During my growing up years, not much changed. Some might even characterize my childhood as boring, though I just thought it was normal! My grandma was always home when I called her. My parents both worked the same jobs my entire childhood. My aunts and uncles all lived nearby and there was never serious talk of anyone moving away. Until my grandfather passed away suddenly when I was ten, everything in my life had run along smoothly with very little turbulence. Yes, I dealt with some horrible neighborhood children, I made the occasional bad grade in school, and my cat died when I was six; but, for the most part I expected each day to be similar to the one before – wake up, breakfast, school, homework, play, dinner, bath, bed, and… repeat.
A memory which stands out in my mind is going on a ‘last dinner as a family’ outing with two of my friends and their parents. Thankfully, I was young enough that it did not seem too awkward, but even at the age of nine, I pondered why my friends’ parents were divorcing, why they were holding hands if they did not want to be married anymore, and why they invited me along to such a “special” dinner. (I remember my mom suggesting that maybe they invited me to keep it from being so sad.) I can remember the restaurant we went to, but little else about the event. My memory may be faulty, but it seems like I overheard them both say in a quiet, somewhat regretful voice – “Last time.”
For my friends, the next several years of their lives were very much not predictable. They watched their parents date different people and their mom remarry. At times, I would imagine they longed for their family to be together again. I am not going to be a drama queen and say that children of divorce never lead happy, fulfilled lives – that would be a naïve and unnecessarily hysterical statement. However, we know divorce is devastating for both the couple and their loved ones; and, we know the vast majority of people who get married do not walk down the aisle thinking, “I wonder how long this will last?” Most engaged couples cannot wait to tie the knot and stay married to their best friend forever.
What All Couples Want
As relationship coaches, we see a myriad of couples from different backgrounds, but all of our clients have one major factor in common – they do not want their marriages to end in divorce. All couples want marital success. We have worked with people from different states and different countries, and each of them have desired to either strengthen their relationship through counseling so they can avoid the pain of divorce, or they have desired to know for sure if they should go their separate ways before marriage. Whether starry-eyed and in love, or downtrodden and defeated, they have all wanted to avoid divorce whether that meant preparing well for marriage or avoiding an unhealthy marriage.
After being on this side of marriage for ten years, I want to shout a few key phrases from the rooftops to every dating and engaged couple I see:
- He is not as perfect as you think he is! He will make you cry. Are you prepared for that day?
- She is probably not always as sweet and cuddly as she seems right now. When she grows horns and snaps at you, are you going to know what to do?
- This perfect individual with whom you are skipping through the park is a flawed, sinful, prideful human who will need more grace than you can naturally give. What will you do when your self-centered hearts face off one day?
As a teenager, dreaming about the day I would be someone’s wife, I am not sure I ever considered that the love of my life might be unhappy in our marriage someday. I was going to be the exception to the rule. Other couples could not seem to make it work, but I was going to break the mold. Other women treated their husbands disrespectfully, but I knew better! (Clueless is what I was. Clueless and heading for disappointment.)
It is very possible you will not always be happy with your future spouse; and, what is perhaps more painful is knowing that he or she will not always be happy with you. At times, your thoughts may range from, “Am I sure I made the right decision?” to “What in the world was I thinking?!?” Some days, you will thank God for sending you such a special person and other days you might sink into the floor and cry out, “God, why did You allow me to enter a marriage which would cause me so much pain when You could have stopped it?!”
Why Couples Avoid Pre-Engagement and Premarital Counseling
Knowing what I know now, it pains me when young couples make flippant, life-altering decisions based solely on what they are feeling emotionally. “We are in love.” “We will never get divorced.” “We will beat the odds.”
Another translation: We feel in love because we have met someone who makes us feel good about ourselves. Why would I divorce someone who treats me so well and loves me as much as I love myself? We are happy so we must have found a secret others are missing.
I have been there. Eric and I were going to rock it! Guess what?! Eric and I did not rock it! ~smile~ Eric and I have had a bumpy ride. We did not know it all (and still do not… but, we know a lot more!). We encountered many surprises. And, we do what we do in large part to help other young couples avoid the pain we have gone through together.
Please don’t think I’m painting a melancholy picture – we truly do love each other. Our marriage is not falling apart, but we could have used some harsh realities and a lot more guidance before we said “I Do.” Maybe dozens of people offered us guidance but we tuned them out because we thought we “did not need it.”
Here are a few of many reasons couples avoid pre-engagement and premarital counseling:
- We do not need it.
- It is too expensive.
- It does not make any difference.
- We do not have time.
- We have married friends who are helping us.
- Why would we tell our personal business to a stranger?
- All we need is love and the Bible.
… and the list goes on and on. As someone who works with pre-engagement and premarital relationships, and as someone who thought she knew it all before she got married, I read each of the above statements and think:
- You do not think you need it because life has not challenged your relationship yet, but it will.
- It is too expensive not to do it. (Old saying: “Love is grand. Divorce is a hundred grand.”)
- Counseling can make all the difference if you put your heart and effort into it.
- Marriage counseling will take up far more time than pre-marriage counseling. Not to mention all the time pointless arguments suck from our lives.
- Your married friends are great assets, but they are biased and emotionally involved. We need friends but we also need objective people who can give it to us straight without fear.
- It is easier to talk about your personal business to a qualified stranger who will keep it confidential than to those you know who may spread it around or give you questionable advice.
- You do need love and you most definitely need the Bible. And, there are multiple passages in the Bible that show the wisdom in seeking counsel. (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 13:10)
Would You Buy Divorce Insurance?
There may not be a company that can ensure the survival of your future marriage, but you can begin divorce proofing your marriage now simply by preparing for it.
Eric and I created our pre-engagement program with this thought in mind: “What program do we wish we had gone through when we were dating?” We have worked with satisfied couples for over seven years now, and we believe more than ever that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. )Excellent quote, Benjamin Franklin… excellent quote.)
A little time, money, and effort invested now can save you a lot of time, money, and effort spent in the long run. Why spend your resources learning how to climb out of a hole when you can simply prevent yourselves from falling into the hole in the first place?
If you can say, “Yes, I would buy divorce insurance,” then look no farther! We would love to help you toward the journey of divorce-proofing your future marriage!
How much would you pay for divorce insurance? (In comparison, our programs are a bargain!)