Monday, March 9, 2009

True Marriage Preparation

The Church doesn’t insist on formal marriage classes, although it does offer Marriage Prep classes that can be exceptional, but instead it focuses on teaching principles from 18-month-old nursery onward that can make Christian disciples of its members - and that process creates people who can have happy, successful marriages.

According to the most recent research available, the general divorce rate among Christians varies from about 20-27%. The overall divorce rate for Mormons who marry outside of the temple is roughly the same. (For those who marry outside the faith, the divroce rate leaps to about 44%, below only those who live together prior to marriage - about 49%.) However, the divorce rate for Mormons who marry in the temple and remain active drops to about 6%-10%. Whether or not individual wards and stakes do enough to retain their youth can be debated separately, but for those who “complete” what the Church offers, the marriage preparation is exceptionally effective.


adamf said...

Can I get your source info for these stats?

I also want to point out that when it comes to living together before marriage, the divorce rate is only worse if the couple did not initially plan on getting married when they moved in together. The rate is roughly the same if they moved in with the intention of getting married.

Another great marriage prep experience is a mission, for those who are fortunate enough to be able to go.

According to one of my favorite researchers, John Gottman, "creating shared meaning" is one of the keys to a stable and happy marriage. I think generally getting married in the temple really fosters that.

KrizteeTrain said...

Thanks for the stats!

Anonymous said...

Funny that you should write about this, I have been thinking a lot about it lately. Not worth a post on my blog since I have written a lot about my feelings already.

Papa D said...

adam, I haven't bookmarked the sources, but I looked into it extensively a couple of times for previous group discussions. The most interesting distinction, imo, is that between temple marriage for those who later stop attending and for those who remain active - since those figures essentially say that temple marriage IN AND OF ITSELF isn't the key. Continuing to live the Gospel (retaining a foundation testimony) seems to be the key.

I'll try to find some sources again, but (honestly) it's not very high on my priority list right now. *grin*

You said, "creating shared meaning" is one of the keys to a stable and happy marriage. I think generally getting married in the temple really fosters that." I couldn't agree more.

Laura said...

I've always heard that the temple divorce rate is only slightly less than that of other faiths. Perhaps I am wrong.

Personally, I wish the church would offer more marriage prep. classes. I worry that too many young couples rush into marriage for the wrong reasons (i.e. things are getting too steamy and they want to tie the knot before they mess up, or they see all their friends getting married and jump on the bandwagon because they are afraid they'll get left behind.) Neither of these are good reasons to get married.

My 20 year old sister falls into the second category. Sorry to get personal, but I worry that she is getting married too young and is not fully prepared for the challenges of marriage. She and her fiance only met with their bishop for 30 minutes, after which he gave them a quick handshake and sent them on their way to happily ever after.

I say this because within the past month, I have received 3 wedding invitations from two 18 year olds and one who just turned 19. One of them became engaged after just 3 weeks. I worry that marriage among our youth has become more of a fad instead of being "the" most important decision of one's life. It seems to be entered into with such casualness that I worry for their future happiness.

I have a friend who went through marriage counseling with her church and she said it was one of the best decisions she could have made. I think this would be a fabulous service for our church to offer - but that's just me.

Papa D said...

Ironically, Laura, I agree with you about the need for good marriage prep instruction in the Church. The course that is available can be VERY good, but, like anything else anywhere else, it is whatever it is made into by the instructor(s) - and, unfortunately, many people assume that being happily married is all that is needed to make a good marriage prep instructor.

Fwiw, the problem with most discussions of LDS divorce rates is that most people don't differentiate between subsets. There are sealed couples who continue to remain active in the Church for at least 5 years, sealed couples where one or both partners become inactive within 5 years, members who don't marry in the temple and members who marry spouses outside the faith.

Everything I've read says that Mormonism contains the extremes - and the exact average. The LEAST divorce-prone group? Sealed and active after 5 years. The MOST divorce-prone group? Married outside the faith. The exactly average group? Everyone else. (*grin*)

If I personally had to create a category for the least likely that is not specific to any religion or denomination, I would model adam's quote of Gottman and say:

Those who are dedicated, no matter what, to becoming one in practical AND symbolic ways - who truly choose to make their spouse their top priority in everything they do. That cuts across all lines, but it is embodied deeply and richly and blatantly in the temple ceremony and the importance placed on eternity therein. It gets "burned into the soul" in a way that is much less "general" anywhere else - if that makes sense.

chelle said...

Great post Ray. I know as a convert to the church and only member in my family, that gospel knowledge has been the only thing that has gotten me through when things have been less than ideal in our marriage. I come from a long line of divorcee's and have gotten comments like "just leave", or " why do you stay married". Can you get the feeling that some of my family isn't to keen on Michael. Actually it's men in general and doesn't have anything to do with Michael or anything he does. It is really a sad state to be in. Michael is wonderful, not perfect, but worth sticking it out with...forver!
What are the stats for Hollywood marriages?? lol THAT is the saddest examples of marriages and yet they are talked about and looked up to.
Thanks for sharing. It makes me even more grateful for that I have a strong marriage.

Papa D said...

Michelle, you're right; Michael is a very good man. Your family's reactions are instructive. Thanks for sharing that perspective.