Before Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot—something we've been waiting for nearly as long as Kate has—they have to participate in several marriage preparation sessions with the priests who will be involved in their wedding ceremony. The media has seized upon this fact, mostly because of Prince Charles's and Princess Diana's divorce: Are William and Kate attempting to prevent another royal split? But in truth, William and Kate's sessions aren't unusual. As William's spokeswoman Maria Papworth, says, "It's customary for a priest to meet with the couple before their wedding." But premarital counseling isn't just for royalty.
Thirty-seven percent of married adults have participated in formal marriage preparation before their wedding, and, according to the National Directory of Marriage & Family Counseling, premarital counseling reduces the risk of divorce by up to 30 percent. If that isn't enough of a motivation to secure a counselor ASAP, based upon a survey conducted by the National Fatherhood Initiative, 41 percent of divorced folks have said that a lack of premarital preparation actually contributed to their divorce.
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"People train and prepare for marathons, jobs, trips and more," says Zoe Saint-Paul, a writer and life coach who participated in both faith-based and psychologically-based premarital counseling with her husband, Brian. "But then they treat marriage as though it's just something we're all naturally good at. There is no more challenging—and rewarding—marathon than marriage, and if we're wise, we'll prepare for it wisely."
Which is perhaps why some faiths actually require marriage education.