31. Sharing Strength & Growth Areas Ice Breaker:Tell us how you met each other.
4Group DiscussionAs we begin this program, what is one goal you have for yourself or your relationship?4
5Teaching Points PREPARE/ENRICH Inventory Taking PREPARE/ENRICH Online Based on 30 years of researchAn inventory, not a “test”Work separately and be honestNeed your first names and s to register
6Ground Rules for Group Everything shared in the group is confidential. All sharing with other couples is voluntary.When sharing in the group, speak for yourself and not your partner.Before sharing something personal about your couple relationship, “check it out” with your partner.The goal of the group is to learn and have fun together.
7Couple Exercise Sharing Strength and Growth Areas All couples have some Strength and Growth AreasFirst, complete the exercise on your own without talking to your partner about it.Once you have both filled out your worksheet, spend about 15 minutes discussing your responses with each other.* Feel free to move around and find some space to talk privately.
8Group Wrap UpWhat did you think of the exercise? Did you discover anything new?Sometimes couples struggle with an issue for many years. Do you believe Growth Areas can be improved and overcome?What do you think is required to turn a Growth Area into a Relationship Strength?
9Bonus Material & Closing Suggestions You will receive an from PREPARE/ENRICH with login directions. It should take you between 30 and 45 minutes to complete the inventory.Remember to be honest and work alone as you complete the inventory.
102. SCOPE PersonalityIce Breaker: What personality trait were you most attracted to when you first met your significant other?
11Group DiscussionWhen it comes to personality, do you think “opposites attract” or do “birds of a feather flock together”?Can you change someone’s personality? What happens when you try?11
12Teaching PointsPersonality can be defined as the characteristics of a person that lead to a consistent pattern of feeling, thinking, and behaving.For couples, there are advantages and disadvantages to being similar or different on any given trait.
13Couple Exercise S = Social C = Change O = Organized P = Pleasing E = Emotionally SteadyHigh, average, or low scores can be positive.Two thirds of the time couples score in different ranges on SCOPE
14Couple Exercise SCOPE Out Your Personality First, review your personality SCOPE results from the Couple’s Report.Next, take a few moments to talk about the discussion questions in the exercise.* Feel free to move around and find some space to talk privately.
15Group Wrap UpWhat insights did you gain into your relationship as you discussed your personality results?In what situations are your personality differences most highlighted?How does your personality align with the roles you fulfill in your relationship?
16Bonus Material & Closing Suggestions For more on SCOPE, read Chapter 11 in The Couple Checkup book, “SCOPE Out Your Personalities.”
173. Personal Stress Profile Ice Breaker: What was your first (or funniest) job?
18Group DiscussionWhat do you think are the greatest sources of stress in our lives and culture today?“Stress either begins or ends up in the relationship” – Dr. David OlsonDo you agree? Do you have an example?18
19Teaching PointsA sample of 20,000 married couples was analyzed. The top 5 stressors were:Your spouseYour jobFeeling emotionally upsetInadequate incomeToo much to do around the home
20Teaching PointsNo matter the source, stress will affect your relationship.Stress can be positive or negative, but some stress is normal and good.Too much stress can cause emotional, physical, and relational problems.Important coping resources include: communication, conflict resolution, flexibility and faith.
21Couple Exercise Identifying Most Critical Issues First, review your Personal Stress Profile results from the Couple’s Report.Next, complete the exercise.Bonus Idea: If you finish early, practice your active listening skills by taking a current stressor and talking about your thoughts and feelings related to the issue. Take turns being the speaker and listener.
22Group Wrap UpWhat insights did you have as you completed the exercise?Does a typical couple have stress levels that are similar or different? What influences an individual’s stress level?How do you cope with stressors that are difficult to change?How can communicating about stressors help you both individually and as a couple?
23Bonus Material & Closing Suggestions Couple’s Workbook ExercisesBalancing Your PrioritiesWedding Stress
244. Communication: Assertiveness & Active Listening Ice Breaker: Tell us about your most memorable date as a couple.
25Group Discussion What does it take to be a good communicator? What does it take to be a good listener?How do you feel when healthy communication has occurred?How do you feel when healthy communication has not occurred?25
26Teaching Points“It takes two to speak the truth One to speak and another to hear.” – H.D.ThoreauA study of 50,000 couples found communication was the number one predictor of marital happiness.
27Teaching Points Two important communication skills: Assertiveness is the ability to express your feelings and ask for what you want in the relationship.Active Listening is the ability to let your partner know you understand them by restating their message.
28Couple ExerciseFirst, review the Relationship Dynamics and Communication results from your Couple’s ReportBreakdown of category items:Couple AgreementDisagreement ItemIndecision ItemSpecial Focus
29Couple Exercise Creating a Wish List Start by taking 2-3 minutes as an individual and make your wish list.Then take turns sharing your wishes as you practice assertiveness and active listening.* Remember to share and summarize feelings too!
