Writing It All Down Can Save a Marriage; with Divorce Rates Plummeting, Marriage Is Once More in Vogue. during National Marriage Week, Two Couples Tell FRANCESCA CRAGGS about Their Experiences for Better, for Worse

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SSAY writing is the key to a happy marriage.

e. Three seven-minute essays to be exact. A bizarre task one might think, but one the Northwest University of Illinois says is the key to matrimonial harmony.

Research this week by American psychology professor, Eli J Finkel, found that writing three seven-minute essays every year from an outsider's viewpoint, could see couples through the rocky road of love. The study found that couples who put pen to paper and wrote about their rows, were more satisfied with married life.

If your writing skills aren''t up to scratch, you could always take a marriage preparation course. Sound clinical? Not so according to Angela Robinson of Marriage Care in Newcastle. Facilitator for the national charity for the past five years, Angela has helped hundreds of North East brides and grooms-to-be better understand their relationships ahead of the big day.

Angela, 52, said: "Over the past 10 years, we've seen over 2,000 North East couples take part in the marriage preparation courses. And the feedback we get is really positive. The main issues we cover include communication, sharing goals, values and commitment, conflict and negotiation, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, and self esteem. We help them to look at how to deal with conflict. We are very open with couples and say there will be stormy weather, there will be difficult times or a crisis that comes along. It's about weathering the storms and recognising these are part of life and it's about how you deal with it." Available to any couple wanting to get married in a church, Marriage Care offers couples two types of marriage preparation courses. Aday course where couples work together and in groups, covering subjects like communication, conflict management and commitment. And a one-to-one course based on a FOCCUS questionnaire (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study). This personalised consultation gives couples a good snapshot of how their relationshipworks and helps to identify and work through issues. Angela, who has been married to husband Neil for 27 years, said: "The fact I've been married for 27 years myself, allows me to bring real life situations to the course. A lot of causes for breakdown in marriages include communicationdifficulties, infidelity, financial difficulties and extended family problems. …


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