An Evaluation of Marketing Factors in Marriage Enrichment Program Promotion

By Roberts, Lisen C.; Morris, Michael Lane | Family Relations, January 1998 | Go to article overview

An Evaluation of Marketing Factors in Marriage Enrichment Program Promotion


Roberts, Lisen C., Morris, Michael Lane, Family Relations


An Evaluation of Marketing Factors in Marriage Enrichment Program Promotion* Lisen C. Roberts and Michael Lane Morris**

Two hundred thirty-five spouses were surveyed, 142 of whom participated in a marriage enrichment seminar, and 93 of whom did not, regarding influences on their attendance decision in six major areas: knowledge about seminar facilitator, perceived purpose of marriage enrichment, anxiety, marital relationship, self-esteem, and constraints to attendance. Descriptive data and differences found between program-participating spouses and program-nonparticipating spouses are presented. Recommendations to researchers and practitioners are included.

Key Words: evaluation, family life education, marketing, marriage enrichment.

AIthough empirical support exists on the effectiveness of enrichment programs, (Giblin, Sprenkle, & Sheehan, 1985; Guerney & Maxson, 1990) attendance of such seminars continues to be relatively low (Bowman & Kieren, 1985; Spoth, Redmond, Hockaday, & Shin, 1996). Regarding program promotion, Stahmann and Salts (1993) suggested that the marketing of marriage enrichment programs remained an important area to be addressed in research. Guerney and Maxson (1990) stated that the "almost nonexistent area of enrichment marketing research seems to cry out for development" (p. 1130). Relatedly, Arcus and Thomas (1993) suggested that little consideration has been given to the specific characteristics of family life education audiences.

The purpose of this study was to conduct an evaluation of factors potentially associated with couples' decisions to attend or not attend a marriage enrichment program. Therefore, this study included descriptions of overall perceptions and preferences of study participants, as well as comparisons between program participants and nonparticipants in terms of their marital relationships, self-esteem levels, perceptions of marriage enrichment purpose, constraints to participation, fears in attendance, and preferred knowledge about the program facilitator.

Influences on Marriage Enrichment Attendance

Despite positive reports from evaluation techniques, attendance at enrichment programs continues to be low (Bowman & Kieren, 1985; Mace, 1982; Mace & Mace, 1986; Spoth et al., 1996).

Marital Relationship

One area possibly affecting couples' decisions to attend or not attend a particular marriage enrichment program is the spouses' perceptions of their own marital relationships (i.e., a self-diagnosis is required; L'Abate, 1990). A specific variable that has been consistently utilized as a screening criterion and examined empirically is that of marital satisfaction. Many programs make the assumption that couples choosing to participate in marriage enrichment have above-average marital satisfaction (Giblin, Sprenkle, & Sheehan, 1985) and at least one empirical examination has found this assumption to be true (Silverman & Urbaniak, 1983). Conversely, others have concluded that couples enrolling in marriage enrichment report lower marital satisfaction levels than do couples who do not enroll (Krug & Ahadi, 1986; Powell & Wampler, 1982). It seems that no consistent conclusion can be drawn as of yet regarding the relationship between marital satisfaction levels and marriage enrichment attendance decisions. Given the conflicting nature of research conclusions on this variable, it may be that marital satisfaction is not the most powerful, or even a noteworthy, factor in couples' decisions to attend or not attend a marriage enrichment program.

There may be areas in a couple's marital relationship, in addition to or instead of marital satisfaction levels, that could provide practitioners and researchers with insight into the types of couples who choose to attend or not attend marriage enrichment programming. For example, perhaps feelings of marital strength or commitment to change, or lack thereof, influence a couple's decision on marriage enrichment attendance. …

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