Last week I attended the National Association of Relationship and Marriage Educators. Say that three times. It has taken on the acronym NARME which is much easier. My colleague and mentor Julie Baumgardner advised me to go to my first conference ten years ago. Some of the best advice she’s given me. But back then it was Smart Marriages. A whole movement began from these conferences. I have continued to go each year, not only to support this movement, but to get inspiration to continue as well as learn new research information etc… I never regret going.
This year I felt a total different trend. The money has dried up for government supporting these organizations and agencies and research, so the emphasis was a bit different. Before we had so many different people selling their programs or books. But this time I could feel a different movement. Yes, still a strong emphasis for strong healthy marriage and fathering programs. But this year was a strong feel for “let’s keep going but let’s advocate to prevent divorce and prevent bad relationships. There is a much stronger trend for our culture not to even marry now.
The breakouts and plenaries were about the research and what we can do. It’s a new era. We can keep doing our programs, but now we need to do a little more. Let’s get involved in changing our culture. They presented a great Documentary – Divorce Corp. by Dr. Drew Pinsky. It showed the flaws in our family courts and what is actually happening to our families in the court system. What’s worked and what’s not working. Where’s the money going etc… That one was very scarey and mind boggling. They had several sessions with lawyers and ideas about how we might change the system. Great STUFF!
We also learned more about WHY our young people are choosing not to marry, but choosing cohabitation. But we came away with new ideas on how to make a difference in our communities and how to keep advocating for strong healthy marriages. Dr. Scott Stanley brought out the “Sliding vs. Deciding” information about cohabitation.
The conference brought in Physicians Dr. Alma Golden and Dr. Freda Bush. They brought a practicality to why we advocate. Alma showed the studies produced by the CDC that show how divorce is effecting our children’s health, not just the couples. She also showed how the money is being spent through medicaid to cover these problems. We also heard Dr. Freda Bush talking about the lymbic system and how that effects her teen patients that are sexually active. I was affirmed in my speculations that once teens are sexually active their dopamine is being effected and it’s like getting a high from drugs etc.
One of the things that I especially enjoyed was Dr. Bill Doherty and his ideas for First Responders. When marriages start to fall apart where do the people go? Not to a counselor, or a pastor but to a friend. That’s where I want to work. Helping the everyday couple know what to do say and how to help their friends. This could be one of our most effective tools yet.
More than anything else I learned it’s not time to give up!! We all need to keep going. If you have ideas on how to get the word out I would love to hear about it. Or why don’t you join us and become and advocate with NARME. Let’s keep encouraging healthy marriages because we want strong families and thriving communities.