A friend of MercatorNet begins a conversation about love and marriage with the up-and-coming generation.

My dear young friends,

I know from many conversations with you that you want to get married and stay married. I know that many of you have fears about love and marriage, because of your own experiences of loss and pain resulting from their parents’ divorces, infidelities and other problems. I know that for many of you, these fears are overwhelming, even paralyzing.

I founded the Ruth Institute to help young adults get past the fears, anxieties and misinformation, and embrace the challenge of lifelong married love. We hope to begin a conversation with young adults, a conversation across the generations and within the Millennial generation.

What are your hopes and dreams for lifelong married love for yourself? What are your fears and anxieties? What do you want marriage to be for yourself, your spouse and your children? What do you think it takes to get married and stay married? What keeps love alive for a lifetime?

My generation, the Baby Boomer generation, has made marriage what it is today. Not that it was entirely our fault. We didn’t invent the contraceptive pill. We didn’t create no-fault divorce. We didn’t bring Roe v Wade to the Supreme Court. We were just the first generation who lived with all these things for most of our adult lives.

We are the generation that institutionalized the sexual revolution. We created a world where 25 per cent of conceptions end in abortion, 40 per cent of children born are to unmarried parents and 50 per cent of first marriages end in divorce.

A very few members of our generation saw from the beginning that these innovations were not progress, but dead ends. Most of us just went with the flow, and built our lives around the availability of contraception, divorce and abortion. We thought it was going to be great fun to separate sex and child-bearing from marriage, to remove permanence and fidelity from marriage.

The results are in: more unhappiness and poverty among children, more loneliness and desperation among adults, greater intrusion by the family courts into the private lives of families, a greater chasm between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” based largely now upon the stability of marriage.

If the marriage culture is going to be restored, you, the next generation of emerging young adults will be the ones to do it. We baby boomers have had our chance. Now it is your turn.

You have told me (and pollsters too) that you want something better for your children. But you’ve also told me in so many words, that you don’t have a clue how to go about it. You’ve got adults all over the place telling you how to discipline yourself in your studies, how to apply for a job, how to behave at work and what to expect in your career. But no one talks to you about how to prepare for marriage. Adults don’t give you realistic advice about how to meet the right person, what habits to cultivate in yourself, what expectations to have, what problems to overlook and what problems are genuine red flags. In fact, a lot of adults don’t even listen when you tell them you want to get married and stay married.

My challenge to you is this: do you, or do you not, want married love to last a lifetime? Would you be willing to commit yourself to lifelong married love?

No more messing around. No more excuses. No more waiting for the government and the politicians to “do something.” It is time to get serious. It’s time to stop complaining about the sad state of marriage and start doing something about it. Are you willing to take the Reel Love Challenge?

“It is my hope and my wish to get married. When I get married, it is my intention to stay married for the rest of my life. I commit myself to doing all I can for the common good of my marriage and my family.”

If you are already married, take this version of the Reel Love Challenge:

“It is my intention to stay married for a lifetime. I commit myself to doing all I can for the common good of my marriage and my family.”

According to a recent report, “By the time they have reached ages 15 to 17, 55 per cent of teens have parents who have rejected each other, either through non-marriage or separation/divorce.” Young adults: this report is about you. The question is: are you going to do something to break this cycle for your own children?

This is the core of the marriage movement: a personal commitment to lifelong married love, a next generation movement cutting across religion and race, country and class. Take the Reel Love Challenge.

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the Founding President of the Ruth Institute, an educational project of the National Organization for Marriage.


Jennifer Roback Morse PhD is the founder and President of the Ruth Institute. Dr Morse brings a unique voice to discussions of love, marriage, sexuality and the family. A committed career woman before...