JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - According to the American Journal of Sociology, Arkansas ranks second in the U.S. among states with the highest divorce rates.
Although, economic hardships in the South were largely to blame for high divorce rates, the study found conservative religious culture is a major contributing factor. Research showed that factors include the pressure to marry young, frowning upon sex before marriage and teaching abstinence only sexual education. The research also showed access to resources like emergency contraception is more difficult, resulting in young parents who are forced into what will likely become a troubled marriage.
"In today's culture I think there is more of a social acceptance for divorce," said Better Life Counseling Clinical Director Jeff Cline. "I think that people are more financially independent, I think culture emphasizes individualism and even a sense of entitlement and I think all of those factors cause people to be less committed to a relationship."
Clines said he highly suggests pre-martial counseling before tying the knot.
"A lot of research has shown that couples that go into marriage well prepared, tend to have both martial satisfaction as well as lower probability of divorce," said Cline.
In the time he's spent counseling engaged couples, he's seen how it can make or break the relationship for the better.
"I've probably worked with about 300 couples doing some kind of pre-marital counseling, and of those I've had probably 20% choose not to get married," said Cline.