Relationship Tools for Every Season

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Welcome to Fall. As the air gets crisp and the leaves start to turn, the rhythm of our daily schedule changes, reminding us that life is all about transition. We enter the world as infants and then progress through each new season, learning as we go.

Relationships pass through seasons, too, and we need to equip ourselves to deal successfully and caringly with people and situations as they develop. It is understandable to think that Relationship and Marriage Education (RME) is only for married couples, but the reality is that the communication and problem-solving skills taught in RME are valuable tools with which to manage the challenges and changes each stage of life can bring. Here are some specific examples:


Eighty percent of high school senior girls and 72% of high school senior boys report that having a good marriage and family is very important to them (Marquardt, Blankenhorn, Lerman, Malone-Colón, & Wilcox, 2012). Unfortunately, in a time when nearly 50% of marriages end in divorce, many teenagers lack examples of strong relationships in their lives. Adolescence is a particularly valuable time to teach relationship skills, so young people will be prepared to form healthy relationships as they mature. Research suggests that RME classes equip teenagers with a better understanding of healthy relationship practices as well as strategies to avoid dating violence (Antle, Sullivan, Dryden, Karam, & Barbee, 2011).

Engagement and Marriage

Eighty-seven percent of Californians agree that engaged couples should attend a Premarital Education course before the wedding (Healthy Relationships California, 2008). RME gives couples the skills they need to build a strong marriage from day one, and to navigate the challenges that come with each new season of the relationship. HRC’s research found benefits for couples who attended RME, no matter how long they had been married (Howell, Krafsky, McAllister, & Collins, 2013).

Job Seekers

Job hunting typically begins when a young adult enters the “real world,” but increasingly adults find themselves seeking new employment later in life. Fortunately, the skills learned in RME don’t apply only to relationships with partners, family, and friends; they also apply to the business world. A recent study by HRC found that participants in an RME class became more effective in their job search, and developed a more positive attitude about the job-search process. Also, once hired, they were more effective in their jobs, more cooperative with coworkers, and better able to achieve assigned work goals (Howell et al., 2013).

Parents and Children

The relationship between parent and child is ever evolving as the child grows older, and their communication style needs to evolve as well. There are specific parenting classes available, such as HRC’s Raising Kids Twogether, but recent research reveals that attending an RME class focused on the parents’relationship with each other still yields benefits in the parenting realm (Adler-Baeder, Calligas, Skuba, Keiley, Ketring, & Smith, 2013). Parents who attended an RME class worked together better as a team, increased their involvement with their children, and improved in positive discipline.

Remarriage and Stepfamilies

Stepfamilies are faced with unique challenges as they knit together not only two adults, but each partner’s children as well. The effects of these challenges are seen in the fact that more second and third marriages end in divorce than first marriages. However, RME can help stepfamilies navigate the complexity of blending families. Research shows that attending an RME program benefits the couple’s relationship, parenting, and stepfamily cohesion overall (Lucier‐Greer & Adler‐Baeder, 2012).

Remember, no matter what season of life you are in, Relationship and Marriage Education can be helpful to you! Check out our Class Finder to find a class near you today.

Want to learn more?

We want to hear from you! What stage of life are you in? How has Relationship and Marriage Education been helpful to you?

Written by Shelece McAllister–Copyright © 2013 Healthy Relationships California



Adler‐Baeder, F., Calligas, A., Skuban, E., Keiley, M., Ketring, S., & Smith, T. (2013).Linking changes in couple functioning and parenting among couple relationship education participants.Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Applied Family Studies, 62(2), 284-297. doi:10.1111/fare.12006

Antle, B. F., Sullivan, D. J., Dryden, A., Karam, E. A., & Barbee, A. P. (2011). Healthy relationship education for dating violence prevention among high-risk youth.Children And Youth Services Review, 33(1), 173-179. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.08.031

Healthy Relationships California. (2008). The State of California’s Unions: Marriage and Divorce in the Golden State. Leucadia, CA: Author.

Howell, P., Krafsky, K. J., McAllister, S., & Collins, D. (2013).Impact Report: Research on the impact of Relationship and Marriage Education programs in California. Leucadia, CA: Healthy Relationships California.

Lucier‐Greer, M., & Adler‐Baeder, F. (2012).Does couple and relationship education work for individuals in stepfamilies? A meta‐analytic study. Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Applied Family Studies, 61(5), 756-769. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00728.x

Marquardt, E., Blankenhorn, D., Lerman, R. I., Malone-Colón, L., &Wilcox, W. B. (2012). The State of Our Unions: The President’s marriage agenda for the forgotten sixty percent. Charlottesville, VA: National Marriage Project and Institute for American Values.

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