Incredibly GOOD news!
From the July 2007 edition of American Journal of Mental Retardation: Divorce in Families of Children With Down Syndrome: A Population-Based Study by Richard C. Urbano and Robert M. Hodapp:
In this study, we examined the nature, timing, and correlates of divorce in families of children with Down syndrome (647), other birth defects (10,283) and no identified disability (361,154). Divorce rates among families of children with Down syndrome were lower than in the other two groups.
Wow! Lower than families not experiencing disability! I’ve never heard that before.
In fact, usually what we hear for any disability is that our marriage is more likely to fail – FAR more likely to fail. I just listened to a lecture where, without substantiation, the lecturer said that 80-85% of Christian marriages fail when a child with a disability is born.
It simply isn’t true – but it sure says a lot about how we think about suffering, disability, marriage and God by how easily we believe it could be.
Why people think they are being helpful when they tell us that divorce is a common outcome after having a child with a disability, particularly at the very outset (I heard it the first time when Paul was less than two weeks old), just baffles me.
A few years ago I realized I was repeating marriage statistics that others had told me – and I had never seen a study or a reference ever given. I try not to do that in this forum; if a statistic shows up, I will do my best to provide a link to the study or authority providing that statistic.
And, frankly, statistics shouldn’t mean all that much to us. We belong to God. Let every marriage around us fail for whatever reason. But with God’s help, our marriages can stand and we can experience a peace, contentment and joy that makes Jesus look very beautiful in the midst of our circumstances. And when marriages fail in this fallen world, God is still sovereign and ready to provide. Let us persist in pointing to God.
Dr. Urbano and Dr. Hodapp also helpfully referenced other studies on marriage and disability, which I hope to get my hands on. The news isn’t all good; apparently there is a slightly higher divorce rate when parents experience other kinds of disabilities in their children.
But it certainly isn’t 85%. Praise God for that!