Are you and your significant other planning on getting married? Do you want to save $60 on the marriage license and waive the 72-hour waiting period? Well, the Health and Human Services Commission of Texas has got your back, yo!
Thanks to a law enacted Sept. 1, the state is offering free classes in marriage education to marriage-minded folks through an eight-hour program called Twogether in Texas .
Maggie Russell is the coordinator of a region comprising 13 counties, including Harris County. She says she’s trying to reach 4,100 pre-married couples, and while Hurricane Ike screwed up the schedule, about 200 couples have gone through the program since last month.
“The main objective is to teach couples skills to communicate better and to manage conflict,” she told Hair Balls.
About 50 class facilitators in Russell’s region are teaching the program via state-approved programs, including the “Active Choices” program, from Active Relationships Center, and “Within Our Reach,” from Prep, Inc.
The former is run by a Dallas-based licensed marriage and family therapist named Kelly Simpson. The state picks up the tab for her workbooks and transparencies – but not the Christian-based ones, Russell stresses. Same with Denver-based Prep, Inc.’s Christian programs, which include a discussion on “Prevention and the Body of Christ.” (Neither company offers programs based on other faiths).
Twogether is purely secular, which means you can have all the pre-marital sex you want. (To which Hair Balls offers a hearty “awwwww, yeah!”).
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Facilitators only need to pass the companies’ training courses – they don’t need to be licensed in marriage counseling, and since their own romantic track record is irrelevant, you and your loved one could theoretically learn the keys to a long-lasting marriage from a dude along the lines of Matt Foley.
Russell says that communication and conflict management are “transferable to their work environment, to the rest of their family environment. It’s not only for a relationship for a marriage, those skills are valuable anywhere.”
Which is all well and good – but we suggest you take these classes in the Panhandle, where they’re offering about $250 in coupons from local businesses. Marriage classes and a free car wash? That’s a match made in heaven.
-- Craig Malisow