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University of Wyoming Extension

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

LIFE - Individual Growth and Development

Strengthening Couples Across their Lifespans

What's Happening Now

Recognizing the need to provide more guidance and support for couples, schools, churches, community organizations, private trainers, and groups of couples sponsor:
  • Relationship skills, dating, and family relations courses for teens
  • Marriage preparation workshops for engaged couples
  • Enrichment retreats for married couples
  • Special events to help couples in transition (parenthood, remarriage) or crisis (child illness, infidelity) to cope with challenges and find assistance
  • If all else fails, divorce education to promote civil custody arrangements that benefit children and reduce distress for ex-spouses

Unfortunately...

  • not many couples participate in any of the above events
  • some activities offered to couples are too little or too late

What's the Background

Strong marriages are the foundation of

  • Satisfied and healthy adulthood
  • Well-adjusted and economically-supported children
  • Stable and nurturing families and neighborhoods*

*Note: Single adults also contribute much to healthy communities. To cite research on positive effects of marriage is not to discredit unmarried individuals.

...but strong marriages do not happen quickly or easily

In cultures where traditional roles or arranged marriages are the custom...

  • children are instructed and mentored in how to behave as spouses from an early age
  • families and communities support and sanction individuals before and after marriage
  • expectations of couples and communities are more limited and more rigid than is typical in America

...despite the relatively prescribed roles, families and communities invest quite a bit in training and supporting partners.

In American culture, where persons are free to choose a partner and direction, partners must...

  • set realistic expectations for life together (plus forgive and constantly readjust individual and mutual expectations)
  • take more initiative to understand self, other, and issues from money management to home repair
  • begin with interpersonal competencies in communication, conflict resolution, and problem
    solving and continue to apply and expand these skills
  • cultivate commitment in a context which does not encourage (or reward) such principle and perseverance
  • sustain supportive relationships with friends and family
    ...despite these optimistic expectations and demands, relatively few partners and families invest as much to prepare and maintain relationships as do their more traditional counterparts.

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