What is premarital counseling and is it worth the time and money? It has been well documented that since the mid eighties, 50 % of all marriages in the US result in divorce. Interestingly, it is the seventh year of marriage which presents itself as the most popular time to bid goodbye. The latter statistic most likely gave rise to the cliché we all know these days as the seven year itch.
After hearing statistics of this caliber, one cannot help but wonder, what does keep a couple together? What commonalities do successful marriages share? Research has proven that certain qualities will produce a successful marriage, these include: High income level, compatibility, communication and conflict resolution skills as well as religious involvement. Evidence of the most common contributing factors to divorce include: Marrying at a young age, poverty, and a low education level .
Research shows that premarital counseling reduces the risk of divorce by up to 30% .
Truth be told, marriage is not only a beautiful love fest but also a living breathing partnership. There is love to grow, bills to pay, children to rear, dinners to prepare, a home to maintain, diapers to change, lunches to be made, social responsibilities to attend to….and on and on. A well established partnership is required to successfully manage the family.
A lot of married couples admit that the real stresses arrive after the first child is born. Enter the first child and that is traditionally when life as it has been known shifts dramatically-the marriage gets hectic and life becomes a balancing act. Anyone that has kids is well aware of how un-sexy a new parent will feel at the end of the day, it is not uncommon at this point for the marriage to be pushed to the back burner. Premarital counseling offers the opportunity for a couple to discuss changes and stressful moments that may surface throughout a marriage. In premarital counseling, couples discuss topics such as child rearing, finances, life goals and work out any issues that may surface as a result of different philosophies. Premarital counseling allows a couple to start the marriage off communicating about conflict and feelings. Supporters of premarital counseling claim that premarital counseling is proactive in that it prevents negative relationship habits from forming. While premarital counseling may be a growing trend for couples in the twenty-first century, it is commonplace for Catholics to undergo a form of premarital counseling before marriage. Pre-Cana is the course all Catholic couples must undergo before they can be married in a Catholic church. Research has revealed that amongst religious groups, Catholics have the lowest divorce rate , whether or not this fact is a result of mandatory Pre-Cana is to be determined.
One could argue successfully that what ultimately keeps a couple together is questionable and reliant on many determining factors. However, premarital counseling will offer a couple opportunities that will better prepare them for challenges before them. As mentioned above, a couple has a 50/50 chance of remaining married throughout their lives. With odds like those, opting for premarital counseling makes a lot of sense.
Sources: Glenn T. Stanton, Divorce and Cohabitation, Family.org, Nurturing and Defending Families Worldwide, http://www.family.org/socialissues/A000000629.cfm Family Relations, April 2003. News release, Brigham Young University. "Christians are more likely to experience divorce than are non-Christians," Barna Research Group, 1999-DEC-21, at: http://www.barna.org/cgi-bin/