What is Marriage Week USA?

101 Ideas for Celebrating Marriage Week in Your Community - ideas you can use year round

MARKETING: Sample Ads/Pamphlets/Posters/Billboards/PSAs

Inspirational ideas & EXAMPLES from all across the country

Experiences working Bridal Fairs/Bridal Expos/Shows

Marriage Week Proclamation templates

PreMarital Resources

Hispanic Marriage Day - in October/Resources
Black Marriage Day - 4th weekend in March/ Resources

Marriage Week is an annual celebration:
Feb 7- Feb 14th each year 
(Adjust to fit your community, just include Feb 14th within the designated celebration
week. Set your dates from Sat to Sat, or Sun to Sun.)

Marriage Week was started in 1996, in the U.K. -
the brainchild of Richard Kane. In the U.K. it's
called "National Marriage Week". Marriage week was launched
in America, "Marriage Week USA" 
in Feb 2002 by co-chairs, Brent Barlow and Diane Sollee.

Plan ahead to celebrate Marriage Week in your community - it's
a great organizing tool. Gives you a focus - a reason to c
all a meeting.
Distribute Marriage Week
ideas and get your group to pick the ones they want to implement.

Email information to diane@smartmarriages.com
about your celebration so I can post it here and share it with
the Smart Marriages newslist.
Also send any
follow-up articles in your local press or internet-audios of
broadcasts for
sharing and posting.

Order the recordings on CD or MP3 of these highly-rated sessions
from the Smart Marriages conference: audio CDs or MP3/iPod downloads $15.95 each
at 800-241-7785 or at http://www.iplaybacksmartmarriages.com

758 P-1 The California Campaign - opening keynote
Dennis Stoica, MBA
As California goes, so goes the nation! California has set a goal of reducing its
divorce rate by 15%. Learn the steps it's taking to implement a state-wide Marriage
Education saturation model, to make programs and services accessible throughout the
state, and to carefully track the results. Californians: learn how to get involved.
Everyone else: learn strategies to transform your own state, community, or setting.

758 P-6 Fri, July 4, 12:45pm
Breaking Through: Tools of the Trade
Julie Baumgardner, MS, CFLE
Instead of jackhammers and chisels, we use jumbotrons and billboards,
PSAs and games, quizzes and surveys, pamphlets and parades – everything under the sun,
to break through into a new era of Smart Marriages and Happy Families.

WORKSHOPS (Available on CD or MP3)

Strengthening Marriage in the Black Community
Diann Dawson, JD, MSW, Nisa Muhammad,
La Grande Mason, PhD, MBA, Charles Lee-Johnson, MSW
Black Marriage Day, community leadership, getting denominations
and organizations on board, fatherhood, kids, special curricula
– brainstorm ideas for revitalizing Black marriages.

Sliding vs Deciding: Within My Reach
Scott Stanley, PhD, Marline Pearson, MA, Natalie Jenkins
Relationship education can be tailored to teach individuals,
not couples, how to improve their odds of having healthy
relationships and marriage. For TANF, military, tech college,
and correctional settings.

Changing the World Through Marriage Ministries
Dennis Stoica, MBA
Learn how and why Marriage Ministries are the most effective
action churches can take to make a positive impact on the world.
Don’t just preach love, teach it! Includes a roadmap to success.

Working with State Legislators
Chris Gersten, Maggie Russell, Dennis Stoica
Scott Haltzman, MD, and a panel of legislators
Learn to open doors, build relationships, and provide
compelling info on the benefits and feasibility of supporting
marriage. Plus what other states have accomplished including
"1% Solution" TANF set asides.

HHS: Lessons from the Field
Sharon Rowser, MA, Jay Otero
The Supporting Healthy Marriages (SHM), Building Strong
Families (BSF), and Oklahoma Family Expectations projects
share lessons about adapting programs and engaging diverse,
low-income, unmarried and married couples in marriage education.

Cultura y Valores: Marketing to Hispanics
Frank Fuentes, Lisa Trevino Cummins, MBA,
Rolando Diaz-Loving, PhD, JoAnne Eason
Understand Hispanic cultural values and develop
effective marketing messages to attract Hispanics,
our largest minority group, to marriage education
services. National examples.

Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business?
Jeff Fray, PhD, Julie Baumgardner, MA,
Stephen Judah, PhD, Matthew Turvey, PsyD
Research makes the case: employees with healthy
marriages are more productive. Learn what HR executives
say they need and how marriage educators can deliver.
Corporate examples.

Healthcare Connection Strategies
Jennifer Baker, PsyD, Duane Nelson, MS,
Carolyn Curtis, PhD, Don Ferguson, PhD, Jana Staton, PhD
Learn how to provide marriage & relationship education
in health care settings – Relationship First Aid Kits, ob-gyn
connections, PPT for busy docs, and training health care
providers for brief interventions.

Recruitment: Lots of Pot and Food!
Kelly Roberts, MS, Brandt Gardner, PhD
You’ve built it; they aren’t coming. Hear what people
said on a national survey when asked about the decision to
attend marriage education classes. Learn how to maximize attendance
– legally!

Research and Evaluation: The Basics
Rita DeMaria, PhD, Scott Gardner, PhD, Patty Howell, EdM
Anyone doing marriage education should be tracking results
and measuring outcome. Learn the basic tools and concepts
you need to get started.

Caring for My Family – FOOB
Dawn Contreras, PhD, Holly Lacina
This FREE skill-based program helps low-resource,
unmarried expectant and new parents set goals and
assess what’s best for them and their child regarding
marriage or ongoing father involvement.

Teaching Marriage to Undergrads
Arthur Nielsen, MD, Dennis Lowe, PhD,
Emily Scott-Lowe, PhD, Frank Fincham, PhD
Learn to make marriage courses interesting and meaningful
in the lives and future marriages of students as well as offer
innovative campus-wide endeavors including involving
students as educators.

Community Marriage Policies (CMPs)
Mike and Harriet McManus
Learn how to organize a CMP in your area by creating Marriage Savers
Congregations that train Mentor Couples to drastically reduce
divorce and cohabitation rates, and increase marriage rates.

Domestic Violence: Keep It Safe
Kay Bradford, PhD, Jason Whiting, PhD, Erik Carlton, MS
Learn to develop an effective DV protocol for any
marriage education setting. Includes screening, safety planning,
gender/culture sensitivity, and development of referral
sources. Sample protocol provided.

Skills 101
Ron Deal, MMFT
It’s not just what you teach, but how you teach it
that creates behavioral change. Learn a whole new tool
bag full of fun, engaging techniques to improve your
effectiveness as a marriage & family educator.

Grant Writing 101
Dennis Stoica, MBA
Understand the fine points of grant writing in order
to qualify for government and private foundation marriage money.

Relationship Skills: Doing Time
Judge Jim Sheridan, JD, MBA, John Van Epp, PhD, Kelly Sigler
Ex-offenders with successful intimate relationships are less
likely to re-offend. Learn about teaching PREP and Pick-A-Partner
skills to inmates and how to sell this idea to local officials.

Hit Your Targets
Jennifer Baker, PsyD, Derek Gwinn, MA
Learn to adapt marriage/relationship programs to reach
a range of populations: good ole boys, newlyweds, stepfamilies,
couples owning a business, planning a wedding, having a baby, etc.

Texas: How’d They Do It!?!
Daphine Lambert, PhD, Jeff Johnson, Maggie Russell, Erin Kincaid
In 2007, a grassroots coalition passed major legislation that
provide $15 million in state marriage education funding. Lessons
learned, challenges, and guidelines for your state.

Private Fundraising 101: Beyond the Feds
Kay Reed
Learn the basics for successful fundraising with individuals
and foundations: who, when, and how to ask. Develop a
strategic plan, choose your targets, hone your message, create perpetuity.

Marriage Rally: Teach In
Transforming Communities Grassroots Style
Julie Baumgardner, MA, Nisa Muhammad, Jim Sheridan, JD, MBA
Learn what communities across the country are doing
to strengthen marriage and how you can get started. Brainstorm
about opportunities – free media, the web, funding, volunteers,
creating buy-in – and how to avoid the stumbling blocks.

Marriage Week USA
Brent Barlow, PhD, Julie Baumgardner, MA, Jason Krafsky
Now is the time to begin planning for Marriage Week 2004. Learn how to turn
this Valentine's week celebration into an event that will mobilize your
community. Come prepared to share.

Marketing Chattanooga Style
Julie Baumgardner, MS
Learn strategies that use both paid and free advertising to get out the message
about marriage, fathering and abstinence and increase participation in community
marriage events and classes.

Harness the Internet: Marriage Resource Centers
Dennis Stoica, MBA
Learn how to build a website for your own marriage project or a
easy-to-implement Community Marriage Resource Center. Increase
access to local marriage programs. Includes FREE templates and instructions.



The purpose of Marriage Week USA is to celebrate the importance of marriage
to our communities. We acknowledge an observation made over two thousand
years ago: "The first bond of society is marriage." - Cicero (106-43 BC)

Marriage Week provides the perfect opportunity to promote healthy marriage
initiatives in your community and to put marriage on the map. Begin early to
allow time to contact the media, civic leaders, clergy, your neighbors and family
- to lay plans.

Here are suggestions for celebrating Marriage Week in your Community:

- Distribute the booklet "Strengthening Marriages in Your Community: 101
ideas to Get You Started". The ideas listed below are taken from the
booklet. These are also perfect to hand out in the community as you
organize. To order, go to http://www.fambooks.com/frontcover.htm
Bulk as low as 50¢ a copy.

- Use Marriage Week to launch your Community Webbased Resource Center! Use
Valentine's Day and Marriage Week to get a whole year's calendar of Marriage
Strengthening classes and events published in the paper, on your community web
site bulletin board, at churches, etc. Check with groups like
Retrouvaille, Marriage Encounter, etc to flesh out the list. Visit
/grants.html for a FREE template and instructions
for creating your web-based Community Marriage Resource Center.

- Offer free class previews & Marriage Check-ups during Marriage Week. Get
the list of a variety of classes and events to the media well in advance

- Promote the idea of gift certificates. "Give engaged or expectant
couples, couples celebrating an anniversary, etc - a class for Valentine's
Day." Copy and modify the gift certificates posted at:

- TV, radio and newspapers are hungry for feature stories for
Valentine's Week. Find couples that have attended classes that are available
for interviews. Send a brief description of a range of types of couples -
those who took a class to prepare for marriage; newlyweds; new parents;
parents of teens; stepfamilies; empty-nesters; couples on the brink of divorce.

- Offer special classes for police, fire and the military. Include couples
separated by military service - organize a media Valentine's event around
them - a contest, a TV hook-up from around the world, etc.

- Write a letter to the editor or offer to write an article about why your
community should celebrate Marriage Week. Include marriage, divorce, out-of-wedlock
statistics for your county/state and surrounding counties/states and
information about marriage strengthening initiatives available to improve things

- Ask your mayor, governor or clergy to issue a proclamation in support of
For language, see the Louisiana proclamation -
or, the Highland Park, NJ mayor's proclamation -
(Send me examples of others.)

- Ask judges and divorce lawyers to declare a moratorium on divorce - NO
Divorces filed or granted during Marriage Week USA - or, at least on Valentine's
Day as was done in Indiana (see below).
Ask them to "schedule
vacation" that week if that's what it takes. Get this idea to the media.

- Challenge Businesses to create marriage-friendly
policies for the workplace. One example is to give your employees the day off
for their wedding anniversary.

- Celebrate your own marriage. Celebrate your own wedding anniversary!
Teach by example! If you're not married, offer to babysit so someone else can

- Strengthen your own marriage. Read a book, attend a course. See
smartmarriages.com for books and classes.

