In this generous world, love will come our way now and then. But if we do not plant the love that we have in the firm soil of living relationship, we may be in danger of supposing that it will grow on its own, without our nurture or our small acts of concern. Therefore, let us tend to our small plots, that this harvest may flourish, enough to share not only with our neighbors, but with our enemies as well.
— Jake Bohstedt Morrill, contemporary Unitarian Universalist minister
Principled Commitment is a flexible, 22-hour program that can be tailored to a group's needs. The 11 two-hour workshops offer information, facilitated discussions, and in-class and take-home activities. Discussions help participants explore their own ideas and learn from others' perspectives. Activities are designed to enhance interaction between partners and among members of the larger group.
Principled Commitment is appropriate for adult couples seeking to enhance their committed, healthy, long-term relationships. The workshops are designed primarily for couples of all sexual orientations who have made vows or pledged to spend their lives together. It is not designed for couples considering engagement, though engaged couples may find the course valuable. This workshop series does not provide couples therapy; couples with serious relationship issues should speak to their minister or another counseling professional.
The mission of Principled Commitment is to enhance and support long-term, committed relationships that reflect the values of Unitarian Universalism. Unitarian Universalist congregations can provide a nurturing environment for interpersonal relationships, and our Principles provide an excellent framework to support and enrich marriages and other blessed unions between loving partners.
Principled Commitment seeks to deepen participants' ethical, spiritual, faith, and Unitarian Universalist identity development. This is accomplished through the theme and activities of each workshop.
- Nurture the health of their relationships
- Learn skills to build and strengthen healthy relationships
- Benefit from the wisdom and experience of other participants
- Interact and communicate more effectively with their partners
- Strengthen their Unitarian Universalist identity
- Be resources for couples' enrichment
- Experience stronger interpersonal bonds among members
- Gain opportunities for community outreach
Effective co-leaders are essential to the success of the Principled Commitment program. Leaders will present information while helping participants discover and express their own ideas and answers. They may be laypersons or clergy, and neither experience in facilitation nor expertise in relationships is necessary. Congregations are encouraged to select leaders of different genders so that participants benefit from varied perspectives.
Leaders will be most effective if they have the following strengths:
- Respect for individuals, regardless of race, religion, ability, sexual identity or orientation, or type of relationship in which they are engaged
- Ability to create a supportive group environment
- Appreciation of the lay ministry opportunities afforded by the program
- Time and willingness to prepare thoroughly for each workshop and to take appropriate action in the event of unexpected cancellations
- Ability and commitment to maintaining the curriculum's focus on healthy relationships
- Commitment to Unitarian Universalist Principles and to the faith component of this curriculum
- Confidence to be comfortable speaking to a group of adults
- Willingness to support healthy group process by reinforcing ground rules politely and confidently
This program is best suited to groups of four to ten couples, or a maximum of 20 participants.
Committed couples of all sexual orientations are welcome to participate. Those who have made vows or pledged to spend their lives together will find the workshops most suited to them. Participants should be made aware that the workshops are designed to enhance healthy relationships, not to "fix" troubled ones.
Integrating All Participants
People of all ages have a range of abilities and disabilities. Adults become more and more likely to live with disability as they age. The sample registration form (Leader Resource 2 in Workshop 1) asks individual participants to identify any particular disability-related accommodations they will need. Principled Commitment provides leaders with resources for responding to some of the most common needs: Workshop 1, Leader Resource 5, for including people who are hard of hearing and who are deaf, Workshop 1, Leader Resource 6, for including people with low vision and who are blind, and Workshop 1, Leader Resource 7, for including people with limited mobility, including those in wheelchairs. The Unitarian Universalist Association's website and staff can offer guidance for inclusion of people with other disabilities. Consult the Disability & Accessibility section of UUA.org. In addition, some activities contain specific accessibilities guidance under the heading "Including All Participants."