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Marriage Preparation


Marriage preparation includes efforts of professionals and lay persons to help partners build skills and awareness for satisfying marriages. Although many couples find happiness and positive interaction without strong parental or professional training, evidence suggests that quality training would enhance interaction and adjustment for most couples. Only a few research-based approaches (e.g., PREP, RE, PREPARE) have been widely implemented and most offered by national organizations in the United States and Australia vary in focus and quality (Silliman and Schumm 2000). Thus providers and couples benefit from understanding these best practices: (1) Effective programs teach how to communicate, problem solve, and resolve conflict and help couples learn about and discuss money, sex, parenting, and other issues; (2) programs of twelve to thirty hours with trained providers, follow-up classes, research-based learning materials, and evaluation are best equipped to facilitate change with couples; and (3) families and community organizations such as churches, clubs, and schools can enhance the transition-to-marriage by early skill training and modeling as well as ongoing support.

The benefits of vital marriage to both individuals and society's health and well being commends the expansion of higher-quality marriage preparation programming, targeted to general and special audiences.


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Silliman, B., and Schumm, W. R. (2000). "Marriage Preparation Programs: Literature Review." Family Journal 8(2):128–137.

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Stanley, S. M.; Markman, H. J.; Prado, L. M.; Olmos-Gallo, P. A.; Tonelli, L.; St. Peters, M.; Leber, B. D.; Bobulinski, M.; Cordova, A.; and Whitton, S. W. (2001). "Community-Based Premarital Preparation: Clergy and Lay Leaders on the Front Lines." Family Relations 50(1):67–76.

Williams, L., and Jurich, J. (1995). "Predicting Marital Success after Five Years: Assessing the Predictive Validity of FOCCUS." Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 21(2):141–153.

Other Resources

Commonwealth of Australia. (2002). Relate: Information on Relationships, Family, Love and Life. Available from http://www.relate.gov.au/.

Lord Chancellor's Department, The (UK). (1998). Marriage Support Services Directory. Available from http://www.lcd.gov.uk/family/marsup/famtxtfr.htm.

Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. A Strategic Plan to Honor Marriage and Reduce Divorce. (2001). Available from http://www.governor.state.ok.us/policy.htm.


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily & Marriage TraditionsMarriage Preparation - Historical Context, Components Of Successful Programs, Sample Programs, Other Factors Influencing Marriage Preparation Success