The eight-hour premarital course that offers engaged couples a $60 discount on their marriage license provides information that will benefit even husbands and wives who have been married for years.
“But the discount’s not retroactive,” Von Bates, family education facilitator with the Family Services Center in Brownwood, said. “You don’t get a refund.”
The marriage training course however could prove to be much more valuable than $60, Bates said.
The second course the center has offered this month as part of the statewide TwoGether in Texas program will begin Tuesday evening. The first session was an all-day course on Sept. 13 taught by Bates and her husband Erv. This program will run for four hours, from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday with the second half a week later, Oct. 14, during the same hours at the Family Services Center. Vance and Susie Marcum will be the leaders, and registration can be completed by calling 646-5939.
“We’re adding the evening classes in addition to the Saturday ones to accommodate couples who work on weekends, have children’s events scheduled or are in shift work,” Bates said. “Saturday may not be the best time for many people.”
Doak Givan, who with his wife Cynthia will be leading sessions about once a month, said additional classes will be added as demand picks up. Givan is executive director of the Family Services Center.
“More volunteers will be needed, and training will be provided,” Givan said. “The Family Services Center will be offering these classes in four counties - Brown, Eastland, Comanche and Coleman. The certificate is good for a year, and is valid anywhere in Texas.”
Givan said he and his wife found the curriculum to be valuable to them in their own established marriage.
“It reminds you of things you probably knew you should do, but maybe have forgotten or gotten away from,” Givan said.
Bates, who has been teaching the center’s course on Children and Divorce, said she can see a correlation between the two. Many participants have told her that they felt if they knew some of the things they learned in the Children and Divorce class years before, their relationships might have never have deteriorated and they might not be taking such a class. The premarital training offers couples that opportunity to learn.
“We’re using both the PREP-Within Our Reach and The Active Partners curriculum,” Bates said. “Both are excellent as far as general information goes. The material is colorful and easy to understand. It goes into improving relationships, conflict resolution and even keeping the romance going.”
While the programs are interactive, Givan said participants are not forced to say things they don’t want to discuss, or feel uncomfortable with.
“We had a lot of fun at our first class,” Bates said. “This is not therapy. It’s educational based. It’s not threatening.”
Givan said the center is open to suggestions from the public about taking courses to locations where groups might be interested.
Currently, in addition to the two-part course Oct. 7 and 14, classes are scheduled in Brownwood on Saturday, Oct. 18 (all day), Nov. 1 and 8, Nov. 3 and 10, and Nov. 15 (all day).
A all-day class will be held in Eastland on Nov. 15, Comanche on Dec. 13 and Coleman on Jan. 10. Other classes may be added to the schedule.
Givan said he and Bates are available to discuss the program to civic groups and other organizations. The premarital program, offered with the incentive of a waiver of the $60 state marriage license fee, was mandated by the Texas Legislature, and went into effect Sept. 1. Without the class, couples are charged $60 for a marriage license plus any local fee. With the certificate awarded couples at the completion of the course, a marriage license in Brown County costs only $12.
Courses are offered at no cost, including the materials, and snacks or meals are provided. Information is also available at www.abilenecounseling.com on the Yahoo calendar.