Pre-Marrying

I’ve been a pastor for more than 35 years, and I have a Masters in Counseling as well as a Ph.D. in Family Therapy.  On that basis, I can say with full integrity that I’ve never had a couple come to my office for pre-marital counseling saying anything that sounded like, “We love each other and want to get married, but we’re pretty sure our marriage is going to crash and we’re going to divorce.”  It may happen someday, but I doubt it.  Yet the divorce rate in our culture has hovered at the 50% rate for decades.

There are many reasons for this.  Here are seven:  1) It’s easier today to get a marriage license than it is to get a driver’s license.  2) Most marrying adults are not emotionally and relationally close enough to their parents to discuss pre-marital issues, so they miss the wisdom that parents historically provided their children prior to marriage.  3) The majority of people today grow up in either single-parent homes or homes that have experienced divorce, so role modeling is weak.  4) Cultural sexualization has led the majority of marrying couples to cohabit first, which research has found is deadly to sustained marriage.  5) The tidal wave of pornography is changing the expectations and meaning of sex, as well as critically damaging people’s ability to establish and sustain attachment.  6) Many families are quite dysfunctional but don’t know it, and so their children come to marriage with built-in crazy-making assumptions and habits they don’t even recognize.  And 7) with each generation our culture is stepping farther away from its faith roots, and in the final analysis, faith is what keeps cultures, and families functional, centered and strong.

Many today are just saying “to heck with marriage.”  Pew Research finds that while in 1960, seventy-two percent of all adults ages 18 and older were married, in 2011 only 51% are married, and there was a 5% decline between 2009 and 2010.  In core inner cities of large metropolitan areas, marriage is almost non-existent ~ very close to zero.

So unless couples either plan on not marrying (i.e., just cohabiting until something better comes along), or look forward to divorcing, they are wise to take very intentional steps to prepare for marriage ~ steps like taking time to get to know one another, getting to know one another’s families and friends, staying the heck out of bed, and pursuing pre-marital training.

The Family Legacy Institute provides tools for seriously dating couples.  These tools are part of wise pre-marital preparation.  If you’re in love and thinking of marriage, we encourage you to use these resources.

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