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Improving assertiveness and active listening increases couple intimacy

Assertiveness is the ability to express your feelings and ask for what you want in the relationship and is a valuable communication skill. In successful couple relationships, both individuals tend to be quite assertive. Rather than assuming their partner can read their minds, they share how they feel and ask clearly and directly for what they want.

Assertive individuals take responsibility for their messages by using “I” statements. They avoid statements beginning with “you.” In making constructive requests, they are positive and respectful in their communication. They use polite phrases such as “please” and “thank you”.

Examples of Assertive Statements:

“I’m feeling out of balance. While I love spending time with you, I also want to spend time with my friends. I would like us to find some time to talk about this.”

“I want to take a ski vacation next winter, but I know you like to go to the beach. I’m feeling confused about what choice we should make.”

Now you’ve had your say, what does it then mean to be on the other side? Learn about active listening next week.

When each person knows what the other person feels and wants (assertiveness) and when each knows they have been heard and understood (active listening), intimacy is increased. These two communication skills can help you grow closer as a couple.

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Exploring family of origin for individuals who have grown up in extremely rigid and enmeshed families

Relationship education provides an opportunity to work with couples’ perceptions of their families of origin. In particular, it is worth exploring the possible impact of extreme, or unbalanced, family structures on how couples are likely to approach their own relationship.

A series of studies conducted at the University of Sydney have identified some key matters of concern. These studies have been conducted by postgraduate students in the School of Psychology under the supervision of Alan Craddock, a former Senior Lecturer in that School and also the former National Coordinator of PREPARE/ENRICH Australia. All of these studies used measures of family structure that were very closely related to the family of origin questions used in the PREPARE/ENRICH inventories.

The form of extreme family structure focused on in these studies involves enmeshment or extreme closeness. Highly enmeshed families may be typified by an extreme form of cohesiveness that undermines the development of personal autonomy and which results in a form of family bonding that represents an over-identification with the family.

There are two varieties of enmeshed families that occur quite frequently: Rigidly enmeshed and chaotically enmeshed.

Rigidly enmeshed families are excessively close and also have very highly structured rules, roles and routines. In contrast, chaotically enmeshed families, whilst also being excessively close, lack structure and tend to be random, unstable and chaotic.

The University of Sydney studies revealed three areas of personal adjustment that are strongly associated with rigidly enmeshed types of family of origin. These are all areas that may represent important vulnerabilities for couples, and therefore are worth noting.

(1) Relationship Attachment

In 1999, Natalie Nasr, Leah MacFadyen, Clint Marlborough, Rina Sarkis and Susan Scanlon examined the effect of childhood experiences of family of origin on adult relationship attachment among young Australian adults. One important and relevant feature of their findings was that rigid-enmeshment was a significant predictor of discomfort in adult relationships.

(2) Feelings of Shame and Sense of Parentification

In 2003, Margaret Walker studied the effect of childhood experiences of family of origin on young Australian adults’ reports of feeling a sense of personal shame and of being pressured to adopt parent-like roles in their childhood (parentification). She found that rigid-enmeshment, as a feature of family of origin, was a significant predictor of strong feelings of shame and a strong sense of being parentified during childhood.

(3) Perfectionism

In 2006, Wendy Church and Alexandra Sands investigated the relationship between features of family of origin and young Australian adults’ tendencies towards being perfectionistic. They found that family enmeshment and rigid, authoritarian forms of parenting were significant predictors of both functional (healthy) and dysfunctional (unhealthy) forms of perfectionism.

In summary, all of these studies support the view that, although family closeness and structure are generally regarded as positive in their effects, too much closeness (enmeshment) combined with too much structure (rigidity) may be damaging.

The damage identified in these studies may be apparent in couples taking a relational inventory or counselling. In particular, individuals who have grown up in extremely rigid and enmeshed families of origin may find it difficult to be comfortable in their own adult relationships and may be carrying a burden of emotional baggage with them that involves some or all of these components: A sense of shame, a strong pressure to perform perfectly and to inappropriately take on adult parent-like roles. This baggage appears to originate family of origin pressures that are associated with over-controlling and suffocating closeness. Facilitators and counsellors should be alert to these possibilities without assuming that the patterns fit all individuals who have grown up in rigid and enmeshed families.

