Jane and John start dating. Their infatuation and feeling of trust skyrockets as they disclose details of their lives. Within three months, the rose on their blooming love has faded.
Half of all dating relationships end by the third month, statistics show.
“You might say love is blind, but that’s when the heart and the head aren’t matching up with each other,” said John Van Epp, Ph.D., who’s bringing his relationship know-how to Columbus for a lunch seminar, “How to Avoid Falling in Love With a Jerk.”
The Oct. 15 luncheon headlined by Van Epp is the community launch for Right from the Start, a citywide marriage and family initiative.
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Led by Fran Magoni, former director of the Pastoral Institute’s Center for Servant Leadership, Right from the Start teaches — among other things — that emotionally healthy communities are as healthy as the marriages in them; and that good marriages are also tied to financial well-being.
A component of the luncheon, in fact, will be the signing of the “Columbus Community Marriage Declaration,” in which area clergy will commit to: provide young people and single adults tools and resources to help them make healthy choices in their present and future relationships; offering couples the opportunity to discover their “marriage readiness”; and provide at least six hours of premarital counseling.
The last time Columbus clergy staged such a public signing was in 1997. At that event, the Rev. Michael McManus and his wife Harriet Mc-Manus from Marriage Builders were keynote speakers.
“More people are trained on how to get their driver’s license than how to get their wedding license,’’ the Rev. Emmett Aniton of Friendship Baptist Church told the Ledger-Enquirer in 1997.
PICK a Partner
Van Epp, who lives in Ohio, is the author of the PICK a Partner curriculum, which stands for Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge. His video, “How To Avoid Marrying A Jerk,” is taught in seven countries and 45 states by hundreds of churches, singles organizations, educational settings and agencies.
His newest book is “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk” (McGraw-Hill).
In a couple’s premarital stage, Van Epp said time is one factor that determines how they will fare in marriage — because time reveals character traits, good and bad.
“People don’t reveal their true selves right away,” he said. As the relationship moves beyond infatuation, “what you’re getting to know is repeating patterns and habits.”
It’s important, for instance, to note how your significant other treats you when he or she gets angry, he noted.
“Things start revealing themselves. The problem is, a lot of people get way too invested early on,” Van Epp said.
Van Epp teachesasecondprogram, Marriage LINKS, which applies his Relationship Attachment Model to maintaining the closeness and intimacy in marriage, according to his Web site. He has also presented this program internationally in seminars and conferences. Van Epp has been married for more than 25 years and has two daughters.
The following organizations are sponsors of the October launch: The Pastoral Institute; NeighborWorks; The Family Center; Enrichment Services Program, Inc.; and New Horizons Community Service Board.
In addition to Magoni, the following clergy gave their signatures on a mailing about the initiative: the Revs. Harry McCall, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and pastor of Corinth Baptist Church; Rich Martindale, president of the Muscogee County Clergy Association and rector of Trinity Episcopal Church; Larry Biggers, pastor of Northside Chapel; Wayne Anthony, pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church (Anthony is also a Columbus city councilor); and John Adams of the Turner Ministry Center at the Pastoral Institute.