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New programme to help married couples strengthen and renew marital life

Newlyweds can leave their family home physically but not emotionally. When this happens, they can bring habits and traditions which can cause conflict in their marriage.

“You continue to hold on to it, or them, like habits and traditions that seem harmless …What you might end up finding out some of what was okay for you is not okay in your own family because your spouse didn’t share those traditions,” Yvette James said August 3 at the first online session of ‘Pathways in Marriage’. The session focused on ‘young love, the first two years of marriage.’ She presented with her husband, Douglas.

The programme is hosted by the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission to help married couples strengthen and renew their marital life. Participants were invited to register for the programme which runs weekly until September 7.

Yvette gave a personal example from her own marriage. “Dougie came from his family, and we began doing a budget in our home. I thought that was what men would do…I did not understand I had to contribute the same way he did, because I am saying he is the provider.” She said he would have been exposed to budgeting in his family.

Discussing “the money pit”, Douglas said the question of who will handle the finances in the new family often creates tension. Spouses are inclined to resolve an issue based on how it was handled in their original family or decide on a common approach.

He said, “Each spouse may have a different perspective, therefore moving forward can pose a major challenge; communicating this will be a major issue for example, having a joint account versus individual accounts, saving accounts and investments and investment versus spending, mutual versus individual budgeting… the big question is which is right.”

Financial matters are sensitive and may not be easily settled because couples have divergent views about managing finances, came from homes with different experiences of budgeting, or have strong personalities and differences. Douglas said, “It is recommended couples complete an attitude check exercise and enter into a financial covenant with each other.”

‘Pathways in Marriage’ was launched August 9 at Fatima Church parish hall, Curepe; it is based on the philosophies presented in the book Passages of Marriage.

Dexter and Frida Shim gave the introduction to the programme. Couples were informed the programme was not designed specifically to answer questions but stimulate thought and discussion. There is no one-size-fits-all approach because each relationship is unique and has special circumstances.

“What this programme seeks to do is to share with you what psychologists and family counsellors tell us are the important issues that occur in all marital relationships. It is then up to you to explore these issues with each other,” Dexter said. He alerted that issues may arise that will need the intervention of a third-party, e.g., counsellor, priest, or psychologist.

Frida said the main premise of the book was that all marriages pass through five universal stages or passages and in each there are tasks to be completed to move on to the next passage.

Some participants would have passed this stage, but she asked them to still review the tasks. Frida disclosed that she and Dexter were 20 years into their marriage but in doing the programme they found out “we had many issues from this first stage of marriage well tucked away that we had not resolved and that were still impacting on our marriage”.

Frida said at times there will be uneasiness and discomfort during the programme, but couples should “stick with it” because most often they are on the verge of finding healing and reconciliation.

Her last point was that the couples would be revisiting their family of origin. She cautioned, “we just ask that you to take an open and honest approach to these visits, we want you to recognise that your parents offered you what they could, and they did the best that they could do at that time.”