Marriage and Family


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Marriage and Family

UK Marriage and Family Committee Research

“When I took over my new Church of England parish some years ago, I knew that I had to prepare new couples for marriage in some way, but the materials I had inherited seemed somewhat inadequate. So I began to look around for something better and came across Prepare/Enrich; I never looked back after that.”

This is how the retired Anglican priest Rev. Charles Potter, formerly of St. Mary’s Church in Bexley, began his talk at the Livingstone House in Bromley, England, on April 10, 2008.

The Marriage and Family Committee of the UPF National Peace Council spent one year, from March 2007 to March 2008, investigating what the whole field of marriage and family in the UK entails, learning about the issues and how social services and various types of organizations address them.

We learned that Prepare/Enrich is one of the most powerful tools available in the United Kingdom, and it is used in 14 countries. It was therefore natural to invite a practitioner of this psychometric marital inventory system to speak to Ambassadors for Peace. Rev. Potter said that it helps prevent breakdowns in the relationship between a man and a woman, either in a marriage or as a cohabiting couple, thereby sparing a great deal of misery to them and any children innocently caught up in the situation.

Rev. Potter talked about how he uses Prepare/Enrich with couples and groups of couples. He trains both clergy and lay people to be P/E practitioners. It is not necessary for practitioners to have formal counseling or psychological training, but they should be stable, empathic, and non-judgmental. It is important to have model couples doing this work who understand the essentials of a good marriage.

Unique features of psychometric inventories ensure that personal qualities, qualifications, and experience can be used efficiently and effectively to meet the needs of couples. Couples may need further counseling so it is envisaged that practitioners will either be able to furnish this or make a referral.

The emcee for the evening, Mr. Edward Hartley, Coordinator for UPF activities in Bromley and Chair of UPF’s national Marriage and Family Committee, reported to the audience of 25 people some of the fruits of the UPF’s research, including discussions with a key player in the field, Harry Benson of the Bristol Community Family Trust, who has done much work in the area of premarital and post-marital education. The importance of programs such as Prepare/Enrich comes into sharp focus when one considers that about 42 percent of all marriages in the UK break down within 30 years, 14 percent in the first five years, and that cohabitating couples are nine times as likely to break up as married couples. Mr. Benson estimates that only about 10 percent of new couples in the UK get any kind of formal pre-marital guidance.

Studies in the United States have demonstrated that use of programs such Prepare/Enrich can reduce marriage (and cohabitation) breakdown by 15 to 30 percent.

Many questions came from the floor showing the degree of interest shown in the subject, all ably answered by Rev. Potter. The discussions over drinks and snacks reflected much interest in the subject.

One could imagine UPF's Marriage and Family work consisting of:

  • Bringing character education programs into schools
  • Bringing education about the Prepare/Enrich program into schools for students aged 17-18
  • Having people train as Prepare/Enrich practitioners
  • Gathering positive pro-marriage materials from all over the world
  • Creating new materials in the form of poetry, song, visual arts, film, etc.
  • Ηolding mini-conferences
  • Approaching existing organizations with our ideas and proposals to cooperate with them

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