TWOgether Pittsburgh: Supporting Marital Success

May '13 NC web banner-1

By Janice Lane Palko

untitled   H. Jackson Brown, Jr., author of the bestselling Life’s Little Instruction Book, has at the top of his 21 Suggestions for Success list, the following:   Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90 percent of your happiness or misery.

With so much of your life’s happiness riding on your selection of a mate, it would be wise to take extreme care before walking down the aisle and even after you have come back up it married to your spouse.

 Fortunately, TWOgether Pittsburgh is there to help support your marital success. TWOgether Pittsburgh is a coalition of like-minded agencies and individuals who believe in the strengthening of marriages. The coalition includes Family Guidance, Inc., as the lead agency, the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry, the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, Smith Brothers Agency and a team of Evaluators led by Drs. Lucas Musewe and Jean Harvey.

 The Coalition was formed in 2002. In 2004, it received a federal grant that allowed the formation of The Marriage Works, the precursor of TWOgether Pittsburgh. The Marriage Works operated, with great success, in Pittsburgh’s East until 2009, when TWOgether Pittsburgh launched under a $3.5 million Healthy Marriage Initiative grant from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

Ken MacLeod is TWOgether Pittsburgh’s co-director and says that the program has something for everyone—no matter the stage of your relationship’s development.  “We offer programs from Healthy Relationships for Teens to programs that support marriages experiencing troubled times,” MacLeod said.

 untitledThe Healthy Relationships for Teens program offers resources for teens, the parents of teens and those who educate them.  It strives to equip youngsters with information, services and skills to assist them with establishing healthy, balanced relationships now and in the future. 

 The Marriage Preparation program is open to engaged couples, committed couples and those desiring to marry in the future.  Many religious organizations offer their own marriage preparation programs, but even those not adherent to a particular faith, realize there is a need for marriage preparation.  Therefore, the Marriage Preparation program is non-denominational.  It also features the “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk” program, which helps singles to make sound, informed choices when selecting a mate. 

 The Marriage Enrichment program enables couples in healthy relationships to experience even greater satisfaction.  TWOgether Pittsburgh takes into account that marriages with children face different concerns than those without and offers a Parents program as well as a Step Family program.untitled

Marriage Mentoring is designed to aid married couples with improve their relationships in a relaxed, casual atmosphere. The curriculum features two “Celebration of Marriage” events–one to kickoff the program and a final date wrap-up that brings it all together and encourages a community commitment to ongoing relationship building. Between these events, mentor/mentee couples have four additional “double dates” during which they get to know one another with positive conversations, guided by the “Great Dates” curriculum. Topics of conversation include Making Marriage a High Priority, Communication, Problem Solving, Becoming an Encourager, Matching Strengths with Roles and Building Intimacy in Your Marriage. Each session provides opportunities for both couples to share and learn from one another.untitled

 When a marriage is in trouble, the Marriage Sustainers program is a relationship’s best hope.  This initiative is specifically designed to assist those couples who may be having difficulty working through the stress. It provides them with greater opportunities to learn and practice the skills that increase the chances of a more happy and healthy marital relationship. 

 Statistics from the TWOgether Pittsburgh illustrate how important marital bliss is to one’s overall well-being.  “There is a significant cultural theme that is pervasive today that says you don’t need to get married, but unfortunately, that is wrong.  Statistics have proven that marriage is beneficial to not only the couple, but also to their children and society,” MacLeod said.

 Studies have shown that 40 percent of married people said they are very happy with their life in general, compared to just under a quarter of those who are single or cohabiting. Married people are one-third as likely to commit suicide as widowed or divorced people. Married men and women report less depression, less anxiety and lower levels of other types of psychological distress than do those who are single, divorced or widowed.

In addition, marriage is also good for your bottom line.  Studies have shown that on the verge of retirement, the typical married couple has accumulated about $410,000 (or $205,000 per person), compared to about $167,000 for the never-married, just under $154,000 for the divorced, about $151,000 for the widowed and just under $96,000 for the separated.  In effect, marriage creates an annuity value that is equal to increasing one’s wealth by 12 to 14 percent at age 30 and by 30 percent at age 75, compared with remaining single.

TWOgether Pittsburgh provides it services in local community organizations, faith-based organizations and high schools throughout the Greater Pittsburgh area. 

For more information on how you can help your marriage make the best it can be, visit TWOgether Pittsburgh’s website at www.twogetherpgh.org or call (412) 741-8550 or email ask@TWOgetherPGH.org. 

You have nothing to lose but 90 percent of your life’s happiness.