- Create a "Ten Most Affordable (or most romantic, or most creative) Marriage Dates"
list/contest for your community. Get these to the media - radio, TV, newspapers,
community newsletters. Ask radio stations to promote a contest - keep the focus
on Marriage - not just any old date, but ideas for the best Marriage Dates.

- Create lists of the best Marriage Strengthening Resources - Retrouvaille, PAIRS, How to
Avoid Marrying A Jerk, Couple Communication workshops, etc and publicize
these in Valentine's Day Service Announcements. Journalists will get in the spirit
if you give them the resources. See the smartmarriages.com archive for articles
and the Directory for resources.

- Hold a "How this marriage has had an impact on my life" or a "Why I think
this is a great Marriage" essay contest for children (lessons learned, examples set,
why they want a marriage like this when they grow up, etc.) Award prizes, get
the media involved. Marriages described could be those of their parents, relatives,
ancestors or one of local, state or national significance.

- Organize a Community Marriage Policy and get it signed during Marriage
Week. See http://www.marriagesavers.org to get started.

- Ask journalists to include a Strengthening Marriage Tip, Marriage Article,
Marriage Quiz -" Of the Day" for the full week. Send them the material!
It's only seven days......

- Celebrate couples who have reached marriage milestones - 25, 40, 50. etc..
years. Create a Marriage Hall of Fame with photos and their tips for success
in a prominent public place like the marriage license office, schools, library or
places of worship.

- Ask religious leaders to acknowledge the importance of marriage and/or
Marriage Week USA in their sermons and services.

- Recognize the couple in your community, region or state who has been
married the longest. For suggestions on how to run a Couple Married Longest
(CML) Contest in conjunction with World Marriage Day (Second Sunday in
February) see "Sample Press Releases' on their web site at

- Organize childcare for activities planned during Marriage Week. Use
Marriage Week to publicize the idea of starting year-round Child Care

- Offer to speak/teach at civic groups, high schools, corporations, factories,
day care, etc. They are eager for expertise around Valentine's
Day. Ask employers to hold a marriage seminars or brown bag lunches.

- Organize a fundraiser - dance, walkathon, race, bake sale - to purchase
marriage education books and tapes and donate them to the public or
congregation library.

- Include activities for engaged couples and dating couples - emphasize
helping them create strong, healthy marriages for the future.

- Offer to teach one of the marriage skills school/youth curricula listed at
www.smartmarriages.com/school.html - LoveU2, PEERS, CONNECTIONS, BUILDING
RELATIONSHIPS, Loving Well, etc. Offer to teach students about marriage
customs and traditions. Show the video "Marriage: Just a Piece of Paper?"
and use the discussion guide.

- Encourage local television and radio stations or movie theaters to celebrate
Marriage Week USA with appropriate programs, films or productions. Organize a
Marriage Film Festival for community organization. Movies to get you started:
The Story of Us, and Family Man. Use the study guide on the web site for "The Story of Us."

- Ask local stations to run Public Service Announcements about marriage.

- Utah has done the most to celebrate Marriage Week USA. For information on
their efforts see: http://www.utahmarriage.org

- For information on National Marriage Week in the United Kingdom, see their
web site at http://www.nmw.org.uk

Let's put Marriage Week USA on the map.

We can do it if we -
care more than others think is wise...
dream more than others think is practical...
expect more than others think is possible...
And, row like crazy.
Diane Sollee, Director CMFCE



The Marriage Train in Denver

Why Marriage Matters - flyer

Fresno Bee full-page Marriage Education Ad -9/08

Alabama Jumbotrons for Marriage


Laugh, Cuddle, Hug billboards, Ozarks Marriage Matters in
Springfield, MO to celebrate Marriage Month.

10 Great Dates billboard/Yuba County, Calif

Here are examples of ads in community newspapers:
McManus/Marriage Savers coming to Orange County

Date Your Mate Ad

First Things First Billboard - dance
First Things First Billboard -

McManus/Marriage Savers comes to Orange County - A SAMPLE of the flyer promoting Mike McManus' visit is
also running as a half-page ad in the Orange County edition of the "Christian Examiner" in both May and June.

Hi Diane,
Just to let you know, we have negotiated a Marriage Day at a River Cats, Triple A Baseball Game
on a weekend in June, 2006. Since there are only two professional sports in Sacramento, basketball
and baseball, this is a big deal. There will be approximately 14,000 people in attendance.

This will give us a chance to bring attention to the joys of marriage to Sacramento. A time to celebrate!
Carolyn Rich Curtis, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Sacramento Healthy Marriage Project

> Hi Diane,
> We do periodically advertise our Marriage Prep 101 workshops on Craig's list,
> and we do get calls from the free ads.  An important detail is that you need
> to re-list every week as the ads automatically expire at the week's end.
> Another great way to market our workshops has been through www.yelp.com..  The
> SF generation of engaged and newlywed couples often find us via word of mouth
> or online, and Yelp is considered reliable to them. We did not ask for the
> reviews; our couples spontaneously wrote them.
> Hope that helps.
> Michelle Gannon
> www.marriageprep101.com


Saw your message regarding marketing on Craig's list.  Thought I would let you know what we're doing in Michigan.
I researched several websites for brides after noticing that women were using the on-line organizing systems.
I found two sites worth taking a look at, TheKnot.com and the WeddingBee.com.
The Knot offers more services, Wedding Bee is more of a blog chronicling what women are going through while
preparing for the big day.

Neither site had links for marriage prep or classes --looked like an opportunity to me.
We chose to put a small banner ad on the Knot for these reasons:
    1) We benefit from Federal dollars hence needing a broader audience,
    2) You can measure who comes into your site easily
    3) The Knot could run a zip code analysis on their membership  This
    showed that there were 10,000 women in Detroit, 36,000 in Wayne Co. using this site to plan their wedding.
    These are registered women on this site.
    4) You can geographically target your message - just buy the region you're trying to reach.
    5) No one else is there yet.  (A couple of counselors have signed on but deeper into the site.)

I'll let you know what we learn after we reach 30 days.  Seems this ought to be a National buy if we see any results in Detroit.
Sharon Starling
Marketing Consultant for the MI HMC
Sample ads:

Pamphlets - Why Marriage Matters - developed by the California Healthy Marriage Coalition
Eye-catching, creative new posters to support your relationship
skills work with teens (or really anyone) available from The Dibble Fund.
They’re 2 x 1.5 ft and laminated. My favorite is “If the Marriage Ain’t
Happy, ain’t Nobody Happy”. I think it should hang in the front hall of
ALL of our offices.
$49.95 for the set or only $14.95 per poster.
- diane


First Things First (FTF) is offering three of their most popular,beautiful,
full color pamphlets to community initiatives
. Don't reinvent the wheel (or duplicate the
research and design costs!), just send your logo and contact

nfo to FTF and they'll have the brochures customized for your

organization. They'll print them and ship them to you. Click on

the links below and then picture your logo and contact info

where you see the FTF info on these pamphlets.

Before Walking Down the Aisle

10 tips for couples preparing for marriage. 3 panels.

Why Marriage
The benefits of marriage and why couples should consider it. 3 panels

Living Together
Advice for unmarried couples who are thinking about moving in
together or who are living together. 4 panels.

For prices, and more information or to order samples call
First Things First at 423-267-5383.

The National Healthy Marriage Institute (NHMI) is giving organizations and
individuals the right to reproduce their Healthy Marriage Pamphlet Series in
written and/or electronic format AT NO COST.

The series teaches basic relationship skills and knowledge to form and
sustain a healthy marriage. Topics include: Respect, Time, Forgiveness,
Persistence, Time-Out, Affection, Agape, Prayer, Service, and Appreciation.

The pamphlets can be used to educate the public and as marketing tool to
bring more people into your workshops. The back middle panel of each
pamphlet can be customized with your contact information.

To view and print the pamphlets visit

Email Aaron Larson, NHMI Director, at to
receive the text only files for use in your newsletters or other methods
of distribution. OR, request the full color files if you plan to customize them yourself.

If you don't want to print your own pamphlets you can buy them
from the NHMI for 18¢ per copy. Call 866-818-5530.

Researchers from The Ohio State University have found written materials
to be a very effective method of teaching marriage education. In their
recent study, 100% of respondents reported reading the marriage
education newsletters sent to them. 94% used the information in their
relationship and 87% taught the information to others!

PSA samples and where to rent them:
My husband and I went to the movies on "our" date night to see Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married." So many couples and singles were there early, eating popcorn and watching local advertisements. Would recommend that local community marriage grantees consider advertising (for general awareness as well as recruitment) and having it run in the theaters especially preceding this particular movie. It's probably best to do ads when the movie is first released in theaters but check with the local theater advertising rep regarding projected attendance rate in 2nd and 3rd week.

We've produced 3 awareness campaigns - and we will be using "The Best Gift You Can Give A Child is a Healthy Marriage" campaign in TV Commercials, billboard, print, radio spots. This will also be great for upcoming Christmas movie releases. Just a suggestion.

Doris Lassiter, Director
Nebraska Center for Healthy Marriage
2409 North 161st Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68116
P. 402-320-2953
WOW!! I just watched "Bad Move" the brand new, TERRIFIC PSA produced by
First Things First (FTF), and trust me, it's worth your time to go to the
web site and view it. It's geared to twenty-somethings and is a powerful
30-second spot about the dangers of living together before marriage.

This is the second in a three-part PSA marriage series produced by First
Things First - a series created to strengthen marriage in their community.
They are making the PSA available to other communities across the country -
it's only $1,000 to air it for a full year or sign a three-year agreement
and it's only $750 a year. You can personalize the PSA - include the contact
info for your Community Healthy Marriage Initiative, agency or organization.
This is an incredible bargain - there are enormous time and production costs
to create something like this. Thank you Julie Baumgarndner and FTF!! This
should inspire all of you to go out and get a sponsor - a bank, department
store, real estate company, local foundation, Chick-fil-A or a Chick-fil-A
counterpart (see last item in this post) - to help.

The spot can be viewed on the First Things First website at
www.firstthings.org <http://www.firstthings.org/> (Click on Bad Move). For
more information contact First Things First at 423/267-5383.
• Wedded Bliss Foundation has two public service announcements
targeting the Black community. The first one encourages marriage
for couples with children. The second one discourages infidelity.
They are available on either video, DVD or beta which many stations
require for only $500. For more information call Nisa Muhammad
at 301-613-1316. http://www.blackmarriageday.com/
- National Fatherhood Initiative PSAs -
I highly recommend these AND, I defy you to watch the last one
on the page "Catch" with a dry eye.
60 Minutes II did a video segment on Elephants that is
great for training. The title of the segment is "The Delinquents"
and i
t can be ordered from 60 minutes for 29.95 plus s+h.


Here are ideas/schedules from around the country.
Send yours to share. Include pdfs/urls whenever possible.


Pinellas Park, FL, January 26, 2010 — Family Resources’ You&Me.WE celebrates National Marriage Week February 7 - 14 with a series of events open to all couples. You&Me.WE recognizes the value of healthy relationships for life and has created opportunities for couples to enjoy a series of free date nights. In addition, a fabulous Sexuality and Intimacy Retreat provides couples with a get-away weekend for Valentine’s Day at a bargain rate of $275 per couple for a one night stay at the Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club, two breakfasts, a banquet and all materials.

Marriage Week events include:
Cupid, Sweets & Cinema

Tuesday, February 9, 7:30pm
The Story of Us starring Bruce Willis & Michelle Pfeiffer
Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg
All couples will enjoy this free date night with their sweethearts. Directed by Rob Reiner this 1999 R-rated romantic comedy explores the relationship of Ben and Katie Jordan, a couple who have been married for 15 years. The disillusioned couple is on the brink of separation in this incisive look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the unholy state of matrimony.
There is no charge for the movie. Sweets and adult beverages will be available for purchase by donation to the Studio@620.

