MARRIAGE 101 COURSE
Did you know that most couples spend more money and time preparing for their wedding than investing in the success, happiness and endurance of their marriage? Don't we just assume that "things will work out" or "we can make it work" or "love will see us through"?
Were you ever offered classes on relationship skills in elementary, middle or high school or college? How about at church? Our beliefs about love and marriage are primarily based on models provided by our parents and other caregivers, fairy tales, novels and movies. Because of the lack of objective education/training in relating to our partner, we tend to re-create marriage based on what has been modeled for us unless we consciously discover how to do it differently, usually is precipitated by significant emotional pain (namely breaking up or divorce)!
As many as 67% of first marriages end in divorce within the first ten years. Most relationships fail for one of two reasons:
1) People are unaware of or choose to ignore core differences in who they are and what they want from life.
2) More importantly, people lack the skills to resolve their differences and grow through the disappointments that are inevitable in life.
Many otherwise wonderful relationships fail because people are both unaware of their differences and lack the skills to resolve them in constructive ways. Couples who wisely attend marriage preparation courses increase their ability to resolve differences and are more likely to develop happy and mutually satisfying partnerships and marriages.
Because of my own journey through divorce, I was determined to find out how to create a fulfilling marriage and what a joyful and satisfying marriage looked and felt like instead of re-creating my parents' power struggle marriage. As a result of my quest, I now have a very joyful marriage and together my husband and I have taught classes called Creating Healthy Relationships.
After earning a Masters in Divinity in Spiritual Psychology and ordination in 1997, I began offering premarital classes to those couples who wanted to ensure that they were starting off their marriage with the best possible foundation. After I completed the Prepare-Enrich certification process for premarital counseling I acquired the ability to administer an online survey for a couple and put together what I call the Marriage Optimization program which consists of each couple completing an inventory and three sessions with me. (I also have inventories for married couples who want to enrich their marriage, those singles who are cohabiting, and those with children with no plans to marry, and for couples who would like to find out if they are compatible before deciding to take their relationship to a higher level of commitment.)
The first step in the Marriage Optimization class after you have completed an intake application and paid the fee of $600 is for each of you to complete the inventory I send to your email address. There are no right or wrong answers. The inventory forecasts how viable your marriage will be if you do nothing. It is also a measure of your compatibility. It covers all core values that need to be in sync within the coupleship. When you have both completed the inventory (takes about 30 minutes) your answers are scored together and a relationship analysis is generated that shows the areas in which you are compatible and those areas where there may be potential for marital discord in the future. Some of the areas measured are Marriage Expectations, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Partner Styles & Habits, Financial Management, Sexual Expectations, Leisure Activities, Family & Friends, Relationship Roles, Spiritual Beliefs, Overall Satisfaction, Relationship Dynamics, Stress Profiles, Parenting & Children, SCOPE Personality Scales, and Step-parenting if applicable and Cohabitation if applicable.
I also require my couples to read this book:
Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage by Arleah and Morrie Shechtman. It is interesting reading, case histories of couples rather than theoretical text, and presents concepts helpful for our sessions. Even if you don't take my course, it would be a great idea to get and read the book. It is not new and you can get a used copy for pennies.
We then schedule 3 interactive sessions together to go over your relationship analysis and identify and strengthen areas that if not resolved will likely become future pitfalls in your relationship. Each session is one to two hours in length and can be scheduled nights and weekends. Our sessions are more like coaching and teaching rather than counseling or therapy. Among many things, I teach you conflict resolution skills, communication skills, and the best way to handle your finances in marriage. We go over any existing issues and/or new issues that may come up. Many times I find that the areas in which the survey shows you disagree are in reality areas which you have not yet discussed or explored in depth which we will accomplish in our time together.
Some of my couples come back to see me after they are married to handle new issues that arise or issues they cannot resolve on their own. They consider me a neutral third party to bounce things off of and offer an objective point of view and potential solutions. I am happy to be of service.
All the couples I have worked with tell me they learned so much, not only about each other, but how to deal effectively with issues that come up in the future and what to expect. A bride recently wrote on a review for WeddingWire.com: "I would also recommend Kayelily's pre-marital counseling. The counseling helped us identify our strengths and weaknesses as a couple, prepare us for things we hadn't thought about, and gave us tools for strengthening our relationship." Couples tell me that the sessions are well worth the investment for their marriage. A great deal considering that the marriage optimization program is only $600 and usually less than my fee to officiate your wedding!
If you are interested in taking this important step in your relationship please contact me at RevK@aweddingminister.com or call me at (919) 345-4608 to answer any questions and request an application.
PS: Here is one of my happy couples on their honeymoon!
October 11, 2012
Just read a fantastic article in the News & Observer reprinted from the Chicago Tribune: