Better Marriages, Australia is an organisation which exists to enhance and enrich the relationship of each married couple. Activities include:
- weekend and one day marriage enrichment retreats and workshops,
- annual conferences,
- shorter seminars and local support groups,*
- training of marriage enrichment leader couples, and,
- the publication of information and couple resources, through our website and social media channels.
*Some of the events listed are sponsored by community groups and churches
How did Better Marriages, Australia begin?
Better Marriages, Australia was officially formed in 1980 after an initial contact and nurturing period under Better Marriages USA (formerly ACME, The Association of Couples for Marriage Enrichment, its “parent’ organisation in the United States of America. Better Marriages USA had been formed some years earlier by world-renowned family sociologists, David and Vera Mace. At the invitation of Family Life Movement of Australia (now Interrelate), the Maces trained community leaders and couples from several different church denominations to commence marriage enrichment work.
Better Marriages Australia now has members across the country with committees in 2 states, New South Wales and Queensland. Heather and John McAlpine are the Chair Couple in New South Wales. The Queensland organisation is currently named Couples For Marriage Enrichment, Queensland. Leif and Janelle Pedersen are the Queensland Chair Couple.
This website will progressively publish information on behalf of the organisation in both states. This will include information and dates of future retreats, conferences and special events; articles, book reviews, resources and exercises to use at home. You can contact either of the committees through our Contact Us page or using the email contact details in the footer of each page of the website.
Married couples of any race, religion, vocation or age are welcome to attend activities, visit the website and become members of Better Marriages, Australia. By becoming a member of Better Marriages, Australia you will:
- receive discounted pricing for annual State Conferences and Workshops/Webinars during the period of your membership
- have the ability to access, via a member login, premium couple resources we will be developing, for members only, in addition to the range of resources already available to all website users
- know you are contributing to the training and accreditation of a growing number of Better Marriages Australia Leader Couples, thus enabling the opportunity for more localised marriage enrichment events.
- continue to support the planning and provision of access to conferences, workshops, resources and local marriage enrichment events in the future
Features of Better Marriages, Australia
Does Better Marriages, Australia have a model of marriage enrichment? Well, rather than referring to a Better Marriages model, it might be more accurate to say that there is a Better Marriages style or that there are distinctive elements which are promoted in leadership training and which characterize Better Marriages enrichment activities.
Couples use their own experience for learning and the focus of any enrichment event is each couple’s own marriage. When information from outside sources is used in an event, couples are helped to take that information and apply it to their own experience.
Couples can help couples. Within a small group, couples can find an environment of safety, trust, and community. Small group process is used as a powerful tool to help couples gain a sense of “we are not in this boat alone;” to gain encouragement and motivation from other couples; to learn alternatives for handling issues common to most couples; and to gain hope or “inspiration” from hearing other couples talk about things that are meaningful in their marriage. Within the groups, there is no confrontation, analyzing, or prescribing — each person “speaks for self,” sharing his own experience and gives others support and encouragement.
Couples talking to each other about their relationship is central to Better Marriage’s approach to marriage enrichment. Dialogue between couples may occur privately or publicly. In “open” couple dialogue within a small group, couples, one at a time, talk together aloud in the presence of the group. Other couples may respond by their own open dialogue on the same or similar issue and by statements of identification and encouragement. The experience of each couple contributes to the enrichment of other couples.
Leader couples, married to each other, who are willing to share from their own marriage experience provide models, establish the climate of safety, openness, support, and sharing within the group. Leader couples make themselves vulnerable and demonstrate openness within the group. They “work for better marriages, beginning with their own.” Leaders come as participants and not as experts.
Positive, Growth Focus:
Enrichment is based on the assumption that each couple has strengths on which to build. Identifying these strengths and building on them is an essential element for an enrichment activity. Growth plans and agreements for specific action by each partner help couples make step-by-step progress toward the goals they set for their marriage.
Better Marriages, Australia as an organization is non-sectarian. In enrichment events, couples are encouraged to explore meaning and direction in all areas of their lives, as individuals and as partners. Developing the spiritual or faith dimension in marriage may be expressed through dialogue or in other more focused experiences.