Sex & Relationships

Should Marriage 101 be compulsory in schools?

For the past 14 years, Northwestern University's valuable course has educated students on the realities and misconceptions of marriage.
woman dreams about love and marriage drawing on a chalkboard Photo, iStockphoto.

Long, happy, meaningful relationships, that’s what many of us aspire to enjoy during the course of our lives. Books, movies and TV shows reveal our timeless preoccupation with finding the perfect relationship, and the perfect person who brings us joy, fulfillment and coffee in bed on Sunday morning.

And yet, many of us are completely clueless when it comes to how to behave in a relationship with another person. We may understand what love feels like, but we have a hard time figuring out how to live with another person without turning into a Tasmanian devil when they repeatedly forget to change the toilet paper roll.

But that may be changing for a new generation of young people who’ve yet to commit fully to another person. A recent article in The Atlantic points to the value inherent in Marriage 101, a course that’s been taught at Northwestern University in Chicago for the past 14 years.

The course (which caps itself at only 100 students) questions, evaluates and considers all manner of marital topics from infidelity to childrearing. There’s even a sexuality module.

The idea behind the course is to help students come to some consensus on the values and behaviours that define a healthy relationship.

There’s no better time to do this than during one’s college years, says faculty member Alexandra Solomon.


“Developmentally, this is what the college years are all about: Students are thinking about who they are as people, how they love, who they love, and who they want as a partner,” Solomon told The Atlantic.

The course also dispels certain myths about what makes love work over the long haul. The soulmate myth is the first to get shattered.

“The foundation of our course is based on correcting a misconception: that to make a marriage work, you have to find the right person. The fact is, you have to be the right person,” Solomon said.

For the lucky students of Marriage 101 that process of becoming occurs within the safety of a classroom. For the rest of us it happens (hopefully) in the real-life rough-and-tumble world of love and commitment.


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