Do-It-Yourself Marriage Preparation Course

An open approach

People are more likely to understand what they figure out for themselves than what someone else figures out for them

Jewish version 1b This course is in the public domain and may be freely distributed

His Notes
If you like, you can start off by writing down here what you would like to achieve by taking this marriage preparation course. When you’ve finished the course, come back and take a look at it.

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Her Notes
If you like, you can start off by writing down here what you would like to achieve by taking this marriage preparation course. When you’ve finished the course, come back and take a look at it.

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Table of Contents
This page intentionally left blank ...............................................................................6 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................. ..........7 GOING BEYOND THIS COURSE....................................................................................8 BEFORE STARTING YOUR COUPLE EXERCISES.............................................................9 SECTION ONE.......................................................................................................... ..11 A. FUN LEARNING ACTIVITIES................................................................................11 B. DISCOVER MORE ABOUT EACH OTHER..............................................................14 C. LEARN FROM OTHERS.......................................................................................17 SECTION TWO.............................................................................................. .............18 A. WHAT WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT NOW..............................................................18 B. DIGGING DEEPER.............................................................................................. .21 1. Communication Skills ....................................................................................23 2. Resolving Conflicts ........................................................................................24 3. Expectations in Marriage ...............................................................................25 4. Money Matters ............................................................................................. ..26 5. Recreational Activities ...................................................................................28 6. Children & Parenting Views ...........................................................................29 7. Family / Parents / Community Issues ............................................................30 8. Husband / Wife Roles ................................................................................. ....31 9. Family Backgrounds ......................................................................................32 10. Religious Values / Practices .........................................................................34 13. Sexual Relationship Issues ..........................................................................37 13. Other issues.................................................................................................39 C. ASKING AND LISTENING....................................................................................40 D. I FEEL LOVED WHEN …................................................................................. .....43

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E. I LOVE YOU BECAUSE ….................................................................................... .45 SECTION 3................................................................................. ...............................49 GOALS...................................................................................... .............................49 Personal Goals.......................................................................................... ..........49 Couple Goals............................................................................. .........................49 SECTION 4................................................................................. ...............................53 GETTING ALONG WITH IN-LAWS............................................................................53 Setting some goals ............................................................................................................ ...............53 Looking at differences ............................................................................................................ ...............54 When there’s tension ............................................................................................................ ...............55 Boundaries ............................................................................................................ ...............57 SECTION 5................................................................................. ...............................58 QUESTIONS ABOUT COMMITMENT.........................................................................58 Fine-tuning things........................................................................................... ....58 Sexual unfaithfulness.........................................................................................58 Divorce.............................................................................................. .................58 SECTION 6................................................................................. ...............................60 GETTING MARRIED............................................................................................. ....60 SECTION 7................................................................................. ...............................62 JEWISH MARRIAGE DOCUMENTS............................................................................62 Ketubah.............................................................................................. ................62 Binding arbitration agreement...........................................................................62 SECTION 8................................................................................. ...............................63 IN CONCLUSION..................................................................................... ................63

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Something I learned about “us” during this course:...........................................63 Something I learned about “me” during this course:.........................................63 This course was helpful to us in this way:...........................................................63 Acknowledgment.................................................................................. ....................64

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INTRODUCTION
It boggles the mind that many couples spend more time planning their wedding & honeymoon than they do their marriage. After all, a wedding is a day; a marriage is for a lifetime. Some think they don't have time for marriage preparation, or that it’s not necessary, or that it's going to be a hassle. You don't have to choose between having a great wedding and having a great marriage. You can have both. Think how much better things can be with a little effort on the front end. You'll get a heads-up to your relationship's tricky issues & have some compromises already worked out. You'll know that your mate cares enough about the long term relationship to put some effort into it. You'll begin your marriage with more realistic expectations. Having worked through this course material, you’ll be more settled and confident on your wedding day. And getting a good start to your marriage is very important. Advantages of the do-it-yourself course: • Do it at your own convenience with privacy in your own home or at the park. • Cover the same subjects as you would in a counselor's office. • Have fun learning together about each other and marriage. • Build confidence in your relationship’s strengths & explore need areas. Some sections of this course include written exercises that you should do independently of each other before sharing and discussing what you have written. To facilitate this, please print two copies of this document. No amount of marriage preparation will solve all the problems that will come up in your marriage. You don’t know what they are until life comes at you. But marriage preparation can reduce the number of unpleasant surprises. Be honest with yourself and with your partner in your discussions and when completing the written exercises. Don’t just say what you think he or she should, wants, or needs to hear. When you’ve finished this course, keep all the pages and competed exercise sheets in an envelope with your other important documents. Whatever life has in store for you, years from now you will be glad that you have them to look at again. Best wishes to you as you prepare for your life together as husband and wife!

