Divorce is almost as common as marriage these days, according to Darrell and Kathey Wyrick of Miami, directors of the Northeast Oklahoma National Association of Marriage Enhancement or NAME.

They are trying to help cut those numbers down with biblical marriage counseling.

Almost half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Forest Insititute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Mo., agrees but takes it one further saying, “Almost half of all first marriages, 67 percent of second and 74 percent of third marriages end in divorce.”

“We saw a great need for families that hurt because of divorce,” Kathey Wyrick said.

The Wyricks were intoduced to NAME by their church pastor, the Rev. Raymond Frizzelle of the First Assembly of God in Miami.

“We traveled to Phoenix, Ariz., for training,” Kathey Wyrick said.

The Northeast Oklahoma branch of NAME has seven couples, all certified marriage specialists, counseling in different areas.

Counseling couples, in addition to the Wyricks, include Charles and Barbara Stoner, Joe and Ruth Anne Merchant of Miami, Tony and Ramie Tirres, Terry and Beth Rotman, Johnny and Pam Johnston and Brad and Debbie Ware.

The Stoner's live in Welch and the Wares in Afton. The other couples live in Miami.

Each couple gives specialized counseling in their own areas of expertise.

The Stoners specialize in financial difficulties, difficulties with teens and molestation. The Merchants specialize in blended families and finances. The Tirres specialize in young couples and couples who speak Spanish. The Rotmans specialize in blended families and interracial marriages. The Johnstons specialize in premaritial counseling to after the wedding. The Wares specialize in blended families especially with young children.

The most important aspect of counseling for all the couples is confidentiality.

“We promise absolute confidentiality,” Darrell Wyrick said. “Sometimes people won't share the first time they come for counseling. Others can take three or four visits before they open up.

“Sometimes we need to just be ears.”

“I've been surprised in how well the men have taken it,” Kathey Wyrick said.

The first three consultations are free. After that clients are asked to make a free will donation.

Currently the counseling is mainly done being done Wednesdays.

A couples' conference - “Making Good Marriages Great” - live via satellite will be held Saturday at the First Assembly of God at 1815 East Steve Owens Blvd.

Activities will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and cost, including lunch and babysitting, will be $20 per couple or $10 each.

Speakers Dr. Gary Smalley, Erwin and Kim McManus, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. Les Parrott will give couples the keys to building a foundation of trust: a caring, secure relationship where each partner serves the other with love and faithfulness, according to Kathey Wyrick.

Plans are in the works to build a building on Steve Owens Boulevard for a counseling center.

Tickets for the conference will be availble at the door.

Those interested in any aspect of marriage counseling should call the church at 542-1585.