In consideration of couples' privacy, as a matter of policy we don't ask them to serve as direct references (to respond to your questions directly) but we do ask participants to individually complete an evaluation of the seminar afterward. Responses are 99 percent positive about the overall seminar. (Of course, not every topic appeals to or meets the needs of each couple, so they have different likes and dislikes.)
You can also often find
comments about our seminar on wedding related web sites like the Knot (theknot.com).
If you want to have a look for yourself, we find comments by Googling "stayhitched"
and the name of the website, e.g., "theknot." Some comments posted
on various web sites (not ours) by participants:
"My fiance and I agreed a marriage prep workshop was something we wanted to do because we both have significant failed relationships in our past. We aren't religious, so we hunted around for something else. We participated in a workshop called marriage success training (we found them at stayhitched.com. I think we agreed that we learned some valuable communicating skills and advice on how to handle different relationship issues. It also forced us to talk in detail about any potential issues that might come up. We could have done this without the workshop, sure, but something about the environment and the cost pushed us to listen and talk about stuff we might otherwise have just assumed we knew about each other or glossed over. It was about $500 for a full day, which is a lot for this starving graduate student, but we saved and it was totally worth it. There are other options out there, some more expensive but that take multiple sessions, but we really enjoyed this one." (http://talk.theknot.com/boards/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=47526345&forumid=57)
"Definitely do it! My FI and I did non-faith based Marriage Success Training in DC and I can't recommend it highly enough." (http://talk.theknot.com/boards/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=56826238&forumid=14&MsdVisit=1)
"I thought I would
share my recent experience with a class called "Marriage Success Training
The class is a totally
secular one-day seminar run by a married couple who both work in counseling.
The main idea behind the class is that successful and happy marriages are
based in part on behaviors and skills that can be learned. It is not counseling
for people with marriage problems, but is for engaged couples and newlyweds
(< 1 yr) who haven't settled into a marriage routine yet and can still
incorporate these behaviors into their relationship. It draws heavily on marriage
research and covers communication styles, conflict resolution, sex, children,
fighting, gender differences, family of origin issues, and long-term expectations.
The Mr. and I attended
last Saturday, and we both thought it was great. He was a little dubious beforehand
about how much it would help us, (and how much help we needed). But we both
had a few "aha" moments, especially since a lot of the stuff the
research tells you is either ostensibly counter-intuitive (e.g., avoiding
some problems is not always bad, since all couples have 5 to 7 areas of irreconcilable
difference) or makes so much sense you can't believe it's not common knowledge
(e.g., men and women secrete different hormones during emotional conversations
- men secrete adrenaline leading to fight/flight, and women secrete oxytocin,
a bonding hormone. How much sense does that make!!)
The structure of the seminar was really good too. There were 8 couples, and there was a little bit of lecturing, a little bit of group conversation (with voluntary participation), and a lot of working on exercises with your partner. I really appreciated the structured time to talk with the Mr. about big issues that might not have come up organically, and which we certainly wouldn't have spent a whole day talking about.
The class really catered to my analytical mind, and I came out of it even more excited and confident about my marriage and my man. The couple that run it are very sympathetic and enthusiastic without being (too) cheesy. I can cheerfully recommend this particular class to anyone considering marriage."
"We went to the seminar on Saturday, and though it was a long day, it was great! [Name deleted] and I each learned some stuff that was new to us, and talked about some things that were good to talk about. There were 11 couples total, in the seminar, and it was at the Westin in D.C. .... I think that counseling and/or a more skills based seminar is essential for any couple who is engaged, or even newly married. At least half the battle is being intentional about making your relationship good and happy, and being proactive about communciation is key, I think." (http://blogs.myspace.com/curleyshuffle)
"We took a class called Marriage Success Training.... We found it useful. It focused on skills, rather than issues in the relationship. We've incorporated their suggestion to have a weekly relationship meeting that's scheduled for the same time each week, with a time limit. There was a lot of information presented with cites to the research, which appealed to FH. They helped identify potential pitfalls with our communication/conflict resolution style. It was a very long day, but useful."
