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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Two shall be one

Disagreements exist over how to strengthen the institution of marriage. Some states such as Louisiana and Arizona have covenant marriage laws, giving couples the option of avoiding no-fault divorce laws. Others, such as Florida, lower marriage license fees for couples who take a four-hour premarital instruction course. And at Redlands [Calif.] High School the curriculum includes a course where students "exchange vows," hammer out budgets, discuss child-rearing and juggling work and family, grapple with a crisis and learn what constitutes a good marriage.

In June the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education in Washington, D.C., released a report calling on the nation to rebuild a "marriage culture." Among other things the report proposed reconnecting marriage and childbearing. At an earlier meeting, the coalition discussed new approaches to curtailing family breakdown, not by making divorce more difficult but by making marriage more satisfying for both partners.

Greg Dana, a fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors who leads "Marrying Well" seminars at Lutheran General Hospital's counseling center in Park Ridge, Ill., supports the coalition's work. "I'm in favor of the more positive actions rather than making the divorce process more arduous. More than one approach is needed," Dana says. "University research shows the characteristics of couples who succeed. Those characteristics can be taught. We need to do whatever is possible to encourage couples to do well with each other."

Find the coalition report and other information at www.smartmarriages.com or contact the organization at (202) 362-3332.


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