Marriage Enrichment

Making Good Marriages Better!

Q. What exactly is meant by marriage enrichment?

A. It means making good marriages better-happier and more satisfying- than they already are. Instead of adding new components (like when enriching bread or motor oil), it means drawing out hidden relational potential that husband and wife already possess, but which they nave never developed. It could greatly increase their happiness, but is often unused and being wasted.

Q. How does marriage enrichment differ from marriage counseling?

A. Marriage counseling is a way of helping couples who have run into troubles that threaten their relationship, and that they can’t clear up by themselves. This requires skilled help from a qualified counselor. We don’t recommend marriage enrichment for those persons. Marriage enrichment is for couples whose marriages are neither in serious trouble nor threatening to break down. They may function reasonably well, but could be much more satisfying and enjoyable.

Q. Are there many couples whose marriages could be improved by enrichment?

A. Indeed, there are. Unfortunately, our culture has never paid much attention to the quality of a marriage—except in romantic poems, songs and stories. The traditional attitude was that as long as a marriage held together–a “stable marriage”, it was called–that was all that mattered. The assumption was that a “stable marriage” was a good marriage. The fact that it was disappointing (which may have been unrealized) was kept extremely private, and there seemed to be no way out; so the quality of the relationship (or lack thereof) never had to be faced.

Q. And what is different today?

A. Today, the facts are getting out as a result of our very high divorce rate. This shows the large number of persons who are disillusioned with marriage; but perhaps an even better indicator is the unveiling of the facts about battered wives, children, and even battered husbands. It is possible for a marriage (or any relationship for that matter) to be very “stable” and simultaneously very negative, unrewarding, and even dangerous to those involved.

Q. What can marriage enrichment offer those couples?

A. It offers new understanding and insight, new skills, new resources, and new tools which they can use to develop their unused relational potential. Most of these husbands and wives know deep down that their marriages have turned out disappointing; but they can’t admit this to anyone—often not even to each other. So they just quit trying and put up a front before their friends and relatives. Some of the world’s best actors are disillusioned married couples who behave in public as if they were really happy.

Assumptions Of Marriage Enrichment

1. Marriage is a relationship that either grows or dies.

2. That growth must include individual growth as well as growth of the relationship.

3. I am the authority for my own experience.

4. My contribution to the relationship is under my control, but my partner’s is not.

5. My partner’s behavior does not cause mine; I have choices for how I respond.

6. Couples don’t have a marriage at their wedding, only the raw materials.

7. Waiting for my partner to change so that I can change equals no change.

8. Conflict in relationships is inevitable and offers opportunities for growth.

9.The relationship is up to me and my partner—both of us, and only us.

Let the Samaritan Centers of Birmingham help you enrich your marriage!