Marriage Education is increasingly touching the lives of greater numbers of couples, families and children across the country. This week, we begin our regular series profiling individuals and couples teaching relationship and marriage education classes in their local communities. We’re calling the feature, “I am ME,” both because “ME” is an acronym for “Marriage Education” and with the hope that we will draw greater attention to a poem by the same name written by the late Virginia Satir, a pioneer in the field of marriage and relationship education. Satir’s “I am Me” remains one of the most powerful declarations on self-esteem ever written.
Matt and Marilyn Stevens have been married 28 years. They have two sons in their 20’s and one grandchild. They reside in Central Illinois and have been conducting PAIRS Workshops and Retreats through ConnectEdPAIRS since 1999. Matt works in Information Technology and is a former pastor of fifteen years. Marilyn has worked as a Clinical Social Worker for over 30 years
1. What led you to want to teach relationship and marriage education classes?
About 15 year ago, Marilyn discovered the DTR (Daily Temperature Reading) card on the internet and found it useful with couples in therapy. When she began to order more PAIRS materials, PAIRS Foundation called to ask if she would be interested in becoming a PAIRS facilitator in Central Illinois. As their children became older, Marilyn invited her husband Matt to join her in training and they have been offering retreats since that time.
Now that Matt and Marilyn are empty nesters, they look forward to actively assisting couples in building that famous emotional bonding and physical closeness that PAIRS classes provide for couples.
2. How are the challenges facing young couples today different than those you faced?
With modern technology, our world seems to be moving at such a fast pace and it is more challenging to stay connected. With dual careers, child centered families, more options than ever; there is much unchartered territory that couples need to navigate very quickly.
3. How has being a marriage education instructor impacted your own marriage and family?
Regularly leading PAIRS Couples retreat keeps our relationship current. When demonstrating the skills, we continue to learn about ourselves, and remind couples that marriage is an ongoing process, even after 28 years.
4. What are some favorite hobbies you enjoy sharing with other members of your family?
Marilyn’s hobbies and (therapy) are playing in a hand bell choir, and cross stitch. Matt enjoys working out and sand volleyball to keep physically in shape. Together they enjoy motorcycle trips, and visiting their grandchild. In addition, Marilyn enjoys volunteer work with the local American Red Cross as a Mental Health Worker, and offers Services to the Armed Forces through the Red Cross.
5. What three qualities would you like your children or spouse to most admire about you?
Marilyn would like for her children to admire an awareness and actions for those disadvantaged among us, a person of integrity, and optimism.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like us to feature a Relationship and Marriage Educator in your community, please e-mail their name, contact information, and a brief statement about why you’d like to see them profiled on the FatherhoodChannel.com to firstname.lastname@example.org.