Community Marriage Conf set up to address Arkansas’ high divorce rate

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Several churches in Region 8 are partnering with marriage counselors to bring awareness to the importance of healthy marriages.

Better Life Counseling Center will host its second annual Community Marriage Conference at the St. Bernards auditorium March 9 and 10.

"This is a community wide marriage conference. It's open for everybody. If you're thinking about getting married, if you've just newly been married or if you've been married for a number of years, it's just a way to renew your relationship," said Better Life Counseling Center executive director Wendy Cook.

National divorce rates have declined, but Arkansas has the second highest divorce rate in the United States at 5.7 percent, according to 2010 CDC statistics. Nevada ranks first at 5.9 percent.

Cook said the purpose of the conference is to help bring happiness back to couples in Region 8 on days other than Valentine's Day, the center is partnering with area churches to host a marriage conference in March. "Northeast Arkansas actually leads the way in the state (with high divorce rates), so we've got a marriage crisis on our hands," she said.

Shirley Elkins is a survivor of domestic violence. Although the mental and physical abuse she suffered from her two marriages was extreme, she believes the lessons she learned can apply to any relationship. "Because of the way they were raised, I thought maybe I could change them, and that doesn't that happen."

Jonathan Witt said appreciating himself is part of what has made his year-long relationship work with his partner. "The other person might not always be happy. You have to think about yourself being happy too."

Witt also said many people forget marriage is a privilege. "Heterosexual couples, they have the opportunity to be married, happily married. Yet, with Arkansas having a high divorce rate, they take their opportunity for granted."

The two-day conference sponsored by KAIT-TV at St. Bernard's auditorium is supposed to break down the complexities of marriage. Jesse Tate, who tied the knot 28 years ago, said the key to longevity is more simple than people think.

"Young couples, they need to trust each other, and they need to do things together. They need to try and live a Christian life, and if they do that, things will work out.

Register for the Marriage Conference by calling Better Life Counseling Center at (870) 935-4673 or (888) 668-5433 or visit

Conference Information

Love and Laughter

Community Marriage Conference 2012

St. Bernards Auditorium

March 9 and 10 7-9:30 p.m., 8am 12:30 p.m.

$50/couple, $25/individual

Click here for a preview of featured speaker Ted Cunningham.

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