The National Catholic Review

Not only will many readers here have direct experience with decades of marriage themselves, of ministering to those engaged, or of officiating at weddings—a good number will be 18-22 year old persons themselves who will have an interest in marriage (as they may be considering it someday), and at least until the end of the semester of psychological testing (as they are in my class). Once again the Venn Diagrams of Psychology and Spirituality come together. Because of the high divorce rate, churches and synagogues in the past several decades have increasingly turned to resources from psychology in order to help couples who are preparing for marriage to get a clearer understanding of what lies ahead of them. Pre-Cana programs in the Catholic church may include having each person take the FOCCUS Inventory. Here is what one young person wrote about the FOCCUS process:

I took the FOCCUS test in January and we just got our results, we scored high! But we were also honest. The best thing to do is to be honest, it will really help find where the two of you stand in particular areas of a marriage. I'm not Catholic, so this test is given in all types of churches, in fact our instructor in our class was saying that it is given in many different places (counseling, churches, etc...) I know most people think its ridiculous to take this test but I think it's a great idea. Many people now a days expect or don't expect certain things in a marriage, therefore end up in divorce, as you see. There could be a particular subject that you hadn't discussed really that could end up being a huge problem in your marriage, such as finances and budgets.

To me, I'm glad we took this test, seems that Jim and I are pretty compatible!

As students who take courses in psychological testing learn, the interpretation of psychological tests by someone with experience and training is often more important than the fact of the test or of the results given. One aspect of the FOCCUS program is trained examiners who can weave in test findings with their own sacramental understanding of marriage itself and a good knowledge of the couples who are preparing for marriage. For my own knowledge as well as for all of the 18-22 year olds reading today, I'd be very interesting in hearing from America readers who have worked in pre-Cana programs, whether they used FOCCUS or not. Another psychological test frequently used in marriage preparation (though not specifically in pre-Cana, I think) is the Sixteen Person Factors Inventory. Here is an example of psychological testing results used along with pre-marital counseling, from a standard textbook in the field:

Sue and Jim took tests as part of the pre-marriage program at their Church. The counselor met individually with each of them first--to go over their findings and then to obtain permission to share the findings in the joint meeting. Feedback to each person included relationship feedback and personality ratings.

Overall, Sue was 'very satisfied with the relationship. She believed she and Jim shared a great deal together, much caring and affection, good communication, and a fair division of roles. One area where she was 'a little unsatisfied' was in the area of finances. She believed that more money needed to be saved for the future; she was not happy that Jim had recently bought a $32,000 sports vehicle.

Sue's personality feedback included a high score on the Extraversion factor; indeed she has many friends and activities in her life. She presented herself as 'no more stressed' than most people. She scored higher on 'receptive' traits than 'tough minded' ones, suggesting an openness to different ideas, people, or situations. She came across as highly independent, as one who actively attempts to control others and her environment. She is experimenting and has an inquiring mind. Sue is more self-controlled and restrained, and her desire to save for the future is one aspect of this quality.

Jim's profile came back differently. In terms of the relationship, he noted that he was 'satisfied'--not quite as enthusiastic an endorsement as Sue. Although he was 'satisfied' with time together and caring and affection, he was 'unsatisfied' with division of roles, extended family, and finances.

In terms of 'couples comparison,' some major trends include the following: Sue tends to be more social, gregarious, and extraverted than Jim. In terms of anxiety, Jim is the more anxious and stressed of the two. Sue is more independent than Jim, and does not need as much regular affirmation of her self-worth from others or activities.

The counselor went over all of the test data with Sue and Jim. They agreed they had very different ideas about saving for the future. Jim noted, 'I get alot of enjoyment from my hobby with cars, and since I am paying for it myself, I think I have a right to this.' The counselor noted that because Sue gets a great deal of satisfaction from her social life, she may not have to purchase 'things.' Another area the counselor brought up for discussion was whether Jim goes along with Sue's plans without expressing his opinions. They both agreed that this occurs. When the counselor brought up the topics of extended families as well as how each felt about having children, Jim laughed and said 'There's alot to talk about here' while Sue remained surprisingly quiet.

Together, Sue and Jim decided that they would benefit from several more counseling sessions to talk about the concerns raised by the testing.

My own bias regarding psychological testing is that it should only be done when it provides information that can't be provided by more direct means. Binet came up with the idea for an "intelligence test" when parents, teachers and physicians in Paris could not agree on how to provide the right education for particular children. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) or Beck Hopelessness Scale came about when psychiatrists and psychologists could not agree on important diagnoses and prognoses through interviews. In an ideal church, the experiences of the married couples and sacramental ministers themselves might be enough of a source of wisdom and guidance for those planning to marry. But this is a complex world, with a high divorce rate. Do you think psychological testing can add to, in Cardinal O'Connor's phrase, the sacramental resources of religion itself?

William Van Ornum

 

Comments

Cheryl Benjamin | 4/8/2011 - 10:09am
#77... I appreciate that you support the fact that churches and synagogues embrace the comcept of this test taking but i do not know if i am that fond about it. Not that i am the most religious person in the world but it seems to me that with taking this test to determine what lies ahead for this couple is slowly diminishing the churches stands on predestination. I mean, whatever happened to the idea "have faith and God will see you through"? It seems to me that this test can play a role in deteriorating the idea that God has your life planned before you were even born, especially in the christian faith.
Cheryl Benjamin | 4/8/2011 - 10:05am
WOW... When I read this blog, alot of things came to mind. In my earlier years of psychology, I would have probably completely disagreed with the concept of having a pstchological exam take the place of fate or predict whether a marriage will last. However, taking psych testing, my perspective towards this issue may have been impacted. I have witnessed how much psychological testing has changed and influenced the world we live in today and if there was something to reduce the high rate of divorce, why not give it a try? While i support the test, I do not and I repeat do not believe that this test should be even considered one of the main predictors for the contiuation or cut off of a marriage. It should only be looked at as an option, not a priority. The fact is, people are different in the way they act, in what they believe but in this case, most importantly, in the way they score on test or the way they express themselves. Therefore, one should not denounce or discourage a marriage based on a simple test.
Amanda Peluso | 4/8/2011 - 4:26am
In response to Crystal Watson (# 45) : I agree that this discussion is making marriage sound like a ''business merger.'' Marriage is not about business. It is about love and commitment. You need to be open and accepting of differences in order to make a relationship work.  Why must we focus so much on editing the fine print of it all?

In response to DDiMartino (# 82) : I completely agree with your comment about the romance database.  I feel that this assessment of compatibility is similar to those multi-dimensional compatibility evaluations on eharmony.com or match.com. Maybe it could work, however, I do not see how a test like this could make or break something as complex as a loving relationship or influence such a complicated decision like marriage.

