The percentage of marriages in the United States that are healthy is incredibly low.
And the divorce rate continues to rise slightly year after year.
So what do we do? How do we shift this? Should we be marrying much later on in life?
For the past 30 years, number one best-selling author, counselor, Life Coach and minister David Essel has been helping individuals make the decision if they’re ready for marriage, or not, and should they marry at all, or should they simply wait until later on in life?
Below, David gives us his thoughts on the dismal state of marriage in this country.
“My business, unfortunately, continues to grow exponentially with clients from all over the world due to the horrendous shape of marriages, not only in the United States but elsewhere too.
How did we get into this mess?
What do we do to try to decrease the divorce rate, while at the same time increasing the percentage of marriages that are healthy and happy?
When we say that the state of marriages in the United States is dismal, let me share why we believe that:
- Over 55% of first marriages will end in divorce
- Approximately 62% of second marriages will end in divorce
- Approximately 68% of third marriages will end in divorce
Isn’t it time to wake up?
The statistics have been fairly similar for a number of years, but no one seems to be doing anything about the situation.
And for the percentage of couples who stay together long term, in my 30 years as a counselor, master life coach and minister, I can tell you that only a very small percentage of those long-term marriages are happy.
Many people, because of things like codependency, stay in unhealthy relationships because of the fear of being alone, financial insecurity and many more reasons.
Reasons why people are getting married later in life
I remember in 2004, when my top selling book “Slow down: the fastest way to get everything you want,” was released , we wrote at that time that “men are usually not emotionally mature for marriage until they’re 30, women are not emotionally mature for this level of commitment until their past 25 years of age.”
But since 2004, I see a radical change that I will share with you right now.
Men . I see most men these days being emotionally mature, and ready to commit to a long-term marriage around the age of 40.
For reasons unknown to myself, so many men that I work with between the ages of 20 and 30 are nowhere near ready for the commitment of marriage, children and more.
It seems to be that this level of maturity has been elongated, and now when I work with men in their late 30s and early 40s I find them to be emotionally mature, and ready to handle the stressors and the excitement that comes along with having a long-term partner and possibly children.
Women . I also see the same type of situation happening with women, whereas 15 years ago I would work with quite a few women between the ages of 21 and 25 who were totally excited about marriage, children and they seemed to be more emotionally mature, but today, I encourage my female clients to wait until they’re 30, before most of them are ready to commit to a long-term marriage and family with children.
Of course the concern with many women waiting until they’re 30 to marry, or to commit to a long-term relationship, is that then they feel the pressure of having children very soon. But I tell them that having children in your 20s, while it may work for some people, there are too many individuals with children that are not mature enough to be great moms and dad’s.
So, factor in late marriage and its consequences alongside the pros and cons of getting married later in life, to make an informed decision.
Here’s a few thoughts I want to share to be able to help decrease the divorce rate and increase the healthy marriage rate in our country:
- Continue to delay getting married until you are older in life. I think this is crucial. And I really think it’s one of the greatest things that we have to look at, in regards to producing happier and healthier families in the future.
- Premarital counseling. As a minister I married quite a few couples over the past 15 years, and in the beginning it was mandatory that for me to marry a couple they had to go through our eight week premarital counseling program.
Several years ago we started getting pushback, individuals wanting me to marry them on the beach, in the mountains, at destination locations but they didn’t want to go through premarital counseling.
At first I was OK with shortening the premarital counseling work, but now after seeing the state of our marriages in this country I’ve gone back to making sure that any couple that I will marry has completed the eight week premarital counseling program.
The eight week premarital counseling program
In this eight week program, we talk about the role of men and women in marriage, we talk about raising children, what each person expects that their s*x life will look like, who will handle the finances, will there be some form of religion or spirituality for both the parents and the children, are there any issues with in-laws that we need to take care of prior to the marriage, and a variety of other topics that literally make sure that these two people are on the same page in life.
I believe every minister, every priest, every rabbi that does perform marriages today, should go back to making sure that they have an extended premarital counseling program that these clients must complete prior to marriage.
No exceptions, no exceptions at all.
- Are there any potential deal killers in the relationship?
In our number one best-selling book “focus! Slate your goals“, we talk about “David Essel‘s 3% rule of dating“, which basically states that if the person you’re thinking about marrying , has any of your potential deal killers, if they are not willing to make adjustments and remove these blocks from the relationship, then the odds of the relationship succeeding are extremely low.
So what are your deal killers, and does your current partner have any of them?
“Deal killers” are those things that you just can’t live with.
Some people could never live with a smoker, so if they’re dating a smoker, and the person who smokes does not want to quit, I will encourage them to think about walking away, because there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a marriage or a long-term commitment when your partner has an issue that you choose is unacceptable to you.
Or maybe you’re thinking about marrying your partner right now, and you want children and they’re totally against it. Stop right here! That would be a deal killer that I would not recommend anyone move forward and marry someone who has opposing views at this level.
- Ask any and all successful married couples that you know, what they believe the secret to their success is.
This is an old tool that I have used with so many of my clients before I marry them, making them reach out to cousins, aunts , uncles, grandparents, former high school teachers, former coaches.
I tell them to reach out to at least five couples who have a healthy marriage and get the lowdown on what makes it work.
It saddens me greatly to see so many marriages that are in terrible shape, with children suffering every day, and I’d love to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
This article was written in order to help us to decrease the dysfunctional relationships and marriages in this country and to create happy and highly functional families.