I feel blessed to have Stephanie in my life. However, I have lived and seen enough that I know that finding your life mate does not guarantee ever lasting love and happiness. Most of us have seen or perhaps even experienced relationships that start off strong, but over time the couple grows apart and the bonds of love and friendship slowly fizzle out. Instead of fizzling out some relationships end in destructive patterns that may even lead to contempt and hostility. Approximately half of relationships end in divorce and many other couples stay in ambivalent relationships. The odds of having a fully supportive relationship that sustains itself for the long haul are not in our favor!
Perhaps because I know the statistics when it comes to marriage,I decided to educate myself on what I can do to have a strong fulfilling relationship and avoid destructive patterns that may harm my marriage. Stephanie decided to take this journey with me. We do our best to practice principles shown to improve relationships and to avoid patterns that would be destructive to our marriage. I find myself transforming old habits from the past and also feeling more secure and happy in our marriage as our relationship matures. For example, instead of being a problem solver I now listen and show empathy (see article "It is Not About the Nail"). As we both grow in this journey together it is allowing us to let go of unhelpful habits and patterns in ourselves or at least to soften them.
We also decided that we wanted to share what we have learned with others who are interested in strengthening and enriching their relationships. We have been fortunate enough to become Gottman educators and to receive training in the Gottman Seven Principles Program.
We initially settled on charging $795 per couple for our workshops, which is approximately what others are charging for Gottman Couples workshops. (Gottman Couples Workshops are considered the gold standard when it comes to relationship programs.) We even considered charging more because we believed that our education, training, professional experiences, instructional skill, and our experiences as a married couple would allow us to offer an uncommon level of value to other couples. However, after some deep reflection, we have decided to offer our workshop for substantially less money. Moreover, we also decided to have a sliding scale policy for any couple who cannot afford to pay the full amount.
We prefer to take this approach because Stephanie and I have a strong commitment to service. I grew up in a high poverty and high crime urban neighborhood. My parents were immigrants from the Dominican Republic with few financial resources. However, what they lacked in financial resources they made up for in love and dedication to their family. I feel blessed to have multiple degrees from Ivy League schools and it was my parents that I was thinking of when I received my Ph.D. from Columbia University. I feel fortunate to have been able to serve others in my capacity as a licensed clinical social work and a professor these last couple of decades. Stephanie's parents also came from humble beginnings and are social work and educational professionals that live their lives serving others. Stephanie has followed in their footsteps and has an amazing career empowering others.
However, despite our preferences this was not an easy decision to make. We are not wealthy and we live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. We were also worried that by charging less money than others it may send the wrong message - that what we had to offer was of less value. This would be a tough pill for us to swallow because we believe what we have to offer is of the highest value. Ultimately we decided to have faith and trust that offering the best value for a workshop out there will raise the boats of many more families and couples including the boat for our own family.
Our workshop entitled "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work", will take place in a beautiful and elegant space at the Culture Center in Manhattan across the street from the Museum of Natural History and Central Park. It will be educational, entertaining, and emotionally rewarding.
I think you can all appreciate how difficult having a self-funded enterprise of this type can be. Please help us spread the word to your family and friends. Many thanks! Stephanie and Juan.
Watch this Video to Find Out More About Us
and Our 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work Program