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University of Wyoming Extension

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

LIFE - Individual Growth and Development

Connectedness

Connectedness describes the relationship between individuals or couples and family, friends, or community networks. The seeds of a new marriage are, to some extent, "in the genes" of previous generations and sprout "in the native soil" of the tree that produced them. These influences go back to the nurturing experiences and role models of each partner’s growing up years. Many couples also maintain a "runner" back to the family tree, although links to peers and mentor couples provide valuable support. While self-reliance and problem solving is critical to couple growth, a context for learning and support nurtures this potential in couples at all stages.

Connections which nurture the family tree include…

Family Bonds

-Growing Up: Experiences during childhood nurture self and couple growth

  • Recalling and applying the lessons and models of supportive, happily-married parents continues positive traditions and relationship skills
  • Healing memories of parents’ conflicts, divorce, or abuse may be necessary before and during one’s own couple growth
-Connecting: Relating to parents through adulthood demands constant growth
  • Extended family is the most important economic, social, and practical support during routine and crisis times for couples of all ages
  • Early marriage transition to adult-to-adult connections promote esteem, maturity, and establish continuity for the newborn generation
  • Middle age transition to supporting both growing children and aging parents tests a couple’s solidarity and leadership
  • Older adult transition to less active leadership, disability, and/or loss requires new types of connections to several generations and circumstances
Social Networks

-Informal Supports: Interconnected roots in a community can better share resources

  • Friendship support provides practical aid, stress-relief, and reinforcement of individual esteem and couple closeness and competence
  • Informal, mutual help relationships underline competence and worth
-Formal Supports
  • Connections to faith communities provide social support, intergenerational contact, and links to deeper purpose and skill-building
  • Family-friendly workplaces (or co-workers/supervisors) aid work-family balance
  • Community agencies and policies which support strong marriages provide ways for couples to help themselves and contribute to family and beyond
Outreach Efforts
  • Well-adjusted partners positively impact their own and children’s friends
  • Couples in strong marriages are more likely to be involved in marriage enrichment groups and informal mentoring of other couples
  • Happily married couples are more likely to have the energy and skills to engage in community service
Bloom Where You’re Planted

Draw and decorate a picture of a tree to celebrate not only who helped (helps) you create a strong marriage, but what they taught or gave you. Display it at home. Work together a service project (i.e., youth group, homeless shelter, housing project)


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