Is Marriage in America a Dying Institution?

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Recent well-known relationship splits have turned the spotlight on the state of marriage and its sanctity in today's society.

Just this week, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Kennedy Shriver announced their separation after 25 years of marriage.

"We both love each other very much. We are very fortunate that we have four extraordinary children. And we are taking one day at a time," Schwarzenegger said.

"We all thought that it was a good match, but sometimes it doesn't work," California resident Jason Rael said.

The Schwarzenegger-Shriver split added fuel to a firey headline in the June edition of Maxim magazine. Actress Cameron Diaz told the publication, "Marriage is a dying institution."

How can couples make marriage work? CBN News spoke with Rev. Carlos Rodriguez of Church of the Redeemer in Virginia Beach, Va., about this.  Click play for his comments, following Efrem Graham's report.

"I don't think we should live our lives in relationships based off old traditions that don't suit our world any longer," she said.

But psychologist James Sells said the notion that marriage is dead is far from fact. Sells is a marriage counselor and Regent University professor and is co-author of the new book, Counseling Couples in Conflict.

"I kind of receive that headline with a degree of humor," Sells said in a response to the actress's remarks.

"That is someone's personal perspective, but it is not consistent with where we are as a society or where societies are around the world," he said.

Sells is now training church leaders to be better marriage counselors.

"Is marriage changing? Most certainly," he added. "The expectations of marriage and how people enter into marriage and what time in their lives they enter into marriage [is different]."

But while marriage may be transitioning, Sells said he disagrees with those, like noted psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow, who recently joined Diaz in the claim the institution is dying.

"I'm not certain marriage ever did suit most people who tried it," Ablow said in response to the controversy.

But science is on Sells' side.

"By every measure, marriage is a severe benefit for all involved," he explained. "Society benefits, husbands benefit, wives benefit, children benefit."

Studies show married people live longer, healthier and often wealthier lives than single people.

"Across every sector of society, marriage is a beneficial institution," Sells continued. "So that [marriage] is dying? No. That individuals have found marriage to be difficult and hard and sometimes chosen different life paths? Obviously."

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Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.