Thursday, December 8, 2011

Marr-we-age vs. Marr-i-age

Marr-we-age vs. Marr-i-age.

The institution of marriage has been an integral part of the family and society for as long as history has been recorded. Today it is undergoing a tremendous change, and many believe it is at a critical crossroads of its existence. The sanctity of marriage is under attack, and on a daily basis—is mocked as an outdated social institution. Its relevancy, benefit, and need are questioned by many in the culture.

Even though the documented research overwhelmingly substantiates the benefits of marriage, even though the book of scripture—the Bible—clearly demonstrates God’s plan for marriage, many in our culture seem oblivious to taking to heart all that is so abundantly clear.

AT THIS POINT MANY WLL STOP READING. They/we have heard a message we perceived as condemning, many times. They may be divorced, or a product of divorce. They may have a daughter who has given birth outside of marriage. They may have a son who has walked away from a marriage leaving the children fatherless. They may be cohabitating, have cohabitated, or know of someone who has cohabitated—maybe their children. A majority of us may fall into these categories.

By nature, we do not want to repeatedly hear what we think is reflecting a patronizing or condemning attitude. And to some, if biblical truths are referenced, it creates an even greater barrier to hearing any information about the committed institution of marriage.

Well this message is not meant to be patronizing or condemning. It is meant to be uplifting, not judgmental. It is founded in the spirit of truth and grace. It is that combination of compassion and reality that provide a sense of hope.

So is there hope for marriage? Yes. Over 80% of high school seniors want to have a successful marriage relationship. That is documented research data, fact—the truth. If you favor marriage, that is good news. The not so good news is what they see going on around them;
• Marriage rates have declined by 50% over the past 35 years
• Number of cohabitating couples have increased by 1500% since 1960
• Divorce rate has stabilized, but at a relatively high rate
• 41% of all births occur in a non-marital situation
• 27% of children live in a single parent home, most without a father
While so many want a successful marriage. They are afraid because of what they see around them. They worry that their relationship won’t work out.

So they wait to marry later in life, with the average age increasing by almost 5 years since 1960. Many experiment with cohabitation, believing the test relationship will validate if the significant other is the ‘one’. They believe cohabitating will eliminate the risk of divorce if he or she is not the ‘one’. Others, usually females, just want someone until Mr. Perfect comes along.

Unfortunately research documents just the opposite. Cohabitation leads to less stable relationships, whether that is in the cohabitating state or if the couple marries. The average marriage preceded by cohabitation has a 65% likelihood of divorce compared to a 40% chance for those not cohabitating. Over 50% of cohabitating unions end in the first 5 years, as compared to 20% of marriages which have no history of cohabitation.

The modern feminist movement of the 60’s may have sought some praiseworthy goals to strengthen the standing and opportunities for women. Unfortunately most of their strategies have had the opposite effect, including the support of abortion as a means to take control of their life.

Secondly, the movement was to liberate the women by promoting a sexual expressiveness that reflected their view of men. The solution was not to have men behave more virtuously but to encourage women to act more like men sexually. Chastity was no longer a promoted virtue.

Number three. The movement viewed marriage as oppressive, as trapping millions of women in a lifelong relationship of drudgery, saying goodbye to all their goals, hopes, and dreams. Cohabitation, they believed, could fix all this. Finally it was a relationship where the woman was an equal partner. And the woman may even have the advantage, because if she was not treated the way she wanted, she could leave.

In actuality, the cohabitating relationship enables the qualities in men which the movement was seeking to affect. The man can maintain a lifestyle associated with being single, foot loose and fancy free. And if a pregnancy becomes an issue, the opportunity to leave is an easy option.

In all of this we have not mentioned those most affected by marriage or the cohabitating relationship—the children. Today many relationships are about satisfying their own desires, with little regard for the wellbeing and welfare of the children. The culture’s moving toward a lack of child centeredness is driven by a decline in selflessness, sacrifice and maturity—all of which are required to raise the next generation.

Children want and need the stability of a healthy home. Research documents that children do better emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually when raised by two married, biological parents. Unfortunately, we are heading in the wrong direction. From 1970 to 1996, the percentage of all children under age 18 living with two married parents has steadily decreased from 85% to 68%. From 1960 to 2006, the percentage of children living with a single parent, in most cases without a father, increased from 9% to 28%. Over 41% of cohabitating homes contain children.

