Premarital and Marital Education
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Premarital and marital education

Premarital and Marital Education

Premarital and marital education

Jennifer L. Baker, Psy.D. Anne B. Summers, Ph.D. Debbi Steinmann, M.A. Training Instructor / MentorsMelissa A. Gibson, M.S. Kim Rozell, M.A.Graduate AssistantsBrent Anderson, M.S.Matthew Biller, M.A. Cate Brandon, M.A Dawn Clinard, M.A.Jessie Clinton, M.S. Tabitha Carlson, M.S.Anup Jonathan Tony Larson, B.A. Nicole Mannis, M.A.Robert Mindrup, M.S.S.W.Colleen Quinn, Ph.D. Amber Schafer, M.A. Amanda Schroeder, B.S.

The Training for the Healthy Marriage and Family Formation curriculum was created through the cooperative efforts of:

Why invest in premarital marital education

Why Invest in Premarital/Marital Education?

  • Do most people pay their cable bill?

  • Do most people feed their dog?

  • Do most people try to repair their roof when it is leaking?

  • Do most people attempt to give their car a “tune up” when necessary?

What is premarital marital education

What is Premarital/Marital Education?

Premarital/Marital Education…

  • Is for couples before and after marriage.

  • Is for couples whose marriages are not in serious trouble.

  • Can make good marriages better.

  • Is NOT therapy or counseling, but it is educational in nature.

Premarital marital education

Premarital/Marital Education...

  • Teaches couple’s skills to increase communication, resolve conflict, and solve problems successfully.

  • Creates a safe and open environment

  • Allows each person to decide how much s/he will say or participate.

Premarital marital education format

Premarital/Marital Education Format

  • Recent research suggests that having a greater number of sessions may positively impact a couple’s relationship satisfaction.

  • An increased number of sessions provides a greater number of opportunities for couples to practice what they are learning in class.

Why do we need premarital marital education

Why Do We Need Premarital/Marital Education?

  • Young couples marrying for the first time have approximately a 40% to 50% chance of divorce.

  • A stable marriage is not necessarily a happy marriage.

  • Marital distress places adults and children at increased risk for mental and physical problems.

  • Males are more likely to attend relationship workshops and seminars, thancounseling or therapy.

Key potential benefits of premarital marital education

Key Potential Benefits of Premarital/Marital Education

What expectations about relationships are reasonable and what expectations are not acceptable?

  • Couples learn about services for immediate or future use.

  • Positively impacts overall well-being of children.

What does premarital marital education have to do with children

What Does Premarital/Marital Education Have to Do With Children?

  • Unhappy, unstable relationships and/or parental divorce greatly impact a child.

  • Some researchers suggest that it is impossible to measure the effect that results from witnessing parents’ negative interactions.

What does premarital marital education have to do with children1

What Does Premarital/Marital Education Have to Do With Children?

  • Children of divorced parents may have a more difficult time trusting others and establishing intimate relationships later in their own relationships.

  • Couples with especially high-conflict interactions may have children with adjustment problems and/or disorders.

Positive outcomes couples

Positive Outcomes: Couples

  • Slow down to avoid poor decisions.

  • Learn new communication and problem solving skills.

  • Increase knowledge about resources.

  • Lower risk of distress or divorce for some couples.

  • Improve marital satisfaction, understanding, and acceptance



  • Most research has been on middle-class, Caucasian couples and conducted over a short period of time.

  • Adaptation of the curriculum for various target populations is necessary.

  • Premarital/marital education may not benefit everyone!

Program formats



Increase strength areas

Improve on growth areas


Increase strength areas

Build on growth areas

Program Formats

Program formats1




Increase strength areas

Decrease stumbling blocks


Increase strength areas

Improve growth areas

Program Formats

Prevention and relationship enhancement program prep

Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program(PREP)

  • PREP focuses on risk factors for marital distress and failure identified in marital research.

  • PREP is only educational program for couples that has been studied in long-term, controlled follow ups.

Premarital and marital education

Teaches communication and problem solving skills.

Attempts to reduce or limit risk factors and raise protective factors.

Available in secular, Christian & Jewish formats.


Elements of prep

Elements of PREP

PREP Topics:

  • Danger Signs

  • Time Outs

  • Speaker-Listener Technique

  • Problem Solving

  • Fun

Danger signs

Danger Signs

  • Escalation

  • Invalidation

  • Negative Interpretations

  • Avoidance and Withdrawal

Implementing time out rules

Implementing Time-Out:Rules

  • Either partner can call one at any time.

