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The formal organization of relationship educationin the USA was begun in the mid-1990s by a diverse group of professionals concerned that the results of social science intervention resulted in no appreciable reduction in the elevated rate of divorce and out-of-wedlock births. The motivation for relationship education was found in their observations of school drop-out rate, the prison population, drug addiction numbers, unemployment statistics, and other negative social factors. In all categories mentioned, obvious statistical over-representation of adults whose childhood did not involve both of their parents was present.

Initial planning involved the participation of psychologists, counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, clergy from various faith traditions, policy makers, academicians in the fields of social science, attorneys, judges, and lay persons. The goal was to seek the broadest possible dispersal of research and marriage education skills courses which could improve interpersonal relationship functioning, especially with married and pre-marital couples.

The relationship and marriage education movement came together under the auspices of "The Coalition for Marriage, Family, and Couples Education", founded and directed by Diane Sollee. Their first national conference, "Smart Marriages®" was held in 1997, near their office in Washington, D.C. The annual Smart Marriages® conferences are attended by as many as 2,500 persons from all fifty states and dozens of countries. Participants find that instruction in relationship skills, combined with information about the benefits of marriage and guidelines about what to expect in marriage, will not only increase the marriage rate and reduce the divorce rate but will provide for other social benefits, as well.

The programs and methods to teach relationship skills are varied and are often modified specifically to various individual and cultural milieu. The majority of clinical practitioners who participate in the Coalition find within it a positive means to directly and quickly effect positive change for individuals and couples in circumstances where the DSM-IV may not be an appropriate tool. Their internet site [1], is wholly assigned to disseminate information useful to promoting healthy marriages and families and includes a directory of marriage and education programs.

Early contributors who remain active in the Coalition are Howard Markman and Scott Stanley, University of Denver; Bill Doherty, University of Minnesota; Linda Waite, University of Chicago; David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, National Marriage Project; David Olson, Life Innovations; Sherod Miller, ICP; Jon Carlson, Governors State University, and John Gottman University of Washington.

Another significant USA researcher in marriage and marriage education is Jeffry H.Larson. In the first article listed here he reviews the 3 major premarital questionnaires - Foccus, Prepare and Relate.



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  • [2] Proceedings of the London Relationship Education Conference 2007]
  • [3] Smart Marriages resource filled site for marriage education and support.
  • [4] The association for better marriages.
  • [5] The PAIR project - longitudinal study of courtship and marriage.
  • [6] Marriage builders web site - member forums.
  • [7] Chapter One of Passionate Marriage by Scharch
  • [8] Chapter 2 from Seven Principles of making marriage work by John Gottman.
  • [9] Relationship education, pre-marriage traits and a compatibility quiz.
  • [10] Eight articles relating to marriage preparation and research.Template:Relationship Education

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