying how parent/adolescent attachments predict couple outcomes (Overbeek, 2003). However, this is no longer enough with the radical changes in the nuclear family, namely the exponential increase in divorce (Cherlin, 2004). These adolescents can no longer rely on their parents for their firm support base. This recent change stretches the murky hole of adolescent security and attachments to frightening proportions.

In an effort to fill this chasm, this paper presents a study of how different attachments in adolescence can furnish teen’s need for relationship and belonging. Specifically, I address whether a lack of healthy relationships with parents can be sufficiently replaced with peer or romantic partner affiliations. I hypothesize that teens often try to find security in these other individuals; however, they are not adequate compensating mechanisms and have primarily negative consequences.

Though adolescence is a time of ambiguous turmoil, there is much that the family science field can do to help. Considering how greatly these years affect later outcomes, it seems crucial that researchers turn their attention toward these troubles. Although important, it is not just a matter of saving a few adolescent’s lives. These teens are the future parents of the next generation, with the capacity to nourish and build or to ignorantly neglect and flounder. It is an arduous task for parents to teach their children confidence and security if they do not feel it themselves. Additionally, adults with insecure attachments have a greater likelihood for divorce (Crowell, 2009).Thus, therapists and researchers alike need to explicate whether trouble-bound teens can use peer and romantic partners to healthily make up for their failing parental relationships.  (more…)

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by Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D

The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty prepared for The Fifth Annual World Meeting of Families sponsored by The Pontifical Council on the Family July 5, 2006, Valencia, Spain

(Publication Information: Familia et Vita, Anno XI, No.3/2006-1/2007 (Special double issue) Congresso Internazionale Teologico-Pastorale, Pontificium Consilisum Pro Familia)

“In July 2006, I was one a few Americans invited to give a paper at the Fifth World Meeting of Families, sponsored by the Pontifical Council on the Family, in Valencia Spain. The text of that paper has recently been published in a special conference issue of the journal Familia et Vita. I can’t honestly recommend you purchase the whole volume, unless you are fluent in Spanish, Italian and French! The Meeting was a truly international gathering, with clergy and laity from the entire Catholic world. My own contribution, entitled “The Church’s Response to the Socialist Attack on the Family,” is reprinted here.” (more…)

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