Helping couples keep their vows, not just say them

Vows

We refer to the article Recent Marriages Not Standing the Test of Time (The Straits Times, April 7, 2015). It is noteworthy that recent Muslim marriages register lower divorce rates and this was seen as the result of community initiatives in marriage preparation and enrichment, as well as pre-divorce mandatory counseling for Muslim couples.

This should inspire some practical and feasible steps we can possibly take to help more soon-to-wed and married couples ensure their marriages thrive.

For starters, we could enlist the help of Justices of Peace and marriage solemnisers to form a community of practice that acts as the “first line of defense” in ensuring the couple’s readiness to marry during the initial meet-up with them. This would especially be critical for younger couples, since the study showed that there are more dissolved marriages among younger grooms aged 20 to 24. In addition, solemnisers can encourage each couple they are to marry, to attend a marriage preparation program (MPP) before they help the couple tie their knot. If solemnisers can jointly decide to make it “the norm” for couples to attend a MPP before their marriages are solemnised, the benefits of this will be far-reaching and undoubtedly, many a marriage will be built upon a much firmer foundation. Understandably, MPPs might be limited in their ability to maintain marital bliss for the long-run. Thus, marriage enrichment is indispensible too. Given advances in modern information systems, many a couple would feel affirmed if they received regular incentives and communications material on marriage resources and marriage enrichment programmes.

The efficacy of pro-marriage initiatives within the Muslim community is an encouraging reminder that when greater collaborative effort is made to reach out to aid couples in their marital journey, marriages and families can not only be saved, but thrive!

This article was published in The Sunday Times, April 12, in the ‘Your Letters’ column.

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