No one gets married with the intent that someday the marriage will end. We all imagine a marriage that will last a lifetime when we attend the wedding. But, the reality is quite different. The statistics on marriage success is not very encouraging. 45% to 50% of first marriages fail. When it comes to second and third marriages, the failure rate increases to as much as 73%. Increasing pressure and stress on our family relationships is taking its toll.
What is going wrong and what can be done about it?
If you are a couple that is just dating and you think there is a chance your relationship could lead to marriage, it isn’t too early to be asking this question. You are in the perfect position to head off a failed marriage in your future by laying a solid foundation before you get engaged. Unfortunately, only 35% to 40% of all engaged couples get any kind of premarital counseling or education. Yet, research has shown that premarital counseling and education reduces divorce by 30% and increases overall marital satisfaction. So why do so few engaged couples get premarital counseling?
Marriage is a popular choice for Americans, despite the lack of success and preparation for it, because over 90% of us will marry at least once. Since that is the case, why don’t we start this process in the dating stage? A couple that does this could likely beat the odds. Wouldn’t it make a difference if couples who were dating, and not yet engaged, started taking steps to do premarital preparation? You have to decide to lay a solid foundation before you fall in love, because when you are dating you will be overly idealistic and will dismiss the need for it. You don’t necessarily have to go through premarital counseling, but you could explore all the important areas of your relationship that would be covered in counseling. Premarital counseling could be the next step before you get engaged.
Don’t get engaged until you have explored all the important areas of your relationship.
There are a number of tools and books available to help couples. I suggest getting a book with questions for couples. This prompts very good discussions that draw you closer, laying bricks in your relationship foundation. Another tool available is the Prepare/Enrich relationship evaluation that you can take with a certified facilitator who can help you get the most out of it. You not only take an inventory of your relationship, but you learn critical relationship skills and build on your strengths. I also offer the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis as another tool for evaluating your compatibility. Using these tools while you are dating, before you get engaged, gives you greater freedom to make adjustments to the relationship and even figure out earlier if it should continue to marriage. It is extremely difficult to break off an engagement in the midst of planning a wedding, if premarital counseling reveals something that becomes a deal breaker. It would be better to discover that before you get engaged. But the greatest benefit to using these tools while you are dating is how it builds your relationship on a solid foundation and significantly increases your chances of marital success.
Planning a wedding can be fun, and so can marriage, but both take work too. Don’t become another American failed marriage statistic. If you are already engaged or maybe even already married, it is never too late to build a strong relationship.