Millions of couples have improved their marriage while sitting on their butts! No, they weren’t just sitting around doing nothing: They sat in a Marriage Education class and learned key skills for speaking, listening, understanding and connecting to their spouse.
Their reasons for attending the program varied. One or both of them may have felt they were missing something in their marriage. Or, their relationship may have been in the doldrums and neither knew how to get out. For others, every conversation may have ended up in a fight, while others just wanted to make a good marriage even better.
While listening to the instructor and practicing the communication skills being taught, these couples learned how to use their ears, mouths, minds and hearts to create safer, healthier and more deeply-satisfying relationships with this central person in their lives.
What is Marriage Education?
Marriage Education (M.E.) consists of classes, workshops, or weekend conferences designed to help couples strengthen their marriage through the teaching and practicing of research-based communication and conflict resolution skills. Research has shown that the skills taught in M.E. provide important benefits for couples.
However, many people do not participate in M.E. classes because they don’t know that the classes exist, don’t think they need them, or they have misconceptions about who should attend a M.E. class.
Here are three ways that a Marriage Education class could benefit you and your relationship:
- Improve couple communication— Not only does M.E. help couples learn positive communication skills such as active listening or non-blameful confrontation, M.E. also helps couples decrease negative communication styles, like name calling or silent treatments. While M.E. won’t make all conflicts magically disappear, husbands and wives will be equipped with better ways to approach a disagreement without it escalating into a fight.
- Increase marriage satisfaction—Regardless of how satisfied (or dissatisfied) a spouse feels about their marriage before the M.E. class, chances are great that their satisfaction will increase after learning the skills and tools known to improve relationships.
- Reduce the risk for divorce—A recent study by theUniversity of Denver’s Scott Stanley and associates followed two groups of military couples, often seen as a high stress population. One group participated in M.E. and the other did not. One year later, there was a dramatic difference between these two groups: Those who took the M.E. class had a 67% lower divorce rate than those who did not attend the class! Marriage Educators know this story very well because they commonly hear from some couples that the class was “their last attempt to ‘fix’ their marriage.” Fortunately, even for many couples who are on the brink of divorce, M.E. classes can deliver!
While M.E. seems like a no-brainer for every couple, there are some common excuses that prevent couples from taking part in an M.E. class. Here are three of the most popular excuses that don’t hold weight:
- “We don’t need a class. Our marriage is good enough.” Some people feel that if they find the “right” person, their “soul mate,” then everything will be fine. What these people don’t realize is that good marriages are made, not born. All relationships face challenges and stress points and “doing what comes naturally” during times of stress often results in relationship damage. Participating in a M.E. class can help couples prepare for the future storms of life so when these problems come along, they are better able to work through it together and have a stronger marriage as a result.
- “Only couples having problems attend a marriage class.”— While Marriage Education can often make a big difference for couples who are struggling with their relationship, it can also help happy couples become even happier. By learning new skills and tools for their relationship, happy couples learn how to keep their marriage fresh and make it even stronger.
- “Our marriage can’t be saved.” Research suggests that M.E. can and often makes a big difference for couples on the brink of divorce. A recent study of distressed couples who attended classes conducted by Healthy Relationships California found increased marital satisfaction in those couples immediately after the class as well as six months later. Marriage Educators often hear couples say that the M.E. class was their last attempt to save their marriage, and some of these couples have even ended up ripping up their divorce papers in front of the class!
Healthy Relationships California invites you to join tens of thousands of Californians who have sat on their butts and strengthened their marriage in a Marriage Education class! You have nothing to lose by going, but you and your relationship could have much to lose if you don’t.
Want to learn more about the benefits of Marriage Education?
* Read HRC’s Research Brief #1 to learn how Marriage Education can improve communication and marital satisfaction.
* Read HRC’s Research Brief #2 to learn how Marriage Education can help couples on the brink of divorce.
* Watch a video on how Premarital Education can lower the risk of divorce.
We want to hear from you! How has Marriage Education helped your relationship? What classes have you attended? What were the big things that you learned?
Written by Shelece McAllister– Copyright (C) 2012 Healthy Relationships California