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What Is Marriage Prep 101?

Marriage Prep 101 (MP101) is a Marriage Prep Program that has been established for almost 30 years – the longest existing premarital program in the San Francisco Bay Area- designed to equip engaged, newlywed or seriously dating couples with the necessary tools to help their relationship stay strong and connected through life’s challenges and time.  These tools are delivered to couples in a way that is positive, helpful and inspiring!

What are the format options?

Marriage Prep 101 can be taken in either a group setting with other couples, or 1:1, with just you and your partner.  Both formats are held online, over zoom, so now you can join us from anywhere in the world!  For information and upcoming dates on the Online Group Workshop option, click here.  For information on the Online 1:1 Workshop option, click here.

Where is Marriage Prep 101 held?

Both the Group Workshop as well as the 1:1 Workshop is held virtually, over Zoom.

What Is the teaching material from Marriage Prep 101 based on?

The teaching material from Marriage Prep 101 is based on 2 areas:

  1. The latest scientific research that has identified what makes marriages succeed and fail. By teaching couples how to communicate better, resolve conflicts, avoid unhealthy relationship patterns, and build intimacy and resiliency, couples can create a relationship that will safeguard them against the inevitable strains of modern family life.

2. Michelle Joy, MFT the instructor and owner of Marriage Prep 101, has been specializing in helping couples for 20 years.  She has seen why couples get off track down the road of their marriage, and what tools the couples didn’t apply.  Inevitably, these couples say, “where were these tools before we got married?”  Marriage Prep 101 has been infused with the tools, frameworks and insights needed for couples to build and sustain a strong foundation together over time.

Are there specific topics that are covered?

Yes, we will review 7 main areas which have been found to be essential in creating and sustaining a strong relationship foundation.  In Marriage Prep 101, you and your partner can expect to:

  1. Highlight your compatibilities, and learn how to effectively manage your incompatibilities
  2. Clarify your expectations of one another
  3. Learn from any challenges stemming from your family of origin
  4. Strengthen your communication together
  5. Build conflict resolution skills
  6. Enhance your emotional and physical intimacy
  7. Formulate your “Marriage Bond”, a process which takes place at the end of the workshop, designed for you and your partner to create your inspiring vision together as a result of what you have learned.

What is highlighted in Marriage Prep 101?

You and your partner will come away knowing your strengths, understanding your challenges, discovering tools to address your challenges, and formulating goals in your short and long term future.

How is Marriage Prep 101 different from church-based marriage preparation programs?

Marriage Prep 101 is non-religious in content and we are not affiliated with any religious organization. Couples of all faiths and backgrounds are welcome to attend. Instead of relying on a couple’s faith and shared religious values to bolster their relationship, we teach relationship skills to address conflicts, build intimacy and enhance commitment. Couples can always add their own shared spiritual and religious beliefs to augment what we teach. We also welcome couples that are interfaith or non religious.

How effective is the Marriage Prep 101 Workshop in preventing divorce?

Nothing can prevent divorce if two people aren’t committed to being together. However, several studies both in United States and in Germany show that certain types of marriage preparation classes–those that teach skills –do lower the divorce rate at the five year mark. One study showed that couples who took a course called PREP reduced their divorce rate by 30%.  In another study, different types of marriage prep classes were rated for effectiveness. Again, the skill based programs (like Marriage Prep 101) were deemed more effective than faith-based programs. In general, new research is suggesting that if couples communicate well, learn how to address and resolve conflicts, enhance their commitment while building intimacy and friendship, they will have far fewer reasons to divorce based on surveys of those who do divorce.

 When is the best time to enroll in the Marriage Prep 101 Workshop?

The best time to take the class is whenever you are most open to learning about your relationship and motivated to work on it. Of course, couples today are very busy–time is among the most challenging issues a couple can face in the first five years of marriage. We find that newlywed couples derive as much benefit to marriage preparation classes as pre-marital couples. However, it is important that you not wait too long because building a healthy relationship requires the very skills that we are teaching.
We also have many couples take Marriage Prep 101 who are seriously dating or pre-engaged.  The latest thinking is that there is a “magic window” of opportunity to learn marriage skills–the year before marriage through the first year or two after marriage. Learning and implementing healthy ways of dealing with each other BEFORE the bad habits take root in your relationship is the underlying rationale for the “early is better” thinking.

What if my partner and I have commitment issues and questions about whether to get married?

Many couples have questions about whether it is right for them to get married even after the engagement has been announced and the wedding planning is underway. Our program can help sort out these issues or at least offer some information to help understand them better. This makes a lot of sense because it is best not to proceed until you are both fully committed. Remember that marriage tends to get harder the first few years before it gets easier for the long term. Interestingly, the research in this area indicates that about 10% of those who do get married should probably have waited longer before marrying or not at all. Using our Marriage Prep 101 Premarital Counseling Program to help answer the question of “should we or shouldn’t we” is entirely appropriate.

Has Marriage Prep 101 been recognized in the Media?

Yes! Marriage Prep 101 has been featured on the CBS Early Show, Evening Magazine TV, Ronn Owens Radio Show, San Francisco Chronicle, TIME, PEOPLE, FIRST, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune,, Hitched, Modern Bride, Texas radio, Marin IJ and many other newspaper, magazine, radio and TV shows. Marriage Prep 101 has been awarded “Best of the Bay” by San Francisco Bay Guardian readers for 6 years.

Learn about our Group Workshop here or our 1:1 Private Workshop here.

We hope to see you at Marriage Prep 101!

Our Marriage Prep 101 Program is now virtual!Click here to learn more