A National Survey of Marriage Preparation Provided by Clergy

A National Survey of Marriage Preparation Provided by Clergy
of 18
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Related Documents
  This article was downloaded by: [College Of the Holy Cross]On: 08 January 2013, At: 11:08Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Journal of Couple & RelationshipTherapy: Innovations in Clinical andEducational Interventions Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: A National Survey of MarriagePreparation Provided by Clergy Joe D. Wilmoth a  & Samantha Smyser aa  Human Development and Family Studies, School of HumanSciences, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi,USAVersion of record first published: 20 Jan 2012. To cite this article:  Joe D. Wilmoth & Samantha Smyser (2012): A National Survey of MarriagePreparation Provided by Clergy, Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy: Innovations in Clinical andEducational Interventions, 11:1, 69-85 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representationthat the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of anyinstructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primarysources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.   Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy  , 11:69–85, 2012Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1533-2691 print / 1533-2683 onlineDOI: 10.1080/15332691.2012.639705  A National Survey of MarriagePreparation Provided by Clergy   JOE D. WILMOTH and SAMANTHA SMYSER   Human Development and Family Studies, School of Human Sciences, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, USA Clergy provide the vast majority of marriage preparation, but lit-tle is known about the nature of premarital education they pro-vide. To provide baseline data, a national survey (N   =  793) fromthe 15 largest mainline Protestant, evangelical Protestant, and Catholic denominations investigated the requirements and content addressed in clergy-provided marriage preparation. A significant number of clergy include recommended components in premarital education, but several practices with demonstrated efficaciousness are generally left out, including follow-up meetings after the wed-ding, utilization of mentor couples, and dealing with family-of-srcin issues. The article discusses implications for clergy providing  premarital programs and policy recommendations for denomina-tions, seminaries, and community agencies. KEYWORDS clergy, premarital education, marriage preparation,requirements, content  INTRODUCTION Clergy provide the vast majority of marriage preparation (i.e., premaritalcounseling or premarital education) in the United States (Glenn, 2005), andpremarital education is associated with improved marital satisfaction andcommitment (Stanley, Amato, Johnson, & Markman, 2006). In light of thesignificant social costs of divorce and marital discord (Wilcox et al., 2005),religious leaders are uniquely positioned to impact the economic, social, andemotional well-being of individuals and families by providing this service.However, there is little empirical information describing educational pro-grams provided by clergy to couples anticipating marriage. This study uses  Address correspondence to Joe D. Wilmoth, PhD, 220-B Lloyd-Ricks-Watson, Mail Stop9745, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA. E-mail: jwilmoth@humansci.msstate.edu69    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   C  o   l   l  e  g  e   O   f   t   h  e   H  o   l  y   C  r  o  s  s   ]  a   t   1   1  :   0   8   0   8   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   3  70  J. D. Wilmoth and S. Smyser  a national random sample to determine the behaviors of clergy related tomarriage preparation. CLERGY INVOLVEMENT IN MARRIAGE PREPARATION Currently, more than 90% of couples who receive marriage preparation doso from a church or religious institution (Glenn, 2005). Even though clergy already provide the majority of premarital education, scholars and marriageadvocates have called for an increased emphasis on effective premarital ed-ucation by churches and clergy (Stanley, 2001). In response to this belief inthe salience of clergy premarital interventions, clergy and other wedding of-ficiants in at least 220 communities in 43 states have established Community Marriage Policies (CMPs), setting minimum standards for marriage prepara-tion for any couple whose weddings they perform (Marriage Savers, 2009;McManus, 1995).Though the findings must be interpreted cautiously, well-constructedpremarital programs show evidence of having a significant short-term effecton behaviors related to marital satisfaction (Carroll & Doherty, 2003). Re-cent reviews and meta-analyses note that long-term effects have not beenestablished (Halford, Markman, & Stanley, 2008). Also, since many studiesshowing efficacy of premarital education have been conducted with mainly  white, highly educated couples (see Halford et al., 2008; Hawkins, Blanchard,Baldwin, & Fawcett, 2008), it is possible that these programs might not havethe same effect among groups with social disadvantages that are highly cor-related with the risk of divorce (Ooms & Wilson, 2004).Schumm et al. (2010) found that the quality of premarital counseling,specifically within a religious setting, predicts both the short- and long-termhelpfulness of premarital counseling in a couple’s relationship. Althoughclergy have the opportunity and capability to provide quality marriage prepa-ration, questions remain about the current effectiveness of clergy-providedprograms (Wilmoth & Smyser, 2007). Currently, little is known about the con-tent and requirements of marriage preparation provided by clergy (Wilmoth& Fournier, 2009). Wilmoth (2005) conducted a study of Oklahoma clergy todetermine the content and requirements of premarital education; however,no recent data from a national sample have been published. STRUCTURAL COMPONENTS OF MARRIAGE PREPARATION In addition to the curriculum and related content aspects of marriage prepa-ration, dosage, format, approach (Murray, 2005), intensity, and methodology (Hawkins, Carroll, Doherty, & Willoughby, 2004) are important process-related aspects to consider