"We used Marriage
Sucess Training and *loved* it. Check them out.... It's nonreligious - but
total practical stuff backed up by research."
"We survived Marriage Success Training, and even found it very interesting. It made for a very long day; 8:45 to 6:30. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a secular marriage preparation workshop in the cities where they offer it.... They focus on the research about marriage and specific skills you can use to deal with certain issues."
In addition, here's an article written by a journalist, Denise Kersten Wills, who attended and liked our DC seminar with her fiance (she also talks about other marriage education programs that she looked into or attended):
We ask couples at each seminar to tell us what they thought of it and we ask them what they would tell other couples who are considering MST. Here's what some recent participants had to say:
"Make sure [to] find a comprehensive program like this one -- it's worth it. We knew we had already built a strong relationship but we were amazed to see how much more there was to consider for the future."
"My husband ... and I took your class in DC the winter of 2004. Thanks for the prep, what a ride marriage has been. We didn't expect it to be so hard, the first year and a half was definitely trying. We are celebrating our second anniversary this Monday.... We wanted to send a thanks for that prep course we took from you before our wedding! We've tapped from your good advice more than once."
"Very supportive environment. This workshop should be a required course. Helped with cold feet."
"Appreciated your openness & ability to make uncomfortable topics approachable."
"... thank you for a great workshop on Saturday. The material was very comprehensive and conducted in such a fun manner! BTW, we really like your interactions with one another. We will definitely recommend it to other couples."
"We both had a few 'aha!' moments that I think will be very valuable to our relationship. [My partner] was skeptical beforehand about how much it would help us (and how much help we needed) but he really appreciated the class. I left feeling even more excited and confident about our marriage."
"Thank you so much for your great class last Saturday. ...thoroughly enjoyed the class and learned a lot. We've even put into practice some of the things we learned and couldn't be happier. What a great course, i'm so glad we took it!"
"Helped me to be much more confident in my decision to get married. I feel like I now have a 'secret weapon' to survive the odds."
"It was a fascinating and exciting day. I am convinced that our marriage will benefit tremendously as a result."
"Thanks so much. We enjoyed the seminar, and left even more committed to work as a team. I have already sensed a positive shift in our ability to talk and plan together."
"I was thrilled when I heard my friend ... flew to ... take your course on our recommendation! They loved it. Thank you, Patty and Greg, for leading a great workshop. I think that it is quite a tribute that you had couples totally engaged for almost 10 hours and most of us lingered after the formal workshop ended."
"I'd strongly recommend this course as a great investment. It was just the religion-neutral, research-supported insights I was seeking."
"This program was invaluable. I wish I could make my little brother and his fiancee take this!"
"Thanks for making it entertaining!"
"Definitely worth the $ and time. Feel like I now have a 'secret' weapon."
"Eye opening all around."
"The humor was good & just the right amount."
"This is a great chance to look at specific, concrete steps to improve marriage happiness/success."
"Found out our experience is normal.... Definitely appreciated your sense of humor and sharing experiences...."
"Definitely do it. Highlights practical and useful techniques and information. Also presentation style was engaging and passed the day quicker than we anticipated."
"Just a quick note to let you know how much we appreciated your workshop. We definitely walked away with some strategies that we can use to help us! In fact, I used a soft start just this morning!"
"I would definitely recommend it. It was excellent."
"The teamwork you exhibit was really inspiring."
"Patty: You are great, easy to relate to, accessible and warm!"
"Do it. It's such an important investment."
"I think every couple should do it. It helped open up the line of communication between us and let us know that a lot of couples are experiencing similar things."
"It's worthwhile and even if there are no current problems / conflicts in the relationship there are techniques to be learned and valuable info to gain."
"You were both wonderful, kind, caring people who obviously enjoy doing this."
"Very helpful. Thank you so much! It was great--worthwhile--very important. NECESSARY."
