HAVE you ever wondered why more couples live together today, yet never, marry? They settle into partnerships that dissolve with depressing speed and regularity, giving way to producing what social critics tag rainbow families, consisting of a mother and an array of children fathered by different men. “Even the words ‘husband and wife’ seem to be dropping out of our vocabulary,” observed Mobola, a freelance journalist based in England. “You discover that on the relentlessly politically correct BBC, the word ‘partner’ is now the rage, it is used to describe all couples, even if they are husband and wife.

“All we need now is for even government officials here in Nigeria to start referring to ‘My partner and I’, because if you dig deep into most politicians’ background, a lot of the wives they parade are nothing but common law wives. We need to ask ourselves if this steady erosion of a time-honoured institution really matters. After all, if people live together, have children together but never get around to tying the knot, isn’t that much the same way as marriage anyway?

“I don’t think so, otherwise, a huge number of experts will not now be looking into what they call Marriage Matters that will discuss ways that can help build a happier, more stable society. At the heart of their discussion will be a few simple home truths that ought to be etched on to our politicians’ hearts, truths they have conspired to obscure or ignore for decades. The most important of these is that children raised in two-parent homes are far more likely to do well at school, stay out of troubles with the law and graduate to happy well-adjusted lives. Millions of single mothers all over the world do a brilliant job against all odds, but it remains a fact that two parents are always going to be preferable to one. And, increasing evidence also suggests that it makes a huge difference whether those two parents are married or simply co-habiting; especially when it has since been established that one in two cohabiting couples break up before their child is five, compared with one in 12 where the parents are married.”

As the discussion hots up, it centred on what advantage was in a stable marriage for the parents. “Solid marriage is definitely not just about the children,” Mobola said, “it is about the parents’ lives too – married couples live longer, more successful lives and are less prone to mental illness and the temporary solace of drink and drugs. So, marriage matters. The question we should be asking is: Can anything be done to promote it? “The good news is that there are grounds for hope. The tide has slowly began to turn, there is a growing public appetite to do something about divorce and family break-down and some NGOs who are really serious about their vocation, are looking for practical measures to make that happen. But, there is a growing need for the government to fund “an array” of marriage education services, helping to promote more widespread use of counselling services when marriages start to fall apart. As things are now, only a small fraction of Nigerians whose marriages are collapsing seek any kind of help because, none are readily available. Some churches counsel couples about to be married with little post -marital counselling.

“Co-habitation prior to marriage is consistently associated with poorer marital communication quality, lower marital satisfaction, higher levels of domestic violence and greater probability of divorce. Which sounds incredible when you think most of us were brought up believing that living together was good for marriage, that it was the best way to ‘test’ a relationship, to see if whether you could live together happily ever after.

“Now, if we are ever to have a hope of addressing the social breakdown that has so blighted our modern society, it is high time marriage was reinstated and supported as the bedrock upon which stable and contented societies are built … “


Too Much Processed Meat Could Send You To An Early Grave

Meals containing too much processed meat such as bacon and sausages could send you to an early grave, a large-scale study has found.

Analysis of the diets and medical history of almost half a million men and women linked processed meat to deaths from cancer and heart disease.

The Europe-wide research, including work by Oxbridge scientists, found that processed meat is to blame for about one in 30 deaths. The researchers suggested a limit of no more than 20g a day of processed meat – equal to one rasher of bacon.

The warning comes in the wake of the horsemeat scandal in Britain which has caused many consumers to question the origins of their food.

Processed meat, made by combining the leftover parts of animals which cannot be sold as good cuts such as steaks and joints, contains high concentrations of fat, including artery-clogging cholesterol. The researchers from ten European countries quizzed almost 450,000 people, many of them Britons, and tracked their health for an average of 13 years.

They said: ‘Men and women with a high consumption of processed meat are at increased risk of early death, particularly due to cardiovascular diseases but also cancer.’

Some 26,344 of the participants died over the course of the study, with those who ate the biggest amounts of processed meat being 44 per cent more likely to have died than those who ate the lowest amounts.

The figures for heart disease were striking – those who ate the most processed meat, more than 160g or three sausages a day, were 72 per cent more likely to die of heart disease.

A study last year found that eating 50g of processed meat a day – the equivalent of one sausage or three rashers of bacon – raises the likelihood of cancer by a fifth.

But in the latest, much bigger study, those who ate the most processed meat were almost 50 per cent more likely to suffer an early death, with heart disease the overwhelming cause.

The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, concluded that a limit of 20g a day of processed meat – equal to a rasher of bacon or one full- English breakfast a week would prevent about 20,000 early deaths in the UK each year.

Tracy Parker, a dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: With spring in the air, many of us may be looking forward to sunny barbecues. But this research suggests processed meat, such as sausages and burgers, may be linked to an increased risk of early death.

‘However, the people who ate the most processed meat in this study also made other unhealthy lifestyle choices.

They were found to eat less fruit and vegetables and were more likely to smoke, which may have had an impact on results.

Professor Karol Sikora, one of Britain’s leading cancer specialists and an unpaid member of the industry-backed Meat Advisory Panel, said the key to good health is a balanced diet.

He said: ‘Don’t worry about having a bacon sandwich. It is not going to kill you. But don’t have four bacon sandwiches every day for your whole life. ‘

The amount of white meat eaten, such as chicken, was not linked to death rates by the researchers, while small amounts of red meat appeared beneficial.



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