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How PAIRS Helps Solve Relationship Problems: Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is PAIRS more like a classroom setting or is it like group therapy?

    PAIRS is like a classroom. The leader presents material and participants ask questions and practice skills with coaching available. 

Married Healthy Relationship2. My spouse dislikes therapy. How is PAIRS different?

    PAIRS teaches to a group of people in a classroom format. Participants can sit back and learn without saying a word if they so choose. No practice exercises are forced upon participants.

3. But what if I just hate groups? Would I have to talk in front of people I do not know?

    Many people who "hate" groups love PAIRS. No one EVER has to talk in front of the group. You can learn just from hearing other people share. The group ultimately provides a safe place to try out new skills and feels, for most people, very accepting. It also allows people to see courage and growth in others. Participants often state that they finally realize how normal they are in their own struggles.

4. Is there a predictable agenda to the courses?

    Definitely. Each PAIRS course has a given set of skills to cover in the time scheduled which has been designed by the national PAIRS organization.

5. How many participants are present for a PAIRS program?

    Mature Healthy RelationshipIt varies. A typical class size is between 12 - 18 participants.

6. My partner and I have already had private couples counseling. How can PAIRS help us?

    PAIRS is different in several ways from private counseling and is not intended to compete with or replace one to one work with your therapist. PAIRS can be useful as an addition to private counseling. It has a strong teaching component, which is why it is termed psycho-education; seeing the strengths and abilities of other couples can have a very powerful effect on your sense of new possibilities; and also there is a specific agenda for each day that is adhered to. PAIRS is a skills-based course that provides for, as its name suggests, very practical applications that can be learned and repeated to maintain healthy relationships.

7. I have a therapist/counselor I am already using for private therapy. Can I come to PAIRS and still retain my current relationship with him/her?

    Absolutely. We have several therapists who regularly refer their clients to PAIRS programs to give their clients the maximum growth opportunities

8. If I were to compare PAIRS psycho-education to traditional marriage therapy, how much would I be getting?

    The PAIRS Relationship Mastery Program has over 120 teaching/practicing hours (which would approximate two and a half years of weekly private sessions).With PAIRS you will gain skills at a very rapid rate that saves time and is cost-effective...

Young Healthy Relationship9. I really don't think that we can make the radical changes because of all our commitments (kids, jobs, time pressures, financial obligations, business or school commitments). What can PAIRS do for us if we are so busy?

    We find that most people who take PAIRS are very busy people. Part of the commitment to take PAIRS is to set aside time and to make the relationship a priority. PAIRS teaches skills to help people connect in the hectic world. It also helps couples examine their lifestyles to make changes that often lead to more fun and happiness.

10. We've been married for more than 20 years. Can the PAIRS program help us change after all these years?

    SURE. We've seen tremendous changes people can make, even when they have been married for 50 years. We find that it's not the length of time married, it's the desire and commitment to change and grow and experience joy that makes the difference. PAIRS sometimes enables people to rekindle a spark that becomes a wonderfully pleasurable relationship again.

11. Do the classes and the other PAIRS activities help us develop a good plan for our marriage in the future?

    Yes. Before you graduate from the Relationship Mastery Program, you and your partner will get to prepare a plan for where you want your marriage to be in six months and beyond. We find that when you have a plan, you are more likely to reach your goals.

12. I'm not in a relationship right now. I'm lonely, but frankly I'm scared to try again. How can PAIRS help a single person like me?

    PAIRS helps singles know themselves better and helps them discover more about healthy relationships. Singles have told us that after taking the PAIRS classes, they feel more able to choose appropriate friendships or partnerships and they have an increased frame of reference for healthy pleasurable possibilities.

13. How is PAIRS different from other marriage assistance programs I have taken?

    There are a number of programs available. One significant difference is that the semester-long PAIRS program is longer, and more comprehensive, allowing for change to happen over time and for more material to be presented and experienced. In comparing PAIRS to one other program, for instance, a participant who has taken both explains: "Marriage Encounter is like a sip of coffee and PAIRS is like the whole cup."

14. What kinds of people go through the PAIRS program?

    All kinds: young, old, middle aged; happy couples looking to find ways to experience even more joy; couples with "the attorneys on hold . . .looking for one last ditch effort", people trying to decide if their partner is "the right one", singles looking to figure out what it takes to have a lasting relationship. The design of the curriculum and the psycho-educational process enables all sorts of different people in different situations to grow and learn and change.

15. Will all the people in my class be around my age or will there be people of all ages?

    The class usually has participants of all ages. The older people usually say they are envious of people who take it while they are young because it provides them with skills to use to have many years of happiness, and avoid some of the mistakes they might have made. It also reminds them of the positive relationship energy they might have lost over the years – and are working to regain in the class. The younger people learn from the experience and insights of the older couples, and often gain enormous resolve to make the time to keep the relationship a top priority.

16. What is the "success rate" of PAIRS?

    Excellent! People have made important decisions, have grown and bonded together in healthy ways or have been able to leave relationships that are not fulfilling and bonded. Countless marriages have been saved. People have learned to experience joy!

17. We have been seeing each other for almost a year and are beginning to think about the long term. Can PAIRS help a new relationship?

    ABSOLUTELY! PAIRS grads in similar situations have gained skills necessary to make the commitment to each other. People in a new relationship without a lot of baggage learn ways to keep their relationship current and deal with problems effectively so that baggage does not have to build up. It will help them see the speed bumps of life before they get to them, so that they can go over them gently, or go around them.

18. When does the next PAIRS course begin?

    We offer PAIRS Relationship Mastery Program once a year, starting each Fall. Other shorter or introductory classes are offered throughout the year.  See our Schedule of Classes for the program that is just right for you.

19. I'm still not sure-- where can I find out more?

    In the Spring and Summer we offer presentations of a four-hour workshop called “Riding Relationship Cycles: How to keep your balance and not fall off!”, which gives participants the experience of learning relationship education skills in a group setting.  At the close of the workshop, we present a brief PAIRS preview, where the course facilitators, Ellen & Chuck Purcell, along with some recent graduates of the PAIRS program, briefly discuss the outline of the upcoming longer PAIRS classes, registration and fee information, and are available for questions. For the date of the next introductory workshop call 703-476-5644 or see our Schedule of Classes.

PAIRS in Virginia is an effective marriage counseling alternative to help couples restore clear communication, avoid fighting, diffuse anger, solve problems together and reenergize intimacy.   Our classes teach you the skills you need to sustain a happy relationship!  Call 703-476-5644.


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