"Helping people who help people"

In a multi-part blog series I will ruminate on why some people are so into premarital counseling and marriage in general. I will also talk more about what it is, what it isn’t, how many options there are, and myths around it.

Let’s start with why in the world anyone ELSE cares about your marriage? Why would grown adults spend thousands of dollars to get credentialed to do premarital counseling then more money trying to advertise their services, set up a website, all in the hopes of helping couples for Not Much Financial Gain? Why did my dad go to school until he was 33 years old to get a degree in marriage and family therapy? Why did Cicero over 2,000 years ago in Rome say, “The first bond of society is marriage?” Why does the government care, why do your parents care and why does your church obsess about marriage, have rules about when and how you can get married and rules about how or if you can end your marriage? Why are we now spending a national average of about $27,000 for ONE day that marks the beginning of marriage?

Why is there a conference called http://www.smartmarriages.com that people spend a few hundred dollars to attend, plus hotel and airfare, plus almost 12 hours a day for up to about 6 days, to learn, get credentialed, and network with otherse ALL ON THE TOPIC OF MARRIAGE? Over 2,500 couples, clergy, counselors, lay leaders and others attended this conference last year – so big that it can’t be held in a huge number of hotels across the nation.

Big drumroll, please……..

Marriage is the beginning, middle, and end of our entire society. It drastically alters our society in every way. If you take financial health, mental health, physical health, community involvement, home ownership, then add confidence, self-esteem and educational levels of children it all is STRIKINGLY BETTER IN MARRIAGE. This isn’t some ultra conservative religious viewpoint or someones guess or made up. There is so much data to back this up that our government (whether you like it or not!) gave $400 million dollars for the next 5 years to creative programs that are trying to strengthen marriage. Strengthening marriages will greatly alter our poverty levels, the achievement of our children, not to mention make our communities stronger, healthier and lets face it – the vast majority (something like 96%) of all people WANT to be married.

Of course this is all fine and dandy but what if you have no idea what a good marriage looks like? Or what if you have unrealistic notions of the relationship? Or if you are so afraid of it you would rather live with your boyfriend or girlfriend for years before commiting? When is that magical day that you will wake up and have completed the “test” that you’re ready to marry? What if your own mental health issues are getting in the way of you creating strong bonds with others?

These are some of the reasons there are thousands upon thousands (28,000 members alone of the Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, another 24,000 members of the California association) of people dedicating their entire working and financial lives to helping people have better marriages.

We are playing our small part here at www.TheFirstDance.com to connect what happens in your wedding to the marriage itself. I like to think of myself as the outsider GenX person who is entering this marriage education world with fresh eyes, questioning some things, seeing the stereotypes that are true and untrue about “marriage people” and most of all trying to convey a down home, non-religious sensibility to this crazy little thing called marriage.


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