bromley1.jpgBromley - 10 April 2008 - The Universal Peace Federation’s Marriage and Family Committee to the United Kingdom under the chairmanship of Eddie Hartley recently completed a year’s research into the field of marriage and family relationships.

The study had involved considerable input from Harry Benson of the Bristol Community Family Trust, who has done much work in the area of premarital and post-marital education. It’s an unfortunate fact that about 42% of all marriages in the UK break down over 30 years of which 14% hit the rocks within the first 5 years. Another statistic shows that cohabitating couples are approximately nine times more likely for their relationship to end in breakdown than those in marriages. Needless to say this situation causes all manner of problems for all of those involved and particularly for children. Harry Benson estimates that only one in ten new couples in the UK get any kind of formal pre-marriage guidance leaving a remaining nine out of ten unprepared.

The guest speaker at one of Universal Peace Federation events held recently in Bromley was a retired Anglican priest, Reverend Charles Potter, who outlined the merits of the PREPARE/ENRICH system. He began by saying,”When I took over my new Church of England parish some years ago I knew that I had to prepare new couples for marriage in some way but the materials I had inherited seemed somewhat inadequate so I began to look around for something better and came across PREPARE/ENRICH. I never looked back after that!”

PREPARE/ENRICH, was described as a psychometric marital inventory system that is considered to be one the most powerful tools available in the UK to avoid breakdown of the relationship between man and woman, whether in a marriage or as a cohabiting couple, thereby sparing a great deal of misery to them and, far more importantly, removing misery and disadvantage to any children innocently caught up in the situation. The programme is currently in use in fourteen different countries and studies in the United States demonstrate it to be able to reduce marital or cohabitation breakdown by 15% - 30%.

Aided by a PowerPoint presentation, Reverend Potter provided further statistics about such relationships from various sources including those from the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sachs. He went on to explain how the PREPARE/ENRICH system works both for individual couples or in a group context. It transpired that he currently teaches both clergy and lay people to become practitioners although stressed that it was not necessary for them to have formal counselling or psychological training. The trainees should be stable, empathic and non-judgemental and it was important to have model couples doing this work who understood the essentials of “a good marriage”

There are about 65,000 practitioners in the United States where some 2 million couples have been through the programme. Additionally there are a further half million practitioners or so in 13 other countries but, although the programme has been in the UK since 1990, there are probably less than a thousand here.

Reverend Potter described some of the national norms to which a couple is compared, to see whether they can be generally classified as: Vitalised, Harmonious, Traditional, Conflicted or Devitalised. He finished off by mentioned that he gives practitioner training lasting about 6 hours in groups of four couples or individuals at a cost of £75 per couple/individual.
A lively question and answer session followed during which many of the finer details were explained.
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