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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions:

1. How is Marriage Prep 101 different from church-based marriage preparation programs?
2. How effective are marriage preparation classes in preventing divorce?
3. When is the best time to take a marriage preparation class?
4. What does the workshop focus on in terms of content?
5. What is the reason for taking the RELATE questionnaire?
6. How confidential are the findings of the RELATE Report?
7. What if I’m not comfortable sharing personal information with the class?
8. What if my partner and I have a particular issue we need help on? Can we get help with it in the workshop?
9. What are the benefits/drawbacks of taking a workshop class vs having personal counseling sessions?
10. What if you and your partner still have commitment issues and questions about whether to get married?
11. What are the goals or expected benefits of taking Marriage Prep 101?
12. Do you provide references of people who have taken your workshop and would be willing to speak with me about their experience?
13. Do you recommend any wedding services or vendors to help with planning our wedding?
14. If we have any other questions, how can we contact you?
Answers

1. How is Marriage Prep 101 different from church-based marriage preparation programs?

Marriage Prep 101 is non-religious in content and we are not affiliated with any religious organization. Couples of all faiths and backgrounds are welcome to attend. Instead of relying on a couple’s faith and shared religious values to bolster their relationship, we teach relationship skills to address conflicts, build intimacy and enhance commitment. Couples can always add their own shared spiritual and religious beliefs to augment what we teach. We also welcome couples that are interfaith or non religious.

2. How effective are marriage preparation classes in preventing divorce?

No class can prevent divorce if two people aren’t committed to being together. However, several studies both in United States and in Germany show that certain types of marriage preparation classes–those that teach skills –do lower the divorce rate at the five year mark. One study showed that couples who took a course called PREP reduced their divorce rate by 30%.  In another study, different types of marriage prep classes were rated for effectiveness. Again, the skill based programs were deemed more effective than faith-based programs. In general, new research is suggesting that if couples communicate well, learn how to address and resolve conflicts, enhance their commitment while building intimacy and friendship, they will have far fewer reasons to divorce based on surveys of those who do divorce.

3. When is the best time to take a marriage preparation class?

The best time to take the class is whenever you are most open to learning about your relationship and motivated to work on it. Of course, couples today are very busy–time is among the most challenging issues a couple can face in the first five years of marriage. We find that newlywed couples derive as much benefit to marriage preparation classes as pre-marital couples. However, it is important that you not wait too long because building a healthy relationship requires the very skills that we are teaching.

We also have many couples take Marriage Prep 101 who are seriously dating or pre-engaged.  The latest thinking is that there is a “magic window” of opportunity to learn marriage skills–the year before marriage through the first year or two after marriage. Learning and implementing healthy ways of dealing with each other BEFORE the bad habits take root in your relationship is the underlying rationale for the “early is better” thinking.

4. What does the workshop focus on in terms of content?

Throughout the workshop we discuss compatibility, expectations, family of origin/personality, communication, conflict resolution, and intimacy/sexuality. You will have opportunities to listen, learn, write exercises in workbooks, inquire, and have structured dialogues with your partner. The workshop covers a lot of topics in positive, proactive and practical ways. At the end you will create a vision statement or action plan, called a “Marriage Bond”. Also, we welcome questions and comments.

5. What is the reason for taking the RELATE questionnaire?

As with any kind of learning endeavor, self-assessment is a great starting point because it quickly allows you to take stock of where you are. The RELATE questionnaire is one of the best relationship inventories available online, and provides valuable information about the couple’s relationship experience. Additionally, RELATE covers many of the factors that have been found to be important in predicting later marital health. The 20 page report that is generated by the couple’s answers can help identify what your strengths and challenges are. Having this information available at the beginning of the workshop will allow you to “customize” what is being presented to your own needs. With the RELATE Report, you get a head start on what to focus on–which makes the workshop presentation all the more applicable to your relationship.

6. How confidential are the findings of the RELATE Report?

The information you supply on the RELATE questionnaire is completely confidential. When you take the online version of the questionnaire, you will notice that you must select a fictional username and a password to safeguard your identity from the answers in the questionnaire. The developers of RELATE are a group of nationally known marriage researchers located at Brigham Young University who are bound by professional ethics to conduct research with the full protection of research subjects. Despite BYU’s affiliation as a Mormon institution, the Marriage Study Consortium which operates the RELATE program is non-denominational and the RELATE Report has no religious orientation. If you are especially concerned about confidentiality, you may take an additional option to protect your identity. After you take the questionnaire and after you have downloaded the report, you have the option of going back to the RELATE web site and deleting your answers from their servers. This will purge all evidence of your involvement with the RELATE program.

If you choose to take the RELATE, we do not ask that you share any information from your RELATE Reports in the workshop and we explicitly ask that workshop participants do not ask each other to share such information. If during the workshop, you have a question about the RELATE or want to share some information from the report, you may choose to do so. You may also ask us any questions about the report privately during a break.

7. What if I’m not comfortable sharing personal information with the class?

Marriage Prep 101 is a workshop, not group therapy. We respect couples’ wish for privacy, and at no time do you have to speak in public. However, if you wish, you can use the question and discussion segments to explore particular issues that are unique to you. Since the presenters also share personal information about their relationship and family life, an atmosphere of safety and mutual self-disclosure is maintained should you feel comfortable asking personal questions. As always, the choice is yours.

8. What if my partner and I have a particular issue we need help with? Can we get help with it in the workshop?

It is important to remember that Marriage Prep 101 is a class rather than a counseling session. If the issue you need help on happens to be one of the common issues we address in the workshop, you will most certainly get help with it. We are also available throughout the workshop for “coaching” if you request, and we are always open for questions and discussion during breaks and lunch

9. What are the benefits/drawbacks of taking a workshop class vs having personal counseling sessions?

Both formats are helpful depending on what your specific needs are. If you want a more general marriage preparation experience based on what the current research indicates is most helpful, the workshop format is probably better for you. The workshop is also fun, time-limited and provides an overview of the issues. Hearing what other couples say and how they react to specific issues can also be informing. The workshop is also a better value in that the cost is likely to be less than private counseling. Think of the workshop as a “starting point” or “foundation” upon which to add other services that may be more specific to your individual needs.

Personal counseling, on the other hand, can immediately address whatever particular issue a couple has in a more specialized and in-depth manner. Couples who have many conflicts or are unsure about making the commitment to marry might benefit more from an individualized approach. If one or both partners have significant personality or family of origin issues left over from the past, private, couples counseling may also be preferable. Many couples are now doing both, starting out with the workshop, learning more about what issues need more focus and then arranging for a few private counseling sessions.

10. What if you and your partner still have commitment issues and questions about whether to get married?

Many couples have questions about whether it is right for them to get married even after the engagement has been announced and the wedding planning is underway. Taking the workshop can help sort out these issues or at least offer some information to help understand them better. This makes a lot of sense because it is best not to proceed until you are both fully committed. Remember that marriage tends to get harder the first few years before it gets easier for the long term. Interestingly, the research in this area indicates that about 10% of those who do get married should probably have waited longer before marrying or not at all. Using marriage preparation workshops to help answer the question of “Should we or shouldn’t we” is entirely appropriate.

11. What are the goals or expected benefits of taking Marriage Prep 101?

In creating Marriage Prep 101, we began by asking this very question. This is what we came up with and we continue to evaluate the workshop based on whether we are meeting these ten goals below:

1. Affirm the strengths in your relationship
2. Clarify the expectations you have for each other
3. Assess your level of compatibility
4. Understand the role of your family of origin
5. Identify areas needing change
6. Learn more effective relationship skills
7. Avoid the traps of destructive interactions
8. Enhance your emotional and sexual intimacy
9. Manage personality and gender conflicts
10. Create a marriage bond that offers a foundation for marital health and satisfaction
12. Do you provide references of people who have taken your workshop and would be willing to speak with me about their experience?

Yes, we have a list of past attendees who were satisfied with their experience and are willing to speak about the workshop. E-mail us your request and we will send back some names and contact numbers. Also be sure to check out our Testimonials Page

13. Do you recommend any wedding services or vendors to help with planning our wedding?

We highly recommend “Here Comes The Guide” which offers a comprehensive guide to wedding locations, services and professionals. You can find them online at www.herecomestheguide.com or see their useful book. “Here Comes The Guide” only recommends wedding services after a comprehensive screening process. Marriage Prep 101 is featured in “Here Comes the Guide”, and we appreciate that they support skill-based marria ge preparation workshops such as ours.

We also recommend “The First Dance” as an excellent resource for wedding and marriage planning. You can find them online at www.thefirstdance.com.

14. If you still have any questions, or would like to touch base with us before registering, please email us at drmichellegannon@gmail.com or call at 415 905 8830. – Hope to see you at Marriage Prep 101 soon!



Marriage Prep 101 is not affiliated with PREP or PREP Educational Products.