Monday, 13 April 2009

The Marriage Course: a review

Esther and I have recently attended the Marriage Course. I started blogging it weekly here, here, here and here.

Well it has now finished and so this is my overall review:

  • The content is excellent. It is sound, Christian values packaged in a neat accessible way.
  • It is also suitable for those outside the Church, but in an overtly and gentle Christian way!
  • The themes covered, and the people sharing their own story in the videos are really, really open and frank about their issues. That gives others permission to talk about their issues.
  • The method of having a meal together and making it like a "date" night is really good for those who through being busy, laziness or other pressures have not done that for a while.Scoring each other regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship really does put a spotlight on you, on your role, on your repsonsibilities. If people use that exercise honestly, then some really deep stuff can be brought to light.
  • Looking at how the two different personalities within a marriage interact is a really useful exercise.
  • The DVD element means you don't need a speaker every week, which changes the requirements of running a course considerably.

  • It is very HTB. Anyone who has seen an Alpha video will know what that means. They are being themselves, and are genuine people. But some people who are not like them, may struggle to relate to them. The venue for the talks that have been recorded, the dress of the people in the audience and indeed the speakers are thoroughly english, middle class and white. As long as people have permission to not be like them then that is fine. It depends on who with/where you plan to run it.
  • The gaps for discussion (half an hour is the main one) are too short for some and too long for others! That is always going to be a difficult balance but beause they are within the evening it is difficult for those who have finished early.
  • The opportunity to use the resources is almost entirely linked to the couple's willingness to do so. The "we are ok" heads in the sand couple are likely to hate it and not feel they have benefited in any way.
  • It is probably more suited to those married within that last few years, but that just depends on the couple and where they have got to in their relationship.
  • Overall it is a bit "marmite". Some people seemed to love it and it really, really blessed their marriage. Others did not seem to get it at all, and I am not quite sure why.
I am really pleased to have done the Marriage Course and am glad so many couples in our Church have done it over the years. I can see why it has been so popular and while not perfect, it certainly is a good place to start.


Huw said...

I did this course a few years ago (2005 I think) and found it one of the less helpful courses we attended. The organisation was good, the ambiance and meal were lovely, but we found it all a bit too perfect and middle class for us. Also, there was a dearth of really experienced married couples (who have struggled and so are prepared to listen rather than speak!) to help those who wanted to go further.

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

there was a dearth of really experienced married couples (who have struggled and so are prepared to listen rather than speak!) to help those who wanted to go furtherI think that is the nature of the course: as in it is an enrichment course and therefore it is down to the couple to use the resources, rather than there being intervention and counselling unless the host Church specifically offers this as a follow up, which we did.

But I wonder, on the flip side, I just don't think it would attract as many people if they thought it went any deeper too soon, because then going on it would have a bit of stigma.

As it is it raises the issues and points you int he direction to get help, which is probably the right balance.

That Hideous Man said...

We found TMC very helpful indeed, and have since run the course at our church. A couple of comments on your points, above:

- the updated materials (2010+)are far more culturally and ethnically diverse than the original course. they have sought to address this criticism.

- the 'length of time' of discussions is a tricky one. When doing the course ourselves we felt the same as you - however hosting the course we have realised that the same exercise is too short for some and too long for others! we reckon that where it's too short - the discussion can continue at home, and where too long then waiting a few minutes to facilitate what might be a critical part of the course for another couple is OK.

- Yes it's Marmite... and the attitude that couples bring the course is a key element.

-The feedback we have received from couples has been very positive (sometimes several years after doing the course). This has come from newlyweds to folks 4/5 decades into marriage.

- No some people don't 'get it', so a taster session/marriage course party is a good way of letting people decide if it something they would benefit from.