Married for 5000 Years

Thursday, February 11, 5:30pm – 7pm
Book talk and reception  Family Resources, 5180 62nd Ave. No., Pinellas Park

Author Joe Cuenco will read excerpts from this recent release, the story of his journey to discover the secrets of marriage through his conversations with 100 happily married couples. Several interviewed couples will also speak. Books will be available for sale and signing.


Cupid & Cosmos & Cinema

Friday, February 12

Village of the Arts, Bradenton

5 - 7 PM  Village of the Arts activities      
7 PM  An Affair To Remember starring Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr           
U.S. 41 & 9th Ave., Bradenton
Stroll the Village, listen to music and watch the film for free. Bring your own blanket and chairs for a night under the stars. Family Resources and You&Me.WE have partnered with the Village of the Arts and the City of Bradenton to offer a family fun evening.


Sexual Intimacy Retreat for Couples

Saturday and Sunday, February 13-14

Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club


Learn the art of pillow talk, create more sparks in the bedroom, regain or deepen your connection and restore playfulness in your relationship. Priced at $275 per couple for the hotel room, two breakfasts, a banquet dinner, all instruction and materials. Details available at www.youandmewe.org.


You&Me.WE engages in this work because research has shown a clear connection between couples in healthy relationships and the overall health of communities. Adults in healthy relationships have better physical, emotional, social and financial health. Children also benefit from growing up in two parent families where there is respect, communication and healthy conflict resolution. Children of couples in strong, healthy, stable relationships tend to complete more of their education; are less likely to get involved with crime or drugs; and enjoy improved health. In short, healthy relationships contribute to healthier communities which generally have less crime, higher high school graduation rates and a reduced reliance upon social services.




A Special Valentine's Day Presentation: Passage To Intimacy Couples
Intensive! Looking for a really special way to celebrate your marriage and
Valentine's Day this year and take things to a whole new level of happiness?
This program can make a good relationship even better (and insure it against
future erosion) -- or help to heal a challenged relationship. Friday Noon,
February 12th through Monday, February 15th in Reston, VA, a Washington DC
suburb. You'll learn powerful, concentrated, skills including Communication
and Conflict Resolution in a fun, interesting class setting. Taught by
PAIRS Master Teachers Ellen & Chuck Purcell, with years of experience
teaching hundreds of couples. Call 703-476-5644 for details.



Watch the coverage of this event in Texas. Bravo to HARP.


Photo - worth a 1,000 words

After 11 years of coming to Smart Marriages, I have
finally gotten the Head Start/Early Head Start programs to join up and
create their own Couples Class for parents in Missoula. What turned it
around was getting just ONE HS social worker to Smart Marriages last summer..

We’ve put together 8 sessions from everything the social worker and I picked
up at Smart Marriages, and from the resources of another local staff member
who knows John Gottman’s research. The agencies didn’t expect much interest,
based on attendance at other programs, so we didn’t limit the number of
couples in advance — big mistake! We had 11 couples the first session, 12-13
the second and third, and expect 18 couples tomorrow night!

I know that those with federal grants for large Healthy Marriage Initiatives
might not think this is a big deal, but it is for me. Two HS staff and I are
doing this in Montana with no funding -- begging stores for door prizes
(tools from Ace Hardware! Dinner at the Depot!), donating time, bringing
tablecloths, cloth napkins and candles, and recruiting family members to
help with child care and set-up.

I’ve attached a couple of pictures and the flyer— we’re using the old gym in
the center of the Head Start school. I wish those who think that this
shouldn’t be the business of public policy, or a Federal priority,  could
see how Montana couples respond to learning how to create safe, stable,
nurturing relationships for their children. Just looking at the pictures
makes me tear up.

Jana Staton, PhD, LCPC
Missoula, MT


The Utah Healthy Marriage Initiative will be holding five conferences, a training seminar, Extraordinary Marriage Awards, and will fly our bright red street banners for Marriage Week USA.
Dr. John Van Epp will be coming to Salt Lake to conduct our 7th annual training seminar for counselors, therapists, mediators, faith leaders, and family life educators.  Later that evening, he will be the keynote speaker following our annual Extraordinary Marriage Awards.  I'm excited to have found a perky couple married 80 years!  EIGHTY!  And they are coming to the awards.  Our governor and first lady will sign the award certificates.
In addition to the "No Jerks" events in Salt Lake, we have local coalition conferences scheduled in four other cities.  We've posted everything on www.utahmarriage.org .  We'll also announce the launch of a new media campaign.


Here's a Marriage Week Celebration from Orange County. Now is the time to be getting out your invitations. Send yours and I'll share your ideas with the list and also post them on the Marriage Week ideas website.  Remember to find a way to fill them with hope for the couples who are struggling......throw out a lifeline. 
- diane

An Evening Together Celebrating Marriage in Orange County
Feb 17, 2009, 6pm
Marriage Vow Renewal in the Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove California
Hors d'Oeuvres & Resources in the Courtyard
Candlelight Dining and Dancing in the Arboretum
Celebrity Speaker: Dr. John Townsend (co-author of the Boundary books)
$100 a couple/Cocktail Attire
RSVP: http://www.OCMarriage.com
Hosted by: Crystal Cathedral, OC Marriage and Relationship Research Foundation, Inc. (RRF)
Special note to Marriage Educators:
We need Marriage Education resources to be available to the 500 to 600 people we're expecting to attend. We'll have 10 to 15 booths available for $150 each and sponsorship opportunities will be available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Reserve a booth at 949-752-2888 or DrMP@USrelationships.org
Sponsors and Resource contributors will be listed in the event program with their information.
First things First of Greater Richmond will host a number of activities to
Celebrate Marriage Week 2009 including :
Stepfamilies Conference Feb 21.
10 Great Dates at 25 congregations and childcare center launches Feb 7
Training for Clergy & Counselors in PREPARE-ENRICH or FOCCUS-REFOCCUS
Boot Camp for New Dads
"Marriage Commitment"  PSA TV spots
Various healthy relationships skills classes for singles and couples.
Check www.FirstThingsRichmond.org   for
event details or call 804-288-3431 to schedule training in your
Bob Ruthazer, CFLE
(804) 288-3431
> Marriage Works! Ohio will be hosting a variety of relationship education
> opportunities around Dayton, in celebration of Marriage Week.
> Monday, February 9th, 2009,  at noon - Kickoff Kiss at Courthouse Square. Free to
> attend. There will be a proclamation from the City Commissioners. Bring your
> sweetheart to courthouse square and kiss at noon.
> Tuesday, February 10th at 6 pm - “Hearing and Listening: What’s the
> Difference?” at Marriage Works! Ohio, 2201 N. Main Street, presented by Sydney
> and Fran Battle. Free to attend.
> Wednesday, February 11th at noon – Lunchtime chat at Wright Patterson Air
> Force Base, Class Room 244 in Bldg 2 at the Airman and Family Readiness
> Center. Discuss the many stresses on a relationship in the military. Free to
> attend.
> Thursday, February 12th at 7 pm - “Conflict Resolution” at Belmont Church of
> Christ, 3003 S. Smithville Road, presented by Steve and Loretta Worley. Free
> to attend.
> Friday, February 13th at 6 pm - Couples Panel and Dance at the Irish Club,
> 6555 Dog Leg Road. Dinner will be served. Cost is $5 per person, reservations
> are required.  
> AJ Grimm
> Event Planner and Media & Outreach Assistant
> Marriage Works! Ohio
> http://www.trustmarriage.com


PREPARE/ENRICH is discounting the price of our Couple Checkup to $19.95 (regularly $29.95) for Marriage Week (Feb 8-15, 2009).  The Checkup is a great adjunct to educational programs that communities and initiatives have going around Valentine’s Day.  Some examples:
* A group in Minneapolis is giving out Checkup voucher codes as part of a six-week relationship education series.  
* A group in Texas is mailing over 30,000 households advertising the Couple Checkup on their website and the relationship series that will follow throughout Marriage Week.  

I’d welcome the opportunity to brainstorm with anybody interested in integrating the Couple Checkup into their website or discussing other creative marketing opportunities.  Contact me or access the Discount info at: http://www.prepare-enrich.com
Matthew Turvey, Psy.D., LP
Director of Strategic Alliances
Life Innovations
 Jeff Larson's Marriage Tune Up Book:
> The goal of Larson's research-based "Great Marriage Tune-up Book" is to help
> couples evaluate and improve their relationships.
> "I have always wondered why couples do not follow the car maintenance model
> in their marriages. That is they get regular oil changes and tune-ups for
> their cars but they never think of getting regular marriage tune-ups or
> check ups," he says.
> Larson says a marriage check up will evaluate the health of three
> general factors that determine marital satisfaction: 1) individual traits
> (mental health, social skills); 2) couple traits (including communication
> and conflict resolution skills); and 3) contexts (backgrounds, relationships
> outside the marriage). By comparing their responses with information from
> 5,000 others, couples can differentiate between "normal" adjustments and
> issues that might be cause for concern.

>"It helps to have a context, a comparison group. When people realize
> they're not the only people living with adjustments, their mood is lifted,"
> says Larson.

> Larson says it's not uncommon for couples to get "in a rut" after a few
> years of marriage. When love has waned, he says couples can revive the
> marriage by: 1) thinking about a time in the past when you felt love and
> resuming the behaviors, attitudes and rituals that worked before; 2) giving
> love to get love, regardless of where your spouse is along the way; and 3)
> setting goals to improve the love in your marriage by increasing nourishing
> behaviors and avoiding destructive behaviors.
To read the article:

You can order the recording of this session at the Smart Marriages Conference at 800-241-7785
> #755-405 - Under the Hood: Marital Check-up
> Jeffry Larson, PhD
> Learn how to do a scientific marriage check-u
> and tune-up using empirically validated questions
> that help couples set goals for improvement.



It's time for a marriage checkup
If you want your marriage to last, you need to know two words: love and respect

Feb. 13, 2007
Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus Georgia

You change the oil in your car every 3,000 to 5,000 miles and you have regular dental checkups; but how often do you evaluate or "check on" your marriage?

Licensed marriage and family therapist Mary Ellen Connett contends not often enough. "If you don't water a plant, it will die," she points out. "The same is true for marriage. There are serious consequences for neglecting a relationship."

In the early 1990s, The Georgia Association of Marriage and Family Therapy recommended couples get an annual marriage checkup. Connett is suggesting that Valentine's Day is a good time to do that.

"What better way to express your love and concern?" she asks.

University of Washington researchers found they could predict if a couple would stay together based on a number of indicators. The project, conducted by professor emeritus John Gottman, Ph.D., followed couples over a 7 to 9 year period and could predict with 87 percent accuracy, which marriages would stay together, and which ones would dissolve.

Gottman has developed indicators of why marriages succeed or fail that Connett subscribes to. One of the most important she believes is the "rule of five."

"It takes five positive interactions to counteract the damage of one negative interaction, such as blame or criticism," she relates.

There are many ways to show positivity according to Gottman. They include: showing interest, being affectionate, showing you care, being appreciative, showing concern, being empathetic and being accepting.

While the balance between negativity and positivity seems to be one of the main factors in a successful marriage, there are also four predictors for failure: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling, or the complete cutoff of the other person.

Gottman writes in his book "Why Marriages Succeed or Fail," that long-term marriages contain an abundance of love and respect. Connett suggests a self-quiz that can help you determine if these fundamentals are present in your relationship.


