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Relationship education is most needed not after a couple has committed to getting married, but long before, while they are single and, ideally, focused on their own personal growth. A person who is not happy, healthy and whole in single life won’t be happy in a marriage.

It is biased in favor of the marriage happening, whether the relationship is proven to be healthy or not—and often even when there is ample evidence that it is unhealthy. The fact that most premarital counseling takes place at the same time that wedding plans are being made and executed does not help, nor does the zealous, unconditionally pro-marriage stance taken by many religious people. Additional conflicts of interest can emerge when, for example, the church providing the marriage counseling also happens to be the location for the wedding.

Instead of an unbiased assessment of whether two people are actually ready for marriage, many counselors and marriage ministries are predisposed to not disrupting wedding plans, in the absence of graphic evidence of a couple’s unsuitability for marriage—and, too often, even when such evidence is apparent.

Also, many ministries surrender to the fact that many couples will leave the church to get married elsewhere, despite a recommendation to call off or postpone the wedding. The well-intentioned thinking is that it’s better to support the couple’s desire to wed (especially if they have children) in hopes that the church can provide the support necessary to sustain the unhealthy union.

It is usually too little, too late without the solid foundation of a healthy relationship. Five to 10 premarital counseling sessions in the months or weeks before a wedding is no substitute for the ongoing relationship education that should begin during the teenage years and in early adulthood, long before marriage becomes a consideration in a person’s life. While there are absolutely exceptions, most premarital counseling is not designed to prepare people for marriage, only to assess, and relatively quickly, whether plans to marry should be supported by the church. And while it can be argued that such counseling is better than nothing, too often, it is not nearly enough to establish the long-term health of the relationship.

By contrast, Grown Zone relationship education, training and coaching programs focus not on a wedding date, but on the promotion of healthy practices and standards regardless of current relationship status or marital intentions and prospects (or lack of such). If marriages are to succeed, such relationship education is a prerequisite to premarital counseling.

grownzone-4764smallARE YOU A SUCCESSFUL, HIGH-ACHIEVING SINGLE STRUGGLING WITH YOUR “SINGLENESS”? CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT SCHEDULING A 1-ON-1 HIGH-IMPACT COACHING CONVERSATION WITH ZARA OR ALFRED!

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