SUMMARY

 

            Due to the raising divorce rates over the last century, an increase in marriage interest has developed for predicting couple compatibility and marriage success. Previously there has been little research done on preventing marital problems or helping couples prepare for marriage, and there have only been a few longitudinal follow up studies on couples during the early years of marriage. Evidence up until now has been primarily descriptive and based on small samples. Other problems with previous premarital programs is that they, (1) Lack information of the needs of engaged couples, (2) Lack a theoretical basis, And (3) There is inadequate methodology of the assessments of premarital programs.  In order To have divorce-preventative efforts there are 3 assessment tools needed; 1) identify factors that predict divorce. 2) Assess couples on these factors to determine their strengths and weaknesses. 3) Develop specific interventions to deal with the couple’s problem areas.

            The PREPARE may provide the beginnings to a more predictive analysis of relationship variables that seem important in the early dissolution of marriages. This study provides data for the PREPARE’s ability to identify factors that predict divorce by testing its predictive validity. PREPARE is a 125-item inventory designed to assess relationship strengths and weaknesses in 11 relationship areas. The scales were based on theoretical and empirical indicators of critical tasks related to marital adjustment in the first few years. For each scale an Individual Score was provided as well as a Positive Couple Agreement (PCA) score.

            The PREPARE has concurrent validity with a significant relationship with marital adjustment at p< .01. It also has internal consistency (.7), as well as test-retest reliability (.78).  If the PREPARE is able to discriminate between successful and unsuccessful relationships, then it could also be useful in identifying high-risk couples. Therefore, couples are able to get more intensive and effective premarital counseling to deal with the couple’s weaknesses and help develop the couple’s strengths further.

            The methods were straightforward in this study.  They had Clergy members give the questionnaires to Caucasian, Christian couples, as well as identify their ordinal categories.  The questionnaire had two parts to it.   The first part pertained to demographic information and the second part pertained to measurement scales.  The Idealistic Distortion scale and the Marital Satisfaction Scale (from ENRICH) were used.  The Idealistic scale is a 5-item version of the original 15-item version.  The Marital Satisfaction scale is 10-item scale, each one assessing a major content category.  The couples questioned were not informed of their categorical standing and were instructed to complete them separately.  The median of 41 was chosen as a cutoff score to differentiate between satisfied and dissatisfied.  Only the scores in which BOTH couples responded accordingly were used.

Three data tables were used for data. Data on Table 1 shows the comparison between four marital groups on 11 subscales of the PREPARE: Realistic Expectations, Personality Issues, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Financial Management, Leisure Activity, Sexuality, Children and Marriage, Family and Friends, Equalitarian Roles, and Religion.  The four marital groups were: (a) married-satisfied couples, (b) married-dissatisfied couples, (c) couples who cancelled or delayed their marriage, and (d) couples who were separated or divorced.  Significant differences between groups were found in 8 of the 11 subscales: realistic expectations, personality issues, communication, conflict resolution, leisure activity, sexuality, family and friends, religion, and in the overall average couple positive agreement.

There were no significant differences between couples in the subscales of financial management, children and marriage, and equalitarian roles.

 

Data in table 2 used linear trends, in positive couple agreement in the order of married-satisfied, married-dissatisfied, cancelled/delayed, and separated/divorced. The linear trend was highly significant in all of the 8 premarital areas for which difference between groups were found.

Significant differences between satisfactorily married couples and separated or divorced couples were of particular interest. Differences between the two groups in premarital couple agreement existed in 10 of the 11 PREPARE categories, and in the overall positive couple agreement score.

Married-satisfied couples had significantly higher couple agreement scores in the areas of communication, conflict resolution, leisure activity, financial management, sexuality, equalitarian roles, and overall average couple positive agreement.  No differences were found in the areas of realistic expectation, personality issues, children and marriage, family and friends, and religion.

Comparing couples that were married-satisfied and couples who decided to delay or cancel their marriage, differences in couple-positive agreement were found in 7 of the 11 categories and in the average couple positive agreement.

 

No differences were found in premarital couple agreement between married-dissatisfied, cancelled, or separated/divorced groups in any of the PREPARE scales.

The final analysis was geared toward the capability of the PREPARE scores to differentiate between satisfactorily married couples, and the others.

Tables 3 of the data uses discrimination analysis results between the groups, and indicate the percent of couples correctly classified into each group and total percent of correct discrimination.

The results give ample support to the predictive power to PREPARE scores.

The sample is not very representative of the type of people who are concerned with marriage success and are likely to see a marriage counselor for preparation.  The study could be expanded to different ethnic and racial groups, as well as different religions for strengthening external validity.  The results are also affected by the fact that the Idealistic Distortion scale had to be altered from its original scale.

 

 

OUTLINE

 

A. INTRODUCTION

 

1. 90% of the population marries at least once.

