In fulfilling its mission to build healthy families and healthy children, a local coalition is providing couples with several ways to bolster their relationships.
The West Virginia Healthy Families Healthy Children Coalition of Ohio and Marshall counties will sponsor a Date Night on Friday, Feb. 3, as well as marriage and pre-marriage classes for local couples.
"With the date night, our goal would be for couples to be able to have a night out and receive some education about marriage in a fun way," said Cheryl Kaczor, a West Virginia University Extension agent in Marshall County who heads the coalition.
Laura and Jay Laffoon will bring their humorous take on marriage to a Date Night set in Wheeling on Friday, Feb. 3. The event is free and open to the public.
"Edutainment" will be provided by Jay and Laura Laffoon, a married couple from Michigan whose 90-minute workshop includes comedy, banter and music.
"Through the ups and downs of more than two decades of marriage, the Laffoons have come to realize that a textbook cannot teach you about marriage- only being married can teach you about marriage!" their website states.
"Our goal is to simply live our marriage in front of others. In the process we hope our audiences realize that all married couples share the same struggles and joys along the journey," they say on the site.
Carol Kent, a speaker and author, said: "Jay and Laura Laffoon ignite sparks of inspiration on and off the platform. They are extraordinary communicators who are hilariously funny, gut-level honest, and right on target with practical wisdom that helps all of us to make marriage a celebration every day."
The event will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Wheeling Park White Palace. Free tickets are available at the Marshall County WVU Extension Service in Moundsville or the Vineyard Church, 647 Warden Run Road, Wheeling, or by calling 304-843-1170.
In addition, the coalition is offering two series of classes, the Marriage Course and the Pre-Marriage Course, starting in February.
The Pre-Marriage Course is a five-week series that begins Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Vineyard Church, 647 Warden Run Road, Wheeling. There is a small fee per couple for materials. Each class, which takes place from 5:45-8:30 p.m., consists of a DVD presentation, dinner and private discussion time. Topics to be covered include communication, commitment, resolving conflict, keeping love alive, shared values, finances and in-laws.
"Statistics show that anybody who attends pre-marriage courses have a higher level of satisfaction in marriage and tend to stay together longer," Kaczor said.
"The marriage preparation course tackles some of the important issues which will undoubtedly arise within a marriage and aims to help couples begin their life together on a firm footing," according to promotional materials. The course is relevant for any engaged couple or couple married up to one year, Kaczor added.
The Marriage Course is a free series of seven sessions that begins Friday, Feb. 17, at 6 p.m. and includes a candlelight dinner and "date night" atmosphere followed by a DVD presentation and private discussion time. Topics include building strong foundations, the art of communication, resolving conflict, the power of forgiveness, the impact of family - past and present, good sex, and love in action. Child care is provided.
"These sessions are open to anyone in the community. ... Every couple has their own table - there is no group discussion. What we feel like we do is we give people tools to use to strengthen their relationships," Kaczor said.
The Date Night and both courses are sponsored by the coalition, Vineyard Church and WVU Extension. To register, call the extension office, 304-843-1170.