Date of Award

12-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Kristina Coop Gordon

Committee Members

Robert G. Wahler, Deborah P. Welsh

Abstract

Marital enrichment programs have been gaining considerable recognition in the past several decades. Thousands of individuals participate in these programs yearly. However, the particular effects of enrichment programs are still under investigation, and many remain empirically unanalyzed and their effectiveness undetermined. Also, many dyadic interventions focus on helping couples improve their communication skills and become more socially supportive of their partner. This study explored changes in levels of perceived social support, constructive communication, and marital satisfaction in couples participating in a marital enrichment program, Marriage Alive. Couples who completed all 3 phases of the study (i.e., pre-seminar, post-seminar, 2 month follow-up) were included in these analyses. Results indicated that levels of support, communication, and satisfaction increased by the end of the enrichment seminar for husbands and wives. However, only gains in communication were fully maintained at follow-up. The finding of sustained improvements in communication skills has far-reaching implications, which will be discussed here. This study also explored whether changes in social support from pre-seminar to follow-up mediate the relationship between changes in constructive communication and changes in marital satisfaction; however, this model was not supported. Implications and future directions for the specific seminar under investigation are also discussed.

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