Best wishes,

Amanda P.
Diana Dimartino | 4/8/2011 - 3:05am
            Although I have never been married and probably will not be for however many more years, I personally feel the idea of “marriage testing” is absurd. For one thing, in reference to the example provided in the article, if a couple needs an evaluator to reveal the fact that they have differing views on finances, this is a clear indicator they are not at all compatible (or just don’t have conversational skills). In a way, I feel that if you’re going to get an evaluation on compatibility, we may as well skip the dating scene, and all join up on a romance database. Wouldn’t this solve all problems that could be found through a test?
            I also believe a test such as the one in the article would only create paranoia, as I doubt anyone would score equivalent of “100%”. At the same time, a written exam such as this is not going to reveal any gaping problems in the relationship; and if it does, there is clearly a problem with the couple taking it. Another thing that bothered me is who has the right to tell a couple whether they should be together or not? No examiner would be able to know the full history between the two, and would therefore not be able to “analyze” accurately. Fortunately, all relationships are unique, and don’t fit into little test bubbles. I do not mean to offend anyone who chooses to follow this form of feedback, I just do not think it should be the deciding factor to make or break a husband and wife. 
Lauren Cirillo | 4/8/2011 - 12:29am
Although I am still very young and do not have marriage on my mind yet I was extremely interested in this article because it is such a relevant topic in today’s society. The divorce rate for first marriage is 41% and is even higher for a second and third marriage. This is clearly an issue however I am unsure how I feel about the FOCCUS inventory. Divorce is such a problem especially when children are involved because many times children are negatively impacted. My ex boyfriends parents got divorced when he was in 7th grade and even to this day he is still negatively affected by it. He has extreme concern about ending up like his parents. Often times he is the middle man between issues concerning his parents today. However I don’t think that an inventory test is a true measure of whether a marriage will last or not. When a couple actually gets put in a situation and pressure and stress are put on them a lot can change. Maybe a couple initially has different viewpoints but along the way they figure out ways to work together and be successful. Like Vanessa Adamo stated, the FOCCUS inventory results may be similar to an SAT’s results. The SAT’s don’t always determine intelligence and I feel that the FOCCUS inventory will not determine compatibility. If a couples inventory results came back stating they were not compatible at all would the couple just end their relationship and not get married all because of a test? Would it give the couple a negative outlook on their relationship? I just feel like if a couple is happy and in love they don’t need to go through the process of taking an inventory to see if they are compatible. The fact that they have been dating for some time and thinking about getting married proves that they both have confidence their marriage will succeed. If a couple is planning on getting married many of the items in the 156 questioner are things couples should have spoken about while planning on getting married. Once a couple is married I do believe couples counseling can be beneficial to help a failing marriage. I am not completely against FOCCUSS inventory but I don’t think it is something I would choose to do.
http://www.foccusinc.com/foccus-inventory-faq.aspx
Courtney Lynch | 4/8/2011 - 12:07am
Until death do us part. Even though, I do not have personal experience with the subject, I do know that marriage is the special union that binds two people together for life. However, with statistics saying that half of all marriages end in divorce, how do the fifty percent that remain married make it work? I do know that my parents, who have been married for almost twenty five years and have four children went through pre-Cana counseling. Even though it is said that people do not change, life has many unexpected bumps in the road, twists and turns and people may have different visions or life-time goals. Therefore, I believe that sitting down and discussing the ways of life and what each person wants in their future is important. This way each partner knows how the other is feeling and the counseling may bring up topics that they would not have thought to discuss. Additionally, some topics are deep and the people getting married may have very different views on the subject. Sometimes it is good to have a mediator to help each person see the other person’s side.
Interestingly enough, the article listed below studied couples of all ages. Levenso, Carstense, Gottman (1993) found that they were different marital issues at various points in life. Some of the issues were money, children and in-laws. Additionally, the sources of happiness changed at different points in a couple’s marriage. For example, for young couples, dreams and silly times together were important and in older couples, it was their grandchildren that they enjoyed. Therefore, I do believe that things change in a marriage, as long as there is good stead communication, each person does what makes them happy and they come together and work things out that a marriage can endure the trials of time.
 Levenson, R. W., Carstensen, L. L., Gottman, J. M., (1993) Long-term marriage: Age, gender, and satisfaction. Psychology and Aging 8(2), 301-313. 
Alexandra Burgess | 4/7/2011 - 11:41pm
After learning more about the FOCCUS inventory, I have to agree with the statement “psychological testing should only be done when it provides information that can't be provided by more direct means.” Like many others here I was unfamiliar with this test, leaving me initially skeptical to the idea that a psychological test could actually predict compatibility.
 
In my research, I found the inventory focuses =] on 19 content areas ranging from problem solving, life style expectations, religion and values, to parenting, marriage readiness, and personality match. These all seem like valid points to assess when contemplating marriage, yet from a psychological standpoint it seems it would be difficult to assign an accurate score to the individual categories. I believe there is a threat to the test’s validity, for what does the administrator have to base a couples responses to? We all know relationships have their ups and their downs, but in the end different things work for different people. I’m not quite sure that the FOCCUS inventory accounts for this…
 
 I do however agree that psychological testing could be very useful in helping couples to better understand the complexities behind a relationship. By taking this inventory of questions, it allows for a direct discussion of sensitive issues that may have not been previously discussed due to the subject matter. When considering such a lifelong commitment as marriage, it’s important to get different perspectives so you can make both healthy and informed decisions.
Kerri Smith | 4/7/2011 - 10:38pm
I think Anne, in comment #47, raises a good point, when she considers whether those who are immature psychologically at the time of marriage would even be too immature to really take into consideration the results of an inventory. But even more than that, I completely agree with your last sentence, “If people aren’t solid and able to be on their own, without a boyfriend/girlfriend, they may not be ready for marriage.” I have always believed that we must be able to be happy alone before we can be truly happy with someone else.
 
When we are born, we need the assistance and nurturing of others to help us grow. As we grow, we develop our personalities, and we begin to feel comfortable in our own skin. We go through many stages of personal crises as we question who we are and what we want out of life. Clearly, we are far too immature during these stages to be in a stable, lasting relationship. If you cannot be aware of what you want out of life, how can you know what type of person you will want to spend that life with? In order to be mature enough to form a lasting relationship with someone, we need to be sure of ourselves enough to know who we are, what works for us, and what we want. Obviously, we can never know ourselves fully, but once we reach a point where we can be happy enough alone to know generally who we are and what we want, the chances of creating a lasting relationship are much higher.
Danielle Lettieri | 4/7/2011 - 10:12pm
I have never heard of the FOCCUS Inventory before. I think psychological tests like that are good for usage in marriage preparation. I think they are good because sometimes people rush into marriage and may not even know everything about the other person. Since they may not know everything about the other person, they could end up having relationship issues that could lead to a divorce. I think the tests will help the couple be aware of certain issues so that they could discuss and fix the problems before they decide to get married. Also, I think these tests are good because there is a high divorce rate and anything to help that is a good thing. Not only is divorce bad because of religious reasons, but it is also bad for the people involved in the divorce and their children. The divorce could cause a lot of pain for the couple and to the children of the couple. For example, many times children get upset because they think the divorce was their fault.
In my Anthropology class, we were learning about marriage in different cultures and we watched a video about arranged marriages. In other cultures that have arranged marriages, they actually think that you do not need to know everything about the person you are marrying. They believe that “it takes a whole lifetime to get to know your partner” (video). They believe in love after marriage and not before marriage. You learn to love the other person after marriage. You do not fall in love first and then marry. They think that you can’t get to know your partner through dating. This is because they think you are just trying to impress the other person when you are dating.
 
