Marriage Preparation- Who Needs It?

Us counselor types are always trying to find ways to help people see the value of marriage preparation and relationship education, because it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to create and sustain healthy marriages. In our increasingly complex world, our emotional bandwidth is filled with so many mixed messages about romance and love.

Our western culture prides itself (and rightfully so) on our educational achievements and advanced learning institutions. It’s curious to me that in such a highly developed and sophisticated society that our divorce rates are among the world’s highest, which doesn’t take into account those people who may have given up on marriage and choose to remain single. We are still gathering data on the failure rate of cohabitating couples, which is even higher that the failure rate of marriages.

It seems logical that in a nation that values and even embraces education and knowledge that we would highly encourage folks to learn everything they can about perhaps one of life’s most valuable possessions- great relationships. However, it’s just no so. Many people tend to bristle at the idea that perhaps they could learn some helpful insights and gain some valuable relationship tools to be better partners and spouses.

I was surprised to learn that in Georgia where I live, a nail tech has to get 1500 hours of educational preparation– that’s not a typo- and pass an exam to be licensed. Other states have similar educational standards, and in some cases, even more. The required course list is thorough and in depth. I get it, they are working with chemicals around people’s skin, and they use sharp instruments. If I got my nails done, I would want someone to know what they are doing.

To get a marriage license, on the other hand, there is no requirement, in any state. Zero hours. Everywhere in the U.S.A. There are only seven states that even offer an incentive to couples to seek knowledge and relational tools before getting married. The incentive is waiving or reducing the marriage license fee if the couple vountarily attends at least six hours of marriage education and counsel. Marriage preparation and relationship education just isn’t very high on our list. Wedding preparation, though, is pretty high on many people’s list.

I guess we think we can learn all we need to know about love from The Batchelor.

Our passion for families drove us to create the Invested Movement. We’re on a mission to elevate the sanctity of marriage and equip well meaning folks for the great adventure of a lifelong, loving marriage.

We’re challenging those in Georgia who can officate a marriage ceremony to unite together and to agree that they wil not marry a man and woman unless the couple has received a minimum of six hours of education and counsel. We’re not necessarily asking the officiants to do the marriage preparation themselves, though they may choose to do so.

Georgia is one of the seven states that offers the license fee waiver for couples, and we want to build upon the step our legislators have taken. Obviously they are making a statement that education can certianly help the couple, just like we emphasize education is valuable, desirable and even required in so many other sectors of our society.

Do you think eqipping people for marriage is a good idea? Then join us in helping couples, strengthening our culture, and creating a better future for our children. Ask your pastor or religious leader if they are willing to be invested in healthy future families and sign our register at investedmovement.org.

Greg is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor, and his practice is in Marietta, GA.

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