Ever since Cain and Abel, people have bemoaned the decline in the quality of family life. But there is no doubt that the family is currently undergoing unusual stress. One unmistakable sign of this is the divorce rate, rising sharply almost everywhere. There is now one divorce for every two marriages each year in the United States. (Only Sweden has a worse ratio, but many other nations aren’t far behind.) Just fifteen years ago the rate was one divorce for four marriages. Why the doubling?

Among the contributing factors are easier state laws on divorce, increasing social acceptance of divorced persons, and higher-paying jobs for women. Of course, in earlier years there may well have been as many unhappy marriages as now. The current divorce rate may be a public reflection of longstanding marital discontent.

Christians know that marriage was instituted by God, and that it is not going to disappear while mankind is on earth. The general public, too, contrary to the impression that a visible minority gives, is still committed to marrying and having children. Divorced persons usually are willing to give marriage another try.

But belief in the rightness and persistence of marriage does not guarantee the enjoying of life together with one’s spouse and children. What can Christians do to improve family life? Certain emphases recurred throughout last month’s Continental Congress on the Family (see News, November 7 issue, page 62). Here are six to ponder and, perchance, to implement.

First, recognize that being a good husband or wife and a good parent takes time and effort. If God has given you a spouse and children, then he expects you to spend the time and effort necessary to have a good family life. If you are too ...

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