Video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=589319759389996027&hl=en#
Elizabeth Batchelor | 4/7/2011 - 9:45pm
    A psychological test to determine a good match for marriage is just silly.  Good matches are sometimes determined with “ love at first sight. ” How can a test determine your love or your suitability for marriage? With the amount of divorces and relationship problems these days it does make sense to look to FOCUS as a way to begin to talk about important things in life.
    In psychology a test is more accurate than you beliefs and feelings on the individual. A test will not lie if the individual took the time and thought to answer honestly. In the end of the day it is best to go with you beliefs and feelings about a person, but the FOCUS test can be a good starting point for a meaningful conversation with another person.
Janeen Featherston | 4/7/2011 - 8:55pm
Although I am young and not thinking very much about marriage at this point in my life, I still found this article quite intriguing and important for many couples to consider. When first reading the article I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt about the psychological testing before marriage. However, I do understand how the recent high divorce rates would cause churches and synagogues to feel they needed to use some type of Pre-Cana program, such as the FOCCUS Inventory. I feel it would make sense for couples, especially very young ones, to assure that they are ready for marriage with their partner, before going through it.  Although some couples may feel uncomfortable with such a program, I believe that it may be necessary to prevent the divorce rates from rising further. Recently, I have found that many couples seem to be rushing into marriage, rather than actually taking the time to get to know their spouses as well as their own plans and future desires. Because so many divorces have been occurring recently and affecting each and every member of the families, churches and synagogues seem to be taking an interesting, yet clever approach by using psychology to ensure that couples are “right” for each other.
Overall, I found this article quite interesting to read. Although I have heard of Pre-Cana programs before, I wasn’t exactly sure of what they entailed. I agree with the article’s idea that tests probably should be used only when more information is needed, which cannot be obtained directly. I believe that if couples feel they are truly ready to get married, they should also feel ready to take such a psychological test, with pre-marital counseling. 
Samantha Rooney | 4/7/2011 - 7:18pm
www.drmillslmu.com/Testing/fall2002/Crane,ppt,10-12-02.ppt

^^ This is the link I meant to add along with my previous comment ^^
Patrick O'connor | 4/7/2011 - 7:17pm
I agree with what Maria brought up. I think that if a couple needs to test their compatibility, then they are not prepared for marriage to begin with. Maybe they will one day be ready, but getting a result from a test that predicts an unsuccessful marriage will only make their futures together vanish easier. Relationships and marriages are very hard work and there will always be disagreements, but in the end you should know that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone when you’re walking down the aisle. The best test that I am aware of that will evaluate a couple’s compatibility is called dating.
Samantha Rooney | 4/7/2011 - 7:07pm
     This article discusses the use of psychological testing to possible predict divorce in therapy-seeking couples.  The test is called the Marital Adjustment Test (MAT) and measures the overall marital quality and accurately and consistently differentiates between distressed and non-distressed couples.  The wife's distress level was found to be the most important factor in predicting marital outcome.
     I think psychological testing could definitely be important to the future of marriages.
Stephanie Schwarz | 4/7/2011 - 6:37pm
@ post 62 Angeline,

I do agree with your beliefs on this topic but I would also just like to point out that the phrase "right reasons" is a very grey area. I believe that the concept of these tests are a good idea but it is hard to determine that right and wrong reasons because each couple and relationship is very unique. If the priest gets to know the couple on a level where they believe that can make accurate assumptions as to what are the right and wrong reasons, then the claim can be made about the importance of taking these inventories.  
Angeline Nielsen | 4/7/2011 - 6:14pm
Ed (#62) I like your comment that marriage, is not discussed as much as "wedding".  I personally don't care about the "wedding" when I get married.  Just the union so I can raise children with married parents.  I have watched many people my age get married, and it is a glamorous event, that all the planning is discussed for the priest as more of a showman in their wedding. 

I believe that it is the priest's duty to assure that he believes the marriage will last in order to perform the wedding.  I look at the priest as sort of the lawyer for the couple.  It is ethically wrong for a lawyer to defend a client if they know they are guilty, just as a priest should have faith that the couple is uniting for the right reasons before they bless their union in front of God.

Men and women of the cloth are supposed to be pure and honest, so it is important that they believe in what they do.
Rachel Flaherty | 4/7/2011 - 4:58pm
I think the idea of psychological testing can definitely help give insight to a couple’s relationship.  So many couples these days seem to be rushing into marriage without really knowing their partner all that well.  Although I don’t think testing should make or break a relationship, I think that it can definitely help couples.  Couples would be able to see where their interests lie, and areas of life where conflict may arise in the future.  There is no harm in doing these tests, but it does give couples an opportunity that they would not be presented with otherwise. 
So many marriages end in divorce these days, so why not try psychological testing?  We are exhausting other options, such as couple therapy, so we might as well try something new.  It is not guaranteed to predict whether the relationship will last, but there is no harm in seeing what the results will conclude.  These tests can simply bring to light personality traits and information about a person’s partner that might not have been otherwise noticed.  I think that this idea is both unique and interesting, and deserves to be given a try by interested people.  
maria martin | 4/7/2011 - 4:10pm
Although I think that Pre-Cana programs in the catholic churches are an interesting and unique idea, I do not believe that it works for the purpose of helping a marriage survive or not. A test like the FOCCUS inventory test can provide answers of how a couple matches on paper, but when it comes to real life events, no test can predict those outcomes. The factors of 'couples comparison' is fine for figuring out what  each individual in the relationship is like, however it does not mean that because they scored different they will not make a good couple. As the saying is told “opposites attract”, so maybe having scored differently on sections of the test would be a good thing for the couple. In my opinion, divorce rates will continue to rise as our society progresses, a simple test or counseling session in the church will not have an effect on this.
Brittany Peters | 4/7/2011 - 3:57pm
I think that the FOCCUS inventory is a valuable tool for couples to use before marriage. Research shows that couples who have received some type of pre-marital counseling before marriage had a 31% lower divorce rate. In my opinion, this statistical evidence is proof that the FOCCUS inventory is a tool that is likely worth every couple’s time. I believe that psychological pre-marital tests such as this forces couples to address questions that do not come up in every day conversations. Couples that are about to be married are typically happy ones who are focusing on the joys of their partnership, they don’t want to risk ruining their current state of bliss by bringing up tough topics. I believe that by addressing topics such as these during testing will allow couples to open up and discuss any potential issues before they make a lifelong commitment.
 
