Organizers are hoping a skills-based program that gives couples the tools to keep marriages together also will benefit the community.

Oklahoma Marriage Initiative will present Rock Your Marriage, a free two-day seminar open to married couples and anyone considering marriage, Nov. 10-11 at Denny Price Family YMCA.

The seminar will help couples build a solid foundation for marriage, improve communication skills and learn how to solve problems and handle conflict, the seminar’s facilitator said.

Jack Myrick, facilitator and the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative’s community events director, said statistics show Oklahoma has the second-highest divorce rate in the nation and couples have a 50 percent chance of divorcing. He said research shows couples that go through the course can reduce their chances of divorce by 50 percent.

“We go and learn how to play piano from an instructor. We go to school to be a fireman,” Myrick said. “Nobody teaches you relationship skills.”

Ken Rapp, executive director of Denny Price Family YMCA, said the workshop fits into the YMCA’s goal of building strong communities and families.

“Strong families and good relationships make for good, strong kids,” Rapp said.

Myrick said the workshop will help couples reduce and manage conflict in a safe way. He’ll go over four danger signs that can kill relationships, and show couples how to identify the signs and minimize them.

Myrick stressed the skills-based program isn’t like group counseling, it helps couples learn specific skills and real strategies.

“We don’t sit around and open up and share feelings,” Myrick said. “We don’t sit around and sing ‘Kumbaya.’”

The format is conducted in a non-threatening way and couples can be as vocal or as quiet as they wish. He said part of the seminar includes reminding couples how they can keep the fun in relationships and keep the friendship alive.

“Friendship is huge,” Myrick said, adding children, careers and busy lifestyles often get in the way of maintaining friendship. “What gets squeezed out is friendship in the relationship.”

Myrick said OMI is training about 35,000 couples each year, but the training has never been conducted in Enid.

“We’re just thrilled,” Myrick said. “We think it’s going to be a great event.”

Rapp said the YMCA decided to host the event to encourage more people to attend. Instead of a local church hosting the event, organizers decided to utilize the YMCA to encourage those who might not want to attend church-related activities. He said the YMCA provided a non-threatening atmosphere.

The free event is 6:15 to 8:45 p.m. Nov. 10 and begins with a barbecue dinner. On Nov. 11, the seminar begins with a continental breakfast at 8:45 a.m. and continues until noon. Rapp said the dinner and workshop is informal and participants should dress comfortably.

Interested couples should sign up for the seminar by Monday. Those registering by Monday are eligible for a free one-week family membership to the YMCA.

Child care is $5 per child and will be provided by the YMCA with a $10 maximum charge. Rapp said anyone who can’t afford child care is eligible for a child care scholarship and can call Rapp at 237-4645 for more information.

Register online at www.reg

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