Robyn Donnelly is the Co-ordinator, Marriage and Relationship Education with CatholicCare Social Services and works at the Office of Life and Faith in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. She is passionate about all couples availing themselves of education opportunities to “take a step back from their busy lives and to stop and think about themselves as a couple” prior to marrying. Robyn believes that Marriage and Relationship Education programs are empowering and bring couples closer, prior to making their public commitment, as well as giving them time to connect on a deeper level to share hopes and dreams for their future. Marriage and Relationship Education aims to be an opportunity to discuss important life decisions to help build commitment to strong, happy, life-long marriages. Robyn says, “The course provides skills to assist couples to build up their friendship and their ‘emotional bank accounts’, increase intimacy with a view to creating a healthy, stable marriage and gain skills in regulating conflict.”
“It’s all in the pitch” is a Civil Celebrants Project which Robyn was pleased and privileged to be part of as a member of the volunteer sub-committee. A video clip and related brochure were created by Marriage & Relationship Educators Association of Australia for celebrants and anyone interested in promoting the benefits of marriage and relationship education. The Federal Government-sponsored DVD provides information to enable the topic of marriage and relationship education to be raised in an accessible way. “It’s all in the pitch” debunks myths such as “couples presuming Marriage and Relationship Education is counselling” or “counselling before marriage means you have issues”.
Robyn feels the DVD and brochure promote “reaching more people about the benefits of marriage education programs and sessions so couples hear about interesting and informative research into what creates a stronger marriage”. Marriage and Relationship Education Programs are facilitated by experienced and accredited Marriage Educators. Some programs have couples complete an inventory and spend several sessions with a trained facilitator. The programs may also be undertaken as a group session or individualised one-on-one session to meet the needs of the couples. Topics covered may include family of origin, personality, goals, expectations and roles, commitment, regulating conflict, communication, finances, parenting and intimacy.
The CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning Marriage and Relationship programs have been operating for over 18 years. Programs are open to couples, regardless of their faith or non-faith preference, who are dating or preparing for marriage. The “Enhance” program is appropriate for post-marriage relationships and couples in long-term committed relationships.
For more information or to receive a brochure, please P Robyn Donnelly, Catholic Social Services Hunter-Manning 4979 1370 or visit catholiccare.org.au/social-services/child-family-services/marriage-education.
“It’s all in the pitch” is at youtube.com/watch?v=PMMHWWnQnMo.