Marriage class offers insight to students
Friday, January 18, 2008
By Kimberlee Rhodes
Memorial Road Church of Christ is offering a class for newlyweds and engaged couples called Marriage 101 taught by Sonya Fontaine, a licensed professional counselor and member of Memorial Road.
Several students from Oklahoma Christian University are participating in the course.
Junior Brian Trumbly is currently taking the class with his fiancée.
“I’m hoping to get a heads-up,” Trumbly said. “It’s nice that there are couples who have been married a while [in the class]. It’ll give us a better understanding of each other’s needs.”
Cortney Butler, Trumbly’s fiancée, hopes to gain tools for a strong marriage.
“Our instructors said to have God in your relationship and that it’s important to start on a healthy foundation,” Butler said.
This year’s class began Jan. 9, 2008, and Fontaine looks forward to helping couples each year.
“This is our third year,” Fontaine said. “There’s usually a good turn-out of about 25-30 couples.”
Fontaine and her husband, Eddie, teach the course together along with David and Jenny Jones.
The class is offered for free on Wednesday nights and counts as pre-marital counseling in the state of Oklahoma.
The class was started with use of the Christian Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program.
“A few years ago when the divorce rate was so high, Governor Keating developed the Oklahoma Marriage Institute,” Fontaine said.
The OMI is a statewide public/private partnership dedicated to strengthening families and helping couples who choose marriage for themselves, and it allows couples access to services and helps them build and sustain healthy marriages.
“We got trained in CPREP and added our own stuff,” Fontaine said. “Couples come to us, and they need help, so we’re using this to help them. We just have a passion for helping couples.”
Class participation is encouraged in the course, and several subjects are discussed including nature of marriage, realistic expectations, how to fight fair and financial management.
Some students who have already taken the course found it very beneficial.
Justin Taylor, a 2006 graduate of Oklahoma Christian, took the course with his then fiancée, now wife, Sara, last year.
“We dated two years before we got engaged, but I still learned a lot,” Taylor said. “It challenged us to think about things we hadn’t thought of. Some couples are in the same boat as you are, and some are already married so, you get two perspectives.”
Taylor said the most important thing he learned was the significance of communication.
“There were things that my wife expected, and I didn’t understand,” Taylor said. “If you’re not communicating effectively then it will cause problems. You have to learn how to be open with each other.”
Trumbly and his fiancée look forward to married life and hope to follow in the steps of a couple they’ve admired for many years.
“I’ve known Scott and Sonya Young for about ten years,” Trumbly said. “I just admire how he lives his life and how he includes his wife in on what he does.”
Scott Young is not only a mentor to the couple, but is also the premarital counselor for Trumbly and Butler, and will perform their wedding ceremony as well.
“[Scott] has just been a great influence on us,” Trumbly said.
Butler thinks it is a good idea for couples to take a course like this before getting married.
“It’d be a good idea before and after. Each time you hear information, you take it a different way,” Butler said. “So, before we get married, we’ll hear it, and after we’re married, we can hear it again and get a better understanding.”
Butler also looks forward to sharing her future with the one she loves.
“Marriage gives you security for the future,” Butler said. “The future is uncertain, but you know that person will be there with you no matter what. I trust that Brian will be a good husband and help me to raise my family the way God wants us to.”
Fontaine had some words of advice to offer newlyweds and engaged couples.
“Be prepared. Marriage is not the fantasy we see in the movies,” Fontaine said.
Fontaine also stresses the importance of commitment and companionship.
“We need to focus on the commitment and covenant with God. If we can understand how God gives grace to us, we can learn to give grace to each other, as well as mercy and forgiveness,” Fontaine said. “Marriage isn’t something you prepare for once. You learn and train for it throughout your entire life, and it’s easier if God is in it.”