Couple sits together

As a licensed marriage and family therapist, Ratcliffe noticed a need to help students strengthen their marriages.

November 27, 2017
Writer: Emma Drake

The BYU-Idaho Wellness Center is now offering a marriage workshop designed to help married students successfully navigate through five issues common to all marriages. The program offered by faculty member Cole Ratcliffe began in the Spring 2017 Semester. Now in its second semester, the Common Colds of Marriage workshop provides a resource for students who are struggling with their lives at home.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist, Ratcliffe noticed a need to help students strengthen their marriages. Ratcliffe used his experience to form a list of issues he has noticed couples face.

"I came up with the common issues I noticed as a therapist and as a teacher teaching this material," Ratcliffe said. "I came up with five issues and five simple solutions to those problems. These are things that everybody is going to experience to some degree."

After narrowing down his list, Ratcliffe began to compose the curriculum for the workshop.

"While developing the curriculum, I thought of how I help couples as a therapist with these issues. I then tried to take it from the therapy level down  to the educational level and package it into a 60-90 minute curriculum."

Ratcliffe says he designed his workshop with the goal of helping students have meaningful marriages and be strong leaders in the church and in their communities.  

"If somebody's home is broken, their capacity to serve outside of the home is limited," Ratcliffe said. "You can have a great, solid leader but if his or her marriage is broken it is hard for them to fulfill their capacity. They can do it, but it is harder."

Ratcliffe wants to help students avoid the shame that is often associated with the struggles of marriage.

"I started to think that we have to do more for these young couples because they are not dating effectively and then they transition to marriage," Ratcliffe said. "A lot of shame is associated when things are not going well. People tend to hide or suffer in silence because of that shame."

Katherine Wahlen, who graduated last July, taught alongside Brother Ratcliffe while she was a student. Teaching this workshop was a great opportunity for Wahlen to strengthen her own marriage while gaining experience by providing marriage education to other students.  

"I felt that the students who came to the class really benefitted by realizing that some of the struggles that they have been through as married couples are not at all unique to them," Wahlen said. "Not only were their problems common, but they also came with an antidote! Realizing that there were solutions to the problems they're facing acted as a catalyst of empowerment to help them address the things in their marriage that were holding them back. As a student of marriage education, it has really blessed my marriage so much."

For more information about the workshop, contact the BYU-Idaho Wellness Center at wellness@byui.edu.