• PAIRS: Because great relationships don't happen by accident.
  • PAIRS Essentials in Fort Lauderdale June 25-26, 2016.
  • PAIRS: Because great relationships don't happen by accident.
  • PAIRS: Because great relationships don't happen by accident.
  • Mention Offer DTR for $300 off couples tuition.
  • PAIRS: Because great relationships don't happen by accident.
  • PAIRS: Because great relationships don't happen by accident.

Frequently Asked Questions


Over the past quarter century, PAIRS has helped tens of thousands of men and women across the world learn practical skills and strategies that offer a foundation of love, pleasure and happiness for their most cherished relationships.

PAIRS brief, evidence-based programs led by instructors trained and licensed by PAIRS Foundation, deliver a research-validated, educational approach to successful relationships, with lasting benefits for couples, children, marriages, families and communities.

Listed below are some of the Frequently Asked Questions and Answers people regularly ask about PAIRS. If you have a question that's not addressed, call (877) PAIRS 4U (724-7748) ext. 802 or email info@pairs.com.

1. What is the purpose of the PAIRS course?

To teach research-validated skills that help people of all ages and stages of relationship improve communication, strengthen bonding, empathy, emotional understanding and expression, and learn to constructively navigate conflicts and differences on behalf of healthy relationships that are an ongoing source of love, pleasure and happiness -- something we think is as important in life as air, food, water, and shelter.

2. What courses does PAIRS offer?

PAIRS most popular, evidence-based program, PAIRS Essentials, which also supports the Department of Veteran Affairs Warrior to Soul Mate program, is offered in a wide variety of formats, ranging from one-day to weekend and multi-week programs. Courses are designed to accommodate the needs of many different types of participants PAIRS Foundation is also able to customize courses to meet the needs and objectives of various organizations and communities. Classes are offered in person and online.

3. What exactly is PAIRS?

PAIRS is an acronym that stands for "Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills." The program was originally developed by Marriage and Family Therapist Lori Heyman Gordon as a semester-long graduate program for future counselors at American University in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Gordon actively participated in efforts to refine, validate and expand the range of PAIRS programs through 2004, when she transferred her interests in the range of PAIRS programs. From its inception, PAIRS has integrated pioneering methods from the fields of education, psychology, counseling, psychiatry, and other disciplines into an innovative approach that empowers graduates with practical, usable skills and strategies to create and sustain successful relationships. PAIRS classes follow an established curriculum delivered in an educational format by instructors trained and accredited by the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation. A national directory of currently accredited PAIRS Instructors is available online at consumer.pairs.com.

4. Is PAIRS more like a classroom setting or is it like group therapy?

PAIRS is a class. It is not therapy or counseling. It has been called "Drivers Ed" and "Boot Camp" for Relationships. Trained instructors present material and exercises which participants practice privately with a partner. PAIRS offers proven skills and strategies for creating and sustaining successful relationships based on rigorous research, training and ethical standards. PAIRS does not get involved in the personal issues participants work through using skills for deepening communication, emotional understanding and expression, empathy, bonding, and constructive conflict resolution beyond providing coaching on the skills themselves. Like Drivers Ed, PAIRS focuses on skill development, respecting that each participant must make their own decisions about their values and relationship vision.

5. My spouse dislikes therapy. How is PAIRS different?

PAIRS is not therapy or counseling, quite the opposite. PAIRS teaches participants skills to find answers and solutions to the natural challenges of human relationship directly with each other. Every PAIRS class has a beginning and an end, follows an established curriculum designed to empower participants to find and implement their own solutions. Research on PAIRS shows that for many individuals and couples, PAIRS is far more effective than therapy. PAIRS ethical and training standards guide instructors in delivering classes that always invite, never inflict. As an educational experience, participants can sit back and learn without saying a word if they so choose. No practice exercises are forced upon participants. For couples and individuals considering marriage therapy, PAIRS blog offers suggested questions to ask before beginning.

