You can become a marriage and couples educator. Teach the courses and offer
programs in your community – in congregations, community centers, schools, military bases,
Extension offices, clinical practice – in any setting.
What is Marriage Education?
Marriage Education is an approach that teaches the skills and
information needed to communicate, manage conflict, and have healthy, satisfying relationships.
You can teach this material to couples (or singles) in classes, retreats, workshops and at-a-distance learning
(online, phone-coaching, DVD-based) programs. There are a wide variety of formats – some lecture
or DVD-based, others highly interactive and exercise-based, others are a blend. While the size and lenght
of classes and teaching styles vary, all courses offer the basics – the information, skills and understanding
that enable couples to strengthen their relationship.
Marriage Education is based on research that has determined what makes marriages succeed or fail.
It includes information 1) on the benefits of marriage; 2) on what to expect along the way –
provides a roadmap for the normal, expected stages and challenges all couples face in marriage;
and 3) teaches the skills and behaviors that will help couples build strong bonds and keep their love alive.
There are programs for couples of any social class or ethnic group, and for couples at any stage
– from single to dating, engaged, cohabiting, newlywed, new parents, parents of teenagers, long married,
remarried, or experiencing marital crisis – who feel they are in danger of falling out of love and hope.
There are also a wide variety of programs for high schools, colleges, and youth groups.
Training takes from none to one to three days.
See the Directory of Programs for training locations offered by the various programs across the country.
Look in the Become a Marriage Educator section.
You can also teach the courses in your setting or congregation without in-person training
- this is, after all, marriage Education, not therapy or counseling.
While some programs require 2 or 3 days of in-person training,
others have recorded the training on DVD and put it in a kit – a "TOOB". There are dozens of these "teach out of the box (TOOB)" programs.
The training on DVDs is "in a box" along with leader guides and workbooks. Just buy the kit,
watch the DVDs, and start teaching. Who can become a Marriage Educator?
with a passion for helping strengthen marriage.
Research shows that lay leaders (that means ordinary people without a mental health
degree) and clergy, can teach the courses as well as – or better – than mental health
professionals (those with mental health degrees and licenses).
That's because Marriage Education is NOT therapy. It does not involve a diagnosis
or "treatment". It is EDUCATION. You do NOT need a mental health degree or
state license to teach marriage or family education programs – just as it doesn't take
a heart surgeon to teach smoking cessation or diet and exercise classes. A therapist is not
required to teach couples the information and best practices or behaviors that
will help them make their marriage or relationship succeed. You are not diagnosing and
treating a couple's disorder. You do not need a college degree or even a high school diploma
to teach the classes. You just need to know the material and how to teach it.
You can take a training course in person from the programs that require such training
OR you can purchase a kit and begin teaching the programs that have put
their training in a box (TOOB) on DVDs.
The dozens of marriage education courses listed in the
Smart Marriages® on-line Directory:
- Can be taught by lay educators, teachers, clergy – or by mental health professionals.
- Leader training takes one to three days for the courses that require in-person training and certification: PREP, PAIRS, Mastering the Mysteries of Love, Couple Communication, Bringing Baby Home, 8 Habits of Successful Marriages, Family Wellness, etc.
- Or, many programs do not require "in-person" training – the "training" is recorded on DVDs and supplied in the leader Kit.
Click on the "Teach Right Out of the Box/TOOB" section. Basic Training, Marriage Links, Active Relationships, Couplehood As a Spiritual Path, 10 Great Dates, How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk (Jerkette),Torn Asunder, Marriage Done Right, Married and Loving It, Third Option, The Marriage Course, etc.
- Teaching is most effective in classroom settings – couples learn the skills better in a group setting
than in the more expensive, labor-intensive, one-trainer/counselor-to-one-couple model.
- Are not therapy or counseling – couples don’t share personal issues or feelings in the classroom.
These are not encounter groups. Marriage education does not involve diagnosis or "treatment".
- Skills work with premarital & engaged couples, cohabiting couples, newlyweds, and long-married, and/or, troubled couples
. It's fine to combine couples at any stage in the classroom.
- Education normalizes conflict and disagreements as part of every marriage and as part of every loving relationship.
- Includes instruction in basic communication skills: speaker-listener, time outs, shared meaning,
conflict-management, problem solving, empathy-building, softened start-up, love maps, etc.
- Courses usually eight to 16 hours long, and are usually taught in a weekend or one-night-a-week format.
Can be as short as 4 hours and as long as a semester.
- Skills, once learned are modeled at home where "the children are watching" and thus are likely to also reduce divorce in future generations.
- Skills also generalize to relationships with co-workers, neighbors, peers, in-laws, etc. improving relationships in the workplace, in school, in the community.
- Assume men and women are equally capable of learning the skills and are equally invested in
having satisfying, successful marriages.
- Are effective across all economic and ethnic groups.
- Are easily adapted for special populations - stepfamilies, first-time parents, couples facing separations
or military deployment, couples having children out-of-wedlock, couples facing serious illness (heart-attack-recovery,
cancer, etc.); for teaching in special settings: religious, military, prison, child-birth clinic, welfare, high-school, etc; and
have been adapted for specific ethnic groups: African American, Hispanic, Korean, Native American, Russian, etc. and for
specific religions: Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, etc.
There are also programs for families – skills for working with whole families together such as the Family Wellness Program,
Parenting Education, Fathering Education, School & Youth Education. See the Directory
Which sounds more romantic? Is it more romantic to say,
"Beloved, I see that the divorce rate is 50%. Let's get married anyway and
let's assume that our love is so special, so passionate, so superior to all those
other couples, that we'll make it – that we'll stay together till death us do part."
Or, can we get to the place where people will realize that the true romantic
would say, "Beloved, the divorce rate is 50%. I want to marry you and I
love you so much that I want to learn everything the experts know about
what makes marriage succeed or fail so that we can work to make sure our
love and our marriage last, til death us do part." . . .
I believe that in the near future – if those of us in the coalition do our job –
couples will come to accept that the most romantic thing they can do is to
walk hand-in-hand into a course on making marriages work. That taking such
a course will become as much a part of the wedding tradition as the bridal shower
or the bachelor party. That not taking such a course will come to be seen as
foolhardy, reckless, uninformed, and unsophisticated. That the time will come
when none of us would dream of giving our children a big wedding and not also
giving them a marriage education class. That we will also know what to give them
at the first baby shower. That along with prenatal classes a couple will also sign
up for a booster course on keeping love alive. And that employers and insurers will
come to recognize that such courses will easily pay for themselves.
And, that changing marketplace demands will move marital healthcare into the 21st century.
Diane Sollee, Director, Smart Marriages®, An Optimistic View of the Future of Marriage,
Communitarian Conference, Washington, DC, 1996 - for more marriage educator quotes
like this one from Marriage Education guru Bernard Guerney founder of the Relationship Enhancement (RE)
program: "The major value judgment underlying the RE programs is that lack of understanding
or, worse, misunderstanding, of self and one's intimates is bad and understanding is good. The
fundamental goal of the program is to increase understanding of one's self and one's partner along
dimensions directly pertinent to the relationship." - that's what it's all about!
*********************** What is the Foundation of this Approach?
- interview with a community marriage organizer