Archive for May 10th, 2011

May 10, 2011

Enriching Our Marriage, Enriching Our Family

Over the course of the last year, John and I have participated in a “Family Enrichment” program, run by the International Federation for Family Development.  The program uses the Harvard Business School case study model to look at situations in marriage and family life from an objective perspective, so that couples can grow as spouses and as parents.  The course we are just wrapping up, “Matrimonial Love,” has been invaluable for a number of reasons:

  1. We’ve taken time to talk about how we communicate, where we are in our marriage, and are aware it would be a good idea to talk about where we see our family going over the next five, ten, twenty years.  (Haven’t gotten to that last bit yet.)
  2. We’ve each become more aware of how the other spouse thinks and reacts.  We know each other really well after being together for seven years, but it’s still all too easy to think the other’s reaction to a particular situation will mirror our own.  How easily we forget what we learn time and again!
  3. We’ve had conversations we may not have had otherwise on subjects like work-family balance, the order of loves within the family, and expectations and assumptions in our relationship.
  4. In the same vein, we have a better idea of warning signs for potential issues later on to keep an eye out for now.  (Gross syntax; sorry.)
  5. We’ve met incredible couples that are equally interested and invested in caring for their marriages and families through dialogue and study.

We’ve gained a great deal from the program already, but I think we won’t see most of the fruits for many years to come.  Becoming a part of a community like this has reminded us that the struggles and joys we experience in raising a family are not ours alone, and it has made great big New York City feel a little smaller in a very good way.

Because there wasn’t a New York City chapter—until now!—we latched on to a group just outside the city last year.  While the program isn’t too great a time commitment, it has been tough to figure out logistics of getting to our large group sessions in Rye, NY, finding someone to watch Jacob, etc.  Thus we are thrilled that in the fall, a new group will be born New York City!

John and I have volunteered to be the leaders of the Brooklyn group, and we’re excited to meet some new people and learn even more in the year to come.  Next year’s course is “First Steps,” which focuses on family situations involving children from infants to four years of age.  Clearly, this is very fitting for where we are right now.  What’s great about the program, though, is that you need not have children in the particular age group a course concentrates on.  Having the perspectives of couples with older and younger children only makes the process richer.

If you are, like me, a young married parent—or simply a married person, or even an old married grandpa (ha ha, Grandpa Karl!)—I encourage you to learn more about this fabulous program.

And if you’re in New York, know that we’ll be holding a trial small group and large group session in the middle of this month.  Please get in touch with me at youngmarriedmomblog [at] gmail [dot] com for more information.

Here’s to bringing out the best in our marriages, in our families, and in ourselves!

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