While the FOCCUS inventory is a valuable tool, I do not believe it should be mandatory for any couples to take. I don’t believe that there is any test that can measure love. It’s one of the few things in the world that only those two people in that specific relationship can understand and measure. A couple may not score well on the FOCCUS inventory and have many differences; however, they are a strong couple who works well together in overcoming adversity. At the same time, a couple may appear to be very similar and score well on the FOCCUS inventory, but one seemingly small issue may be a primary factor in the relationship that drives the couple apart. I believe the FOCCUS inventory should be an option for all couples yet it is not always necessary. As Van Ornum points out in the above article psychological testing should only be provided when the same information can’t be provided by other sources. Open couples who engage in honest conversations about their past and their expectations for the future will likely see the same results on the test that they receive in their own day to day conversations. If couples are struggling to communicate or have pre-wedding jitters I feel that the FOCCUS inventory would be a great tool to access. At the end of the day, it’s all about the couples confidence and faith in their relationship that will affect how they feel about their FOCUS results.
  'Pre-marital counseling reduces divorce rate.' Retrieved from http://www.physorg.com/news70250831.html 

ed gleason | 4/7/2011 - 1:17pm
The fact that 95% of FOCCUS facilitators are the priests/deacons who will preside at the wedding seems to be ignored by the negative[Tom] comments. FOCCUS is a just part of the priest presider's communication with the couple. Too many couples getting married now  have more communication about the music, the dress, the flowers. the reception/booze, the 'colors', the attendants, the honeymoon and the all important guest list and the how much/who will pay crisis. And  It's NOT a test>>>
Tom get a spell check..    
Ailish Rowley | 4/7/2011 - 12:21pm
There was once was a time when divorce was a rare unspoken about topic, however in today’s society divorce has become more common than ever. I think it is important to consider reasons for why the divorce rates amongst Americans have risen, compared to rates from the past. I feel as though society is breaking away from traditional mindset and values it once had, and this may relate to rise of divorce. With this in mind, young people are as less actively involved in church the way they used to be, I think one of focus that is being lost amongst society is religion. I would guess that for most people, the religion people grow up in becomes the foundation for their values and insight. However I feel that today people want to rely on something more concrete such as a psychological test, rather than a member from their church for guidance or wisdom. Although I can see how it may be beneficial to use psychological testing to help marriages, I do not think it is always necessary. I feel, as though there are areas of life that are not so concrete, such as love or spirituality and that psychological testing may not be the best option to turn too when these areas need attention. On the other hand psychological testing may help marriages if they find detect a direct factor of person’s life that is getting in the way of their relationship that such as a mental illness. 
Angeline Nielsen | 4/7/2011 - 11:08am
Tom (# 12) I know where you are coming from in your view that it is up to the people in the relationship to decide who they should marry, and not some outside person with a test score in their hands.  I found it interesting how the couple scored high on the FOCUSS exam, since they had big issues about finance and family that they didn't agree on.

I have been in a relationship with a person for almost 8 years now, and I can say that we are compatible because we agree on the big important issues that we have faced and will face in our future, how to raise children, where we see ourselves in years to come, politics, morals, religion etc. 

I think most people go to take these tests because they may not get involved in these important discussions with their intended spouse, and some haven't lived together to get used to their sometimes annoying tendencies.  People also don't know their place in the relationship.  There will always be one who is more dominant than the other, one that will clean more, one that focuses more on finances, and one that disciplines the children more.

If people engaged in relationships don't know their place in these important areas, there could be conflict, which results could end up badly.  I also believe the high divorce rate is because it has become more accepted in society over time, and people don't work out problems, and sacrifice their point of views like they did in the past.
Tom Maher | 4/7/2011 - 10:30am
Kate Bianco (#58)

Your analysis of some of the technical shortfalls of the FOCCUS process is excellent.  Your observation of a  "interpretation gap" where different "Facilitators" would interpret the same results differently is a certainty. No matter how well trained (another big problem) "Fccilitators" are they will be subjective in interpreting the test results.

Another problem is the human tendency  to go beyond the test data to create fuller  interpretation of the couple. The couple are at the mercy of the "Facillitator" to not speculate and make subjective conclusions and judgement on who the couple are and what their realtionship is.  The Facilitator  even with the test data really has very limited information to discus with the couple who they are iin any depth. 

But s worse possibility is the "Facilitator"  subjective interpretations of test results between the couple.  This is a hazard where on the whim of the "Facilitator" the couple will  be confronted with issues that they really do not have or are overblown.  A false issue is harder to understand and therefore are more likley to casue doubt and concern about their relationship.  Raising false issues can be quite destructive yet  are certain to happen all the time.

This interpreting process is open-ended, subjective and not a science.  The couple's  interest in getting married are not well served by the Church by an uncontrolled process with wide-open variance in intereperting their relationship. 
Katie Bianco | 4/7/2011 - 2:01am
While I agree it is important for couples in the Catholic Church to go through pre – Cana, I’m not sure a full scale psychological test is in order.  Pre – Cana exists, for couples looking to be married, to learn more about their partner, and their compatibility both secularly and spiritually.  It explores common topics of discussion that the couple may encounter once married, and how well the couple could work through them; if they can compromise.  It wasn’t established for individuals to get an in-depth knowledge of themselves and how they function either alone or in large groups of people, with material items or groups of friends, as this example seems to be stating.  I feel as though with a psychological test, the individuals of the couple would be more interested in their own responses and what that states about them as a person, instead of as a couple.  Not to mention the fact that pre – Cana is meant to be somewhat of a spiritual quest of compatibility.  The couple can’t get that spiritual aspect from a sheet of paper with scores on it.  It comes from a discussion either with the other person, or the person and a priest.
Another aspect that I feel would be difficult in using a psychological test is the scoring.  While it is said that only trained psychologists can score a psychological test, there is a certain amount that is left up to interpretation.  One psychologist’s opinion of scores may be completely different from another and could lead to an entirely different result.  If the interpretation gap is wide enough, it could mean the difference between a compatible or non-compatible score. If this were to happen, and an agreement could not be reached, the test could be considered invalid and the couple would be back to square one.
Chelsea Unger | 4/7/2011 - 12:17am
I really enjoyed this article; this may be because I am the type of person who enjoys taking the quizzes in the back of the magazines to read about my personality. I find that this test is a great opportunity for couples to communicate and grow through discussing topics about their relationship that they might not have even considered. Furthermore, I do not believe that this test should be limited to just couples who are engaged. I would be interested to see how couples pre-engagement would fare as well as couples who are already married.
These tests could very well be a means to prevent the divorce rate from increasing, but for me, I would take this more as a couples growing exercise. The connotation that can be associated with the words “quiz” and “test,” especially when applied to the supposed amount of strength and possibilities that a couple has, sounds laden with pressure for the couple.
Tom Maher | 4/6/2011 - 10:24pm
The FACBIOOK entry that I reference and cited in Comment #44 above shows a couple that were so disgusted and provoked by the FOCCUS "Facilitation"  process where FOCCUS test responses are discused with a  "FOCCUS Fscilitator" that they quite the FOCCUS program, changed their wedding plans to get married outside the Catholic church and even changed their religon to no logner be apart of the Cahtolic Church.  

