Tuggeranong Uniting Church calls it a Date Night. Couples gather to share a spectacular meal, watch a video and to listen and talk with each other. This is The Marriage Course, a series of eight sessions designed to help any married couple strengthen their relationship.
The Marriage Course is a program that has been growing strongly internationally and is now being run at more than 860 locations throughout the world. One venue is Tuggeranong Congregation which has conducted two courses in 2005 and is planning to run further courses in 2006 and beyond.
The Tuggeranong courses were the vision of Troy Kaizik and Maria Parakilas both of whom came to a deep and energetic commitment to God through an Alpha course, also conducted within Tuggeranong Congregation. Witnessing to the way the course added strength in their own marriage, Troy and Maria convinced the church council that the Marriage Course was an important outreach in the missional work of the church. The two courses conducted in April/May and August/September have graduated 14 couples, about half of whom have been part of the Tuggeranong congregation.
Couples who have participated in the courses have spoken of how they have been given new ways to strengthen their relationship, build effective ways to improve communication and improve intimacy. A common theme has been the statement “We wish we could have done this years ago”.
While the course is based on Christian principles, it has a very practical focus that is suitable for all couples, regardless of their faith. In fact it is for any married couple who wants to work together at and invest in their relationship. The main aim is to help people build develop healthy relationships that will “go the distanceÂ‚”.
One of the highlights of the course is the marriage party, a special dinner at the end of the course to celebrate the achievements of the preceding eight weeks, to introduce other couples to the possibility of the course and to have a wonderful meal together. For both the courses in 2005, the marriage party was catered by award-winning chef Stewart Walsh who gave everyone a five star meal.
The course was started in 1996 by Nicky and Sila Lee of Holy Trinity Brompton, the London church that started the Alpha course. The next course will run early in 2006.