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New Zealand must wake up to marriage

New Zealand must wake up to marriage

A new book by the Maxim Institute reveals why we must halt the decline of marriage in New Zealand which would accelerate if the Civil Union legislation is passed.

Author and Maxim Institute Director Bruce Logan, says the dream of an enduring marriage still beats in the heart of an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders. But since 1960, there has been a steady displacement of a marriage culture by one of divorce, cohabitation and unwed parenthood.

"This is creating terrible hardships for children. It is generating poverty within families. It has burdened us with unsupportable social costs. It has failed to deliver on its promise of greater adult happiness and better relationships between men and women," says Mr Logan.

We are the first generation in human history to decide that two parents are not necessary for the successful socialisation of the next generation, and we are reaping the consequence.

The book Waking Up To Marriage, examines a multitude of statistics that document the deterioration in marriage and family, and shows the consequences of that decline.

On average, children raised in broken homes do worse in almost every possible way than those raised by their mother and father. They are more likely to fail at school, experiment with drugs and suffer substance addictions. They are more prone to abuse in the home, more at risk of suicide and involvement in crime, they are less likely to enjoy good physical and mental health, less likely to get jobs and succeed financially.

On top of diminished wellbeing, there is an economic cost. New Zealand is conservatively spending $5.7 billion a year as a direct consequence of family breakdown, or close to 5.5 per cent of GNP. That's more than $3000 for every taxpayer.

Waking Up To Marriage finds a particularly disturbing picture when it combines the statistics for ex-nuptial births and divorce into what Mr Logan calls the "child rejection ratio".

"The proportion of children who are being denied a nurturing and full family life by their parents is increasing," he says. "The ratio of children who suffer from such rejection has risen dramatically, from 21 out of every 100 children born in 1971 to over 60 for every 100 children born in 2001." The ratio is even higher if abortions are taken into account.

It is time to change course and shift the focus of national attention back to marriage, and to rebuild a family culture based on enduring marital relationships.

In looking for answers, Mr Logan concludes that a full understanding of the "genius" of marriage lies at the heart of the solution. Marriage is still popular in New Zealand-80 percent of couples are married, compared with all other forms of partnership.

"A consensus is emerging among sociologists that marriage matters. Perhaps we should not be surprised to discover that children fare best when raised in a stable marriage by their two biological parents. What's more, marriage benefits not only children, but adults and communities as well," he says.

"As a nation, we must reassess and change our basic cultural values. For the well-being of New Zealand society, the benefits of marriage and marital permanence must be brought again to centre stage in politics and culture."

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