Marriage Education and Violence Essay

Cheap Custom Writing Service

Marriage education gained prominence in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s when divorce rates began to increase, cohabitation and out-of-wedlock childbearing became more common, and the social costs associated with disrupted marriages were increasingly documented. Marriage and relationship education was designed to help individuals and couples develop the attitudes, skills, and behaviors needed to achieve satisfying and stable marriages. Early programs grew out of studies on middle and upper-income White couples, were offered to these populations, and although they did address issues such as conflict resolution and communication and negotiation skills, they failed to direct focused attention to issues of violence in marital relationships. After years of relative obscurity, marriage and relationship education has been catapulted into the limelight as a focus of public policy attention and debate. The origins of this increased national attention trace back to 1996 when welfare reform identified the promotion of marriage and the formation and maintenance of two-parent families as a governmental goal. Since this time, substantial federal funding has been earmarked for marriage education primarily with low-income individuals and families. The high rate of domestic violence among young, low-income welfare recipients has been well documented. As a result, scholars and practitioners currently are grappling with the challenges of offering relationship and marriage education to low-income populations and, more specifically, with the necessity of having and implementing a policy for dealing with domestic violence issues in marriage education programs.

Historical Roots

Marriage and relationship education developed largely from the work of religious institutions. In the early 1950s, many religious organizations began to offer structured education for marrying couples. And soon thereafter, secular groups began to offer similar programs. Historically, the marriage and relationship education approach has been preventive and most typically addresses relationship choices, challenges, and skills before problems become ingrained and damaging. Thus, marriage education programs are distinguished from couple therapy and offer a complementary approach whereby relationship professionals’ expertise can be shared with couples. The primary audience for such programs generally has been middle and upper-income White couples in committed relationships. Marriage education generally employs a variety of teaching methods that include a combination of lecture material and experiential exercises designed to teach relationship skills such as listening and speaking clearly and positively, managing anger, negotiating disagreements, and increasing positive and respectful interactions.

Program Evaluation

The marriage education programs that are generally agreed to be the strongest are evidence-based—that is, they are grounded in the findings of research. Several of the best known and highly regarded programs (e.g., The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program, Relationship Enhancement, and the Couple Communication Program) are empirically based. Moreover, the majority of couples who attend marriage and relationship education report high satisfaction with their programs. At the same time, however, the systematic evaluation of such programs is limited. For instance, randomized clinical trials are rare, and very few studies measure impact on marital stability over time.

Marriage Education And Welfare Reform

In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which led, in turn, to the creation of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. This legislation explicitly established the promotion of marriage, the formation and maintenance of two parent families, and the reduction of out-of-wedlock childbearing as policy goals. Thus, in 2001, the federal government for the first time began to fund marriage education programs around the country, making these services available to more economically and racially diverse populations. This change has raised a set of questions about the challenges of offering marriage education that was designed for relatively small numbers of White middle and upper-income couples to the very different target population of welfare reform and marriage promotion policies: young, poor, and unmarried couples. One particular question centers on the suitability of marriage education for couples with a history of or at high risk for domestic violence. This question has prompted considerable policy debate, especially in light of research indicating that up to 60% of women receiving welfare have been abused at some point in their lives.

Scholars and practitioners working in the fields of marriage education or promotion and domestic violence historically have interacted only infrequently and, perhaps as a result, view each other’s motivations and agendas with some skepticism. Many in the domestic violence community are concerned that implementation of federally funded marriage education programs may threaten the lives and safety of women and their children if women in abusive relationships will be encouraged to marry or stay married to their abusive partners. From their perspective, proponents of marriage education or promotion express concern that domestic violence advocates do not acknowledge the importance of strengthening marriage and ignore the idea that most people aspire to a healthy marriage for themselves and their children.

Currently, alliances are being created between marriage educators and domestic violence programs. For instance, all federally funded marriage education programs are now required to consult with domestic violence experts in developing their curricula. In addition, scholars and practitioners have emphasized that there are substantial cultural, economic, and racial differences in attitudes about marriage and domestic violence. Therefore, efforts are being made to more fully understand these differences and to use this expanded knowledge to develop culturally relevant and sensitive programs.


  1. Catlett, B. S., & Artis, J. E. (2004). Critiquing the case for marriage promotion: How the promarriage movement misrepresents domestic violence research. Violence Against Women, 10, 1226–1244.
  2. Halford, W. K. (2004). The future of couple relationship education: Suggestions on how it can make a difference. Family Relations, 53, 559–566.
  3. Ooms, T., & Wilson, P. (2004). The challenges of offering relationship and marriage education to low-income populations. Family Relations, 53, 440–447.
  4. Roberts, P. (2006, September). Building bridges between the healthy marriage, responsible fatherhood, and domestic violence movements: Issues, concerns, and recommendations. Center for Law and Social Policy Couples and Marriage Series (Issue Brief No. 7). Retrieved May 30, 2017, from

This example Marriage Education and Violence Essay is published for educational and informational purposes only. If you need a custom essay or research paper on this topic please use our writing services. offers reliable custom essay writing services that can help you to receive high grades and impress your professors with the quality of each essay or research paper you hand in.

See also:


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality

Special offer!