2. 40% of all marriages end in divorce

3. Average length of marriage: 6-7 years

4. To avoid an incompatible marriage or prolong a struggling marriage there needs to be an instrument that can identify these at-risk couples validly and            reliably.

5. Previous Research

a. Few longitudinal follow up studies of couples in the early years of marriage.

                        b. Evidence is primarily descriptive and based on small samples

                        c. Little work has been done in terms of preventing marital problems or helping couples prepare for marriage.

            6. Criticisms of Previous Research

                        a. Lack of information of the needs of engaged couples.

                        b. Lack of theoretical basis for the work being done.

                        c. Inadequate methodology of the assessments of premarital programs.

7. PREPARE is a “premarital inventory that can be used for preventative work with couples before marriage.”

            8. PREPARE scales are based on theoretical and empirical indicators of critical tasks related to early marital adjustment.

            9. 125-item inventory; Identifies relationship strengths and weaknesses in                                  

10.  Eleven relationship areas.

                  a. Realistic expectations

b. Personality issues

c. Communication

d. Conflict resolution

e. Financial management

f. Leisure activities

g. Sexual relationship

h. Children and marriage

i. Family and friends

j. Equalitarian roles

k. Religious orientation

11. For each scale and Individual Scale is given as well as a Positive Couple Agreement (PCA) score.

12. Background Information of participants

                        a. Age

b. Education

c. Monthly income

d. # of months known each other

e. # of months prior to marriage took inventory

f. Parent’s reaction to marriage

g. Friend’s reaction to marriage

h. Parent’s marital status

i. Birth position

j. # of siblings

k. Pop of current residence and pop of childhood residence.

13. PREPARE Validity and Reliability

a. Concurrent validity: significant relationship with marital adjustment scale at p<.01

                        b. Internal consistency .7

                        c. Test-retest reliability .78

 

B. METHODS

 

1.Subjects

a.164 couples, 328 individuals, married 2-3 years

b. average age males 25.2, females, 23.2, most had attended some college

c. combined median income $14,000

d. Caucasian and Christian

e. identified by clergy who had administered test previously, as satisfied, divorced, separated, dissatisfied

f. divided into subgroups based on responses

g. married satisfied (59 couples)

h. married dissatisfied (22 couples)

i. cancelled (52 couples)

j. divorced/separated (31)

 

2. Instruments

 

a. Questionnaire with two sections

 

1) Demographic: age, sex, children, education, time as a married couple, income, living area population, parents’ marital status, any counseling

2)Idealistic Distortion and Marital Satisfaction scales: from ENRICH, Idealistic scale is a 5-item version of the 15-item version; marital satisfaction scale is a 10-item scale, each assessing a major content category.

 

3. Procedure

 

a. Clergy members who had used PREPARE were sent clergy questionnaire and couple questionnaire and asked to select 2-5 couples in the following categories:

1)Satisfied

2) Dissatisfied- including married, divorced, and separated

3) Couples who cancelled or delayed

b. Couples were not informed of their categories

c. Only the married couples completed the couple questionnaire

d. Couples were instructed to complete questionnaires separately

e. Were given to 208 couples, 103 completed and returned, return rate of 49%

f. Clergy category decision no longer a good basis, was decided to rely on couples’ assessment based on their scores

g. Median of 41, chosen as cutoff to separate satisfied from dissatisfied, only used scores of those couples who BOTH responded.

 

 

C. RESULTS

 

1. Three data tables for the comparison between four marital groups on 11 subscales of the PREPARE

a. married-satisfied couples

b. married-dissatisfied couples

c. couples who cancelled or delayed their marriage

d. couples who were separated or divorced.

2.Significant differences between groups were found in 8 of the 11 subscales.

3. Data in table 2 used linear trends, in positive couple agreement in the order of married-satisfied, married-dissatisfied, cancelled/delayed, and separated/divorced.

4. Linear trend was highly significant in all of the 8 premarital areas for which difference between groups were found.

5. Differences between the two groups in premarital couple agreement existed in 10 of   the 11 PREPARE categories, and in the overall positive couple agreement score.

6. Married-satisfied couples had significantly higher couple agreement scores in 7 areas

            a. communication

b. conflict resolution

c. leisure activity

d. financial management

e. sexuality

f. equalitarian roles

g. overall average couple positive agreement.

7. Differences in couple-positive agreement were found in 7 of the 11 categories and in the average couple positive agreement.

8. Ample support to the predictive power to PREPARE scores.

 

D. DISCUSSION

 

1. Comparison of subgroup scores on PREPARE

a. Satisfied vs. unsatisfied couples

b. Cancelled couples vs. unsatisfied/ divorced couples vs. Satisfied couples

2. Interesting points of the study

a. Identification of high risk couples

b. Preventative function

c. Identification of topics and issues for premarital programs

3. Weaknesses of the study

a. Do not predict success rates

b. Unrepresentative sample

c. Not include every group