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GOING BEYOND THIS COURSE
Most couples get the most out of marriage preparation when they follow a course in a group with other couples, or privately, under the guidance of an experienced teacher. It’s not always best to only go it alone. Having someone to guide you can help keep things on track, diminish any tensions that might arise, and make sure that you’re having fun too. On the other hand, for some couples the do-it-yourself approach might be a good way to go. Other things you can do beyond this course before you get married include: 1. Bride: Find an experienced kallah teacher. Groom: Find an experienced chatan teacher. Hopefully, you will develop a relationship with your kallah/chatan teacher that will last well into your marriage. This should be a person you trust and can turn to for guidance about things that you might not be comfortable talking about with someone else. Kallah and chatan classes before and after the wedding can be enormously beneficial.
2. Attend marriage and marriage preparation seminars. 3. Participate in a marriage mentoring program. 4. Face to face premarital counseling with an experienced Rabbi, licensed therapist

or marriage counselor.
5. Read marriage books, listen to marriage tapes, etc. and discuss together.

This marriage preparation course can also help you decide what steps you need to take next. For instance, if you decide you need to go for face to face counseling, this course will have helped you pin-point key areas for discussion.

In the meantime, relax and remember to have fun while you work your way through this course, especially if you hit any bumps along the way.

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BEFORE STARTING YOUR COUPLE EXERCISES
Review the Following Principles on Communication and Conflict Resolution 1. Communication takes time. Commit to take the time now & throughout your marriage to communicate. It is the lifeblood of your relationship. 2. Truly listen to each other, without judgment. Test your understanding by repeating back in your own words what you hear your partner say. If you get it wrong, try again. 3. Honestly express your thoughts & feelings to your partner. On the other side, be ready to accept what your partner says. 4. Remember that every relationship has conflicts. To start with men are from Mars and women are from Venus! When you have a conflict: ► Be clear. Don't expect your partner to know what you're thinking. ► Deal with it. Often resolving differences is a process that takes time. But unresolved issues do not go away. Resentments can build over years. ► Control your anger. Anger & other defensive tactics shut off communication. You may need to take a walk & delay discussing something. If so, agree on a time to come back to it within 24 hrs. Come back to it at the agreed time. Repeat if necessary. ► Don’t assign blame. Don’t use phrases like, “you always…”, “you never…” ► Clearly define the problem. Don’t bring other issues into the conflict. ► Compromise. Decide or negotiate a mutually agreeable solution. Think about what you really need vs. what you want and what you are willing to give up. Work out a solution that combines each of your individual needs. Then put it to the test. Remember, one person giving in isn’t compromise. ► Stay committed. In most cases, people can resolve their differences. When you do, it will give you confidence that

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problems don’t have to defeat you. Your relationship will be stronger & you will feel more secure in it. ► Seek outside help if needed. If you hit a snag, sometimes having a third party to give feedback and direction can be helpful. Contact a trained Rabbi or other trained facilitator for guidance. ► You may want to print out an extra copy of this page and keep it close.

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SECTION ONE
A. FUN LEARNING ACTIVITIES

Who’s right?
One of the benefits of listening to our partner is that it helps us see things from their perspective. Here are some questions you might wish to discuss: 1. Is there a subject you’ve been discussing where there is no right or wrong? 2. How does remembering this principle of “perspective” help in a marriage? 3. What are some areas in which men and women have different perspectives?

Stupid is as stupid does
Everyone has stupid arguments! Here’s one stupid argument: A husband was sitting in front of his TV eating from a bag of LAYS potato chips when he pulled from the bag the biggest potato chip you’ve ever seen in your life. He starts holding it in the air, waving it around and bragging as if he had the made the chip himself. All is fine until his wife reached over and crunched his potato chip! He got mad and an argument followed. Can each of you think of a stupid argument you’ve heard (maybe you were in it), and then answer the following questions.
• • •

What made the argument stupid? Why do you think it became an argument? How could the argument have been avoided?

Here are more questions you may want to discuss, especially if you tend to argue a lot:
• •

Are there certain conditions where we argue the most? Are there some “rules” we could establish for when and how we discuss differences?

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Do we believe that all disagreements must be resolved? What do we do if there is an unsolvable problem?

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Fix this problem
You are the counselor! What would you say to these couples?

She likes her family to drop in anytime to visit. He thinks it’s rude and inconsiderate for them to do so. He bought a new truck without talking to her about it. She’s upset because they are having trouble paying for their bills. She’s ready to have a baby. He says it’s still too soon.

Think of other couples you know of at work, in the family, etc. and problems they have had and how you would solve them. Discussing other couple’s problems will help you to reveal to each other your perspectives on how problems are solved.

Talk to me like this…
When it comes to communication and expressing love in a relationship, understanding personality differences is key. Do a short personality test online that tells you how to best love and how to communicate to your spouse given their unique personality. We tend to want to love and communicate to our partner in the way we like, rather than the way our partner likes. This exercise will help you see things from the perspective of the other person. You can find a personality quiz yourself online, or try this one: www.personalitytype.com/

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B. DISCOVER MORE ABOUT EACH OTHER My Uncle Left Me a Million Dollars!
It’s fun to dream, and our dreams say a lot about what is important to us. Let’s say you favorite uncle left you a million dollars! What would you do with the money? You might want to write out your answers separately, and then come together to discuss what you’ve written. You can learn a lot about each other’s aspirations, values and hopes.

