Married Graduates Research Marriage, Coauthor Book

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King’s 2009 graduates David and Amber Lapp are putting their education to use at the Institute for American Values (IAV) in Lincoln Center.

"I love getting to work alongside people who are doing important things," Amber said. "Sometimes I feel like I’m still a college kid, but [my coworkers] treat me with respect and give me responsibilities they also have."

Some of those responsibilities include researching love and marriage in America, using their new parenting experience to do so– the Lapps recently welcomed their son, Daniel James, into the world.

The project, called "Love and Marriage for Middle America" is "an ethnographic inquiry into how working class young adults in one Ohio town form families."

The Lapps plan to coauthor a book on the subject and publish it in early 2013. So far, the couple has compiled more than 100 2-hour interviews of young adults ages 20-34.

David and Amber have found that while there is a lot of research on the urban poor in America, there is a significantly smaller amount that focuses on high-school educated, working class folks in small town America.  The Lapps’ statistics also show that over the past 30 years, middle class couples have waited longer before getting married. They've also found divorce rates have increased.

The Lapps believe their readers will benefit from “a picture of married life in middle America and the challenges it faces.”

They also research the declining ethic of thrift and the proportion of children growing up with two married parents. Two of IAV's goals are to renew thrift in a "culture of debt and waste" and encourage lasting marriages, according to the IAV website.

In order to do this, the institute publicly hosts academic scholars and guests regularly at its Center for Public Conversation.

The Lapps are glad to have the opportunity to work in a place where they can use their skills and experience.  But while it’s enjoyable, the job is also challenging. Amber worked 80-hour weeks during her first year of marriage.

“I think what matters most is that we are faithful in the task at hand and in the responsibilities that God gives us,” Amber said.

When the new wife and mother begins to feel too stressed at work, she turns to the wisdom of Mother Teresa for guidance. Her favorite quotation from the famous nun is, “ We are not called to be successful, but to be faithful.”

CampusKatherine Devorak