Premarital Relationship Education and Its Effect on Newlywed Help-Seeking

by Jennifer Griffith

The Bottom-line First. One of the most important benefits of premarital education may be its ability to increase spouses’ willingness to seek help down the road for the inevitable problems of early married life, and to seek help sooner and at lower levels of distress. Marriage therapists are cheering the findings of a recent study documenting these important benefits of premarital education. Continue reading “Premarital Relationship Education and Its Effect on Newlywed Help-Seeking”

Buffering the Effects of Stress on Health through Relationship Education: The Important Role of Improving Relationship Confidence

by Alan J. Hawkins

The Bottom-line First: Relationship education programs that help couples disconnect stresses in their lives, like financial hardship, from their relationships build confidence in the future of their relationship. In turn, this improves their reports of physical health. Continue reading “Buffering the Effects of Stress on Health through Relationship Education: The Important Role of Improving Relationship Confidence”

Relationship Education Can Reduce the Effects of Anger/Stress on Marital Conflict

by Alan J. Hawkins

The Bottom-line First: Relationship education program designers have long thought that it was important to help couples better understand and recognize their daily stresses and moods and then give them tools to prevent stresses and negative moods from igniting conflicts or turning small-disagreement mole hills into relationship-harming mountains. An important, recent study with lower income couples now documents that participation in RE can reduce the tendency for stresses and negative moods to turn disagreements into severe conflicts. Continue reading “Relationship Education Can Reduce the Effects of Anger/Stress on Marital Conflict”

Book Review — Proposing Prosperity: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in America

by Alan J. Hawkins

The Bottom-line First: While I value the contribution Jennifer Randles’ book makes to the field, I have some beefs with her analysis of federal policy efforts to promote relationship education. She argues that relationship education is the wrong approach because healthy relationships and marriages are a product of social and economic circumstances that provide a nurturing environment in which relationships can flourish. She asserts an economic threshold below which romantic relationship aspirations are essentially hopeless. Yes, we need to work to improve the social and economic ecology that nurtures romantic relationships, that makes it easier for love to thrive. But ultimately, her argument inadvertently minimizes the dignity of those she sincerely hopes to help. As she documents, participants in the program she studied in-depth overwhelmingly enjoyed and appreciated the program for the message of hope it delivered, despite their difficult circumstances. They valued the knowledge and skills that gave them a sense of agency to achieve their relationship aspirations, even knowing the obstacles ahead. Randles worries that hope is false and insensitive. I disagree.  Continue reading “Book Review — Proposing Prosperity: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in America”