My Best Family Vacation
This is a simple and fun exercise and one in which you can learn a lot about each other. Each of you describe your favorite vacation and what made it so great. Think about an activity that seems to bring families close together. Think about the problems encountered along the way but that pull you through as a family. Think about how you can use these examples to make your marriage and someday your family strong and close. It’s not necessarily how far you go, and how much money you spend. It’s what you do and what happens along the way. What are your thoughts?

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Two-Way Learning
Respect for each other is very important for a health relationship. One way of showing respect is by valuing the differences between us. There are different types of intelligence. One person may be a very good mechanic. Another person might be able to write a book about how to disassemble a car engine and then put it back together again, but be incapable of actually doing it. There are many kinds of “smarts.” Some are socially intelligent. They have a natural ability to relate well to others. Other people may not be so good in social settings, but can logically identify a problem, come up with solutions and solve it. Our vocations differ. Over a period of time we acquire knowledge and develop skills that others do not have. What is something each of you knows a lot about that the other knows little about?

What are each of your unique gifts and abilities?

Teach each other something. Take time to listen and learn from each other. Your partner will feel valued and respected.

Try On Another Pair of Shoes
Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. (Ladies, if he literally wants to wear your clothes, you may want to get him help). Be the other person and describe what your day is like. We all know what our day is like and all the problems we have to deal with. But what is my partner’s day like? Do your best to try to understand their unique challenges. What’s it like being them? Who are the people they deal with? What expectations do they face from others?

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What’s it like having you as a partner? .

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C. LEARN FROM OTHERS Good and Bad Examples
Does this sound too much like going to school? No need to go to the library for this research though. One of the best ways to learn is to look to role models, and even bad examples can teach us.

Each of you think of someone you know who has a successful marriage… not just long, but what you consider a good marriage. Each of you go separately & talk to the husband or wife and ask them about their marriage (asking will compliment them). Come back together and compare notes. What did you learn about marriage from your research?

Each of you describe a person or persons whom you consider to be an exceptional father or mother, or husband or wife. Of course, explain your choices…what makes them great in your estimation?

Describe a really bad marriage that you are aware of. What makes it bad? Where did it go wrong? How will yours be different?

Take a Field Trip
Go to the mall or a restaurant (she says, “That sounds like fun!”) and observe couples. How do couples treat each other? Are they in love? Can you really tell by looking? This is not meant to judge people that we don’t really know, but is a way of exploring your own notions of marriage. Your observations and answers will say a lot about your expectations for marriage (for instance, should couples show affection in public?)

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SECTION TWO
A. WHAT WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT NOW
There are a number of components that impact couple relationships. While you may have discussed many of these areas in your courting, the following exercise provides an organized approach to help you focus on the most important things you need to talk about now.

Each of you look through the list on the next page and decide on 3 that you believe are strength areas in your relationship right now, and decide on 3 that you believe are growth areas in your relationship right now (i.e. things that you need to work on).

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Written exercise # 1 1. Whoever goes first, be sure your responses are covered so your partner can’t see what you have marked (or use two copies).

2. Put a check mark beside each area that you believe you need to discuss together now. 3. In addition, mark an “N” beside the three areas you consider to be your greatest needs
or growth areas right now. Don’t be discouraged to recognize that you have relationship needs. All couples do.

4. Also mark an “S” beside 3 strength areas.
5. When you are both finished, take a look and see if you have marked most of the same areas. Discuss any differences, and what you were thinking when you marked what you did. 6. You will also find it interesting to see if you both marked the same areas as needs, or if there are some differences in your perceptions. Discuss your reasons for marking a component as a need.

Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ 1. Communication skills 2. Resolving conflicts 3. Expectations of marriage 4. Money matters 5. Shared recreation activities 6. Children & parenting views

His response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

7. Family/parents/community issues 8. Husband / wife roles 9. Family backgrounds 10. Religious views & practices 11. Personality concerns

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12. Sexual relationship issues

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B. DIGGING DEEPER
The following pages contain a list of points or questions for each of the above 12 relationship areas. It is there to help you get started in a discussion. Begin with those areas that each of you decided was one where you have needs, then work through the other areas. While you may have discussed many of these topics in your courting, this exercise provides an organized approach to help you focus on the most important things you need to talk about now. NOTICE! This is a fun & helpful exercise. Should you hit some bumpy spots, remember to practice good communication principles like these:

Let your partner be honest with you. - You don’t have to like or agree with what you hear, but negative reactions cause your partner to shut down. These reactions could include indifference, withdrawal, defensiveness, anger, put-downs, and threats. Listen. - Give your partner the time they need to express their viewpoint & seek to truly understand. Ask questions, & repeat in your own words what you heard your partner say. Speak to each other in a normal tone of voice. Remember the goal is to strengthen your relationship. This will enable you to work together toward solutions.

• •

Written exercise # 2 1. Circle the 3-6 areas (pages 18-30) that the two of you identified in the exercise #1 as being areas where you consider that you have the greatest needs right now. 2. Each of you, on your own, go through the points/questions in all 12 areas. For each area, put a check mark beside the point/questions that you think you need to talk about now, an “N” beside the 3 items where you think you have the greatest needs, and an “S” beside the 3 items where you think you have the greatest strengths. If you can’t find strengths in every area, that’s okay; don’t put an “S” just for the sake of it. 3. Together, look at each other’s worksheets and begin your discussion with the 36 circled areas and the points/questions indicated by an N. Continue with the

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points/questions indicated by a check mark. There is space on page 27 to identify other issues not covered. 4. Discuss the points/questions that you have identified in the remaining areas.

