Black couples showed significant boosts in relationship quality six months after completing a nine-hour marriage education designed to strengthen communication, emotional understanding, and conflict resolution skills.
In a study by the PAIRS Foundation of 128 black participants in marriage education classes, 89 percent reported improvements in their overall relationships six months after course completion; less than two percent reported declines.
Other key findings from the study include:
- 91% increased sharing of appreciations;
- 89% improved conflict resolution;
- 85% improved emotional intimacy;
- 81% improved physical intimacy;
- 78% improved communication;
- 98% said they would recommend the class to others.
The percent of participants who reported never considering divorce, separation, or terminating their relationship increased 41 percent. The frequency of arguments dropped more than 50 percent.
For the study, PAIRS Essentials classes were delivered by non-mental health professionals in schools, churches and community organizations in Miami-Dade and Broward County over three consecutive weeks.
Eighty two percent of participants in the study were married; more than half have minor children living at home. The mean age was 42 years old.
Seth Eisenberg, President and CEO of PAIRS Foundation, said the findings offer important guidance for improving the economic vitality of distressed neighborhoods and outcomes for children.
“Strong marriages and families are critical building blocks for economic and career success for adults, improving educational achievement and health for children, and creating safe, stable communities,” Seth Eisenberg said. “The rate of marital and family breakdown in the black community is significantly higher than other groups. Nationally, the percentage of married black adults is nearly 53 percent less than whites. In the most highly distressed neighborhoods, the difference is even greater,” he said.
Amanda Falciglia, PAIRS Foundation’s Research Director, said the findings for African American participants are consistent with studies of other ethnic groups.
“While there are slight variations in some variables across ethnicity, we’ve consistently found significant, sustained improvements to overall relationships and reducing conflict among Whites, Blacks and Hispanics,” Falciglia said. “The results are encouraging for nationwide efforts to help children succeed by strengthening the relationships of parents, couples and families.”
In their own words …
“I am lost for words but at the same time full of them. This training will help transform families, marriages, youths, and communities…”
“I now have practical tools to help us bond and communicate.”
“This is not just a good idea, it’s something that will help turn your life around and strengthen you and your relationships!”
“The skills give me a vehicle to communicate my needs and wants more clearly because fear will be removed within the boundaries of the skills.”
“It will help me to be more open to people’s thoughts. It will also help me be a better person.”
“My husband and I will use these exercises to work through conflicts and build intimacy/pleasure. We will share information with our children.”
“For the first time after much therapy I had in the past, this is the first training that impacted my life.”
“I am better prepared to communicate in an intimate relationship and incorporate a partner from the beginning of the relationship because of these communication skills.”
“Immediately, this began opening my eyes to better clarity of thought, articulation, and hope in my own marriage.”