30Group Wrap Up What was it like to focus on being an active listener? How did it feel to be listened to in this way?What did this session provide that might strengthen your relationship?
31Bonus Material & Closing Suggestions Keep practicing Assertiveness and Active ListeningTry the Daily Dialogue and Daily Compliments exercise from the Couple’s Workbook.Read Chapter 3 in The Couple Checkup book, “Communication – The #1 Skill.”
32Ice Breaker: What is something most people don’t know about you? 5. Conflict ResolutionIce Breaker: What is something most people don’t know about you?
33Group DiscussionA majority of couples (78%) report they go out of their way to avoid conflict in their relationship.What do you think of this strategy?What are the pros and cons of this approach?It is not uncommon to talk about winning or losing an argument, but why is there no such thing as a win/lose outcome in relational conflict?33
34Teaching PointsAll couples have differences and disagreements. Studies show marital happiness is more related to how conflict is handled, and not the number of disagreements experienced.
35Teaching PointsConflict can be an opportunity in disguise. When handled well, it can increase understanding intimacy and trust.What does “handling conflict well” look like?
36Teaching Points Use good communication skills Avoid mind-reading Focus on the issue, not the personTake your partner seriouslyStay specific and in the presentAvoid overgeneralizationsStay calmLook for win/win solutionsUse the Ten Steps for Resolving Conflict
37Couple Exercise Ten Steps for Resolving Conflict First, review your Conflict Resolution results in the Couple’s Report.Next, pick and issue and begin working through the Ten Steps for Resolving Conflict.* Feel free to move around and find some space to talk privately.
38Group Wrap UpHow do the Relationship Dynamics (Assertiveness, Avoidance, Self Confidence and Partner Dominance) impact Conflict Resolution?Which of the Ten Steps do you think is most important?How can these steps lead to a win/win outcome?
39Bonus Material & Closing Suggestions Finish the Ten Steps if you didn’t have time during this session.Couple’s Workbook ExercisesHow to Take a Time-OutSeeking and Granting ForgivenessRead Chapter 4 in The Couple Checkup book, “Conflict – An Opportunity in Disguise.”Tape a copy of the Ten Steps to your refrigerator.
406. Financial ManagementIce Breaker: If someone surprised you with a gift of $5,000 today, what would you do with it?
41Group DiscussionSome people are natural savers, while others love to spend money. Because of this, a couple might consist of:2 savers2 spenders1 saver and 1 spenderWhich combination are you?What are the advantages and disadvantages of each match?41
42Group DiscussionDo you think a married couple should have joint or separate accounts?Why?42
43Teaching PointsFocusing on accumulating more money is not what brings happiness and fulfillment. (AARP Study)Research shows couples at all income levels disagree about money. It doesn’t seem to matter if couples are quite wealthy or have more modest incomes, the same percentage (about 65%) disagree about spending priorities.Happy couples agree on spending priorities, have a savings plan, and avoid burdensome debt.
44Teaching PointsThis session explores three important financial concepts:Short and long-term goalsBudgetingThe meaning of money
45Couple Exercises Importance of Financial Goals The Meaning of Money First, review your Financial Management results in the Couple’s ReportComplete both exercises. Work individually for about 5 minutes to brainstorm your goals and take The Meaning of Money quiz. Finally, discuss each exercise as a couple.
46Group Wrap UpWhat did you discover as you completed the Setting Financial Goals exercise?Does money mean the same thing to both of you? What else (besides status, security, enjoyment or control) might money mean to a person.How many of you have a budget you currently follow? Why or why not?What type of financial role models were your parents?
47Bonus Material & Closing Suggestions Homework: Complete the Budget Worksheet exercise in the workbook.Read Chapter 5 in The Couple Checkup book, “Finances – More than Money”
48Ice Breaker: What is your favorite holiday? Why? 7. Spiritual BeliefsIce Breaker: What is your favorite holiday? Why?
49Group DiscussionHow does your faith or spiritual life affect your relationship?How does one’s faith affect their everyday decision making?49
50Teaching PointsIn a study of 12,000 married couples, couple’s agreement on spiritual beliefs was strongly correlated with other aspects of a happy marriage.Faith informs the big questions and the little decisions.In a study of 50,000 marriages, the most common spiritual complaint was “unresolved differences in their spiritual beliefs”, with 52% of all couples struggling with differences
51Couple Exercise Your Spiritual Journey Review your results for Spiritual Beliefs in the Couple’s ReportComplete the discussion questions in the exercise.
