Over the last few months, there have been ads in the Jewish newspapers advertising The SHALOM Workshop. According to their ads,
"The goal of the Shalom Workshop is to teach engaged couples practical tools to achieve a healthy marriage...the Chassan and Kallah will cover important issues such as:
Increased understanding and sensitivity to each other’s feelings.
Communicating effectively through a sense of mutual respect.
Promoting self confidence in each other.
Now, this sounds like a fantastic idea to me. Anyone who has ever been married can tell you that it can be really hard to make a marriage work, and a little pre-marital coaching can only make things easier.
But... when I mentioned the workshop to a friend whose daughter had just gotten engaged, the daughter and her fiance got very insulted. They thought that I was implying that there was something wrong with their relationship and that they needed counseling. Actually, they're a lovely couple who were made for each other. I have every expectation that their marriage will, G-d willing, last forever. It's just that every couple, no matter how well-matched, can only benefit from something like this.
In most Orthodox communities, Taharat Hamishpacha (mikvah) classes are standard for brides (and sometimes grooms as well); we would be doing ourselves a favor if we made this workshop a standard part of getting married as well.
It's a lot more important than the caterer or the band.
Weinstein, Mayim Bialik and the Perils of Religious Instruction - *I wrote the following for my Beit Midrash's weekly email, and on reflection I'd like to get feedback from a broader population, so I'm reproducing it here...
5 hours ago