Research on many fronts makes it clear that a healthy marriage is beneficial to both the individual couple and to the larger society.
Married couples tend to be healthier, happier and more prosperous than those not married. Husbands and wives tend to live longer with few fewer medical issues than do single men and women. The larger society promotes marriage through tax policies and other laws because of the benefits marriage brings to society.
Why then are the statistics on marriage so troubling?
Fewer men and women are marrying today than ever before in recorded history, and those who marry tend to do so at a later age. More children are born today outside of marriage than to married couples, and these births are to older women, not to teens. Teen pregnancy is at historic lows.
And as bad as these statistics are for all marriages in the United States, the statistics within the African-American community are much, much worse according to Andrew and Terri Lyke in their new book, "Marriage on a Lampstand."
The Lykes, an African-American couple from Chicago, have spent most of their adult lives in the field of marriage and family ministry, working primarily within the African-American community.
While their insightful book offers wisdom pointedly to African-American couples and those within the Catholic Church who minister to those couples, their delightful story is of value to all married couples and those who minister to them, and to anyone considering marriage as well.
Here they will find a treasure trove of meaningful but easily accomplished ideas and suggestions for growing a healthy, wholesome and holy marriage drawn from the Lykes' years of ministry and marriage.
Throughout this book the Lykes write from both personal and professional experience. They write affectionately about how their marriage into each other's family has been a life-changing, yet at times challenging, experience. They write about how they have been aided in their marriage journey by a loving and supportive faith community, both within the Catholic Church itself, and within the church's marriage ministry community.
This book grows out of a marriage support program that the Lykes developed that has the same title, Marriage on a Lampstand. They developed this program because they realized that many married couples, especially African-American Catholic married couples, "lack credible and effective" models for successful marriages, along with the skills required for healthy, happy marriages.
In their workshops and in this book, the Lykes provide both a credible and effective model and the skills needed for healthy marriages.
They challenge the church — both as institution and as the people of God — to provide more and better resources to married couples (as well as to those not married — yet), but especially to men and women within the African-American community who need these resources and witness so much.
Do yourself — and your marriage — a favor and read and reflect on this book using the questions helpfully provided at the end of each chapter. Then, share this book with other married couples and come together to discuss what you can do to provide credible and effective witness to the married couples — and those considering marriage — in your community.
As the Lykes point out, quoting the fifth chapter of Matthew, we are to be beacons for the world, shining brightly for all to see.
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Mulhall is a catechist living in Louisville, Kentucky.