To this point so much information has been shared, and yet we have only scratched the surface. So what can be done, and why? First, simply to the why. The book of science, virtually thousands of pages of documented research bear out the benefits of marriage as the environment best for children, and for adults seeking an intimate relationship. The book of scripture, the Bible, clearly provides God’s plan for marriage and the family.

Second, and in conclusion, what can be done? You may be wondering if you missed the section relating to the title ‘marr-we-age vs. marr-i-age’. The success of this relationship we call marriage rests on ‘commitment’. This commitment must come from both participants—so there can be no ‘I’ in marriage, but must be ‘we’. The ‘we’ must always take precedence over the ‘I’.
As Christians we fully acknowledge the importance including God in our marriage, and now the we becomes three. As we read in Ecclesiastes 4:12, Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, but a cord of three strands is not easily broken. This unity can and will support successful marriages, or should we say successful ‘marr-we-ages.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Celebrate Family Week, 2011

To view Family Week poster, click here.

Celebrate Family Week, 2011

November 13-19, 2011

The North Dakota Family Alliance’s (NDFA) 5th Annual Family Week begins Sunday, November 13th. Believing that marriage is the cornerstone of the family, and the family is the foundation of society, NDFA encourages all to celebrate the importance of the family, and families spending time together.

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple issued a Family Week Proclamation at the NDFA’s request. Family Week posters have been sent to all schools and churches, and placed with many businesses across the state drawing attention to Family Week.

This year’s Family Week Celebration focuses on ‘marriage’, drawing its source from Matthew 19:5, “and said, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. The institution of marriage has foundationally influenced society for centuries. “Preserving the sanctity of marriage is necessary for the stability of the family, and to insure the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren”, states Tom Freier with the North Dakota Family Alliance.

During this year’s Family Week Celebration, NDFA is encouraging all in North Dakota to promote the family in all environments, including: the home, in school, in our church, and in our job at work. Looking to our Family Week poster, determine how you can intentionally promote marriage in your family.

The week’s celebration will include daily interviews with nationally known experts on this year’s area of emphasis ‘marriage’. Dr. Glenn Stanton with Focus on the Family and Dr. Pat Fagan with Family Research will provide great information as they visit North Dakota in November. We will also interview Brad Wilcox with the National Marriage Project, Jeff Kemp with Stronger Families, and Bill Doherty at the University of Minnesota.

This year’s emphasis on the sanctity of marriage is monumentally important in today’s culture. The cultural problems in today’s society stem from a breakdown in the family, and the breakdown in the family emanating from fewer Americans living in the committed relationship of marriage. The very best environment for children is in a home surrounded by their biological mother and father.

As proud sponsors, Scheels, Miller Insulation and MVP/J5 Trucking have demonstrated their commitment to the family. They live out this commitment every day in their relationship with their employees and families.

Tom Freier, NDFA Executive Director, states, “A healthy family environment benefits all, and of course, most certainly—the family itself. And foundational to that family is a committed couple united by marriage.”

Please celebrate Family Week sharing with family and friends the importance of family, and that this celebration should not end with Family Week. It should carry on into Thanksgiving week, and then throughout the entire year.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Real Issue... Comments from Real People... Cohabitation...

A Real Issue... Real Comments from Real People.... Cohabitation....

Is this issue worth your time????

A legacy leaving issue.

I need 10 minutes of your time, maybe more, maybe less--depending on your interest. You decide.

Cohabitation is widespread, on the rise, and becoming more prevalent every day in America, and right here in North Dakota. It has already greatly influenced, and if current trends continue, it may well serve as the greatest influence on the moral fabric of our society and determine the cultural legacy we leave our children.

Please read Jim Daly's introduction to Esther Fleece's Washington Post article, titled 'Living together,' unmarried? Put a ring on it!

'With all due respect to Jim and Esther-Jim's introduction is wonderful, Esther's article is great (especially sharing an insightful perspective from a young female), but the comments in response to Esther's article put a face to this real issue, from real people. WOW!!

If you can read 10-15 of the comments, and stop, well, I couldn't. If you or someone you know, is or has been involved in cohabitation, and wish to respond--you may do so confidentially to us at or directly to the site as you view the comments, adding ndfa to your name.

To link to Jim's introduction, Esther's article, and the comments, click here.

Among the many, great links in the article-you may want to go to state of our unions to find this great, indepth report.

