The Scoop: Living with a partner day in and day out can be a defining moment for a committed relationship, and the pressure is even more intense when lockdowns and quarantines are involved. COVID-19 has led some marriages to shaky ground and vitriolic disputes. Fortunately, Marriage Helper is on a mission to give couples the tools, strategies, and wisdom to rescue the relationship. Marriage Helper has launched online coaching seminars to support married couples through even in the darkest times and provide a way to bring back the love.
According to the Institute of Family Studies, the divorce rate hit a 50-year low in 2020. Despite the pressures and strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears that many married couples chose to face the uncertain future together.
And they don’t have to face it alone. Marriage Helper is a counseling resource dedicated to helping married couples through relationship conflicts and crises.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, experts worried that divorces would spike as couples under lockdown went at each other’s throats. The numbers don’t bear out those fears, but that doesn’t mean it’s been all peaches and cream for today’s married couples.
Stay-at-home mandates put unprecedented strain on people in committed relationships. It created a powder keg for potential hurt and frustration. Misunderstandings and poor communication habits can make a lockdown situation tough to manage. Add in financial problems, disrupted schedules, children attending school online, and health-related issues, and it’s easy to see how it can be too much for two people to handle.
“I saw absolutely that most people said that 2020 was when they figured out what was going wrong with their marriage and when it all came to a head,” said Kimberly Holmes, the CEO of Marriage Helper. “That can bring couples closer together, but a lot of times it’s bringing couples further apart.”
Over the last year, Marriage Helper has gone into crisis management mode and created resources to address pandemic-related issues arising in marriages across the globe. The website’s expanded offerings include virtual seminars and coaching sessions
Online Seminars are Effective and Safe During These Times
When the coronavirus pandemic shut down in-person events throughout the globe, the team behind Marriage Helper — like so many businesses — had to figure out how to pivot away from its weekend workshops in Nashville. The marriage counselors and coaches went digital to ensure their relationship seminars could continue reaching those in need.
“Our three-day turnaround weekend workshop has a 77% success rate in saving marriages, and up until last year, it was only available in Nashville,” Kimberly said. “People had to travel, and they did, from all over the world to attend. Then last year, we moved it online. We found that it is just as effective as it is when we do it in person.”
By switching focus to online workshops, Marriage Helper has been able to reach a larger and more diverse audience of married couples. Participants have come from more than 15 countries to learn relationship skills and insights from the experts.
The 2020 digital rollout was such a success that Marriage Helper has plans to expand its virtual services in 2021 — even when it’s safe to hold in-person events again.
“It reinvigorated our mission,” Kimberly told us. “In 2020, there were a lot of people without hope for many reasons, but in 2020 what we were able to give to people and see what happened was that there was hope.”
Marriage Helper has workshops available for both couples and individual spouses. Married people can choose to take this self-help journey as a team or solo depending on their comfort level. Dr. Joe Beam leads the individual coaching classes and focuses on what one person can do to make a relationship better.
The overall goal of Marriage Helper is to save marriages from divorce and give people the inspiration to reaffirm their personal commitments. Kimberly said she hopes to see Marriage Helper assist more than 10,000 marriages by 2022.
Participants Learn to Heal a Struggling Marriage
When you’re facing a serious relationship conflict, it’s easy to point fingers and pay the blame game. Many people show up to marriage counseling sessions with a laundry list of things their partner needs to work on or change for the relationship to work. Kimberly told us that’s the opposite of what they should do.
“For the individual who wants to make the marriage work, the first thing they should do is to work on themselves,” she said. “When a person works on themselves, increases their own self-esteem, and has their own identity, then there’s an increase in marital satisfaction.”
Marriage Helper breaks relationships into four levels — physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual — and challenges each spouse to work on their own side of the equation to build their skills and attraction, and hopefully reminding themselves and their partner why they fell in love.
“When our world fell apart, everything we found said to give up… Marriage Helper said the opposite.”— Randy and Jenny, a happily married couple
Kimberly recommends that couples reset their methods of communication and go back to the basics. That means asking a person how their day was or sharing a favorite childhood memory. She said the purpose of such exercises is to create more opportunities to talk rather than fight. It’s all about finding ways to connect and “stop the crazy” that can get out of hand, causing needless hurt.
“We will help to rebuild the foundation of positive communication in your relationship,” she said. “It can work wonders to really talk about the bigger issues and things you do need to fix later down the road.”
Marriage Helper: 2020 was Important for Relationships
The global pandemic sent shock waves through people’s lives and created a challenging climate in which to build and strengthen relationships. Married couples may not have divorced at a higher rate than in previous years, but they certainly had many points of conflict and concern arise as the world changed dramatically.
Kimberly assured us that conflict is a normal part of every marriage. Even the most loving partners encounter points of disagreement, and even the strongest relationships can unravel if strong communication strategies aren’t in place.
“Things can be hard, but you can still work through it. We’ve had a hard year, but we are still breathing,” she said. “The same can happen for your marriage.”
Kimberly said her passion for her work is personal. Her parents created the Marriage Helper program after splitting up and getting back together — and then giving birth to her. If her parents had not worked through their differences, she would not have been born.
Marriage Helper has worked with thousands of married couples in an effort to reinforce the lessons and habits of strong, lasting, and healthy relationships. Such assistance is always in need, but the counselors have seen even greater interest in the wake of COVID-19.
Looking ahead, the experts at Marriage Helper hope to reopen for in-person workshops in the coming months.
“We’re even offering more services as well ass scholarships for online courses. We don’t believe that finances should stop anyone to keep their marriage together,” Kimberly said. “We’re continuing to do it with passion and fervor and not let anything stop us from helping the people who need us.”