Researchers at Healthy Relationships California have found strong gains in marital satisfaction among 17,245 participants of Marriage Education programs in California, the nation’s largest study on the immediate and long-term impact of Marriage Education.
Before taking a Marriage Education course, only 44% of married persons considered themselves happy with their relationship, while 56% were moderately or highly distressed about their marriage. Six months after taking a skills-based Marriage Education course, only 32% of participants were moderately or highly distressed, while more than 68% were satisfied with their relationship—a 55% increase in the number of people feeling satisfied with their marriage.
“A 55% increase in those rating themselves as happily married six months after taking an 8-16 hour Marriage Education class is pretty astounding”, says Patty Howell, Vice President of Healthy Relationships California. “We knew that Marriage Education made a big difference for couples but it’s rare in social sciences to see this strong an impact, and it’s thrilling for these positive benefits to hold up well after the course was over. It’s very clear from these data that with Marriage Education couples who want help with their marriage have somewhere to turn that makes a great deal of difference to their lives.”
Popular media abound with articles about the sharp drop in satisfaction many couples experience after being married a number of years, and experts warn that this is common once the Honeymoon Effect is over. “We know that life intervenes,” says Howell. “Kids, jobs, health problems, money problems, the stresses of daily life—they all can take their toll. What’s exciting about these data is that they tell us loudly and clearly that a downward spiral is not inevitable and if your relationship is heading down a negative path, you can turn it around.”
Lisa, a 38 year-old from Fresno, reports about her experience taking a Marriage Education course: “When I first began this class I was really unhappy in my relationship with my husband. I had a lot of feelings, concerns, and issues that I had no idea how to communicate in a positive and healthy way. This class has helped me tremendously to find the tools I needed to be able to communicate what I needed to with my husband in a way I never thought possible.”
“Marriage Education is such a simple investment”, says Howell. “For these results to be achievable among such a large percentage of participants and for such a small investment in their time—often just a weekend—should make this a no-brainer for couples. Howell reports that for qualifying couples, a large variety of the Relationship and Marriage Education classes offered through Healthy Relationships California are free.
More information on the impact of Marriage Education for distressed couples is available in Research Brief #2 at http://www.relationshipsca.org/store/free-resources?product_id=189
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