More take classes for marital bliss

More take classes for marital bliss
Mr Tan Chee Guan, 26, and his wife Thiang Jie Ting, 24, took a marriage preparation course last year. Mr Tan, a civil servant, said the course helped the couple understand each other better.

SINGAPORE - A growing number of soon-to-be-married couples are going for classes to learn how to live happily ever after.

More have signed up for secular marriage preparation classes over the last few years, checks with the Ministry of Social and Family Development and several voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) have shown.

The ministry, for instance, has given rebates to more couples who complete marriage preparation courses by groups it supports. It has issued more than 500 rebates on average each year over the past few years, up from 350 in 2005 and 250 in 2001.

Three of the four VWOs whom The Straits Times spoke to also saw attendance for such courses go up by 35 per cent to 66 per cent last year from 2011.

VWOs say the increased interest stems mainly from a greater awareness of such classes, which typically give couples tips on resolving quarrels, communication skills and sexual intimacy.

Focus on the Family Singapore's marriage preparation course had 113 couples last year, up from 68 in 2011.

Its head of research and development, Ms Shelen Ang, said the increase could be due to greater awareness through publicity efforts or word of mouth.

Mrs Chang-Goh Song Eng, head of Reach Counselling, agreed that awareness was a factor. About 100 couples took part in its course last year, an increase of about 60 per cent from that in 2011. She said this was a "pleasant surprise".

"The couples are well-read and can easily get information online. Their choice to spend time and money on such courses shows their desire to learn."

Fees for these courses at 24 VWOs range from $100 to $470, with government rebates of $70 available for application.

There are also organisations which offer classes imbued with religious values, but participants do not qualify for these rebates.

Another reason for the higher attendance could be insecurity, said Care Corner Counselling Centre manager Jonathan Siew.

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