PREPARE/ENRICH: Are Couples who Attend Marriage Education Programs all Happy?

It is often argued that couples who choose to attend marriage education programs are mostly very happy and not many distressed couples attend.

This is sometimes regarded as indicative of a failure to include the very couples who will be most likely to benefit from marriage education.

This assumption has been tested with 129 married couples who enrolled in marriage education courses in the USA (DeMaria, 2005).

Using the PREPARE/ENRICH couple assessment, it was found that 59% of the couples were "Devitalized" and 34% were "Conflicted" - considered the two most unhappy and distressed couple types. This surprising finding suggests that highly distressed married couples may be more common among those who seek marriage education programs than we assume. It is clear that the majority of these couples were distressed.

In Australia, it is also our experience that many couples participating in the PREPARE/ENRICH premarital program are already experiencing some distress.  In a study of premarital couples, 31.1% of the sample was identified as being conflicted (Craddock, 2004).


  • Craddock, A. (2004). Origins: Family Experiences of Premarital Couples. Sydney, Hillfort Resources.
  • DeMaria, R. (2005). Distressed Couples and Marriage Education. Family Relations, 54, 252–253.
  • The standard tools taught in PREPARE/ENRICH are ideal for raising awareness and building skills for devitalised and conflicted couples and can improve any Marriage Education Program.

    More tips and reminders, tune in next week... Read about the 10 ways Couple Assessment can improve your relationship education program.

    Contract us at: or call us today (02) 9520 4049

    PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

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