Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Enriching a Marriage

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Enriching a Marriage

Article excerpt

From this day forward . . . 'til death do us part.

For many of us, these words recall a special day of romance and commitment. To love and to cherish seems so easy at such a time of celebration. What causes so many heartfelt commitments to dissolve later? Have we learned anything that helps to prevent divorce and the resulting insecurity that can infect a whole family? The good news on this Valentine's Day is that some effective answers have been found for couples who want to strengthen their relationships.

Such answers are especially needed these days. Researchers have sounded alarms in recent years about the human costs of failed marriages. The courts in St. Louis and St. Louis County now require divorcing parents to attend classes on the effects of divorce on children. Where custody is at issue, couples are often required to see a mediator before they can pursue an adversarial course.

A key to preventing marital problems is for couples to develop and maintain effective communication practices. But how? A growing number of St. Louis couples have found that marriage enrichment activities can improve their communication. To recognize the importance of such activities, St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. and St. Louis County Executive George R. "Buzz" Westfall have proclaimed this "Marriage Enrichment Week."

Marriage enrichment pioneers David and Vera Mace observed that one of the major causes of domestic discord is the challenge of harmonizing different points of view as couples seek the balance of an equal partnership. They concluded that couples often lack sufficient communication and conflict-resolution skills to amicably negotiate their inevitable differences.

In 1973, the Maces founded the Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment as a not-for-profit, nonsectarian organization devoted to strengthening couple relationships. Educational programs offer a supportive and stimulating place to come together with other couples who are also interested in enriching their marriages.

In one-day classes, couples learn a style of dialogue that includes reflective listening so that each partner knows he or she has been heard by the other. …

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