MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -— Love is blind, so the saying goes, but it doesn’t have to be.

Starting next week, the Family Support Center here is offering a five-series class, “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk,” for single adults and parents of teenagers who may need advice in the dating game.

Though experts say there are warning signs that a potential partner actually may be a jerk, FSC’s Mary Lassalle-Adams said the goal of the class isn’t to stop people from getting married.

“It’s getting more in tune with your partner so you can have a stronger relationship,” said Lassalle-Adams, a community resource technician who will be leading the class. “It’s just another tool that folks can take with them to help them make better decisions.”

The class materials come from Jon Van Epp, a marriage and family counselor in Ohio. His premarital relationship program about avoiding jerks at the altar is taught by church youth groups, schools and singles ministries in the United States, according to Epp’s Web site, The program also has reached seven countries and more than 250 military bases, which tend to have large singles populations.

Lassalle-Adams said the class will cover five areas people should explore before marriage: Family background, quality of the person’s conscience, compatibility, relationship skills and patterns of past relationships.

Among other questions are those touching on finances, spirituality, expressing affection, trust and handling emotions.

“A lot of young folks jump into marriage,” she said. “This is a way to explore some things, think about the relationship you’re in, before getting married. You don’t want to go into the unknown and learn everything (about your spouse) after you’re married.”

The first class meets from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday at the Family Support Center; four more classes are to be held once a week at the same time and place. Sign up by Monday at FSC or call DSN 226-4735.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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