Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I am a 30 year old single female who is very interested in getting married, but I am afraid. Most of my friends have been married and divorced at least once or twice. I believe in marriage and know that God created the marriage institution so that man and woman could live in harmony under his commandants. I have heard different reasons why marriage does not work, but I am curious to know your perspective. Why do 50% of marriages end in divorce?
Marriage-Minded Single Female
Dear Marriage-Minded Single Female,
This is a very interesting question because hundreds of individuals discuss it on a daily basis. I recently had a conversation with a fellow therapist and we both concluded that 50% of marriages end in divorce for several reasons, but the primary reason is this:
Couples invest hundreds if not thousands of dollars preparing for and facilitating the wedding of their dreams, but often do not invest in things that can increase their chances of succeeding in marriage such as premarital therapy.
Unfortunately, hundreds of couples end up in my office due to divorce proceedings because they did not invest in the proper tools. I have heard clients tell me that they paid over $15K on wedding expenses and another $5K or more on the wedding ring. Several years ago I surveyed 40 of my couples and found that on the average most couples spent between $1K and $10 K on a wedding ring; between $500 and $2500 on a wedding dress; between $5K and $10K for the wedding reception; $5K to $10K on the honeymoon and $0 on premarital therapy or other relationship enhancement tools.
When I inquired about attending and investing in premarital counseling, most couples stated that they did not feel that premarital counseling was a necessary investment. They reported that they wanted to remember their wedding and honeymoon because they were celebrations of their love.
I agree that weddings and honeymoons are lifetime-worthy celebrations, but I do not agree with the fact that most couples do not invest in premarital counseling. Getting married is easy, but remaining married requires more than a celebration of love.
In my premarital sessions, I help couples gain a better understanding of my RTC model (Respect, Trust and Communication). The size of a wedding ring or memories of a pretty reception often does not matter during conflict. However, knowing how to communicate through the storm does. Furthermore, I help couples understand personality differences and provide them with tools to help them successfully conquer the post honeymoon phase.
I highly recommend that you consider premarital counseling if you do not want to add to the 50% divorce rate. While premarital therapy is not the sole solution to preventing divorce, it can help couples succeed by identifying potential crisis. The following saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a reminder that it best to take precautions before a crisis occurs.
P.S. – Please consider seeking premarital therapy from a professional counselor. Professional counselors are trained to teach relationship dynamics that pastors and ministers are not. However, if you want to grow your relationship from both a secular and spiritual perspective I highly recommend doing both.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.
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