The following quiz developed by John Gottman and adapted by Mary Ellen Connett, is to be taken by you and your spouse. Answer "yes" or "no" to each statement based on whether you mostly agree or disagree.

1. My spouse seeks out my opinions.
2. My spouse cares about my feelings.
3. We are affectionate toward one another.
4. We listen to each other.
5. What I say counts.
6. I love spending time with my partner.
7. We are very good friends.
8. My spouse finds me physically attractive.
9. I feel included in my partner's life.
10. We touch each other a lot.
11. We respect each other's ideas.
12. Even during tough times we can be empathetic.

Scoring: If you checked "yes" to fewer than 4 items, then you may not feel enough love and respect in your marriage and you may want to seek a check up.

Professionals point out that the average couple waits six years before seeking help for marital problems; so they often live with unhappiness for far too long.

Connett says marital relationships can definitely improve. She likens it to an illness; if the problems are ignored, they will get worse. If both partners are committed, they can work towards changing their relationship for the better.

In February 2006, Alabama Governor Bob Riley signed the Marriage Proclamation,
designating Feb 7-14th as Marriage Week in the state. This year, 2007, however,
he's designating February "Marriage Month". We are having an essay contest
again this year, with 8th graders writing about "The best marriage I know",
and the winners from each district will be invited to the Governor's Mansion,
with their parents and teacher, to be recognized. Our Marriage Handbook, "Keys
to a Healthy Marriage" has turned out be an invaluable resource. Those in
the Coalition can download a pdf on our site http://www.AlabamaMarriage.org
Or, directly at:

David Schramm



The State of Indiana will join the celebration for National Marriage Week.
Governor Mitch Daniels has issued a proclamation on behalf of Community Marriage
Builders declaring Feb 7-14th as Community Marriage Week in Indiana.

Citizens are encouraged to celebrate marriage. In Southwest Indiana, Community
Marriage Builders will be hosting a variety of activities. The second Sunday of
February (11th) is Community Marriage Day. Houses of Worship are encouraged
to hold special marriage vow renewal ceremonies, host receptions, offer prayers
of blessings for couples, and other creative ways to celebrate.

Community Marriage Builders will host a special evening for couples on Feb. 13th
at the Executive Inn in Evansville. The Sweetheart Banquet will offer great food,
a romantic atmosphere, reserved seating, special music, hilarious entertainment
and a gift for each couple. The Lifetime Marriage Achievement Award will be presented.

NO DIVORCE DAY will again be on February 14th. No divorces will be granted that day
in honor of Community Marriage Week. Judge Wayne Trockman announced that in a
television interview on February 6, 2007

Couples are encouraged to find a way to take time during this special week and
celebrate their marriage. Businesses are challenged to find marriage-friendly
policies for the workplace. One example is to give your employees the day off
for their wedding anniversary.

Community Marriage Builders will be initiating a regular schedule of marriage
preparation classes and marriage enrichment classes in Posey, Gibson, Warrick
and Vanderburgh counties. The theme is “Make It Last.” Classes will begin
February 21st. Call 477-2260 for the schedule. There will be two marriage
enrichment classes offered each week in each county and two marriage prep
classes offered each month in each county.

A new web site is being launched called, www.makeitlast.org
The new look will help couples find information about marriage preparation and
marriage enrichment classes. There will be a wealth of information for all
couples of all ages in all stages of marriage.

For further information please contact: Community Marriage Builders at 477-2260
> Diane,
> Here's what I am doing. I have a new training and service learning class at my
> 2 year college. I am training students in Love U2 and then they will teach
> lessons or a module in their community - in high schools, group homes, after
> school youth groups, church groups, etc.
> Also, within Love U2, there is a recommendation that teachers consider a
> service learning option. It's very simple. Groups of students choose their
> favorite lesson/activity and then they teach it to let's say 8th graders. My
> experience has been that teachers welcome trained peers coming in for a class
> and taking over. The peer educators have just gone through it themselves, they
> have fun with the activities....they are trained and have a structure. I did
> this very successfully with 11th graders -- who went in a "taught' a class to
> 8th graders using a Love U2 lesson.
> Marline Pearson
> http://dibblefund.org/


> Dear Phillippia,
> Congratulations on your HMI grant. How true it is that "We've got to start
> with the kids." In response to your quest for activities suitable for high
> school mentors during Marriage Week, I'm passing on a favorite from The Art of
> Loving Well. [If you don't know about our literature-based work of 20 years at
> Boston University, I invite you to check out the website below.]
> One suggested group activity is appended to "Experiences in a Concentration
> Camp" by Victor Frankl and can be used as the format for an in-class panel
> discussion or as a survey:
> "The Secret to Our Success"
> Go to the experts for the best advice about marriage. Interview the married
> couples--husband, wife, or both--who seem to have a happy relationship, one
> you hope to emulate later in life.
> 1. How old were you when you were married?
> 2. At that time, what image did you have of married life?
> 3. Has it turned out as you expected? What, if anything, has been different?
> 4. What is the most difficult or challenging part of being married?
> 5. What is the best part?
> 6. Do you have any specific advice about loving well?
> 7. Can you recommend any books, poems, plays, movies, or songs that you
> believe are especially valuable in understanding love? Why?
> and from another group activity:
> "Here Comes the Bride...and Groom!"
> As a wedding present for newlyweds and as a memento for all the wedding
> guests, create Love's Little Instruction Book. Review all that you have
> learned about what it means to love well, and compile a manual for living as
> happily ever after as is humanly possible. Your publication might become a
> best seller!"
> Best wishes and good luck!
> Nancy
> Nancy McLaren
> The Loving Well Project
> http://www.bu.edu/sed/lovingwell
> 617.353.4088

> As for what peer educators could do, how about a healthy relationships fair or
> day or week at their school complete with speakers, handouts, resources, maybe
> topic days, PSA's, ways for teachers to integrate into classroom discussion,
> etc. that they plan and implement (with adult guidance and support)?
> Jan Hayne
> Dads Make a Difference
> http://www.dadsmakeadifference.org


Dear Ms. Faust,
It's great to hear of your desire to have your peer educators promote
Marriage Week. This idea may be lame in the eyes of your kids, but maybe you
could adapt it in some way. My suggestion is to stage a debate, or an essay
contest with winners being put in the school paper or a poll (with a
followup handout given out later) that deals with such topics as:

"Why get married?"
"Is 'falling in love' the basis for a lasting relationship?"
"Is living together the same as marriage?"
"Does living together prepare you for marriage?"

If you have a lot of east Asians, Hasidic Jews or other groups that have
arranged marriages in your community, you could ask, "Can arranged marriages

And if you want to make sure every kid in town hears about this activity,
ask, "Is there any advantage to being a virgin before marriage?"

When I speak to teens, I put out one of these beliefs out at a time for
small groups to discuss, and they are to figure out how the ideas might be
true and how they might be false. It's pretty lively and they always
appreciate it.
John Williams, MRE
> You've given your partner flowers every year. You take them out to dinner.
> You choose the most fabulous card. What can you do to make it more special?
> This year experience love, Imago style. All around the world on or around
> Valentine's Day Imago events are being organized. Join us for a few fun-filled
> Imago relationship-building exercises, and stay for light hors d'oeurves and
> beverages. Cost is Free to $25/couple depending on the location. Most will be
> early evening, so you'll still have time for that romantic dinner following
> the event, and you'll have much to talk about as you eat. For more information
> or to make reservations at an event near you, www.PracticeImago.com

> Diane here is what we are doing in southeastern Michigan: The Marriage
> Resource Center of Wayne County (Detroit area) will hold a Marriage Banquet on
> Feb 17 to promote healthy marriages and families. We will acknowledge
> nominated couples who exemplify the proven attributes of a healthy marriage.
> We plan to provide gifts from local businesses and will provide articles to
> local news media.
> Pamela Hudson
> Marketing
I was copied on an email that went out today to all California Healthy
Marriage Coalition (CHMC) participants and am forwarding it to the list in
hopes it will inspire you to ramp up your plans. Also, send me info about
what you are planning in your community so that I can post for sharing at:
/marriage.week.html - January, 2007 - diane

> Dear Sub-Awardees,
> Many of you are already underway with ideas and plans for Marriage Week--Feb.
> 11-17--and I'm writing to suggest three important resources that may bolster
> your current plans or spur you to action if you haven't yet formulated a plan
> to take advantage of the one week in the year when the media actively support
> our work and are eager to make contact with us to fill their columns and air
> space with human interest stories and resources.
> 1) The 1000 Signs Project--As mentioned in an earlier email, CHMC will pay
> for the printing of 1000 signs with Healthy Marriages messages along with your
> community's contact information. We still have openings for 4 more coalitions
> to do this. All that's needed is for you to get your person-power together to
> spread these throughout your city, get your website populated with classes
> starting late Feb. and March so you can maximize referrals, and let me know
> ASAP if you want in. Meanwhile, keep in mind that 1000 signs scattered around
> your community creates a lot of buzz and this buzz gives you the opportunity
> to be proactive in generating media attention. The media is always interested
> in something new that's happening, so they'll welcome your contact about the
> Signs Project, and may even contact you themselves, so be prepared to cash in
> on this with someone who can speak well on what your coalition is doing and
> how the public can access more information. THIS IS YOUR BIGGEST NATURAL
> 2) Marriage Week Proclamation--Carolyn Curtis and I have developed
> a Proclamation "template" that will be issued by various California
> communities proclaiming Marriage Week (download and adapt it for your use:
> /proclamations.html.) The value of working to
> have a Marriage Week Proclamation issued by your city is that by contacting
> the powers that be at City Hall and asking them to issue such a proclamation,
> you have a natural rationale for establishing a potentially valuable
> relationship with your city officials. They will ask you to suggest possible
> wording for such a Proclamation and you can easily adapt the California
> template by inserting the name of your city--and if you submit this via your
> Mayor's staff far enough in advance ( i.e., NOW!!!), you'll be able to get a
> resolution passed in your city for Marriage Week. The information contained in
> this particular resolution is valuable for the powers that be in your city to
> know about, having the Proclamation issued in your city will give an important
> imprimatur to your work and a natural media link for Marriage Week pieces, and
> it also becomes an important addition to your website--a win/win all around.
> Meanwhile you will have established a relationship with city hall, which has
> untold benefits for your work in the future. :-)))
> 3) Diane Sollee has a rich resource of ideas for Marriage Week on her Smart
> Marriages website (21 pages of ideas used in various communities around the
> country.) Check this out to enrich your thinking. www.smartmarriages.com
> <http://www.smartmarriages.com> Then click on "Marriage Week Celebrations"
> - 6th item down in the far right column or just click on:
> /marriage.week.html
> I hope that all of you will mobilize to take advantage of the natural
> visibility Marriage Week brings to our HM work. Your entire community will
> benefit from exposure to your work and the work itself will be empowered.
> Carpe diem!!

> Patty Howell, VP of Operations
> California Healthy Marriages Coalition
> Fax: 760-436-3997
> http://www.CaliforniaMarriages.org

Patty Howell and Carolyn Curtis are also asking list subscribers to submit
slogans for the "burma shave" type signs they describe above. Not really
like the old Burma Shave signs in that there won't be a string of signs in a
row along a highway spelling out a message (man, does this date me!), but,
instead a 1,000 signs on stakes scattered around the city with "marriage
messages" that will intrigue. 4-word limit.

