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The Relationship Of Location To The Effectiveness Of Marriage Enrichment Retreats And Workshops

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The Problem. The proliferation of marriage enrichment programs in the past two decades has generated much public interest. Little controlled research, however, has been done to guide sponsoring community agencies and churches in program effectiveness. It has been assumed that a retreat location, removed from daily routines and stresses, enhances the learning and growth opportunities for a couple who wish to focus on their relationship. The purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of one marriage enrichment program and to investigate the importance of location as a factor in the effectiveness of marriage enrichment weekends. In addition, the differential responses of men and women were measured as were eight other demographic variables. Procedures. All subjects were drawn from a church population. There were two treatment conditions and one control condition. The retreat condition was composed of three separate retreats, held in secluded locations. The workshop condition was composed of three separate workshops held in local churches. One no-treatment and one placebo group comprised control conditions. All treatment subjects were given the same program. Three sets of leader couples were used to control for leader effects. The Barrett-Lennard Relationship Inventory, which provides five measures of marital satisfaction, was given as a pretest, posttest and delayed test. Data was examined by analyses of covariance of means and by analyses of variance of gains scores. Findings. Analysis of the data shows significant mean gains in marital satisfaction for all participants in the program when compared to control subjects. These gains endured to time of delayed testing four weeks following the program. The hypothesis of significant mean gains for retreat subjects, whem compared to workshop subjects, was not supported. No significant differences were found between the responses of men and women. Significant mean gains were found across all demographic variables. Conclusions. The study supports the effectiveness of this marriage enrichment program when offered to Caucasian, middle class church populations. It does not support retreat locations as an important variable in the effectiveness of the program. The study suggests this program is effective for both men and women.

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