PILOTING A COMMUNITY APPROACH TO HEALTHY MARRIAGE INITIATIVES IN ... |
1.1 The Community Healthy Marriage Initiative Demonstration and Evaluation ..... 1-1 ..... Healthy Marriage and Relationship Service Participation . ...
Twenty-one participants attended the "Mastering the Mysteries of Love Leader Training" at a 3-day Course Intensive led by Authorized MML Trainer Bento Leal at The Relationship Institute at UTS on Jan. 28-30, 2011. Following are comments from some of those who attended the leader training:
"I thought I would get some good advice on counseling with young married couples, but I received much more than that! I was guided step-by-step to discover the art of masterful human communication and the divine quality that is revealed in each person when genuine expression and empathic listening are employed. As Bento Leal (our trainer) put it, ‘what better way to live for the sake of others than to listen with your whole heart?'"
- Joe Leonard, Clifton, N.J.
"What excited me most was the ‘expression stick,' which gave me security and protection I needed whenever my husband and I had to discuss any issues important to our family life. My husband looks more confident now to break down the wall which has existed between us, (but) we have a long way to go. We plan to study this content each day and practice it together."
- Ayako Heller, Harlem, NY
"The relationship enhancement skills broke down several communication barriers that my wife and I have experienced in the past... Even one of the skills taught can have a huge impact on a couple's relationship and be life-changing!"
- Jorg Heller, Harlem, NY
"Last week my wife was so upset with me because I wasn't listening to her. The MML training helped me to see the problems we face from her perspective. It put me "in her shoes." She was surprised to see how I changed in my listening and my attitude towards her. Since then, our relationship has improved a lot."
- Matthew John, UTS Student
"It is easier to fall in love than to keep that love. I learned more that I can use in practice than just another theory."
- Tchinda Fabrice Mbuna
"Acknowledging the good in another person helps to defuse a negative situation and promotes a healthy dialog. Bento Leal, who facilitated the MML training, is excellent!"
- Theresa DeVore
"This training conveyed useful techniques that are easy to use!"
- Rev. Avis Clark, Professional Counselor
NYC Dept. of Education
"These skills can change people's lives in their marriages and other types of relationships." - Elece McKnight, UTS student
"The communication skills are really practical and can strengthen marriages!"
- Drissa Kone, UTS student
"I would recommend this training to others!"
- Rev. Brenda Fraser
Mastering the Mysteries of Love (MML), co-written by Dr. Bernard G. Guerney, Jr., and Mary Ortwein, M.A., is a version of the nationally-recognized, research-based program titled Relationship Enhancement developed by Dr. Guerney in the 1960s. The course is designed for couples, normally presented in a class setting, and teaches 10 key communication skills, notably Showing Understanding (Empathic Listening), Expression (Speaking to Be Understood), Discussion (Pattern of Taking Turns), Conflict Management and Problem Solving Skills. Mr. Leal explains that "the goal of the course is to help couples not only make marriages that survive but actually thrive -getting better, stronger, deeper, happier, and more fulfilling!"
The 3-day (16 hour) Intensive at UTS offered the trainees the opportunity to learn and practice the skills themselves as class participants, interspersed with hour-long sessions where they practiced teaching the course to each other in groups of four.
The training was extremely dynamic and interactive based on a comprehensive learning model of listening, seeing, and experiencing by doing. On the final day, each trainee received a Certificate of Completion naming them as an Authorized Program Leader of MML, authorizing them to order course materials and to teach the course to anyone, anywhere, any time - an excellent credential for teaching the course to couples in a marriage or couples ministry in a church, small group fellowships, home settings, and at community organizations such as at schools, libraries, etc.
Several of the trainees reported going home after the first day, using the skills with their spouse and others and discovering remarkable improvement in their communication, and coming back the next day and reporting the breakthrough to the rest of the class.
Before going to the airport to fly back home to the Bay Area in California, Mr. Leal said that he is looking forward to conduct similar trainings in the near future at The Relationship Institute in NYC or as a satellite course in other cities around the country.
Data From the National Survey of Family Growth
Based on a 2002 study by the CDC based on face-to-face interviews with 10,847 women age 15-44 in 1995.
Summary of results by Richard Niolon
How many women marry, divorce, and cohabitate?
- About 28% of all women have never married nor cohabitated. 31% have married with cohabitation, and 31% have married without cohabitation. 10% have married but never cohabitated. 75% of Black women are likely to marry at some point in their lives, compared to 91% of White women, though both rate it equally as important
- At any given time, roughly 50% of women are married, 7% are cohabitating
- Trends were for high chances of divorce from the 1950s to mid-1970s, leveling off from 1975-1984 for White women, but increasing from the 1960's to 1970's slowly, then increasing at a greater rate in the 1980's.
- For all women, 39% of cohabitation relationships end in 3 years, and of those remaining, 58% turn to marriage. 49% of cohabitation relationships end in 5 years, and of those remaining, 70% turn to marriage. The percentage that turn to marriage within 5 years are 75% for White women, 61% for Hispanic women, and 48% for Black women
- Increasing cohabitation is offset by the increases in divorce, so the number of coupled women is about the same
How likely is a cohabitating relationship to turn into a marriage?
