I do, now for good

Two little words can change two people’s live forever: I do. More and more college students are deciding the best time to tie the knot is during their time at the university.

Statistics show that people who get married before the age of 23 have a 50% higher chance of divorce or separation than couples that marry later. For those that live together before marriage? It’s 46% more likely that the couple will divorce when they finally do get married, and there is an increased chance of domestic violence as well. All of this information would be daunting to any student, whether they are considering marriage or not.

But that is exactly what Paula Tripp, Janis White, and the state of Texas want to change. These two professors from the Family and Consumer Sciences Department of Sam Houston State University recently received a $50,000 grant to implement “Twogether in Texas,” a statewide program to help educate couples considering marriage. Texas is the first state to offer this “premarital education” program, and other states are watching how Texas will do, and considering legislation as well. The cost of a marriage license has doubled recently, from a $30 state fee to $60, but couples who attend the workshop will receive a certificate which will completely waive the state fee. The Twogether in Texas workshop is free of charge, and includes lunch in the eight-hour session.

With the motto of “Learn to Love for Life,” the workshops will cover topics such as communication, conflict management, financial management, managing stress, providing mutual support, and parenting, etc.

“Studies have shown that if couples participate in marriage education, it is more likely that they will remain together,” said Paula Tripp, principal investigator of the program and professor of a family relationships class at SHSU. Due to the current high rates of divorce, separation, and family dysfunction, “Most students don’t know what a healthy couple looks like,” she said. The program aims to fix the problem.

“It’s an outstanding program,” says Tripp, “and a great attempt by the state to show that they believe in marriage.”

Twogether in Texas is open to all couples, whether they have a date set, are already married, or are just dating. The program is held once per month, and the next will be on Dec. 13 at the Kats for Christ building on Avenue J. For more information, call Paula Tripp at (936) 294-4129.

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