Oregon | Utah | Vienna - 10/17/07

Smartmarriages smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Wed Oct 17 10:44:01 EDT 2007



[If we could just get a articles like this in newspapers across the country
every day ­ our work would be done. Or, we'd be a lot closer to done.  I say
that because I believe our work is mostly about EDUCATING the public and
helping them get smarter about marriage - about the three streams of
research-based marriage information 1) the benefits of marriage 2) what to
expect along the route and 3) which behaviors predict failure and which
predict success.  And, that anyone can learn how to improve their odds.
And, that mentor/lay couples can play such a powerful role which this
article spells out so beautifully.  I've got to talk to Tom Dressel and find
out how this article originated and also see if he con get Julie Sullivan,
this reporter, to attend the San Francisco conference.  Remember, reporters
attend free and they are our most important tool.   - diane]

Finding wedded bliss, minus a few blisters
Marriage is hard work, and these days more couples are getting more help
with pre-wedding counseling programs
October 16, 2007
The Oregonian

>From their first date along the Clackamas River, LeAnn Seward and Doug White
discovered a torrent of things to talk about.

He loved that other people came to her for comfort. That she was stable,
beautiful and warm. She loved that he was so open about his past. And that
he was a Christian man who wasn't a geek.

But fight? They did, and badly. Disagreements always seemed to end with her
furious, him frustrated and someone stomping out. Seward resorted to filling
White's voicemail just to finish what she needed to say.

How, she wondered, could they marry?

What, he wondered, do other couples do?

Well, say Tom and Liz Dressel, as they faced Seward and White in their
Oregon City living room recently: "We save it until Thursday.

"We found that if we save conflict for one meeting, we can have fun the rest
of the week," Liz Dressel said. They also practice a well-researched
technique of taking turns talking, keeping statements brief and stopping to
let the listener paraphrase.

Their coaching, over slices of Liz's lemon pie, places White and Seward amid
a national marriage movement sweeping Portland, where at least 30 seminars,
classes and conferences on strengthening marriage are available. Among them:
"10 Great Dates," "Learning Intelligent Love," "Marriage Mentoring," "Love
and Logic"and "A Lasting Promise."

Never has marriage been so optional for Oregonians -- 30 percent fewer
adults are married than 30 years ago -- but never has it been so supported.
After decades of treating marriage as a private matter, government, churches
and industry have joined to help those adults who choose to be married have
the best shot at succeeding. The Bush administration's $200 million Marriage
Initiative poured more than $1 million into Portland nonprofit programs to
strengthen relationships. Hundreds of churches have pledged to require four
months of premarital counseling. Corporate sponsors are paying for marriage
research as good for worker productivity.

Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services touts that couples who
undergo just eight hours of premarital counseling divorce at a rate 30
percent lower than others.

"If you look at what happens when people are not in a healthy relationship
and children are raised in those environments, you see that it costs a lot
of money, and a lot of lives are hurt and damaged," says Rose Fuller,
executive director of Northwest Family Services, which offers the program
"Lasting Relationships" through a federal grant.

Couples are responding. "Engaged Encounter," a premarital retreat sponsored
by the Catholic Church, is registering more couples of all ages and
backgrounds, many of whom have no religious training or may not even profess
to believe in God.

"The trend is that people are seeking out marriage preparation, recognizing
that they should take a workshop before they get married," says Nancy
Fisher, an elementary school teacher who helps conduct the weekend retreats
with her husband, Michael.

All this training also has turned hundreds of ordinary Oregon couples into
lay mentors, experts at communicating and modeling healthy relationships.
Long after the money runs out, they remain a living web of support.

But can another couple save a marriage?

"Yes," says Liz Dressel. "Because we give hope."

By any measure, White and Seward trained for their marriage vows last
Saturday like they would a marathon.

Neither had married before. Both came from divorced families. White, 42, is
raising a 15-year-old son, Sheldon. But the sheet-metal mechanic had
undergone years of counseling on his own to confront anger and abandonment
issues that had ended other relationships. He saw premarital counseling as a
means to self-confidence and security as a couple.

At 36, Seward, an assistant to a Standard Insurance executive, knew that she
wanted to be as emotionally whole as possible, and scheduled individual
sessions with a professional counselor.

"Honestly, we love to volunteer and want to reach out to others and if
you're not healthy you can't do that," she said. "This wasn't just for Doug
and me, it was for his son, the neighbors, everybody."

Both also met with their pastor to launch their marriage in the faith that
introduced them. And finally, because their Oregon City Evangelical Church
is one of 170 Clackamas County churches that had pledged to strengthen
marriage, they enrolled in mandatory premarital education with a mentor

They were assigned to the Dressels. After 42 years, the Oregon City couple
has been married longer than the younger couple has been alive. Tom Dressel
is a retired mechanical engineer; Liz is a semi-retired registered nurse and
educator. The four knew one another from church, but the Dressels assured
the younger couple of confidentiality.

During six weekly meetings in the Dressels' home, the couple talked through
a 156-question inventory developed at Creighton University to raise issues
they might not have addressed on their own, including how their parents
fought; how they manage money ("To have a habitual latte, it's not how I
grew up," White says); and what commitment means ("It means that he is going
to back me up, be on my side, even if I screw up," Seward says).

