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Last Sunday there was an article in the Sacramento Bee about eight couples who all got married on the same day in the same Presbyterian church after successfully completing a six-week “marriage preparation” class. The class focused on finances and budgeting and developing relationship and communications skills. I think such instruction is a great idea and certainly more couples could benefit from it. But in my opinion, all pre-marital counseling programs are remiss if they don’t include a requirement that all couples spend a day in divorce court.

Seriously. If the legislature is really interested in drastically reducing the divorce rate, then it should be mandatory that anyone requesting a marriage license submit proof of having spent at least four full hours in divorce court. (Note: Watching Judge Judy doesn’t count!) This is especially important in the case of first marriages. As for those intrepid souls who are embarking on their second-or more-marriages, I would consider allowing an exemption since, in all likelihood, they have already “done their time.”

I got this idea from watching a program on television awhile back-I think it may have been called “Scared Straight” or something like that-where high-risk juvenile offenders are given tours of prisons and spend time talking to felons doing hard time. This bit of “reality therapy” is provided in the hope that if these kids see what life is really like “inside,” they will quit romanticizing about how cool it is to get into trouble.

Apparently the program is very successful in motivating kids to consider the unpleasant consequences of their behaviors and to make better choices.

Similarly to youngsters who romanticize about a life of crime, many otherwise intelligent adults harbor wholly unrealistic fantasies about marriage. Why else would the term “fairy tale” and “marriage” be used so often in the same sentence-most recently the Kim Kardashian debacle? There was a classic “fairy tale marriage” if ever there was one, yet, lo and behold, it went “poof” in just over two months. That’s the problem with fairy tales: Stuff happens; spells wear off; potions quit working; princes turns out to be ogres; sleeping beauties wake up.

That’s why I believe people contemplating marriage-especially younger people-would benefit from spending a few hours exposed to the reality of divorce court. Don’t get me wrong-I am not trying to dissuade anyone from getting married-in fact, quite the contrary. What I am trying to do is get people to marry smarter. And, after watching countless divorce proceedings over the years, I happen to believe that getting a Prenuptial Agreement is one of the smartest things anyone could ever do.

If you don’t believe me, the Sacramento County family law courthouse is located at 3341 Power Inn Road….