Enrich Marriages with Virtues Education - Focus on Strengths

When planning marriage enrichment, focus on the strengths that couples already have—although they might not realize they have them.  Marriage in the Lord comes with the grace to live it out by growing in virtues needed for happy and holy families.  Christian couples should reflect the Biblical character qualities that St. Paul called “the fruits of the spirit:” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5: 22-23).  These are qualities they want to have in their couple relationship, but they are also the basis for a parenting program by Christian marriage and family educators, Les and Leslie Parrott. In The Parent You Want to Be: Who You Are Matters More Than What You Do, the Parrotts advise parents to grow in Christian virtue themselves in order to raise children well. 

Marriage education programs, whether secular or faith-based, help adults learn and practice these qualities in their couple relationship.  In Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness, Christian family educator Blaine Fowers describes how embracing the virtues of loyalty, generosity, justice and courage can strengthen a marriage relationship. Fowers claims that marriage education based on improving communication and increasing emotional satisfaction is not adequate. Instead, he believes that the best marriages are partnerships in which spouses are devoted to creating a shared life based on shared values.  

These two great resources provide strong background in my series of small group meetings for couples, Wisdom and Grace for Marriage and Parenting, available as a digital book form the Christian Family Movement. The meetings, which do not require a facilitator, cover communication, conflict resolution, appreciating differences, sacramental foundations of the family, and prayer.