Friday 18 May 2012


Retired? Taking it easy? No, not for the Yoongs. They are getting re-fired in the marriage enrichment ministry.

By Dr Lim Poh Ann

Very few couples can say they are involved together in a ministry which enriches their own marriage as it blesses others. Often work can drive a wedge between two loving people—while one partner is immersed in work, the other is left alone with unmet needs.

Meet Yoong Fan Ngian and Sian Li, Family Development Managers at Alpha Malaysia, a couple whose passion is to strengthen marriages all over Malaysia. The Marriage Course (TMC), which they conduct and promote, helps married couples understand marriage the way God intended it as well as understand one another better.

The Yoongs, who spent 15 out of their 37 years of marriage running marriage enrichment courses, are now fired up by The Marriage Course.

In this course, held over eight weeks, married couples gather together weekly for a candlelight meal. They view a video message followed by discussion between husband and wife, guided by a manual. Privacy is respected as there is no group discussion, and no requirement to disclose anything about one’s relationship to others.


The Marriage Course

Pertinent areas covered in The Marriage Course include:

  1. Building Strong Foundations
  2. The Art of Communication
  3. Resolving Conflict
  4. The Power of Forgiveness
  5. Parents and In-laws
  6. Good sex
  7. Love in Action
The course culminates in a “graduation party” where graduating couples and their guests watch a video entitled, What Makes a Marriage Work and hear powerful testimonies of the “graduands”. Guests who are interested in TMC will join the next course.

In an increasingly fast-paced, materialistic society, marital conflict is an issue the church cannot afford to ignore. Often resources to strengthen marriages are limited within the local church: pulpit ministry, books, tapes or the pastor’s counselling skill. Many different concerns—other than building stronger marriages or resolving marital strife—clamour for the pastor’s attention. This is where marriage enrichment courses such as TMC can play a vital role.

What distinguishes TMC from other marriage courses?

TMC equips married couples with the tools to build strong and healthy marriages that last a lifetime. Instruction through video, not by a trainer, ensures consistency in the quality of teaching, and greater potential to reach out to more interested couples. It is less “trainer-dependent” as the course almost “runs by itself”—except for a facilitator, also called the host, who looks into the initial introduction, food, seating arrangement, creating a special ambience and response to queries. The host need not be a so-called “expert” (with many years of intensive training coupled with personal and ministry experience) before he can run the course. However, the host must have attended TMC and the leaders’ training provided by Alpha Malaysia.

TMC participants learn in a relaxed atmosphere of fun, food, fellowship and music. It is non-threatening even to those outside the church. In fact, non-believing spouses have been known to be encouraged by its positive values that they even embrace the faith. Even couples on the brink of divorce have had their relationships restored after attending the course. (Disclaimer: TMC is not intended to replace professional marriage counselling).

 What couples say aboutTMC:

"We didn't have the privilege to attend pre-marital counselling, so TMC has blessed us with new insights on the basics of marriage and how to navigate through the storms.”
“TMC reminds us that it’s important to set aside weekly time together—especially on busy days. This helps us draw closer together and rediscover each other.”
“Through TMC, we learn about each other's Love Language which we now focus on to enhance our marital relationship.”

If you want to enhance your marriage or resolve a bad patch in your marriage, do give TMC a chance. Whether it is to BUILD, MEND or SAVE your marriage, join thousands all over the world in discovering the difference The Marriage Course can make to YOUR marriage. (You can even help your friends enhance their marriages).

The Marriage Course was started by Nicky and Sila Lee, staff of an Anglican church, Holy Trinity Brompton, in central London in 1996.The course is now running in over 2300 locations in 60 countries, and in about 35 locations in Malaysia.


The above article was first published in Asian Beacon magazine, Aug 2009, issue 41.4.

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