A Comprehensive Framework for Marriage Education*

By Hawkins, Alan J.; Carroll, Jason S. et al. | Family Relations, October 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Comprehensive Framework for Marriage Education*


Hawkins, Alan J., Carroll, Jason S., Doherty, William J., Willoughby, Brian, Family Relations


We offer a framework to help marriage educators think more thoroughly, systematically, and creatively about intervention opportunities to strengthen marriage. We draw attention to the educational dimensions of content, intensity, methods, timing, setting, target, and delivery, and their implications for marriage education. Our discussion points out the potential value of developing marriage education with greater specificity in content, timing, and target. We call for intervention that embeds marriage education in diverse institutional settings and provides access to couples across the socioeconomic spectrum. In the end, we address the need to take marriage education beyond a valuable helping profession and an expanding educational service to a vibrant social movement.

Key Words: education, family life education, marriage, marriage movement.

In a progressive society such as the United States, we usually take problems, such as high divorce and nonmarital childbearing rates, as a cause for action rather than a reason for resignation. Thus, it should surprise no one that the beginnings of a marriage movement have emerged in the United States over the last decade (Gallagher, 2000). A prominent part of this emerging movement has been a wide array of educational initiatives; however, to date there has been no formal effort to develop an integrative conceptual framework of marriage education. Some efforts to articulate the overarching paradigm of the marriage movement have occurred (Gallagher; Doherty, & Carroll, 2002), but there has been less emphasis on the development of theoretical models or heuristics to organize marriage education.

In this article, we attempt to provide marriage educators with a set of concepts to help them better understand their craft and discover unseen possibilities. Too often, educators have only a narrow view of the breadth of what marriage education actually might encompass. We offer a map or framework, depicted in Figure 1, to help marriage educators think more thoroughly, systematically, broadly, and creatively about opportunities to strengthen marriage. We draw attention to the elements of content, intensity, method, timing, setting, target, and delivery in marriage education. We note that we have much to learn about marriage education for lower income couples who potentially have the most to benefit from educational initiatives. We emphasize the value of developing marriage education with greater specificity in content, timing, and target, and we call for intervention that embeds marriage education in diverse institutional settings with access to couples across the socioeconomic spectrum. We end by addressing the need to take marriage education beyond a valuable helping profession-and even an expanding educational service integrated into the human services-to a vibrant social movement.

First, we highlight a few caveats. The focus of our framework is educational intervention. Although we value other forms of intervention that seek to strengthen marriage, such as therapy and policy, our focus here is on education. Our framework stresses possibilities for marriage education more than description, because the field remains open to creative effort. We use the term marriage education here rather than relationship education to capture both the relational and institutional dimensions of marriage with a life course perspective to facilitate covering issues of importance to youth and unmarried adults. We acknowledge our positive bias toward marriage education. We also acknowledge the need for more data to confirm the general efficacy of marriage education, especially for low-income and minority couples. While we wait for those data to accumulate, however, we believe that enough is known to continue the work that has begun. Finally, we clarify that our use of the word marriage is short-hand for healthy marriage-a generous, respectful, equal partnership free of abuse.

Dimensions of Marriage Education

Dimension I: Content-What Is Taught?

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Comprehensive Framework for Marriage Education*
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?