In my experience as a pastor, I have found that many people find themselves unprepared to love someone sacrificially because of the negative effects of divorce or abandonment on modern family life. The formation of a shared identity is difficult when someone’s identity was distorted or underdeveloped due to an unstable home life. Many of the young adults that I have worked with over the last twenty years are ill-prepared to establish long-term relationships because of the breakdown in family life due to divorce or abandonment of one parent. Judith Wallerstein reports that adult children of divorced families believe their marriages are doomed from the start (300). The Scriptures say that anyone who has marriage in their heart desires an honorable thing (Heb. 13:4). In my opinion the legacy of divorce that has been handed down from past generations is responsible for the cultural confusion toward marriage relationships. Single adults and cohabiting couples often view marriage as a greater risk to happiness and with fewer rewards than cohabiting relationships. Cohabiting couples avoid divorce by staying unmarried (296).
Churches are in a strategic position to come along side of individuals’ desires for marriage by helping them to establish relationships based upon the biblical principles of a shared identity and shared values. These characteristics are foundational to a marriage covenant. Unfortunately, many churches, counselors, or Christian organizations do not have the staff, expertise, or resources to counteract the cultural confusion toward marriage relationships.
Christian educators need resources and an assessment tools that can supply data that can be used to counteract the cultural bents of an increasing secular viewpoint toward marriage. The Life in Motion Relationships and Family Life Inventory (LIMRI) is an assessment tool that allows premarital and married couples to take responsibility to invest and enrich their relationships through developing a shared identity through friendship and shared values. The educational process that churches use to equip premarital and married couples must go beyond a melting— pot approach to Christ-centered relationships. Each relationship needs to be addressed individually because of each person has a unique family of origin or spiritual background.