Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program


individual briefs provide the references that have been used to develop each brief and
impact the curriculum’s development.
Cognitive Distancing Cascade
to the Negative
Recasting the
Marital History
Emotional Distancing
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Communication Based Relationship 57 2004
Enhancement Program
Communication Based Relationship Enhancement Program
Within the marriage counseling community debate over what are the skills that couples
need to have successful relationship is on-going. One of the strongest voices that support
the position that communication skills are key to martial success is the founders of The
Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP). PREP has received
extensive publicity and attention for its formalized program that teaches communication
strategies to resolve conflict.
The basic premise of PREP is that couples arguments are the function of both
expectations and their ability to communicate and negotiate effectively (Markman,
Stanely, & Blumberg, 1994). Most of how individuals learn these skills is from their
experience in life with family of origin, past relationships, and the cultural context.
When destructive patterns exist, over time the presence of the partner becomes
increasingly associated with pain and frustration, not pleasure or support (Markman,
Stanley and Blumberg, 2001). As constraints keeping the relationship together weaken,
the couple weighs the cost of staying versus the cost of leaving. When the cost of leaving
outweighs that of staying, divorce occurs.
Intervention in the patterns of communication and conflict management are proposed to
rebuild the relationship. The major goals of the program are: (a) the development of
constructive communication and conflict resolution skills, (b) the clarification of
relationship beliefs and expectations, (c) enhancement of fun, friendship and spiritual
connection, (d) established and agreed upon set of ground rules for disagreements
(Markman, Stanley, & Bloomberg, 2001). The major thrust of the program is to teach
communication strategies that assist couples to talk and listen with respect and
Markman, H., Stanley, S., & Bloomberg, S. (2001). Fighting for your marriage: Positive steps
for preventing divorce and preserving a lasting love. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Markman, H., Stanley, S., & Bloomberg, S. (1994). Fighting for your marriage: Positive steps
for a loving and lasting relationship. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Changing American Family 58 2004
Changing American Family
Remarkable changes in family demography occurred in the United States during the last
half of the 20th Century. These changes transformed many family behaviors and
practices, especially in the areas of marriage and fertility (Carlson & Furstenberg, 2003;
Sigle-Rushton & McLanahan, 2003). Two dramatic changes occurred that affect children
and families, especially low-income families. Cohabitation became a common living
arrangement for adults and continues to increase in prevalence (Osborne, McLanahan &
Brooks-Gunn, 2003). Today, about 40 percent of all non- marital births are to mothers
living with the baby’s father, an increase from 25 percent in the 1980s (Bumpass & Lu,

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Veronica S. Haggerty


"A strong, healthy relationship can be one of the best things that can happen to you. However, it can also be one of the biggest drains on you if the relationship is not working. Relationships are like bank accounts. The more you put in, the more you get back. Falling in love is the easy part, but long term relationships take work, commitment, and a willingness to adapt and change through life as a team. Learn about ways to keep a healthy relationship strong, or begin to today to work on repairing trust and renewing love for a relationship on the rocks".

Location: New Hope, PA
Credentials: MA, MFT, RN
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