While many people think of engaged couples as having stars in their eyes, confidence in forever, and no significant problems, research paints a more complex picture. Many couples enter into marriage with complex relationship histories, significant relationship problems, some doubts, and ambiguous commitment. These couples face greater risk for divorce but can reduce those risks by investing in premarital education.
Even when the path ahead of engaged couples looks smooth and sunny, many couples could use help exploring important issues that could affect their relationship down the road – issues they may have not even thought about. And even when couples are confident about their relationship, many couples growing up in a society that worships individualism still worry about shifting their focus from me to we.
Formal help is available for couples who want to work on their marriage before it even starts. The goal of premarital education is to build a stronger foundation for a healthy, enduring marriage by helping couples asses their readiness for marriage, evaluate the quality of the marital match, deepen their understanding of each other, align expectations and plans, and strengthen relationship skills.
Unfortunately, research suggests that only 30-40% of couples invest in premarital education. But good research also documents how couples who participate together in premarital education deepen their understanding of each other, strengthen their communication skills, and decrease their chances of a divorce in the early, higher-risk years of marriage.