That’s according to Kirsten Copas who recommends two CatholicCare courses - Marriage and Relationship Education and Bringing Baby Home.
Kirsten and Robert Copas were married 7 July 2012. Before they walked down the aisle, they took part in a marriage & relationship workshop called Before We Say I Do facilitated by CatholicCare. In 2013, when they had their first child, they did the CatholicCare’s Bringing Baby Home workshop.
Years later, the wisdom they learnt in those programs has stuck, and they still use the techniques in their daily lives.
The Marriage and Relationship Education workshop presents research around what makes relationships survive and thrive through the highs and lows of life, by looking at the theories of Dr John Gottman from The Gottman Institute. The research looks at the importance of couples building a friendship as their foundation. It recommends turning towards each other in communication & conflict rather than turning away or against, and consciously filling each other’s emotional bank accounts by doing things together.
Kirsten says of her and Rob’s relationship: “Even if we can’t leave the house, we make time just to spend with each other. We work intentionally on our marriage rather than just letting things happen on auto pilot. If we notice things slipping, it’s usually because we haven’t been intentional in making time for us or connecting as a couple. Simple rituals, such as having a coffee together also help to strengthen their relationship daily.”
Bringing Baby Home helped Kirsten and Rob work through the emotions they experienced transitioning from a couple to being a family of three, then four, then five. Family dynamics shifted with each new birth, and they discovered it is normal for those relationships to change.
Kirsten and Rob have learnt to be intentional in their parenting.
“We try to use the Gottman Theory principles for behaviour management - knowing that the kids’ behaviour (even if it is negative), is often their way of bidding for our attention. We try to look at what they need and sometimes when they are “acting out” it’s a chance for us to reconnect with them and fill their emotional bank accounts, rather than just punishment and consequence,” Kirsten said.
They have created family rituals, such as sitting together at the table for every meal, which gives them time to reconnect and talk to each other about their day and model positive communication to their children.
Kirsten recommends the courses to anyone in a relationship regardless of how long a couple has been together.
“It hasn’t always been an easy six years of marriage but with the knowledge we have from Marriage and Relationship Education and Bringing Baby Home, we have worked as a family to keep going.
“Some days with sick kids, work stress, life stress, and feeling overwhelmed, it feels like it would be easier to give up, but we stick together and always come out the other side of things better and stronger. These courses have taught us to be intentional and work every day towards a stable, happy healthy family.’