"Marriage is a promise. Not just between the couple but to the community at large, to generations past and to those yet to be born." -- heritage.org
Divorce should be avoided by preparation before the marriage even begins. Not pre-nuptial legal agreements, but rather being sure to select the right person and being psychologically and spiritually prepared for a lifelong marriage. Hollywood has conditioned us to think in terms of passionate romances and impulsive decisions. Also, the extended families of the bride and groom are often not consulted. But quick, impulsive marriage could lead to quick, impulsive divorce – and if children have come from that marriage, the children could pay the price. Just a few hours of marriage preparation training – even online or from a book – could help to avoid years of suffering later. Breakup of a romantic relationship or calling off a poorly conceived wedding engagement is painful, but not so destructive as a bitter divorce involving children years later. Getting advice from both sets of parents before the wedding can help to create a more harmonious enviroment later, with less pressures for divorce after grandchildren are on the scene.
In other words – Prepare before the marriage!
Marriage education resources
An excellent marital preparation is Prepare/Enrich. This program has an organized, well-proven content, and methods for training of coaches. Church or other religious or social groups often have people trained to be facilators in the Prepare-Enrich program; and if the prospective couple can't find one that way they can check the directory on the Prepare-Enrich website. Then, the couple completes an online assessment, and the facilitor helps you to identify strength and growth areas. The program for participants takes only a few hours and a minimal cost – and it might well avoid a very difficult and expensive divorce years later. Training to become a facilitator for your church, synagogue, or other organization is not very difficult or expensive either. This program really works.
I received Prepare/Enrich facilitator training myself in April 2013.
Some other organizations such as have similar programs. The Smart Marriages website is a master resource about marriage education and coaching in general, and this includes a directory of programs for people to be trained as marriage coaches. The Catholic Church has always been very active in fighting divorce and strengthening marriages; its program for marriage preparation include www.catholicmarriagepreponline.com and www.marriagepreparation.com
Marriage and Relationship Education (MRE) is a rapidly growing field which is getting more and emphasis each year. As Dr. Alan Hawkins explains in his book The Forever Initiative, MRE is a practical way to try to reduce divorce and out-of-wedlock births which are doing so much damage to society. Politically it is far more realistic than rolling back No-Fault Divorce. I am still reading this book -- published in 2013 -- and I will have a a full review soon.
Here are a few books which are recommended. Now I have read most of them myself so this is no longer just second-hand recommendations, and I have full reviews of some of them:
Conscious Courtship, by Raymond Switzer
All in One Marriage Prep: 75 Experts Share Tips and Wisdom to Help You Get Ready Now, from www.allinonemarriageprep.com
How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk, by John Van Epp
10 Great Dates Before You Say I Do, by Claudia & David Arp and Curt & Natelle Brown
Can We Dance?, by Susanne M. Alexander with John S. miller, or
Creating Excellent Relationships by Susanne M. Alexander, which covers similar ground but specifically for dating couples.
The Marriage Transformation website also has much information to help prepare for marriage, and a series of four e-booklets which can be purchased from this website will be useful to many.
Being sure that you marry the right person should be a part of marriage preparation. The idea that there is only one "soulmate" in all the world who is "perfect" for you should be replaced by a realistic understanding that all marriages will take work. Many websites – including the marriage preparation resources above – will have questions to ask to be sure that your relationship partner will be a suitable spouse.
Though psychological/spiritual preparation is most important, the two partners should also make practical preparations. Part of that should be an understanding of marriage law and family law.
- Think about lifelong commitments and kids while considering marriage. Get a copy of 10 Great Dates and discuss these important topics together.
- Related to the above, think about finances. (This is also one of the topics in 10 Great Dates)
- Be sure to have experiences with the other person in many situations, not just on dates.
- Involve both extended families as much as possible
- If possible, find a facilitator of Prepare/Enrich, get an assessment inventory, and do the exercises.
- In general try to learn relationships skills, reading books such as Creating Excellent Relationships
- Be warned about No-Fault divorce and the laws of your state