Friday, June 08, 2007

Keep Your Marriage Healthy

While we've had our bumps along the way, I'd generally say that my marriage is in pretty good shape. Before we were married, an issue forced us into counseling, but through that we learned how to communicate with each other and actually address our issues before they blew up into big problems. Even now, Aaron and I often recommend counseling to friends who confide relationship problems to us. We sincerely believe it can help if both partners are committed to improving their relationship.

But what if you don't have time to go see a counselor, or what if you'd simply like to do a little preventative maintenance on your relationship? A counselor isn't always the most practical solution. Which is why eHarmony (yes, the singles site) has created the eHarmony Marriage site. This new program is designed to help you improve your marriage by pinpointing trouble spots and then having a series of exercises, articles, and personalized advice to help you improve those problems.

The program first has both partners answer a detailed questionnaire about their marriage. From that questionnaire, a personalized marriage profile is created for you. This profile focuses on ten relationship areas, such as commitment, family, values, sex, and companionship. Each area shows each partner's happiness level with a smiley face (or frowny face). Clicking on any category gives you an overview of the category, followed by a few sub-categories with personalized information about your situation, and advice on how to improve that area. Also featured on the side are articles related to the topic and exercises you can complete on your own or as a couple.

The questionnaire was very detailed, although Aaron really didn't like the method for answering the questions. Instead of yes or no questions, or little buttons from "Completely disagree" to "Completely agree", there is a little slider bar that you adjust to indicate your level of agreement. I can see his problem with this - if one partner is more likely to slide the bar to either extreme, while the other is more conservative, it can skew the answers.

Aaron and I both completed our questionnaires, and were happy to see the general overview telling us our marriage was in good shape, but had a few minor problems to work on. However, when we clicked on our profile, we were surprised to see so many little frowny faces. We were both conservative in our slider bar action, so I can only guess that this led the program to interpret our responses as unhappiness, when this isn't the case at all. Perhaps better instruction is needed in how to use the slider bar, or less sensitive interpretation at the least.

The articles are excellent, however. It's nice to be reading a personal evaluation about your relationship, and see recommended articles that apply to specific issues you may be having. The exercises, though, are the truly interactive part of the program. They are a blend of videos and guided exercises to help you think about the topic and start the process of making changes. Aaron and I did an exercise together which, while a little general, was thought provoking and interesting, and it convinced us to work on setting some common goals together. You do need some time to do the exercises - the one we did took about a half hour.

As for the cost, the program is $49.95 per month, or you can buy three months access at a time for $39.95 per month. Consider the cost of a marriage counselor, and this is a cheaper option for many.

The beauty of eHarmony Marriage is that you can take it at your own pace. If you only have time together late at night, the program is right there waiting for you - just try to get a counselor at 11pm at night. You can start and stop at any point, coming back when you want to work on the areas you want to work on.

While I don't think this is the ideal solution for a marriage in true crisis, this is an excellent program for those suffering from minor problems or for those who simply want a marriage "tune-up".

To see more reviews of eHarmony Marriage, check out the Parent Blogger Network.


Dana J. Tuszke said...

I've yet to try this site out. I'm a little scared at what it might say! :)

Jenn said...

glad to see it wasn't just us with the slider issues!

Elizabeth said...

OMG we had those same slider issues, which I will be mentioning in my review on Friday! I tended to slide way up or way down, whereas Chris just barely nudged his one way or the other, so we got a whole bunch of frowny faces! He kept saying "honey, I SWEAR I'm not unhappy"!