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1. Communication Skills Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ His response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

The amount of time we have to talk. Differences in our communication styles. What I/you do when we have trouble communicating. The topic hardest for me to discuss with you is: ___________________________ ___________________________ My/your ability to openly & fully express ourselves. My/your tendency to use put-downs. My/your not listening. My/your repeating things. My/your honesty. My/your exaggerating. My/your becoming quiet and withdrawing. My/your yelling. My/your whining. My/your interrupting. My/your dominating the conversation. My/your getting too emotional. My/your lack of interest in what I say. My/your talking mostly about superficial things. My/your misinterpreting what I say. My/your finding excuses. Asking what I think about something then not accepting the answer. Putting words in my mouth. Our acceptance (or lack) of what one of us says. Becoming negative in our communication. Wanting me to agree with what you say. Keeping secrets. What we talk about most of the time. Needing my approval. We avoid talking about: ___________________________ ___________________________ We need to find someone to help us communicate better. Other:

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2. Resolving Conflicts Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ His response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Our general ability to resolve conflicts. My/your tendency to give in too quickly. My/your need to be right & get my/your way. My/your tendency to say one thing, then do another. My/your getting upset over trivial things. My/your lack of taking issues seriously enough. My/your not saying enough. My/your talking too much. My/your avoiding dealing with conflict. My/your sabotaging things. My/your ability to share feelings/thoughts. My/your ability to accept other’s feelings/thoughts. My/your tendency to magnify the negative and minimize the positive. Our unresolved issue(s) of: ___________________________ ___________________________ An issue we have not discussed is: ___________________________ ___________________________ My/your getting angry too much. My/your saying hurtful things. My/your lying. Need to find someone to help us resolve conflicts. Who has to have the last word. Differing/opposing political views. Should we discuss with each other our personal conflicts with parents? How does that affect our relationship/marriage? Engaging in conflict with parents in the presence of our partner. How does that affect our relationship/marriage? Will we ever air our differences in public or in front of our children. Our ability to compromise. I/you need to find someone to help learn anger management skills. Other:

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3. Expectations in Marriage Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ His response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

___

___ ___

My/your expectations of our marriage. Do you expect me to meet all your needs? What happens if unexpected problems come our way? What do we believe about commitment in marriage? Are you going to try to change me? What? How? Are you going to let me be my own person. Are you going to give me the freedom and the space I need. What do you expect me to give up for you? Do we always have to present a unified front to others? Can we each express different views/opinions publicly and to family? Does only one of us speak on the couple’s behalf? Who? What does that to each of us as individuals? Are we partners? What does that mean? Is the wife separate from the husband, but equal? If the wife pursues higher education or Jewish learning, is she neglecting her role as wife and mother? Does the wife submit to her husband? What does that mean? Does the husband occupy a position of authority with respect to his wife? What happens if one or both of us has to put in long hours at work/school? How do we reconcile differences? Arrive at compromise? How do we view romantic love in a marriage? Is he supportive of her education, learning and career goals? What if it interferes with his needs? What if it interferes with childcare? Is she supportive of his education, learning and career goals? What if it interferes with her needs? What if it interferes with childcare? Once they’re married, can the man do with his wife as he pleases?. Other:

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4. Money Matters Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ His response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

What are our expenses & can we pay the bills? Who will “keep the books?” Who will prepare the tax returns? Have we consulted with a financial planner yet? Does/will she know everything about his finances? Who will make investment decisions? When and for what will we borrow money? Are we going to keep a budget? Will we have credit cards & for what use? Will all our money go into a joint account, separate banking accounts, or separate banking accounts + a family account? Will we have a separate bank account for our charity contributions? What are the debts each of us has? What is the interest rate on the debt? How long will it take to pay it off? What are the current savings/assets each of us has? How much money does each of us owe our parents/friends? How much financial support/inheritance do we expect to receive from our parents? Will both of us work now? Later? When we have children? Will we move if one of us receives an offer of better pay? Each others spending habits. When do we need to consult with each other before spending money? How much of our income will we save? What we will save for? Will our children have an allowance to spend at their discretion? How much? Will they paid for household chores? Would we ever give/lend money to a friend/family member? Would we ever accept/borrow money from a friend/family? Will we shop for discounts? How much will we spend on fun stuff? What does money represent to us? How important should money be in our thinking & lives? What kind of living accommodations do we want? When will we purchase property? How will we decide? Do we want a pre-nuptial agreement for financial matters?

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___

Other:

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5. Recreational Activities Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ His response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

What we will do for fun. Will we spend time away from each other? How long? How often? How will we balance work and play? Number & kind of activities we both can enjoy. This is something I really enjoy doing with you: ___________________________ ___________________________ This is something that you like that I’m not really interested in: ___________________________ ___________________________ This is something I’d like us to do more together: ___________________________ ___________________________ This is something I don’t like doing/being associated with: ___________________________ ___________________________ This is something I’d like to do with others without you: ___________________________ ___________________________ This is something I’d like to do by myself: ___________________________ ___________________________ I’m concerned about the money you spend on this activity: ___________________________ ___________________________ What are your views/feelings about guns (for recreation, or for protection)? Other:

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6. Children & Parenting Views Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ Genetic testing for rare, serious autosomal recessive disorders.
(Contact your local Jewish family service organization to obtain free testing at least a month before your wedding (it takes at least 3 weeks to get the test results).

