New Research Shows Marriage Education Works A new study shows that when couples put in the time, positive results follow. BY JULIE SALLEE PARTIN
Marriage education can be one of the best things you can do for your relationship.
"Preliminary research shows that marriage education workshops can make a real difference in helping married couples stay together..." —Barack Obama, "Audacity of Hope."
A study published in early 2009 titled, "Investigating the Effects of Marriage and Relationship Education on Couples' Communication Skills: A Meta-Analytic Study" by the American Psychological Association, a scientific and professional organization that represents psychologists, confirms the importance of government's roll in supporting marriage and relationship-based education. Looking at more than 100 published and unpublished studies dating back to 1975, the study found a significant positive effect on a couple’s communication skills and relationship quality when they attended marriage education courses.
According to the compiled research, "The goal of marriage and relationship education is to help couples form and sustain healthy, stable marriages and relationships, which is done by strengthening a couple’s relationship skills." The study also showed strong favor for couples that attended moderate-dosage programs—naturally having a higher level of effectiveness and showing better success rates than those of couples who attended less frequently. So the question becomes, where is government help being offered?
In the Golden State, The California Healthy Marriages Coalition (CHMC) is delivering marriage and relationship skills classes to California's diverse population by traversing the key demographic dimensions of geography, ethnic and cultural differences.
After his first marriage failed and his second was beginning to struggle, CHMC President, Dennis Stoica tried to figure out what went wrong. He began looking for marriage education classes and was struck by the lack of classes available. Once he got involved in healthy relationship skills training he realized, "If I had known these skills at the time, there is a possibility I could have made that relationship work."
During the Bush administration in 2006, Dennis applied for a grant from Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and was awarded $11.9 million over five years. With this funding, CHMC partners, along with a network of 23 faith- and community-based organizations throughout California, were able to provide marriage and relationship education to anyone willing to help better or even save their marriage.
Another newly commissioned nonprofit organization helping couples achieve happiness is the Orange County Healthy Marriage Coalition based in Orange County, California.
Aaron and Jennifer, one couple who recently completed the organization’s newest class, have been married two years and wanted to take proactive steps to strengthen their relationship.
"My wife and I wanted to learn how to communicate more effectively," says Aaron. "The class does a great job of making a safe atmosphere for all the couples."
His wife, Jennifer, felt the class should be looked upon as a way to better enhance a relationship and not to necessarily "fix" a relationship.
"A couple weeks of a class isn’t going to fix years of a certain communication style, no matter who you are," says Jennifer. "So, it’s something that we both have to be aware of and think of still. Yet, it has made our communication with each other and others around us more efficient. And instead of going in circles, we actually clear things up and there’s an ending!"
Marriage and relationship education is effective and readily available to couples looking to strengthen and enhance their marriage. Couples who participate in classes, it is shown, often return to a happier more fulfilling life with their partner.
Julie Sallee Partin is marketing assistant for OC Marriage. OC Marriage—Orange County Healthy Marriage Coalition is a federally funded non-profit that seeks to decrease divorce by providing marriage/relationship education. OCMarriage.com has resources for couples, classes, self tests and dating ideas.