52Group Wrap UpWhat insights emerged as you discussed your spiritual journeys?How do your individual differences (personality, background, traditions, etc.) impact the ways you experience and express your faith.
53Group Wrap UpMother Theresa once said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”How can one practice kindness with a partner who holds different beliefs?
54Bonus Material & Closing Suggestions Read Chapter 8 in The Couple Checkup book, “Spirituality – Live Out Your Values”
558. Sexuality, Romance & Affection Ice Breaker: What is the most romantic date or memory you’ve shared as a couple?
56Group DiscussionHow would you define romance? What are the ingredients or conditions that make something romantic?Affection and intimacy don’t always mean “sex”. What are some non-sexual ways to express affection for one another? Why are these important for a relationship?56
57Teaching PointsEvery family has their own comfort zone for expressing affection.Some are verbal (words)Some more physical (hugs)Some more subtle (service)Your family may shape your expectations in this area.Expressing affection is a learned skill.
58Teaching PointsA good sexual relationship goes hand in hand with a good emotional relationship. Sexuality flows from intimacy based on:- Honest communication - Trust- Friendship - Healthy conflict- Passionate love - Respect- Relational equality
59Couple Exercise The Expression of Intimacy Review your results for Sexual Expectations in the Couple’s ReportComplete the discussion questions in the exercise.
60Group Wrap UpWhat insights emerged as you discussed ways affection was expressed in your families growing up?The media (movies, television, songs, internet, etc.) distorts our ideas about sex. How do you think these distorted messages have affected you? Your image of sex? Your expectations? Your self-image?
61Bonus Material & Closing Suggestions Read Chapter 6 in The Couple Checkup book, “Sex – Beyond the Birds and Bees”
629. Closeness & Flexibility Ice Breaker: Share a family tradition or ritual you remember and appreciate.
63Group DiscussionEvery family has their own unique “normal” way of doing things. When two people get married, they face the challenge of combining two unique approaches to life into one new relationship.What is one way your families are very different?How has this impacted your relationship?63
64Teaching PointsFamily of origin shapes many expectations for how we want (or don’t want) to live in the future.When thinking about how our families have impacted us, it is helpful to consider Closeness and Flexibility.Think of both dimensions on a continuum with extremes on each end and more balanced levels in the middle.
65Teaching PointsCloseness refers to how emotionally connected you feel. Extremes range from “disconnected” to “overly connected”.Balancing separateness and togethernessIndependence versus dependenceLoyalty and connection
66Teaching PointsFlexibility refers to how open couple and families are to change. Extremes range from “inflexible” to “overly flexibly”.Openness to changeFlexibility in leadershipHow roles are defined and sharedHandling discipline
67Couple Exercise Mapping Your Relationship Review your Couple and Family Maps in the Couple’s ReportComplete the exercise. Pick a concrete situation (e.g., celebrating a birthday).What from your family of origin would you like to repeat in your couple relationship?What from your family of origin would you not like to repeat in your couple relationship.
68Group Wrap UpWhat stood out to you as you compared the Closeness and Flexibility in your families?How can two people in the same relationship have different experiences of the Couple Closeness and Couple Flexibility?What makes it hard for couples to stay connected?How does technology impact your Couple Closeness?
69Bonus Material & Closing Suggestions Couple’s Workbook Exercises: Couple and Family Maps – Closeness Exercises and Flexibility ExercisesRead Chapter 9 in The Couple Checkup book, “Closeness and Flexibility – Map Your Relationship”
7010. Final Wrap UpIce Breaker: What will you do next week in place of this group meeting time?
71Group Discussion Which session topic was your favorite and why? - Personality Conflict- Stress - Finances- Spirituality - Communication- Romance, Sex & Affection- Closeness & Flexibility- Strength & Growth AreasWhat will you take away from this group that will be most helpful to you?71
72Teaching PointsOutcome studies demonstrate couples can improve their relationship skills by participating in the PREPARE/ENRICH Program.Complete more exercises from your Couple’s Workbook.Clearly defining goals by writing them down, discussing them, and agreeing on which to prioritize can transform your relationship and your life.
73Couple Exercise Achieving Your Goals . . . Together First, take a moment to fill out the Evaluation Form.Next, complete the exercise. Start by brainstorming your goals individually, and then share your ideas with your partner.
74Group Wrap UpWhat did you discover as you looked at personal, couple, and family goals together?Do you remember the goal(s) you set for your relationship in our first meeting? How are things progressing?Do you have any final thoughts, questions or comments for the group?
75Bonus Material & Closing Suggestions If you ever feel stuck or need more help, please talk to us about:Books and resources that can helpMeeting for individual feedback on your PREPARE/ENRICH InventoryMarriage MentoringRetreats, classes and future opportunitiesCounseling referrals