The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

The challenge of relationships

WeddingRingsSXRelationships difficulties are a common cause of distress in our society. Good marriage preparation - for those getting married in a church or registry office - is essential, as Duncan MacInnes explains. 

A spectacular Alpha Supper for hundreds of people at the Norfolk Showground took place last week in association with the “Who Cares” initiative. The fascinating results from the question ‘What hurts the most?” were revealed at the evening and made for some very interesting reading. Perhaps what wasn’t so surprising was that relationship difficulties featured high up in the most common responses.

It is estimated that relationship breakdown is costing the UK over £40bn per annum but of course it is not just the cost that is a concern but the severe social problems arising from this situation including suicide, mental health issues, work absence, educational and emotional problems and pressures on the housing situation.  

As Christians we regularly hear people’s stories and, as we listen, very often a person’s life challenges can be traced back to relationship difficulties.  In this regard the church is involved in a wonderful service of compassion and empathy in getting alongside and loving those in need.  

However what are we doing to tackle the root of the problem?  In other words, what steps are we taking to stop people falling in the river upstream rather than trying to rescue them from drowning downstream?  One logical place to begin, I believe, is to get as many marriages as possible off to the best possible start with excellent marriage preparation.  This is where excellence is important.  If the church is to have appeal to the modern generation, it must provide the most modern, relevant, cutting edge relationship education that it can.  Otherwise the opinions of those in their 20s and 30s of church being rather quaint and old fashioned are merely reinforced. What is also vital is that couples have a choice of relationship education products that fit with their busy lives.  

MarriagePrepCFThere is one important area where marriage preparation is almost totally absent and that is for the 70% of couples who now marry outside church. How might we, as Christians, help those couples set their marriage on strong foundations? In the last few years, my wife Janice and I have been involved in leading marriage preparation days using “Marriage by Design”, the latest product from Care for the Family.  By presenting this live, interspersed with short videos and couple interviews, it is ideal for a generation that generally has a short attention span. In addition to helping couples marrying in churches in Norfolk, we have negotiated with Norfolk County Council to have Marriage by Design offered to every couple marrying through the nine register offices in the county.

If you are interested in presenting church in a modern, relevant way to young engaged couples, please get in touch - we would love to chat to you about the subject.   dandj@marriageprep.co.uk For more details, do have a look at our new “Marriage Prep in-a-Day” website www.marriageprep.co.uk

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