The Best Wedding Gift Parents Can Give: Premarital Counseling

We parents need to be doing a better job at getting couples to premarital counseling. Marriage is a sacred partnership and should be treated as such. The society our children are growing up in today has lost sight of the centrality of marriage and the couple as force for community stabilization. Effective premarital counseling, also known as marriage and relationship education, can help couples, families and society reconnect with the notion that marriage and family should be central to life.

Marriage in the Driven, Digital Age

If, like me, you have children in the 20s, you’ve most likely heard that this is the age of the casual relationships. The “hook-up culture” as defined in its own Wikipedia entry (!) is a mindset “that accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters focused on physical pleasure without necessarily including emotional bonding.[1]It is generally associated with Western late adolescent behavior and, in particular, American college culture.” Consider, too, The New York Times’ February 2014 article, “Love, Actually: Teaching Generation Y the Basics of a Strong Relationship,”where writer Andrew Reiner explains,

“Given the way members of Generation Y have been conditioned, their seemingly blithe attitude about marriage, perhaps even about love, may become less of a boon and more of a bust.”

And in another passage:

“Yet for all of their future designs on marriage, many of them may not get there. Their romance operandi — hooking up and hanging out — flouts the golden rule of what makes marriages and love work: emotional vulnerability.”

Do our millennial children have the emotional skills and mindset they need to escape the heartbreak of divorce? One thing can wake them up to both the challenges and the opportunities of marriage: pre-marital counseling, or marriage and relationship education. Throughout time, people have consciously prepared for the next big life transition. College prepares students for career. Parent education classes prepare young adults to handle baby’s mood and developmental stages. Why then, do we leave marriage itself to the forces that be? We are not born with the relationship skills that we need. We need to treasure the art of creating healthy marriages. It takes knowledge, skills and commitment to create a supportive bond. Communication, conflict resolution and more skills must be taught, just as language or math skills are. There truly exist certain, proven ways of relating that create closer bonds and others that drive a wedge. Learning them sets a marriage up for success from the beginning before so many little conflicts and annoyances have eroded the once overwhelming love.

Parents No Longer Give Expensive China and Sterling Silver Wedding Gifts Anyway

With traditional wedding gifts falling out of favor, parents need a meaningful, substantial present to take their place. How good would it feel to reduce your child’s likelihood of getting divorced by 31%? That’s what researchers at the University of Denver’s Center for Marriage and Family Research found in their study of the effects of pre-marital counseling on the stability of a marriage. I discuss the benefits of pre-marital counseling more in my post, “Premarital Counseling: 6 Reasons to Get a Clue Before You Say I Do.” I truly believe that relationship is the perfect conduit for individual growth and healing, but everyone needs skills and education to help the bond reach its enriching.