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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.