Obviously, all this information is intricately involved to our NDFA Marriage Task Force Study, which will meet again on November 15th in Fargo. (and the Dr. Glenn Stanton referenced in the article will address our task force in Fargo)

Please pray for marriage.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Are you 'the luckiest man on the face of the earth?

Are you ‘the luckiest man on the face of the earth?

“Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth”. We all remember these immortal words of Lou Gehrig as he said good bye to baseball, the fans, his friends, and really—life. He did not bemoan his fate, lament that his career was being cut short by disease, but shared his gratefulness for his life and the opportunities afforded to him.

What a shining portrait of courage, of a wisdom filled perspective of life.
Can I say ‘today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth’? Can you?

To do so, we need to be at peace with ourselves, and God. Looking back, if our life is but brief or long, we need to have a sense of comfort, of tranquility, that only comes from knowing we did our best. We participated in the causes we believed important, we put our focus on the priorities we deemed absolutely essential. While on a day to day basis, we faced daunting challenges, we never lost sight of our purpose in life.

As the apostle Paul writes, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’. In Paul, we see a picture of contentment and confidence. He understands the huge challenges of the future. He must know how his passionate ministry might bring the gospel to more of the lost, but he humbly accepts God’s purpose for his life, and now must step aside. Paul must now place his confidence in those chosen by God to accept the mantle.

No matter what stage of our lives, you and I cannot allow the moment to pass us by. We may not know the time or place, but assuredly the opportunities to engage those life fulfilling missions in our life will come. If we recognize them and engage them with a good faith effort, our internal sense of peace will comfort us throughout our life.

Personally, I have encountered these life changing opportunities on numerous occasions. Most recently, in 2006 I was presented with the opportunity/challenge to lead the North Dakota Family Alliance. By God’s grace and providential wisdom I accepted, and now believe it was God’s plan and purpose all along that I might be prepared to advocate on behalf of Him and His plan for the family.

In Lou Gehrig’s final speech to a packed Yankee stadium in 1939, not once did he mention his records and achievements, but throughout he highlighted cherished relationships with friends and even adversaries, and most of all, his family. He spoke of the support of his wife, mother and father, and even from an unlikely source—his mother-in-law. He wanted his fans to know what was really important to him, as his life reflected.

So it is with us, our legacy is not determined in hindsight. It is put in place one day at a time as we travel through this journey we call life. If we fail to respond wisely and appropriately to opportunities placed before us, we may never have that chance again. Whether that be a career choice, a business decision, or something as foundational as being the spiritual leader of our family, our decision will determine our legacy.

Maybe the life changing opportunity for you is to immerse yourself into a cause, a ministry. Your passion, coupled with your time, talents, and treasure can truly make a difference. In some instances you might see immediate results, but in many cases your efforts will be realized by those in the future. The tree you plant today will offer shade for many generations in the future. Moses saw the Promised Land, but did not set foot on it—so it is with many whom so tirelessly labor to impact the legacy left to our children and grandchildren.

So can I say ‘today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth’? Yes. I am certain I will spend eternity with my Lord and Savior. Yes. With the NDFA I am able to fight the good fight to strengthen families and protect our family values and religious freedom. I can make a difference to save unborn lives, save marriages, to protect our right to share the gospel, and more. Whether I am able to set foot on the Promised Land or not, it is well with me.

So if you are looking for the peace of a Lou Gehrig or the confidence of a Paul, prayerfully petition the Creator in discerning your calling. And don’t pass up the opportunity; your legacy is waiting to be written.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

A deal, a compromise, or a solution?

The Debt Ceiling Misnomer

A deal, a compromise, or a solution?

Even though out of the office and somewhat secluded over the past week, I couldn’t escape the issue which consumed the media reports, the talk shows, and print media for the past month—the debt ceiling debate. Much of the media focused on the impending catastrophic ramifications of defaulting on our debt repayment and/or budget obligations. While these are very, very serious consequences to consider and are worthy of immediate action, the underlying foundational causes leading to the problem received far less attention. The real problem is excessive federal government spending.

We cannot believe that simply raising the debt limit, allowing the government to borrow more money—will solve the foundational problem, either short term or long term. To simply increase the debt ceiling or raise revenue by way of higher taxes, is not the answer, but only a formula to saddle our children and grandchildren with a burden which will last long after we are gone. Let’s be honest, what occurred was a ‘deal’, a ‘compromise’, not a solution.

