Classes begin Jan. 10
By Deb Silverthorn
Jewish Family Service’s (JFS) Newlywed Course will bring newly married couples closer together, strengthening their relationships and building foundations. The two-hour, six-session classes run from 6 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 10, 17, 24, 31, Feb. 7 and 14, with a second session beginning on Feb. 21. All classes are held on-site at JFS and available also via Zoom.
JFS’ course is based on Dr. John Gottman’s 40 years of research, with thousands of couples spanning decades of successful marriages. Beth Broodo, who has served as a clinician at JFS for 16 years leading individual and couples’ group-therapy programs, and Ariela Goldstein, JFS senior clinician and director, developed the course for JFS. The series is intended to increase friendship in marriage, teach conflict negotiation and help couples to create shared meaning.
Gottman is a world-renowned researcher of relationship stability and divorce prediction. Broodo has led couples’ therapy and her couples’ workshop at JFS for the last eight years based on his “Sound Relationship House” model.
“In 2014 at UT Southwestern I had the privilege of taking level-one training from Dr. Gottman,” said Broodo. “His research has followed thousands of couples at different stages of marriage through time for decades in physiology, emotions and verbal and nonverbal communications to understand the differences between happy couples and couples who are on a divorce path.
“In that work he created tools to build a ‘sound marital house’ which includes building the couple’s friendship: love maps, shared fondness, turning toward, positive sentiment override, managing conflict and creating life dreams and shared meaning.”
Some of the program’s curriculum is in response to a survey of young couples that returned interest in heightening and strengthening their knowledge about roles and responsibilities, finances and building relationships; managing conflict; and dealing with in-laws.
Broodo’s training also includes her participation in a PAIRS course, which uses evidence-based skills training for strong marriages as well as a partner skills class by the Shalom Task Force, an organization dedicated to preventing domestic violence in Jewish homes. JFS’ Newlywed Course incorporates some of these skills.
After facilitating a workshop for couples coping with cancer, participating couples told Broodo they felt more connected and happier in their marriages after having attended. JFS professionals saw a need to widen the program beyond those dealing with illness to a more general audience, specifically to newlyweds.
“Our course is a woven synergy of relationship skills and outlook to enhance effectiveness and satisfaction in marriage,” said Broodo. “We’ll delve into love languages, conflict style and learning how to understand oneself and one’s spouse better to give and receive more successfully. I wish a course like this existed when I got married.”
Each class will focus on a topic and skill that are spoken about, and then each person will do an individual exercise using that tool. Couples will share their responses with their spouse and practice reflective listening and validation, and the therapist will listen in on each couple and monitor. Couples will then leave each class with insight and messages along with mindfulness homework to carry the tool into their marriage.
“This newlywed workshop is a unique weave of tools, support and marriage development sources, and we’re hopeful we will launch healthy couples, while also encouraging those who are struggling to [pursue] an earlier intervention,” said Broodo, who hopes in the future to offer the class to congregations throughout the community. “While we do cover some tools that are especially helpful to newlyweds like finances, roles and expectations and family dynamics, the course will benefit any married couple.”
The class costs $1,200 per couple, $850 if registration is made 30 days or more before the class begins; scholarship funds are available. Registration includes a private consultation with the facilitating therapist at the beginning and end of the series. For more details, visit jfsdallas.org/newly-wed-course and to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.