American Psychological Association
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether premarital relationship education and characteristics of relationship education in a community sample of newlywed couples predicted marital trajectories over 27 months. Newlywed couples (N = 191) completed measures of marital satisfaction 9 times over 27 months, and prior to marriage they provided information about relationship education and demographic, personal, and relationship risk factors for marital distress. Propensity scores (i.e., the probability of receiving relationship education) were estimated using the marital distress risk factors, and used to derive a matched sample of 72 couples who participated in relationship education and 86 couples who did not. Multilevel analyses of the propensity score matched sample (n = 158) indicated that wives who participated in relationship education had declines in marital satisfaction while wives who did not receive relationship education maintained satisfaction over time. Furthermore, the more hours of relationship education the couple participated in, the less steeply their marital satisfaction declined. Findings indicate that participation in community-based relationship education may not prevent declines in marital satisfaction for newlywed couples. A possible explanation is that the quality of relationship education available to couples is generally poor and could be greatly improved by inclusion of empirically based relationship information and skills training that are known to lead to stronger marriages.
Cobb, R. & Sullivan, K.T. (2015). Relationship education and marital satisfaction in newlywed couples: A propensity score analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 29,667-678.