Marriage is a goal that many students have for their futures, and some students are even in the process of planning weddings on top of their schoolwork right now.
However, one thing that tends to get lost in the search for a soulmate is what happens after the wedding. Senior psychology major Kaylee McDonald understands that marriage is a completely different story, and that is why she is hosting a premarital workshop later this month.
Psychology professors Dr. Priest and Dr. Blunt will discuss topics such as “sex like it really matters,” and “the challenges and rewards of a two career family.” McDonald will also talk about reflective listening.
Students can also expect special guest speakers President John Pistole and his wife Kathy Harp, who will be sharing their personal marital advice in a Q&A format.
Psychology professors Dr. Griffith and Dr. Stull will discuss topics such as “marriage with kids” and “creating a relational prenuptial agreement.” The admission price is $2 per couple in advance or $3 at the door.
McDonald aspires to be a marriage and family counselor in the future. Her inspiration behind the premarital workshop was her recent capstone project, which involved researching attitudes toward premarital counseling.
AU students can benefit from attending McDonald’s workshop by learning about the realities of marriage. “As much as people talk about the before part of getting engaged, the question after that becomes how to prepare for the marriage part,” says McDonald.
McDonald plans to teach about reflective listening, or intentional listening that shows the speaker that they are being heard and understood.
“Reflective listening is truly for everyone,” says McDonald. “You can apply listening skills in any of your friendships, not just in your romantic relationships.”
Senior Brie Epperson and her husband, recent graduate Kris Epperson, will also offer advice for newlyweds.
The workshop will also incorporate role-playing scenarios that will depict common situations that arise in marriage. “The role-playing will give realistic examples of challenges and situations and how to appropriately respond,” says McDonald. “I would love to really challenge them to do this on their own.”
All of the psychology professors scheduled to speak are married, and several have previous marriage counseling experiences. Griffith and Priest have practiced marriage counseling in the past, which gives them a unique and professional perspective for students to hear and learn about.
“Psychology relates so well to this topic and to everything in our lives, such as feelings and communications with family or loved ones,” says McDonald. “Psychology is the study of human behavior, which helps us learn how to communicate in healthy ways.”
In relation to applying these workshop lessons to students’ spiritual lives, McDonald says that “most of what will be discussed points back to the Bible.”
“When I speak about reflective listening, I will reference back to scripture that mentions when to be slow to speak, and quick to listen.”
Many of the discussions that will take place will provide not only advice on healthy relationships, but insight on how to incorporate Christ into a marriage. “It’s important to apply spirituality to our relationships,” says McDonald. However, she hopes that regardless of a person’s religion, they would feel comfortable attending.
In planning this workshop, McDonald was guided by her psychology professors through their topic recommendations and suggestions regarding who she should select as guest speakers. McDonald designed the workshop to be less of a lecture and more of an interactive learning event.
Other fun activities McDonald has planned include a raffle with prize winnings for couples and singles, along with various snacks provided for all attendees. Additionally, there will be handouts with main points that people can take home with them to refer back to later.
“I hope the types of questions and discussions being covered at the premarital workshop will challenge AU students to strive for healthy marriages in their futures,” says McDonald.
The workshop will take place the weekend after spring break, on March 23 and 24, in the Fair Commons lobby.
Students can register to attend the premarital workshop by emailing McDonald at