Here are some I came up with, that I'm sharing to prime your pumps:

The Children are Watching
Listen with Love
Love + Skill = Marriage Masterpiece
Find the good. Praise it.
Have a Trophy Marriage
Fall in Love, Again
5 Positives to 1 Negative
Commitment has kind eyes.
My favorite, of course:
Have a Smart Marriage! ;)
- diane


> Dear Diane:
> Several months back you recommended we all should get started planning for
> Marriage Week. We took your advice and are so excited with what we've come up
> with that we want to share it with you. Here are the highlights of our weekend
> of Feb. 15, 16, and 17, 2007!!
> Thursday, Feb. 15th
> John Van Epp: on WSOC-TV here in Charlotte to promo the weekend
> Van Epp: meets with our sheriff to discuss using his "Avoid a Jerk" model with
> female inmates.

> Van Epp: speaks at Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, NC.
> Friday, Feb. 16th
> Van Epp: meets with Gaston County clergy.

> Julie Baumgardner: Keynote Speaker for our Luncheon and Fund Raising event
> Van Epp: Book signing for "How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk (Jerkette)"

> Van Epp: Keynote speaker for our Marriage First dinner banquet.
> Saturday, Feb. 17
> Van Epp: trains instructors so they can use his programs (How to Avoid
> Marrying a Jerk and Marriage LINKS) to provide marriage enrichment events.
> Requests for information should go to firstthingsf80@bellsouth.net or
> 704-867-4495.
> Teresa Rankin, Executive Director
> First Things First of Gaston County, Inc
> Gastonia, NC


> Diane,
> Here's a quick report on how the visit of Mike and Harriet McManus went last
> weekend as part of our Marriage Week Celebration. Sioux Falls became only the
> fourth community in the U.S. to RENEW its Community Marriage Policy. Our
> original CMP was signed in 1997 by 47 churches. Our new, IMPROVED CMP has
> already been signed by 60 churches, and we are pressing on toward our goal of
> getting 100 of the 175 local churches to sign and implement it. Mike McManus
> says that we are the first place in the country to include a provision in our
> CMP calling on every church to designate a "LEAD MENTOR COUPLE" to assist the
> pastor with marriage ministry. The idea is for the Lead Mentor Couple to help
> lead the team of mentor couples and to assist in planning marital enrichment
> activities. Pastors come and go, and they have many responsibilities and
> concerns. But a Lead Mentor Couple with a passion for marriage ministry can
> maintain a steady focus on this vital area and keep up a high level of
> commitment to helping couples.
> Rev David Handy
> Executive Director
> Sioux Empire Marriage Savers
> Sioux Falls, SD



Hi Diane, Those who are already using the 10 Great Dates program or who are
interested in launching it in their church or community may be interested in
knowing about the Official FIREPROOF 10 Great Dates Exercise. At the request
of producers we put together a special guide so couples can go out after the
movie and talk. The date is non-threatening, safe, husband-friendly, and can
be a perfect segue to launching a marriage group in your church. People can
download the FREE FIREPROOF GREAT DATE at www.marriagealive.com (Click on
download date under FIREPROOF on the home page.) You can also download it at
http://www.fireproofmymarriage.com/couples/10greatdates/ For more
information or to learn what others are doing, call or contact us through
our website.
Claudia & Dave Arp


February 13, 2005

P sstt. Over here. Yeah, I know. It's late. Time's running out. Valentine's
Day is tomorrow, and you've got nothing for your wife. Hey, your secret's
safe with me.

You've tried the super-sized, red-bowed box of Milk Duds, the
let's-spend-more-quality-time-together drift boat, the romantic weekend at a
fly-fishing lodge for the two of you and 14 other guys. Last year you even
tried the flame-red teddy and two-leg wax job combo. Her reaction is never
all you hoped for, and expensive jewelry or a kitchenful of red roses just
aren't good enough for your gal -- too ordinary -- so you're struggling. And
it's late.

Gentlemen, have I got the perfect Valentine's gift for you, and it's only a
phone call or e-mail click away. I kid you not. You might not even have to
get off your sofa to become a Valentine's Day hero to the love of your life.

It's called "Ten Great Dates," and it's put on by Marriage & Family
Connections, a nonprofit consortium of local churches. This marriage
enrichment program will kick off with a rally and organizational meeting on
Feb. 19, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Madison High School. (To register
beforehand, call 503-312-2485 or e-mail:

Authors and relationship experts David and Claudia Arp of Marriage Alive

International will be there, and participants will pick up workbooks and

learn when and where "date-night" meetings will take place in weeks to come.

(The $15-per-couple price covers the cost of the workbooks.) Participating

churches and other organizations will be holding scheduled date-night

meetings where couples can meet other couples and receive help -- a plus

because couples with troubles in their marriage tend to isolate. But these

meetings aren't required, and the "Ten Great Dates" rally and materials are

for religious and nonreligious couples alike. Basically, the "Ten Great

Dates" program is a commitment to go out every other week to work on your


Think wives -- or men and women, in general -- don't think marriage is

important? Think they don't know what makes a good marriage? In a recent

poll of Washington state residents for Families Northwest, respondents rated

good communication, ability to resolve conflict and close friendship as very

important factors in achieving the kind of strong marriages they

overwhelmingly value. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed reject the idea

that marriage is an "old fashioned" institution, while 92 percent expected

their marriages to last a lifetime.

Of course, today's marriages don't always meet these "old-fashioned"

expectations, but that's where "Ten Great Dates" just might help. On each

date -- over dinner or coffee -- couples would use what sponsors promise are

"fun-filled" worksheets to sort through the various aspects of their

marriage. Week by week, a couple would tackle topics such as choosing a high

priority marriage, learning to communicate, resolving honest conflict,

sharing responsibility, balancing roles as parenting and partner, developing

spiritual intimacy and, just to prove this isn't so removed from a typical

Valentine's Day gift, building a creative love life.

In Oregon, we've just had a year-long debate on marriage, thanks to the

champions of same-sex marriage. One line of argument from gay-rights

activists was that traditional marriage defenders were so busy opposing same

sex marriage they were doing nothing to strengthen divorce-prone

heterosexual marriage. It was never much of an argument; traditional

marriage advocates have been calling attention to the problems of family

break-up and nonformation for years. Still, "Ten Great Dates" is a fresh

answer to such criticism. The Portland-area churches of Marriage & Family

Connections have given a gift to their congregations and the larger


But is their "Ten Great Dates" the right gift for your spouse this

Valentine's Day? It doesn't take a sensitive new-age guy or a Don Juan of

marital relations to realize this: It's the rare wife who wouldn't kill for

a man who told her that he wanted to really work on their relationship --

and that this didn't involve attending a professional wrestling match.

She may swoon over your deep insight and caring. She may smother you with

affection and appreciation. Valentine's Day might never be the same. And you

can even pretend it was all your own idea. I'll never tell.



Office of Governor Brad Henry
State of Oklahoma
State Capitol

Gov. Henry Proclaims Feb. 7-14
“Oklahoma Marriage Week” to Support Healthy Marriages

Oklahoma City – With Valentine’s Day a little more than two weeks away,

many Oklahomans’ thoughts are turning to love, relationships and marriage.

It is only fitting, then, that the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative asks couples

to pay special attention to their relationships during the week of Tuesday,

Feb. 7-14.

Gov. Brad Henry has proclaimed the week as “Oklahoma Marriage Week,”

calling for Oklahomans to support marriage as an important and healthy

component of strong families and communities.

“The Oklahoma Marriage Initiative focuses on improving, enriching and

protecting the institution of marriage,” said the Governor. “Oklahoma

families are a fundamental part of our great state, and so it only

makes good sense for us to do everything we can to strengthen those bonds.”

In addition, the Governor has proclaimed Saturday, Feb. 11, as “Sweethearts Day”

to coincide with the OMI's 4th Annual Sweethearts Day. A free event held at

the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the one-day workshop is open to all

couples who are married, engaged or considering marriage.

The event allows couples the chance to spend the day together, strengthen

their commitments and learn valuable communication skills. There is also

an added advantage for engaged couples who attend and complete the workshop.

They will receive a certificate to reduce the cost of their marriage license

from $50 to $5. A Website has been established for additional information

and registration, www.oksweethearts.org

or call toll free (877) 435-8033.


For more information: Jennifer Pierce (405) 848-2171 or (877) 435-8033



Celebrate marriage and Valentine's Day at Rock of Ages 1309 Madison Street,

Maywood, IL 60153 (708) 344.0704. We are having our second annual married

couples dinner on February 11. The evening begins with a play on marriage,

followed by dinner and an inspirational presentation by Rev Kenneth Copeland

regarding returning to your first love. $50 per couple. To register:

LeTrina Lewis at 708.417.2603



> On the Saturday closest to Valentine's Day, which falls within Marriage

> Week, we will host our 14th Annual Renewal of Marriage Vows at our church.

> We are a University parish that is culturally diverse so this year the vows

> will be available for couples to renew them in 31 different Languages!

> Babysitting will be available after Mass for a Date Night for couples.

> Anne & Bob Funkhouser

> St. Augustine Church

> Gainesville, Florida/2006



> Here's what we have planned for marriage week in Fresno County:

> Sweetheart Cruise Feb 6-10, 4-day marriage cruise--43 couples!--theme

> is Love and Respect, modeled on Emmerson Eggerichs book. Also, we are

> having a stepfamily workshop for African Americans with over 100 people

> expected. Also, a one-day marriage conference with Bill & Pam Ferrell,

> author of "Men are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti."


> We are also airing 350 marriage TV ads on Comcast stations in 4 interest

> areas: stepfamily conference coming up with Ron Deal in March; Single parents

> ad; taking your marriage from good to great, and a premarital ad. These ads

> will be available to watch on our website as of February 1. website is:
> www.growyourmarriage.com
> Ron McLain
> Marriage Mentoring Ministries
> Fresno, CA/2006


- COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH!: EVANSVILLE - Seminars, Sweetheart Dinner, Serenades,
Proclamation, Booklet for Pastors

> In Evansville, Indiana and surrounding counties we are celebrating Community
> Marriage Day on Feb, 12th. I am giving a marriage seminar on Sat. evening,
> Feb. 11th . Tues. Feb. 14th we are hosting a Sweetheart Dinner at the
> Executive Inn Hotel in downtown Evansville. Jim and Melissa Brady from
> Nashville, TN will serenade us with love songs and Dr. Joe Beam from Family
> Dynamics Institute is our guest speaker. We will renew wedding vows and every
> ouple takes home a gift.
> We've put together a booklet for pastors with ideas of ways to celebrate on
> Feb. 12th Included is a copy of the Governor's Proclamation for the state of
> Indiana. He proclaimed Feb. 12th as Community Marriage Day throughout the
> state of Indiana.
> Ann Gries Ph.D.
> Evansville, IN - 2006
> http://www.marryright.org/



> Healthy Marriage Coalition of Central NY National Marriage Week
> activities: 1. we will be offering "An Evening with Ron Heilmann" (counselor,
> author & presenter) on "LOVEWORKS: Coming to Terms with Intimacy & Equality"
> --romantic & eudcational eve with music, refreshments etc. 2. Also, will have
> several media interviews that week to highlight our new brochure "Keeping Love
> Alive in Your Marriage After Your Baby is Born."



