Julia Nasser is an experienced marriage
counsellor and conducts marriage education courses in Melbourne. Her company
name is ‘When Harry Married Sally’.
She has a
BA (Honours) Social Science from La Trobe University, Melbourne, Diploma of
Education, and Certificate in Counselling.
This book was adapted from the course
she developed for engaged couples. As the divorce rate continues to climb, Julia
is all too well aware of how important it is for couples to learn new ways to
build on their relationships.
The author has been happily married for
14 years and has four children.
READ THIS REVIEW:
Filled with practical advice, exercises and scenarios, this is an extremely
useful guide that’s aimed at helping the reader maintain a happy and healthy
marriage or long term relationship.
Sam Ketterer, Wedding Consultant, Absolute Perfection Wedding Consultancy.
Wimbledon, London UK
marriages are not created through instinct or luck; successful marriages are
those where the couples are prepared for living in a committed, long-term
relationship. With a divorce rate nearing fifty per cent, couples who do not
prepare for the changes marriage brings to their relationship risk marriage
breakdown. It has been shown that those couples who participate in some form of
marriage education decrease the chance of divorce by thirty per cent.
The most common issues married couples
face are disagreements about money, sex, communication, chores, in-laws and
everyday pointless issues. How well they deal with these problems depends
greatly on how well they prepared themselves prior to marriage.
It’s a sad fact that sixty-five per cent
of married people admit that they have problems in their marriage.
Forty-six per cent of married couples
feel that their marriage is either not satisfying or they are extremely
dissatisfied with their marriage.
Of the forty-six per cent of couples who
were not happy with their marriage, only five per cent had participated in
Seventy-three per cent of those couples
who did not participate in premarital education wish that they had.
These statistics are from the thousands
of couples who participated in the survey ‘Relationship Survey for Married
Couples’, Nasser, 2007.
This course will not ‘divorce-proof’
your marriage – the outcome of your marriage is entirely up to you.
When Harry Married Sally
~ You have a relationship in order to be with someone with
whom to share your completeness, not in order that they complete you ~
This book evolved from the Marriage
Education Course that I wrote for couples who wish to give their marriage the
very best chance of success. My course was so popular that I decided to make the
information and exercises contained within it accessible to more engaged and
married couples. The structure of the book allows couples to participate in
practical and written exercises aimed at preparing them for the changes marriage
brings to their relationship.
Marriage is the most complex of all
human relationships. For every two marriages in Australia each year, there is
one divorce. Research has shown that couples who participate in relationship
education prior to marriage reduce the risk of marriage breakdown by thirty per
cent. The book serves as a guide for couples who wish to give their marriage a
strong foundation on which to begin their life together. It provides a basic
framework for understanding how married life will be after couples have made
their vows on their wedding day. Couples are invited to think about what
marriage actually is and how it is distinguishable from all other human
The material I have included in my book
draws from my experiences working with couples who I have counselled, as well as
practical information from experts in the field of relationships. The book acts
as a plan for couples and a reference tool for all stages of their relationship.
The book is not limited to just those couples who have chosen to get married.
All couples in a committed partnership who are seeking ways in which to improve
their relationship can benefit from working together through the exercises
contained in this book.
Throughout the course, couples will
build upon their knowledge of marriage as well as learning new skills to bring
to their relationship. Most of the skills presented in this course are those
that are especially helpful in guiding couples to the best way to plan for their
life together. Couples also learn skills such as anticipating how best to relate
to each other while navigating the unique changes that marriage brings.
By the end of this course, you should
feel confident that:
You have explored with each other the ways that you will expect to relate
to each other during your new relationship.
You have discussed many aspects of marriage and how it may affect you as
You have studied the issues that affect many marriages and explored
different ways in which you may deal with these.
You have learned new problem-solving skills.
You have discussed with each other your expectations for your marriage.
You have planned how you intend to live as a married couple.
You have worked on any issues that you may have concerns with.
You understand the level of commitment, emotional investment and
dedication a marriage needs to succeed.
The content of this course has been
designed to maximise the learning and integration of the subject matter. It is
expected that couples work through the course together and at their own pace.
Couples should not move onto the next chapter until they have fully completed
the previous one. It is recommended that couples should spend at least one hour
per week working through the course. At this pace, it is estimated that the
course should take approximately six weeks to complete.
Structure of the Course
The course is divided into six chapters.
Each chapter has a specific topic for discussion. The topics are explored via a
planned sequence of activities and exercises that should always be completed in
order. This book is intended to serve as a workbook and couples should write
their responses to the exercises within the pages themselves.
There are never any wrong or right
answers in marriage. Couples need to keep in mind that the objective of the
course is to learn ways to enrich their marriage and that they must respect each
other’s opinions and personal reflections of the course materials and
Discussions are not designed to be
debates. Although it is healthy for couples to challenge each other’s views,
they should also be mindful that marriage requires compromise and the acceptance
of each other’s individuality.
