A COUPLE who met on a course to help save their marriage are now happily together after leaving their original partners they attended the course with.
Emma and Matthew Pruen, who were both married for 15 years, became friends with each other while on the course which aimed to salvage their marriages to other people.
The couple, who first met on the development course in East Sussex in 2001, both realised their relationships was over and so they decided to take their friendship to the next level.
At first, Emma and Matthew had every intention of saving their marriages and remained platonic.
And for the first two years after meeting, they both remained in their relationships but after a Christmas trip in Thailand, Emma knew it was time to separate from her husband.
She said: “We were away with no stress, no work and no pressure and it was just gorgeous there, but we still had the worst argument of all time, so there was no kidding ourselves. We knew we were at the end.”
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When she returned to the UK, she received an email from Matthew – who had also decided to separate from his wife of 20 years.
After the separation, he planned to move to Spain to figure out what he wanted to do next – but the idea of him leaving caused a storm as Emma found herself reacting emotionally to the news.
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She said: “I found myself massively over-reacting and instead of thinking it was great and a really good move, I realised I would miss him terribly, which I thought was a bit extreme if he was just a friend.”
Emma convinced Matthew to stay with her in Brighton for a little while so they could attend a reunion of the course where they'd met two years earlier.
And when he arrived, the newly single pair took their relationship to the next level.
Emma recalled: "I noticed Matthew and I were sitting closer and closer to each other on the sofa, so I asked him, 'Is something happening here?' and he just said, ‘Do you want something to happen'?
"I was concerned because this was my best friend and I didn’t want to lose him, but it was like something from a Christmas film and all beautifully respectful.
"And it turned out we were as physically compatible as we were emotionally compatible."
I noticed Matthew and I were sitting closer and closer to each other
After realising they were both on the same page with each other, Matthew then returned from Spain to live with Emma and her son Iskander.
Then two years later on Emma’s 40th birthday, he asked her to marry him – and soon after they tied the knot. the couple had a child of their own.
In 2013 they then went on their next adventure with each other, and bought a run-down €180,000 four-bedroom house in the south of France, and they spent €300,000 on renovating into a centre for couples' retreats.
Now, the French retreat is the site of their passion which is relationship coaching.
Emma said: "Matthew is very good at pouring oil on troubled waters.
"I was lucky enough to fall in love with a peacemaker, which means I have a relationship I never dreamed of having."
The couple charges £1,200 for a four-day retreat, and they also run two-day courses in London for £300.
Emma said: "The only person you have any control over is you.
"If your relationship is struggling, you can’t change someone else, the only person you can change is you and that’s the principle that underlies all our relationship courses."
The pair base their coaching on The Hoffman Process, which teaches people to make behavioural changes that either improve their relationships or, if they're out of options, navigate separation.
We are all drawn to something different but that can bring challenges and cause conflict
Emma, who is a trained counsellor, said: "We are all drawn to something different but that can bring challenges and cause conflict. Because at some point, we realise just how different we are and then can feel repelled by our partner.
"The other factor is that when we get into bed with someone, we also get into bed with their parents, their families, their belief systems and their way of being."
Matthew thinks that, by helping others work on their relationships, the couple are improving their own bond.
He said: "The way we met was great because we got to know each other very deeply and very quickly.
"Working together as relationship coaches has only deepened that, because in sharing our ups and downs with others, we continue to learn even more about each other. "
For more stories on relationships, check this woman who went on a date but he ghosted her because he thought she was 'rude and cheap'
And one woman says her husband is so tight with the heating she has to IRON to keep warm
Or check out this one woman who broke up with her boyfriend and so he then made her a presentation to get back together
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