Data from the nation’s largest and most diverse study on the impact of Relationship and Marriage Education (RME) classes show that marital satisfaction improves substantially after participating in RME, a finding with significant ramifications during the high-risk early years of marriage.
Half of all divorces occur within the first eight years of marriage, making this a high-risk time for couples. In a study of 17,245 Californians taking an RME course, researchers at Healthy Relationships California found high levels of marital dissatisfaction among those married eight years or less. Researchers also found a 42% increase in marital satisfaction among those who participated in RME for 8 to 16 hours.
The results of this study are important for four reasons:
- Marriage Education helped improve distressed marriages in a time when couples are at a high risk for divorce, suggesting RME is an important intervention during the early years of marriage;
- Improvements from RME appeared to last over time (at least six months, the length of the study);
- The RME classes in this study are relatively short, ranging from 8 to 24 hours in length, presenting couples with a means for improving their relationship that can occur over just one or two weekends;
- As RME is significantly more affordable than marital therapy, it represents a relatively inexpensive investment for increasing marital satisfaction.
Many RME participants offer testimonials supporting this research. Tif from Newport Beach, CA, said, “When we began attending [RME] our marriage was in crisis. Through the stories, sharing, and teaching of each topic we have been able to add tools to our toolbox of communication. We did not only get past our crisis, but beyond it onto a deeper level of intimacy and communication in our marriage.” Michele, also from Newport Beach, reports, “I found this program to be most enlightening. I have gone to therapy, couples counseling and have never left with ‘tools’ or an actual thought of how and why to change. Every [RME] class that I attend just adds more to my tool box and for that I am so utterly grateful.”
Healthy Relationships California offers Relationship and Marriage Education courses through local partnering organizations across the state. Classes are taught by trained facilitators and focus primarily on teaching couples and individuals communication and conflict-management skills. Classes are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean.
To learn more or to download a copy of the full Research Brief, visit our Resource Store.