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OK Marriage Bills Make It Harder To Divorce

LAWTON Okla_ Oklahoma lawmakers want to make it harder to get divorced, and they've filed a handful of bills this session to do it.

One of those bills would give Oklahomans the option to choose covenant marriage. Republican Senator Josh Breechen wants couples to undergo counseling before they marry, and then again, should they ever decide to divorce.

The other side to this bill is giving couples fewer reasons to divorce. In a traditional marriage, divorces are granted for 12 reasons. With a covenant marriage, there are only 5.

Senator Brecheen said too many couples are breaking their vows.

"'Till death do us part' is pretty significant," Brecheen said. "Unfortunately in our society, it's become ‘Until difficulties do us part.'"

Pastor Doug Passmore of First Baptist East in Lawton agrees.

"A lot of times, we just take the easy way out," Passmore said. "We say, ‘Hey, it's not worth messing with.'"

Covenant marriage won't allow an easy way out. In fact, you wouldn't be granted a divorce for things like incompatibility or your everyday financial woes. It would have to be adultery, abuse, abandonment, fraudulent marriage, or separation for a year. You'd then have to prove you went to counseling with no amend.

Oklahoma has the highest divorce rate in the nation. In fact, one out of every three married people has been divorced at one time or another.

Therapist Amanda Hale said people aren't putting enough effort in before they get married.

"They don't think sometimes," Hale said. "They get into the habit of, ‘Oh, he's cute' or ‘Oh, she's pretty', and they jump right into marriage without thinking of long term goals."

Brecheen said that "lack of thinking" is tearing Oklahoma families apart, and it's hurting us economically.

"It's also indicative of poverty," Brecheen said. "The statistics of that are egregious and with causation pointed to divorce many times."

While "covenant" does have a religious connotation, Passmore and Hale agree it's beneficial for all.

"It's not saying that you can't get a divorce," Passmore said. "It just makes it a little harder to get a divorce. Therefore, you have to work at it harder."

"I'll support anything to make marriage stronger, regardless of religious preference, sexual orientation or anything," Hale said.

If this bill passes, covenant marriage will be an option, not a requirement.

Make sure to tune in Thursday night on 7News at 6, where 7News Reporter Sara Whaley talks to a couple about how they've made it work for the past 72 years. You'll want to hear why they say they are as happy now as the day they got married.

Lawmakers in the House are also promoting strong marriages. Representative Mark McCullough said the more marriage fails, the more the government has to get involved. He's proposed a bill that would not allow couples to divorce on grounds of incompatibility if there are minors at home, if the couple has been married more than 10 years, or if either party objects.

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