Emily Parker spoke with Mark and Christine Daniel, Directors of FamilyLife UK, about their new relationship app, Toucan.

Mark and Christine Daniel
Mark and Christine Daniel

We often hear in the media that family life in the UK is under threat, with a quarter of all two year-olds in the UK no longer living with both of their natural parents and nearly half of all births in 2015 taking place outside of marriage or civil partnership. Couples who choose to invest time in their relationship together are more likely to have a lasting relationship and a settled family life. Emily Parker spoke with Mark and Christine Daniel, Directors of FamilyLife UK, about their new relationship app, Toucan, providing a fresh and unique online experience for couples to strengthen and deepen their relationship.

Emily: Tell me about FamilyLife and how you got involved.

Mark: FamilyLife is part of an outfit called Agapé and Agapé's purpose is to help fulfil the great commission. It does that in a number of contexts, like working with students, working in the workplace and working with the family.

Christine and I are part of the team that works with family and that team is called FamilyLife. And basically, based on biblical principles, we help people to strengthen their relationship, to help grow closer together and closer to God.

Emily: So tell me about Toucan and how the concept for this came about.

Mark: This is an interesting one. We've been running a day event all over the country for the last five or six years, perhaps longer than that. At these day events we've had couples, particularly the young couples, come up to us afterwards and say, "Every couple in the country needs to do this."

Building A Strong Family Life

It was like one of those comments that flew past over our heads and we never really took it seriously, until one evening, we were praying together and asking God where to take our Day Together events and what to do next. We got an immediate response and the response was "Mark, Christine, I've been telling you." And we kind of looked at each other and thought, "What does that mean? What has God been telling us that we've not been hearing?" And we suddenly realised that this feedback we'd been getting from couples for so many years, every couple in the country needs to do this.

So, on the back of this event, we decided we've got to take the event into cyber space and make it into an app. And that's what Toucan is. It's the online app version of the FamilyLife, A Day Together event.

Emily: How does the app work?

Mark: There are different modules. The first one that we launched was a communication module and the second one was resolving conflict. There will be more on things like loving and growing through hard times and money.

For each module there's a whole bunch of video clips where couples share their experiences and usually what they've messed up in, communicating, for example. And there are little tools to help you communicate better.

More importantly than anything else there are little exercises where an individual decides what they want to change about the way they communicate, for example. So you might say I want to stop interrupting, or I want to stop making light of my partner's comments when he or she is discussing something serious and I turn it into a joke. I need to stop doing that. So there are bad habits that you identify and you stop. All this is done through little sliders and tools.

It's great fun, it's really interactive. Then you're encouraged to sit down with your partner and discuss, or have a date to discuss your experience of Toucan and what you're going to change. And that's called a Couple Time.

Emily: That's great. How were these courses compiled and put together?