The family that prays together, doesn’t divorce….I missed the rhyme intentionally.
This may be true, they may do better in terms of not divorcing…..I am willing to concede its possible, though my own experience and anecdotal evidence says differently.
1. Even if its better, its not better enough.
2. Assuming it is better, WHY is it better? Is it that they are putting God first? Is it that they establish more intimacy by doing this? Is it literally the power of the prayer?
Its not better enough, because the family that prays together stays together, yessir, until they don’t. Even the very best statistics that specifically attempt to deal with, not just church goers, but born again, active, involved believers shows a divorce rate of 38%. While its not objectively possible to measure the heart of a man/woman, lets assume they did query those true believers and tracked their rates of divorce. Four out of ten sucks.
Where does the notion that praying together has a direct effect on the strength of a marriage come from anyway? It comes from the relatively modern evangelical interpretation of what it means for *a man* to be “the spiritual leader” in his home.
It used to be simple and straightforward to be a family man, maybe more so a Christian family man. The evil of defined gender roles loomed large in life, relegating a man to the metaphorical fields and a woman to the pantry and kitchen. On matters looking outward, it was the mans face and countenance that defined The X Family. On inward things, it was her responsibility hence her right to effect her order on their home environment. She didn’t object to the macro, nor did he to the micro as they thrived or failed to thrive, but within their imposed spheres. These couples indeed would pray together. It was truly a prayer FOR the other ABOUT the fronts on which the other fought daily, and it was in the best interests of one another to seek God’s counsel and strength FOR one another, not elbow one’s way into the others field of battle to leave their imprimatur on it. Not only was there a lack of competition with one another, there was a lack of interest in meddling and a tranquil acceptance that each to their own strengths could manage, and that together and with God’s providence they respectively and collectively succeed. Sure, they prayed together. Theirs was often a prayer of tangible desperation, of real needs, and few whims and urges informed these prayers.
Was it their praying together that cemented the marriage? Or was it interdependence and trust coupled with acceptance? Which was the more important? And was there any way that the act of praying together could possibly become an actual source of discontentment? I think not.
Today, roles are rejected, men and women compete, mainly they compete in one arena, that being was was the traditionally male arena, and they complain about what was traditionally the female arena, neither really wanting to be bothered by it. Convenience has lessened the time required to manage the home, and opportunity has afforded other pursuits for everyone. The needs of the couple are vastly different. The way they perceive one another is part competitor, part partner, and a great deal someone to meet their ever changing emotional needs. There is simply more time to live in one’s own head, vain imaginations leading to perceived shortcomings in their spouse. This allowed the emotional needs of women to supplant the need for provision and security, these now taken for granted and obtainable with or without a husband in large part. In short, her need for experiencing empathy was born and offered succor, fed and grew, and is a need as real and compelling as the sexual needs of men. (yes, there are women with high sex drives and men with low)
The church now lays out what the man is to do to be a spiritual leader. Its a task list, it is extra-biblical, and it is highly desired by wives that her husband adopt it as habit. What do each of the things on the task list have in common? A man reading the bible to children, a man kneeling and holding his wife’s hand as they cry together, etc., this is an empathy generating endeavor, an opportunity for the woman to experience the feeling that is the same one conveyed in adverts where a women dressed in white sits on a white couch in front of a fire place, cupping a white ceramic mug in both hands, and holding an expression near nirvana in its contentment. She feels that when she surveys the landscape of the family in which the man adheres to his church given spiritual leader task list. Its a bonus! Its a reason to drag a man to church! The wives whose husbands are not in church don’t have this extra thing to use as empathy leverage, what women wouldn’t want a man emoting, constantly exuding emotional experiential connectedness under the guise of experiencing faith?
Those couples decades ago who prayed together for altruistic reasons had marriages grounded in faith and mutual encouragement. It is not a coincidence.
That men today do the task list of spiritual leadership in the home, including praying together with their wives, may well lower the divorce rate, especially if they perform really really well. But, like the man who is content because of lots of varied sex, its the consistent achieving of empathagasms by the wives that keep them in these marriages, not some special level of spiritual oneness they are reaching.