This FACEBOOK entry shows that the FOCCUS testing and Facilitation process was the cause of the couple leaving the the church to get married elsewhere.

A critical check of other FACEBOOK entries and ouher intenet sources  shows  numerous other couples who have recently provoked and discouraged from marrying in the Catholic Church by the FOCCUS program and Facilitation process.  This is a dysfunctional outcome that is driving mature couples who should be married  away from being married in the Catholic Church.  A very bad result. 

After 30 years in exitance it is high time for the severe dysfunction consequences of the FOCUUS program be known and avoided even to the point of terminating this program that drives people anway from the sacrement of marriage within the chuch. 
The Church's role must be to encourage and facilitate marriages to peopel who want to be  marraige.   The Church fails to live up to its Gospel mission wrhen it attempts in an abusive and high-handed manner to restrict and discourage mature adult couples from being married.  And people will resent and react to the Church's abuse of its matrimonial authority as evidence in FACEBOOK and other internet sources.
Danielle Molins | 4/6/2011 - 8:31pm
This intriguing article portrays testing in a context to which I have never given any thought to before. In my opinion, developing an assessment for couples to participate in before marriage is an idea that could benefit couples in the long run. It provides a basis for couple to discuss issues that could potentially detriment the marriage later on when the problems do arise. In the future, I can honestly say that I would participate in taking the FOCCUS Inventory or an assessment similar to it. Couples can successfully work through potential problems and hopefully relinquish and reduce the risk of divorce. 
On the other hand, I believe that it is obvious that the success or failure of a marriage will not be contingent upon taking these types of test. In my opinion, incompatible couples could still remain incompatible couples and divorce could be unavoidable regardless of taking the FOCCUS Inventory or tests such as that. Taking a test such as the ones described in the article should not be used as an assured divorce preventative measure. What can be a preventative measure for divorce is taking the results from the testing and truly working through issues in which it addresses. I believe that the example couple, Sue and Jim, attending various counseling sessions because of their results should be followed. This is a perfect example of the true purpose of the FOCCUS.
Stacey Alley | 4/6/2011 - 7:17pm
                I see nothing wrong with couples who are seriously considering marriage using the FOCCUS Inventory to learn more about themselves and their wants, and needs, as well as their partner’s, and their relationship as a whole. In fact, if I were plan on marrying someone I would want to use FOCCUS because when I look around me today there are so many divorces impacting the lives of so many people, including children who unfortunately can get stuck in the middle. I looked up the divorce rates in the United States on http://www.divorcerate.org/ and compared them to the divorce rates of other countries, and we’re ranked higher than all countries documented when it comes to divorce. Why is this? What is it about the way we’re living that causes so many people to go back on their vows?
                When looking for the reason why the United States has such high divorce rates, I ran across this article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-07-18-cohabit-divorce_x.htm from 2005. The article discussed that during the year of 2005, divorce rates were actually declining, however, the reason for the decline was speculated to not be because of more couples staying together, but because more couples were just not getting married. The article goes on to discuss the impact of divorce and cohabiting on children. Apparently, cohabiting couples are twice as more likely to end their relationship as couples that marry, and in the U.S. 40% of cohabiting couples have children. David Popenoe, a sociology professor at Rutgers, was quoted, saying, “The United States has the weakest families in the Western world because we have the highest divorce rate and the highest rate of solo parenting.”
                FOCCUS provides couples with a “personalized profile of their relationship and its strengths and challenges.” I believe this is extremely beneficial because it will allow couples to see what they need to work on in their relationship. If they take what they learn from the FOCCUS inventory and are willing to work together to make their relationship stronger, good for them, and if they realize that their differences cause their relationship to be beyond repair, then in the end they will save themselves, and others a whole lot of heartache.  
Ryan Mead | 4/6/2011 - 5:59pm
Being a child of divorced parents, I’m kind of for the idea of premarital testing for compatibility. My mother and my father didn’t really understand the values of marriage and after they got married everything went down the drain. They got divorced when I was 3 years old and haven’t really talked since. The couple has to be honest when taking the inventory and all the test really does is present issues the significant other might not be aware of. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this idea and I wouldn’t mind taking it with my girlfriend of two years. We plan on getting married in the next two years and sometimes she just brings up problems I had no idea that bothered her. I feel like this test makes it easier to determine what really bothers the significant other so it can be worked out.
I have to add this test sounds strangely like the tests given to people who participate in the online dating site Eharmony.com. The site gives compatibility tests to each and every person who signs up and attempts to match them with someone they can spend the rest of their life with. EHarmony states in their mission that it is their goal to reduce the divorce rate in America and so far they seem to be doing a good job. In a study recently published it has been shown of people who met on EHarmony many of them are still together after 7 years and are living happily. You can check out their results here http://eharmony-blog.com/2150 .
Shannon Mckenna | 4/6/2011 - 4:33pm
In my 19 years of life, I have watched many marriages fall through the cracks.  Two of my uncles, my Godfather, and many close family friends have all gone through divorces in the past two decades.  I am lucky to say that my parents are still happily married after 22 years, but many of my friends’ parents have been divorced.  One of my mother’s close friends has been divorced three times in the past 15 years. 
It seems as if divorce is something all too common in our society today and it is only getting worse.  We hear about it not only in our own lives with people we know, but also in the media where many celebrity couples will only stay together for a few short years.  After reading this blog, it makes sense that a couple should take a psychological test before they get married.  It seems as if these tests can truly tell if a couple is compatible.  The tests also bring up important topics for a man and woman to discuss that may otherwise been overlooked and cause problems in the future. 
At this time in my life, I am still focusing on school, but I plan on getting married sometime within the next 5 to 8 years.  I would definitely consider taking a psychological test with my fiancé because there is no reason not to.  When I find the right man, I want to make sure that I am with him for the rest of my life, and if taking one of these tests can help assure me of this, than I am all for it.
Vanessa Adamo | 4/6/2011 - 2:10pm
Dr. Van Ornum,
       I found this article to be very interesting and am glad that you wrote about this topic, as divorce has become a huge concern and growing problem in our society today. I have never heard of FOCCUS inventory precious to reading what you had wrote and therefore did further research. The FOCCUS homepage give a complete and thorough definition of what FOCCUS is, stating: “The FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory is a 156-item marriage preparation tool, which includes additional, optional items for interfaith couples, cohabiting couples and couples in which one or both partners are remarrying. The Inventory was developed in 1986, updated with cohabiting couple items in 1997, and revised in 2000 with new research-based items in areas related to spirituality and religion. All editions have strong psychometric characteristics of reliability, content, construct and predictive validity.” This brief statement gives FOCCUS a complete and complex definition, causing me to have to read it several times before I was able to decide whether or not I find this beneficial.
            As I was reading the article and reading about FOCCUS inventory, I was baffled that couples were going to testing to determine their compatibility. There has been much talk and much research on the divorce rate that is being experienced by our society today and it is  a sad fact the fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, however, I was unaware that it was taken to such an extreme. To be honest, I have my doubts about FOCCUS Inventory because it leads me to question, Can a test really determine compatibility? In comparing this test to other tests such as the SATs it is easy to doubt the failures of such a test. There has been significant research on testing such as the SAT test and much has been found to prove that the SAT cannot accurately determine ones intelligence, so much so that colleges are no longer requiring the scores. Therefore, I cannot help but think that such a test as FOCCUS can have the same problems. Just as the SAT cannot accurately determine intelligence I do not completely have faith that a test can accurately determine compatibility. Although the FOCCUS homepage stresses its reliability, content, construct, and predictive validity, there is much that can go wrong with a test such as this. For example, a couple may provide answers to these 156 items based on what they believe would make them compatible instead on answering them based on honesty. Results on such a test can be skewed. Therefore, when you state that this test should only be done when it provides information that can't be provided by more direct means, I am in complete agreement. In certain relationships, I do believe that couples should attend counseling prior to marriage; however, I am not sure how confident I am in testing a couple for compatibility. I am not saying that I am completely against the FOCCUS inventory; I am just wary and unsure of the process. I am sure that there will be much more research on such testing and I am excited to read about and find out more on such a topic.  
 
