More couples taking up marriage classes
One in four couples signing up for preparation courses, according to a survey
One in four couples who are newly wed, or soon to be married, is taking marriage preparation courses, a survey has found.
The survey by Marriage Central, an agency under the National Family Council, was conducted this year with 1,000 respondents.
Ms Anita Fam, chairman of Marriage Central's advisory board, said the results were encouraging.
She said: "Too often, couples are overwhelmed by personal work schedules and wedding preparations, and as such, feel that they have no time to attend such programmes."
FROM SCEPTIC TO ADVOCATE FOR PREPARATION COURSES
When Mr Laurence Wong's then fiancee first suggested attending a marriage preparation programme, he baulked at the idea.
But the course he began so grudgingly soon revolutionised his relationship, and today, Mr Wong, 39, has turned into a de facto apologist for marriage preparation courses.
"I'm not only a believer, but I've also already got seven couples to do it," said the general manager of an events management company. "Anyone who tells me they want to get married, I insist they must go for a marriage preparation course."
The man who helped change his mind was a veteran marriage preparation programme facilitator, Mr Simon Sim.
He and his wife, Bee Chin, both in their late 50s, have been conducting marriage preparation courses for Touch Family Services for 20 years and for Focus on the Family for five years.
Mr Sim, who used to be the general manager of Touch Community Services, said that he is heartened by the increase in the number of people taking marriage preparation courses, and thinks it indicates a shift in young couples' perception of marriage.
"There may be more awareness that 'prevent and prepare' is better than 'repent and repair' as far as marriage is concerned," he said.
He said that a typical course would cover the roles of husbands and wives, resolving conflict and finance, and sexual intimacy.
Couples can expect 10 hours of workshop time which may include lectures, personal sharing, role play, personality profiles and video clips, said Mr Sim, who is also a licensed solemniser of marriages.
Mr Wong and his wife Sabrina, 27, attended Mr Sim's course, costing $270 a couple, at Touch last year before getting married in September. After the course, they noticed that their arguments "decreased by more than two-thirds".
"We discussed topics that I had previously shunned, but the environment was very comfortable - the other couples shared their problems too, and I realised that attending the classes really normalised every situation," Mr Wong said.
The course helped him change the way he dealt with conflicts, he added.
"I used to like to walk out of arguments. But once when I did that, my wife reminded me that Simon had told us not to. So I tried not walking away, but using the steps that Simon had given us instead, and it really worked," he said.
The sceptic-turned-believer now jokes that he is an "Aunt Agony" for other couples facing troubles, by using the skills he picked up through the marriage preparation course.
"The course teaches you how to serve your other half and accept them as they are at the same time," he said.