Nearly half the marriages in the United States end in divorce, and for many couples, their wedding day marks the beginning of a horror story instead of a fairy tale ending.
Family Resources and a local author hope to change that.
The nonprofit organization that serves families in the Tampa Bay area has developed a program called You and Me. We. The program aims to develop healthy marriages through interactive relationship skills workshops and private couple education sessions.
Kristin Geeslin, community relations specialist for the program, said relationships are like most things in life.
"If you want quality, you have to put in quality time," she said.
You and Me. We. will present a workshop called "Avoid Marrying a Jerk(ette)" on Saturday. Aimed at couples considering marriage, the session will focus on topics such as how to pace a relationship, red flags and what constitutes a healthy attachment process.
A second workshop will kick off Tuesday evening and run for four weeks. "Relationship GPS" is geared toward married couples and designed to help them keep their marriage healthy by focusing on communication and conflict resolution skills.
Both workshops are free and open to the public and will take place at the Family Resources center at 5180 62nd Ave. in Pinellas Park.
Geeslin said even healthy relationships need attention.
"It's like your car; you have to maintain it," she said. "People spend more time maintaining their cars than they do on their relationships."
In addition to the workshops, You and Me. We. offers premarital and private couple education with a licensed therapist.
Completion of the four-hour premarital course qualifies participating couples to receive a discount on the marriage license fee in Pinellas County.
Joe Cuenco, a local author and businessman, has partnered with Family Resources to market the program. He shares the organization's passion for creating healthy marriages.
"We are taught at an early age that successful results are typically a reward of diligent effort. Practice hard before the baseball game. Study hard before the test," he writes. "But why is it that we don't proactively plan and invest up front in the same fashion with our relationships and marriages?"
Cuenco said the Family Resources program will help couples learn to work on their relationships before problems develop.
"It is oriented toward understanding and investing in marriage through an education process up front."
Cuenco is conducting research for his upcoming book, which will focus on successful long-term relationships. He will draw not only on the expertise of people in the field of marriage and family, but also from the experience of couples who have maintained successful marriages for 25 years or more.
"The book will serve as a tool kit for people to understand from the experts what makes a marriage successful," he said.
Couples interested in more information on the programs offered through You and Me. We. can call 1-888-650-0869 or visit youandmewe.com.
Couples married 25 years or longer who would like to take part in Cuenco's research can call (727) 344-3790.
Michael Maharrey can be reached at (727) 893-8779 or