Extension connection: Before you say “I Do”

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 31, 2008

By SYNITHIA WILLIAMS / Guest Columnist

An approximate 2.4 million well intentioned “I do’s” are uttered each year, and at least half of them end in “I don’t.”

In fact, stepfamilies seem to be the emerging new face of the family. Statistics reflect that approximately 33 percent of Americans are members of stepfamilies and about 40 percent of families with young children will become stepfamilies before the children turn 18. Before we get too comfortable with these statistics, “I don’ts” definitely are accompanied by consequences that commonly affect much more than the original two involved.

Although many families survive divorce, certainly, the best-case scenario is one where it and its causes don’t reside. Since deciding to marry is one of the biggest and important commitments many individuals make in life, taking a closer look into some of its associated issues might prove to be beneficial.

Many people have a lot of misconceptions about marriage. Some falsely identify puppy love as genuine love. Infatuation can dissipate almost as quickly as it begins. Falling into anything is rarely good, especially when relating to love. Likewise, running way from various situations often sets a couple up for disaster. Love should be entered into wisely and treated with much consideration and respect to give it a good start to success.

Common consequences:

Severed spouses: Many relationships end with partners facing troubled finances, fear, hurt, anger and sadness. These often don’t have quick fixes and spill over into other phases of their life.

Confused children: Children of divorce often have trouble with picking up the pieces, whether expressed verbally or through invert or overt actions. The effects can possibly resurface in their relationships with others.

Frantic family: New routines, difficult conversations and inevitable conflicts can set a family up for various challenges. These undoubtedly require a varying degree of dedication, time and patience.

Three ways to avoid divorce:

Careful selection: Picking a mate should be done with the carefulness and consideration. Marriages will be challenging, but decisions made initially can play a great part in ensuring success.

Pre-marital-counseling: Participating in pre-marital counseling can be one of the most eye opening experiences a couple shares.

This gives each a chance to learn more about the commitment of marriage, themselves and their potential life-long partner.

Effective conflict management: It is important for couples to explore and develop a healthy mode of conflict management. All marriages have conflicts. The differences lie in how they handle the issue and each other during these times.

For more information, contact Synithia Williams a regional extension agent in Family and Child Development for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at 329-1148 or by email at mailto:willisl@aces.edu.