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Brian Evankovich

Don't Know Much About Marriage
By Brian Evankovich
Mar 5, 2005 - 12:58:00 AM

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A new fad is sweeping college campuses and for once it has nothing to do with sex or beer.

Hopefully this one will grow legs and stick around.

Relationship classes. They’re all the rage at college campuses, according to a recent AP article. Gen Xers, realizing they should probably put a little more effort into their future marriages than their parents, want to know what makes long-term marriages tick. They're getting help from an outfit called the International Association for Relationship Research, which is involved in creating material for the classes.

You know they're serious when they say they're an "association."

The goal of the classes is to help young adults avoid some of the pitfalls that have led to a consistently high divorce rate in the United States.

It's a good thing, too, as the remainder of the Baby Boomers' kids grow up. Most of our parents couldn't hold their marriages together, for a variety of reasons, and divorce spread like a plague. When I was growing up, none of my friends had both parents at home - well, one did, but to call what those two had a "marriage" is as big a joke as "it was a wardrobe malfunction." Of course, nobody wanted to admit the truth about our home life, because we felt like freaks, but once we realized we were sort of in a club the kids whose parents were still married became the odd ones. But the situation left a subconscious fear amongst my generation that all marriages are doomed to fail, you're lucky if they don't, and you'd better be prepared to spend a major portion of your adult years arguing with your ex over money and the kids and rehashing all of the old arguments you could never win but, hey, never fear - the second time around won't be as bad, if you’re willing to get back in the ring. Oh, and don't pay any attention to the fact that one of your parents wants nothing to do with a second marriage, it's a personal problem, has nothing to do with anything, and shouldn't cloud your judgement should you decide to get hitched.

Gee, thanks. That's inspiring.

I was in my mid-20s and a regular at the local church before I'd encountered anybody who'd been married more than a dozen years. This stuff actually works, thought I, and set out to quiz and question and learn the secret. But there isn't any secret - just a lot of hard work. And sacrifice. And compromise. And, dare I say, even some changes in behavior - on both sides.

As long as these relationship classes are taught by the right people, backed up by good resources, there's no reason why they shouldn't continue. Maybe they'll help fix the problem. Maybe our kids won't have to deal with the instability of a broken home and feeling like they're walking on eggshells whenever their parents are in the same room because once that spark hits...

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