Even before a couple starts dating, consciously or unconsciously, they are preparing for a lifelong commitment. As I shared in my last blog on Emotion Focused Therapy, humans are made to be in relationship with one another. For many, once they’ve found that special someone, they begin to contemplate marriage. For couples who are considering getting married or who are on the engagement train (as I fondly refer to it), the Prepare and Enrich program may be right for you.
What Is Prepare and Enrich
Prepare and Enrich is a 8-10 week program that covers topics such as: personal stress, mapping your family of origin, financial struggles, sexual expectations, leisurely activities, child rearing and spiritual beliefs. It can be used for heterosexual, gay/lesbian couples, for those who are spiritual and those who are not. Each person within the couple completes an assessment online that helps highlight the relationship dynamics, the strengths of the couple and areas of growth for the couple. These highlights are based on differences in each person’s response. Each couple gets a copy of their results and reviews it during our sessions together.
What I like about the Program
For couples who are driven and like structure, this program is for you. In an age where people are constantly taking personality tests, reading Reddit posts or seeing Facebook ads that ask you which cartoon character you most closely identify with, taking this assessment where you can grow in greater awareness of yourselves is appealing to many couples.
Each week we cover a different topic and then the couple is encouraged to complete an exercise from a workbook. It uses broad strokes to help couples explore areas that are, “hot topics,” for many couples. In addition, after a couple has been married for a year, they then have an opportunity to take a follow up assessment to check in again. While the assessment and results give us a topic to discuss, I share with couples that our time together allows for room to process in greater depth and to the degree that the couple wants on a specific topic.
I also find that often times, the results highlight things that you just didn’t know you didn’t know, which might be important in your marriage. They highlight one another’s perspectives on marriage and help determine if your perspective is through a, “rose colored,” lens (where your partner can do no wrong) or if you perceive things more logically.
The portion of family is especially intriguing to me and encouraging to consider for couples. This is because the families we have come from will influence the family that you become through your marriage. In mapping out the relationship, couples discuss who in their family had the power, if it was shared, and what was their flexibility in the structure of the family. This has been significant for couples, particularly as they start to see those influences at play when they plan for their wedding.
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Check this program out earlier on in your engagement. What I found to be true in my own life, is that earlier on in preparing for the wedding, I had more energy/capacity to engage in the things that felt most important. The closer you get to the wedding date, certain hopes or creative dreams fall to the wayside as you’re just barely holding on 🙂
If you are trying to determine if you should get married or you are engaged, Prepare and Enrich is a great program to help guide you on this journey. As I’ve shared already, once you’re engaged, it’s difficult to get off that train of emotions to take a dive into certain areas, so I especially want to encourage those who are on the fence to check out this program so that you can gain more clarity for your future.
I experience a great deal of joy in helping a couple take the next step in their relationship with a thoughtful approach. If this is a program you might be interested in, feel free to reach out!
Written by therapist Pamela Larkin