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What are the advantages and disadvantages of a partnered/married couple co-facilitating OWL?

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has no policy regarding partnered couples co-facilitating Our Whole Lives (OWL) programs. This is a congregational decision. Couples have successfully led OWL in many congregations. Occasionally, couple leadership has been problematic. Among the factors to consider:

  • Diversity in a facilitating team is important. A couple with the same sexual orientation would not bring diversity in that area. Also, couples often share similar values, perspectives, and ages, which may also reduce an opportunity for diversity.
     
  • If a couple lives together it can make planning much more logistically convenient. On the other hand, couples may share the same calendar conflicts.
     
  • If the couple’s child is due to take Our Whole Lives, it could leave the child without a non-parental facilitator as an ally. See "Should parents facilitate an Our Whole Lives class that includes their children?"
     
  • One advantage is that couples have often already developed a style of working together. On the other hand, couples with relationship issues may unintentionally bring those issues to class. It is imperative that they not use the program to disclose or work on their own relationship issues.
     
  • On a positive side, couples with good, respectful relationships are positive models for a life partnership.
     
  • It may be beneficial for couples who will teach OWL together to take the facilitator training together so they can explore how it will feel to facilitate together. They may also receive feedback about their working relationship and style.

Some congregations do not allow couples to co-facilitate any curricula together without other co-facilitators, citing these safety and legal concerns:

  • If abuse of a minor takes place, the non-abusing spouse may be in denial or complicit.
     
  • Legally married couples cannot be compelled to testify against each other in court, which means if there are allegations of abuse, it becomes one person’s word against another’s. This is a situation that Safe Congregations policies seek to avoid.

It should be noted that having other co-facilitators in addition to a couple can address many of the above concerns about safety, diversity, and logistics.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Monday, November 7, 2011.

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