Someday I want to study to alumni of my family life class to see how their marriages turn out. My guess is that they will turn out to have a divorce rate less than half that of the rest of the college. More than a guess, that is an objective. I know that students who take such a class might be more marriage-minded than the average, so they might have a lower divorce rate even if the class itself had no effect. Students tell me, though, that one of the biggest eye-openers for them is to study the many benefits that marriage brings to married people and to society as a whole. In all their prior education, no one had made that case, or even talked about marriage as other than a loss of freedom.
Now Scott Stanley, one of the national leaders in marriage education, and his colleagues have shown that marriage education is likely to reduce the risk of divorce by up to a third. Their article, "Premarital Education, Marital Quality, and Marital Stability: Findings From a Large, Random Household Survey," by Stanley, Paul Amato, Christine Johnson, and Howard Markman, is in the current Journal of Family Psychology. Marriage education means group courses, not premarital counseling for a couple. The marriage education reported in the survey ranges from full courses to two-hour workshops. Many churches offer marriage education, and some require it. Marriage education is a popular topic of adult education, as well. Few of those in the survey were thinking of their college family sociology courses.
Which is a shame. Colleges are full of people who want to be married, and will be married, someday. They are the very people who are most prone to learn from their studies. If every college made marriage education a regular part of the curriculum, and offered it enough to reach all who wanted it, I am sure we would see a significant reduction in the divorce rate – and a rise in the marriage rate, instead of cohabitation – in a decade.
Because marriage education works.