by Karina Brady, Student Public Relations Writer
With the arrival of Sweetest Day October 20, student and faculty couples at Cedarville University are beginning a yearlong journey into the heart of marriage that’s not candy-coated.
This year, nearly 50 seriously dating and engaged student couples are participating in Cedarville’s Fit to Be Tied program. Over the course of eight months, these students will meet with faculty and staff mentor couples to prepare for a Christ-centered marriage relationship. The program includes premarriage inventories, group seminars and individualized mentoring.
A new element this year is the Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (SYMBIS) assessment.
SYMBIS is a premarriage analysis that helps couples better understand each other and themselves. It measures a person’s spending habits, conflict type, level of intimacy, personality, conversation style and desires. Each Cedarville mentor couple is currently being certified to administer SYMBIS and will help students understand their test results.
“I am excited for the new partnership with SYMBIS and its expanded opportunities for training and encouragement for our mentors,” said Aaron Cook, director of discipleship ministries and coordinator for Fit to Be Tied. “It’s an assessment for couples that’s biblically based. It helps the mentor couple to really accelerate getting to know their student couple.”
In addition to SYMBIS, couples take the DISC personality profile test and attend five group seminars, where faculty and staff share insights and answer questions about topics dealing with marriage. These topics include “The Meaning of Marriage,” “Personalities and Marriage,” “Communication and Conflict Resolution,” “Finances and Marriage” and “Intimacy in Marriage.” In between these seminars, the couples meet with husband-and-wife mentors to dive deeper into the topics.
“College is a time where we see a lot of decisions being made and people rightly wanting to pursue marriage,” said Cook. “Yet, the world has given a very poor perspective, and there’s a ton of confusion around marriage in general.”
“We want to cultivate marriages that adorn the gospel,” he added. “We want to cast a vision and help prepare student couples from the beginning to start seeing their marriage as being a part of something greater than themselves and for them to start thinking about how to leverage their marriage to put the gospel on display.”
Cedarville faculty members Lyle Anderson, senior professor of music and director of concert chorale and men's glee club, and his wife, Connie, director of the keyboard pedagogy program, have been married 47 years and have mentored student couples for 21 years.
The Andersons are in the process of gaining their SYMBIS certification, which involves video training, individual assessments and an analysis of the test results. Connie believes the assessment will help them better mentor their student couples this year and in the future. According to the Andersons, counseling programs like Fit to Be Tied are essential in today’s culture, especially on a college campus. “We feel it is so germane to Christian higher education to guide students not only academically but also to prompt some serious interaction with the issues that they’ll be dealing with for the rest of their life and to encourage them to build strong, biblically-based marriages,” said Lyle Anderson.
The Andersons participate in Fit to Be Tied not only to mentor couples, but to cultivate their own marriage relationship. “We enjoy growing through this process,” Lyle Anderson said. “Each experience that we have with couples brings out new insights and areas that we need to address and refine in our own relationship.”
Many student couples stay connected with their mentors years after they marry and graduate. Continued communication with their mentees is “one of the highlights” for the Andersons.
“We are so impressed with the Fit to Be Tied program,” said Connie Anderson. “We’re very appreciative that Cedarville offers it. We love walking through this foundational time of life with these couples.”
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,193 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.