Divorce Rate Dips but Acceptance on the Rise

***NEWS RELEASE***

For Immediate Release
July 17, 2017 

CONTACT:
Beth Harrison, Hamilton Strategies, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, or Deborah Hamilton, 610.584.1096, ext. 102

 

Divorce Numbers Dip, But Calling it ‘Morally Acceptable’ Is at All-Time High

Marriage Is a Journey, Not a Destination, Write Dr. Paul and Terrie Chappell Write in New Book, ‘Are We There Yet?’

 

LOS ANGELES—There’s good news and bad news when it comes to divorce in America.

According to a new Gallup poll, divorce numbers nationwide are decreasing, but the number of Americans who call divorce “morally acceptable” is at an all-time high. The poll, released just this month and conducted in May, found that 73 percent of U.S. adults now say divorce is “morally acceptable.” Gallup also reported that since 2001, there has been a 14-point rise in the percentage of Americans who find divorce acceptable, even as the national divorce rate has declined.

Dr. Paul Chappell and his wife of 36 years, Terrie, address all the most complex issues of marriage in their soon-to-be-released book Are We There Yet? Marriage—a Perfect Journey for Imperfect Couples.

The Chappells say in “Are We There Yet?” that marriage is more like a long journey rather than a destination. And along the way, some bumps in the road are bound to happen.

In Chapter 4, titled “It’s a Two-Lane Highway,” and Chapter 5, “Roadblocks,” the Chappells address communication and conflict in marriage, respectively.

“When we’re traveling, physical roadblocks are obvious—frustrating road construction, storms that ground flights and traffic that makes us late,” said Dr. Paul Chappell. “But while these physical roadblocks are out in the open, most relational conflict happens in relative privacy. We may look at couples with ‘the perfect marriage’ and assume that great marriages never have conflict. The truth is, conflict, or at least disagreement, is fairly common in marriage. The difference between a strong marriage and a weak marriage is how partners handle that conflict.”

In “Are We There Yet?,” Terrie Chappell candidly shared that she grew up in a home with an alcoholic father and has always been sensitive to conflict.

“To me, a raised voice was a short warning before verbal and/or physical abuse,” she recounted. “For years, I had developed coping mechanisms of emotional sensitivity and withdrawal: the moment I sensed tension beginning to build in any relationship, my reflex was to withdraw. This became a difficulty in marriage because the best way past a roadblock is through it, but I was stopping short.

“Making the situation even more complex was my expectation that Christian couples never fight,” she continued. “Coming from an unsaved home, I was so looking forward to building a truly Christian home with my husband and was determined that our marriage would be Christ-honoring in every way—including no disagreement. To be sure, I knew in my head that every marriage is comprised of two imperfect people, but I still had a heart expectation that was far more idealistic than reality.”

For those reasons, Terrie remembered, the Chappell’s first fight with raised voices was devastating to her. With her stomach in knots, Terrie realized with horror that her marriage was probably on the verge of total collapse. She turned back to Paul and suggested they get counseling. His answer surprised her, when Paul apologized for raising his voice and suggested ways they could solve their difference of opinion.

“I went from devastation to shock,” she said. “I had no idea that conflict could be solved so simply. We easily made up, and now neither of us can even remember what that incident was about. Over the years, we have learned together that what makes a Christian marriage distinct is not that conflict never happens. It is impossible for two people to so completely share their lives with one another for a period of years and not face points of disagreement. The difference is in how Christians respond to conflict. When we learn to respond in a godly, thoughtful and resolution-orientated way, the very process of working through it together builds confidence in one another and strengthens marriages. When we respond, however, in a reactionary, dismissive or unkind way, each conflict will breed underlying anger and resentment, which undermines marriages.”

The Chappells also remind readers that while God loves all people (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9), He hates divorce (Malachi 2:14-16).

“Those who have suffered through the tragedy of a divorce understand better than anyone how painful the

severing of a marriage is,” Paul Chappell said. “Our purpose is not to stand in judgment of people’s pasts or make them feel condemned over a situation in which they may not have had control. God didn’t design marriage to be a let’s-see-if-we-like-it proposition but a covenant of complete commitment to one another. This foundation of commitment will give married couples the strength to pursue an ever-deepening relationship and to resist the forces that would try to tear them apart.”

In Chapter 4 of “Are We There Yet?,” the Chappells share four rules for dealing with conflict:

  1. Never threaten with divorce. Usually whoever mentions divorce first does it to try to get the other’s attention. But once that door is cracked open, even suggesting that divorce as a possibility, Satan has entrance to push it open wider.
  2. Never argue in front of the kids. The greatest gift we can give our children is to love our spouse.
  3. Never attack personally. It is better to attack a problem rather than a person. Don’t presume to know your spouse’s motives or turn an action into a lack of character.
  4. Take breaks during tense moments. When you sense frustration or anger rising, take a few minutes to collect your emotions and to remember that you love your spouse before reengaging in conversation.

For its recent survey, Gallup also shared that in 2015, “the proportion of U.S. adults who said divorce is morally acceptable topped 70 percent for the first time.” That same year, incidentally, the divorce rate fell to a 35-year low, and the divorce rate measured by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was also at a multi-decade low.

In Are We There Yet?,” the Chappells candidly share biblical principles and personal, transparent illustrations that will equip couples to travel down the road of marriage further together. Whether newlyweds or married for decades, husbands and wives will find truth in “Are We There Yet?” to help them clarify their destination, communicate their needs, grow as a couple and even shed some luggage along the way.

With chapter titles such as “It Looked Different in the Picture,” “Paying with Foreign Currency,” “It’s a Two-Lane Highway,” “Unexpected Turbulance,” “Traveling Light” and “Booking a Room,” “Are We There Yet?” also explores topics from expectations, needs and communication to trials, forgiveness and intimacy.

Paul and Terrie Chappell live in Lancaster, Calif., where he is senior pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church and the president of West Coast Baptist College. His biblical vision has led the church to become one of the most dynamic Baptist churches in the nation. Dr. Chappell’s preaching is heard on “Daily in the Word,” a radio broadcast heard across America, and he is the author of more than 25 additional books, including “Disciple: Daily Truths from the Gospel of Luke for Followers of Jesus,” “Take it Personally: A Practical Guide to Owning and Obeying the Great Commission,” “When a Nation Turns Its Back to God: Living as a Bible-Believing Minority in the United States of America” and “Making Home Work: Biblical Principles for Raising Children and Building Families,” among many others.

Terrie Chappell leads the ladies’ ministry at Lancaster Baptist Church and is also a conference speaker. She is the author of “It’s a Wonderful Life: Serving God Joyfully in Marriage and Ministry” and “The Choice is Yours: Life Happens, Walking with God Is a Decision.” The Chappells have four married children, who all serve in full-time Christian ministry, and nine grandchildren.

Pre-orders for Are We There Yet? are beginning now online at www.AreWeThereYetBook.com, with an official release in October.

For more information on Dr. Paul Chappell and Lancaster Baptist Church, visit paulchappell.com or www.lancasterbaptist.org, or connect via social media on Facebook, Twitter or the church’s YouTube or Vimeo.

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For information about interviewing Dr. Paul Chappell on Are We There Yet? or to request a review copy, contact Beth Harrison at 610-584-1096, ext. 104, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, or Deborah Hamilton, 610-584-1096, ext. 102.