Marriage

Could An Online Marriage or Intimacy Program Benefit Me?

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The simple answer is yes. But, let’s go a little deeper here.

Online education is rapidly becoming one of the best ways for people to get immediate access to help that they’re looking for, and this includes marriage help. I expect that over the next several years, e-courses are going to become more and more accessible. Here are some of the pros and cons I see to getting marriage help from an e-course. 

Benefits of taking online marriage courses:


Flexibility in your schedule:
One of the biggest reasons for people to pursue online courses is simply for the flexibility that it allows. You don’t have to worry about the availability of a therapist or if you’re going to be able to get your schedules to line up perfectly. You also don’t have to worry about leaving work during your normal business hours, and if you’re doing this with your spouse, you don’t have to make sure that you’re on the same schedule. And, a huge benefit here is that you typically have access within a couple of hours of signing up for the course. For busy professionals, this flexibility and immediate access is a must.

In some cases, you have lifetime access to training material:
This will vary according to the instructor and sometimes according to the “release schedule” or access guidelines, but many times educational courses offers you a system of learning that you continue to have available to you even after the initial process of reviewing the material for the first time. This can be really great if you’re likely to forget some of the lessons and know that you’ll need an occasional refresher of the material. If you’re doing traditional therapy, you’d need to record all of your sessions AND remember what was learned in each appointment to go back and listen again. This is a pretty impossible task for most of us. E-courses, on the other hand, not only give you access to the material but also label it well. If you needed to remember how your instructor talked about a specific concern, you just head back to that video lesson and watch it one more time. And, if you and your spouse disagree about how an assignment should be handled, you can re-watch that lesson together. Just make sure nobody says “I told you so” after rewatching. 😉

Access just requires a decent Internet connection:
A huge benefit to online marriage courses is that all you really need is an Internet connection. Even if you’re in a public place, a good set of earbuds will give you the privacy you need to learn on the go. And, many times you can easily access courses from your phone or download audio files. This gives you complete access even when you’re on the go. You can literally listen on your drive to work, while you’re at the gym, or even when you’re doing chores.

Location flexibility:
What an incredible world we live in, right? One of the biggest benefits to online courses is that you’re not limited to the experts that are within driving distance to your home or work. As long as you speak the same language as the course instructor, you can literally take a marriage course from anyone anywhere in the world. That is certainly a major advantage to online marriage work.

Alright, let’s be fair and talk about some of the cons as well.

Risks of taking online marriage courses:

A bit too much flexibility:
While flexibility is super ideal, it can also be the main reason that a task gets forgotten or moved to the back burner. All of us tend to take care of that thing that is highest on our priority list. And, that usually happens to be the thing that’s due next. With such flexibility, some people are guilty of buying an e-course and then never completing it.

A lack of 1-2-1 teaching:
A benefit that you get with the in-office counseling experience that you don’t really get with online courses is the opportunity to share exactly where your pain points are in your marriage with examples, and then direct guidance that is specific to your actual concern. Marriage courses can only provide general advice through their training videos. And, even when courses offer free membership into a group of people with similar experiences and Q&A sessions, it can still feel like the advice is so generalized that it’s a little tough to apply it to your own situation. Luckily, some courses will offer check-ins where you get more specific advice, or the instructor will do a formal assessment-type process while you’re in the beginning stages of the course so they can provide you with more specific help.


It may be hard to discern the instructor’s level of training or expertise:
There really isn’t any governing board of educational courses unless you’re actually taking them at the academic level. Certainly, this would not be what you’re doing when you’re looking for marriage help. Since there are no regulation boards for e-courses or e-learning, literally anyone can create a course and put it out there for the world to buy.

This means that your instructor may simply be offering advice that helped them in their marriage, advice they’ve read about in books or learned about in school, or they may be offering advice from their experiences working with other couples. Make sure that you know who your instructor is. Do a little research and see if you can find some free material that you resonate with. Just use caution here and make sure that the course you are purchasing is done by someone who clearly knows what they’re teaching. Also, be really weary of the hard sale or the “huge discount” for quickly making a decision. This is a sales tactic that can certainly lead to some regret on behalf of the buyer.

Summary:
Taking an online courses for marriage help can have both benefits and risks. But, you can set yourself up for success by minimizing those risks. 

First of all,  if you’re going to use an e-course as your primary form of marriage help, make sure that you schedule the times that you’ll work on the course and the times you’ll do a check in with your spouse. Make these times sacred by prioritizing them and letting nothing else get in the way of your learning time or your check-in time. An ideal course would have some sort of scheduled check-in process for you so you can stay motivated and moving forward toward your goals.

Secondly, try to find a course that has some flexibility in it and offers you more of what you need instead of just a “general package” for everyone. While there is definitely benefit for the “all-inclusive” information that most couples need, there is a greater benefit with a course that can be a little bit more fine-tuned for your specific marriage concerns.

And finally, make sure you do a little research on your course leader. Go a little deeper than the TV shows they’ve been on or even their testimonies and advertised successes. Read about them and find them online to see what kind of expertise and knowledge they have. And, if you want to make sure that the course integrates your faith, make sure that the course leader has a theology that you can agree with. 

Taking those steps, even though they might take some time, will make it much more likely that you will benefit from the online marriage help. 

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