6. But what if I just hate groups? Would I have to talk in front of people I do not know?

Many people who "hate" groups love PAIRS. No one ever has to talk in front of the group. You can learn just from hearing other people share and practicing exercises with your partner or another member of the class. The group ultimately provides a safe place to try out new skills and feels, for most people, very warm, nurturing, and accepting. It also allows people to see courage and growth in others. Participants often state that they finally realize how normal they are in their own struggles, realizing that learning to navigate relationship challenges is something every couple shares in common.

7. Is there a predictable agenda to the courses?

Definitely. Each PAIRS course covers a specific agenda that has been developed, refined, and researched by PAIRS Foundation and validated as an approach that is most likely to contribute to the lives of program participants.

8. What about personal issues specific to each person? How are those handled in PAIRS?

The goal of PAIRS is to teach strategies and skills that allow participants to find answers and solutions that fit for their own unique values, challenges and circumstances. Instructors do not get involved in the personal issues or decisions of class members beyond providing coaching on how to use PAIRS skills to address whatever issues are relevant for a particular couple.

9. How many participants are present for a PAIRS program?

It varies. Usually from 12 to 30 people, although PAIRS can also be taught effectively to groups as large as 200 people or more.

10. My partner and I have already had private couples counseling. How can PAIRS help us?

PAIRS is not intended to substitute for or replace counseling or therapy, although many graduates have said that the tools they learned in PAIRS helped them achieve levels of understanding and breakthroughs far beyond what was typically possible in counseling. Many counselors have said that clients who have experienced PAIRS are able to achieve much greater success in therapy. PAIRS focuses on skills training and empowering participants with knowledge and skills to identify and implement the solutions that fit for their personal wishes, hopes and dreams.

11. I have a therapist/counselor I am already using for private therapy. Can I come to PAIRS and still retain my current relationship with him/her?

Many therapists regularly refer clients to PAIRS programs to give their clients the maximum growth opportunities. If your therapist/counselor has been trained by PAIRS, they will be able to help you reinforce the skills you'll learn in the class.

12. What if I don't have a therapist currently and would like to see a PAIRS instructor for private therapy while I wait for the next PAIRS program to begin?

Some PAIRS instructors are also therapists/counselors/coaches; many are not. Those who do have private practices may be able to help you begin learning skills from PAIRS through individual or couple sessions.

13. What is the cost of PAIRS programs?

Many participants have said PAIRS was one of the most important investments they ever made because they learned skills and understandings that touched the very foundation of their lives. The cost to participate in PAIRS varies by location, instructor, and curriculum. PAIRS Foundation does not set the price individual instructors charge for classes they offer, although the cost typically ranges from $15 - $25 per person, per curriculum hour, including all materials. Some PAIRS programs are grant funded by state and federal agencies. In communities in which grant funded classes are offered, courses may be provided at significant discounts or even at no charge. Also, many PAIRS instructors are able to offer payment plans to meet the individual needs of participants. It is very rare that the cost of participating is a barrier that prevents anyone from benefiting from the often life-changing experience PAIRS offers.

14. Does PAIRS offer free classes to any community?

Many Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers offer classes to Veterans and their significant others at no charge.

15. Do You offer Childcare at any of your facilities?

Please check with the local instructor. Some sites offer childcare.

16. Who teaches the PAIRS programs? What are their credentials?

PAIRS is an educational program. Instructors come from a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds. Each instructor is trained, certified and annually accredited by the PAIRS Foundation. The role of the PAIRS instructor is to facilitate a specific PAIRS educational curriculum. In the context of PAIRS, the instructor does not serve as a counselor or therapist, but as a Relationship Educator responsible for guiding participants through the PAIRS curriculum.

17. We’ve been to lots of counselors and therapists for help? What more can PAIRS do for us?

PAIRS offers an approach, tools, education and experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. It's a unique process built on decades of research and experience that regularly leads to a paradigm shift and renewed opportunities for relationship growth and joy. PAIRS will give you a comprehensive approach to relationships - not just insight, but practical skills to make and sustain changes.

