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Benefits of Premarital Education

Part 1

Contents of Benefits of Premarital Education

Page 2:  10 Things to Think About Before “I Do”

Page 3:  Healthy Relationships

Page 4:  Working Through the Hard Stuff

Page 5:  Wedding Expenses and Marital Stability

Part 2

Benefits of Premarital Education

If you don’t want unwelcome surprises AFTER you walk down the aisle, it pays big to tackle some serious items together BEFORE you tie the knot.

Although there’s nothing you can’t conquer together, have you ever talked about things like children, communication and conflict?  What about saving versus spending money–and whether it’s mine, yours or ours?  Or, what do you really expect from each other–inside and outside of the bedroom?  Oh, and then there’s the in-laws…

Buckle up–you are JUST getting warmed up for the ride of your life, and there is a LOT to talk about!

Part 3

10 Things to Think About Before "I Do"

“A wedding lasts only a day, but marriage should last a lifetime…”

There are many things that a bride and groom need to think about before their wedding day…the dress, the honeymoon, the rings. In the midst of planning for that special day, it’s important not to forget to plan for your marriage, which will last much longer than the wedding cake and flowers. Here are some important things for you to consider…

1.  Attend a premarital education class. Couples who participate in premarital programs experience a 30 percent increase in marital success over those who do not participate. They report greater communication, sharpened conflict management skills, a strong dedication to one’s spouse and overall improved relationship quality.

2.  Find a mentor couple. Find an older, more experienced couple to provide wisdom and support by serving as marriage mentors.

3.  It is no longer “I” but “We.” Marriage is a partnership.  Both parties should take part in the decision making process. Make time to pursue activities together.  Explore your common interests.

4.  Discuss your expectations for marriage and each other. Identify roles and responsibilities.  How are conflicts going to be handled? What are your marriage goals?  Be willing to apologize and admit when you are wrong.  Be proactive.  Solve problems immediately and don’t let misunderstandings bloom into larger conflicts.

5.  Discuss your goals for marriage to ensure your marriage will be successful. Unrealistic and unmet expectations often lead to resentment in relationships.  Be committed!  Commitment is a choice.  Couples who believe divorce is not an option going into marriage are less likely to take steps to end the relationship.

6.  Receive financial counseling. Are you and your spouse savers or spenders? Save yourselves a lot of future headaches by discussing  your spending habits and plans with a counselor and each other. Avoid wedding debt by working  out a budget before the wedding.

7.  Why are you getting married? Is it for commitment, love or loneliness, escape or impatience? Take stock of your personal priorities to assure that your relationship with your spouse gets the attention it deserves.

8.  Learn methods to communicate effectively and resolve conflict. Not being able to communicate effectively is the number one reason marriages fail. Marriage doesn’t change people.  Your marriage will be affected by both external forces (family, friends, work) and internal forces (your spouse’s thoughts and feelings). Learning to effectively communicate your thoughts and feelings to your spouse and resolve conflicts is crucial to the long-term success of your marriage.

9.  Discuss children and discipline. How many? How soon? What are the costs involved? How will the children affect both your lives?  Will both parents work or will one stay home? How will we work to keep our marriage healthy after we have children? How will you handle discipline?

10. How will time commitments (work/career, family/friends, social activities) affect your marriage? Make “Date Night” a priority. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just time scheduled for you and your mate to be together.

Learn more:  

Are You a “Keeper?”

10 Great Dates Before You Say I Do

Things I Wish I Had Known Before We Got Married

Part 4

Healthy Relationships

What You Should Know About Living Together

MYTH: Living together is an easy way to “try out” the relationship before committing to marriage.

Truth: While the idea of “test driving” a car before you buy it is a good idea, it doesn’t apply to marriage. Living together is basically a “pretend marriage” and nothing like the real thing. Couples who live together often have attitudes like: “I can leave any time,” and “My money vs. your money” that married couples don’t typically have. Married couples often have a stronger bond to each other because of their vow of permanence. Married couples also tend to have less volatile relationships.

MYTH: Living together will give us a stronger marriage.

Truth: Although many couples think that moving in together can give them a great head start in their marriage, living together can actually harm your marriage. Couples who live together before they marry have a divorce rate that is 50 percent higher than those who don’t.

MYTH: Sharing finances and expenses will make things easier on our relationship.

Truth: While sharing finances and expenses seems like the easy thing to do in the beginning, problems do arise. Just like any couple, disputes often center around money. Couples who live together have more financial issues to resolve. Conflicts arise over, who is responsible for which bill, and the rights that one partner has to tell the other how to spend “their” money.

MYTH: Your sex life goes downhill when you get married.

Truth: The level of sexual satisfaction is higher among married couples than for couples who live together. Couples who live together tend to be less faithful to their partners than married couples.

MYTH: Marriage is just a piece of paper.

Truth: Emotionally, physically and spiritually, marriage is so much more than a piece of paper. It is a commitment. Viewing marriage as only a legal arrangement strips it of its meaning and sets the relationship up for failure. If couples do not view marriage as a loving, committed relationship, divorce is almost inevitable.

MYTH: It’s only temporary.

Truth: Many people enter a cohabiting relationship hoping they will be married soon. However, living together isn’t always a stepping-stone to marriage. Statistics report that 60 percent of couples who live together will not go on to get married either because they break up (39 percent) or just continue to live together (21 percent).

