The marriage institution is under pressure. The divorce rate is at its highest. Yet research has shown that there are benefits that are associated with happy relationships in a marriage. These couples in happy marriages have a lower rate of psychological distress and a lower rate of the diseases that are associated with psychological distress. Contrast to this is the effect on couples in distressed marriage relationships where the negative effects may include poor mental and physical health which affects even the offspring.
Though most marriages start on a happy note, the demands of the daily life may have a negative effect on the relationship. Demands from career progression, children’s demands, and communication among others may have a negative effect on the relationship. Life has as well become more competitive and both ladies and men have to participate in supporting of the family they have begun. Due to such unforeseen demands the young families are faced with a challenge on how to progress with their careers and support the family as well. Researchers continue to identify ways to prevent and intervene on the breakdown of marriage as well as providing ways to improve the couple’s relationship within marriage. There are several studies that have been conducted that focus on how couples can work through the challenges in their marital relationships. This paper will analyze some of these well researched and studied methods.
The objective of the research is to focus on different ways couples can build better and strong relationships with their spouses. The paper is aimed at analyzing the different training programs that have been used in improving relationships in marriage. There are different training methods and each method is recommended for a different type of marital relationship. The paper will analyze Couple Care, self-PREP, CCET, plus programs that are done from home.
Couple CARE is a program that was researched using couples who were in an early relationship and in a non-distressed relationship. The program is in six units and is based on Couple relationship Education (CRE). The program integrates adult learning processes to develop self regulation in relationships between couples. Skill based CRE has a big effect in enhancing couple relationships skills and helps in maintaining satisfaction for some couples. The program is a preventive, self directed and easily available with the convenience of it being done at home.
The research wanted to test on a self-directed CRE program as an alternative to the usual Professional CRE is done in a group. The professional CRE had challenges as most couples do not like the setup as they do not like exposing their personal life to the group or they give excuses for not attending. There are yet others who maybe willing to use the professional CRE but this may not be possible as the program may be unavailable. CRE has been used and developed in other programs by researchers who apply it in other areas, such as its application in family psychology (Wilson & Halford, 2008). In this research, Halford and company used CRE and combined it with other social policies. The research was aimed at improving on the already existing positively appreciated CRE but on a different aspect when applied in the social context.
The Couple Care program makes use of technology inform of DVDs telephone, internet to offer psychological help to people and to provide self-directed CRE to couples which the couple can follow at home and at their own convenient time and pace. The CRE is self directed but with the advantage of a professional relationship educator. The couple will watch DVDs and have sessions with the professional through the telephone. It is customized to meet the individual needs for each couple. The role of an educator in adult learning programs helps the couple to be more highly engaged whereby the courses of action the educator suggests to the couple make the self-directed learning more effective. The program can only be used as a preventive measure but not as an intervention program for couples who are already in a distressed relationship. The research confirmed the results of other researches that communication, positive communication and avoidance of negative communication between couples has always been emphasized on as the main factor that improves relationship outcomes (Burleson, Et. al, 1997). Management of differences came second while caring and support came third. The method was popular with couples because it was easily accessible and flexibility which meant it was adaptable to apply for every couple.
A research was done to show that skills training can prevent relationship problems in at risk couples. Harfold and company (2001) tried to answer through an analysis of previous research conducted. According to this research, self-regulatory Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program Self-PREP can be used to improve high risk relationships. Relationship education programs focus on training a couple on communication skills. The research evidence showed that a skills-training session on relationship education improves communication between couples, which is maintained long after the training sessions are over.
There are mixed research results from previous researches whether use of skills-based relationship education prevents marital dissatisfaction. The research by Halford Et.al (2010) focused on couples in high risk relationships and how PREP conducted for 4 years would help them in the long term. The aim of their research was to determine if self-PREP helps couples in high risk relationships in improving their communication and improving satisfaction in their relationship. The PREP program in this research recommended self-regulatory strategies as studies have shown that self-regulation enhances in the sustenance of adaptive relationship behavior. Self regulation would be more beneficial to high risk as self regulation helps couples in attaining long-term patterns that would be of assistance in their relationship.
The self-PREP was done in groups and was conducted with an emphasis on self regulation where the couples were to evaluate their own behavior, communication skills and the effort they have put in changing their negative behavior, and compare it with the already set goals in improving communication. The results of the research showed that skill-based relationship education has a favorable effect in reducing negative communication for couples in high risk relationship, both during pre-intervention and post-intervention periods. Self-PREP however little effect on couples in low-risk relationships. However the research found that self-PREP had no effect in a couple deciding to dissolve their marriage.
Couples Coping Enhancement Training (CCET) is another popular method of helping couples. A study was conducted specifically to determine how CCET would be used in attaining efficacy for couples with preadolescent children and who had disagreements on how to raise the children. The study aims at providing a program that would be helpful to couples with preadolescent children by providing coping skills on disagreements arising from children rearing issues (Aldermen Et.al., 2007).
The results should that CCET was helpful to these couples and especially to the women. CCET provides couples with information on how to cope with stressful issues which originate from outside the marriage but that maybe affecting their relationship in marriage. These stressing issues may affect communication between couples and this may result to stressful marital relationship which will lead to marital dissatisfaction affecting marital quality. Spouses may have different ideas on how to rise up children. These different opinions may lead to disagreements in a relationship which may affect the marital quality. This research by Ledermann Et al. (2007) was to assist in helping parents in coping with stress those results from raising children.
There are relationship trainers who prefer to provide relationship education at home. The programs use CRE programs which are provide to the couple at the convenience of their home. A research was conducted which was meant to determine if couple education done at home had an effect on the relationship between the couples. The study Halford Et.al, (2001), used RELATE relationship counseling method which was to be done through the internet and a combination of the online RELATE counseling method and Couple Care. The results of the research indicated that the RELATE combined with Couple Care had a more positive effect in improving communication in a relationship, which resulted to satisfaction with the relationship. The results were positive for both men and women.
A lot of research has been done and it has been proven that providing education to couples will help in improving relationships and marital satisfaction. This research studies have proved the importance of programs that help in preventing relationship dissatisfaction. The training programs should be easily accessible. Self evaluation is a preferred trait in most adult education learning program. The marriage education programs should be enhanced to be self regulatory. The relationship education programs should be made more available and should be encouraged as a way of preventing deterioration of relationships in marriage. Research has shown that communication and lack of it continues to have a serious impact in relationships. It is therefore important that the programs should include an improvement in communication skills which will lead to building a better relationship with the spouse.