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Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program

the individual was to a negative behavior?
If the individual highly valued sensitivity of a spouse’s needs, support and companionship
how might the reaction be different? Values are strong motivators that guide our behavior
and reactions to life’s events. The more aware we are of our values, the more
understanding we can have to our reactions and decision process.
What is a “Good” Marriage?
¡ A good marriage will always be
¡ Marriage will make me happy.
¡ If we love each other, everything
will fall into place.
¡ My partner should know what my
needs are.
¡ Conflict means the lack of love.
4. Living in a culture brings with it cultural
assumptions of what marriage involves.
Our culture is no different. As a group ,
use Slide 4 to decide which are true
cultural expectations for marriage. None
of the expectations listed are true.
However, they frequently are idealized as
being true in our culture.
Instructor’s Notes
A good marriage will always be romantic. All relationships experience ups and downs.
Often as a marriage matures, the demands of life cloud romantic feelings. Being in love
and having a good marriage is more than flowers and candy. Romance can be brought back
into a marriage if the couple chooses to do so.
Marriage will make me happy. No one can make another happy. Happiness must come
from within oneself. The marriage relationship has the potential of supporting individual
happiness and well-being, but it cannot be the only source.
If we love each other, everything else will fall into place. Marriage is like all relationships,
it is in a constant state of change. Being sensitive to one another’s needs and being willing
to make changes to adapt to relationship changes are necessary to keep love alive. Having
a caring, supportive relationship is at the core of a marriage. If an individual is demeaning
or abusive in a verbal or physical way, it is not going to be solved by love. Love involves
respect, commitment and most of all deeply caring about another’s well-being.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Understanding the Couple Relationship, Session 1 8 2004
My partner should know what my needs are. No one can read another’s mind. Needs
should be verbalized in clear language, sometimes repeatedly. If the need is something a
partner can provide, they first must know what it is.
Conflict means the lack of love. Conflict is an inevitable aspect of all relationships. If
conflict is dealt with appropriately it can be healthy for a relationship. Working through
conflict helps the couple learn new strategies to resolve issues in the future.
¡ My partner needs to earn enough
money to provide for our families
¡ In-laws are not important.
5. Continue with review and discussion of
typical marriage myths.
Instructor’s Notes
My partner needs to earn enough money to provide for our families needs. Today most
couples are not independently wealthy when they marry. Most frequently it takes two
incomes to provide for a family. A lot of decisions must be made that involve money. It is
critical to clearly communicate about financial issues and continually work at having a
jointly agreed upon financial plan for your family. Money is the number one issue about
which couples fight.
In-laws are not important. Like it or not, marriage brings formal relationships with an
extended family. Realistically, it is important to remember that a couple can establish
independence from in-laws, but they will always be a part of your life.
¡ Color how we perceive an event.
¡ Are beliefs about “what should be.”
Unmet expectations create
disappointment, frustration and
6. From not only the culture but also our
past experiences, we each develop a set of
expectations that we have about what “a
good marriage is.” Using Slide 6, define
what an expectation is. Expectations are
beliefs about “what should be.” When
expectations are not met or do not come
true, one most typically reacts negatively.
Often in close relationships, unmet expectations can lead to the “naming and blaming
game” in which a partner blames the other for their disappointment, frustration and anger.
If we are not aware of our expectations, they can be powerful drivers that lead to
dissatisfaction and ultimately to constant unhappiness.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Understanding the Couple Relationship, Session 1 9 2004
“A Good Marriage” Expectations
¡ Boundaries
¡ Investments
¡ Control
¡ Power
7. Define what are commonly held
expectations for marriage, using Slide 7
and the Instructors Notes. Ask the group
to take a few minutes to decide what
their expectations are about these critical
components of a relationship:
Instructor’s Notes
Boundaries: What makes you a couple? What level of independence is each partner to
have? What are the tasks and roles each is responsible for in the relationship?
Investments: How much time and effort does each put into the relationship? How does
one show investment?
Control: Who makes the decisions? Who decides various issues involved in the
relationship – such as the children, the house, how the money is spent? Who decides what
the couple does? Who takes charge of the children?
Power: Who ultimately is responsible for issues? Who pays the bills? Who earns the
There are many other expectations that couples have for their relationship. Can you think
of other important areas where expectations play a role in the satisfaction that couples
have in their relationship? Some additional issues that may surface involve sexual
relations, time spent with in-laws, and/or friends, and religious practice. Introduce and
conduct the Expectations in Action activity.
Expectations in Action Activity
Using Handout 2, Expectations in Action, ask the group’s participants to complete the
handout identifying their own personal expectations for marriage. After the group has
completed the handout, ask each group member to identify one expectation that they have
listed. As expectations are identified, ask the group to share if they also have listed the
same, or a similar expectation. Many of the expectations will be similar. Reinforce that it
is important to be honest and open with your partner about your expectations. Unmet
expectations are a major source of discontent in marriage and will ultimately lead to
conflict. Unresolved conflict can lead to unhappiness and divorce.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Understanding the Couple Relationship, Session 1 10 2004
are our beliefs that are so
much a part of us we
never question them.
8. Expectations and values ar e reflected in
our assumptions. Use Slide 8 to define
what assumptions are. Our assumptions
are so much a part of us that we never
question them. We act on them because
we believe them to be true. However,
frequently men and women do not view


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