In the political world you will hear, ‘it was the best deal we could get’, ‘everybody has to give some, all have to compromise’, ‘if nobody likes it, it is probably the best we could do’, and ‘I didn’t like it but we had to pass something’, and so on. I fully understand the necessity of compromise in the governance of the affairs of the nation, but when the political compromise is more about politics and less about governance—it makes deals instead of putting in place long term solutions.

The problem, the issue is very simple. We are spending more than we are taking in, deficit spending. Accumulated deficit spending requires borrowing in large amounts, trillions of dollars. As a family we understand the burden of debt, the albatross it creates, and the necessity of sound financial practices. Our families need to balance their budget, and now the federal government’s failure to balance its budget may well mean taking more from the family budget. That is not right, we deserve better.

While much has been made of China owning and controlling us as a result of their owning so much of the US debt instruments, the largest owner of our debt is us. The Social Security Trust Fund and the Treasury own by far the greatest portion of the debt, and as such have the most to lose. So the big losers of the president and congress ‘kicking the can down the road’ are us. You can’t rob the money out of the Social Security Trust Fund, replace it with IOUs, and hope to meet those obligations into the future.

At one time one of most secure investments we could make was US Treasuries, because it was backed by the full and good faith of the US Government. Today, that confidence has been shaken. This is true not only in the bond market, but as evidenced by the downturn in the overall market—accentuated by a one day 500 point plus drop in the DOW. This drop wipes out the year’s entire gains in just one day. This weakness in the markets reflects the public’s view of the ineffective federal governing policies. The people want solutions not a deal.

While the deal, the compromise may contain some worthy components—most are off in the distance, sometime in the future. Very little of the passed agreement affects current spending, with most of the spending cuts occurring later in the 10 year period. Unfortunately, past history documents few of these future, contingent cuts from ever coming to fruition.

The Balanced Budget Amendment is necessary, and must be passed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, in the best case scenario, its enactment and benefits will be many years down the road. Putting in place a 12 member congressional commission to guide the process to putting our financial house in order—leaves me thinking we will get more of the same. Balancing spending cuts with future debt ceiling increases leave open huge opportunities to play games—equating a spending cut with a decrease in the proposed/requested increase. Government spending will continue to grow.

That’s government as usual, what we have come to expect. We cannot allow that to happen.

A government demonstrating trustworthy stewardship, providing the necessary services for the people it governs is a blessing. A government’s failure to be wise financial stewards is a heavy burden to the family, and the children and grandchildren to come.

Now that the debt ceiling legislation has passed, we must call on our congressional delegation to pursue implementation that will best address the real problems with real solutions. While the entitlement programs make up an overwhelming portion of the federal budget, the current legislation failed to address those issues. We must address the real issues of appropriate spending levels within our means. We must require our delegation to stand up for these common sense solutions. Many speak of taking the common sense values of North Dakota to Washington, now is the time to unapologetically represent these solid family values.

As our congressional delegation is back in North Dakota for a recess—talk to them—share you views.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Marriage on the Rocks! Is it?

Marriage on the Rocks! Is it?

The US Census Bureau released the 2010 census data which shows only 48% of all households are being occupied by a married couple, down from 52% in 2000. The story reported on the “SayAnythingBlog” offers a list of reasons from the census department officials including: marriage is not a priority, higher incidence of widows, more divorces, getting married older, the difficulty and cost of divorce, no longer a stigma attached to cohabitation, and the perceived raw deal men get in divorce. These ‘matter of fact’ reasons are from the US Census Bureau.

While the report may be accurate, it leaves out a great deal of information. First, we have seen some improvement over the past 20 years, with the divorce rate frequency decreasing by 3%. The frequently trumpeted reports of ‘half the marriages among Christians and non-Christians alike end in divorce’ are being documented as false. Numerous studies show a spread of 20%, with a 38% divorce rate for those who attend church regularly and 60% for those that attend rarely.

Among all the benefits of marriage, one that is easily documented is the economic and financial status. Married couple families fare better in all categories, including; employment, income, net worth, poverty, receipt of welfare, and child economic well-being. In 2009, 5.8% of married couple families were living in poverty, compared to 29.9% of families with an unmarried female head of household. Pat Fagan with the Family Research Council reports that by digitally re-uniting these single mother households with the fathers—we would see an 80% reduction in poverty in the United States.

Sadly, more than 40% of births in the U.S. are to unmarried women. Even in this environment, a Pew study found that 2/3 of Americans say women having children without a dad to help raise them is bad for society. Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton, states “Americans do recognize that fatherhood does not end at conception, and children need lifelong contributions from both male and female parents.”

