Marriage Training a Good Investment

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 14, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Marriage Training a Good Investment


Did you know the federal government has spent $150 million yearly on grants for healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood since Octo-

ber 2006?

If that makes you grumble, consider this: Divorce cost the nation about $33.3 billion in 2003, with the average divorce costing state and federal governments $30,000 in direct and indirect costs, according to a report titled Making Marriage & Divorce Your Business by Matthew D. Turvey and David H. Olson of Prepare/Enrich Life Innovations Inc., an organization dedicated to building strong marriages.

A case is forming that shows marriage education and relationship-skills training can have a direct impact on curbing divorce rates. And for those who are married a second time, it's never too late to learn.

In California, home to about 12 percent of the U.S. population, the related social service impact on state and federal governments of California's broken families conservatively costs taxpayers more than $4.8 billion per year, according to Dennis Stoica, president of the California Healthy Marriages Coalition (CHMC) in The State of California's Unions: Marriage and Divorce in the Golden State, released in October 2008.

The CHMC is a pioneering nonprofit organization that works throughout California to improve the well-being of children by strengthening the relationship of parents through marriage education and relationship-skills classes. Since 2006, the CHMC has received nearly $12 million annually as part of a five-year grant.

Even though it is too early to make final conclusions about the grant work, the CHMC is seeing some early positive signs in Orange County, where it has invested less than $2 million in marriage education. The divorce rate, fairly consistent for the previous nine years, has decreased by 11 percent, leading to an annual savings of $18.2 million, according to Patty Howell, CHMC vice president of operations.

For those of you who are remarried, take note. Divorce takes place in about 60 percent of remarriages. With 1 million remarriages occurring annually in the U.S., 65 percent of which include children, remarried people should seriously consider taking marriage education or relationship-skills classes.

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