Diane, I thought you might be pleased that we finally got 2 events rolling

in Bloomington along w/the Mayor's proclamation for Marriage Day, Week and

Month and the Governor, also, "Declared". Noon Edition that went out on PBS

in Bloomington, Terre Haute, Columbus, Kokomo (so covered much of the state)

had State Representative Peggy Welch talking about what Indiana is doing to

strengthen marriage, MARY MYRICK sharing what they have done in Oklahoma,

and, myself in the studio talking about what we're doing in Bloomington. It

was a call-in show so it was also an opportunity to answer questions, do

some educating. In addition, I was asked to do a guest column for the

newspaper locally which I will share with you, below. - Riette Smith



Last weekend First Things First partnered with the Hamilton County
Medical Society, the Medical Foundation and the
Medical Auxillary to bring in Wayne and Mary Sotile to lead a
"Making the Most of Your Medical Marriage" weekend. The goal was
to catch residents early in their medical career to give them
helpful information to keep their own marriage strong - since we know
that the medical profession has a very high rate of divorce.
We also invited physicians who are already in practice.
The second goal was to give physicians information they can pass on
to all the couples with whom they interact in their practice - know to
refer them to Marriage Education classes if they suspect they are
facing challenges in their marriages. The seminar was only open to
physicians and their spouses. Residents and their spouses attended free
medical society members paid $50 a couple, and $75 for non-member physicians.
We also made special arrangements with a hotel close by to encourage
couples to really make the most of the weekend. Childcare was
provided on site. We had close to 100 attendees. They LOVED Wayne and Mary!!!
- Julie Baumgardner, Chattanooga Fisrt Things First, 2005



Winnipeg Sun: NEWS

February 12, 2005

Tune-up for lovers U of W program helps couples


Sitting across from one another in a marriage therapist's office, Matthew

gingerly held his wife's hand, while Sonya looked lovingly at her husband.

Their relationship was not on the rocks, nor were they feeling like they

were growing apart.

"It's good to have a little check-up every now and then. Sometimes you get

stuck in the same mould and you need a fresh perspective," said Matthew, a

36-year-old human-resource professional specializing in conflict resolution.

"I was feeling like life had been so busy since the moment we got married,

it seemed like a good idea to focus on each other."

After eight years of marriage and in the midst of raising two young children

and managing two home-based businesses, Sonya, 36, liked the idea of a

marriage check-up.

"Some people only go (to a counsellor) after they're in dire straits. But if

you're continually enriching your marriage, you can prevent a lot of

problems along the way," said Sonya.

Last year, Sonya and Matthew were among 100 couples who attended a free

marriage check-up during Valentine's week, which was co-ordinated through

the Aurora Family Therapy Centre located in the University of Winnipeg.

The purpose of the check-up is to get feedback on what is working and what

needs attention, said Randy Rehbein, who teaches in the marriage and family

training program at the university and has been providing family counselling

for more than 10 years.

"It's really an educational opportunity for the couple to learn a little

about themselves and a little about their relationship," said Rehbein. "It's

like getting your car tuned up, only this is your relationship."


After being "inundated" with couples wanting to attend a marriage check-up

last year, Rehbein is offering the free public service again this year, he


A team of 50 therapists will be available for appointments between Feb. 14

and Feb. 19, which can be made by calling 799-0860.

"We are hoping to attract 150 couples," he said, adding the session lasts

about one hour and is held in the privacy of the therapist's office.

Some couples find one session is only an icebreaker for larger issues and

they need further counselling with the therapist, said Rehbein. Other

couples, such as Sonya and Matthew, walk away feeling refreshed and renewed

after one visit.

"We were pleasantly surprised to find out there were some really neat things

about our relationship and we found out there were some things we could work

on," said Sonya.

Both partners admit they'll likely re-visit a counsellor from time to time

in the future. In the meantime, they've learned to communicate better with

one another and to remember to do the little things each day that make their

relationship special.

"We've made it a ritual of starting the day off with a hug," said Sonya.

"Otherwise it's easy to forget to take a few minutes and say good morning."

No virus found in this outgoing message. Checked by AVG Anti-Virus. Version:

7.0.300 / Virus Database: 265.8.8 - Release Date: 2/14/2005



> Diane,

> Our Valentine's baskets are looking great. We're using Joel Saltzman's books

> as part of our gift package for brides-to-be. We have a really pretty box for

> only $30 that includes a gift certificate for a marriage education class and

> Joel's two books "How to Be the Almost Perfect Husband and Wife". We're also

> selling Valentine's Gift Baskets for the already married with items

> "guaranteed to create a romantic evening including sparkling cider and

> glasses, bubble bath, candies, a large Hershey Kiss, a CD of romantic music,

> and the book "Love Talks". $45 as a fund-raiser. We're excited!


> And our billboard for National Marriage Week is up! It has a couple on it

> with this question: "Have you loved your spouse today?" - Marriage Week Feb 7

> - 14 and our website. It is getting quite the response around town.


> And, things are booming for Marriage Sunday in our local African American

> churches which will preach about the importance of strong marriages and

> provide activities for couples.

> Julie Baumgardner, First Things First

> www.firstthings.org

These folks plan ahead! Start NOW to get a billboard set up for Marriage Week USA 2006

in your community - work to get it donated, or sponsored. Chattanooga FTF also

does billboards for Teen Pregnancy Prevention month - last year's said:

"BABYSITTER WANTED. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. 18 years straight.

Having a baby is a hard job. And you can't quit." This year they're doing

a contest among middle and high school students to design a billboard and

bus placards to promote abstinence. And, they've also, as part of Marriage Week

announced a "Recharge Your Marriage" retreat - a weekend away at a retreat

center in the woods later in the year. FTF makes this a year-round campaign. - diane



> Our Governor, Phil Bredesen, has recognized Tennessee Healthy Marriage Week

> and the Memphis City Council has proclaimed Memphis Marriage Week for the

> second year in a row. We've started a tradition! - Jim Hunter, Memphis,

> jim.hunter@christchs.org



We had our Valentine's Dinner for married couples with a Keynote Speaker on

Feb-12th, their next project is going to be a Family outing where married

couples can bring their Kids...

On Tuesday Night 3 out of the 25 classes are for married couples or couples

preparing for marriage.........

Rev. Terry Weston

Rock of Ages

Maywood IL




> Hi Diane.

> Just a note to let you know that Utah is ready for Marriage Week USA!


> The Governor's Commission on Marriage held its first Community and

> Faith Leaders' conference on January 22nd, entitled "Building Utah

> Marriages." We held it in six areas of the state through satellite

> broadcast. While attendance was less than expected, we are receiving

> good feedback, made some good connections, and we'll try it again!


> Our "Celebrate Marriage Week USA" pole banners are flying in Salt Lake

> City. The bright red really cheers up the winter streets. Two other

> towns are flying 30' street banners. The city council of Lehi signed a

> proclamation.


> Our 13th Annual Celebration of Marriage will be held this Saturday.

> Pat Love will present a pre-conference seminar for professional

> counselors. The celebration for the public will include three workshops

> from a choice of 40 topics. We will be honoring four "Gold Medal

> Marriage" couples with a certificate and a singing valentine group.

> We'll have a local couple share their experiences and then Pat Love will

> be the featured keynote. We'll wrap up the evening with a live band and

> dancing.


> Thank you for sharing what other states/cities/groups are doing. It's

> been fun to see how things are spreading and a good source of new

> ideas.


> Melanie Reese Director

> Governor's Commission on Marriage

> Salt Lake City UT

> 801-468-0173

> mreese@utah.gov



The Healthy Marriage Coalition of Central New York

(Syracuse area) will offer a panel/formum on Feb. 14 12-1:20 eititled

"What Makes a Marriage Healthy?" Also a number of partner/churches

will sponsor presentations THIS MONTH including one on Covenant Marriage

and one on How to Listen (skills). And, Marriage Encounter & the

Catholic diocese will co-sponsor World Marriage Day Feb 13 with

an anniversary mass and renewal of vows and reception.




Here's what we're doing in Central Virginia:

We started this month (January) with a media campaign

around town: "It Takes Work To Build A Good Marriage.

Do You Have The Tools?" (billboards, newspaper ad in

the Bridal supplement, memo pad giveaways, etc. -

all with that theme).

During Marriage Week Central Virginia, the local

TV station will do a series of interviews with myself,

a couple that went through mentoring before they married,

a local church with an exciting marriage ministry,

and Julie Baumgardner, Executive Director of First

Things First, Chattanooga - our guest speaker.

Friday, February 11, Julie will present a workshop for

community clergy and human services professionals:

"What's Marriage Got To Do With It?" on the impact

of marriage on the community.

Friday night is our "Celebrate Marriage Banquet" -

held at a popular wedding site (local B&B/wedding

hall) complete with catered dinner, a "marriage"

cake, and dancing to romantic music (specifically

chosen to include only positive messages about

relationships). Julie will speak at the banquet

on "Celebrating Marriage In Your Community".

Saturday, February 12, Julie and her husband, Jay,

will lead a couples' workshop, "A Toolbox For


In addition, there will be a Mayoral proclamation,

we have a lot of churches doing special celebrations,

sermon series, Bible studies, etc., and we are

working on a series of articles in the local newspaper.

Shortly after Marriage Week, hoping to capitalize

on the enthusiasm we think will be generated,

we have two pastor trainings scheduled, one for


of which will also include an element of marriage

mentor training.

This is our first attempt, so we're very excited,

a little nervous, and praying real hard for the

weather to cooperate!

Lawrence M. Compter, Executive Director

Marriage Alliance of Central Virginia

Forest VA





Hi Diane,

We've pretty much finalized plans for Marriage Week USA here and I thought

I'd bring you up-to-date.

1.) This week we're mailing out a poster to more than 350 churches entitled

"Marriage Week USA." It emphasizes the importance of marriage, gives ideas

for celebrating and announces our second annual "Downtown Dream Date."

2.) We're launching Marriage Week USA on Fri, Feb 4 (just prior

to the week) with an Open House at our new offices. We're giving away gifts

and materials designed to promote marriages to all who attend, as well as

highlighting the work of Ozarks Marriage Matters and the two grants awarded

to Forest Institute's Marriage and Family Program -- one focused on

developing a curriculum on Healthy Marriage and Family Formation for child

welfare workers and the second (Early Learning Opportunities Act) ELOA Grant

which will enable us to deliver the Becoming Parents Program to 400

expectant couples. Invitations will be mailed in the next few days.

3.) Our second Downtown Dream Date linking the revitalization of our

downtown with the renewing of marriage will be bigger and better than ever

this year. We have more than $700 in prizes to award to couples who enter by

submitting a favorite "marriage memory" of 250 words or less. We have a

panel of celebrity judges who will make the selection. Winners are announced

on Valentine's Day.

4.) Our first quarterly newsletter featuring information on

classes and training opportunities will be distributed.

Every member of Ozarks Marriage Matters has another job, including me.

That's why it's so encouraging to see so many good things come together,

even though we all feel overworked and overwhelmed at times. Thanks for the

encouragement you offer. You are making a difference.

Jennifer Baker PsyD LMFT

Forest Institute of Professional Psychology





Hi Diane,

Fresno and the Central Valley continues to expand the marriage movement.

We are desperate to turn the divorce rate around here. In 2004 there were

5,861 marriage licenses issued in Fresno County and 4,445 dissolutions of

marriage! That's about a 76% ratio of divorces to marriages (I realize that

this is not the true divorce rate but these figures are still alarming).

We are having our second Lead Mentor Training beginning next week with 24

couples from 20 different churches. We provide a six-week overview in how

to mentor premarital couples, struggling marriages, and stepfamilies.

We are also celebrating Greater Fresno Area Marriage Week February 6-13:

February 6 - Celebrate Marriage Sunday, encouraging pastors to speak on the

topic of marriage and family.

February 10 - Public signing by 100 pastors of the Community Marriage Policy.

We are hoping for 1,000 lay people to be in attendance.

February 12 - "Becoming Soulmates" marriage seminar with Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott.

Februry 13 - Celebrate Marriage Sunday, encouraging pastors to speak on the

topic of marriage and/or stepfamilies.

February 14 - Celebrate Marriage Central California Sweeheart Banquet -

special speaker Dr. Neil Anderson, author of the Christ-Centered Marriage.

