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									        Chapter 17
Actively Seeking Marital Growth
         and Fulfillment
Chapter Outline
•   “And They Lived Happily Ever After”
•   Marriage Improvement Programs
•   Marriage with Purpose: Effective
    Management
•   In the Future, the Family Will Remain and
    Diversify
Roadblocks to Healthy Marriages
•   The myth of naturalism is the idea that
    marriage will take care of itself if we select
    the right partner.
•   Privatism is the attitude that marital
    problems are private and not to be
    shared.
•   Cynicism treats marriage as a joke or
    assumes that all marriages are unhealthy.
To improve their marriage a couple
must work on:
1.   Themselves as individuals
2.   Their relationship
3.   The environment
Marriage Improvement Techniques
1.   School courses on marriage and the
     family
2.   Encounter groups
3.   Family enrichment weekends
4.   Women’s and men’s consciousness-
     raising groups
5.   Married couples’ communication
     workshops.
Marriage Improvement
Techniques
6.    Massage and bodily awareness training
7.    Psychodrama
8.    Sensitivity training
9.    Sex therapy and sexuality workshops
10.   Marriage counseling and family service
      organizations
Techniques for All Couples
1.   Setting aside scheduled times each
     week to really talk to each other, share,
     and communicate.
2.   Perhaps during some of these times, the
     reading together books that discuss
     relationships, or other books of mutual
     interest.
Techniques for All Couples
3.   Dating often—doing things that are
     mutually enjoyable, things that are
     romantic, things that bring back happy
     memories.
4.   Focusing on “us” as much, if not more,
     than on “me.”
Possible Negative Effects of
Programs
1.   The perceived benefits may be illusory,
     or at best, temporary.
2.   The emphasis on the relationship may
     tend to deny individual differences.
Negative Effects of Treatment
3.   There may be divisive influences on the
     couple’s relationship with other family
     members.
4.   The communicative techniques taught
     may rigidify the couple’s communication
     patterns, and failure to practice the
     techniques may lead to guilt or
     resentment.
Choosing Marriage
Enrichment Activities
1.   Choose the activity together and
     participate together if possible.
2.   If only one mate can participate, do so
     with the consent of the other, and bring
     the other into the activity as much as
     possible by sharing your experiences.
Choosing Marriage
Enrichment Activities
3.   In general, avoid the one-time weekend
     group; it is often too intense, and no
     follow-up is available, if needed.
4.   Never jump into a group experience on
     impulse. Give it a lot of thought,
     understanding that experiences leading
     to growth may be painful.
Choosing Marriage Enrichment
Activities
5.   Do not participate in groups where the
     people are friends and associates if the
     group’s goal is total openness and
     emotional expression.
6.   Don’t remain with a group that insists
     that everybody be a certain type of
     person, or insists that all must
     participate in every activity.
Choosing Marriage
Enrichment Activities
7.   Participate in groups that have a formal
     connection with a local professional on
     whom you can check.
8.   A group of six to 16 members is
     optimum size. Too small a group may
     result in scapegoating; too large a
     group cannot operate effectively.
Self-awareness Programs
•   Self-awareness enrichment programs
    offer sensitivity-training exercises to help
    focus on internal sensory, cognitive, and
    emotional processes.
•   Goals include achieving a realistic self-
    picture, openness to one’s feelings,
    minimal defensiveness, and eliminating
    some emotional hang-ups.
Partner Awareness Programs
•   Partner awareness involves knowing what
    one’s partner is experiencing in terms of his/her
    own self-awareness.
•   How does this behavior affect one’s partner?
    How can one best communicate with his/her
    partner? What does the partner think or feel
    about this?
•   Answering such questions accurately is the goal
    of partner-awareness training.
Relationship Awareness Programs
•   Relationship awareness shifts the focus from
    the behavior of one individual to the
    interactional patterns of the couple, or the entire
    family.
•   Every relationship has rules, often outside of
    direct awareness, that create and maintain
    meaning and order.
•   People like to conceptualize rules in terms of
    who can do what, where, when, how, and for
    what length of time.
Topical Awareness Programs
•   Topical awareness encompasses
    references to events, objects, ideas,
    places, and people—topics that constitute
    most of everyday conversation.
•   By increasing topical awareness, the
    couple can focus on their interests and
    find where they differ and where they
    coincide.
Suggestions for the Family of the
New Century
1.   The workplace must be made “family
     friendly.”
2.   Family life education must begin early
     and young people should be taught the
     art of healthy communication and family
     relationships.
3.   The image of marriage and family
     conveyed in the popular culture and
     media needs to be improved.
Quick Quiz
1. What is the goal of a relationship
awareness program?

a)   To know what one’s partner is
     experiencing.
b)   To achieve a realistic self-picture.
c)   To study the interactional behavior of
     the couple or of the whole family.
d)   To share interests as a couple.
Answer: c
•   The goal of a relationship awareness
    program is to study the interactional
    behavior of the couple or the whole
    family.
2. Which of the following are suggested
strategies for all couples?
a)   Finding time to talk often
b)   Focusing on “us” rather than “me”
c)   Dating often
d)   All of these
Answer: d
•   Finding time to talk often, focusing on
    “us” rather than “me,” and finding time
    often to go on dates are all suggested
    strategies for every couple.
3. The myth of naturalism is

a)   the idea that marriage is natural and will
     take care of itself, if we just select the
     right partner.
b)   a common attitude that marital problems
     are private and not to be shared.
c)   the idea that marriage is a joke or that
     all marriages are unhealthy.
d)   None of these.
Answer: a
•   The myth of naturalism is the idea that
    marriage is natural and will take care
    of itself, if we just select the right
    partner.

								
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