His response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

When will we have children? How many children will we have & spacing? Would we ever consider adopting a child? How will we nurture our children? Who will discipline our children? How will we discipline our children? Will we ever slap/spank our children? The role of the father. The role of the mother. If we discover we can’t have children, what then? What value do we place on spending time with our children? Will he change diapers? Will she breastfeed? What value do we place on showing affection to our children? What value do we place on family mealtimes? Do we want to be together as a family on Shabbat and Jewish holidays? Will one parent always be at home with the children? Will we send our children to daycare? From what age? Who will pay for daycare? Does one of us stay home to look after sick children? Who? How will children and parenting affect our marriage? Do we want our children’s’ friends to spend a lot of time at our home? Do we want private, public, or home schools for our children? Will we enroll our children in extra music, dancing, art, sports, other classes? Will we send our boys/girls to boarding school? If yes, at what age? Will our children receive a Jewish education? Will our children learn Hebrew? Yiddish? How? Will we send our children to a Jewish elementary school? Will we send our children to a Jewish high school? Will we arrange to live near our children’s school? What will our children do during the summer? Camp? Will we send our children to Israel? Where? For how long? At what age? Other:

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7. Family / Parents / Community Issues Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ His response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

How supportive our friends/family are of our marriage. How your family feels about me. How my family feels about you. The time you spend with your family/friends. The kind of relationship that I/you want our children to have with his parents. The kind of relationship that I/you want our children to have with her parents Family members/friends that nose into our business. What does it mean to live in a community? What are the disadvantages to living in a community? What are the advantages to living in a community? Do the benefits of living in a community outweigh the disadvantages? What do I/you think would be an ideal community to live in? A family member/friend of yours that concerns me is: ___________________________ ___________________________ A family member/friend of yours that I really like is: ___________________________ ___________________________ How close/far away we want to live from our parents. Will we accept/ask for financial help from our parents? How will we decide where to go/who to invite for the Jewish holidays? How you speak to/treat my family. What happens if one of my/your parents needs special care? What happens if my/your parents need financial assistance? Other:

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8. Husband / Wife Roles Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ His response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Will we both work outside the home? I/you working fulltime outside the home while the children our growing up. Our division of labor at home. Who will be ‘in charge’ of the house? How will we make major decisions? My/your role as father? My/your role as mother? Who will keep up with the money? Who will shop for groceries? Who will do the yard work? Who will do house repairs? Who will keep the house clean? My/your tolerance for mess? My/your tolerance for dirt? Areas that have to be clean/tidy and the ones that can be messy? Who will do the cooking? What kind of diet do we want? Who will decide menus? What kind of relationship do we want our children to have with food? Who will clean up the kitchen after meals? Who will get up in the middle of the night with the baby? Who will help children with homework? Who will discipline the children? What happens if we disagree about issues involving the children? Will we have a housekeeper? Babysitter? Nanny? How will it be paid for? If we have a housekeeper, do we expect her to pick up everything after us, or do we keep the house tidy ourselves? Whose role is it to educate the children? Whose role is it to create a Jewish atmosphere in the home? Will she light Shabbat candles? Other:

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9. Family Backgrounds Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ His response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Similarities/differences. How much time our families spent together/apart. How our families expressed their love to each other. How decisions were made. How children were disciplined. Who disciplined the children. How conflicts were handled. Who did what (roles). The stability of our parent’s marriages. How holidays & birthdays were celebrated. What we did for vacations. What we did on weeknights. The freedom our parents gave to the children to do what they wanted. How supportive our parents were of the children. How much our parents talked with and listened to the children. How our parents arrived at compromises. What kinds of things our parents did with the children. Father spent time with the children. Mother stayed/did not stay at home to raise the children. Value placed on education. Value placed on girls’ education. Value placed on girls’ advanced Jewish education. The time our parents spent together alone. The time our parents spent with friends. Our parents’ income level. The portion of their income our parents spent on their children. The way children were taught about money. How crises were handled. Family political views. The place of religious observance in the family. Family secrets. What we can learn from our families, good or bad? Other:

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Family backgrounds (cont’d)

I would like to emulate my father/mother in these ways: His response:

Her response:

I want to avoid emulating my father/mother in these ways: His response:

Her response:

Her response:

His response:

The person I like most in my family is: ___________________________ ___________________________ The person I like most in your family is: ___________________________ ___________________________ The person I like least in my family is: ___________________________ ___________________________ The person I like least in your family is: ___________________________ ___________________________