In April we are hosting a "Laugh Your Way Seminar" with Mark Gungor -

we've already sold 300 tickets! We are also offering a retreat for 90

couples on marriage enrichment with an introduction to marriage mentoring.

In May we have another Lead Mentor Training scheduled.

June 10-11 we have Ron Deal coming for a Stepfamily Conference.

Ron McLain

Executive Director

Marriage Mentoring Ministries, Inc.

Fresno, CA




> Our church is doing a mass to kick off Marriage Week USA (Good Shepherd

> Catholic church in Orlando). We have a flyer we'll insert in our Sunday

> bulletin. The flyer will have prayers for married and engaged couples as well

> as suggestions for activities. I just spent some time working on the flyer and

> I couldn't help but think that if it wasn't for Smartmarriages I wouldn't be

> doing this! - Monica Murray

Sharing this to show that Marriage Week Celebrations can be on large scale -

state or city - or small scale - one church or organization, at a time. - diane

Healthy Marriages Grand Rapids is honoring marriages in the month of
February 2005. David and Claudia Arp will present twice, first to clergy and
lay leaders at the "Marriage and Family Building Series Luncheon" Feb 3,
11:30 am on "How Churches can Support and Nurture Empty-Nest Marriages."
Their second presentation, a community-wide Evening of Marriage Celebration,
Feb 4, 7pm, on "Fun in Marriage is Serious Business" will be hosted by Sen
Bill Hardiman. We will present a "Gold Medal Marriage Award" to a couple
nominated from the community, who best exemplifies a healthy marriage. We
will also unveil the first West Michigan Marriage Resource Center, a website
dedicated to marriage education, enrichment, and strengthening resources.
Please contact 616.831.2622 for details, or visit our website:



National Marriage Week activities in Evansville, IN will include the following:
Feb. 1 - Press conference with the mayor proclaiming February as Community Marriage Month.
Feb 5th - Marriage Enrichment Seminar sponsored by Interdenominational
Ministers Alliance (primarily African-American pastors) Presented by Community Marriage Builders.
Feb 11 & 12 Forest Hills Wesleyan Church Marriage Seminar. The church
is taking their married couples for a Fri evening overnight to a nearby town.
Community Marriage Builders will present a Fri evening and Sat morning marriage
enrichment series.

Feb 14th - NO DIVORCE DAY The judges in Vanderburgh County will not grant any

divorces that day.

Feb 14th - Sweetheart Banquet at local downtown hotel. Scott Fowler with Legacy

Five, will sing. Dennis Swanberg will be the guest speaker. Dennis is a nationally

known Christian comedian.

Feb 17th - Kicks off a marriage enrichment series that will take place during Lent

at one of the Catholic churches. Program presented by Community Marriage Builders.

For Information:

Ann Gries

Coordinator of Community Marriage Builders






A broad based community-wide event to celebrate and promote healthy

marriages in our communities; Sponsored by First Things First of Greater


*Feb 12 Community Valentine Banquet: Putting First Things First:

Speaker, Rev Lance Watson, humorous presentation on differences

between men and women PLUS Dinner and Dancing to popular Jazz Trio at

Richmond Marriott;

*Workshop for Mental Health Professionals: TBA


*Feb 5 "How to PICK a Partner" for singles at Eternity Church; also

known as How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk or Jerkette

*Feb 18-19 PAIRS Couples Workshop Feb 18/19 in Church Hill.

*Public Awareness: lots of Activities including Newspaper, Radio & TV;

Re-signing community Marriage Policy with public event. Media Sponsor

COMCAST to air 30 Second PSA Spots.

*Celebrate Marriage Week Proclamations from Governor & Mayor

CONGREGATIONS: Special Sermons, Enrichment opportunities, Renewal of Vows,

Sweethearts Banquets, Child Care. Workshops speakers are

available; call to host an event at your congregation.

*Jewish Family Services will host:: "Achieving Emotional Intimacy"

*Feb 18-19 "Soul Healing Love" Conference with Beverly and Tom

Rodgers at Mechanicsville Christian Center

ALSO in FEB: *Feb 5 PREP Marriage Skills Workshop at downtown YMCA: Fighting For Your

Marriage for Couples;

*Feb 18-19 1st PAIRS Couples Workshop in Richmond at Holy Rosary

Catholic Church;

*Financial Management for Couples Workshop (Location TBA)

Public & Private SCHOOLS: special events on healthy marriage and

relationships. We provide suggested materials for teens, parents and staff.


- Honor longest marriages in communities and congregations.

- Smoothest Marriage Essay Contest and Prizes.

For info:

Bob Ruthazer (804) 282-9763 x-17






It is exciting to hear about so many Marriage Week activities happening
across the U.S. I thought I'd drop you a line and share with you what we
are doing in Utah this year.

1. We conducted our second annual search for Gold Medal Marriages--we

publicize a request for nominations of healthy enduring marriages in

newspapers and on our web site (www.utahmarriage.org) and then recognize a

couple from each county during our annual Celebration of Marriage

conference. All nominees and nominators receive a letter from the

Governor's Commission on Marriage and the selected Gold Medal Marriage

couples receive a certificate signed by Governor and Mrs. Leavitt.

2. We had to find a new couple married longest because Mr. Winn passed away

this last year. We found a couple from Gunnison, Utah (Lester & Alice

Hansen) who have been married for 77 years. Mrs. Hansen is unable to travel

to our conference, so we went to them and took photographs and wrote up a

biography and will print it in the conference program. Their church will be

honoring them and Dr. Barlow, the commission chair, will attend.

3. February 7th: We will kick off Marriage week at the Governor's Mansion.

We have invited city mayors to come and sign a joint declaration with the

Governor and Mrs. Leavitt recognizing Marriage Week USA in Utah. Those who

cannot attend have been sending us their electronic signature to

participate. We will also have in attendance a Gold Medal couple from last

year and another from this year. And, of course, we'll invite the media.

4. We budgeted some funds for promotion of Marriage Week USA and had three

30' street banners printed that we can lend out to the mayors. We are also

printing enough pole banners to cover a Salt Lake City block. The banners

read: "Celebrate! Marriage Week USA Feb 7-14"

5. KBYU public television will be airing marriage-related programming during

the week. February 14th: We are holding a pre-conference workshop for

professional counselors. Dr. Bill Doherty will be presenting "Bad Couples

Therapy and How To Avoid It." We found a sponsor for the workshop and sent

flyers to all licensed marriage & family therapists, social workers, and

psychologists. We are offering 5 CEUs. We've had a great

response--probably because of Dr. Dorherty's reputation and because, at $12,

it is the deal of the century for the attendees. We've even received a

couple of registrations from out of state.

6. Feb. 14th: The Governor's Celebration of Marriage. Our 11th annual

conference will run from 5 to 11 p.m. at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Couples can choose to attend two workshops from a choice of nine topics. We

will then have refreshments and hear from Governor and Mrs. Leavitt and

honor this year's Gold Medal Marriage couples. We'll also hear from former

Senator Jake Garn and his wife Kathleen. Dr. Doherty will be our keynote

speaker and then we have a live concert by a local group, "Eclipse."

Following Eclipse, we have a live band to wrap things up with a Valentine's


7. Not connected with the Governor's Commission on Marriage, but

oh-so-timely, is the February 9th broadcast of Music & The Spoken Word.

This is the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast that reaches about

2,000 radio, television and cable networks worldwide. The message will be

on love and marriage. Some networks may have delayed programming (When I

was growing up in Montana, I used to watch it on a Canadian station), but

for those of us in Utah, it will air February 9th. Many of our Marriage

Commission members, along with Governor and Mrs. Leavitt, will attend the

live broadcast.

8. Commission member, Dr. John Lund and I taped a community calender

television segment this morning. Dr. Lund will also participate on a

morning news segment on February 14th to discuss "Tips for Keeping Marriage


That's about it for now. I think! Thank you for sharing what other states

and communities are doing.

Melanie Reese

Governor's Commission on Marriage (Utah)




Tuesday 04 February 2003

Dr David Olson PHD from the University of Minnesota, a World renowned

authority on marital therapy, and Professor Richard Whitfield, a specialist

in Human Development will be joined by a gathering of key influencers from

charities, communities and churches for the National Marriage Week press

launch, conference and exhibition which begins today.

The event which will be held at The Merchant Taylor¹s Hall, Threadneedle

Street, London, Thursday February 6th - 11.am, is likely to make

uncomfortable listening for New Labour who have for the first time in seven

years distanced themselves from National Marriage Week by axing the grant to

support the campaign, and continue to provide an inadequate £5,million p/a

to cover the entire Marriage and Relationship support budget.

Ex Falklands veteran, Harry Benson, whose project in Bristol receives a

slice of the cash speaking at the event, will say, "The State spends £15

billion dealing with the fall-out of broken marriages ­ yet for every £3,000

spent on family breakdown only £1 is spent trying to keep families together"

Whitfield, speaking at the event will say, " Despite strident references to

family issues within his 1997 and 1998 speeches to New Labour's Party

Conferences, the Prime Minister and the Government¹s policies still do not

provide even a level playing field for couples who marry, and there is

little or no fiscal encouragement for two-parent families, a family

structure that research shows conclusively should be actively supported";

that, Professor Whitfield suggests, can be done without unhelpfully

stigmatising other forms of family.

In a personal letter to National Marriage Week, Iian Duncan Smith said, "For

me as a politician, there are three reasons why public policy should support

the institution of marriage. First, marriage is still a very popular

aspiration. Second, marriage underpins a fair and just society that is

serious about caring and nurturing children. And, third, marriage is an

essential institution for building strong and safe communities".

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and Rev Joel Edwards, General Director of the

Evangelical Alliance speaking at the event will be explaining the unique

role of marriage in building strong communities.

Olson will highlight the outcomes from the 2000 US National Survey and

explain what¹s happening in the US Government as a result, including an

emerging pro marriage consensus. Commenting on early outcomes of the new

initiative, Olson, will explain the current trend in the USA to fund

unambiguously pro marriage projects in both middle class and deprived areas.

Meanwhile as part of National Marriage Week, the first ever Community

Marriage Policy will be signed by Registrars and around 25 church leaders in

Bath on February 11th. Bath Superintendent Registrar, Judy Stone said, "As

we come in to contact with couples wishing to marry we are well placed to

offer them strategies to help them avoid unnecessary breakdown".

National Marriage Week, now approaching its seventh year is designed to be

an aide memoir to the nation, encouraging couples to talk about their

marriages and build positive skills into the relationship. Founder and

Director of Marriage Week, which is now an international event, Richard Kane

said "Marriage Week is here to remind couples to stay true to each other,

and learn to love each other even more".

Also speaking at the conference Val Gilfillan, Superintendent Registrar at

Taunton will be explaining exactly how Registry Offices can take a much more

proactive role in preparing couples for marriage. Gilfillan said, "We all

need to work together to make people appreciate the real benefits of



Public statements to coincide with National Marriage Week have been made by

Archbishop Rowan Williams, Indiarjit Singh, Joel Edwards and Cardinal Cormac

Murphy-O¹Connor available at www.nmw.org.uk

Judy Stone. Bath Register Office. 01225 312032

Chris Grimshaw. CFT. 01803 732278 www.timeforframilies.org.uk

Richard Kane. National Marriage Week 01202 883887 / 07702 426500


Harry Benson. www.bcft.co.uk 0117 924 1480

David Olson. C/O John Deagle 07803 903 490 www. www.prepare-enrich.co.uk




Diane, you asked what different organizations are doing for Marriage Week

USA. The New Fairfield United Methodist Church (NFUMC), New Fairfield, CT

has put together the program listed below. We have had articles in the

local newspaper, the Citizens News, where the newspaper has created the

Marriage Hall of Fame. We will also have a radio interview, WLAD, on

Thursday 30th between 8:30 - 9:00 am. Pete Summers, the host, often plugs

marriage enrichment activities.

