Leading the class will be Kevin King, pastor of Bettsville Salem United Methodist Church, and his wife, Kelly. The Kings were assigned to the church this past year, after returning from an internship in Sweden. The two said they were surprised to learn many families in the surrounding area were interested in a course to help them build stronger marriages.
“When we get appointed to new churches, they like for us to look at demographics and see what statistics say about the area,” Kevin said.
“There’s a Web site that takes a lot of information from the census bureau and compiles it. That Web site pointed out that our area — Tiffin, Fremont, Fostoria, Bettsville and Green Springs — had a great desire for a marriage enrichment course.”
In an online search, Kevin found a course called Dynamic Marriage, developed by Joe Beam and Willard Harley. The program is not faith-based, but participants are free to incorporate religion if they so choose. Kevin said he was impressed with the positive comments from couples who had completed the course. He and Kelly decided to be trained as facilitators.
“When we looked at the cost of bringing someone in, we found a place where we could go and be trained to facilitate a class. We’d have repeatability.
“We’d be able to do it over and over again. It was actually cheaper for us to do that than to bring in a professional,” Kevin said.
The Kings went to Cincinnati for an intensive, three-day training, a condensed version of the course they would be teaching. Kelly said the couples had about four hours of homework to do each night in addition to the class sessions.
The Kings said the training sessions revealed much about their own relationship and brought about improvements. Kelly said she gained a better understanding of the different ways of thinking between men and women.
“During break times at our session, there was lots of talk like ‘I’m so glad you shared that, because I thought I was the only one.’ People were really learning from each other,” Kelly said.
“This (program) gives you a common vocabulary to work from. When you speak to each other, you understand what the other is talking about. That is just huge,” Kevin said.
Those who take the course with the Kings are to meet 6-8:30 p.m. every Tuesday for eight weeks. Couples also are asked to complete assignments which form the basis for the next segment in the series.
“They have homework out of these two books every night,” Kelly said. “The classes are very student-led. They’re doing a lot of sharing about their own discoveries about their marriage. It’s not as much of us teaching in a classroom setting as it is everybody learning from each other’s experiences.”
“The homework will encourage them to talk all through the week,” Kevin said.
Each week, participants are to be asked to answer a set of questions they are to look over and discuss in advance. Then they can share some of their insights in class.
Enrollment can be as few as six couples, but the maximum number of 12 couples is considered to achieve the best level of learning. If more than 12 couples register, they are to be put on a list for the next session. Kelly said the course is suitable for people with good marriages, as well as those in crisis.
“This is also good for people who are engaged, but they recommend that they be only within six months of getting married,” Kelly said. “Hopefully, we’ll end up with a good mix of people … to learn from each other.”
“This will save those in crisis, dramatically improve those that are stagnant, and enrich those that are good,” Kevin said.
A pre-session is set for 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at the church, 106 Michael St. (SR 590), Bettsville. Participants are to get an overview of the eight-week course and receive their materials — two workbooks each, highlighter pens, a CD, tote bag and a hardcover text, “His Needs, Her Needs.”
“The women will highlight in pink and the guy will highlight in blue,” Kevin said.
“It’s to let the spouse know what they got out of the reading. You just highlight it and let them read it,” Kelly explained.
The cost of the course is $130 per couple, which can be paid all at once or at $16.25 per week. The fee is mainly for the materials. The Kings say the cost does not reflect the benefits that can result from the classes.
“If I went out to eat with my wife, I’ve spent that, and it hasn’t changed my relationship at all,” Kevin said. “You want a healthy marriage because of the benefits to the kids, benefits to the community, and to each other.”
The Kings said friendships tend to develop among those enrolled.
Participants are encouraged to stay in touch with one another after completing the course, but there is no formal follow-up.
“Once you’ve taken the class and paid the cost, you can forever take the class whenever it’s offered, with no extra fee … like a member for life,” Kelly said.
More information about Dynamic Marriage can be found online at www.familydynamics.net. To register for the class, call Pastor King at (419) 986-6001.
PHOTO BY MARYANN KROMER
Kevin and Kelly King look over the materials for the marriage enrichment class they are to lead beginning Jan. 8.