Local non-profit organization hopes to save marriages

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By Nancy Edwards

A Noblesville couple has started a faith-based, non-profit organization in hopes of reducing the divorce rate in Hamilton County.

Better Together is an initiative began by Derek and Missy Irvin after Derek, small groups pastor at Northview Church in Carmel, completed a sabbatical in June. During his sabbatical, Derek traveled to four different organizations in four different states, all dedicated to providing resources to help save marriages.  Research showed that the community-based organizations reduced their divorce rate by 20 percent or more, Derek noted.

Derek and Missy, a marriage and family therapist, have been leading the marriage ministry at Northview Church for several years, offering classes for married and engaged couples.

“We thought these were neat programs,” Derek said, “but what about the people in the community who don’t go to church?”

In 2011 more than 1,400 couples in Hamilton County divorced. That same year, 1,650 marriage licenses were issued in the county.

“A lot of couples coming in (for help) think that the chemistry is not right or they married the wrong person,” Missy said.

While divorce is hard enough on couples, it’s even harder on kids, Derek said, which is why Better Together has a goal to improve the lives of children by helping their parents form and sustain healthy relationships through skills-based education and mass media messaging.

“Couples do better when they know better,” Derek said. “It’s much easier to make a good marriage great than rescue one in crisis. If you equip couples with skills for healthy relationships, it keeps them from getting into a crisis. It’s not about staying in a stable, miserable marriage; it’s about having an awesome marriage.”

Better Together also offers advice and encouragement for engaged couples by providing a class called “Becoming One” to help lay the foundation for a great marriage.

“Every couple who stands up at their wedding wants their marriage to last a lifetime,” Derek said. “Research shows that couples who prepare for marriage are 30 percent more likely to go the distance in their marriage.”

An upcoming class, called “The Marriage You Want,” addresses common problems such as communication and conflict resolution skills and is intended to help strengthen these skills and offers ways to get and stay connected as a couple.  The two-part, eight-hour class is offered on Friday, Nov. 30 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 1 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Delaware Township Community Center, 9090 East 131st Street, Fishers.

To register for the class or more information on Better Together, please visit www.bettertogether.us.

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