Since the 1960’s America has seen an astronomical increase in cohabitation rates, with a 25% increase just since 2000. Today, one out of every 10 couples is cohabitating. Obviously, the decision to remain abstinent and resist cohabitating, relates to one’s moral beliefs which in most cases are grounded in our religious teachings. But many cite economic conditions, namely money and jobs---“two can live cheaper together, than separately”.

The truth is that cohabitating couples have the lowest net worth growth of all family structures. From a state perspective, you have lower incomes, less income taxes being collected, and more government services required. From the cohabitating couple’s perspective, the lower income level places stress in the family and in many cases leads to separation. And in many cases, these separations involve dependent children.

The ‘matter of fact’ report from the US Census Bureau leaves out a vital component of the discussion—that component being “commitment”. A successful marriage requires commitment, both in preparation of marriage and during the marriage relationship. That strong commitment will be rewarded by a long lasting, successful marriage, which is in the best interests of the couple, their children, and society.

As a Christian organization, NDFA believes God ordained marriage. And as Christ is the cornerstone of our personal lives, marriage is the cornerstone of the family, and the family is the foundation of society. The cultural legacy we leave our children and grandchildren will in part largely be determined by how successful we are at preserving and defending the sanctity of marriage.

As Christians, will we allow the culture to influence us, or will we be the “Salt & Light” as we influence the culture?


Friday, April 29, 2011

Was HB 1450 The Defense of Human Life unworthy of a vote?

HB 1450 The Defense of Human Life bill unworthy of a vote suggests Sen. Curtis Olafson in his public statement, click here to see letter.

Below see a response to Sen. Olafson’s comments from representatives from North Dakota Family Alliance, Concerned Women for America, and ND Right to Life.

By Paul Maloney, Tom Freier and Janne Myrdal

BISMARCK — In his letter about HB 1450, Sen. Curtis Olafson, R-Edinburg, tried to justify his procedural trick that prevented a roll-call vote by insisting the bill was “poorly worded” and the work of “out-of-state extremists” (“Bill set N.D. up for expensive failure,” Page A4, April 19).

As leaders of North Dakota’s pro-life community, we feel compelled to set the record straight.

Olafson’s suggestion that the Defense of Human Life Act was not worthy of a roll-call vote in the Senate is absurd. The bill overwhelmingly passed the North Dakota House, 68-25, and received a 5-1 “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill was crafted and honed with the collaboration of former state and federal prosecutors along with attorneys from many organizations (both statewide and national) with experience crafting and successfully defending pro-life legislation.

We fully accept the fact that there is disagreement as to what will be the best approach to end the evil of abortion in our great state and nation. But it is shockingly audacious to suggest this bill did not deserve a roll-call vote.
Olafson insists that he is “pro-life,” but along with his supporters, he also asserts that “HB 1450 never would withstand a constitutional challenge.” This assertion is not only conceited, but also a tragic misunderstanding of the separation of powers in this country.

If the North Dakota senators who supported Olafson’s tabling of the bill are so above the rest of us in their knowledge of the judiciary process, then where can a citizen ever go with a grievance? If decades-old decisions such as Roe v. Wade are invoked to prohibit our Legislature from even holding a roll call vote, then what opportunity for righting a wrong can ever be found?

There is no way in which the Constitution prohibits equal protection under the law for all human beings. A legislator who claims otherwise cannot be pro-life in any meaningful sense.

But the real questions concern Olafson’s conduct regarding HB 1450 and the vast discrepancy between his conduct and his rhetoric. Why did Olafson cut off the Senate debate on HB 1450 before even mentioning his concerns of a possible legal challenge? Why did he not mention this concern during the three weeks in which he met with us and other pro-life leaders in what he claimed was a good faith effort to clarify the intent and effect of the bill?

At the end of those three weeks, the language that Olafson himself had requested and which the Legislative Council drafted for him was added to the bill in order to protect in-vitro fertilization and life-saving medical treatment while also adding a rape/incest exception. Olafson then voted for the amendments and motioned to approve the bill in committee only to kill the bill the next day with a procedural trick on the Senate floor.

Why such appalling duplicity from a senator who claims to be pro-life?

North Dakotans expect and deserve integrity in their legislators. The “initiated measure process” that Olafson recommends is not meant to be the only way voters can be fairly and accurately represented in the state government.

