Does relationship education and coaching really work?

One of our favorite resources is PREP, Inc. – Successful Relationships – Successful Lives the work of Scott Stanley and Howard Markman Recently they raised this question and they reported from a study undertaken by the US Department of Health and Human Services. What gives these stalwarts in the battle for strong marriages confidence to ask and answer this question? That’s the question that many researchers are spending long hours trying to answer.

Gathering data about the effectiveness of relationship education is a challenge because there are so many variables to navigate over a long period of time. However, when we do get solid findings from well-designed studies, it’s special. A recent Administration for Children and Families (ACF) study (called PACT– Parents and Children Together) is an example we’d like to share with all our couples and friends.

ACF (which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services) funded research into the effectiveness of relationship education by studying two sites (one in Brooklyn and one in El Paso) that provide relationship education services to a large number of couples.

Overall, there were 1,595 participants–some unmarried, some married (59%), all low-income couples with kids.

What PACT sought to learn was how the attendees of these relationship workshops were doing one year later when it came to:

(1) the status and quality of the couples’ relationships,

(2) the quality of the co-parenting relationships, and

(3) job and career advancement.

Since 24k Gold Marriage and PREP are primarily concerned with helping couples succeed, we’ve narrowed the results to those findings. The impacts were modest but worth taking note of given the highly rigorous design of the study:

  • the workshop improved the commitment partners felt for one another.
  • the workshop improved levels of support and affection shown to one another.
  • the workshop decreased frequency of destructive conflict behaviors.
  • couples were more likely (than control group) to have stayed married after attending the relationship education workshop at 1 year out (by 4 percentage points).
  • co-parenting relationships also improved after the workshop.
  • instances of severe physical assault at 1 year after the workshop were 3% lower in treatment group (those who attended the workshop) than in the control group (those who did not attend the workshop).

Final Note

These findings reinforce our own experience. To our knowledge no couple who has joined us for at ,Marriage 3.0 Revive Restore Renew weekend AND has gone home to honor their Covenant Agreement for at least a year has ever lost their marriage. Contrarily, they thrive and grow.

“This past weekend was one of the most amazing experiences we

have shared together in the 2 years we have been together.

You two are the perfect role models for us to design our

marriage around. We can not thank you enough.”

Wish we could do more.