When my husband and I were dealing with issues in our marriage we decided that we needed counseling. When we checked into what our insurance covered we discovered that while it did cover individual counseling, it did not cover marriage counseling. It covered counseling for families, it didn't cover counseling for couples. I was floored.
When I read about it, one of the answers to this issue was as follows:
"The problem is that relationship conflict is not considered to be a problem that therapy is "medically necessary" to treat. This means that in order to use your benefits, either you or your partner will need to meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis like anxiety, depression, or ADHD. (But it's ok if your symptoms are a consequence of your relationship problems)." (reference link here).
What I find interesting here is that even WebMD states that marriage makes you healthier in general. Marriage causes you to be happier, there is a lower rate of depression, mental health issues, you live longer, you get sick less often, and it reduces stress. Of course that's contingent on your marriage being in a healthy zone. Maintaining communication, spending time with one another, having sex - all these things among others play huge roles in how happy (and therefore healthy your marriage is).
Divorce on the other hand is horrible for your health in many cases. Check out this article or perhaps this one. This particular article specifically discusses the health issues that many men deal with after divorce.
Some excerpts include:
"Those who were divorced or widowed were 20% more likely to have heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or another chronic condition."
"Divorced and unmarried men have mortality rates up to 250 percent higher than married men. The causes of premature death for divorced men include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and stroke. Divorced men are also more prone to various diseases, ranging from common colds to life-threatening health problems like cancer and heart attacks."
It begs the question: Why is it that so many insurance companies fail to cover marriage counseling? If marriage is good for your health and divorce is bad for your health then why wouldn't it be covered?
It seems to me that it's due to an overreaching theme. Marriage isn't important.
Oh sure, 90% of young people still tie the knot. People who have been married previously get married again. Lots of people stay married and either have great marriages, or work through their issues.
Our media however, does not depict marriage in a way that looks appealing.
Take any popular show... Two people who are just meeting one another or perhaps dating will have a steamy encounter. One moment they're at the bar or on a date, the next moment they've found their way to one of their places. Shirts and other articles of clothing are removed rather quickly, sheets are then rumpled, and two people wake in the morning kissing and smiling at one another. However, if the couple is married there is generally bickering, mockery, almost zero romance, and forget a sex scene. That isn't likely.
Sleeping with someone you barely know is depicted as exciting and sexy. A marriage partner on the other hand is more often than not portrayed as rude, frumpy, annoying, or just plain boring.
So why are so many people still getting married?
First of all, there is a steady decline in the rate of people getting married. But, the question was why are people still getting married... There are a variety of reasons stated when you search the web. Religious reasons, issues of legality, legitimization of a relationship, marriage is considered a "norm" of a functioning society, we don't want to be lonely, social conditioning.
A lot of these reasons are starting to sound stupid to the masses. I would agree, some of them are.
The wedding is fun though. The wedding is crazy these days. The ring is bigger than your hand. The wedding has 400 people invited, the wedding party is huge - they do awesome dances, and at the reception everyone parties the night away. The honeymoon is at a fantasy destination and Instagram and Facebook are filled with the pictures of almost every aspect of your boat riding, scuba diving, horse back riding on the beach trip. (I do like the pictures - this is just an illustration).
Then, you come home. You're married. Reality sets in. Kids might enter the picture. Bills increase. Your job/s has/have to cover it all. Kids, or perhaps spouses make demands that you didn't have before. Your life is suddenly not your own anymore - and that's hard. Pouring yourself into others isn't sexy. What once seemed so awesome and something that would improve your life doesn't feel like an improvement anymore. It feels like work. It feels hard. It feels like a burden.
The funny thing is that *this* is where marriage is hard, but this is also where it can get so good. Better than the dating, better than the wedding, better than the honeymoon.
Because, when you learn that you are not the most important person, that your needs are not the most significant needs, when you shift your focus off of what your spouse can do for you and onto what you can do for your spouse, things change. You will more often than not get the health, the well-being, the love, and the benefits that make marriage so amazing.
People will seek out a personal trainer, they'll consult someone on what size clothing to buy, they'll go to a makeup counter and get the right shade of foundation. People will accept help when buying shoes, picking an outfit, making a dinner for a dinner party, or planning an event - but marriage counseling is often seen as a last ditch effort, or it's something that people won't consider at all.
Marriage counseling can become essential when there are issues that you just aren't working through by yourselves. It doesn't always work to just shift your focus. Often (well most of the time) there is an unequal amount of time or effort put into a marriage. When this is the issue - or even when it's not going to counseling, getting outside help can give you the marriage that God wants for you.
We live in a throw away culture. If something is old, ugly, or we just don't like it anymore we feel perfectly ok in getting rid of it and getting something new. Except, while this can make us feel good for a little while studies show that it's not good... at all.
I find it interesting that something that is so widely considered healthier for people is also something that isn't considered important enough to maintain, to hold up as beautiful, to put work into. If we can take our cars into the shop to get them maintained, if we can go to the gym to take care of our bodies, we can certainly make every effort possible to take care of our marriages. After all, regardless of what I think, or what media says, overwhelming evidence says....
Marriage IS important.