Unionized: National Marriage Project sets up shop at UVA
Think marriage is dying? A think tank dedicated to the state of our unions has recently set up shop at the University of Virginia, moving from its previous headquarters at Rutgers University. Since its establishment in 1997 by David Popenoe, the National Marriage Project has investigated the social, economic and cultural forces shaping the quality and stability of married life.
“In our day and age, especially given the divorce rate, marriage is an adventure of sorts,” says UVA professor Brad Wilcox, who began directing the research-driven group over the summer.
In recent years, the Project's research-driven mission has gained popularity among scholars, even one whose name is widely linked to divorce. UVA colleague Robert Emery, whose 2004 book was a roadmap to child-friendly splits, recently climbed aboard the Project's advisory board.
"While I focus on divorce," says this author of The Truth About Children and Divorce, "I know from experience, and from my research, that growing up with two, happily married parents is the best arrangement for children, and for adults too.”
All this promotion of happy marriage has come with some controversy. Another group, the Brooklyn-based Alternatives to Marriage Project, has spoken out against the now UVA-based group for allegedly ignoring the needs of those who can't marry due to legal or moral reasons.
Wilcox declined to address the criticism, choosing instead to reiterate the importance of the National Marriage Project's dedication to strengthening marriage.
"Marriage is an important institution which must be renewed," Wilcox explained. "From a child's perspective, nothing compares to marriage, and this is why the NMP seeks to put a positive spotlight on marriage and to identify strategies to strengthen it.”