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10. Religious Values / Practices Her ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ response His response Our views on the importance of religious life. ___ The role of religious practices in our relationship. ___ How active will we be in the Jewish community? ___ How active will we be in a Synagogue/minyan? ___ Will we affiliate with an orthodox/conservative/reform Synagogue? ___ Will we live within walking distance of a Synagogue? ___ Will we seek out and participate in Jewish learning? ___ What she/he believes about: ___________________________ ___________________________ A non-negotiable belief or practice for her/him is: ___ ___________________________ ___________________________ What we will teach our children about: ___ ___________________________ ___________________________ My/your personal religious life. ___ How Judaism can help us deal with problems. ___ How Judaism can help us grow. ___ What Judaism teaches about marriage, husbands & wives. ___ Will we keep kosher in the house/outside the house? ___ What would not being kosher mean for us re visiting kosher friends/relatives? ___ What would it mean for them? Will we keep some/all Shabbat observances? Which ones? ___ Will we keep some/all Jewish holiday observances? Which ones? ___ What will we do about any religious differences between us? ___ What will you think/feel/say/do if I someday become more/less religious? ___ What will I think/feel/say/do if you someday become more/less religious? ___ What will be the wife’s/mother’s role in the Jewish life of our family? ___ What will be the husband’s/father’s role in the Jewish life of our family? ___ Will he wear a kippa at home? Outside the home? At his/her parents’ home? ___ We will give our children Hebrew names? ___ Will our son have a brit milah (circumcision)? ___ Will our daughter have a naming ceremony? ___ How do we envision preparing our children for their bar/bat mitzvah? ___ How will our parents feel about our choices in religious practice? ___ Our difficulty in discussing religious matters. ___

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

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___ ___ ___

Our need to discuss our viewpoints/difficulties with a Rabbi. Do we/will we have a Rabbi to turn to for advice and guidance? Other:

___ ___ ___

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11. Personality Concerns Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ His response My/your stubbornness. ___ My/your temper. ___ My/your anger. ___ My/your hostility. ___ My/your honesty. ___ My/your generosity. ___ My/your introversion/extroversion. ___ My/your jealousy. ___ My/your moodiness. ___ My/your irritability. ___ My/your bad habits. ___ My/your impulsiveness. ___ My/your self-esteem. ___ My/your vulnerability to stress. ___ My/your abuse of food/drugs/alcohol/tobacco ___ My/your inflexibility. ___ My/your demeaning things/people. ___ My/your insecurity. ___ My/your sneakiness. ___ My/your domineering behavior. ___ My/your inability to listen to me/others. ___ My/your tendency to be judgmental. ___ My/your interpersonal skills. ___ My/your self-centeredness. ___ My/your swearing. ___ My/your possessiveness. ___ My/your tendency to denigrate. ___ My/your negativity. ___ My/your intolerance of:__________________ ___ My/your insecurity. ___ My/your anxiety. ___ My/your controlling behavior. ___ My/your manipulative behavior. ___ My/your using put-downs. ___ My/your criticizing. ___ My/your tone of voice. ___ Other: ___

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13. Sexual Relationship Issues Her response ___ ___ ___ His response

Your expectations of me sexually. ___ What I need from you sexually. ___ Sexual acts I’m not comfortable with: ___ ___________________________ ___________________________ ___ Amount of affection in our relationship. ___ ___ Our method of birth control. ___ ___ Who looks after birth control. ___ ___ Will he use a condom? ___ ___ Previous sexual experiences and/or abuse. ___ ___ My comfort level in talking to you about sex. ___ ___ How often will we make love? ___ ___ Concerns or fears I have about sex. ___ ___ What sex means to our relationship. ___ ___ Male / female viewpoints in regards to sex. ___ ___ Is physical attraction/sex the basis of our love? Is there another kind of love? ___ ___ How I feel about my body/sexual attractiveness. ___ ___ Using sex as a punishment or reward. ___ ___ Having sex when there is tension or anger. ___ ___ Should the man always/ever initiate sex? ___ ___ Is sex the man’s marital right? ___ ___ Is sex the woman’s marital right? ___ ___ Can we be affectionate without sex? ___ ___ Is sex a pleasurable experience? ___ ___ What happens if one of us doesn’t feel like having sex? ___ ___ What happens if sex becomes physically painful for her (eg. after childbirth)? ___ ___ Will we have a double, queen, or king bed, or two twin beds, ___ or a double and a twin bed? ___ Will we have sex during her menstrual period? ___ ___ Will she immerse in a mikveh following her menstrual period? ___ ___ She will go to the mikvah after how many clean days (1 2 3 4 5 6 7)? ___ ___ She/he wants to observe all/some taharat hamishpach (family purity laws). ___ ___ Can the man force is wife to have sex? ___ ___ Other: ___

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13. Other issues

“These are some other things I’d like for us to discuss that were not listed anywhere above” His response:

Her response:

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C. ASKING AND LISTENING
Husbands & wives need to both ask for what they want and listen to their partner ask for what they want. We all have needs and there is nothing wrong with wanting those needs met. But it must go both ways for a healthy relationship. The following exercise will give you practice in assertively asking for what you want & need and in listening to what your partner wants & needs. NOTICE! Assertiveness does not mean being rude, aggressive, disrespectful, inconsiderate or inflexible. Assertive communication involves advocating for your own needs while still being considerate of others and respecting their needs. It opens the lines of communication; it doesn’t shut them down.

