Two Churches, One Marriage is a free, web-based program that explores the challenges and rewards that interchurch couples may encounter, as well as strategies for dealing with those challenges. For those interested in offering the program in a workshop format, you can e-mail Dr. Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a free electronic copy of the leader manual.
Two Churches, One Marriage is grounded in research that studied couples from different Christian churches and denominations. That is why the term "interchurch" is used throughout rather than broader terms like interfaith or religiously mixed. Although the program targets interchurch couples, many of the concepts will likely apply to couples from different religions (e.g., Christian-Jewish or Christian-Muslim, etc.). Since couples from the same denomination or religious affiliation can have significant religious differences, they may also benefit from parts of the program as well. Even though the program is written primarily for engaged and married couples, it is hoped that clergy, therapists, or others that frequently work with interchurch couples will find it a valuable resource.
The program is divided into the following
eight topic areas or units:
Opening the Door to Understanding – This unit helps couples
develop effective communication skills so that they can more
effectively dialogue about issues.
Skills: Creating New Possibilities – This unit presents a
six-step model that couples can use to help resolve issues.
to Manage Religious Differences – This unit provides strategies
for dealing with religious differences, as well as exploring
how religious differences can facilitate growth.
Meaning of Marriage – This unit helps couples explore their
beliefs and values around marriage, including how different factors
such as religion may have shaped them.
a Religious and Spiritual Bond – This unit discusses the
value in building a religious and spiritual bond, as well as
strategies for strengthening this bond.
Affiliation: To Change or Not to Change – This unit explores
the pros and cons regarding whether or not to change religious
Religious Upbringing of Children – This unit explores various
approaches that interchurch couples have used regarding the religious
upbringing of children, including the pros and cons of the various
Support and Acceptance – The unit explores the challenges
that some interchurch couples face in finding acceptance, as
well as strategies for finding greater acceptance.
Each unit is further divided into
four sections based on the IDEA Model. The first
section is the Introduction, which gives a brief
rationale for the unit. This is followed by the Discovery section,
which provides questions for the couple so that they can learn
more about themselves or their relationship. The Education section
is the heart of the unit, and provides couples with skills or information
that may be useful in addressing each topic area. The Application section
provides exercises a couple can do to help apply the concepts or
skills from the unit. In some cases, supplemental resources are
also included within a unit. Although it is recommended that you
work through the program as a whole, each unit is self-contained
and can be completed separately from the others. The small printer
icons () can be clicked if you wish to print out parts or the entire
unit. Feel free to print out and use as many copies as needed,
though each copy must be left in its original, unaltered form.
This program is not intended to give
cookie-cutter answers to many of the difficult questions that interchurch
couples face. Rather, it is intended to facilitate a process of
exploration and decision-making that will help couples find solutions
that are right for them. A solution or decision that may fit for
one couple may not be appropriate for another. Each couple has
a different set of circumstances that must be weighed and considered.
Therefore, some units will outline options for couples to consider,
but will not advocate for one position or another. The couple is
encouraged to use the information and tools provided in this program
to achieve some consensus on how to address each issue.
Since the program focuses on interchurch
issues, it does not address all the issues that couples in general
may need to consider when building a successful marriage. The program
does not address in any depth, for example, financial management,
personality issues, leisure activities, or sexuality, all which
can have a significant influence on a couple's relationship. It
is recommended that engaged couples seek additional premarital
counseling to address these other important issues in relationships.
Couples who are distressed or experiencing significant problems
in their relationship should seek out professional help. The Resources
section includes a list of national organizations for mental health
professionals in the United States.