- Cohabitation is more likely to turn to marriage if the woman comes from a two-parent home, has never been raped (14% for White women, 5% for Black women), values religion (7% more likely), has never suffered from GAD, and comes from a higher family education and income. This is less so for White women (4% difference in cohabitation to marriage rates between low and high incomes families), but more so for Black women (32% difference in cohabitation to marriage rates between low and high incomes families)
- White women were more likely to have cohabitation turn to marriage if they were employed. Black women were more likely to have cohabitation turn to marriage if they were employed full-time, but more likely to have the marriage break up if they were employed part-time
- Community prosperity is related to relationship stability, with cohabitation being more likely to lead to marriage in prosperous areas (27% more likely for White women, 13% more likely for Black women), and both marriage and cohabitation being more likely to fail in poor neighborhoods.
Using rates of male unemployment as the guide:
The good news is that research on what works has moved on apace in recent years. Although a healthy debate continues as to why married families tend to have better outcomes, it is no longer tenable to argue that selection is all. Commitment theory and research draw together the importance of both family structure and quality of relationship for healthy stable families. Studies of relationship education programmes also show that great relationships can be taught and learnt, knocking one third or more off breakdown risk. It’s what my charity does really well, for example, even if we only scratch the surface.
Let me just highlight one especially promising new area of research from the US on stability amongst unmarried couples. This is important because the main driver of UK family breakdown since the 1980s has been precisely the collapse of unmarried couples. The early findings from this new research show that certain acts – such as taking out a joint club membership together, getting a pet together, buying a home together – tend to distinguish who stays together and who splits up. These “acts of dedication” all represent deliberate decisions that reflect future intent as a couple. Living together and having a baby together do not have such predictive value. Couples can “slide” more than “decide” through these transitions. The importance of decision-making on subsequent behaviour is one plausible explanation for why almost all intact couples with 15 year old children are married. The deliberate decision to marry represents the ultimate “act of dedication”.
So here is my serious and urgent question to the government. Where is your family policy?
You’ve been running the show for nearly a year. You must be aware of the gigantic and rising bill associated with family breakdown. £42,000 million every year. Through a variety of channels (including the independent ”Breakdown” and “Breakthrough” Britain family policy papers that you yourselves commissioned) you’ve been shown the evidence that it is not divorce but the collapse of unmarried families that is the driver behind rising family breakdown. Yet, aside from the solo efforts of Iain Duncan Smith, you have barely acknowledged the nature and extent of the problem, let alone policy solutions.
Part of this policy should involve family structure. The Prime Minister’s verbal support for marriage is confused by contradictory actions. The Department of Work and Pensions is reintroducing marital status into their research programmes. The Office of National Statistics is eliminating marital status from their future birth data. The recent Field poverty review and Allen early years review blindly and irresponsibly ignored any mention whatsoever of the impact of family structure. Elimination of the couple penalty is the most positive policy to date but will probably reduce fraud more than family breakdown. The trend away from marriage began twenty years before tax credits added their disincentive to family formation. The Prime Minister has research on his side. Government should be sending clear and unequivocal signals about the protective benefits of marriage.
Part of this policy should also involve family relationships. Despite pronouncements about the importance of relationship quality, you have no explicit policy on preventive relationship education programmes that offer the best chance of doing anything about this. Less than half of the newly awarded £7.5m annual funding for “relationship support” might be considered preventive. Even if all were preventive, this fund would still only represent £1 spent on turning off the tap for every £5,500 spent on mopping up the mess. It’s hardly a determined effort to get to grips with the serious problem of family breakdown.
What might a determined effort look like? Let me reiterate the enormous costs that we pay already. £42,000 million every year. A great deal of family breakdown is utterly avoidable. If that weren’t the case, relationship education programmes would have no impact. What would you spend today to try to reduce this bill tomorrow? £40 million could kick start a national rollout of relationship education. That’s still only a tiny 0.1%. If it proves fruitful, you should be far more ambitious.
So where is your family policy?
See http://familyscholars.org/2008/04/15/the-taxpayer-costs-of-divorce-and-unwed-... for US figures.
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Based on the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement research supported materials, this workshop teaches 10 skills important for couples to improve ...
The Art of Compromise
He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.
- Sun Tzu
Couples are often advised to “choose their battles.” That is to say, know which issues are worth fighting for and which aren’t really important. The logic is that you should save your strength for the things that really matter.
Unfortunately, not all conflicts have clear winners. In some instances, both parties may have reasonable but contradictory claims. You can go ahead and fight it out … but neither of you will be victorious. In such situations, you and your partner must be able to compromise. Otherwise, your relationship will reach a stalemate, with neither of you being able to move forward.
How to Compromise http://www.twoofus.org/educational-content/articles/the-art-of-compromise/index.aspx