Better Marriages Australia 2024 Conference – Invest, Inspire, Ignite

Better Marriages Australia is excited to announce  the Better Marriages Australia 2024 Conference – Invest, Inspire, Ignite will be held on Saturday 14 September, 2024 from 9.00 am to 5.00pm at Morling College, Macquarie Park, NSW.

Our Theme this year:
Invest, Inspire, Ignite.
* Invest time in your marriage.
* Inspire relationship growth.
* Ignite your passion and vision.
* Enhancing Marriage through Embracing Growth.

This is a full day conference for married couples with special guest keynote speakers, Gil & Brenda Stuart from the USA.


Head and Shoulders photo of Gil and Brenda StuartGil and Brenda describe themselves as “We are a Husband & Wife, Counsellor & Coach, Marriage Illustrators & Encouragers who have “dirt under the fingernails” experience to help your relationship.”







An overview of the Conference Program is shown below.

Further conference details will be available soon and you will then be able to register for the Conference on this website.

In the interim, don’t miss the chance to attend this special event!   We invite you to save the date, tell your friends and visit our Facebook Event Page to let us know your interest in attending.

Conference Program

8:30 amRegistration.
9:00 amWelcome and introduction.
9:15 amKeynote 1.
What Did You Mean by That? – Brenda and Gil Stuart.
Do you know the difference between head conversations and heart conversations? Discover and observe methods that will inspire your relationship. Experience new ways that are practical, fun, and effective so that you will have a more fulfilling marriage.
11:00 amMorning Tea.
11:30 am – Workshop 1 Options:
Values Inspire Vision. – Brenda and Gil Stuart.
Empower your marriage, by aligning shared values that will deepen your connection and strengthen your journey.
Embracing Growth. – Noeline and Paul Drayton.
Exploring practices and skills that both nurture our relationship and inspire us to grow.
Investing in and Igniting Intimacy. – Heather and John McAlpine.
Discover how to stay connected and inspired in growing more intimate through the unique joys and challenges that your marriage brings.
Effectively communicating through blends, mends and other loose ends. – Judy and Peter Denison.
Living in a hectic blended household of 7, with a few hiccups along the way, we share some insights on navigating your ship through the icebergs of life.
1:00 pm – Lunch.
2:00 pm – Workshop 2 Options:
Values Inspire Vision. – Brenda and Gil Stuart. (repeated)
Embracing Growth. – Noeline and Paul Drayton. (repeated)
Turning me into us – Cathy and Glen Grigg.
We bring to our marriage two very different people. Explore how your different personalities help (and hinder) your relationship.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Couples – Mandi and Shane Smith.
The 7 habits are a step-by-step model that ’inspires’ couples to ‘invest’ in their relationship and ’ignite’ new and effective habits.
3:30 pmAfternoon Tea.
3:45 pm – Keynote 2.
Here We Go Again! – Brenda and Gil Stuart.
Your conflicts sounding familiar…again? Are you igniting an argument or connection? Healthy conflict can lead to empathy and understanding. The problem is not the problem. Learn how to reframe the conflict.
4:45 pm – Wrap Up and Close.
5:30 pm – AGM with hors d’oeuvres and mocktails.
6:30 pm – Celebratory Dinner with live music.


A rendezvous in Kiama turned into “Connect in Kiama”

It was our tenth wedding anniversary , we both planned a getaway weekend in stunning seaside Kiama.

We  wanted to add more meaning to the occasion and the sky answered quickly, we teamed up the weekend with a Saturday seminar and workshops by Better Marriages Australia which was to be held in Kiama this month.

Was it an act of courage, curiosity?  It didn’t matter! We registered anyway and it is too late to change our mind.

We were anxious on the morning heading  to the venue.  

As we arrived we were greeted with a very warm reception, a cappuccino and a folder with amazing resources .

We both felt it was a good start.

Wide view of stage decorations and flowers for Better Marriages Australia Connect in Kiama Conference

Stage decorations and flowers for Better Marriages Australia Connect in Kiama Conference




The Auditorium was softly decorated, with the most pretty display of colours everywhere,

which set the scene for what was coming next.



Title Slide of First Keynote from Connect in Kiama also containing photo of speaker Robyn DonnellyThe first talk (presented by Marriage and Relationship Educator Robyn Donnelly- editors)  was about most interesting evidence based research and work by leading USA  relationship leaders and experts.

