People with higher education are not necessarily equipped with enough interpersonal skills to handle a relationship, especially when it comes to marriage. Many newly married couples have serious disputes over matters which can be as trivial as setting the dinner table, according to Christina Cheung Wai-yee, senior counsellor of the Family Planning Association. Such conflicts have been cited by couples attending the association's counselling for newlyweds and those planning marriage - and in some cases these conflicts have helped a few couples decide they are not meant for each other. By the end of last year, 227 couples had attended the marriage and sex-counselling workshops since these were launched in August 2002 in response to a rising divorce rate. The association said 78 per cent of the couples had completed university or other higher education and 39 per cent were professionals. Most were mature adults, with about a third 36 or older and 60 per cent between 26 and 30. Eighty per cent of them were about to marry, six were cohabiting and 14 per cent were newly married. Ms Cheung said three or four couples ended up delaying their marriage or separating after they discovered during the workshop that they were unprepared. 'It appears to be a sad ending, but it is a better result for the couples in the long run, rather than getting married and ending up divorced,' she said. 'Many couples just do not know how to communicate with each other or to handle conflicts. Some couples have fights about how to set the dinner table, she said. 'Some wives like to clear the table completely to prepare for dinner while husbands just put their personal effects to one side, giving rise to a serious dispute [which lasts] the whole night. 'Besides trivial matters, some practical issues which have never been discussed by couples before marriage gradually emerge, such as sharing of financial responsibility and family planning.' A common cause of disputes is parents telling a wife her husband should be solely responsible for paying off a home mortgage, while the husband believed a married couple should share the financial burden. The nine-hour workshop, which costs $900 per couple, provides guidance for couples about the common issues and problems they could face after they get married as well as tips on resolving disputes and maintaining a happy marriage.