Monday, 13 April 2015

[Straits Times] Helping couples keep their vows

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 counselling for Muslim couples ("Recent Muslim marriages buck divorce trend" and "Recent marriages not standing the test of time"; both published last Tuesday).

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

For starters, we could enlist the help of Justices of the Peace and marriage solemnisers to form a community of practice that acts as the "first line of defence" in ensuring couples' readiness to marry during the initial meet-up with them.

This would be especially 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 programme (MPP) before they help the couple tie the knot. If solemnisers can jointly decide to make it "the norm" for couples to attend an MPP before their marriages are solemnised, the benefits will be far-reaching, and 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 indispensable too.

Given advances in modern information systems, many couples 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 also thrive.

Elvira Tan (Ms)

Marriage Specialist

Focus on the Family Singapore