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

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The benefits of stable, loving relationships for men, women and children (and for society)

Research overwhelmingly points to the physical, psychological, emotional, social and financial benefits of stable, loving relationships for men, women and children (and our society in general).

Knowing these benefits, PREPARE/ENRICH believes and strongly advocates for relationship education across the life span to assist in the development and maintenance of healthy, committed, nurturing relationships in all their diversity.

Providing a highly valid and well researched assessment tool to assist couples explore their strength and growth areas, PREPARE/ENRICH has trained over 15,000 facilitators across Australia in the past 35 years who work with couples in all life stages to change the way they relate and how they handle conflict amongst others things irrespective of age, sexual orientation, cultural or religious background.

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

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Intentional Parenting: 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family – Eat well, stay healthy

Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

A goal for you might be to sit down and pre-prepare a meal, getting everyone involved in the process.

Here are 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family. Try using these motivations in your own house.

8. Eat well, stay healthy

Providing healthy meals is very important to me. This can often seem overwhelming and unattainable with our busy schedules, but when we take the time to sit down and prep for a meal, we are able to enjoy each other and enjoy more varied meals. Meal planning may also reduce stress and even save money, which is a bonus!

Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

References

  1. Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014): The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or support with a couple or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

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Intentional Parenting: 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family – Create rituals and traditions

Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

A goal for you might be about regularly going on a walk together after dinner.

Here are 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family. Try using these motivations in your own house.

7. Create rituals and traditions

Family rituals are things that you do together regularly to look forward to, and we all expect them to happen. Our family has adapted to Friday Pizza Night, then we do our own thing – free night. During the warmer months you might decide to go on a walk together after dinner. These activities don’t have to be set in stone if something else comes up.

Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

References

  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014): The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science.

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or support with a couple or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

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Intentional Parenting: 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family – Spend time together

Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

Here are 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family. Try using these motivations in your own house.

6. Spend time together – Life is busy. I have found that as my children get older, more activities and social events get added to the calendar that pull us in opposite directions. It is important to make sure you are taking time as a family to enjoy each other, connect, and most importantly have fun! Spending time together doesn’t have to cost money to create the best of memories. Remember it is the time together that you will remember. Be creative by having each member of the family make a list of things that they like to do and do them together.

Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

References

  1. Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014): The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science.

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or support with a couple or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

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Intentional Parenting: 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family – Establish routines

Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

A goal for you might be about having a routine to help your children be prepared for the day.

Here are 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family. Try using these motivations in your own house.

5. Establish routines – Routines get children involved and give them a sense of responsibility. They make mornings run much smoother and provide predictability for their ever-growing brains. As your child learns and grows, having a routine they know is in place will help them be prepared for the day. Just like you have a routine every morning on your way out the door to work, your child needs a routine as well.

Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

References

  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014): The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science.

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or support with a couple or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

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Intentional Parenting: 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family – Date your partner

Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

A goal for you might be about the quality of time you spend together versus the quantity.

We have come up with 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family. Try using these motivations in your own household.

4. Date your partner – Most couples know that they are supposed to have regular date nights. I’ll be honest, in this season of life it’s hard to take time to go on an actual date with my wife. It’s not cheap to go out to dinner and hire a babysitter for three kids every week or month. Alternatively, put the kids to bed and commit to a date night at home.

Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

References

    Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014): The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science.

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or support with a couple or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

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Intentional Parenting: 8 ways to be intentional with your family – Make self-care a priority

Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

A goal for you might be about the quality of time you spend together versus the quantity.

We have come up with 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family. Try using these motivations in your own household.

3. Make self-care a priority – It’s okay to take care of yourself and put your needs first. You can’t pour from an empty tank! Your kids will benefit from you taking time for yourself because you will be a more patient and energised parent. Try picking one thing each week that is just for you (i.e. working out, eating healthier, more sleep, pamper session).

By setting intentions for family time, it takes pressure off of you and your family to accomplish those unreasonable expectations. Use 2019 as an opportunity to create a fresh start. Be intentional with your family.

Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

References:

  • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014) The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science.

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or support with a couple or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

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Intentional Parenting: 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family – Take time to unplug

Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

  • Hengchen et al (2014) came up with 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family. Try using these motivations in your own household.
  • 2. Take time to unplug – When I get home from work I try to put my phone on the counter so I’m not tempted to look at it and can give my family my full attention. Think about when you are out with friends or on a date. Do you find it rude, or distracting when they are on their phones the whole time? I don’t want my kids to feel neglected because mom is always on her phone. It’s also a great way to model good behavior when it comes to setting rules on screen time for your children.

    By setting intentions for family time, it takes pressure off of you and your family to accomplish those unreasonable resolutions. Use this year as an opportunity to create a fresh start. Be intentional with your family.

    Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

    References

    • Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014) The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science

    Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

    Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

    Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

    Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

    For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or support with a couple or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

    PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

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    Intentional Parenting: 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family – Spend 1:1 time with each child

    Many people make resolutions around their own lifestyle changes that will improve their quality of life. While we tend to make unobtainable goals, many people still have a go, and some succeed. Researchers call this feeling the “fresh start effect”. They have found that we tend to motivate ourselves into good habits by using a new beginning (like the start of the week, month, year, season, etc.) as a marker to put past behavior behind us and focus on being better. It brings opportunity to reflect on the previous year and anticipate what you want the New Year to look like.

    Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally In 2019. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

    A goal for you might be about the quality of time you spend together versus the quantity.

  • Hengchen et al (2014) came up with 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family. Try using these motivations in your own household.
    1. Spend 1:1 time – If you have more than one child how can you make them feel special and loved? Spend time with them individually! Kids crave one-on-one time with their parents. It makes them feel special, you get to connect and catch up with that child, and it can strengthen your bond. Make sure both parents take turns. Some examples: have one child run errands with you, take a walk around your neighborhood, do your chores/projects together, play a favorite game with them, use your time in the car driving your child to activities.

    By setting intentions for family time, it takes pressure off of you and your family to accomplish those unreasonable resolutions. Use this year as an opportunity to create a fresh start. Be intentional with your family.

    Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

    References

    1. Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014) The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science.

    Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

    Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

    Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

    Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

    For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or support with a couple or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

    PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

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    PREPARE/ENRICH – Core and Going Deeper Training Hornsby Nov/Dec

    The Core Training Day includes all aspects of the Customised Version necessary to enable and accredit the Facilitator to use the material immediately.

    The fee covers the programmed two day arrangement. It is preferable when the Core and Going Deeper Training days are run consecutively, that participants attend both days. If that is not feasible or is not available, you can attend the Going Deeper Training day within 12 months from the Core Training workshop, as advertised on this website.

    The Going Deeper Day is a follow-up and consolidation day. It includes skills training and practice opportunities for working with feedback techniques and workbook exercises. The day covers selected content and processes relevant to working with step-families, mature age couples and conflicted couples.

    It may be taken when registering as part of a programmed two day arrangement, or if that is not feasible or is not available, on a day to be selected (within 12 months) from the Core Training workshop, as advertised on this website.

    The Core Training Day is a prerequisite to the Going Deeper Day.

    Who may train to administer the inventories?

    Persons working with couples (eg. marriage celebrants, educators, counsellors) who already have formal training as a –

    • Pastor/priest/minister/rabbi.
    • Counsellor/Psychologist
    • Educator
    • Social Worker
    • Worker trained in another relevant human resource discipline

    and –

    • Lay people, who also have training in the above areas, nominated by, approved by, and supervised by and accountable to leaders of the institution (eg. clergy, pastors, priests) within which they will work. We are prepared to train such individuals and couples but they need to be selected and nominated with care.  Just because they are church members and have participated in a PREPARE/ENRICH program as part of their own preparation for marriage is not a sufficient qualification. It is important to consider their knowledge and skills.
    An Early Bird Discount of 10% is available if you register and pay up to 30-days prior to Facilitator Training.
     

    Please refer to full the terms and conditions including the cancellation policy here: www.prepare-enrich.com.au/terms-conditions