The key to a healthy marriage is to keep your eyes wide open before you wed, and half-closed thereafter.

I'm Dr. James Dobson with Focus on the Family.

Last year there were close to 2 1/2 million divorces in the United States. And part of the problem is the tendency for young men and women to marry virtual strangers.

Oh, I know a typical couple talks for countless hours before the courtship period and they believe they know each other. But a dating relationship is designed to conceal information, not reveal it. Consequently, the bride and the groom enter into marriage with an array of private opinions about how life will be lived after the wedding, and the stage is set for major problems.

For this reason I strongly believe that each engaged couple should participate in at least six to ten sessions with a competent marriage counselor in order to identify the assumptions that each partner holds, and to work through areas of potential conflict. Some couples discover through this process that they have major problems that haven't surfaced until then and they agree to either postpone or call off the wedding. Others work through their conflicts and proceed toward marriage with increased confidence.

Premarital counseling is the key. If the tragedy of divorce could be reduced by even five percent, it would certainly be worth the effort. I'm Dr. James Dobson for Focus on the Family.

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