January is widely referred to as “Divorce Month” in legal circles. (That’s right: smack in the middle of the “Engagement Season” that runs from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day!) However, the odds of a marriage succeeding are determined long before divorce becomes a consideration, and indeed, even before marriage is even proposed in a relationship. That’s why investing in marriage readiness via relationship education now can prevent the financial and emotional devastation of bad marriages and divorce in the future.

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Marriage is a financial and legal contract, not just a spiritual and emotional one. Too many marry without clearly defining and agreeing to the terms. In fact, marriage may be the only contract that people routinely sign first, and then try to negotiate the terms later. Enter into a marriage contract without negotiating terms, and it’ll likely be violated (i.e. infidelity, abuse) or voided (divorce). Treating marriage as a game of chance, the alignment of the stars, and divine intervention delivers a well-established and predictable result: a 50-plus percent divorce rate (or thereabouts), and a majority of marriages having at least one dissatisfied partner.

A commitment to marriage readiness requires you to always be mindful of three things:

The high cost of marrying recklessly. More than $100,000 on average (including the average costs of weddings and divorces) plus your happiness, security—and even your life—is at risk. 

Who are you marrying? Is this person qualified to love you with H.E.R. (Honor, Esteem and Respect)? A wedding will not transform a person unqualified for the commitment and responsibility of marriage into someone qualified for it. Nor can you love that person into becoming so.

Why are you marrying? There is only one Grown, healthy reason: Both you and your would-be spouse are ready, willing and able to support, encourage, and nurture your respective capacities for learning, self-love and personal growth. None of the other reasons we are urged to wed—from ready access to church-approved sex and making babies, to financial security and social acceptance—are enough to sustain a healthy marriage.

Marriages end in divorce not because the institution itself is flawed, but because too few are prepared and qualified for it. Much of what passes for pre-marital counseling today (if it is pursued at all), takes place after marriage proposals have been accepted, rings have been chosen, family and friends have been informed and a wedding date is set. The result: Everyone, including the church and especially the bridal industry, is biased in favor of getting people to the altar, and hoping for the best.

Divorce prevention is not about staying married at any cost, but refusing to marry without real training and preparation. This is why the Grown Zone offers Marriage Aptitude Training (via High-Impact Coaching) that will help you to address the question of whether or not to get married with confidence and courage, whether the answer is yes or no.