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Marriage Preparation

Historical Context, Components Of Successful Programs, Sample Programs, Other Factors Influencing Marriage Preparation Success


Marriage preparation programs are offered to adolescent, young adult, and remarrying partners to increase readiness for predictable tasks of married life and reduce their likelihood of distress and divorce. Under the broader rubric of relationship enhancement, training workshops, self-help materials, marital therapy, and/or support services are offered to individuals, dating couples, cohabitants, and married couples to improve knowledge of relational issues, interpersonal skills, personal insight, and behavior change. Marriage preparation programs typically target one or more of the following objectives: (1) Prevention of distress, including dating or domestic violence and conflict, and prevention of divorce by altering malleable risk factors (e.g., negative interpretations, conflict resolution skills); (2) competence-building, by enhancing self- and other-awareness (e.g., attitudes and behaviors that improve or erode marriage), knowledge of couple issues (e.g., finances, sexuality, parenting), interactive skills (e.g., communication, problem solving, stress management), and access to resources (e.g., self-help curricula, social services, mutual support networks); and (3) intervention, including individual or couple therapy as appropriate, to resolve conflict, promote healing, teach skills for growth, or to deter partners from entering a high-risk marriage.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily & Marriage Traditions