Congratulations on having found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with!
As a civil marriage celebrant, one of the responsibilities I am charged with is to advise couples wishing to marry about the existence of relationship education and couples counselling services.
Relationship education is optional for marrying couples, however it has significant benefits for many couples.
“Couples in healthy, mutually satisfying relationships and their children are likely to live longer, report fewer health problems, and use health and wellbeing services substantially less than people in distressed relationships.
Research has shown that relationship education and counselling can help couples improve their communication and conflict resolution skills, strengthening relationships and reducing family breakdown.
Relationship education and counselling can help couples cope with changes and challenges, such as moving in together, having a baby, getting married, or managing their money. Importantly, it equips couples with the skills to deal with challenges before they become big issues.”
A major Australian research project, called ‘Love, Sex and Waterskiing’, performed in 1992, showed that of 1,700 participants in pre marriage and marriage programs
- 83% of couples reported learning new skills
- 42% said their ideas about marriage had changed
- 5% either cancelled or postponed their wedding
- 91% reported that they would seek professional help if problems arose in their marriage
- 1/3 said that the program raised new issues for them
- 80% rated their program as good or excellent.”
There are a wide range of providers of relationship education and couples counselling services in the Perth metropolitan area, and some of these also have branches in regional centres through WA.
Here are some possible starting points for you:
- Relationships Australia – Courses & Contact details
- Anglicare WA – Relationship Counselling & Courses
- Marriage and Relationship Education Association of Australia – Resources & Contacts
A customised couple assessment completed online that identifies a couple’s strength and growth areas. Based on a couple’s assessment results, a trained facilitator provides 3 or more feedback sessions in which the facilitator helps the couple discuss and understand their results as they are taught proven relationship skills.
PREPARE/ENRICH will help you:
- Identify strength and growth areas
- Explore personality traits
- Strengthen communication skills
- Resolve conflicts and reduce stress
- Compare family backgrounds
- Comfortably discuss financial issues
- Establish personal, couple, and family goals
There are a range of WA providers for this service. Check the website to locate one near you: http://www.prepare-enrich.com.au/for-couples/
FOCCUS Questionnaire (CatholicCare)
FOCCUS is a questionnaire designed for couples preparing for marriage or seriously considering marriage. Each partner fills out the questionnaire separately and then a personalised profile of their relationship is generated from the responses and sent to their facilitator.
The facilitator uses the profile to help couples to celebrate their relationship strengths and talk to each other about topics that warrant further attention.
Many couples say at the end of the process that FOCCUS helped them “talk about things that we did not even know we needed to talk about”.
For more details about the different relationship areas that the inventory explores go to http://www.foccusinc.com/
Together Forever (Relationships Australia)
A relationship course for couples who are in, or planning a more committed relationship like marriage or living together. This relationship building course covers expectations, needs, family background and communication.
Topics covered include:
• Developmental stages of a relationship
• Values, expectations and perceptions
• Expectations and roles of a committed relationship
• Family life cycle
• Enhancing healthy self esteem, recognising low self esteem behaviours
• Managing emotions
• Communicating better – assertiveness, communicating feelings
• Negotiating needs
• Active listening skills
• Conflict resolution skills
• Sexuality issues
• Advice and tips for building a good relationship
Format: Generally runs over a weekend. Contact: Relationships Australia on (08) 9489 6322
Building Better Relationships for Couples (Relationships Australia)
All relationships experience challenges. The more we are aware and informed about the relationships and how we relate, the greater the ability to work through any changes and problems that may arise. As we work through these differences we grow as individuals and in partnership. This course provides the opportunity for couples to find new ways of relating and learn to develop new skills to deepen the intimacy in their relationship.
The course covers: making time for each other, know your partner, the basis of friendship, relationship expectations, communication skills – looking at destructive behaviour, managing difference, conflict skills, planning ahead and managing ongoing changes.
Format: 8 sessions, with each session running for 2.5 hours.
Contact: Relationships Australia
Becoming Partners for Life (Anglicare)
This workshop assists couples starting out in their relationship, or preparing to get married, to build and sustain meaningful relationships.
Topics covered include:
- Family of Origin
- Conflict Resolution
- Communication skills
- Love Languages
Format: Friday evening & Saturday day
Couple Care – At Home Course (Anglicare)
CoupleCARE is designed to be completed by couples at home, supported by regular telephone calls from an educator. The program provides each couple with a DVD and guidebook.
CoupleCARE enriches a couple’s relationship by helping them to:
- Assess their relationship strengths and vulnerabilities
- Define the relationship they want
- Develop key relationship skills
- Identify individual actions to strengthen their relationship.
Format: 6 week course
If you more of a DIY kind of person, here is:
- a list of 50 conversations you might want to have before you get married
- a list of ‘Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying’ from the New York Times