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Offering Individual-Oriented Relationship Education: Challenges and Opportunities. Galena K. Rhoades, Ph.D. University of Denver. Traditional Relationship Education. Provided to committed couples, often in healthy relationships In the 1990s, 30% of couples received premarital education

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Offering individual oriented relationship education challenges and opportunities

Offering Individual-Oriented Relationship Education: Challenges and Opportunities

Galena K. Rhoades, Ph.D.

University of Denver

Traditional relationship education
Traditional Relationship Education Challenges and Opportunities

  • Provided to committed couples, often in healthy relationships

  • In the 1990s, 30% of couples received premarital education

  • 95% of this education was delivered through a religious organization

  • Components:

    • Relationship assessment

    • Communication skills

    • Personality differences

Stanley, Amato, Markman, & Johnson, 2006

Effectiveness of traditional relationship education
Effectiveness of Traditional Challenges and OpportunitiesRelationship Education

  • Samples: Middle-class, White

  • Couples who do relationship education generally:

    • are satisfied with the services

    • improve their communication

    • maintain improved communication over time

    • have a lower divorce rate

Carroll, J. S., & Doherty, W. J. (2003). Evaluating the effectiveness of premarital prevention programs: A meta-analytic review of outcome research. Family Relations, 52(2), 105-118.

Basic u s relationship statistics

Bumpass & Lu, 2000; CDC, 2002, 2006; Raley & Bumpass, 2003; Stanley et al., 2004; U.S. Census, 2003

Basic U.S. Relationship Statistics

  • Divorce rate: 36-60%, depending on education level

  • Children born to unmarried parents: 36.8%

  • Median age at first marriage: 27.1 for men, 25.3 for women

  • Median age at first birth: 24.6

  • 60-75% of couples live together before marriage

  • 40-50% of women have ever cohabited

Gaps in relationship education
Gaps in Relationship Education Stanley et al., 2004; U.S. Census, 2003

  • Services for:

    • Individuals (vs. couples)

    • Individuals not in relationships

    • Unhealthy or violent relationships

    • Couples with children by previous partners

    • Populations with low income levels

Targets for early individual oriented relationship education
Targets for Early, Individual-Oriented Relationship Education

  • What is a healthy relationship?

  • Safety

  • Planning for the future

  • Making decisions about partners and relationships

  • Communication skills

  • Expectations for relationships

  • Impact of adult relationships on child well-being

  • Managing children and new relationships

  • Barriers to marriage

  • The positive role fathers can play

  • Building social support

Core Development Team Education


  • Domestic violence experts, Anne Menard and Michael Johnson, Ph.D.

  • Oklahoma Marriage Initiative, George Young, Tony Russell, and Scott Roby

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program instructors

  • Women receiving TANF

  • Pilot classes

  • Sociologists, policy experts, Kristin Seefeldt, Ph.D. and Kathryn Edin, Ph.D.


  • Marline Pearson, M.A.

  • Scott Stanley, Ph.D.

  • Galena Rhoades, Ph.D.

  • PREP content and strategies (conflict and communication skills, expectations)

Overarching Goals Education

  • Help those in viable relationships to cultivate, protect, and stabilize their unions, and to marry if desired.

  • Help those in damaging relationships to leave safely, at some point.

  • Help those desiring a romantic relationship and/or marriage in the future to choose future partners wisely.

Core Philosophies Education

“Sliding vs. Deciding”

“Our love lives aren’t neutral.”

Initial Target Population Education

  • Women in welfare programs

    • Presence of children

    • High financial stress, chaos

    • Threats to personal safety (neighborhoods and partners)

  • Now used with other populations

    • E.g., Men, prisons, college students, religious organizations

Structure of Curriculum Education

15 hours of core material

Three major sections:

  • Understanding Healthy Relationships, Risks, and Making Decisions

    • Sliding vs. deciding

    • Knowing yourself first

  • Building and Maintaining Healthy Relationships

    • Safety

    • Communication skills

  • Moving Forward toward Goals “Within My Reach”

    • Planning for the future

    • Managing children and relationships

    • Infidelity

    • Barriers to marriage

Safety Education

  • Messages about safety throughout

    • Keeping workbooks safe

    • Leaving safely

    • Help for domestic violence

  • Unit on domestic violence

    • Recognizing warning signs

    • Intimate terrorism vs. arguments-that-get-physical

    • Getting help and support

Instructor Materials Education

(Spanish versions available)