"I found both of you to be sympathetic, enthusiastic, and personable, and really appreciated your openness about your own relationship."
"Good stuff! I appreciated how open you both were about your relationship (a good example for the class and really set the tone). You also appeared very willing to do whatever the specific couples needed: more attention or less. Very impressive!"
"Definitely worthwhile. I would recommend it."
"Structured time and format to talk with my partner about big issues that might not have come up organically, and that we wouldn't have spent so much time on [were most helpful]."
"I would definitely recommend this to other couples. ...We received more one on one help than I expected."
"Very good use of time. Puts things in perspective. "
"I really liked your personal input. It added a lot to the more textbook approach that a course or workshop could possibly take. It helped a lot for these issues to feel more real…very validating…knowing that these issues affect a lot of other people, too--not just us. Really important for the success of your marriage. Would strongly recommend it."
"Knowing my partner's expectations was the most helpful aspect of the workshop for me. Very responsive to my concerns and effective in helping me. My overall rating of the workshop is excellent."
"I just want to thank you again for the wonderful session that you held today at the Yale Club. [We] truly left there with a new perspective on many issues that we had been dealing with. Your Marriage Success Training has provided us with an education that we feel we will use and carry with us through our relationship. ...Both of you made a great impact on us. We look forward to keeping you abreast of our own 'marriage success' and thank you again for an enlightening day."
"Do it! I got so much clearer. I had ah-ha moments and could see much clearer our patterns as a couple and as an individual. Greg and Patty talk from experience and vast knowledge."
"Patty's points and perspective were fantastic. Examples were easy to relate to and highly effective…. It was exactly what I was looking for…. A must."
"Many of our own struggles were addressed.… Nice soft approach. I liked the 'guys only' time.… Enjoyed your insights and honesty… from your personal life."
"Do it. In a heartbeat, do it. It's an investment."
"The workshop deals with topics that are often missed by couples…. Very helpful."
"I would definitely recommend this to my engaged friends and newlyweds."
"Definitely should do it-maybe even before engagement. Thank you!!"
"Definitely do it. Creating a strong relationship foundation is very important."
"Do it -- this one."
"Take this workshop."
"Choose it! Very helpful. I think it will help us greatly in our relationship. Thank you so much for your help."
"Do it! It's essential."
"You have to do it!"
"Great job, thank you! Nice work! This is a very worthwhile program."
"[It brought] up things that had not come up before. I think it will have an impact for some time.... It's great, important, necessary and enlightening!"
"Great location. Convenient. Nice... Good food. As quiet as you can get in NYC."
"The discussion and tools providing for improved communication and conflict resolution were the most helpful parts of the workshop for me. Very worthwhile workshop for anyone. Very informative and made us both examine issues that we probably would not have discussed until they arose. We will be discussing many of these issues for weeks to come. Very enjoyable experience."
"This is an excellent way to begin planning your marriage.... The real importance is working together toward the goal of a successful marriage."
"This training covers all aspects of marriage."
"Engaging experience, terrific facilitators. It was very helpful to hear your points of view. You were great. I enjoyed the way that you approach the different subjects. I really appreciate the handouts and manual."
"It's smart to do--forces you to ask all the good/important questions. Helps provide a foundation on which to grow together"
"Definitely do it. The most important thing you can do before marriage. Such a positive experience. I thought I would already know most things--but I had so many revelations during the day."
"You were both absolutely fantastic."
"Great common sense manner.... Great humor."
"Very clear and practical...."
"Do it early."
"...it's worth the money and the time."
"[Greg was] very personable, likeable and articulate."
"Very important to do."
"Very useful and everyone should take [it]."
"Great location, very convenient and comfortable."
"I like the balance and interaction between Patty & Greg and how you drew on [your] own experiences...."
"[Greg has] such a generous, warm personality -- very knowledgeable -- very helpful."
"I loved everything Patty had to say. She was so clear and intelligent."
We're proud of the enthusiastic reviews we're getting from everyone.