Couple Relationship Education (RE) includes programs aimed at helping couples improve their relationship or maintain a high level of relationship satisfaction. Most couples who participate, are in a pretty good place with their relationship already, otherwise they would go straight to therapy. Some RE courses are fairly minimal (1 to 8 hrs), while others are more extensive (9-20 hrs) and can come in a variety of forms. A recent study found that a stepped-approach to RE may be most beneficial–meaning that couples start with a minimal amount of intervention and increase it as they see fit.
For example, a couple might start with books about relationships to educate themselves about factors that could strengthen their relationship. Such couples could also use assessment tools such as RELATE to help them get a clearer picture of areas that may need some additional help. Couples wanting minimal intervention could also use a phone-based RE course to get some guidance from a relationship educator. If a couple feels like they would benefit from additional help, they could acquire materials that teach positive communication skills between a couple and a relationship educator. Finally, couples may wish to enroll in a RE course where they can get face-to-face training, see skills modeled, and practice implementing these skills with a trained educator.
In addition, this study found that some couples are more at risk for lower relationship satisfaction due to a number of factors such as transitioning to parenthood, parental divorce, or being in a 2nd marriage. These couples benefited more from RE than couples without these risk factors. So if you or your partner has one of these factors that place you at a higher risk for lower satisfaction in your relationship, you may want to consider participating in RE as a way to either improve your relationship or ensure that it remains strong.
For help finding Relationship Education close to you, visit the following websites for ideas: