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From the Editors

Last month the Australian Government launched the Stronger Relationships Trial – a one year program in which couples can apply for a $200 subsidy towards the cost of a marriage education course. Both the SmartLoving Engaged Course and Marriage Seminar qualify as well as courses offered by a number of other organisations.

It’s strictly limited to the first 100,000 couples so get on to the government website and apply for your subsidy now. You have until June 30, 2015 to complete a course. And make sure you tell your friends and your parish priest about the trial – this is a limited time offer and we want to see it well utilized.

More information about the initiative can be found in the feature article below or on the website.


Francine & Byron Pirola
Directors | Marriage Resource Centre

Feature Article: 

By Francine & Byron Pirola


In July, the Federal Government’s pilot ‘relationship voucher scheme’ comes into effect. The trial period has budgeted for 100,000 couples to receive a $200 voucher towards the cost of a relationship education class run by approved providers. One has to ask: Why, with so many cutbacks in the budget, would the government initiate a $20 million program focused on strengthening marriage and family life?

Divorce isn’t cheap

Kevin Andrews MP, the minister for Social Services is well versed in the value of marriage education. Together with his wife Margaret they are one of Australia’s pioneers in the field. His recent book “Maybe ‘I Do’” sets him apart as arguably the most well informed of the marriage research in the country.

As the Minister for Social Services overseeing a $140 billion annual budget, it is safe to say that he knows more than most the cost of marriage breakdown in the Australian community. It is estimated that a typical divorce costs the government in excess of $60,000*; made up of court costs and social welfare support (of which single parents are major recipients). The figure doesn’t include the cost to the individual family or their employer who will carry the burden of increased sick leave and lower productivity – both of which are well documented in the research.

Nor does it count the cost to their children who will move into a higher risk group for depression, anxiety, poor school performance, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse and, according to the research, can carry the negative impact of a parents divorce well into their adult lives.

The obvious question is: will marriage and relationship education help?

Marriage education is different to marriage counselling which tends to be sought in the terminal stages of a relationship. In marriage education the emphasis is on prevention; teach couples some healthy relationship skills and they can more intelligently and consciously manage their marriage. Just like cooking is natural and most of us can do the basics, if you want to be an expert you need to get some training. These days, while some marriages can survive without ongoing education, many won’t. Time set aside as a couple in a well-designed program gives couples skills and insights that build relational resilience and that helps their marriage thrive.

Marriage Education is not about making couples stay in dysfunctional or dangerous relationships. It’s about helping spouses to mature and up-skill so that they can create the marriage for which they long. Like any kind of professional development, it’s often the difference between a struggling marriage and a thriving one.

Here’s the investment proposition at the macro-level; if a typical divorce costs the taxpayer $60,000 then only 350 couples out of the 100,000 taking up this trial need to avoid a divorce for this to be good for all of us.  While a little over simplified, the potential for this trial is compelling. And at the mirco-level, we are saying to anyone who will listen: “get off the couch and do something for you marriage together”. It can’t hurt and it’s never been cheaper!

 * To have and to hold – Parliamentary Inquiry 1998

BreakThrough – Overcoming Relationship Gridlock

The BreakThrough Workshop focuses on debunking myths about marriage and providing information helpful to those in stressed or ‘gridlocked’ marriages. We have been delighted to receive overwhelming responses from participants on the content and practical strategies provided.

If you would like to host an event in their parish or would like further information, you can call our office on 02 9319 6280.

From the blog

My Many Marriages to the Same Person | Byron and Francine Pirola talk about their marriage being reinvigorated during certain part of their lives, when the transitioning between newlyweds and parents, through to challenges such as a death in the family.

How Porn Kills Great Sex in Marriage | Porn offers the promise of a quick fix. But really great sex requires an intimate investment, and the rewards of intimacy have built-in multipliers. That’s right, real intimacy has a plural impact on a marital relationship.

Love Needs and Busters | Most of us start out as self-centred individuals and suddenly find ourselves caring more about someone else’s happiness than we do our own

Save a marriage for $200 | This month the Australian Federal Government’s pilot ‘relationship voucher scheme’ has come into effect. Here is an insight into how this trial will benefit Australian’s and their economy.

On a mission to love | It’s no secret that for a marriage to be successful, it takes hard work. The foundation of a happy marriage is by making it the center of everything you do.

The Divine Rendezvous | “God and humanity are like two lovers who have missed their rendezvouz…”

What my girly novels taught me about love | The question about why we love to read romance novels so much answered by Agi Reefman.

Modest is NOT Hottest | Natasha Craig points out that being modest can not be equated with being hot, as compared to a woman’s talk she heard

Radio Spots

Tune in to Wollongong’s weekly Catholic radio show, The Journey on Pulse 94.1FM every Sunday from 11am, to hear a variety of Catholic speakers including Fran & Byron Pirola.

Or, listen to their individual 2 minute podcasts for their bite sized pieces of weekly wisdom.

To get all the SmartLoving Blog posts, follow us below, or sign up for the Free eBook to join our mailing list: here

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Thinking of a gift for your friends or family?

Whether they’re celebrating an anniversary or getting engaged, our gift vouchers are a perfect experience they’re sure to love!

The Marriage Seminar is a weekend event (includes meals). Purchase : here

The SmartLoving Engaged course is valued at $310. It’s the perfect engagement or wedding gift that will be used for the rest of their married lives. Purchase : here

SmartLoving @ Home

A series of DIY sessions you can use at home or in a small group. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you can download the file at the time of purchase and use the material on your computer, mobile device or make a print copy.

SL@Home Grateful

Grateful | When gratitude is present in a marriage, the couple’s good humour and welcoming generosity make their homes places of hospitality and warmth for all their visitors.

Responsible Honesty | It’s more than not telling lies; in marriage it requires an willingness to share deeply and vulnerably.

Sexuality as Gift | Learning to appreciate our sexuality and build the sexual atmosphere between us.

The Ambitious Couple | What is the role of ambition in marriage?

Hear Me Know Me | It is often said that we cannot love what we do not know.

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August 2014 | Sacrament Essentials – Baptism 
First stage of Catholic life

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