jackie p | 4/6/2011 - 1:00pm
Personally, both sides of the argument seem valid.  Although I do not disagree with the purpose of the FOCCUS test, I do not think it is necessary for couples to take before marriage.  While getting married is a process that requires a lot of maturity and sacrifice, two people should not need a test to prove that their relationship is compatible or not.  Only as a last resort should a test like FOCCUS, be used to obtain information for the couple.  In the event that the couple does use the test, what is the success rate of the marriage after the pre-marital examination? Will the couples listen and work on their issues?  Or will they just go on and get married without paying attention to the results because they are "in love."   

On the other hand, I do think it could add to the sacrament of marriage.  If couples are aware ahead of time of the problems that could arise in their relationship, then they can plan ahead on how to approach them and work together to compromise.  I think if you jump into a marriage, you may find you are really not as compatible as you once thought. Your “blinding love” was in a way, deceitful. 

In some cases, the commitment to the marriage before God is enough to see couples through their tough times and crises—but, not for all.  Some couples realize that they are not able to live with the person they thought they knew and loved, and the "commitment" cannot stand. Which is why I do think the more knowledge you have about yourself and your partner is for the better.  In this case, the church is wise to utilize the tools of modern psychology to help institute this sacrament.  
       

ed gleason | 4/6/2011 - 11:25am
Tom Maher is wrong again. 95% of FOCCUS couple discussions of results are done by priests/deacons who have been instructed how to do the discussion. Maybe he thinks a priest is the  'third party'.
I also believe he thinks he has found some new damn liberal innovation.. it's about 30 years old.
Anne Chapman | 4/6/2011 - 8:45am
My husband and I are approaching our 40th anniversary.  No testing then, but we did meet with a priest a couple of times - he asked questions, was reassured that we had discussed the issues he was raising, and that was it. I was in my mid-20s and my husband was 30, both of us had finished college, and he had a grad degree.   If people are immature psychologically when they want to marry, would they also be too immature to seriously take into consideration the results of the inventory?  I don't know. 

Today, when I look at the next generation getting married, it sometimes seems that too many are in love with being in love, and all of the focus is on the wedding.  This overemphasis on the wedding, rather than the marriage,  seems to be a trend - there are even reality shows that are only about buying the wedding dress! Spending a lot of money on a wedding does not ensure a happy marriage.

 In this country, there were many intact, but miserable marriages before divorce laws were eased in the 60s and 70s.  The divorce rate climbed steadily until about the early 1980s when it peaked - apparently a lot of unhappy people headed for the courts when they no longer had to prove adultery or physcial abuse, and when children were old enough that women felt they could get a job, and they also had access, almost for the first time in history, to decent enough jobs to support themselves. Since then the divorce rate has declined, and has stabilized, but still at too high a level. The majority of divorces, then and now, are initiated by women.

There are a couple of factors that are highly correlated with divorce - in those states where the average age at marriage and the average level of education completed are highest (such as Massachusetts), the divorce rate is lowest.  Conversely, in those states where more people marry young, and have less education (Mississippi, for example), divorce rates are the highest.  Of my close friends, only three have divorced - one dropped out of college to get married, two married the first year after graduating.  I also know those who married young who have good marriages, so that alone is not a predictor. However, since all of those friends who married at least a few years after college are still together, but not all of those who married at 19-22 or so are still together, it seems that waiting a few years doesn't hurt.  If people aren't solid and able to be on their own, without a boyfriend/girlfriend, they may not be ready for marriage.
Kerri Smith | 4/5/2011 - 11:58pm
Being only in college, I personally have never experienced premarital counseling or anything of that nature. However, I have known many divorced parents, and I have recently experienced the divorce of my own parents. When I consider what causes divorce, I often look at my own parents and analyze the reasons they ended their marriage. To me, my parents did not work well as a couple because they did not really know each other very well when they entered into their marriage. I have no knowledge of whether or not my parents underwent any form of premarital counseling or testing, but I believe it is safe to assume that they did not. I personally believe that had they sat down with a counselor beforehand, they might have been able to notice major flaws in their relationship that would become very detrimental down the line.

That being said, I do not believe that something like a poor score on the FOCCUS test should end a marriage. The purpose of premarital counseling or taking tests like this is to get to know yourself and your partner better, to better understand how the two of you work in a relationship as well as what does not work that needs to be addressed. Just as with any other psychological test, we must take these results with a grain of salt. It is important for the psychologist administering the test and providing the results to really get to know the clients in order to evaluate effectively. And once the results have been discussed, the couple can decide how to work on the areas in their relationship that need adjustment.

 Research has demonstrated that premarital counseling does indeed reduce the likelihood of divorce (http://www.jstor.org/stable/3700212). I think it certainly does not hurt to undergo premarital counseling, and some may wish to take this further by taking tests like FOCCUS or the Sixteen Person Factors Inventory. But either way, the main point of preparing for a marriage is to evaluate how well you as a couple work together and how you can adjust to better your relationship.
Crystal Watson | 4/5/2011 - 11:57pm
I'm not sure whyall this is bothering me so much, and I should be the last one to comment, given my own divorce, but it seems like marriage here is being contemplated almost like a business merger, and that the most essential element is avoiding divorce. Who would go about  choosing/enjoying a friendship in this way?

