What is PREPARE TM?
PREPARE is not a religiously-based program with a religious agenda or point of view. It is a religion-neutral, assessment/ counseling model designed to help couples get real about marriage as they better understand the ways they mesh as two unique individuals entering a life-long relationship. Over one million couples have engaged in and benefited from this hands-on program. I’m looking forward to accompanying you on this journey as you empower yourselves to build a mature, lasting, and radiant union of mind, body, and spirit.

The goals of the program are:
1. To identify your strengths as a couple and build new ones.
2.To identify habits, behaviors, and old patterns that are unproductive and make changes using concrete strategies.
3. To strengthen your communication skills, including assertiveness and active listening. Also, to learn one another’s preferred “ love language” and how to speak “I” to “I.”
4. To help you negotiate differences and resolve conflicts using a ten-step model.
5. To explore your relationship and Family-of-Origin using the Couple and Family Map.
6. To develop shared approaches to financial and family goals.
7.To work through tensions regarding spiritual beliefs, intimacy, vulnerabilities, or other matters in a kind and respectful way.
8. To understand better how your different temperaments and personalities can best compliment one another.

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Why should we do the PREPARETM program now?
You may wonder: This is a romantic time for us. Exploring the challenging parts of our relationship will be a downer, won’t it? Why should we waste time on “counseling” if everything is wonderful now? Well, regardless of how long you’ve been together or how much in love you are now, most couples benefit enormously from concrete skill-building as they enter into a relationship as complex as marriage.

We all know the statistics – 50% of marriages do not succeed (20% of these in the first five years). And most couples counseling occurs only after the relationship has broken down and become unhappy or devitalized. But, it doesn’t have to be. Your marriage can be as radiant and loving (and even, well-planned) as your wedding day.

I’ve come to think of what I offer couples as relationship coaching, in that our time together will give you better insights into each another’s styles and priorities, will identify potential areas of future tension, and will give you useable tools for building a fulfilling and lasting marriage – all in a non-threatening, honest but uplifting way. The program has a positive focus – to affirm, not condemn; to build rather than to blame. Read what other brides say about the process. You can read articles about marriage preparation and about how to build a lasting relationship at the Resources page.

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How much time is involved?
Typically, the program is three one-hour sessions, two 90-minute sessions or one 3-hour session (only for couples living out of town) . Ask yourself how many hours you’ve devoted to choosing your wedding dress, flowers, rings, and cake? The fun stuff. Out-of-town couples may meet with me for one longer session, depending on scheduling factors.

You’ll complete the
PREPARETM Inventory on-line which will identify your strengths and challenges as a couple. In our three hours together, we will use a detailed computer review, discussion, and user-friendly exercises to help you turn any stumbling blocks into stepping stones to a successful marriage. Additional sessions can be added, if desired.

What does it cost?
The fee for the PREPARETM program, including all materials, is incorporated into the package fee for couples that I am marrying. The cost is $325 for couples that have engaged another Officiant. This fee represents less than half the cost of conventional talk therapy, and around 1% of a typical $20,000 wedding budget). Yes, this is a good value monetarily; but more importantly, it’s an investment in your life-long commitment towards one another and your future marital success.

Do you offer PREPARETM for same-sex couples?
Yes. With some modification and with the addition of resources created by the Unitarian Universalist Association, I do offer marriage preparation for same-sex couples. In terms of “expecting” marriage preparation for same sex couples, I do have the same philosophy that I do for heterosexual couples since “marriage” is complex and challenging, regardless of gender. However, couples who are legalizing a marriage-like relationship that is long-standing are not required to undergo marriage preparation. At their request, we can work together to enrich the relationship as they move forward together.

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Getting Your Marriage License in Pennsylvania, Ohio, or West Virginia

Website for PA, OH, and WV marriage license instructions: http://usmarriagelaws.com/

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