Jerry & Jane Serfass

This a flyer we mailed in the community:

Marriage Week USA Celebration

Make the opportunity to celebrate your marriage in a special way every day.

Also make the time to celebrate with others during Marriage Week USA - Feb.

7 - 16, 2003. Marriage Week USA was established for the purpose of

celebrating the importance of marriage in our communities. In conjunction

with other communities, NFUMC will host the following Marriage Week


* Building a Marriage that Lasts Seminar - Presented by Rev. Willie

Batson, Family Builders Ministry of Vision New England. The seminar is

scheduled for Feb. 7, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm and Feb. 8, 8:00 am to noon. The

cost is $30 per couple. See attached registration. Invite some friends.

* World Marriage Day - Sunday morning services will be focused on

honoring the sanctity of the marriage union. Sunday Feb. 9 at 8:30 am and

10:30 am.

* Wednesday Evening Worship and Marriage Celebration - A special

Celebration of Marriage worship service will be held on Wed. Feb. 12, 2003,

7:30 pm to 9:15 pm.

* Valentine's Evening Marriage Vow Renewal and Reception - For those

wishing to celebrate Valentine's Day in an intimate, spiritual and special

way a Marriage Vow Renewal will be held at Tarrywile Mansion in Danbury. A

reception will follow the ceremony. The renewal is schedule for Feb. 14,

2003, 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm. The cost is $35 per couple. Pastor Ferrara will

officiate. See attached registration.

* Men's Sweethearts Breakfast - Men's ministries sponsors a special

breakfast for their sweethearts on Feb. 15, 2003 at NFUMC from 9:00 am to

10:30 am.

* Citizens News Marriage Hall of Fame - Recognition of couples married 25

years or more. The information about these couples will be published in the

Citizens News.

Please contact someone from the Marriage Ministry team or leave a message at

the church office, 203-746-3725, if you have any questions or wish to

participate in any of these events. Reservations for the Seminar and Vow

Renewal are due by Feb. 3, 2003.

PS: Invite some friends and don?t forget to make the opportunity for your

own personal marriage celebration.



To view the photos, graphics and for clickable live links go to

the website version at


First Annual Northwest Marriage Week February 7-14, 2003

The purpose of Northwest Marriage Week is to celebrate the importance of

marriage in our communities. We acknowledge an observation made over two

thousand years ago: "The first bond of society is marriage." - Marcus

Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.), Roman Statesman and Orator

Here is how you can celebrate Northwest Marriage Week in:

Your home... Your family... Your church... Your community...

In your home...

Make the choice to invest in your own marriage - read a selection from our

list of recommended marriage-strengthening books.

Take your spouse out on a date.

Commit to going deeper in your relationship by you and your spouse attending

a marriage conference or retreat in 2003. For a list of the best

marriage-strengthening conferences and retreats in the Northwest, click


Pull out your wedding album or video and spend an evening sharing it with

your kids or grandkids. If your kids are all out of the home or are about to

be, read "The Second Half of Marriage" by David and Claudia Arp.

If you're a single parent, take time to share with your kids about the value

of marriage. Regardless of your past experiences, you can help your children

develop a vision for a healthy marriage relationship. For encouragement and

ideas on how to model marriage to your children, check out the following

shows from our "Family Matters" Archives. Single Parenting Painting a

Positive Picture of Marriage for Your Kids Teaching Our Kids to Honor and

Respect Others

If your marriage has become stressed or troubled, call a pastor or counselor

for help. You can also attend a conference designed to provide hope and

healing for hurting marriages. Don't wait - make the choice now to get

things right.

If your marriage is part of a step-family arrangement, get your hands on

"The Smart Step-Family" by Ron L. Deal. It is a great resource for helping

you navigate the trials that step-family marriages face.

If you don't understand what all the fuss is about marriage, read "The Case

for Marriage" by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher or "Why Marriage

Matters" by Glenn Stanton.

In your family...

Think of family members whose marriages have been a model to you over the

years. Write them a letter of appreciation for their commitment and example.

Send a note of encouragement or relationship-strengthening book to a couple

you know that was married this past year.

If you have a healthy marriage, offer to mentor a younger married couple.

Have a gathering for your extended family and ask those couples who have

been together the longest to share with the entire family their secrets to a

lasting marriage.

In your church...

On the Sunday during Marriage Week (Feb. 9th) give a message on marriage.

Have the youth and singles ministries meeting during that week give messages

on marriage.

Celebrate marriage in your congregation by honoring the oldest and youngest

couples, as well as those that have reached significant marriage milestones

(20, 40, 50 years and higher).

If your church has signed a local Marriage & Family Agreement, read it to

your congregation and explain why it is important for your church to be part

of a movement for marriage.

Set aside a special time of prayer during your Sunday services for the

engaged and seriously dating couples in your congregation.

Encourage your church's mentor couples to do something special during this

week for the couples they work with.

Put on a potluck dinner for all of the married couples in your church.

Arrange to have a "Q&A" time with a few couples that have been married 30

years or more.

Invite couples with inspiring marriage testimonies to speak at youth and

singles ministries during the week.

Arrange a special prayer meeting for singles who desire to someday have a

healthy, lifelong marriage. Pray specifically for their future mates, as

well as for God's guidance during their current season of life.

Highlight your church's own marriage resources and services in your bulletin

and other communication pieces during the week.

Have pastors share stories of their own marriage journey during Sunday

services or other gatherings.

Have the congregation or church daycare ministry sponsor a "date night" by

offering an evening of childcare for married couples in the church.

In your community...

Ask your town's mayor to make a declaration for Northwest Marriage Week.

Encourage your town's Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Kiwanis and other

community groups to speak about marriage issues at their meetings during the


If you are a leader in a church that has signed a Marriage & Family

Agreement, gather together the leaders from the other participating churches

to reaffirm your unified commitment to uphold marriage.

If there is no Marriage & Family Agreement in your community, invite

Families Northwest to come and share with your church's leadership on how to

form one. Contact Community Strategies Associate Wade Olinger at

425-869-4008 or by email at wade@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for more information.

Hold a community-wide "marriage celebration" event at your local community


Organize a community viewing of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" or other

pro-marriage movie.

Adopt a military family to mentor, encourage and come along side during this

potential time of war.

Encourage the family life chaplain at your local military base to celebrate

Northwest Marriage Week.

Hold a community event for youth and singles to make a pledge to practice

sexual abstinence and take part in healthy relationships in preparation for

their future marriages.

Write an op-ed for your local newspaper about the importance of marriage.

Encourage your favorite local radio station or newspaper to run Families

Northwest's "Family Matters" radio program or newspaper column. "Family

Matters" brings to the airwaves and newspapers of the Northwest positive,

uplifting messages that encourage and strengthen married couples and

parents, single parents, engaged and dating couples and single adults of all



Many of you shared your Bridal Show experiences.


I know that at Smart Marriages Orlando, Julie Baumgardner and Nisa Muhammad will include Bridal Fairs in their always wildly popular Grassroots Marketing Workshop, but it sounds like there might be enough interest to also schedule a morning roundtable to share ideas about how to best do Bridal Fairs and other obvious community activities.  Anyone want to volunteer to host?  - diane

> 820 Marriage Rally: Teach In
> Transforming Communities Grassroots Style
> Julie Baumgardner, MA, Nisa Muhammad
> Learn what communities across the country are doing to strengthen marriage and
> how you can get started. Brainstorm about opportunities – free media, the web,
> funding, volunteers, creating buy-in – and how to avoid the stumbling blocks.


> Hi Diane -- Marriage Matters Jackson, in MI not too far from Pymouth where
> Dottie Decker is, participates in bridal and women's expos. Both, although the
> women's expos are better, are good venues for getting the message out and
> getting people signed up for classes and events. Maria Dotterweich, Marriage
> Matters Jackson board member,

Hi Dorothy:
I saw your Smart Marriages comments, and yes, the Marriage Resource Center
attends several bridal shows each year.  We had a booth at the most recent
show, last weekend, at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn.  We always get
comments from the organizers that "no one else is doing anything like that",
but no, we never make it into the marketing.  They usually ask us to donate
some kind of giveaway, and generally we give a pre-marital preparation
package worth $150; not everyone follows up and goes through the program.
We've been at this for over 5 years-maybe we're beginning to make a dent.
We've gone from brides/couples who are absolutely not interested at the
first shows we attended, to them seeming more receptive and taking home
information.  We just have to keep paddling!

Julianne M. Bock, CME
Executive Director
Marriage Resource Center of Wayne County
Dearborn, MI
(313) 278-4400


Hello! I contacted bridal show sponsors and offered to give four free 30-minute segments about relationships in exchange for waiving the fee to have a booth. The person loved the idea, so she gave me a booth and handled all of the signage. I provided the handouts with topics that included Keys to a Lasting Marriage, Communication, Conflict Resolution and Re-marriage. It was great exposure and a fun atmosphere. I'd be happy to share more - cg@Relationships4Life.com.
Carolyn Gerard, MFT

Hi  Diane,

You are probably getting lots of responses about Bridal Shower and Wedding Gift ideas.

* Marriage Prep 101 won "The Best Wedding Gift Not Listed on the Registry" in San Francisco Bay Guardian Best of the Bay
*  We are listed on Here Comes the Guide : You Planned For Your Wedding. Did you Plan For Your Marriage?
* We have a Gift Certificate page on our website, and we have people purchase Marriage Prep 101 Workshop gift certificates often.
* Of course, The First Dance  reaches out to brides and couples as well.

In terms of Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed book, let's not underestimate her appeal. Her first book, Eat Pray Love, will soon be a movie starring Julia Roberts, and many, many people will be reading her new latest offering. I picked up my copy yesterday, and will try to read it in time to join the conversation!

Similarly I felt disappointed when the Julie Powell, the author of Julia and Julia came out with her follow up book, Cleaving, where both she and her husband talk about their infidelities. Oy Vey.

Michelle Gannon

 In response to the posting about bridal shows, the answer is YES. All over Texas marriage education providers have been a very present entity at local bridal shows. One group, Lakeside Relationship Services saw the importance so much that they started their own - The Lakeside Bridal Fair and are hosting the 3rd show next month. At the show, Marriage Educators are there in great numbers and every bride receives information about upcoming workshops, classes and providers in the area. From the stage we promote classes more than we promote the wedding services. All of our vendors love doing the show because of the message. Many of the vendors give extra discount to couples who take the class through the Texas Hitchin Post as well.  We approach the couples with this mantra: "You might not need this now, but when you do, we are here to help." We tell them to not be afraid to call for help when the going gets tough. Many of the couples are so intrigued by this approach that they sign up for the pre-marital education classes that are available throughout our area. Many bridal vendors get involved in helping spread the message about marriage education.
If anyone wants tips on how to start their own show in their area, tell them to call Lakeside Relationship Services and the KCC Foundation - Lynette Coughlin at 972-989-2474.

Diane. Marriage Investors, located in Johnson County, IN, has
participated in a couple of bridal fairs over the years. Typically,
brides ignore us, but mothers drag their daughters over to the booth and
say "You need to pay attention to this." We have purchased various
pre-marital and marital books (Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts,
Before You Say I Do, Love and Respect) and had them on display at the
booth and encouraged brides and grooms to register to win the books as
door prizes. About 1/3 to 1/2 actually signed up and those who "won"
were very happy about it. But by and large, we were a whisper of
marriage planning in a cacophony of wedding planning. Bea Northcott,
Executive Director, Marriage Investors, Inc. (317)308-9889.

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