 I know desire/attraction doesn't always equal success of a relationship, but it's so very important, I think, in almost everything ... Ignatius of Loyola has the whole Spritual Exercises built on desire and attraction, and the thing about desire and attraction is that we can't will them, but they choose us, so to speak. 

But maybe I'm just not understanding all this.



Tom Maher | 4/5/2011 - 11:34pm
To get a more real-world view fell for how the FOCCUS test (yes test it is ) can be abused and be harmful  see the following entry inside  the following web reference :

FACEBOOK, WEDDING BUZZ BOARDS, Cultural/Religious Weddings, FOCCUS Catholic ScanTron test for couples ...

Entry by Barbara from Lindenhurst NY, June 14, 2010 said on the FOCCUS test she her future husband took:
"When we did our evaluation,  the [Church Repressentative] seemed to "get off" on some of our answers to sexual questions.  We were so disgusted with him we've decidded we're A) NO LONGER CATHOLIC B) NOT GETTING MARRIED THERE C) WILL RAISE OUR KIDS AS METHODIST."

You should be aware taht you take this very long test (yes everyone calls it a test) it appears the couples test results are then discussed with a third party. A third party involvement with highly personal information is the objection I had.  This entry shows the private information is abused.  Couldn't you jsut see the potential for abuse in sharing personal information with s third party?  Let get real not everyAmd the result of this invasion of couples privapriis that tNd the result   Let's get real sharing the 200 very personal questions of the FOCCUS with a third party for discussion opens a couple up for abuse. Not every third party will act professionally and responsibly with this type of sensitive information.  And the result is a horror. And the couple will no longer associate with the church.

Third party participation in evaluating the results opens the door for abuse of the very sensitve, private information revealed by the couple in answering the FOCCUS test questions.  The end result is the couple were harmed and not helped.
Katrina Ferrer | 4/5/2011 - 10:07pm
Psychological testing does have it's place in many forms of counseling and I do not believe that any kind of marriage, pre-Cana, or relationship counseling should be left out. While it should never be a first resort or a primary means of diagnosis, it should be positively considered as an option. Relying too heavily on testing can provide results that lack a "human factor" and may not be a true representation of reality simply by the nature of such tests. However, it is a strong tool that many who think it "impersonal" should consider.
Using testing to it's greatest potential, and handled in the right hands and with the right interpretation is highly profitable to the counselor, teacher and clergy. It is those who are ill-equipped and ill-prepared in using it as an effective tool that will ultimately give it a bad name. I found this article extremely helpful in showing the resourcefulness of psychological testing with relationships, both in and out of marriage:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703806304576242690486216416.html
Lynde Kayser | 4/5/2011 - 9:58pm
I found this posting to be very interesting.  I knew that there was some counseling process available for those planning marriage but never knew many details about the tests themselves.  From what I can see, the FOCCUS test can be very useful in determining where visions of the future lie between couples.  Although I think that couples considering marriage should have already discussed major life plans like having children and finances, the FOCCUS test helps to lay out the couples differences in similarities.  Disagreements on these subjects over time might feel like minor speed bumps, but when they are added up and laid out in front of you, you might realize that perhaps you are not as compatible as you once thought.  I think that the FOCCUS test can be helpful to this degree, but by no means should be a make or break aspect of a relationship.  Couples aware of their differences and willing to put in the necessary effort can work through seemingly unavoidable problems.
I also found the 16 Factor Personality Test to be beneficial in pre-marital counseling.  This test, unlike the FOCCUS, might help couples realize the roots of their relationship difficulties.  The test seems to probe less obvious issues, pointing out in the example why Sue does not feel the need to splurge financially because this need is fulfilled by other aspects of her life.  These realizations can help couples to better understand each other and work through potential problems. 
(http://web.ebscohost.com.online.library.marist.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=ead3adba-0a7b-47eb-a166-bc5c8299d6c2%40sessionmgr10&vid=2&hid=10)
This article found premarital counseling to be a beneficial process.  Through a random household survey, researchers investigated the possible benefits of premarital education such as marriage classes and counseling.  Results found that premarital counseling resulted in higher levels of satisfaction in marriage and lower levels of conflict, as well as lower levels of divorce.  
Kailee Mcevoy | 4/5/2011 - 8:34pm
As mostly everyone has stated, premarital counseling has pros and cons. I personally believe that premarital counseling is generally a good idea as long as the couple remains honest. I think that using these tests and this form of counseling prior to a marriage can truly help the couple make sure they are ready for marriage. It is a good way to bring up some topics that couples may not have thought of and to make sure that couples are generally on the same page about major issues. According to a study done at Brigham Young University, premarital counseling increases communication between couples, though it probably does not increase a couple's satisfaction with the marriage because at this point in the relationship, couples are usually the happiest with the relationship that they ever have been. (http://lisakifttherapy.com/tools-for-therapists-counselors/notes-from-a-therapists-chair-the-therapy-and-counseling-blog/does-premarital-counseling-work-a-recent-study/) Overall, I believe it's a good way to increase communication and to ensure that  a couple is not rushing into marriage. 
Kate Conard | 4/5/2011 - 7:10pm
I think that this psychological testing for future married couples has some pros and cons.  I think that since the divorce rate is so high, it might be wise for some couples to seek this psychological "help" before they get married.  

The only problem I have with this, is that it's almost not real.  Those who think they are ready to get married should be able to handle marriage on their own without a psychologist telling them how difficult it is to stay married.  I think if you are taking the "risk" of getting married, you should already know the problems and obstacles you encounter as a couple.  Besides, if you do poorly on this testing, then that could seriously effect your relationship with the person you thought you loved.  I don't think it's a good thing to tell someone whether they will work well together in the future or not.  