18. I really don’t think that we can make the radical changes because of all our commitments (kids, jobs, time pressures, financial obligations, business or school commitments). What can PAIRS do for us if we are so busy?

We find that most people who take PAIRS are very busy people. Part of the commitment to take PAIRS is to set aside time and to make the relationship a priority. PAIRS teaches skills to help people connect with each other in the hectic world. It also helps couples examine their lifestyles and priorities and consider changes that often lead to more fun, peace, and greater success in every area of their life.

19. We’ve been married for more than 20 years. Can PAIRS help us change after all these years?

PAIRS instructors and graduates regularly share stories of long-term married couples who achieved profound, positive breakthroughs as a result of their PAIRS experience. One of the most frequent comments heard from graduates is the wish that they'd had PAIRS many years earlier. It's never too late for anyone to learn skills for greater love, pleasure and happiness.

20. Will we really come out of this program with the tools to make our relationship satisfying and happy?

It's very possible. You can learn the tools and experience the changes, but it's up to YOU to do the ongoing work. A quote frequently repeated by PAIRS instructors is: "Love is a feeling, marriage is a contract and a relationship is work." PAIRS offers a practical road map and tool kit (some say 'treasure chest') that empowers you to create the level of closeness, connection and sharing you may have long wanted, but didn't know how to achieve.

21. Do the classes and the other PAIRS activities help us develop a good plan for our marriage in the future?

Yes, as part of many PAIRS curricula, you are invited to create a plan of how you will integrate the skills to help you achieve your relationship goals. We find that when you have a plan, you are more likely to reach your goals. Many PAIRS instructors provide follow-up activities to help support ongoing reinforcement of skills. Some groups continue to meet on their own as a result of the close, lifelong friendships that began in PAIRS.

22. What is PAIRS approach to same sex couples?

PAIRS delivers research-based skills training for human relationships. Participants come from all walks of life, types of relationship, and stages of relationship. Some instructors offer courses specifically marketed to same sex couples. The skills taught in PAIRS are applicable to people in any type of peer relationship.

23. I'm not in a relationship right now. I'm lonely, but frankly I'm scared to try again. How can PAIRS help a single person like me?

PAIRS helps singles know themselves better and helps them discover more about healthy relationships. Singles have told us that after taking the PAIRS classes, they feel more able to choose appropriate friendships or partnerships and they have an increased frame of reference for healthy pleasurable possibilities. Research has also shown PAIRS helps many single participants reduce symptoms of distress, anxiety and other factors that can interfere with pursuing future relationships.

24. How is PAIRS different from other marriage education programs I have taken?

There are a number of programs available, many of which are based on PAIRS. PAIRS offers a highly experiential, research validated curriculum with over 30 years of experience serving tens of thousands of participants from all backgrounds and stages of relationships. Many have said it is the best of the best in relationship education.

25. Can PAIRS be taught to us in private sessions instead of in a group?

Yes, much of it can be. However, it is often much more expensive to do so and it is not possible to duplicate the power of the group in private sessions. The group provides energy and a safe atmosphere for taking risks and trying new behaviors. It shows participants that other people are really more similar than different, and that the work of relationships is hard, but do-able. It helps people experience empathy and feel the "Oh, it's not just me and my partner . . ." who have issues.

26. What kinds of people go through the PAIRS program?

All kinds: young, old, middle aged; happy couples looking to find ways to experience even more joy; couples with "the attorneys on hold . . .looking for one last ditch effort," people trying to decide if their partner is "the right one," singles looking to figure out what it takes to have a lasting relationship. The design of the curriculum and the experiential format enables all sorts of different people in different situations to grow, learn and change.

