You want to have a loving, committed, and supportive relationship, right? One important and effective way to make that dream a reality is to take a pre-marriage education course.
Pre-Marriage education IS:
about learning important skills, attitudes, and behaviors that strengthen and support an intimate and caring relationship
a way to discover the key ingredients for good communication and problem-solving
a way to develop the skills you need to have the relationship that you and your spouse or future spouse want
Pre-Marriage education is NOT:
a support group, where people share common problems
counseling, where your personal issues are the focus
Marriage education is not only for married couples. Relationship education teaches many of the same skills and provides tips for unmarried individuals as well as youth preparing to date.
Marriage education is for anyone looking for a loving, committed marriage.... now or in the future.
Common Elements of Marriage Education Programs
Marriage education is typically delivered in a group setting through a series of workshops or sessions led by a trained facilitator.
The content, group exercises, and length of program may vary, but most share several common elements.
Marriage education programs:
Have a goal of strengthening marriage and family life;
Serve a variety of individuals and couples, including those planning or hoping to marry, married couples looking to strengthen their bond, troubled couples who want to change the destructive patterns in their relationships, couples who are remarrying, young people who want to learn about marriage, and those who have not been married.
Offer ways for individuals to receive certification or training to teach marriage education; and
Can be provided in a variety of formats including weekend retreats, self-help books or videos, or multi-week sessions.
Core content in marriage education includes:
Improving communication skills by focusing on listening and speaking on one's own behalf;
Building conflict resolution and problem-solving skills and helping couples learn how to negotiate constructive agreements that meet the needs of both partners;
Dealing with differences on issues such as money, children, family, friends, and social relationships;
Improving anger management and emotional regulation;
Improving affection and caring;
Improving intimacy and passion; and
Strengthening commitment and trust.
Why Marriage Education Matters
Marriage education matters because, the experts have learned that:
People can learn the skills they need to have a healthy marriage.
These skills can be passed on to couples by trained leaders.
Both men and women can learn and benefit from using these skills.
These techniques can be adapted to many types of social and cultural settings.
People can learn skills which can lead to greater fulfillment in marriage and relationships.
Learning about healthy marriages can also help dating or engaged couples determine if their relationship is not healthy.
For married couples with healthy relationships these skills could prevent a future divorce.
Finding a Marriage Education Program
If you've decided to take a class to improve your chances of a successful marriage, you're in luck. You can choose from a wide variety of programs and resources. In the future we will have programs in your area for you to choose. Check back often for updates.
Although every community doesn't yet have a marriage education program, the number of programs is growing. A marriage education program that is tailored to your needs probably exists. Our mission is to help improve the chances you have to find several programs that suit your needs.
Some tips to help you narrow your search:
Pick a program that suits your stage of life and situation.
If you're single, you may want to take a class which includes learning about how to select the right person.
If you are engaged, you may want to take a class that is especially designed for couples preparing for marriage.
Or, you might want to join a program if you are newlyweds facing those challenging early years.
Welcoming a new baby is one of the biggest hurdles in marriage, so taking a class when you are about to become parents may be just the thing you need.
Consider celebrating your 10th or 20th anniversary with a class to "tune things up."
Or, you may be struggling to decide whether to make a marriage commitment to the person you have been living with.
A marriage education program may be the answer if you feel your marriage or relationship is dissatisfying or even destructive and you're not sure where to turn.
Before you sign up, do some research to make sure the focus of the program answers your needs.
See what classes are available near you. You'll be more likely to attend a program that's convenient to your home or job. Check out the Web sites or newsletters of your local marriage education programs, faith communities, and community organizations to find out whether there's a program near you.
Join a class that meets at a time that works for you. Some classes meet weekday evenings, others on weekends. Find one that suits you and your partner's schedule.
Decide what you can afford. Some classes are offered in faith-based or community centers and are free or by donation. Some classes are offered in Marriage Education Centers or by professionals like psychologists and social workers and charge tuition.
Be open to learning with other types of couples. You may think that a program is intended for couples or groups who are different from you. For example, engaged couples, newlyweds or remarried couples, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Catholics, Lutherans or Jews. Yet, even though you may be different from the typical couple that takes the course, you may still gain basic skills and knowledge that could do a lot to improve your marriage. Many couples enjoy diversity in a class because it helps them see that many types of couples face common themes, problems, and issues. This is important because couples often believe they just chose the wrong person when in fact, it's the lack of knowledge and relationship skills that have led to the problems.
Make sure you're comfortable with the program and the facilitator(s). Your comfort with the leader(s) and program is another important factor to take into consideration. After all the practical considerations, many people still hesitate before taking a marriage education class because they are reluctant to talk about personal matters in front of others. Rest assured that course facilitators are sensitive to your concerns and your comfort level. Marriage education programs are designed as classes, not support groups or group therapy. One way to reassure yourself about this is to talk with the program leader, and, if possible, meet with him/her before the class begins. Visiting the program setting is another way to address your concerns. Most marriage education providers are committed to their programs and will be glad to talk with you about your concerns.
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