A recent study on relationships found that pre-marriage preparation is worth taking, not only to save marriages, but to save money. The report encourages couples to seek pre-wedding help in order to strengthen relationships before problems occur.
The government-backed study found that marriage preparation classes and relationship counselling significantly reduced the likelihood of breakup after the honeymoon period is over, and could also save tax payers billions per year.
The Study Findings
The study by the Tavistock Centre looked at three types of marriage and relationship courses run by relationship-focused charities such as ‘Relate’ and ‘Marriage Care’. These courses were a traditional marriage preparation programme, shorter educative relationship sessions for established couples, and professional counselling for couples in trouble. Participant couples then completed surveys and in-depth interviews following the course’s completion, producing interesting findings.
Participants of all three courses reported a change in their behavior, an increased ability to deal with conflict and better communication between each other. However, the greatest improvement was found amongst those who attended the marriage preparation courses (run by Marriage Care) and the in-depth counselling sessions (by Relate).
The report is the first of its kind. The study has calculated that such measures pay for themselves when taking into account the social and emotional costs of separation. Apparently, broken relationships cost Britain between £20 billion to £44 billion per year, with money going on benefits for single parents, housing costs and health-related spending.
A cost-benefit analysis on each course was calculated by looking at the course’s effectiveness in preventing break-up and the estimates of the cost of separation to the public purse. It found that ‘Relate’ couple counselling saves the public purse £11.40 for every £1 spent on fees, whilst ‘Marriage Care’ preparation sessions could save £11.50 for every £1 spent.
To encourage couples to get such support, the report suggested blitzing register offices with advertisements for approved courses and offering discounts on wedding fees for couples who attend such courses.
Mark Molden, chief executive of ‘Marriage Care’, emphasises the importance of taking measures to avoid relationship breakdown. He states that “it’s not just about getting support when there’s a crisis (but) about building and maintaining strong relationships which see people through everything that happens during our increasingly busy and fast-paced lives.”
His opinion is matched by Andrew Selous, conservative MP and chairman of an all-party group specialising in relationships, who believes in a “need to change attitudes in this country” so that such preventative courses are considered to be “like going to the gym rather than going to the surgery.”