The divorce rate today is unfortunate, and I think once couples are married and are going through a difficult time, then they should seek psychological couple help to try and fix and save their marriage by doing whatever it takes.  Sometimes, people just fall out of love, and I guess that is the purpose of performing these psychological tests before they get married, but what's the adventure in that?  When you get married, you are supposed to encounter new, scary experiences with the person you love, and yes it will be difficult, but that doesn't mean you should just give up.  That's not what life is about - you can't just give up on difficult task, you have to over come them.  So i think these tests have their benefits of showing new couples the obstacles of marriage, but I don't think it's okay to tell a couple whether or not they will do well together.   
Desiree Desaulniers | 4/5/2011 - 5:32pm
When it comes to marriage, my opinion may come off as pessimistic, as I think in many ways marriage is a rather pointless and potentially destructive force to a couple’s relationship. Just from my experiences, I have seen time and time again, two people getting married, and realizing that “forever” is just too long to be with the same person. As people go through each phase of their life, their opinions change, their desires/wants become different, and they themselves may become different. A couple that can endure these changes must have a maturity quality that from the very beginning can withstand obstacles that many people never think they will have to experience. Marriage is a great thing in theory, but for many will not survive time.
            To bring it back to the topic of psychological testing, I think that something like ‘FOCCUS’ is a great tool for pre-marital examinations. Even if it sounds ridiculous to test your significant other, I think it can pull two people out of the emotional aspect of a relationship and make marriage more of a logical decision that has a timeless element to it. The test brings a level of maturity to the table, and I think in order to prolong the survival of a relationship, a couple needs to understand that ‘love’ and ‘God’ are not always strong enough variables to sustain a relationship. 
Alyssa Cariani | 4/5/2011 - 4:19pm
Tom,

The great part about these tests is that they're not imperative (although in some cases i believe they should be).
In Christianity, isn't it looked down upon to get a divorce? (please correct me if I'm wrong). Therefore, why wouldn't couples moving in the direction of marriage be willing to take all necessary steps to avoid a divorce from occurring? It can only be helpful in my opinion-if you are fully fit to be together, the test will most likely reveal this. if not, it should be something to consider that may even strengthen the relationship in the long run.
ed gleason | 4/5/2011 - 2:45pm
When engaged couples gather for marriage preparation one of the best features is that they observe how the other engaged couples interact with each other. It's like having 12-30 mirrors set up to get this effect. They compare how they interact with each other compared to the other couples and the 'wow' effect is enlightening. Those with a good relationship are encouraged and those with a meager relationship are enlightened. Think football try-outs. This is why the EE encounter weekend is the gold standard of marriage preparation..  
Kristen Kannengeiser | 4/5/2011 - 12:43pm
I agree with posts # 31 and #32. Today, marriage has become like a relationship than a true commitment. Even though divorce rates are more common it doesnt mean marriage should be trreated any less seriously. The focus has come to be more on the wedding than the marriage/ Maybe this is why many marriages are not working out?
A program like FOCCUS could help couples understand how truly compatible they are and where issues in their relationship may occur in the future.
Christine Castellana | 4/5/2011 - 10:24am
I think that the FOCCUS Inventory is a very good idea, as long as it is administered by a professional. I think that it can offer couples some perspective.  Marriage is a very special and serious committment, and you want to be absolutely sure that you are making the right decision.

If for some reason the inventory doesn't agree with you, I do not think that a couple should break up, though.  People still need to follow their hearts.  Hopefully the test and the test administrator can acknowledge this.

I have taken similar online tests like this before, but they have not been very reliable! It seems as if my "personality" changes along with my moods. Somedays it says I am introverted, other days I am extraverted.  I would MUCH rather take this sort of test with a professional who can explain the results to me.

Maybe it seems unnatural to do such a thing, to test couples for compatibility.  It's not like this has always occurred so I understand why people may be against it completely. From my perspective though, I think we should sometimes embrace what Psychology and technology has given us and use it to our advantage.  I do not really think that this could hurt people because if these test results hurt a couple so strongly, then maybe they shouldn't be together!  If test results make a couple SO bent out of shape, then they will not be able to withstand the trials of marriage, which can possibly be much worse than the score on a test.

I am one of those people out there who believes that much of society has changed for the worst because of the increase of the single mother.  Some people consider this a radical point of view, but it just makes sense. I won't get into it all now, but just think about it.  With inventories being used for pre-marriage counseling like this, women and men will be much more likely to stay with each other and raise a family appropriately, instead of realizing how bad they are for each other and abandoning their children, increasing the chance of emotional problems.

Thank you for informing us of this! It is something that I will be sure to look into using before I ever get married!
Margaret Frenzel | 4/4/2011 - 11:22pm
This blog post sparked my interest as well as many others, I see!  As a single second semester junior, I do not see myself getting married in the near or even semi-distant future.  My parents married later than most and I think that is part of the reason why they are still so happy together.  It is sad for me to see that many of my friends parents are either divorced or simply unhappy.  A few don't even really talk to each other around the house or spend time together.  I have asked my mom this question many times over the years- "How did you know Dad was the one?"  She always replies by saying that she just knew. It's one of those things that's tough to explain.  I think as a female, I am a little weary about the future -especially marriage and beginning a family.  I want it to be right.  Don't we all?

I had never really thought about couples taking a test before marriage to make sure they were in check with each other in ways they might not necessarily think about.  Considering the current divorce rate among couples, I think this particular idea is pretty smart.  If nothing else, it can't hurt to take it, right?  I like the concept of taking it individually, meeting individually about the results, and then finally coming together afterwards.  It seems like a fairly smooth process that might be surprisingly beneficial to couples before jumping into marriage. 
Nicole Weir | 4/4/2011 - 11:13pm
What a fascinating article! Because of the high divorce rate, I think it is a plausible idea to execute pre-marriage counseling and testing. Divorce often occurs from problems that arise during marriage that were not expected or anticipated prior to the marriage. The use of these tests, can predict future problems, as Sue and Jim’s experience showed. These tests can help to predict and avoid future problems so I think they are indeed a major help to possibly lowering the divorce rate.
After reading this article, I believe it is a very logical idea to take pre-marriage test because they assess personalities and desires of each member of the relationship and test future harmony or problems. In mentioning that there is such a high divorce rate, I think it only makes sense to take pre-marriage tests in order to avoid future problems, which may lead to divorce. Psychological testing, as we have learned throughout the entire semester can help predict future capability in many situations and I think applying it to marriage can be very useful. 
Sabrina Scanga | 4/4/2011 - 10:51pm
This article was an interesting one to read! I have never heard of the FOCUS test/process until just now. After reading the article I was curious as to what the divorce rate in America was this past year. I searched the internet and according to enrichment journal the divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%; the divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%; the divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%. Couples with children have a slightly lower rate of divorce than childless couples. Sociologists believe that childlessness is also a common cause of divorce. The absence of children leads to loneliness and weariness and even in the United States; at least 66 percent of all divorced couples are childless. According to some experts, however, divorce rates tend to go down primarily because more couples live together without marrying. Other researchers have documented what they call “the divorce divide,” contending that divorce rates are indeed falling substantively among college-educated couples but not among less-affluent, less-educated couples.
 
The statistics are quite upsetting, considering I am one of those people who wish to get married in the future. I believe that something needs to be done in order to keep these divorce numbers down. The FOCUS test seems like it could do the trick but at the same time, I am unsure about it. I believe that couples have their own way of communicating and I am not sure that a test of this sort can truly see if couples are compatible. Although the sample questions posted by Alyssa Moirano seem like important ones to discuss before marriage, I don’t know if the test can provide evidence of commitment and personalities. I would be interested to learn more about the FOCUS test!
http://marriage101.org/divorce-rates-in-america/

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