Look around your church auditorium. Chance are you have couples there who have been married more than fifty years. Some congregations even have couples that reach the 60-year mark! Parents please humbly and honestly consider this question: Do you hold these individuals up to your children? Do you really?

The vast majority of Christian young people grow up idolizing Hollywood celebrities and pop stars, just like their worldly friends. Sadly, they watch their movies, shows, or listen to their music—and they see pictures of million dollar “fairy tale” weddings. But after the smoke clears most of those Hollywood marriages quickly go up in flames. The very marriages our children are idolizing don’t normally make the ten-year mark.

In 2012, Sir Paul Coleridge published a report carried out by Marriage Foundation, a group founded by Coleridge, that revealed after 10 years of marriage the divorce rate for celebrities is 40 percent, double the national average of 20 percent over the same period. The study looked at 572 celebrity couples who have tied the knot since 2000. One in ten had divorced within two years and a quarter of the marriages were over within five years. (See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/divorce/9686108/Judge-warns-against-idolising-celebrity-marriages-which-are-more-prone-to-fail.html.)

           Another study revealed that those expensive “fairy tale” weddings aren’t all they seem. Economics professors from Emory University surveyed 3,000 U.S. adults who had been married at some point in their lives and found that participants who spent large sums of money on engagement rings and/or their weddings were more likely to end up divorced. Here are the two main findings:

1. Men who spent $2,000 to $4,000 on engagement rings were 1.3 times more likely to end up divorced than men who spent $500 to $2,000. Women who received expensive engagement rings also experienced higher rates of divorce.

2. Women whose weddings cost $20,000 or more were 3.5 times more likely to end up divorced than women who spent $5,000 to $10,000. (According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is more than $30,000). [see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/03/expensive-weddings-study_n_5929056.html].

All that money and attention feeds narcissism—and does not prepare a newly wed person to be selfless or compromise. Yet, many young ladies do not feel like their lives will be complete unless they experience that Hollywood ‘fairy tale” wedding.

See the problem? Our children are looking up to an industry whose marriages are even worse than the national average. Most celebrities are not individuals who view love the way 1 Corinthians 13 describes it. Instead, these are individuals who pursue relationships based on their own selfish desires. Every time a movie star has a romantic scene with a new co-star tabloids report about their new-found romance. But what about fidelity? What about keeping the marriage bed pure and unspotted?

Is it possible we are preparing young people for the “Hollywood” wedding, but not a real-life marriage? How many young girls are looking forward to their wedding more than they are the marriage? Moms and dads, how about we start pointing our children to some real marriage role models? How about we look to faithful Christians in the church for examples of how we should pattern our lives?

By Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

Dr. Brad Harrub is the co-author of “Engage: Rethinking How We Walk Down the Aisle.”