Written exercise # 3 1. Print out two copies to respond separately to the points on the next page. 2. Rate from 1 to 3 how important each item is to you (“1” is of lesser importance & “3” is of greater importance). 3. There is a blank at the end for “other” if there is something else you think of that’s important to you. 4. When both are finished, discuss your 3’s & then others as you wish.

As you share your responses:

Listen carefully to your partner as they express their needs and why these are important to them. This is not meant as an opportunity to make selfish demands. Be realistic in your expectations and be willing to compromise in some areas.

• •

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Ask and Listen
(“1” is of lesser importance & “3” is of greater importance to you).

Her response ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

His response Spend most of your free time with me Let me make my own decisions Change a personal habit of yours if it bothers me Always tell me what you are thinking Discuss with me before spending money ___ Join in with me in things I like to do ___ Go shopping with me ___ Have sex with me whenever I want ___ Kiss me every day Show / don’t show affection to me in public Have no contact with former girl/boyfriends I’d like to spend regular time with my parents Both of us be involved in religious activities Speak about me & to me with respect in public I want you to like my parents ___ I want my parents to like you ___ Remember special days with presents Call if you are running late Clean up your own messes ___ Throw away old love letters ___ Have good personal hygiene ___ Talk to me face to face daily ___ Always tell me what’s bothering you Compliment me often ___ Keep the house clean ___ Keep yourself attractive Dress nicely all the time Be home in the evenings Help with meal preparation Make me feel better when I’m down Take care of me when I’m sick Support me in my dreams Plan fun dates for us ___ Be nice to my family ___ Let me go on extended trips without you ___ ___ ___ ___

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

___ ___

___

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

___

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___

Other:

___

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D. I FEEL LOVED WHEN … …
It’s important to keep your relationship positive & loving. This exercise further helps you to express to your partner how you are made to feel cared for. This keeps your partner from having to guess (and maybe guessing wrong) about what you appreciate most. .

Written exercise # 4 Each of you complete the statement “I feel loved by you when you…” on the next page. Write down 3-5 things your partner can do. Once you’ve both written down your responses, share your list with your partner. Discuss and explain if necessary, but most importantly do the things your partner has listed . . . and enjoy!

NOTICE! As you write down your responses apply these principles:

Keep it positive. Don’t write, “I feel loved when you don’t nag me.” Instead, “I feel loved when you remember to call me during the day” or “I feel loved when you tell me you love me.”

Make the cost of the behavior free or inexpensive. Not “I feel loved when you buy me jewelry” but, “I feel loved when you rub my back” or “I feel loved when you bring me a romantic card”

Choose something that can happen every day or with some frequency. “I feel loved when you kiss me hello and/or good-bye” or “I feel loved when you compliment me on my appearance.”

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His response: I feel loved by you when you . . . 1. _______________________________________________________ 2. _______________________________________________________ 3. _______________________________________________________ 4. _______________________________________________________ 5. _______________________________________________________

Her response: I feel loved by you when you . . . 1. _______________________________________________________ 2. _______________________________________________________ 3. _______________________________________________________ 4. _______________________________________________________ 5. _______________________________________________________

“A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never her age” “Women like silent men. They think they are listening.”

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E. I LOVE YOU BECAUSE …

Written exercise # 5 1. Individually, answer as much as you can to complete the following phrases on the next pages. • I am marrying you because … • The things I admire / like about you include … • Our relationship is good right now because … • My favorite “memory” of us right now is … • We share these common values, beliefs and goals in life … 2. After you’ve written down your answers share them with each other.

Make sure to keep these pages in an envelope and put it away with your other important documents. Get it out on your anniversary and enjoy it all over again. You will also want to look at it when your marriage hits a rough spot. When we are in conflict with our mates, we tend to magnify the negative and minimize the positive. We also forget the past and what it was really like.

Your notes will remind you why you married this person.

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•I

am marrying you because:

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• Qualities

I admire / like about you include:

• Our

relationship is good right now because:

• My

favorite “memory” of us right now is:

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• We

share these common values, beliefs and goals in life:

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SECTION 3
GOALS
Print out two copies of the next 2 pages

Personal Goals

Written exercise # 6 1. Print out 2 copies of the “Personal Goals” worksheet. 2. Each of you work on Part A of the “Personal Goals” sheet separately. 3. When you’ve finished, exchange the sheets and discuss the answers. 4. Working separately again, answer Part B on your partner’s sheet. 5. When each of you has finished, exchange the sheets again and discuss the answers to Part B.

Couple Goals

Written exercise # 7 1. Print out 2 copies of the “Couple Goals” sheet. 2. Each of you work on the “Couple Goals” sheet separately. 3. When you’ve finished, exchange the sheets and discuss your answers.

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PERSONAL GOALS
PART A My personal goals What goals do you have for yourself for the next 1-5 years? How I will achieve my goals PART B How I will support you in accomplishing your goals

What goals do you have for yourself for the next 5-10 years?

What is one dream you would like to fulfill before you die? List the five things you value most in life. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

COUPLE GOALS

Our shared goals What are our shared goals as a couple for the next 1-5 years?

