Mormon Marriage: From Mitt Romney To Polygamy, What's The Norm?

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Mitt Romney and wife Ann Romney on the campaign trail
A look at modern Mormon marriage (read: the kind without sister wives).

Hanks thinks the younger, more divorce-prone generations could benefit from putting family before self. "This is supposed to be forever," she says. "Real love stories never have endings. There's nothing I can see us not working through. Falling out of love? That's not a good enough reason to divorce. Marriage holds you together until you fall back in love."

And while the Mormon marriage rate does seem to reflect the importance of the "eternal family," with nearly 71 percent of Mormons married (compared to just 54 percent of the general population), Hanks is right. Even among Mormons, divorce is more prevalent than it once was.

In the year 2000, Brigham Young University professor Daniel K. Judd reported that only six percent of Mormons who marry in a temple ceremony subsequently go through a temple divorce. But this figure is misleading, in that it does not include those who only receive a civil divorce. Receiving a temple divorce—actually known as a cancellation of the temple sealing—is, unsurprisingly, an involved process. For women, a temple divorce and an "unsealing" won't be granted until she is engaged to a new LDS member. Mormon men are not required to go through the unsealing process, though still require the OK from church heads before divorcing.

Overall, the Mormon divorce rate is no different from the average American divorce rate. A 1999 study by Barna Research of nearly 4,000 U.S. adults showed that 24 percent of Mormon marriages end in divorce, a number statistically equal to the divorce rate among all Americans. Still, for those marriages that do last, a glimpse at these couples' day-to-day lives shows families that are fiercely devoted to each other, and to their faith.

Ed Kinsey and his wife De, both 30 and married for nine years, with two kids, detail their church activities for me.

"We go to church every Sunday," says De, "and we all have different callings. Every other week, on Wednesdays, I help our young women. Ed handles money coming in and out. We all do our part."

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