The latest estimate of the cost of relationship breakdown in the UK is £51bn per annum according to The Relationships Foundation. That is in excess of the current total UK defence spending figure! This relationship cost is calculated taking tax, benefits, housing, health, social care, civil and criminal justice and education effects into consideration. Behind the cost is a trail of tragedy that is having a devastating effect on our country.
How can we as Christians respond to this problem? Could we do more to encourage marriage as the overwhelming relationship of choice? What if we could help as many marriages as possible have really strong foundations right from the start? Surveys have shown that in-depth marriage preparation can result in a 30% reduction in the likelihood of divorce over the first five years of marriage.
Marriage preparation courses currently running in churches are making a significant positive impact. However these rarely reach the 73% of couples marrying in a civil venue, only a miniscule number of whom are receiving any marriage preparation whatsoever. How can the church reach out to this 73%, most of whom have little or no connection to any church? The majority of these couples are in the 20s and 30s age group, which is clearly a demographic that the church is keen to attract.
A Marriage Prep Day led by Duncan and Janice MacInnes, working in conjunction with clergy, is answering this call. Duncan and Janice are passionate Christians and use an upgraded version of “Marriage by Design” from the Christian charity Care for the Family for the days they lead in London, East Anglia and Kent. As well as preparing church couples from more than a dozen churches/benefices in SE England, they welcome atheist and agnostic couples together with couples of other faiths. All experience and enjoy an inspiring day in church. Norfolk County Council approve and recommend the day for all couples in the county and Cambridgeshire have Marriage Prep posters in each of their register offices.
“Feedback from our couples is consistently outstanding,” says Duncan. “Our hope and prayer is that all engaged couples in England will soon have the opportunity to enjoy inspirational modern marriage preparation at a church within easy travel distance.”
More information can be found on the website www.marriageprep.co.uk or email Duncan and Janice on firstname.lastname@example.org – they would love to hear from you and discuss either running a day for you or training a couple in your church to reach engaged couples in your community.