SPRUCE GROVE — The normalization of cohabitation, pornography, contraception, infidelity, abortion and same-sex unions are all potential threats to a happy home.
With so many factors working against it, this generation has difficulty staying married, raising children and leading a Christian life.
Carol Quist, who works out of Holy Trinity Catholic Parish, was a guest speaker at the church during its one-day conference for strengthening Catholic families. In the Nov. 13 conference, called Happy Homes, Holy Hearts, Quist explored the idea of whether attaining a happy home is now even possible.
"Marriage rates are going down, and many people are choosing not to marry," she said.
Quist said marriage is being denigrated by today's celebrities, such as actor Johnny Depp who said, "Marriage can be whatever you define it as.
"For example, I don't feel like I need a piece of paper that says I own her and she owns me. I think signing a piece of paper doesn't mean anything in the eyes of God or in the eyes of people."
Quist pointed out, however, that the relationships between couples who cohabitate are twice as likely to dissolve.
The seven major conflicts that create stress in a marriage are excessive anger, selfishness, controlling behaviour, emotionally distant behaviour, anxiety, weaknesses in confidence, and sadness/loneliness.
All of those stressors can be relieved, she said, via Jesus through the virtues he espoused, including forgiveness, gratitude, cheerfulness, hope and love.
Quist's other recommendations for strengthening a family were to study the Bible, encourage the arts, get outside help when necessary and read the pope's encyclicals.
"This is how we become holy, by first living a happy family life," she said.
Quist cited a Maclean's magazine cover story, "No Kids, No Grief," that argued having children is a burden. The gist of the story was that "parenting is bad for your career, your marriage, your bank book and your love life."
However, Quist countered that it only takes a shift below the 2.1 kids per couple replacement rate to start population decline. Most developed countries are significantly below that level now. Canada is down to 1.54 children per couple, Spain at 1.3.
Another detriment to a functional family is the proliferation of and easy access to pornography.
In the U.S. alone, $14 billion yearly is spent on pornography. Online pornography sites generate about 40 million daily visitors, 25 per cent of Internet searches are sex-related, and the average age of a first-time visitor to an Internet porn site is 11. There are more sex shops than McDonald's restaurants in the United States.
Today's young people connect with TV, computers and video games. Quist recommended that families simplify their lives and, at times, rid their homes of technological gadgets and give the gift of self.
"Even if the kids are arguing, it's better than their being zombie-like in front of the TV," she said.