Abstracts May 2007

May 2007, Vol. 12, No. 1 
ISSN 1540 5273

What’s love got to do with it? The role of healthy couple relationships and marriages in promoting child, family, and community well-being

Francesca Adler-Baeder, Auburn University; Karen Shirer, University of Minnesota; Angela Bradford, Auburn University


There is an increasing focus on healthy couple relationships and marriages in family life education and Cooperative Extension programs. The research clearly indicates the ways in which healthy couple/marital functioning benefits individuals, children, and communities. Conversely, unhealthy couple relationships and marriages are clearly linked, both directly and indirectly, to adverse individual, family, and community outcomes. These effects underscore the importance of including relationship and marriage education in family life education programs. Other research using representative samples documents expressed community need and interest in marriage education. With both the demand and the need for relationship and marriage education, consideration should be given to providing effective programming that is both research-informed as well as research-validated. In addition, contextual factors, such as community demographics, public opinion, and administrative support are considerations for implementation design. Full Text…

Using research in marriage and relationship education programming

Brian J. Higginbotham; Katie Henderson, Utah State University; Francesca Adler-Baeder, Auburn University


Research and programming are interrelated. Good research leads to good programming and good programs can lead to good research. This article describes methods to incorporate research into marriage and relationship programming and ways to generate new research. Specifically, research informed programming and programmatic research are discussed. A process to develop and modify programs using existing research is highlighted as well as techniques to research existing marriage and relationship education programs. Full Text…

Offering relationship and marriage education in your community

Charlotte Shoup Olsen, Kansas State University; Karen Shirer, University of Minnesota


Planning and implementing marriage and relationship education requires attention to the environment, the setting, potential participants, and the type of educational program to be delivered. However, often overlooked for program success are required technical skills and knowledge, development of an ethical vision, and the need for reciprocity and negotiation within the context of the community. This article discusses each of these factors as well as specific key aspects of community program planning and implementation. Full Text…

Building community collaborations to support healthy and stable marriages

Ted G. Futris, University of Georgia


Making positive and sustainable impacts on current and future marriages is more likely to occur when the community is actively engaged. Effective community collaborations create cultures and support mechanisms that help individuals and couples acquire the necessary skills and resources to form healthy and stable marriages. This article describes the function of community collaborations and effective strategies to develop a community infrastructure that supports healthy relationships and marriages. Additional resources for supporting the development of and evaluating the effectiveness of these collaborations are shared. Full Text…

Youth focused relationships and marriage education

Jennifer L. Kerpelman, Auburn University


Adolescence is a key time to offer relationships/marriage education, as it is during adolescence that youth begin to actively explore romantic relationships. Providing effective relationships education can support positive youth development and help reduce impulsive and health-compromising behaviors. Relationships education also can facilitate movement toward well- functioning committed relationships and marriages in adulthood. This article addresses the value of romantic relationships education for adolescents, and offers an example of a youth-focused relationships education curriculum. A summary of key findings from the first year of a multi-year curriculum evaluation study is provided. Full Text…

Marriage education for stepcouples

Francesca Adler-Baeder, Mallory Erickson, Auburn University; Brian J. Higginbotham, Utah State University


A significant proportion of marriages form stepfamilies. It is important for educators to recognize and consider these couples’ educational needs to ensure that they function well as a couple within the context of stepfamily development. From a review of the literature, we present prevalent issues and factors associated with healthy couple functioning in stepfamilies for marriage educators and practitioners. Information is offered on such implementation issues as guiding theoretical perspectives, program content, learning objectives, facilitator and participant characteristics, and recruitment for work with couples in stepfamilies. Full Text…

Working with low-resource and culturally diverse audiences

Linda Skogrand, Utah State University; Karen Shirer, University of Minnesota


A growing challenge for family educators is effectively providing family education for low-resource and culturally diverse audiences. These audiences have not been served well in the past, and family educators need to find more appropriate ways of providing programming for these populations. This paper provides family educators with strategies for learning about and partnering with low-resource and culturally diverse audiences. Ways to provide relationship and marriage education with these audiences are also provided. Full Text…

Commitment in healthy relationships

H. Wallace Goddard, University of Arkansas


Commitment to the relationship is related to the quality of the relationship. It makes sense that people who commit themselves to a relationship are more likely to find rewards than those who invest sporadically or half-heartedly. This article reviews the various dimensions of commitment in intimate relationships, including commitment as an attraction, commitment as moral obligation, and commitment as constraint. Because commitment has multiple dimensions, it functions differently in different relationships. Strategies for cultivating commitment are presented. Full Text…

Connecting as a couple: Communication skills for healthy relationships

Angela R. Wiley, University of Illinois


Effective communication is critical for building and maintaining strong couple relationships. Communication includes more than words and grammar. In fact, the emotional layer of communication may be one of the most important for couples. This article reviews basic communication theory and lays the foundation for teaching emotional communication skills to couples. Full Text…



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