I will be sharing with you in various formats, including this blog, some of the things I learned from this year’s Smart Marriages Conference. For this blog, I will tell you what I learned from the latest research in relationships, particularly youth relationships. The researchers are Dr. Howard Markham and Dr. Scott Stanley from the University of Denver and Dr. Frank Fincham, one of the leading psychologists in the world.
For Generations X and Y they are very digital and they have very casual relationships. 50 to 75 percent of them had a “hook up” in the past year. Two-thirds of their relationships began with a “hook up.” Twenty percent of their relationships began on Facebook.
This data presents challenges in delivering relationship education and information to these generations. We need to be more flexible in the delivery of this information. And new ways of monitoring results need to be developed. Stanley and Markham, being the authors of PREP a relationship education system, shared how the latest changes to PREP deal with their new research.
There were some other interesting points made. Divorce is a good outcome to prevent children from growing up in a poor relationship household. Relationship Education is not very effective for many couples, but is for: African-American couples, low education couples, younger couples, and couples with high marital satisfaction levels.
Oklahoma was the only state that made significant improvements for married couples in the United States. Their program is called the Family Expectation Program. In Oklahoma, there are state laws that encourage couples to seek relationship education. Community activities are held in conjunction with the program.
Oklahoma has given us a model of how we can improve couples and families home life. It must be done in a partnership between non-profits and the state, and the non-profits must offer coordinated, consistent programs. Some of the keynotes at the conference were educator or therapist specific.
But I will close with some remarks from Dr. Gary Chapman. Churches with an on-going, relationship education program for every stage of life, with mentor couples, will have a very effective evangelism program.