Parenting and day-to-day life can often put a strain on your marriage over time. My husband and I took the opportunity to go through the free ELEVATE course offered by the Alabama Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education program through Auburn University. We completed the six-week class in September, and really enjoyed it as a refresher course in communication, friendship, and partnership.
Not only is the class free for couples, but they also provide childcare and dinner each week. Our class was in the middle of the Delta variant rampage, so we ended up meeting virtually. While Zoom sessions have their downsides, we were at least able to complete the course in the comfort and safety of our home. Even though we met virtually, they sent us Panera gift cards each week and also provided $40 weekly for childcare costs for those who needed it. They really thought of everything! Having those needs met enabled us and others to access the course more easily.
The class is part of ongoing research conducted by AHMRE and every participant has the opportunity to complete surveys as part of that research. Surveys are sent out over the course of twelve months and each participant is compensated $30 per survey, for a total of $160, or $320 per couple. Ben and I decided to save all of our survey money toward a trip we plan to take next year for our 10th wedding anniversary.
The class was co-led by two knowledgeable and engaging facilitators who presented the material in a way that was meaningful and enjoyable. Throughout the six weeks, we learned how to apply various strategies personally and in our relationships. Although I was somewhat familiar with the concepts prior to the class, it was good to take time to practice the skills and focus on relating better to each other.
One of the most beneficial things for us was just setting aside the time to be intentional about our marriage. It’s so easy to get caught up in your routine and feel like that’s the way things have to be forever. We took the risk of shaking things up, and I’m glad we did! On our class nights, we ate supper earlier, gave our kids baths, and let them play on tablets and watch TV while we went upstairs for the Zoom meeting. They got to stay up an extra thirty minutes and they looked forward to it all week! As our class was drawing to an end, Ben suggested that we continue having “class” one weeknight each week. I thought it was a great idea! We picked out a book study that we were both interested in and set aside the same amount of time that we had for ELEVATE. If we hadn’t taken the class, I’m not sure it would have occurred to us to do that.
AHMRE offers the six-week ELEVATE course often. The next class will begin in February 2022, and interested couples can fill out this form to get more information. You can choose to attend either Tuesday or Wednesday nights from 6-8pm. Wherever you are in your relationship, this class can benefit you as a couple, which will strengthen your family. I highly recommend it!