Group aims to help area singles find lasting love
by Katherine Mullen
Post-Newsweek Media, Inc./Gazette.Net
Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007
Dating in 2007 hardly resembles the traditional courtship of your parents'
Driven by changing social attitudes, many singles group date, speed date or log
on to online dating services to find and marry Mr. or Ms. Right.
In order to help singles of all ages find the right person to marry and avoid
unnecessary heartache, Amy Gilford, community relations director for the
Marriage Resource Center of Carroll County, is partnering with Marriage Savers
of Frederick County to teach "How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk⁄Jerkette." The new,
four-hour workshop began Nov. 12 and continues Nov. 19.
Gilford believes that young people don't know how to date or even what a date is
supposed to be. The loss of family guidance, an increasingly mobile society and
increased cohabitation of unmarried couples have all shaped the modern dating
scene, Gilford added.
"I want people to look at this before they're in a romantic relationship.
There's so much out there that's not working," Gilford said before the class
began. "We believe in marriage. We don't believe in the hook-up culture."
Marriage Savers of Frederick County is a faith-based nonprofit organization that
works to strengthen and preserve marriages and reduce the rate of divorce and
cohabiting unmarried couples in the county. Fifty percent of marriages in
Frederick County end in divorce, according to the organization's Web site.
Monday was the first time that Marriage Savers of Frederick County offered the
workshop at a cost of $40 per person for two classes. Ten single men and women
attended the first class at the Frederick County Family YMCA.
John Van Epp, a marriage counselor and former minister, developed "How to Avoid
Marrying a Jerk⁄Jerkette," through a series of five videos for individual use,
or by instructor certification. The workshop's goal is to balance the emotions
between head and heart, so that singles can better predict what a partner would
be like in a marriage before the ink dries on the marriage license.
Gilford has already taught two such workshops and often does shortened
presentations to community groups in Carroll County.
The Rev. Robert Donk, executive director of Marriage Savers of Frederick County,
said the nonprofit wants to offer the class on a regular basis not only to older
singles, but also to youth groups, older teens and parents. Registration is
closed for Monday's class and a date hasn't been set for the next workshop.
Using the program's workbook and introspective questions as a guide, Gilford
instructed the group of singles to first take time to know a person, then trust,
rely, commit and finally, engage in sexual expression only when married.
Advancing through these stages in order, and not moving too quickly allows a
relationship to progress safely, Gilford said.
Katie Kosola of Green Castle, Pa., said she did everything backward during a
three-year relationship that ended badly. Raised in a Baptist household with
traditional values about love and dating, "I have an appreciation for the
guidelines they suggest here," Kosola said. After her break-up Kosola said she
channeled her energies into other activities for a year and decided to go back
to the "old-fashioned" values of her upbringing.
Gilford instructed the class to know a prospective spouse's family background,
attitudes and actions, compatibility, previous relationships and communication
Focusing on yourself while single and knowing what you want out of a
relationship is just as important, Kosola added.
How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk⁄Jerkette'
Don't date someone who has:
Marriage Savers of Frederick County: www.marriagefredcomd.org.