How to build a sound relationship house and the building blocks of our marriage and relationship . How to build love maps . We learned about turning towards our partner not away or against and how to build bank of trust and keep the relationship in a positive perspective.


Photo of Heather McAlpine speaking during Connect in Kiama Conference Keynote, with John McAlpine listening behind her.

Heather McAlpine speaking during Connect in Kiama Conference Keynote


The second talk was by Heather and John McAlpine the co – chairs of Better Marriages Australia and it was about how to be differentiated in the relationship ,being able to keep your own skin-and still be one, learning to master our separateness and togetherness with spontaneity and ease.

They talked about moving away from our comfort zone to uncomfortable places in our pursuit to strengthen our marriage.

It was very entertaining.




The afternoon sessions were  practical workshops , all real life dialogues by the presenters .

Ours was  Connecting in Conflict .

The presenters emphasised the importance of a rich emotional bank account and being aware of each other’s bids for emotional connection..

We learned that conflict is an invitation to know more about my partner, also to know more about their emotional allergies and triggers.

We both loved a demonstration of the Imago dialogue and real life argument being revisited with transparency and how they navigated it to safety.


Guests at the Connect in Kiama Conference dinner being serenaded and given red roses at their table

Guests at the Connect in Kiama Conference dinner being serenaded

Violinist serenading couples at Better Marriages Australia Connect in Kiama Conference Dinner hugged by his wife

Violinist serenading couples at Better Marriages Australia Connect in Kiama Conference Dinner

Photo of young couple seated, with male partner with a rose in his mouth celebrating Connect in Kiama Conference dinner

Couple Celebrating at the Connect in Kiama Conference Dinner

The magic finale was a candlelight Dinner with sumptuous meal , a glass of red , being serenaded with live “Elvis” music and brilliant vocalist courtesy of Better Marriages Australia.

For us, it was a day and a night from Heaven.









The Better Marriages Australia (NSW) Committee welcomed 40 Couples to the Connect in Kiama 2022 Conference, ranging from newly married couples through to those further along their marriage journey.

They were extremely positive in their feedback about the value of the event  for them, and excited about applying some of what they learnt on the day, along with resources provided in their conference bags, to their own relationships.  You can check out video testimonials from some of the couples here and watch Keynote 1 and Keynote 2 presentations.

We were excited to announce on the day that our 2023 Conference will take place on 9 September 2023.  More details re location and program will follow soon so SAVE THE DATE NOW!!!











Better Marriages Seminar in Tumut, NSW

John and Heather McAlpine



John and Heather McAlpine returned to their previous hometown of Tumut in March 2021 to run a marriage seminar. The area has really suffered not just with COVID restrictions but still rebuilding after the devastating bushfires early last year that led to Batlow being evacuated. After having the seminar cancelled in 2020, it was a joy to be able to meet with 22 couples from Tumut, Tumbarumba, and Batlow to encourage marriages from all generations.

When John and Heather lived in Tumut for 13 years, they would run marriage weekend retreats locally each year. It was such a blessing for them to meet up with participants who can still recall benefits from these retreats even 20 years later. One couple who were just engaged and attended their first marriage weekend delighted in still recalling some of the tips and advice from that time early in their relationship. They shared how it was “such an incredible strength and resource for them in the ensuing decades.”  Illustrating the circle of life, there was a couple at the seminar whose parents had attended a Tumut Marriage retreat 25 years previously.



The McAlpine’s focused on communication skills and conflict resolution and gave couples the opportunity to explore what was underneath their anger. They also examined ways of becoming closer companions. Debbie Gadd, a pastor from Tumbarumba, described the event as “refreshing and real”, grateful for the personal examples that the McAlpines shared. “They were practical and resonated with my life.”










Heather in an interview to the local paper said- “We were mindful of the unique life stresses the local people have been exposed to over the past year, first battling drought, then bushfires and then COVID on the heels of that trauma. I think this has caused couples to reassess what’s important in their lives. You realise that having a strong and vibrant growing marriage is more important than physical day-to-day aspects of life. And that even the structure of one’s house that we assume will provide refuge, is actually very temporary and superficial……. It was beautiful to see couples of all ages and from all walks of life, valuing their relationships and investing their time and energy into growing better marriages… What a powerful way to create generational change and leave a living legacy for their loved ones.”


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