I’m looking for more ways to offer this excellent program, Secrets of Successful Partners, to residents of Lake County. This is a valuable six part (six-hour) workshop which mostly consists of the research-based PREPinc “marriage education” courses to promote long-term relationships, along with other sources and my own sexological flavoring.

The PREP founders, Dr. Howard Markman and Dr. Scott Stanley, have researched risk factors affecting the success of long-term relationships as well as factors that may be changed to improve the prospects for more emotionally and practically satisfying relationships. As a result, they’ve designed a series of smart, practical ways to help partners make those improvements. I feel strongly that if my ex-husband and I had been given this kind of instruction early on, and had put the techniques to use with a good will, we might still be together, in spite of our multiple “risk factors.”

Because the course is research-based, and seemed sound, I trained to become a PREP facilitator for their “7.0 couples course”way back in 2006, during a “Smart Marriages” conference in San Francisco. This was during the height of Bush-era funding to promote (heteronormative, cisgender, monogamous) marriages, and the conference had a somewhat surreal atmosphere as a result (San Francisco being an odd choice for this conference), but I felt that the skills taught in the curriculum could be used by anyone in any type of intimate adult relationship. That includes people involved in non-monogamy, polyamory, swinging, kinky, and asexual partnerships, and people who are not cisgender or heterosexual.

So that’s how I teach it, inclusively, even though Markman and Stanley’s research was narrowly focused on “traditional” (presumably monogamous, heterosexual, cisgender) marriage.

So what will people learn in this program?

Well, they’ll learn about those risk factors of course, as well as the factors that can be improved and how to improve them. Then, there are easy-to-learn communication skills, effective uses of “time outs,” ways to recognize escalating conflict and how to de-escalate accordingly. Hidden assumptions can be brought into the open for discussion, through workbook exercises. Discussions of core beliefs, personality and “love styles,” and many other aspects of a working, workable partnership, are addressed in the course. The illustration below is the “Speaker Listener” technique taught in the first class.

I feel strongly that this course stands on its own and can also be a good adjunct or complement to “couples therapy.”

I love this curriculum, frankly. The 7.0 material is still completely useful and relevant. Even so, I’ll soon be ordering the 8.0 curriculum, so I can step up my game here in Lake County.

I welcome all suggestions for Lake County venues and possible student groups. Thank you!

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