Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One Contemporary Commitment

As a comparatively traditional 4-year Liberal Arts college almost all our students are unmarried. It makes great sense for us to invest in and recommend tools and resources that help guide them to predictably happy and durable marriage relationships. To that end Rivendell College emphasizes the value of pre-marital education. The Smarter Romance program represents one creative and promising pre-marital education tool.

The Center is committed to Smarter Romance (SR) because it places an emphasis on the kind and quality of information partners acquire from each other in their courting process.

A Brief Historical Overview of SR-type Studies

From the mid-1980s and across the 90s the divorce rate in the United States climbed to and remained at about 50% of the marriage licenses being issued. That 50-50 chance of divorce was highly advertised and widely discussed behind closed doors and in the popular media. In part, the discussion concerning the increase in marital failure was prompted by the 112 billion dollar cost associated with it. This cost was demanding precious dollars from the government and the nation's citizens. The costs included increases in associated health care efforts; court, legal system, social services, and welfare system expenditures; and employer's lost wages including work or workplace-related inefficiencies. Politicians, service providers, researchers, and religious representatives from across the country scrambled to identify and to understand what was going on and why.

It became increasingly clear that a wide variety of factors were influencing the marriage environment. These had and were contributing to a steady rise in divorce rates since the late 1960s. Until the mid-70s marital research focused mostly on already married partners and family/systems dynamics. But with the dramatic rise in divorces, new paradigms for understanding and preventing marital deterioration were being considered and investigated.

In the early and mid-80s studies began to include and some focused exclusively on premarital preparation and education. Couple and partner dynamics became a promising target of intervention studies. Justified emphasis began to be placed on couples' pre-marital education, and on the practical preparation for the challenges they would routinely face in marriage, as maturing longitudinal studies confirmed the hypothesized effectiveness of this kind of "intervention" strategy.

Presently the variety of new efforts and the effectiveness of this type of intervention strategy make it a significant contributor to positive marriage outcomes. New research will continue to direct future effort and sharpen our practical understanding. Pre-marital education and preparation is one helpful and promising contributor in the development of other theoritical perspectives intended to support marital success and durability.

The SR process fits into a pre-marital education paradigm. In the SR process dating and courting couples acquire practical information and develop crucial skills they will need in marriage. The SR process helps courting and emotionally entangled couples cooperatively and intelligently answer the questions, "Should we move our relationship forward or should we abandon it?"