By Lois M. Collins | Deseret News
The federal government has invested heavily for nearly two decades in marriage education classes to strengthen relationships — particularly of low-income couples — but critics say the impact has been small in terms of preventing romantic partnerships from crumbling.
“The marriage education field is wide and diverse, but overall, the research finds that marriage education does help improve couples’ self-reported communication and conflict-resolution skills, especially for married, middle-class couples. The research is less conclusive on whether marriage education prevents divorce,” said Jennifer Randles, assistant professor of sociology at California State University, Fresno, who wrote a book on government-supported marriage education classes called “Proposing Prosperity?: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in America.”
“Large-scale government-funded evaluations of relationship and marriage education for low-income couples did not find similar positive results,” said Randles, who noted those couples generally were not more apt to stay together. Nor did they see as much improvement in communication skills.
Just like with any form of education or therapy, the participants have to be motivated and open-minded in order for the process to work. Unfortunately, due to mental illness or substance abuse or whatever, some folks just aren’t capable of making the commitments necessary to affect change. Take Arizona’s required Parent Information Program Class for instance. Some clients say they got a lot out of it. Some clients say it was a waste of time. The content is the same, so my clients are only getting out of it what they put into it.
–Kaine Fisher, Rose Law Group Partner and Family Law Director