The “Zenith Problem” in Relationship Education

Confronting Our Biggest Challenge for the Future

by Alan J. Hawkins

The Bottom-line (at the Top): The relationship education (RE) field has never been stronger. There is substantial public funding supporting RE, especially for more at-risk individuals and couples. Talented scholars have published hundreds of evaluation studies testing program effectiveness and mechanisms of change, with another wave of good research on the horizon. There is effective leadership. We could be seeing the zenith of our field. So, what’s the problem? The work we are doing just won’t have the kind of societal impact that we need it to have. Innovations — big changes — are needed in the field if we are going to have a noteworthy impact . And we may be stuck in our current successes.  Continue reading “The “Zenith Problem” in Relationship Education”

The Rewards of Compassionate Acts

by Jennifer Griffith

The Bottom-line First: Is compassion really its own reward? In this study, the authors found that small, daily acts of compassion for your spouse improve both your spouse’s well-being and your own. Although the effect is greatest when spouses mutually recognize these selfless acts, even when a spouse does not notice an act it still improves the well-being of the giver.  Continue reading “The Rewards of Compassionate Acts”

Different Ways to View Program Effectiveness

A Person-Oriented Approach to Evaluating Couple Relationship Education

by Jennifer Griffith

The Bottom-Line (at the Top): There are different ways to gauge whether RE programs are working. The most typical way is to measure the average change of participants. But another valuable way is to focus on variation in how participants change or stay the same, identifying different patterns of change of participants and those who benefit more or less. A recent study with a large, mostly Hispanic sample of couples looked at change with both approaches. It was couples who started the program in the mid-range of communication skills and relationship satisfaction who benefitted the most from the RE program.  Continue reading “Different Ways to View Program Effectiveness”

Does Relationship Education Improve Children’s Well-being?

by Alan J. Hawkins

The Bottom-Line (at the Top): This blog builds on Jennifer’s blog last week on how RE can affect children’s social skills. The ultimate purpose of couple relationship education (CRE) is to improve couple relationships as a way to increase their children’s well-being. A small number of CRE evaluation studies have shown small effects on children’s well-being. The most recent one of the “Parents as Partners” program in Great Britain not only found that the program strengthens couple relationships and improves individual psychological well-being, but it also increased fathers’ involvement with their children and reduced their children’s emotional and behavioral problems. Continue reading “Does Relationship Education Improve Children’s Well-being?”