when implementing interventions. Requirements    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   C  o   l   l  e  g  e   O   f   t   h  e   H  o   l  y   C  r  o  s  s   ]  a   t   1   1  :   0   8   0   8   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   3   Marriage Preparation  71 set by clergy for couples whose weddings they perform often reflect one ormore of these processes (Hawkins et al., 2004). Timing and Dosage For long-term behavioral change to occur, the length and intensity of mar-riage preparation are key structural components. One study revealed thatcouples who had attended four or more education sessions rated their mar-riage preparation significantly higher than those who attended no sessions orone session of premarital education. Additionally, the study suggested that10 or more education sessions may even be counterproductive (Williams,Riley, Risch, & Van Dyke, 1999). Hawkins and associates’ (2008) meta-analysis revealed that programs with a moderate dosage of instructionaltime produce significantly stronger effects.Sullivan (2001) found that clergy most frequently provided four to sixeducation sessions with a range of 30 to 90 minutes per session. Wilmoth(2005) found that Oklahoma clergy provided an average of three premaritaleducation sessions. However, Stahmann and Hiebert (1997) recommendedthat for counseling to be more beneficial, clergy should provide at leastfive to seven 2-hour sessions beginning several months before the wedding.Silliman and Schumm (1999) recommend that preparation should begin atleast 6 to 12 months before marriage to facilitate openness to discussion andto promote behavioral change. Another component of marriage preparation recommended by scholarsis follow-up sessions after the wedding (Stahmann & Hiebert, 1997). Bucknerand Salts (1985) suggested that post-wedding check-ups could allow couplesto review what they learn in premarital sessions and to pinpoint problemsand joys of their married life. Murray (2005) noted that some providers haveexpressed an interest in providing booster sessions to refresh the couple’sskills. Silliman and Schumm (1999) noted that the timing of post-weddingsessions has varied and that it may be difficult to determine the best timefor individual couples. Despite recommendations in the literature, Wilmoth(2005) found that very few clergy provide such follow-up services. Format Murray (2005) noted that marriage preparation employs diverse formats suchas one-on-one sessions, classrooms, and support groups. Williams (1992)found that engaged couples prefer the following formats: counseling ses-sions with a minister, weekend retreats, small group discussions, and privatesessions with a mentor couple. Wilmoth (2005) found that for Oklahomaclergy, mentor couples and group premarital classes were among the leastrequired components.    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   C  o   l   l  e  g  e   O   f   t   h  e   H  o   l  y   C  r  o  s  s   ]  a   t   1   1  :   0   8   0   8   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   3  72  J. D. Wilmoth and S. Smyser  The format of marriage preparation also is distinguished by whetherthe approach is information or skills based. Information-based premaritaleducation promotes understanding of a concept through lectures, demon-strations, and/or audiovisual presentations. Skills-based marriage preparationnot only promotes understanding and knowledge but also provides oppor-tunities to practice relationship skills and receive feedback on these skills(Halford, Markman, Kline, & Stanley, 2003). Examples of skills-based rela-tionship education are Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program(PREP; Markman, Floyd, Stanley, & Storaasli, 1988), Relationship Enhance-ment program (RE; Guerney, 1977), and Couple Commitment and Relation-ship Enhancement program (Couple Care; Halford, Moore, Wilson, Farrugia,& Dyer, 2004). Research has shown that this type of premarital educationis effective because crucial relationship skills can be taught (Halford et al.,2004). Hahlweg, Markman, Thurmaier, Engl, and Eckert (1998) found thatskills-based premarital education is associated with higher levels of relation-ship satisfaction and functioning even after 5 years of marriage. Premarital Assessment Questionnaires Premarital assessment questionnaires (PAQs) are considered a meaningfulcomponent of many premarital education programs (Larson, Newell,Topham, & Nichols, 2002; Wilmoth & Smyser, 2010), including thoseprograms provided by clergy. Sullivan (2000) and Wilmoth and Smyser(2010) found that clergy use a variety of assessment instruments in marriagepreparation, some of which may not be appropriate for use with engagedcouples. Larson et al. (1995) suggested that adequate premarital inventoriesmust 1) be designed primarily for assessing the premarital relationship, 2)collect comprehensive data that are relevant to marriage preparation, 3)be easy to administer and interpret, 4) have a wide application, and 5) bereliable and valid. After analyzing various premarital instruments, Larson et al. (1995) con-cluded that the following instruments were the most psychometrically sound:PREmarital Personal and Relationship Evaluation (PREPARE; Olson, Fournier,& Druckman, 1986), the PREParation for Marriage (PREP-M), and FacilitatingOpen Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study (FOCCUS; Markey & Micheletto, 1997). They specifically excluded the Taylor-Johnson Temper-ament Analysis (T-JTA; Taylor & Morrison, 1984) and the Myers-Briggs TypeIndicator (MBTI; Hammer, 1987) “because they assess only personality andcouple personality matches and do not focus on the broader dimensions of premarital relationships” (Larson et al., 1995, p. 247). Subsequent analysisdetermined that PREPARE, FOCCUS, and RELATE (previously known as thePREP-M) “may be confidently used in premarital assessment and counseling”(Larson et al., 2002, p. 238).    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   C  o   l   l  e  g  e   O   f   t   h  e   H  o   l  y   C  r  o  s  s   ]  a   t   1   1  :   0   8   0   8   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   3
Similar documents
View more...
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks