For years Ive been an advocate of the Marriage Savers program. Created by Mike McManus, it is a cooperative effort amongst local churches in a given community whereby, through a covenant commitment, pastors adopt certain programs and policies that show remarkable efficacy in decreasing the rate of divorce in defined populations. They have years of data from each successful deployment (meaning a sufficient critical mass of proximate churches participate) showing fantastic results. You can scan the site and see for yourselves.
I receive regular emails from them and in the past have engaged them in conversation by email. I asked what I thought were blunt tough questions and never was disappointed by the responses, even from McManus himself who seems to be a real gentleman with real concern about divorce in the church (and in general, but his program is about churches). I failed, however, to dig in and actually read the covenants to which churches commit..
An email I received yesterday , subject line : “A Lenten Pledge to radically Reduce the Divorce Rate” , listed off new community successes including the before and after statistics. They are impressive. Then it goes on the summarize the church covenant in numbered parts with my simple description following their headings:
- Preparation….premarital counseling.
- Enrichment….reinvigorate stale marriages
- Restore…using mentors to help repair hurting marriages
- Reconciliation…Here is where the bomb went off
I found this quote in the Reconciliation section text about helping separated couples:
a 12-week Marriage 911 workbook course taken by the spouse who wants to save a marriage when a partner wants a divorce. The course is taken with a friend of the same gender, who acts as an accountability partner, using a Support Partner Handbook to know what questions to ask each week. It is designed to help the committed spouse grow so much that the errant spouse is attracted back. It saves more than half of the marriages. Cost: only $28 plus shipping. [my emphasis]
I fear the “cost” is far more than $28.00. This is nothing more than a fancy new specialty tool added to the toolbox of the unhaaaapy wife. Its the full weight and force of the churches under covenant, the staffs, the elders, the mentors, and the support people back at Marriage Savers, all working to fix the man ( fix the man ≅ fix the marriage).
He knows its men who find themselves “the committed spouse” in the vast majority of cases. My pastor acknowledged as much a few weeks ago at lunch, sharing that his next meeting was with a wife who had refused to see him for four months during which the husband had more than remade himself per her complaints.
The advice to men is comfy chair stuff. “Don’t beg, don’t push”, just polish yourself into a Dove-scrubbed glow so fresh looking and smelling she will take you back if for no other reason than it will allow her to sit the fabric softener aside when washing the sheets, so fresh your aura will be. (fresh enough to overcome the miasma of passive aggressive manipulation).
Saving the marriage is unarguably good. Kids benefit enormously. The cost is born by the husband who has had this laid upon him by degrees for years with each argument that she uses to leverage out another chunk of who he is. This kind of program cuts short her rock chipping and blasts the crap out of him leaving a plodding long suffering steadfast man who will find no succor in the law, in friends and family, nor from his church.
Like the candy mentioned in the title, there is a hole in the center of marriage savers. It beats the alternative though. In this game some people do not get trophies. But for the victory with points at the buzzer….marriage wins 51/49.