The following questions were asked a German couple who are well acquainted with what is happening to family values in Germany/Austria and Switzerland. Reading their responses to the following questions, it is apparent that families throughout the world are facing the same struggles. Because these issues are so prevalent in our culture have we become numb to them? What can we be doing to help our spouses, children and grandchildren to stand strong against the forces that would destroy our families.
Q – What are some of the biggest problems families are facing in Switzerland?
• The politically-correct view of our society on divorce as something that is a pretty normal part of life in relationships;
• Occupational and financial prosperity as key success indicators;
• The rapid, even dramatic loss of religious interest and faith in God in our society in the past couple of years/decades.
• The biggest problems deal with the consequences of digital media usage (focus/distraction/addiction; anytime/anyplace availability, pornography everywhere, easy access, gaming habits/time consumption, continuing interaction with former friends/partners; media usage by children/youth and unprepared, overwhelmed parents).
Perception of people and relationships as well as rhythms in life change dramatically (e.g., last thing in the evening and first thing in the morning is a cooperative computer game and not the spouse, children, etc.).
Q – Are parents having fewer children?
• In the past 5 years the birth rate has been rather stable with on the average 1.5 children, with 20% of those stemming from unwed mothers (Switzerland). It has to be added that this considers the childbirth rate of foreigners as well, which is often higher than the one of Swiss couples. For many young couples the goal is two children at most.
Q – Do many couples live together without getting married?
• Here, marriage definitely is not the standard “framework” for intimate relationships; cohabitation is mostly not even a topic anymore. It increasingly becomes the generally accepted and expected norm, with couples choosing marriage some time later in life or not at all (with less and less legal/fiscal reasons for marriage, if at all; in Switzerland it is fiscally more attractive to cohabit). The average marriage age is 30 – 31 in Switzerland.
Q – Is pornography impacting families?
• Yes, young couples as well as older relationships. Although pornography is mostly not viewed as a “bad thing” in the Swiss public, people are slowly but surely starting to see that it can still be (and often is) destructive for people and in relationships. But many still live in denial and judge pornography “politically correct” as something that just has to be dealt with wisely, as is the case with legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco (publicly widely accepted vices here in our area).
We appreciate the Gappmaiers for teaming up with United Families International, and we look forward to continuing to work together to strengthen families.