Marriage Prep 101 Online Group Workshop

Another Golden Gate

Welcome to our Marriage Prep 101 Online Workshop!

What Is Marriage Prep 101?

Marriage Prep 101 is a comprehensive 10-hour group workshop for engaged, newlywed and seriously dating couples designed to prepare you for a lifelong relationship by building on your strengths and teaching essential relationship insights and skills. Inspiring, helpful, positive and fun.

When should my partner and I enroll in Marriage Prep 101?

Our students are engaged, newlyweds and seriously dating couples.  We have also had couples attend who have been together for 10-15 years! The tools taught in our program apply to all couples, but it’s best to learn them early on in your relationship.

What Is the Philosophy Behind Marriage Prep 101?

Marriage Prep 101 is based on 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. Marriage Prep 101 is not affiliated with any religious organization, and couples of all faiths and backgrounds are welcome to participate.

Michelle Joy, MFT who teaches Marriage Prep 101 with her husband, has been specializing in helping couples for almost 20 years.  She has seen what takes couples 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?  We just handled conflicts like we saw our parents do.”

Michelle and her husband use Marriage Prep 101 approaches to work through any marriage challenges that come up for them, leading to a marriage that continues to feels stronger, happier and more fulfilling for them.

Marriageprep101 Dsc00257

How Is the Workshop Structured?

Marriage Prep 101 is structured around seven topics, all of which have been shown to be essential to successful relationships. These topics will be presented by discussions, demonstrations, self-guided exercises and dialogues between partners. Questions and comments are welcome but you do not have to speak in the group if you do not wish to. The dialogues and exercises between you and your partner will all take place via private “zoom rooms.”

After enrolling, we suggest you take an online relationship questionnaire called RELATE that will generate information about your values, expectations, personality and family of origin experiences as well as communication and conflict resolution styles. By comparing your responses with those of your partner, you can see how similar or different you are on various issues. These findings are helpful in the workshop because they will highlight your relationship strengths and areas for growth. Your RELATE answers will be shared only between you and your partner.

If you take RELATE, you will see how each of you respond to different issues and situations. Each person will be mailed a workbook with exercises for you and your partner to do together. You will be taught tools and skills, and given opportunities to have conversations in a positive productive manner. Marriage Prep 101 is a workshop, not group therapy. The leaders are available for private 1:1 coaching throughout the workshop.

What Is the Workshop Schedule & Location?

Friday, November 19th from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM and Saturday, November 20th from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

The workshop will be held virtually, over Zoom.

What You Can Expect To Learn

  1. Affirm the strengths in your relationship.
  2. Clarify the expectations you have for the relationship.
  3. Assess your level of compatibility.
  4. Understand the role of your family of origin.
  5. Identify areas needing change.
  6. Learn more effective relationship skills.
  7. Avoid the traps of destructive interactions.
  8. Enhance your emotional and sexual intimacy.
  9. Manage personality and gender conflicts.
  10. Create a marriage bond that instills resilience


1. 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.

2. 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 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.

3. 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.

4. What does the Marriage Prep 101 Workshop focus on in terms of content?

Throughout the program we discuss compatibility, expectations, family of origin/personality, communication, conflict resolution, and intimacy/sexuality. You will have opportunities to listen, learn, write exercises in workbooks, inquire, and have many structured dialogues with your partner. Our program covers many topics in positive, proactive and practical ways. At the end you will create a vision statement or action plan, called a “Marriage Bond.”

5. What if my partner and I have a particular issue we need help with? Can we get help with it in our sessions?

Our Marriage Prep 101 Workshop is a structured program is most suitable for couples who are committed to one another, feel some issues together, but mostly overall just want to learn tools to have a strong relationship throughout life. Our program consists of various topics such as conflict resolution, family of origin and personality issues, expectations of one another etc. Within each of these categories there is room to discuss what is coming up for you with opportunities to work on an issue as we go along that surfaces. However, it isn’t designed to accommodate individual time or to spend significant amounts of time addressing deeper issues.

6. 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.

7. What are the goals or expected benefits of enrolling in the Marriage Prep 101 Workshop?

In creating Marriage Prep 101, we began by asking this very question. This is what we came up with and we continue to evaluate the workshop based on whether we are meeting these ten goals below:

  1. Affirm the strengths in your relationship
  2. Clarify the expectations you have for each other
  3. Assess your level of compatibility
  4. Understand the role of your family of origin
  5. Identify areas needing change
  6. Learn more effective relationship skills
  7. Avoid the traps of destructive interactions
  8. Enhance your emotional and sexual intimacy
  9. Manage personality and gender conflicts
  10. Create a marriage bond that offers a foundation for marital health and satisfaction

8. Is the Marriage Prep 101 Workshop also being offered in a private 1:1 setting with just my partner and I?

Yes, please click here for more information: