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In Dodge City, an evening class will begin Friday, Feb. 13, and continue with morning and afternoon classes Saturday, Feb. 14, Valentines Day, and finish on Sunday, Feb. 15. 
Marriage for Keeps classes will be held at the Dodge City Community College in the Student Union Building’s Ford County Room.
The Friday night meeting will include registration and a meal from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by the class from 6 to 9 p.m.
Saturday’s meeting will begin with a light breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and will include lunch.  The class will end at 5 p.m., and will resume Sunday, beginning with lunch at noon and ending at 4 p.m.
Walmart gift cards of up to $100 will be given to couples participating.  Call Rhonda Goodloe at (620) 272-0010 to register to attend.

Marriage for Keeps Healthy Relationship Program

CSS program offers couples a marriage tune-up

By Charlene Scott-Myers
Southwest Kansas Register

Perhaps there isn’t any married adult in Kansas who would not benefit by enrolling in the Marriage for Keeps Healthy Relationships Program, a ministry of Catholic Social Service.
Tips on communication, drawing closer together, and having more fun with each other are included in the program, according to Rhonda Goodloe, LMSW, and Marriage for Keeps regional director in Garden City.  Classes in English and in Spanish are held in several southwest Kansas cities.
In Dodge City, an evening class will begin Friday, Feb. 13, and continue with morning and afternoon classes Saturday, Feb. 14, Valentines Day, and finish on Sunday, Feb. 15 (see sidebar at top). 
“Within Our Reach classes are not for counseling or therapy,” Goodloe pointed out.  “The classes teach skills for healthy relationships and are for people who will be attending class with a partner. Attending does not mean a couple has a bad marriage, but that they want to learn more about marriage.”
Classes for individuals, “Within My Reach,” also are offered to people who want to improve their communication skills among friends, relatives or in the workplace.  There is no charge for any of the classes, and meals and workbooks are provided at no cost. 
An extra perk is the fact that “We also give up to $100 gift cards to Wal-Mart to each couple who attend,” Goodloe said.
The classes for married persons come with the workbook “Within Our Reach,” which asks such questions as:  “Have you ever taken a hike together in the mountains, slept in your husband’s tee-shirt, given your husband a hair cut, sang a song for your partner, or called in “sick” just to spend time with your partner?”
Four major communication danger signs are discussed in the workbook: 
1. Escalation (responding back and forth negatively with each other), which often spirals into increasing anger and frustration.
2. Invalidation (putting down the thoughts, opinions or character of the other), which often causes more damage than couples realize.
3. Negative interpretation (making a negative and unfair assumption about what your partner was thinking).  Couples must look within themselves and question negative beliefs about their partner for this to change.
4. Withdrawal (and avoidance).  This can be anything from getting up and leaving the room to just “turning off” or “shutting down” during an argument.
“The original classes went for 30 hours, but now they are held for 12 clock hours,” Goodloe explained.  “We received a federal grant eight years ago, and classes are open to the public.  We have offered these classes in Dodge City, Garden City, Liberal, Ulysses, and Great Bend.”
Included in the couple’s workbook is a communication quiz that each person is advised to answer by themselves and not with their partner.  Participants record in their workbook whether the statements occur almost never, once in a while, or frequently. 
For example: 
“My partner criticizes or belittles my opinions, feelings, or desires.”
“My partner seems to view my words or actions more negatively than I mean them to be.” 
“I hold back from telling my partner what I really think and feel.” 
“I feel lonely in this relationship.”
“When we argue, one of us withdraws…that is, doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, or leaves the scene.”
The classes teach participants the keys of good communication and speaker listener techniques.  The workbook also presents “The Top Ten” hidden issues that couples experience, and an exercise in the book to write down what their personal issues are. 
Safety in the marriage for adults and children is an extremely important issue, in other words, no physical or emotional abuse can be tolerated, stressed Goodloe, who has a Masters degree in social work.
“There has to be physical and emotional safety in a marriage and in any type of relationship to be healthy,” she emphasized.  “We need to be committed to safety in marriage and also in work and other relationships.
“My boss may not be hitting me, but if he is hostile to me, that is not healthy.  If you have a child, you have to be committed to the child.  A child has to feel that Mom or Dad will be there for them physically and emotionally and committed to their safety.”
A whole page in the workbook is dedicated to “What I like about You,” and includes what you appreciate about your partner, something your partner does for you that helps you, what you like about how your partner looks or acts, and what you admire about the partner’s character. 
“We teach skills and techniques,” Goodloe added.  “We are not dealing specifically with problems; we do not delve into that.  But we would refer a couple on to someone who does deal with problems.  We don’t do therapy.”
Relationship expectations also are discussed in the classes: “To a large degree, you will be disappointed or happy in life based on how well what is happening matches up with what you think should be happening,” the workbook states. 
“Some expectations come from your experiences of different kinds of relationships, while others come from your core beliefs or religious values.”
Couples are encouraged to talk about and become aware of their expectations and their styles of loving in their marriages.  
“We have classes for auto mechanics, so why not have classes for marriage?” Goodloe asked.  “We go to college to learn to be a journalist or bookkeeper, but what do we do to learn about marriage?  People get married, and then what?”
Goodloe admitted that the relationship classes have helped her in her own marriage of 16 years and in her work relationships. 
“We want to make our relationships healthy,” she said.  “A husband and wife both should be able to say, ‘I am feeling safe in my relationship,’ and should be able to tell the partner what they need in the relationship.  We teach how to let your partner know your wants and needs in a way that the other person will be receptive to it.”
For more information or to register for a class, call Goodloe at (620) 272-0010.

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