A state-sanctioned “Guide to a Healthy Marriage” is one step closer to reality after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the proposal Wednesday.
Sen. Dennis Baxley is behind the measure (SB 682) once again. He’s proposed the measure throughout his time in the House.
The Senate bill underwent a complete revamp Wednesday thanks to a strike-all amendment. That measure ended with a complete rewrite of the bill, which now details the proposed language for those healthy marriage guides.
The handbook hits on several important topics for married couples. Topics include “Learning Effective Communication,” “Resolving Conflicts” and “Building a Budget.”
For example, the communication section reads, “Learning to communicate effectively requires commitment from both you and your partner. It takes time and LOTS of energy, but it is worth the effort. To commune literally means ‘to put in common; to share.’ The goal of effective communication is to create a common understanding with your partner. This common understanding is the cement of a strong marriage. Honesty is an essential component of effective communication. However, honesty must be tempered with kindness. Good communication between both of you promotes mutual trust and respect.”
A prior version of the bill tasked an outside committee with deciding on topics for — and writing up — the handbook. But Baxley says he and House sponsor Rep. Clay Yarborough are jumping straight to the end point so lawmakers know what they’re voting on.
“We’ve simplified it,” Baxley told the committee of his amendment. “The full text of what would be given to families is in there for everyone to read.”
The legislation bars a judge from issuing a marriage license unless he or she confirms the couple has received a copy of the guide. Those guides would be available in multiple formats.
“The clerk of the circuit court shall post an electronic copy of the handbook on its website. Additionally, if printed copies of the handbook are made available to the office of the clerk of the circuit court, the clerk shall make the handbook available to marriage license applicants,” the amendment reads.
“The clerk of the circuit court is encouraged to provide a list of course providers and sites where marriage and relationship skill-building classes are available.”
Baxley said he hoped the guide would help lessen tension in marriages within the state.
“All this is a guide to get people to discuss those issues that frequently wind up leading to conflict and family fragmentation,” he said.
The Senate bill has one final stop in the Rules Committee.