Relationship Status: "It's Complicated" ... Or is it?
Whether single or dating, engaged or married, humans have a love-hate relationship with being in relationships. They are so simple in design, yet so complex in practice. When we are in love, we feel a flood of pleasurable emotions: from the warm calm of contentment to the overwhelming obsession of passion. But when we feel disconnected from others or are falling out of love, the world can seem distant and cold, and we can experience everything from the blues of loneliness to the depths of depression. No wonder relationships both attract and repel us, leaving us in a state of troubled ambiguity. “It’s complicated,” people often say, and we nod in knowing agreement.
In this blog, we at Biola University’s Center for Marriage and Relationships hope to de-complicate relationships and marriage by presenting scholarly insights, biblical wisdom and thoughtful advice, helping to clear up the ambiguity. Encouragingly, scholars and practitioners from various fields have been exploring the complexities of love and relationships, and there is much we have learned in the past few decades. For example, there are findings from relationship experts showing:
The good news:
- 90 percent of all people marry, and 72 percent are still married to their first spouse.
- 80 percent of married couples report being happy in marriage. Of these, 30 percent report that
they are very happy, and 93 percent would do it all over again.
- The divorce rate is not 50 percent. It is closer to 30 percent, and for some groups only 25 percent. For second marriages it is only 6 percent above first marriages (35 percent).
- The rate of divorce in the church? Weekly church attendance lowers divorce rate by 25 to 50 percent. These couples also enjoy greater health and live longer.
- Premarital counseling lowers divorce rate up to 30 percent.
The bad news:
- It’s culturally acceptable to break our commitments. No longer is it widely accepted that marriage is a permanent union between a man and a woman, “till death do us part.”
- Conflict in marriage is frequently misunderstood and mismanaged.
- Fewer couples know and/or agree with God’s purpose and design for marriage.
Healthy relationships and marriages provide a critical foundation for human and societal flourishing, in the church and in broader culture. And while this thriving intimacy sounds easy enough, in practice such relationships often elude our grasp. We here at the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships hope to address the growing gap between what we desire most — close, healthy friendships with others — and proven, practical ways on how to flourish in these relationships.
“Healthy relationships and marriages provide a critical foundation for human and societal flourishing...”
In our blogs, we will offer thoughtful Christian perspectives examining vital topics, and practical tools and tips to help you pursue growth, healing and transformation in your own relationships and marriage. We will provide a variety of popularly accessible resources including articles, videos, lectures, interviews and more.
So thank you for joining us on this new venture, and for supporting us as we launch this blog. Please come back soon for more articles and resources!
Christopher Grace serves as the director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and teaches psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology. He and his wife, Alisa, speak regularly to married couples, churches, singles and college students on the topic of relationships, dating and marriage. Grace earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Colorado State University.