The couple was thrilled to learn they had already talked about a great many
things. And they also quickly tried suggestions such as the
speaker-listening technique. They laughed that their habit of trading
voicemails during fights was, in fact, a version of that taking turns
technique. "I'm just not sure how it's going to work when we're in the same
house," Seward said.

They plan to see the Dressels four times in the coming year. Throughout
their evenings together so far, Tom Dressel has reminded them that unlike
Hollywood marriages, real unions ebb and flow, but that closeness returns
even stronger. The older couple speaks of how their marriage was once "in
shambles" until finding their faith and deciding to invest in their marriage
pulled them through.

"Seeing you gives me hope," White says.

"The biggest relief is just knowing that we are not doomed," Seward says.
"It doesn't have to end. People actually work through things and are OK."

Being mentors isn't easy. The Dressels attended dozens of classes to learn
the communication skills developed by University of Denver researchers and
other social scientists. They went to Toastmasters to improve their public
speaking. They've sometimes felt humiliated by putting themselves out there
(one couple complained they were a bit old to be giving advice about modern
situations). And for them, a "date night" means they coordinate a "Date
Night" program at their church so other married people can get out with
their spouse once a month. Last month, 90 people showed. But that means,
they say, they are making a difference.

On Saturday, they beamed as a radiant Seward and White stood before a
crowded church and a trio of pastors: their own Pastor Tom Hurt; her uncle,
David Wildermuth; and her grandfather, Wendell Seward. The service began
with a recording of bride and groom reading a love letter to one another.
Then the Dressels rose, just before the vows, to offer their blessing. They
told the couple they were off to a great start and to remember that the
roots of a tree grow deeper in winter.

As Pastor Hurt offered his final blessing, he pointed to the mentor couple.

"Remember what Tom and Liz have shared," he said.

"Two are better than one."


> Hi Diane,
> I'm still getting questions from around the nation on how the Utah
> Commission on Marriage "won" 1% TANF funding for our Healthy Marriage
> Initiative.  Many have asked me about legislation.  We did not take our
> proposal to the legislature.  If you feel the information below would be
> helpful, please feel free to share it with the list.
> Melanie Reese, Coordinator
> Utah Healthy Marriage Initiative
> One should realize that Utah¹s Initiative has a distinct advantage.
> The Utah Healthy Marriage Initiative has been a statewide, state
> government operated initiative since 1998.  We have history and a good
> reputation for quality, follow-through, and accountability.  In 2004, we
> moved from the Governor¹s Office into the Department of Workforce
> Services ­ our state¹s TANF agency.
> When I decided to ask for 1% funding, the first thing I did was ask the
> Department¹s budget guy what our yearly TANF appropriation was.  Then,
> I drafted my proposal and submitted it to the TANF director.  She
> approved it!  She then submitted the proposal, with her support, to our
> Department Director.  She also approved it after consulting with the
> Department¹s financial team.  The 1% funding was set aside in the
> Department¹s overall budget, which is approved by the legislature.
> The 1% proposal was not sent to the legislature as a stand alone
> proposal, but part of a Department budget.  The Department¹s budget
> was approved.
> Your state may operate differently.  I think the most important thing
> to do is to get to know your TANF director and offer to help your state
> meet the purposes of TANF.  Involve him/her in determining how you can
> help with a mere 1% allocation of funds.

Yes, Melanie makes a good point, that each state is different. I strongly
encourage anyone interested in going after TANF money in their state to
order BOTH the 2006 and 2007 "1% Solution" recordings - each has different
info to share - invaluable. You can download them for only $9.95 each and
have your team listen together and get fired up. Order at 800-241-7785 or at

Getting State Money: The 1% Solution
Chris Gersten
Learn how to access state marriage money ­ how to open doors and build
relationships with state and federal elected and appointed officials.

Getting State Money: The 1% Solution
Chris Gersten, Krista Sisterhen, Mary Myrick
Learn how to access state marriage money - how to open doors and build
relationships with state and federal elected and appointed officials.



[A world's first worst.  I wonder if Austria even has a Marriage Fair?
And, the archdiocese will have an exhibit?? -diane]

Vienna to host world's first-ever 'divorce fair'
Oct 16, 2007

VIENNA (AFP) ‹ Vienna is to host what organisers have dubbed the world's
first "divorce fair" this month, aimed at couples whose wedding dreams have
turned sour and who need help in untying the knot as painlessly as possible.

At the October 27-28 event, would-be divorcees can consult, anonymously if
they wish, a whole host of lawyers and mediators on their rights and
obligations, and seek advice on frequently difficult questions, such as
alimony and child access.

They can also consult experts on how best to organise their new post-married

Nearly 50 percent of all marriages in Austria end in divorce -- the figure
is 66 percent in Vienna -- and the two-day fair is being held under the
motto: "Start your life afresh". Organisers are hoping it will bloom into a
twice-yearly event.

Up to 20 exhibitors have so far registered, not only lawyers and mediators,
but also estate agents, life-crisis experts and -- reflecting the messier
side of divorce -- private detective firms and DNA laboratories offering
paternity tests.

The archdiocese of the city of Vienna will also have a stand, as will a
company offering package holidays for freshly divorced people.

There will also be a series of lectures ranging from a children's view of
divorce to single-parenting.

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