How we will achieve our shared goals

What are our shared goals as a couple for the next 5-10 years?

What is one dream you would like to fulfill as a couple before you die? List five shared values (Note: if they don’t overlap with your respective personal goals, that’s okay. You can talk about that). 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

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Our Family

Written exercise # 8 1. Do the exercise on this page together.

Brainstorm ideas about what we want to stand for as a family.

Write up a short statement that reflects the goals and values that we want for our family. Make it something that you will be proud of.

SECTION 4
GETTING ALONG WITH IN-LAWS
Criticize them, make fun of them, dismiss them, disrespect them, push them away, ignore them. This is a common approach for dealing with in-laws! But is this really such a good idea? Here are some better approaches. First off, until now your parents have known you as their child. Now they have to get to know you as a couple. It’s a process, so be patient and give them time to adjust. Soon, you will have to get to know your fiancé all over again too, this time as a wife/husband. Then you will have to get to know her/him all over again once again as a mother/father. When your children leave home you will have to get to know each other yet again in your new roles. And so it goes. Life is full of change. Setting some goals You need to be intentional about your relationship with your family. Describe the kind of relationship you want to have with your respective families: His response:

Her response:

Looking at differences Marriage brings together families and diverse people with differing expectations.

Discuss your families’ differences in terms of: generational gaps, geographical factors (city vs. rural), national origins, sophistication, education, financial levels, spiritual / religious viewpoints, etc.

How will you work to bridge differences (eg. generation or value gaps)?

What is the difference between acceptance and agreement?

What does it mean to you to love someone unconditionally?

Who do you clash with most in your family? Why? What are the strong/weak points of the person you clash with?

Try re-framing negative qualities you perceive in certain family members: (Example, meddlesome becomes ‘concerned’, bossy becomes ‘leadership’) _______________________ becomes _______________________ _______________________ becomes _______________________

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_______________________ becomes _______________________ _______________________ becomes _______________________ _______________________ becomes _______________________ When there’s tension

How will you keep lines of communication open even when relationships are strained?

What is your plan for remaining calm if an antagonistic family member tries to draw you into an argument?

How will you respond when you are given unsolicited advice?

How will you deal with contentious subjects?

You know what your complaints are toward your future in-laws. Now consider the major complaints that your in-laws may have toward their children-in-law, and how you can respond to them in a positive way. In-laws’ complaints: positive way: How we can respond in a

_______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________

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_______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________

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Keeping things positive

What can you do to promote harmony when you’re with your respective families?

What fun things can you do with your respective families that will help strengthen relationships?

Boundaries

How will you know issues with your respective families are affecting your marriage and what will you do about it?

What are the boundaries for your new nuclear family (currently just you and your partner) and how will you communicate these to your respective families?

When you need to be assertive with your respective families, who should do it? When should it be done? How should it be said?

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SECTION 5
QUESTIONS ABOUT COMMITMENT
This section may seem very negative to some…but it shouldn’t be viewed that way. Commitment is a big key to a successful marriage. This section can only help to be sure a couple understands each other’s views about commitment in marriage and to each other. Here are some questions to get you started. Divergent needs What happens when my individual needs aren’t the same as yours?

Fine-tuning things Do we need to fine-tune our approaches to handling problems & handling money?

Sexual unfaithfulness How are we going to guard ourselves from sexual unfaithfulness?

Divorce Under what circumstances could we imagine getting a divorce?

Should our marriage end in divorce, can we make a commitment now to be respectful of each other even if there is devastating hurt and

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disappointment, to be careful of each other’s future happiness, and to protect our children from the fallout?

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SECTION 6
GETTING MARRIED
Why are we getting married? His response:

Her response:

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Are we getting married for the right reasons? His response:

Her response:

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SECTION 7
JEWISH MARRIAGE DOCUMENTS
Ketubah Have we read, understood, and fully discussed the ketubah with our Rabbi? What outstanding issues or questions do we have?

Binding arbitration agreement Judaism has recognized the concept of "no-fault" divorce for thousands of years, The binding arbitration agreement is intended to facilitate the timely and proper resolution of certain marital disputes. When, in addition to the Ketubah, a couple about to be married signs this agreement they thereby express their concern for each other's happiness. Some couples may wish to sign other prenuptial agreements for financial, property, or other reasons. In those cases, the couple should sign a civil prenuptial agreement, each with the advice of their own counsel, and incorporate the binding arbitration agreement by reference. Please ask your Rabbi which agreement he recommends. There are different versions currently in use, including:
America California Israel http://www.rabbis.org/pdfs/Halachic%20Prenuptial%20Arbitration%20Agreement.pdf http://www.getora.com/PDF/California_Prenuptial_Agreement.pdf http://www.youngisraelrabbis.org.il/texts/Englishtranslationrevised 040906.doc

Have we read, understood, and fully discussed the binding arbitration agreement with our Rabbi? What outstanding issues or questions do we have?

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SECTION 8
IN CONCLUSION
Something I learned about “us” during this course: His response:

Her response:

Something I learned about “me” during this course: His response:

Her response:

This course was helpful to us in this way:

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Acknowledgment
With grateful appreciation to Ralph Griggs for permission to use material from his online marriage preparation course.

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