In recent news a Californian group has initiated a ballot that requires couples to attend compulsory marriage education classes before tying the knot. The heart is in the right place, the group proposing the ballot is dedicated to the support of helping children of divorce. Their belief is that marriage is the fundamental basis of a family unit, which is a very debatable concept. The marriage education classes would be ten hours for first marriages, twenty for second, thirty for third and so on.
On one side of the penny, offering free psychological counselling might be helpful on a broader spectrum encouraging individuals to be self-aware and thoughtful rather than self-absorbed reactive. The role of the psychologist is to get the client talking, and through verbalisation of otherwise abstract emotions one can learn to recognise triggers that lead to undesirable behaviour and take productive measures to control them. The sense of control over one’s life is highly correlated with levels of happiness, and happy individuals make better partners.
It is unclear whether the education classes are intended to be individual, couple or group therapy based. It seems economically likely that the classes would take the form of a classroom set up, after all this is essentially love school. Before one can argue the effectiveness of such an approach to marriage, there is the huge fact that divorce is becoming the norm in the west and there is no actual life or parenting style that is superior to another. There are plenty of kick-ass single mums and unwed same-sex couples where marriage is not yet legal happily raising children.
Since the group lodging the bill is ringing the ‘will somebody people think of the children?’ bell, it is likely to assume the members of this group a) are of a religious background, b) witnessed their own parents nasty divorce, or c) has a hot single mum living next door and is jealous she is living the life she wants instead of hanging around with a guy she no longer loves and is up on a high horse about it. This is not to say that marriage counselling pre-marriage is a bad idea. But if this is the case, it seems more logical to offer such services to couples once they have actually conceived a child. There is clinical psychology research that shows evidence for children of divorce scoring lower on a variety of measures. While theoretical support exists for low socio economic status and parental absence as contributing factors to these scores, the most consistent evidence is family conflict. This offers the perspective that maybe it isn’t the divorce per-se that has negative consequences but how the parents and also the extended family handle the fragile situation.
It seems there is a gap in therapy that goes from marriage counselling to post-divorce depression counselling. A new kind of divorce counselling could be a potentially successful service to offer couples who are wanting to separate and actually have kids rather than targeting young idealistic lovers living in the now. Visit tihs link http://www.vitalityunleashed.com.au/depressive-disorders/ if you want treatment for depression.