We expect and deserve honesty in the committee process and a transparent vote on each bill. Olafson’s refusal to grant either is a betrayal of his obligation not only to his district but also to the state.

Maloney is executive director of North Dakota Right to Life, Freier is executive director of North Dakota Family Alliance Action and Myrdal is state director of Concerned Women for America of North Dakota.


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Forum calls Divorce Reform a "Sham"

The Forum newspaper of Fargo called Divorce Reform legislation a "Sham". Our response is below.

SB 2367 Divorce Reform That Can Make A Difference

Comments offered by Tom Freier, North Dakota Family Alliance

As an entity which supports SB 2367, the North Dakota Family Alliance takes exception to the Forum’s characterization of this effort as a “sham”. This is a strong word meaning; a trick, false, silliness, counterfeit, and purporting to be genuine. None of these words apply to this effort. We need to ask ourselves a number of questions.

First, does the state have a vested interest in this issue? Whether we agree or not, the state currently is the grantor of both marriage licenses and divorce decrees. Chapter 14 of the North Dakota Century Code contains hundreds of pages of law dealing with domestic relations, including marriage, divorce, child custody, and parental rights and responsibilities, to mention just a few. The state, acting on behalf of its citizens has taken on the responsibility to put in place laws and rules that take into account the best interests and wellbeing of all, adults and children.

Second, does this issue rise to the level of need which should be addressed by the legislature?
Nationally, every year 1 million children are a product of divorce, On average in North Dakota, each year we have 4200 marriages, 1900 divorces, of which 900 will involve 1600 dependent children. Put in perspective, using the current trend of 1600 children per year, in 25 years that equates to 40,000 children, greater than the population of Minot.

Mounting evidence concludes that many, not all, but most children will experience the devastating physical, emotional, and financial effects associated with divorce which will last well into adulthood and affect future generations. To a degree many children of divorce will; have a higher incidence of crime and drug abuse, perform more poorly in school, have a higher incidence of being abused, be more likely to be raised in poverty, and they, themselves have a higher rate of divorce.

The reality is that divorce has a huge emotional impact on children. Most children fail to fully understand divorce. If adults struggle to piece together the components of the divorce, to come to grips with their feelings and emotions, how can we expect an 11 year old to? To those on the outside, the final divorce decree might seem like a new beginning, a time to move on, but to most children of divorce the ongoing challenge of how to deal with their feelings and emotions is only beginning.

The financial cost of divorce involving children is high, to the family and the state. The Heritage Foundation estimates costs to the state at $25,000 per divorce. Even using a more conservative figure of $20,000 here in North Dakota, the annual costs are in the millions. The annual cost just regarding those 900 divorces involving children would equate to $18 million. Depending on the success of a program to decrease the number of divorces, the cumulative savings over the years could well be in the millions. And this does not take into account the many and varied the costs to the individual families.

So a final question needs to be posed—would legislation such as SB 2367 have a positive influence on diminishing the number of divorces where dependent children are involved? Would requiring a 12 month waiting period as is in the bill, or even 6 months as some have suggested, make a difference? Would requiring counseling sessions, whether that be the 10 in the bill, or even 4 or 5 have an impact?

Recent information seems to indicate that a waiting period including appropriate counseling sessions may well be successful in certain situations, in those cases where abuse is not involved. There are no guarantees as to how many may reconsider their plans for divorce. The question is what is the necessary return on investment? Is it 10 marriages, or 50 marriages, or is it 75 children or is it 250 children? How can we measure the impact on those children?

And what is the investment this bill is asking for? It is requiring the married couple who entered into a legal contract, who have dependent children and now as they are seeking a divorce---that they would make the investment of attending counseling sessions during a waiting period---before reaching that final decision. A decision which will impact not only their future, but that of their children.

This is the policy decision before the legislature. Contrary to the view of the Forum, it is a legitimate discussion to have. Yes in general, it is about the benefits of marriage and family. I hope the Forum sees that as a good thing. But it specifically seeks to offer solutions to conflict and saving marriages, and especially taking into consideration the wellbeing of the children.

The Forum is correct when saying that divorce is personal, complicated, and traumatic—but it fails to understand the real reason for this legislation—to take into account the wellbeing of the children. If the Forum would see the overall intent of this legislation, they would not have called this measure a “sham”. They would not have accosted the legislators who introduced this bill as wanting “to bring the heavy boot of government intrusion”, when their genuine efforts should be applauded, not ridiculed for wanting North Dakota to be better for all, including the children.


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