Know Anyone Getting Married, Living Together or Engaged?

There has been a lot of positive press about premarital education programs but I just read an important study that raises some issues to think about before wholeheartedly endorsing all premarital education programs. Using meta-analytic methods of published and unpublished (doctoral dissertations, not junk) evaluation research on premarital education, the researchers found complex results.

Negative findings:

1. Premarital education programs have not been shown to improve relationship quality or satisfaction.

2. Studies that follow couples past the honeymoon stage are rare. Therefore, it is hard to know what people retain over time from the program.

Positive findings:

1. Premarital education programs are effective at improving couple communication.

One problem with premarital programs in general is that couples with higher risk profiles for divorce were less likely to participate.

So, what do we need? Here are 6 important components for premarital education:

1. We need an emphasis on teaching communication and problem solving skills is justified. These skills are Canadian pharmacy positively associated with good marital relationships.

2. Couples may need more help from programs in implementing their new skills into their day-to-day communication challenges. It is one thing to demonstrate their newly acquired skills in a laboratory and another to generalize those skills in the hubbub of real, day-to-day life.

3.Customized training is better. Programs should consider how they can give more effective instruction on application of skills to real-life situations that their participants will encounter (i.e. step children).

4. We need to do better. We need more critical and creative thinking about how to do premarital education for the 21st century.

5. The timing of premarital education is important. It is useful before couples live together rather than after they have become engaged.

6. Little attention is currently given to teach single young adults how to choose a spouse wisely.  Why wait?

And, as anyone who is or has been in a committed relationship knows: It is essential to pay attention to the ‘‘transformative processes’’ of marriage, such as commitment, sacrifice, and forgiveness and the personal virtues that promote marital quality, such as generosity, goodwill, other-centeredness, and self control. Simplistic communication-satisfaction models just don’t work.

Source: Elizabeth Fawcett et al in V 59 (#3) first published online: 8 JUL 2010


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One Response to “Know Anyone Getting Married, Living Together or Engaged?”

  1. April 17th, 2012 3:57 pm

    A very important topic. My boyfriend and I have started seeing a therapist because we have been stuck in a place of not wanting to break up, but not feeling 100% right about getting married. It is helping us to get everything on the table and make the choice from a more informed place. And I give him so much credit for being willing to show up and do his own personal work. I am feeling much better about the relationship these days. Love your blog!

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