ST. BONIFACE — In 2014, the Archdiocese of Saint Boniface launched a new mentorship-based marriage preparation program, For Better and Forever.
Tim and Louise Scatliff, of Ste-Hyacinthe Parish in La Salle, who have been married for 42 years, are a sponsor couple with the new marriage preparation program. They are currently accompanying two couples who are preparing for marriage, and will continue to meet with them over a brief period of time after their wedding, as well.
“We help engaged couples talk about different subjects that could become issues between them,” explains Louise. “We let them read a chapter of the program, answer the questions individually and share their answers between them, and then we get together and chat. The aim is that they foster good communication skills and learn to understand each other better.”
Indeed, For Better and Forever is a marriage preparation program that is based simply on discussions between two couples of the same parish. The engaged couple meets the sponsor couple five times before the wedding, and once or twice afterward. Tim Scatliff explains that they aim to talk 30 per cent of the time and give the engaged couple the space to talk 70 per cent of the time.
“Our role is to listen to them and share our experience if it can be of any help to them. We don’t judge! At any rate, what is said between us stays between us; we won’t even share anything with the priest, unless the couple agrees to it.
For Better and Forever puts the two couples on the same level. No one has all the answers, and everyone benefits from the program, including the sponsor couple.
“We, as sponsors, also read the chapters and answer the questions. That allows us to discuss, and thus strengthens our bond,” says Louise.
“It is a satisfying experience for us and an excellent way to enrich our own marriage,” adds her husband.
Married in December 2014, Krystal and Ben Mitchell followed the program with Tim and Louise. “They had a lot of stories and ideas to share with us,” admits Krystal. “We talked about so many things that no one else would suggest you should discuss when you are about to get married! It was really good for us.”
For the time being, Tim and Louise Scatliff are the only sponsor couple in their parish, but they hope that another couple will soon be trained as mentors. So far, approximately thirty couples have been trained in the diocese. There is a continued need for more married couples who would be interested in taking part in the adventure.