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Marriage Enrichment


Research provides insight into a better understanding of why marriages succeed or fail (Gottman 1994); what makes a marriage worth fighting for (Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg 1994); and the impact of unresolved anger on the relationship (Williams 1993, 1997). David Olson (1998) has provided inventory or questionnaire tools to assist clergy and premarital counselors in determining the readiness of the engaged couple for marriage. This inventory is called PREPARE/ENRICH. Other inventories, tests, or questionnaires have been used as well, such as RELATE (a self-scored inventory) and FOCCUS (facilitating open couple communication, understanding, and study). These tools help engaged couples learn more about their differences and similarities in preparation for marriage.

A plethora of other helpful books and products provide a supplementary resource for any couple interested in learning how to have a better marriage. Some book titles include: The Heart of Commitment (Stanley 1998), The Essential Humility of Marriage (Hargrave 2000), The Power of Two (Heitler 1997), Getting Ready for Marriage (Mace 1985), Fighting for Your Marriage (Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg 1994), Couple Communication II, Thriving Together (Miller and Miller 2000), Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (Parrott and Parrott 1995), The Second Half of Marriage (Arp and Arp 1996), The Good Marriage (Wallerstein and Blakeslee 1995), Passionate Marriage (Schnarch 1997), Empowering Couples (Olson and Olson 2000) and Close Companions (Mace 1982).

Two major conferences provide showcases that bring many of the therapists and marriage enrichment leaders together. The first A.C.M.E. International Marriage Enrichment Conference (IMEC) was in 1988. Because David Mace died in 1990, the Second IMEC was held in 1996, many years later than initially hoped, in Fort Worth, Texas. Then in 1997, the Smart Marriage conference was held in Washington, DC. The IMEC venue emphasizes couple participation, plus training for professionals. The Smart Marriage emphasizes programs for professionals and entrepreneurs.

In England, the marriage guidance program spearheaded by David Mace has changed its name to Relate (in the United States there is a premarital inventory called Relate; the two are not related). Also, in England, Couples for Marriage Enrichment (CME) was formed through the inspiration of the Maces. The CME is a similar organization to A.C.M.E., but quite different from Relate (in England). In Australia, the Maces helped form the Couples for Marriage Enrichment Australia (CMEA). The Maces introduced marriage enrichment to many countries and wrote more than thirty books on the subject. The only cultures the Maces did not work with were in the Middle Eastern countries. The Maces were honored by the United Nations in 1994, the International Year of the Family, as recipients of the Family Patron Award. A new wave of interest in marriage enrichment interest began in South American countries, Africa, and several European countries at the end of the twentieth century. Throughout the world, a primary A.C.M.E. goal is to have groups wherever possible to help fulfill the A.C.M.E. slogan of "building better marriages, beginning with our own."

Many religious bodies have seen the need for more emphasis on marriage enrichment. National Marriage Encounter holds an annual conference for its members. Some denominations conduct regional conferences each year. These events, usually built around a theme, tend to design a product on the topic for its participants.

Not all approaches to marriage enrichment are the same, however. Some organizations approach marriage enrichment from a companionship approach, as the Mace model does, with both marriage partners being equal. Other approaches, primarily religious, emphasize that the husband is the head of the house and therefore gets the final vote. This one-vote system, as it is sometimes called, is also prevalent in Middle Eastern countries. Individuals or couples who want to investigate possible models should explore the approach taken by a particular group when choosing an affiliation with any organized effort in marriage enrichment.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationshipsMarriage Enrichment - The Marriage Movement, Developments, The Future Of Marriage Enrichment