You think you’ve met that perfect person with potential to be your life’s mate. Stars in your eyes, you are considering wedding bells. Before you say, “I do”, a wise couple will pause and consider how they might look for a way to develop skills that will help them build a strong foundation for their future together.
The Pre-Marriage Course, offered by world wide evangelistic ministry Alpha, is just that resource. The Marriage Course Ministry Leads Nicky and Sila Lee, authors of The Marriage Book, developed The Pre-Marriage Course to help couples invest in their relationship. In just five short weeks, couples will learn to communicate well, understand and appreciate differences, and prepare for potential challenges.
Prior to beginning the Pre-Marriage Course, a couple will complete a Couples Survey questionnaire. Not a compatibility test, the Couples Survey is designed to highlight issues important to discuss before a couple marries. It will affirm areas of relationship strength and allows a mentor couple to know how best to advise.
Each pre-married couple is paired with a mentor couple (couples can ask a friend or relative, or a volunteer can be found) who will walk participants through the coursework and provide a sounding board and voice of experience.
“The mentor couple will look at the survey and consider things that might be places of conflict. Perhaps there’s an area where they’ve never invested in a conversation,” said Margene Vessel, Alpha USA Head of Products and Coaching. “Mentors can gently help them look into those hot spots and make sure they are ready for marriage.” Mentors also glean from their own life experience to provide a realistic view of what makes a marriage work.
The sessions run similarly to Alpha and The Marriage Course, beginning with a meal, followed by a practical talk by a leading expert and testimony by an example “sofa couple.” Time for private discussion is built in. Topics include: Communication, Conflict, Commitment, Connection and Adventure.
The Lees developed the Pre-Marriage Course in 1985 for engaged couples and those exploring marriage. There is no group work, and each couple’s conversations are completely private. Over five sessions, the course will help couples to:
Recognize the importance of commitment
Understand and appreciate differences
Learn the art of communication
Spend time together
Recognize the influence of family background
Develop a good sexual relationship
Talk about goals, values and dreams
“We encourage every couple considering marriage to go through it,” Margene said.
The 5-week Pre-Marriage Course was traditionally offered through a sponsoring church or organization that would coordinate the logistics of providing the opening meal, as well as facilitating the written and video content. Prior to the pandemic prohibiting pubic gathering, the sponsoring organization, Alpha, had already undertaken the task of remaking all course material for a digital format. In fact, Nicky and Sila spent three months in Canada in 2019 in production, taping interviews with relationship experts and “sofa couples,” as the examples are called. The digital format providentially debuted in January of 2020 and now reaches a global audience. All material is now available on the website, https://alphausa.org/the-marriage-courses, and includes a Spanish translation.
Anyone can access this information from the convenience and privacy of their own home. Due to the gift of a generous benefactor, all content is provided at no charge. Results have been overwhelmingly positive.
“Our research shows that a huge number of people who complete the Pre-Marriage Course come back for the Marriage Course,” Margene said. “The ‘early years,’ and particularly support during the first five to seven years, are really critical for marriages staying together long-term. Investing in the early years of a relationship offers the greatest benefit.”
Alpha itself offers a course that helps people find answers to questions about life, faith and God. Accessing quality, tested, successful pre-marriage resources has never been easier. Don’t you owe it to your future life together to begin with a firm foundation?