Synopsis: Joining the trend?; who’s helped by love and relationship education; what is helped; the many ways to learn about succeeding at couple’s love; the growing popularity of love and relationship education; what to do and not do in choosing love education programs.
Who is HelpedLove education works! Couples succeed more with relationship education! Couple’s relationship, education research shows it works for all sorts of different kinds of couples who are in all sorts of different kinds of life situations and who come from all sorts of very different backgrounds. Everyone from affluent Kuwaiti couples in a one hour workshop learning about love and communication to a 42 hour class for low income, Oklahoma couples being taught relationship success techniques — the research shows couples do better with relationship education.
Well designed and well executed studies of both distressed and not distressed married couples, not married co-habiting couples, couples of multiple socio-economic status levels, couples of different races, ethnicities, religions, nationalities, etc., couples in which one has cancer, couples who have lost a child, couples about to have a child and couples who just had a child, military couples, same-sex couples, couples dealing with addictions, pre-release prisoners and spouses, court ordered parents — they all show improvement when they are involved in love and relationship education programs.
A great variety of different kinds of improvement have been discovered to occur with these couples, and the degree of benefit varies depending on the exact nature of the program the couples are engaged in, and not everyone shows improvement. However, the data demonstrates that all-in-all improvements occur for all kinds of couples, in all kinds of situations and with all kinds of different life factors when couples engage in love and relationship education programs. These improvements are well beyond anything occurring in comparison and control group couples who are not involved in these types of programs.
What is HelpedLove, giving love, receiving love, feeling love, feeling loved, growing love, empowering with love, love strengthening, love healing, lasting love, sexual loving and every other aspect of healthy, real love can be expected to improve in a good couple’s love education program. But that’s not all. The research shows a tremendous variety of different benefits accrue to those involved in couple’s relationship education. Such couples significantly increase their chances of having healthy, happy and stable, lasting, bonded relationships.
These fantastic results are put forth in a survey of ‘30 recent research studies’ conducted by various universities, by various state and federal agencies in several countries, and by the U.S. Army and Air Force.
The aforementioned research endeavors showed couples achieving improvements significantly over control groups in factor areas like these: general relationship quality, relationship length, conflict control, relationship knowledge, relational happiness, lowered divorce rates, communication, decreased postpartum depression, decreased relational dissatisfaction, increased positive interaction, decreased negative interaction, decreased incidence of fighting and arguing and related conflict, better parenting, better relating in front of children, increased relationship commitment, relational satisfaction, resolution of differences in conflict, self-regulation, relational adjustments, co-parenting teamwork, parent/child functionality, the elimination of loneliness, greater spousal sense of friendship, dedication, relational confidence, empathetic interaction, intimacy, motivation to improve, acceptance, reduction of distress, coping with stress, mindfulness, relaxation, optimism, autonomy, decreased physical assault, aggression, anxiety, depression, psychological dysfunction and much improved sexuality.
Some follow-up studies of improvements show them still to be in existence as much as two years later. There also were improvements in physical health. Blood pressure improvements, decreased medical symptomatology in cancer patients, enhanced salivary oxytocin (a love bonding, neurochemical processor), reduced alpha amylase (a measure of negative physical reaction to stressors and a digestion aid), increased immunity functioning and general healthfulness all improved over that of the control groups studied. WOW, WOW, WOW!
Lots of Ways to Learn LoveLove and couple’s relationship programs come in many forms and many of them only are beginning to be well researched. There are programs on the Internet, manuals and workbook usage approaches, classroom lectures, group discussion approaches, programs using home visits, dream sharing, guided meditation and mindfulness training, programs using follow-up booster sessions, and more. Retreat, workshop and seminar formats are common. The research referred to studied a fair number of those various approaches and found all types of programs produced improvements and could be useful.
The population sizes in those research efforts also varied greatly. The smallest was 14 couples in which one spouse of each couple had breast cancer. The largest study had 5102 new parent couples in eight locations across the US. The research also has shown that improvements can occur irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, nationality and many other sometimes differentiating characteristics.
Growing Popularity‘Love relationship education programs’ are becoming so popular that the New York Times recently featured a review of a book on this subject. No Cheating, No Dying chronicles a couple’s journey into the world of relationship improvement education. They describe themselves as having a good marriage when they decide to improve it further by sampling different couple’s love improvement approaches. First, they try a published manual’s five-step, at-home program for re-romanticizing their marriage. However, they quit after step two. Then they get into a psychoanalytic, couples therapist’s program who wants them only to focus on disagreements, difficulties, what’s wrong, sick, etc.
This makes things much worse in this couple’s previously well functioning marriage. Undaunted they quit that and get into a positive psychology focus by taking a course on “Mastering the Mysteries of Love”. That, actually, brings lots of improvements especially in helping them with empathy and sharing. Later they add a sexuality improvement effort and their erotic life excels. This book makes it clear that not all couple’s relationship education efforts are going to get good results and a certain amount of carefulness is needed in selecting what is right for you.
What to Do and Not DoIf you want to take your couple’s love relationship to new heights, strengthen and grow your love, and discover the best of love relating I suggest you start getting deeply into learning the ‘how to’s’ of healthy, real, couple’s love. Also if you want to add to or enhance the mending and healing of a damaged, wounded, or less than fully functional love relationship, do the same thing. Perhaps you’re already doing that since you’re reading this. Therefore, keep doing what your doing, maybe even more. Then you might search for and review various programs available through churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, etc. along with college non-credit education classes and online programs.
Beware of programs that are more focused on what I call “pulling your weeds” and not focused enough on “growing your flowers”. Some efforts seem only to want to talk about what can go wrong, or does go wrong, or what is wrong with you, or in other words “the weeds”. Programs that offer ‘skills training and development’ demonstrating how to make advancements in the positive aspects of love relationships tend to be better than those that only are focused on problem solving.
Frequently problem solving is better handled in couples counseling while advancement and achievement often is better done through courses, workshops, seminars, online programs, etc.. Also be aware that some couple’s education programs are too simplistic, some are too mild and saccharin, some just wrong or stupid, and some flat-out crazy. Most, however, have something really good to offer, so just be a little careful in your selection.
As I see it, the best ones are the ones that focus on how to give and get love as a couple, really communicating and relating with love, growing your ability to relate with love actions, solving difficulties with love approaches, and generally just doing love well. If love is not a major element of a couple’s relationship education effort you might want to avoid it. If love is mentioned but treated in an overly romanticized, vague or impractical manner, or confused with sex you might want to avoid it. If, however, love is well emphasized, behaviorally related, more clearly defined, and treated as a natural, healthful phenomenon you may have found a good thing.
If you have a loved one who is resistant to, critical of, or disinterested in ‘love education’ you might want to share this entry and the benefits herein – of course, it is best to approach them in a love-filled way.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
♥ Love Success Question
Can you identify and tell a beloved person in your life at least three specific things you want both of you to learn about giving and receiving love?