Despite these efforts, the nation’s divorce rate skyrocketed during the '70s and early '80s and peaked at 5.3 divorces/1,000 people in 1981. Since then, the nation’s divorce rate has dropped by one-third, to 3.6/1000 people--the lowest rate since 1970.
Pretty successful, no?
The number of couples who live together without marrying has increased by a factor of 10 since 1960. The marriage rate has dropped by nearly 30% in past 25 years. And, Americans are waiting about five years longer to marry than they did in 1970. Even with fewer marriages, divorce continues to be a persistent problem. Nowhere is this more true than among low-income couples.
In response, relationship scientists have spent $1B of taxpayers’ money over the past 10 years to study the problem. One study consisting of nearly 200k couples, evaluated the benefit of those skills-training programs.
The study's author--Professor of Psychology at Binghamton University and Director of its Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory, Matthew Johnson--found that the outcomes associated with the group of couples receiving the training (the experimental group) and the group of couples receiving no training (the control group) were statistically insignificant. That is, the behavioral outcomes (e.g., relationship quality, likelihood of dissolving the relationship, likelihood of interpersonal violence, and father involvement) for the couples who were taught the relationship skills were more likely to be the same as or worse than couples in the control group.
For $1B dollars, intervening with skills training programs is, for all practical purposes, a waste of time. That said, we now know that the problems of poverty and financial insecurity are more important predictors of a marriage remaining intact. Forget all of that "quality of the relationship" blather.
So, it's back to the drawing board. Relationship scientists now have to rethink their strategies for how to intervene with couples, according to Dr. Johnson.
Perhaps they'll need another $1B dollars of taxpayers’ money.
Talk about "Uncle Sugar"!
Let the discussion begin…
To read about Dr. Johnson’s study, click on the following link: