Things that are upside down

by Amy  - June 30, 2023

The business of marriage support services is upside down. This is my opinion. 

The industry of wedding planning is enormous. Do you think I’m kidding? I googled how big is the wedding industry and in 2022 it was estimated to be 70 billion dollars a year just in the USA.

The industry of preparing people to be married happily before they get married is harder to pin down but feels smaller to me. The relationship counseling industry is estimated to be 25 billion dollars a year. Again… I just googled for these numbers. If you think I’m wrong just let me know.

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The industry of new babies is enormous. It is one of the most coveted business markets because it is full of needed expenditures. Customers come to you ready to shop. New baby products are estimated to be a 29 billion dollar industry per year.

The industry of divorce is also big, lawyers, mediators, therapists, and entire divisions of community social workers are funded by the business of detangling marriages. This industry is estimated to be 29 billion dollars a year.

What’s interesting to me is that it’s when you go to separate or divorce and co-parent that is in my experience often the first time that resources are offered to help with things like communication, boundaries, figuring out how to share the workload and finances of parenthood. 

Anytime I think about this I wonder what the world would be like if we worked on these things at the beginning of marriages instead of waiting until issues become big, critical issues.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping anybody from working on these things before you get married. I know people who do it. I also believe that most of us don’t know what issues will pop up until we’re deep enough into the relationship to discover them.

We spend 300 percent more on throwing parties to get married than we do on the skills of relationships. We spend thousands of dollars on flowers and dresses and rubbery chicken entrees and then complain about spending 15k on a pre-nuptial financial agreement or 20,000 for legal fees for a divorce or even 350 for an hour of therapy.

Seems upside down to me. I mean before we issue a driver’s license we have to pass a written test, an eye exam and a skills test and we are supposed to get some practice. But you can blow 50,000 on a wedding and nobody asks you what you know about parenting or division of labor in a household. 

What if we think about it like this? First, you pay to get married. Then you pay for relationship counseling then you pay for a divorce. Those are almost like hidden expenses of getting married. Yikes. 

What if you had to pre-pay for a potential divorce before you got married? So that if a couple decided that they wanted to dissolve the relationship or decouple the investment had already been set aside. 

What if we had to show that we had done some relationship counseling before we could get a marriage license?

What if a household finance course was required before we could get married or buy a house? 

Those are some wild ideas … right?

Research shows us that most conflict in relationships follows along well-established topics. Money, household labor, trust/infidelity, and parenting struggles. These are the same in stepfamilies, blended families, and first marriages. There are no guarantees that working with a life coach or a therapist will mean your marriage will last longer. But isn’t it worth a shot?

For me – I did counseling with my husband before we got married. Then we did it again after my second baby was born and life was crazy. I do find it helpful. I also did pre-marital counseling for an earlier relationship that helped me decide not to marry that other guy. 

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Amy Stone (she/her/hers) is a life coach who helps adults in blended families. She is a mom, step-mom and a step-grandma. Other random fun facts include that She is a 7-time Ironman triathlon finisher and many many marathons and shorter races. She created

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