Participant Materials (Spanish versions available)

Structure of units
Structure of Units Education

  • Lecture

  • Discussion

  • Group activity

  • Workbook activity

Structure of Curriculum Education

16 hours of core material

Three major sections:

  • Knowing What You’re Made Of:

    • Sliding vs. deciding

    • Personality, hidden issues, family background

  • Being a Great Buddy

    • Communication skills, stress and anger management, prejudice, domestic violence, suicide prevention, alcohol

  • Decide, Don’t Slide into Love

    • Expectations in relationships, mate selection, commitment

Benefits of individual oriented relationship education
Benefits of Individual-oriented Relationship Education Education

  • Access

  • Education on violence

  • Education on the transitions and decisions that come before a commitment to marry

  • Education on relationship choices and children’s well-being

  • Communication skills apply to many relationships

  • Gateway to other services

Contact information and additional resources
Contact Information and EducationAdditional Resources


  • Galena Rhoades:

  • PREP, Inc.



Relationship education across louisville within my reach implementation and results

Relationship Education Across Louisville: EducationWithin My Reach Implementation and Results

Becky F. Antle, PhD

Eli A. Karam, PhD

University of louisville

Kent school of social work

Marriage and family therapy program

Within my reach

Within My Reach Education

Skills Demonstration

Implementation issues

Implementation Issues Education

Relationship Education Across Louisville

Funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance

Relationship education across louisville implementation
Relationship Education Across Louisville: Implementation Education

  • Grant will use the Within My Reach curriculum from PREP

  • Services are provided by through the 8 Neighborhood Place sites

  • Existing staff at the NP sites have been trained by national experts in Within My Reach

  • Each NP site will offer 2 workshops per year to clients

  • Approximately 850 adults will be trained over the 5 years of the grant

  • “Training Booster Sessions” are offered to both adults and youth to reinforce concepts from workshops, discuss issues with utilization of skills in current relationships

  • Facilitators and other grant/agency staff will refer clients with complex relationship needs to services in the community

  • Advisory Board of professionals with an interest in healthy relationships

    • Facilitate collaboration between these key agencies and professionals

    • Identify existing and develop needed relationship services for the community

Participants and training satisfaction
Participants and Training Satisfaction Education

  • A total of 400 adults have completed the WMR program.

  • The majority of participants are female (80%) and African American (71%). The average age was 33.5 and number of children was 2. Approximately 33.3% were employed full-time.

  • Training satisfaction was very high, with a mean score of 66.2 out of a total possible score of 75 or 4.45 on a 5-point scale.

Learning Education

  • Learning was measured using a 25 item multiple choice knowledge test administered pre- and post-training.

  • There was a significant increase in participant knowledge from pre- to post-training. The average pre-test score was 32% correct, and the average post-test score was 55%.

Communication skill acquisition
Communication Skill Acquisition Education

  • There was a significant decrease in conflict engagement and the demand-withdraw dynamic.

  • There was a significant increase in the mutual cooperation approach for communication.

    • Communication and Conflict Resolution measured through standardized scales such as Communication Patterns Questionnaire (Noller & White, 1990) and ConflictResolution Styles Inventory-Partner (Kurdeck, 1994)

Relationship quality
Relationship Quality Education

  • For the WMR training, there was a significant improvement in relationship dynamics (Dyadic Adjustment Scale and Relationship Dynamics Scale) at six month follow-up.

    • Dyadic Adjustment Scale measures positive dynamics while Relationship Dynamics Scale measured negative patterns.

    • Relationship Quality measured through Dyadic Adjustment Scale (Spanier, 1976); Stanley-Markman Relationship Dynamics Scale (Renick et al, 1992).

Domestic violence
Domestic Violence Education

  • There was also a significant reduction of physical violence and emotional control in relationships at six month follow-up.

    • Relationship violence measured through Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996); Need for Control Scale (Bledsoe & Sar, 2004); and Controlling Behaviors Scale (Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2003).

Implications for practice
Implications for Practice Education

  • Knowledge + Skills

  • Cumulative Lasting Impact

  • Batterer Benefits

  • Focus on Strength and Health in Safe Group Setting

  • Erasing Stigma/Potential for Follow-Up

  • Prevention and Advocacy for Family and Friends