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Jan 19 2012

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Twogether in Texas

William Shakespeare described love as “an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.”
Eloquent as these 500-year-old words are, they’re also wildly out of sync with an age when some high-profile romances (we’re looking at you, Kim and Kris!) can be measured in days, not decades.
Twogether in Texas wants to make them relevant again.

Twogether, a pre-marriage education program for Texas couples, believes strong lasting relationships are not just “dearer than eyesight, space and liberty,” (take another bow, Bard) but also the foundation of society itself. And building that foundation is an old-school craft that requires patience, empathy, good decisions and unwavering focus on what we love about our mate.

Such skills come naturally to some. Most of us, though, can benefit from good advice offered by people who really know their stuff. People like the counselors who teach Twogether in Texas classes all over the state. Their eight-hour classes help couples improve at communication, conflict resolution, maintaining realistic expectations of one’s partner and other aspects of successful marriage.

Twogether in Texas grew out of the federal Healthy Marriage Initiative and operates with funds from Texas Health and Human Services Commission. In just over three years, it has helped thousands of people nurture stronger marriages — and save a few bucks in the process.

At the end of the Twogether course, couples receive a certificate they can take to the county clerk’s office to waive the 72-hour waiting period and $60 state fee for a marriage license. (Counties, however, may still charge up to $12 in local fees.)

Classes are available at dozens of sites. Many are hosted by faith-based organizations, but the curriculum includes no religious content. As part of Twogether’s commitment to keeping it real, most classes are taught by male-female teams — often married couples. The teachers use a varied educational approach including games, videos, practice exercises and a freewheeling approach that allows plenty of opportunity for questions.

Feedback from participants suggests this approach is working. Couples often come to save money on their marriage license but leave with a more realistic, better prepared feeling about their relationship.

“I originally came here today to get my $60 voucher,” one participant said after attending a workshop in Fort Worth. “However, I’m leaving with so much more. I don’t even care about the money I saved because the knowledge I gained today is priceless.”

And timeless, too, for couples who make love a lifelong project. Because it’s as true now as when Shakespeare first wrote it that there’s “a world of earthly blessings to the soul if sympathy of love unite our thoughts.”

To find a marriage education class near you, call 2-1-1 or visit www.twogetherintexas.com. The Twogether in Texas website also includes links to healthy marriage advice from many sources as well as information on how an organization can register to provide services in its area.

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