What Is A Marriage/Relationship Educator?
Marriage educators define themselves as practitioners who are passionate about all things related to marriage. In fact, some might say that marriage educators, also referred to as "relationship educators," see improving the health and status of marriages as their mission. Whether working at a grassroots level to bring programs to communities plagued with infidelity, divorce and abandoned children, or teaching pre-marriage enrichment courses to engaged couples, marriage educators are at the forefront of a movement to improve the status of marriage as a whole in this country.
Often you'll find marriage or pre-marriage educators working in religious communities or parish settings. This can be especially helpful if you're working on creating a marriage where you share the same values and faith. Be sure to ask your marriage educator if he/she has a religious affiliation so you're aware ahead of time of any impact this may have on the material being taught or the type of sessions you can expect.
Why Do People Work With Marriage Educators?
Marriage educators are valuable to clients because they work with couples on everyday challenges. They teach couples the skills and attitudes necessary to sustain a healthy intimate relationship, and what to expect from married life (something that may shock us!); this includes the day-to-day aspects of marriage as well as more troublesome issues that can harm a relationship. Marriage educators show couples how to build strong marital bonds by being better listeners and keeping the lines of communication open.
What Can A Marriage Educator Help Me With?
The objective of marriage education is to address common relationship pitfalls before they happen. The benefit to taking a course is that you will be better prepared for such issues when they arise. Note that we're saying when they arise, not if they arise. That is one of the most impressive elements about marriage education: it is practical in nature and draws attention to things that happen in most marriages.
Marriage educators do not usually deal with relationships that are in trouble; rather, they focus on building marital health and wellbeing before problems occur. That said, some marriage educators offer healing/recovery services as well.
What Should I Expect When I Work With A Marriage Educator?
Marriage educators usually teach structured programs such as workshops or classes for couples and individuals. Some offer weekend intensive retreats and others offer their services over the phone, online or through DVD tutorials.
These pros usually work in a workshop or classroom scenario. Frequently, there are several other couples present and the marriage educator will follow a set curriculum based on the course being taught. If you're seeing a marriage educator one-on-one, you'll often get this same course taught to you individually.
In either format you should expect some time where the teacher speaks to you directly, some role play exercises to help get you (and your partner) engaged in the course, as well as workbook exercises, assessment tools and practice assignments between sessions. Movie clips or videos are also often used.
Training & Credentials
Generally speaking, becoming a marriage educator is something that anyone can do provided they have an interest in the material. Courses have fees associated with them, but most are nominal. Marriage educators must attend accrediting courses and renew certification at set intervals, but are not required to have a mental health degree or a license. Some are licensed counselors/therapists. The best way to find out the credentials of your marriage educator is to visit their ProConnect page or send in a free consultation question to ask.
Nuts & Bolts
Marriage educators schedule sessions with clients on a regular basis. Most commonly meetings take place once a week, but can also be bi-weekly or monthly. Most of the meetings take place with both member of the relationship present, but some individual meeting might also be required.
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