Live the Life Builds Community by Strengthening Marriages
As government programs and non-profit organizations spend more to provide services to meet the needs of those in poverty and brokenness, one organization is attacking the problem at its root cause by strengthening the marriages and families needed to provide a solid foundation for a healthy, thriving society. Research shows that as marriages fail, social problems and spending to deal with those ills increase.
The National Association for Relationship and Marriage Education (NARME) has identified more than a dozen areas impacted by strengthening marriages. Here are a few of their findings:
Poverty – 75% of all women who apply for welfare benefits do so because of a disrupted relationship.
Child Abuse – Children in single-parent families have a 77% greater risk of physical abuse.
Crime Prevention & At-risk Youth – Incarceration rates were 12 times higher for juveniles of divorced parents.
Drug & Alcohol Addiction – Drug use in children is lowest in intact married families.
Burden on Taxpayers – Divorce and unmarried childbearing costs Florida taxpayers $1.95 billion annually.
School Achievement – Single parenthood increases the risk of high school drop out by 150%, and the college attendance rate is 60% lower among children of divorced parents.
Births to Unwed Mothers – Women raised by single parent families are 164% likelier to have premarital births.
Economic Development – Divorce diminishes the potential to accumulate wealth and children whose parents divorce are more likely to earn less as adults.
With these statistics in mind, Live the Life was established in Tallahassee more than 16 years ago to bolster marriages and families through proven educational strategies in communication, conflict resolution and counseling. They have met with such success in Tallahassee that the divorce rate in Leon County has dropped 40.5% since 1998 – twice as much as the Florida divorce rate during that same period.
In 2004, the Institute for Research and Evaluation, an independent research firm, found areas that adopted community marriage programs such as those provided by Live the Life showed notable declines in divorce rates. The savings in government spending due to these averted divorces demonstrates that divorce prevention programs are well worth the investment.
Expanding in South Florida.
Headquartered in Tallahassee, Live the Life has regional offices in Jacksonville, Lakeland, Bradenton, and now in Fort Lauderdale. Their four core programs strengthen families by educating students on love, life and leadership in their Get REAL curriculum,, establishing a Smart Start in marriage through pre-marital mentoring, providing communication and conflict resolution tools in their Adventures in Marriage classes to strengthen existing marriages, and rescuing struggling marriages by providing Hope Weekends where couples learn the skills necessary to restore intimacy and extend forgiveness empowering them to achieve healthy marriages.
Well established throughout the state, Live the Life is all about collaboration, partnering with local churches, schools, and businesses to facilitate its programs in the community. In South Florida they held the first Adventures in Marriage classes at North Star Community Church in Wilton Manors last fall. In September, Live the Life will introduce its Get REAL program training parents to speak to their children about love, life and leadership at eight different church sites including First Baptist Church of Weston, Rio Vista Community Church, Boca Raton Community Church, Church by the Glades, First Presbyterian Church Fort Lauderdale and others to be announced soon. Additionally, Live the Life is working with local churches to train some of its members as mentor couples to facilitate the Smart Start premarital program, which qualifies engaged couples for a discount on their marriage license after completion and helps connect couples with a local church. The final program slated for implementation in South Florida is Hope Weekends. Providing intensive one-on-one coaching, these restorative weekends provide struggling couples with the skills they need to salvage broken marriages, and for more than a decade 80% of couples participating in the program decided to stick together.
According to Lisa May, vice president of development and the South Florida representative for Live the Life, these programs stand out because “they teach people how to navigate through arguments and develop skills to go home with so that when they hit that wall they will know what to do. They begin to understand their triggers and how to manage them.”
If you are interested in bringing a Live the Life program to your church, business or organization, contact [email protected] or call 954-861-0926.