MYTH: Living together is best if children are involved.

Truth: The effects of cohabitation on children is significant. Children in these situations are at risk of emotional and social difficulties, performing poorly in school, having early premarital sex and having difficulty forming permanent emotional attachments in adulthood. If the man in the household is not the biological father, children are at greater risk of experiencing physical and sexual abuse.

How to have a healthy, long-lasting relationship

No one wants to suffer the heartache of a broken relationship, whether it is a divorce or the dissolution of a cohabiting situation. While living together may have short-term advantages, it comes at a high long-term cost. If your goal is to have a stable, healthy and fulfilling relationship, here are some tips.

  • TIME. This is the only surefire way to find out if a couple is compatible. Time gives you the opportunity to see how your partner handles different situations that life throws at you: the hard stressful times, the joyous and rewarding times, and the humdrum of everyday. If you can survive these life events with someone and still love them, then there is an excellent chance your relationship will last.
  • COMMUNICATION. Relationships aren’t always wine and roses. Know that your partner will disappoint and frustrate you at times. Knowing how to communicate increases your chances of being able to resolve and even prevent conflict.
  • CONSIDER MARRIAGE. What makes marriage unique from simply living together is a “vow of permanence.” Partners publicly promise they will no longer be alone and no matter what happens down the road someone will be there to take care of you and support you.
  • PREMARITAL EDUCATION. Couples who participate in premarital programs experience a 30 percent increase in marital success over those who do not. They report greater communication, sharpened conflict management skills, a strong dedication to one’s spouse and overall improved relationship quality.

Learn more:

What Happens in Vegas…

“I Do” is Complicated

Cohabitation: Good or Bad?

What’s the Point of Marriage?

Part 5

Working Through the Hard Stuff

Irreconcilable Differences?

The Gottman Institute has more than 40 years of marital research that determines with greater than a 90 percent accuracy rate what’s going to happen to a relationship over a three-year period.

In a national telephone survey, there were two issues that couples were most likely to report arguing about.  What would you guess those two areas are?

ANSWER: Money and Children

Examples of common differences might include:

  • In-Laws & Extended Family Involvement
  • Balance Between Home & Work
  • Communication Patterns
  • Sexual Intimacy
  • Personal Habits & Idiosyncrasies
  • Sharing Household Responsibilities
  • Outside Friendships
  • Political Views
  • Debt Difficulties
  • Disciplining Children

Here is the important takeaway:  Differences are inevitable, but it’s how you manage the differences that matters. Discuss potential differences in your relationship together.

Take money, for example.  Discuss how money was managed in your family.  How would you want money managed in your marriage?  Ask each other, “What does money mean to you?”

Learn more:

Top 10 Strengths of Happy Marriages

Keeping the “Honey” in Honeymoon

Getting Engaged During the Holidays

The Premarital Adventure

Part 6

Wedding Expenses and Marital Stability

When a friend posted a study on Facebook that said expensive wedding rings lead to more divorce, it caught Randal Olson’s eye.

“My girlfriend and I had recently talked about wedding rings,” said Olson. “She said she did not want a big wedding ring. After reading the study, I was thankful we agreed on that topic. I am one semester away from graduating with a doctorate in computer science. My focus is on research so I don’t take things at face value. As I read the study (A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration – Francis and Mialon 2014), I ran across this huge table of many different factors that play a role in long-term marriage.”

Some of the findings made perfect sense to Olson, such as:

  • Those dating three years or more before getting engaged are 39 percent less likely to divorce.
  • The more money you and your spouse make, the less likely you are to ultimately file for divorce.
  • Couples who never go to church are two times more likely to divorce than regular churchgoers.

Other findings took Olson by surprise.

“I was pretty shocked to see that the number of people who attend your wedding actually has a huge impact on long-term marital stability,” Olson said. “Couples who elope are 12.5 times more likely to end up divorced than couples who get married at a wedding with 200 plus people. The more I thought about this, the more it actually made sense. Having a large group of family and friends who are supportive of your marriage is vitally important to the long-term stability of your marriage.”

Other surprising findings included:

  • The relationship between how much people spent on their wedding and their likelihood of divorcing: The findings suggest that perhaps the financial burden incurred by a lavish wedding leads to financial stress for the couple. Women who spent $20,000 or more on their wedding were 3.5 times more likely to  divorce than their counterparts who spent less than half that.
  • The honeymoon matters! Couples who went on a honeymoon were 41 percent less likely to divorce.
  • A big difference in educational levels could be associated with a higher hazard of divorce.
  • If looks and wealth are an important factor in your decision to marry a person you are more likely to end up divorced.

“Some of my friends read these findings, commented that they were in the bad categories and asked me if their marriage was doomed,” Olson said. “The answer to that is no, but according to this research, statistically they are more likely to run into challenges. I believe the biggest takeaway for someone considering marriage like myself, is this isn’t a list of do’s and don’ts. However, this was a very large study and the findings are worthy of consideration to help couples have a more stable marriage.”

“I think planning is the key,” he said. “It takes a lot of work to plan a wedding. Put that same amount of effort into planning for your marriage.”

Read more here: 

Bride or Bridezilla?

Are Opposite-Sex Friends Okay?

In-laws and Potential Boundary Issues

Top 10 Potential Pitfalls in Marriage

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