This article ran on Monday, July 26th. However, when it went to the copy desk, it got cut - so you - whoever you are (!!!), get to read the entire article!
'I do' have to say that I agree with the professors on this. Any marriage prep class that is offered, whether in preparation for marriage or for a marriage tune-up, it is worth the time and money invested.
Premarital education may be the best investment couples can make before saying ‘I do.’
In a sample conducted by BYU professors of nearly 50 marriage prep classes throughout the U.S., none of which were from BYU, most of the classes focused on communication skills. The study was published in “Family Relations.”
Communication is considered one of the major factors in marriage discord, according to Elizabeth Fawcett, lead author of the study and a visiting professor at BYU.
“If marriage prep classes can teach couples communication skills that will help them avoid divorce or marital distress, then these communication-based classes could be very helpful to a large number of couples,” said Fawcett in a recent news release.
Most couples are genuinely interested in premarital education, but in the hub-bub of being engaged, marriage prep is overlooked in favor of wedding prep, said BYU professor Alan Hawkins, another member of the study.
Premarital education classes get couples to talk about their expectations and clarify what they are thinking, Hawkins said. This is one of the purposes behind this type of education.
“We often bring very unrealistic expectations about marriage [into the relationship],” Hawkins said. “Confronting those things before marriage gets them thinking and to clarify what they believe [and how to] make plans and compromise.”
It takes more than love to make a marriage work, according to Hawkins. Most premarital education classes don’t go far enough in teaching that marriage is more than two people in love, it is an institution that comes with expectations. Marriage not only can bring order to our lives but establishes social institutions within our communities.
Other states besides Utah are realizing the importance and value of premarital education. Oklahoma has taken the lead in the U.S., making it a matter of public health and policy that couples get off to a good start.
Hawkins said that the investment in premarital education has far greater returns for states than picking up the financial repercussions of shattered families. Six states are now offering incentives such as discounts for marriage licenses for premarital education.
Utah’s marriage literacy and relationship classes are coordinated through County Extension offices throughout the state. Usually these classes are free of charge.
Jason Carroll, another member of this study, teaches SFL 223 – Preparation for Marriage. It is a full semester, not just 12 hours, of reality checks in understanding how marriage and relationships work, Hawkins said. It is the best education in the whole world, especially for LDS couples.
Taking a marriage prep classes before a relationship begins helps students like Brittany Guerra, a senior majoring in public health, learn the whole process from dating to marriage to family.
“Taking a marriage prep class [has] helped me have more of a structure to how I go about dating,” Guerra said. “I am not married yet, but it is working because I could be married and be unhappy.”