TIP: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". This old adage applies to many things, including building a strong marriage. By spending time and energy now, you and your partner can lay healthy groundwork to learn to communicate. Understanding each others expectations help you go into your commitment with your eyes open.
The chilling divorce statistics are the quickest and easiest answer to that question. On a more positive note, there are many benefits to couples who start their marriage with mutual understanding and strong communication skills. People prepare for their life-long professions by taking courses, reading books or otherwise investing time and energy; preparing for marriage-a life-long commitment-certainly warrants the same energy and focus.
How to Prepare?
There isn't just one way to prepare for marriage- the essential ingredients of any preparation involves developing good communication. Among other resources, couples can find support through courses offered by most religious institutions, classes or seminars through colleges and universities, marriage counselors, non-profit and for profit organizations, books, and even simply, the process of reviewing questions found in "Must-have Conversations" on our website.
Where do I find Marriage Preparation Courses?
For additional marriage preparation listings click here.
- More and more universities and colleges are offering relationship and marriage classes as part of the college curriculum. Chicago's Northwestern University has teamed up with The Family Institute to offer a 10 week course titled "Marriage 101: Building Loving and Lasting Partnerships". The class is described as a "primary prevention- a sort of immunization against serious marital troubles and divorce later in life". Seattle Pacific University and Pepperdine University have also added relationship classes to their curriculum.
- States are taking on some responsibility and spending money on improving the chances for newlyweds to stay married. So far, Florida is the only state offering a discount on the marriage license fee (reducing it by $56) if you take a 4 hour premarital prep class. The preparation class must be given by an approved provider for the discount to be issued. As of 2001, Arizona has allocated $75,000 dollars to develop a "healthy marriage handbook" for marriage license applicants. Other states who are investing money into programs to help combat the costs of divorce are Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Maryland. Yes, divorce not only costs the families but the states, too; welfare, health care, collection of child support, lawyers and counselors costs states billions of dollars. Pre marriage help is not only here in the US but abroad. England came out with Married Life: A Rough Guide for couples Today a magazine for newlyweds.
- Pre marriage courses and premarital counseling are offered by longstanding organizations such as PAIRS (Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills), PREP (The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program) and Couples Communication. Each program has it own techniques used to get you to know your partner better in every way -- physically to financially.
- PAIRS First Seminar www.pairsfoundation.com is designed for premarrieds and newlyweds. This seminar is usually taught in 8, three hour sessions. Among other things you will learn conflict resolution skills and the "logic of love and emotion".
- PREP One-Day Couples Workshop covers topics such as "The Four Key Danger Signs" and "Risk Factors for Marriage".
- Couples Communication's "Great Start" is a combination of Couple Communication and PREPARE/ENRICH curriculums. You and your partner will not only take a personal "inventory" you will also learn techniques to communicate effectively.
- Often, your religious institution will have a series of marriage preparation sessions available. If none are available, and you and your spouse are looking for a faith based program, then check out Retrouvaille (Catholic based) or The National Marriage Encounter (Judeo/ Christian based) www.marriages.org. both organizations also welcome those of other religious affiliations.
- If you and your partner are finding yourselves at odds before the wedding you can also contact the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy at 1-703-838-9808 or visit them online at www.aamft.org. To find a therapist near you checkout their online listing.
- Aside from the above marriage preparation courses provided by universities, state sponsor programs, religious institutions, marriage enhancement organizations and the more private marriage counseling, you can also contact your local Y or community center. Perhaps a friend or family member has utilized such support and would be willing to share their experience.
Actions Before Marrying