With the aftermath of the Parkland shooting that took the lives of 17 individuals in Broward County, the issue has in some ways turned away from the gun debate and focused more on the culture.
Talk radio listeners throughout Florida have called and chimed in, stating the breakdown of the family is what is hurting the country. Roger Henderson, news director for Talk Radio WBOB out of Jacksonville, says a lot of the discussion has been focused on single parents, especially with the divorce rate in the U.S. climbing, and that callers believe this is having impact on the culture.
With the issue of gun violence prevention, some are pointing out that maybe there needs to be some divorce prevention. Some Florida lawmakers want to help reverse the increase in divorce by passing certain bills.
But attorney and book author Kenny Leigh of Kenny Leigh & Associates, Florida’s largest family law firm, explains that by the time a client calls his office to initiate a divorce case, it's usually too late to save the marriage because the damage is already done. Instead, he says there are many red flags that arise that should be studied to ward off divorces years before they occur. Leigh’s firm specializes in protecting the rights of men in divorce cases. Leigh’s book, entitled, Bounce Back: Tips to Help Men Navigate Family Law, says this:
"Some mistakes social scientists who report such data make is using short-term studies to compare the amount of marriages against the amount of divorces within that same short time period.”
Leigh says we should not only focus on preventing gun violence by certain precautions, "but if the breakdown of the family is a cause for decline in our culture, shouldn’t we look at what we can do to prevent divorce many years before a hopeless and irreversible marital breakdown occurs?”
The topic of divorce -- coupled with the lack of interaction with families, Hollywood influence and violent video games -- has been a kitchen-table topic since the Parkland shooting. But Leigh says nobody ever wants to focus on helping prevent divorce and the early-warning signs that come with it. Leigh points out other areas where there is a lack of attention:
"What happens when the love for other things or activities begins to outweigh the affinity for a spouse? or when marriage begins paying the price for such diversions?"
Some say this 'price' can be a greater contributing factor to the rate of divorce or separation than the short-term scientific models would suggest.
Despite these contrasting views, divorce rates cannot be accurately calculated using most methods of study; in fact, most divorce statistics can be misleading, because they use irregular methods to calculate the numbers.
State Rep. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, has filed a bill called "Florida Guide to a Healthy Marriage." If passed and signed into law by Gov. Scott, the bill would prohibit couples from getting a marriage license in Florida until it’s verified that they’ve read the state’s new handy-dandy guide on how you should conduct life alongside your love-abiding spouse.
Sound easy? Maybe, says Leigh. But what about the warning signs after the couple get married?
"The most popular false statistic is that 50 percent of marriages in America end in divorce. The reasoning is that within a given year, the given number of new marriages is something like 220,000, while the number of divorces finalized is something like 110,000.”
Leigh tells audiences who buy his book and come hear him speak that there are seven warning flags. In his book he breaks them down by sports analogies.
Neutral Zone Infraction:
Marriage is meant to be a partnership; however, when a marriage meant to be a duet becomes a solo, it’s a huge tip-off that marital expectations are off-balance.
In a working marriage, spouses can typically use effective methods to communicate with one another in positive ways. It may require some patience, maturity and selflessness, but marriages are doomed when spouses either lack the ability or desire to find a way to work things out.
When people decide to get married, starting a family is a common goal. But when one spouse wants kids and the other does not, it can be a deal-breaker.
Infidelity is one of the biggest banes of sturdy unions and can wreak destruction on marriages.
Delay of Game
Most people experience change as they go through marriage. However, when two people begin to evolve in different directions, it may mean their journey together has come to an end.
Sustaining a marriage probably means taking a few hits from life. Sometimes, it just becomes too much baggage and it may be healthier to just move on.
Leigh says many of his clients benefit from his tips after they move beyond their divorce and remarry into a substantially improved life. He said if early warning signs can ultimately keep families united, then it's reasonable to envision a future where what took place in Parkland would never happen again.