It is suggested that if couples find
they do not agree on a specific issue, then they stop the discussion and note it
in a journal. They may wish to revisit the discussion later or choose to discuss
it during a consultation with a marriage educator or counsellor if they think
they need further assistance with a particular issue.
I always recommend to the couples who
participate in this course to have at least two hours of informal counselling
prior to their marriage.
Before we begin…
At the commencement of most marriage
education courses, couples are asked to complete a questionnaire. The sample
questions that follow serve only to help you and your partner identify areas of
your relationship which may or may not need further discussion.
If you would like to participate in the
full ‘Relationship Survey for Engaged Couples’ the author can be contacted via
Please answer the following questions:
Will this be your first marriage?
Will this be your partner’s first marriage?
If this is going to be your second marriage? How many years did your
first marriage last?
If this is going to be your partner’s second marriage? How long did
his/her first marriage last?
Do you and your partner have any children together?
Do you and your partner currently live together?
Are your parents divorced?
Are your partner’s parents divorced?
How did you and your partner meet?
How long did you know each other before you became engaged?
How long have you been engaged?
Have you and your partner set a date for your wedding?
Approximately how much time do you anticipate spending planning your
Approximately how much do you and your partner anticipate you will spend
on celebrating your wedding, including the honeymoon? (This includes everything
from the rings, dress, suit hire, photographs, reception, celebrant fees,
music/entertainment, cakes, invitations, etc.)
Do your parent/s support your decision to get married?
Do your partner’s parent/s support his/her decision to get married?
How do you think your partner feels about your relationship right now?
How do you feel about your relationship right now?
Do you and your partner discuss issues that may affect you as a married
Do you think that you have problems in your relationship?
Does your partner think that there are problems in your relationship?
When you have issues in your relationship how often do you talk about
them with your partner?
Which of the following issues that may arise during your marriage have
you and your partner discussed? You can answer any number of these boxes if
relevant to you and your partner.
Lack of communication
Lack of time for each other
Pointless or silly issues
Decisions about wedding plans
Plans about future together
When you and your partner disagree, what do you usually argue about?
What is your favourite leisure activity?
What is your partner’s favourite leisure activity?
Do you and your partner share any interests or hobbies?
Do you participate in activities that your partner enjoys even though you
Does your partner participate in activities that you enjoy even though
he/she does not?
I feel safe that I can discuss any issue with my partner even though I
know it will upset him/her.
I value my partner’s opinion and listen to his/her point of view.
I do not think that my partner values my opinion.
I would rather keep my opinion to myself than argue with my partner.
When we argue we are still able to get our point across and resolve the
issue/s fairly quickly.
When we argue either my partner or I resort to ‘name calling’ or put
My partner and I have issues that we have difficulties in resolving on
During an argument I have said that I want to break up with my partner
During an argument my partner has said that he/she wants to break up.
My partner and I take time to talk to each other.
Are you confident that you and your partner will be able to sort out any
conflicts that may arise in your marriage?
Do you trust your partner?
Does your partner trust you?
Have you ever cheated on your partner?
Has your partner ever cheated on you?
Do you think you could forgive your partner if he/she cheated on you?
Do you think that your partner could forgive you if you cheated?
Do you have a close friend of the opposite sex?
Does your partner have a close friend of the opposite sex?
Do you feel jealous when your partner spends time with, or pays attention
to people of the opposite sex?
Does your partner feel jealous when you spend time with, or pay attention
to people of the opposite sex?
Do you flirt with members of the opposite sex when your partner is not
Do you know if your partner flirts with members of the opposite sex when
you are not there?
Does your partner openly flirt with members of the opposite sex when you
Do you openly flirt with members of the opposite sex when your partner is
Do you remain in contact with anyone you had a previous relationship
Does your partner remain in contact with anyone he/she had a previous
What are your three best qualities?
What are your partner’s three best qualities?
List three things that you would like to change about yourself.
List three things that you would like to change about your partner.
List five things that made you fall in love with your partner.
List five things about yourself that made your partner fall in love with
List three things that would cause you to fall out of love with your
List three things that you could do to cause your partner to fall out of
love with you.
Do you and your partner have a strong friendship?
Do you have a good sexual relationship with your partner?
Is sex an issue that you and your partner have conflicts over?
Are you satisfied with the way that you look?
Do you think that your partner is satisfied with the way that you look?
Are you satisfied with the way that your partner looks?
How often do you tell your partner you love him/her?
How often does your partner tell you he/she loves you?
What non-verbal signs do you give your partner to show him/her that you
What non-verbal signs does your partner give to show you that he/she
I understand my partner’s needs.
My partner understands my needs.
My partner and I avoid discussing problems to avoid conflict.
My partner and I are ready to begin a committed relationship.