We always hear the phrase, ‘Marriage is work’ and it’s true. One program in East Tennessee is trying to help keep families and couples together.

It's called Healthy Connections.

Dr. Kristina Gordon from the University of Tennessee helped create the program because keeping families together is so important to the success of an entire community.

"What we want to provide is to catch people when they still love each other and when things are still going relatively well because we think that is the best time to stabilize folks,” said Dr. Gordon.

Charlie and Sarah Mitchell have been married three years. Charlie is a therapist and Sarah is a nurse. They say they have a great relationship, their biggest issue is time. So they're now in the Healthy Connections program to get ahead of any issues that may arise.

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“It gave us all the tools where if we start to get into a conflict, we know exactly what to do to make sure we are hearing each other, to make sure we are staying connected and staying focused on us,” said Mitchell.

The courses start at $100, which is cost-effective since many therapists charge $100 and up for just one hour. Healthy Connections is accepting couples.

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There are so many different kinds of relationships and family dynamics in the world we live in today. Couples with no kids, those who have been married a long time, single-parent households, and blended families too. In fact, according to the Gottman Institute, in the U.S. alone, 1.5 million people are in a relationship where one of the partners has been married before.

This is the case for the Hyde family. Both Bradley and Nicole came out of lengthy marriages and both have three boys. Bradley is the lead pastor at Powell United Methodist Church, but lives in Greenville. Nicole works from home and lives in Maryville. When they got married they decided to switch off weeks between Greenville and Maryville and keep both houses. That meant the kids were in six different schools at one time.

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“We call it the Bradley Bunch!” said Bradley Hyde.

“I feel like we were able to love each other's children before we even met them because I knew the love he had for his boys and so for me to learn to love his boys was not a difficult thing and I think for him the same,” says Nicole Hyde.

They got on top of therapy and went to counseling before they even got engaged, one of the programs was through Healthy Connections, an East Tennessee program that provides counseling, retreats and support for couples in East Tennessee at an affordable cost.

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