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Tuesday, May 24

Pre-marriage counseling hits the conservative churches

According to the LA Times in a good article, "It Must Be Love, but Let's Be Sure":
All over the country, social conservatives are examining marriage with a scientific eye. While the Bush administration touts traditional marriage as a centerpiece of its social policy, the country's highest divorce rates are in Bible Belt states such as Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas. The lowest rate — 2.4 divorces a year per 1,000 inhabitants — is found in Massachusetts.

A movement is afoot to rethink the structures around marriage. Lawmakers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Arizona have passed bills creating "covenant marriage," a contract between bride and groom that limits grounds for divorce to extreme conditions including adultery and abuse. Lawmakers in Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, Maryland and Minnesota have passed bills offering a financial incentive for couples who attend counseling or marital education before they marry. In the conservative heartland, couples counseling, offered at many churches, has become ordinary.

Southern churches highly recommend counseling to engaged couples because the divorce rate is much higher among conservative Christians than atheists, agnostics and main stream religions such as Catholic and Lutheran. Gay marriage seems to be the least of conservative Christian's problems. The Catholic church has had counseling before marriage for as long as I can remember. It's a good idea. I took the classes and it really made me think. We ended up postponing our marriage for a year while we got our shit together. It was still no fairy tale.

ReligiousTolerance.org has some very interesting statistics about marriage and divorce by faith/or not. The lowest divorce rate is in the Northeast-probably because most religious people belong to mainstream churches. There are also good reference articles at the bottom of the page. The national divorce rate doesn't appear to be 50% however.

As far as I am concerned:
  • Just because you're in love at the time doesn't mean that your marriage is going to work.
  • Banning gay marriage isn't going to make a marriage work.
  • Avoiding pregnancy before marriage would eliminate some doomed marriages.
  • Sow those wild oats before you get married.
  • Fairy Tales lie. "They got married and lived happily ever after..." is bogus. It should be "They got married and after the party was over they had to deal with reality and the stresses of life for ever after..."
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