  • Use the term “Time Out” or some other agreed upon phrase.

  • Agree to respect this as a cue things are going in the wrong direction.

  • The person who called the time out is responsible for bringing up the topic at a later time.

Implementing time out rules1

Implementing Time-Out:Rules

Two options:

  • Decide together to drop the issue for the time being.

    - OR -

  • Shift to a safer way to communicate.

Creating structure and safety

Creating Structure and Safety

Speaker/Listener Technique:

  • A structured way to communicate safely and clearly when you really need to do it well.

  • The technique is a great way to practice better communication.

  • It counteracts the four Danger Signs.

Speaker listener technique rules

Speaker-Listener Technique Rules

Rules for the Speaker:

  • Speak for yourself. Don’t mind-read.

  • Don’t go on and on.

  • Stop and let the listener paraphrase.

    Rules of the Listener:

  • Paraphrase what you hear.

  • Don’t rebut. Focus on the Speaker’s message.

Speaker listener technique rules1

Speaker-Listener Technique Rules

Rules for Both:

  • The Speaker has the floor.

  • Speaker keeps the floor while the listener paraphrases.

  • Share the floor.

Premarital and marital education



Four Steps:

  • Agenda Setting

  • Brainstorm

  • Agreement and Compromise

  • Follow-Up

Fun is important

Fun Is Important!

  • Do people get married just to have conflicts and problems?

  • You have to handle these things well, but that is not what brought you together.

Things to remember

Things to Remember:

  • No one can “have it all,” but people can choose to cherish and nurture what they want most.

  • Each person chooses how much he/she puts in a relationship.

  • Couple relationships directly impact a child’s health, happiness, and overall well-being.

What else can be done

What Else Can Be Done?

  • Encourage couples to attend premarital education while they are still dating.

  • Give a premarital education class as a wedding shower gift.

  • Give a marriage education class as a wedding gift.

What else can be done1

What Else Can Be Done?

  • After the wedding and throughout the life-cycle continue to encourage couples to attend education programs.

Marriage mentoring

Marriage Mentoring

Mentoring definition

Mentoring: Definition

  • Mentoring is a structured one-on-one relationship that focuses on the needs of the mentored participant.

  • Mentors have been used successfully in a variety of situations.

  • Mentors have also been used with couples.

Characteristics of good mentor couples

Characteristics of Good Mentor Couples

  • Married couples in committed, healthy relationships; married for a significant period of time.

  • Resemble the couple they mentor in background and demographics.

Characteristics of good mentor couples1

Characteristics of Good Mentor Couples

  • Have successfully resolved experiences similar to those of the couple that they are mentoring.

  • Realize that their marriage is not perfect and are willing to seek support when necessary.

A mentor is not

A Mentor is Not…

  • Mom or Dad.

  • Best friend.

  • Not on call for every crisis.

  • Not a teacher.

  • A counselor or psychologist.

What do mentors do

What Do Mentors Do?

  • Help individuals avoid a bad marriage before it begins.

  • Strengthen existing marriages and help restore troubled marriages.

  • Help stepfamilies to succeed.

  • Model positive communication skills and problem-solving strategies.

  • Actively listen through clarification and reflection of thoughts, content and feeling.

Benefits of mentoring

Benefits of Mentoring

  • A married mentor couple can model gender equality, respect for different perspectives, a team approach, and communication skills.

  • Mentors can normalize typical challenges and feelings of disillusionment and/or anxiety.

  • Mentors can help new couples navigate conflicts and avoid divorce, both of which are common in the first few years of marriage.

Benefits of mentoring1

Benefits of Mentoring

  • Mentor relationships may be rejuvenating.

  • Mentors and mentees often develop a close supportive relationship that continues after the formal relationship is no longer necessary.

Mentoring programs

Mentoring Programs

There are two programs that do not require specific training.


  • Click on Christian PREP workshop materials-can purchase small group materials.

Mentoring programs1

Mentoring Programs

Marriage Mentoring-

  • The Marriage Mentoring DVD kit costs apx. $80

    * If this is used, we suggest adding the relationship skills component from another program.

Mentoring programs2

Mentoring Programs


    This mentor program that must be supervised by a counselor or clergy member that is trained to offer the PREPARE/ENRICH Inventory.

Premarital and marital education


Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples:


National Fatherhood Initiative:

Ozarks Marriage Matters:





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