27. Will all the people in my class be around my age or will there be people of all ages?

Classes usually include participants of various ages. Older participants often say they are envious of people who take it while they are young because it provides them with skills to use to have many, many years of happiness, and avoid some of the mistakes they might have made. It also reminds them of the positive relationship energy they might have lost over the years. Younger people oftenlearn from the experience and insights of older couples, and may gain enormous resolve to make the time to keep the relationship a top priority.

28. What is the "success rate" of PAIRS?

Excellent! People have made important decisions, have grown and bonded together in healthy ways or have been able to leave relationships that they may realize are unhealthy or cannot meet their longterm needs and vision. Countless marriages have been saved. People have learned to experience joy! The success rate is highly impressive. (one nationally prominent attorney said in a Washington Post interview in 1996 that 12 of 13 divorcing couples she had sent to PAIRS had reconciled!) Research has also validated the significant impact of PAIRS brief seminars for couples entering the program at high levels of marital distress. Learn more here.

29. My grown-up child is planning to get married. Their minister/rabbi has talked with them. Could PAIRS help them too?

Yes! If they want to learn the skills necessary to have a joyful relationship and establish early patterns of a healthy, happy relationship, PAIRS could be a great experience. We highly recommend giving the class as a wedding present. Giving the gift of PAIRS says a great deal about our commitment not just to a beautiful wedding, but a happy, lasting, joyful marriage!

30. We have been seeing each other for almost a year and are beginning to think about the long term. Can PAIRS help a new relationship?

ABSOLUTELY! PAIRS' grads in similar situations have gained skills necessary to make the commitment to each other and give their relationship the best opportunity to blossom into a long, happy future, if this is what you want. People in a new relationship without a lot of baggage learn ways to keep their relationship current and deal with problems effectively so that baggage does not have to build up. It will help them see the speed bumps of life before they get to them, so that they can go over them gently, or go around them.

31. I think I know how I want our relationship to be. Will the PAIRS Program help my partner understand me and try to be the way I really want?

PAIRS helps us all learn to listen to what our partner has to say. This does not mean they will do what we want. Many times when true intentions are understood there is a greater willingness to bridge gaps.

33. Does insurance cover PAIRS programs?

Usually no, unless your carrier covers Wellness Programs. We believe that relationship skills are as important as learning reading, writing and arithmetic because if touches the very foundation of our lives. It is also our belief that PAIRS can be beneficial for all people.

33. Are there any videos I can see to give me more information about PAIRS?

You can watch a brief introductory video online here.

34. How do I sign up for classes?

Use the “Find A Class” tab on the Homepage to locate a current open class near you. Search the online calendar by region, date, or instructor. By contacting your local PAIRS instructor you may arrange for a preview or meeting and discuss upcoming class schedules. Once you have reviewed the materials, and decided to participate, you would typically fill in an application and send it in with a deposit to your local instructor to reserve your place in class. For South Florida Grant classes, online pre- registration is absolutely required and is available online. Go to http://consumer.pairs.com to select an upcoming class and complete your online registration.

35. Are there any other requirement for Grant Class participation ?

Participants in grant funded classes in South Florida are asked to voluntarily and confidentially participate in research on the program's impact. This research includes six month and 12 month follow up assessments to measure the lasting impact of your experience.

36. If there is no PAIRS program in my community, what can I do?

You can participate in an upcoming webinar or contact PAIRS Foundation at info@pairs.com to discover whether there is an instructor in your area in the process of being trained or who could. Participants have been known to fly half way across the country for weekend workshops!

37. How do I know if someone offering PAIRS in my community is currently licensed?

PAIRS Foundation conducts ongoing research to assure programs for the public and professionals consistently deliver the highest quality, research validated, processes that offer the greatest opportunity for participants to achieve their individual and collective goals. PAIRS also requires instructors to strictly adhere to extensive ethical practices and licensing requirements. Currently licensed instructors authorized to teach PAIRS programs to the public are listed on our calendar. If you have questions about the status of an individual or organization offering PAIRS in your community, please let us know.

Copyright © 2013 PAIRS Foundation.