Marriage Education (ME) is touching the lives of couples, families and children across the country. “I Am ME” profiles individuals and couples teaching relationship and marriage education classes in their local communities.
Dan and Irma O’Connor met when Irma arrived in the U.S. from Peru after receiving a university scholarship. Married 36 years and proud parents of two sons and a daughter, the O’Connor’s have made Buffalo, New York their home for nearly four decades. After earning his Bachelor’s in Sociology and Master’s in Public Administration, Dan went on to become the Senior Counselor at Attica Correctional Facility. Irma earned her Bachelor’s in Sociology, Master’s in Bilingual Education, and is a multilevel GED teacher at Wyoming Correctional Facility in Attica. In 2005, the couple became PAIRS licensed instructors and have been actively facilitating relationship skills and marriage education classes ever since.
1. What led you to want to teach relationship and marriage education?
We felt driven to attend because we knew that we could really benefit from the information and skills that were described on the PAIRS website. At the training, we were amazed at the wonderful skills we were learning. In three days of our first PAIRS workshop, we learned more about effective communication than in our previous 30 years of marriage. At that time, we began to make plans to teach these skills to other couples in the Buffalo area.
2. How are the challenges facing young couples today different?
Coming from two very different cultures, languages and families, we faced many unique challenges in our relationship. One difference for young couples today, we believe, is that they are waiting longer to get married and are much more independent. This can cause a good deal of stress with each partner used to doing things “their way.” Even more than before, there is a real need for couples to have even better communication and problem-solving skills.
3. How has being a marriage education instructor impacted your family?
Being marriage education instructor has certainly helped our own marriage. We are just a normal couple that decided to help other couples with their relationships because we value marriage. It has challenged us to continue to use and practice the skills we learned and teach. It has greatly improved the joy in our marriage and with our children.
4. What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Dan likes to help his children with home repair projects. He also enjoys playing and watching basketball, football and soccer.
Irma likes to try new recipes and have the whole family over for dinners or parties. Our family also likes to travel. When we go to a country with a different culture, we love mingling with the natives and learning about their customs.
5. What three qualities would you like your children or spouse to most admire about you?
The three qualities Dan would like his children to admire about him are: his strong faith and love of God; his openness to people of different cultures and races, and his sense of humor.
Irma would like her family to admire her strong faith and love of God, her strong unconditional love for her children, and her willingness to help anybody that needs help.
Dan and Irma O’Connor
Phone: (716) 480-9273
Click to E-mail Dan and Irma O’Connor
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