Healthy Marriage Initiative
The primary goal of Healthy Marriage Project Initiative is to provide the skills needed to build healthy, stable marriages for those who choose marriage or cohabitation and, for those who are single, to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to develop healthy, sustainable marital relationships in the future. Through participation in Within Our Reach, Within My Reach, and Relaciones Amorosas y Fuertes classes, individuals and couples are able to improve marital satisfaction, communication skills, decrease negative communication interactions, increase conflict resolution abilities, increase stability and commitment to marital relationships, and gain more realistic expectations of future marital relationships. Instruction is available in Spanish and English.
Funding is provided by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start. The project was awarded $40,788.00 for the first year and is projected to continue for 5 years (for a total of over $200,000.00).
Participants include parents of children enrolled in Head Start. Specifically, lower income couples, and single parents. Education to couples focuses on marital dynamics and relationship skills while education to single parents focuses on marriage preparation, communication skills, and realistic expectations for marriage. The individuals and couples served include parents of Head Start children.
Paul Schvaneveldt is the co-principal investigator of the grant, manages evaluations of the program, and teaches the couples class. Paul Schvaneveldt (Associate Professor at WSU), Jeff Tesch (adjunct professor at WSU), and Ana Carlin (WSU Family Studies graduate) teach the classes. Several students each semester are involved with the program through the Family Studies practicum experiences.
Based on assessment of participants participating in the classes, the following outcomes were identified:
• Greater marital satisfaction
• Increased hope for success of their marriage
• Increased understanding of the benefits of marriage
• Increased understanding of their partner
• Increased confidence to cope with difficulties in marriage
• Increased confidence in possessing the skills necessary for marriage
• Better communication skills
• Better conflict resolution skills
• Decreased negative interactions with spouse
• Increased commitment to their marital relationship
• Fewer Agreements to romance and relationship myths