The More $ Spent On The Wedding The More Likely A Divorce

brideWhen I am going to officiate a wedding service, I sit down with the couple in my office and talk about what premarital counseling is going to look like. After asking them a few questions to help me understand their background and expectations for marriage, I tell them something that most couples don’t expect. I tell them that I’ll do the wedding even if they don’t meet with me for premarital counseling.

It’s not that I don’t think that premarital counseling can be helpful, nor is it because I don’t have anything to offer. Quite the opposite. After 25 years of marriage and being a pastor for the last 15 years and countless hours spent doing marriage counseling, I think that I have learned some things that can genuinely help any couple. The reason that I offer premarital counseling but don’t require it is because most couples don’t think they need it. And when you’re required to sit through something that you don’t think you need or you don’t think is that important, you don’t get much out of it. (If you don’t believe me, ask a middle school teacher).

So I give them an idea of the things that we will cover in premarital counseling (e.g. the Bible verse that has been the most helpful to me in my marriage, the difference between saying “I’m sorry.” and “Will you forgive me?” and when each is necessary, what love between a husband and wife practically looks like on a day to day basis, etc…) and then tell them to let me know when they want to meet again. In other words, I won’t reach out to set up a meeting but I will be happy to meet with them whenever they want and as often as they want.

Many couples never get back to me until they are ready to plan the service. That’s fine with me. I don’t have a great desire to talk to people about things they aren’t really interested in. I hate jumping through hoops and I refuse to make others do it.

What might be more helpful than premarital counseling is post-marital counseling. Imagine sitting down with people six months or a year after they’ve been married. Now they’d be interested in what the Bible says or practical advice or any other kind of help the church could offer. What changed? They are actually married and realize that the fact that they “really love each other” isn’t going to mean smooth sailing and marital bliss. People who love each other still drive each other crazy, hurt one another, and have arguments over money, in-laws, sex, and a thousand other things.

Engaged couples are busy, I get it. They are working jobs and planning an elaborate event that is part family reunion and part romantic love story. Plus they are dealing with their parents expectations and financial realities. Who has time to think about what Jesus said about marriage when you have to meet with the florist, pick out a cake, find a dress, get gifts for everyone in the wedding, and stay within some sort of budget? There will be time for Jesus later.

The Washington Post reported on the cost of weddings citing a study by the group who owns TheKnot.com. According to the report, the average wedding (excluding honeymoon) in 2014 cost $31,214. Wow. No wonder the couple is busy and engagements are longer. It takes a lot of time to spend that much money on one evening of your life.

What I found interesting is that there was a “positive correlation between the amount of money spent on the wedding and the likelihood a couple would get divorced.” Couples who spent $20,000 or more on a wedding (remember the average spent is $31,000) were 3.5 times more likely to get divorced!

Why would that be true? Maybe because it shows misplaced priorities? Maybe spending more time thinking about a day than the lifetime of a relationship is a bad idea? Maybe listening to what the Bible says about marriage is more important than finding the right photographer, baker, DJ, etc…? Maybe? I don’t have any evidence to back up my speculation. But there has to be some reason that the more money you spend on a wedding the more likely you are to get divorced.

 

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