Title

The Strengthening Marriage and Relationships Training (SMART) Florida Project: Year 2 Impacts and Outcomes.

Proposal Focus

Research

Abstract

The SMART Florida project was implemented in five strategically identified counties across Florida (i.e., Santa Rosa, Duval, Manatee, Citrus, Palm Beach). These counties are representative of the breadth and depth of Florida’s rural and urban residents geographically, ethnically, and socioeconomically. A broad array of comprehensive research- and evidence-informed SMART and community partner (CP) programs, services, and resources that address the social, emotional, and economic stability needs and well-being of low-income individuals, couples, and at-risk youth in the identified geographic locations is being provided at two levels of integration (Level I: Information Dissemination; Level II: Training) during the duration of the grant to assist highly supported, trained, and networked County UF/IFAS Extension Agents and their community partners to strengthen marriages, relationships, and families among Florida residents across ethnicities and income levels in four statutory activity areas: 1) Education in High Schools (Activity I); 2) Premarital Education (Activity II); 3) Marriage and Relationship Education/Skills (MRES) (Activity III); and, 4) Marriage Enhancement (Marriage and Remarriage) (Activity IV). At-risk youth, those preparing for marriage, married and remarried couples, parents, and active military and veteran couples with a particular focus on participants who are vulnerable to low-income, low-resource, substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence and child abuse issues are some of the special interest target populations served through the SMART Florida project. Implications and outcomes from Year 2 of the grant cycle will be discussed.

Relationship quality and satisfaction among couples has been a topic of interest for decades, with the 1970s marking the initiation of a dramatic expansion of research in this area. The 1970’s also saw the beginning of what was to become a continuing decline in marital quality and satisfaction among first-time married couples (Amato, Johnson, Booth, & Rogers, 2003; Schramm & Harris, 2010). This interest in dyadic couple relationship quality was likely driven by the expanding awareness that quality of marital relationships influences a broad range of positive and negative outcomes; healthy, satisfying marriages provide numerous benefits important to individuals and society, while marital dissolution has a profoundly negative effect (Amato, 2010; Cowan & Cowan, 2005; Harris, Schramm, Marshall, & Lee, 2012; Schramm & Harris, 2010). Furthermore, subjective levels of marital quality and satisfaction are predictive of both marital stability and marital dissolution (Gottman, 1994; Gottman & Notarius, 2000).

Family fragmentation costs state and local taxpayers in Florida almost two billion dollars per year in forgone tax revenues, justice system expenses, TANF, Medicaid, SCHIP, and Child Welfare program expenditures. The purpose of this study was to assess associations between relationship quality and satisfaction, intimate partner consensus, and relevant contextual factors among married and unmarried cohabiting couples in a general sample of Floridians (n=1002). This study constitutes an initial baseline study of dyadic couple trends in Florida’s Northwest, North, West Coast, East Coast, and South regions and is the precursor to research currently being conducted over the next five years through a federal healthy marriages and relationships grant. Results indicate that variability in relationship quality is best explained by patterns of negative interaction, consensus, and context respectively. Specific implications for use of relationship education as an intervention in Florida are proposed.

Keywords

healthy marriage, relationship quality, marital quality, Florida couples

Location

Tiger I

Start Date

10-3-2018 10:00 AM

End Date

10-3-2018 11:30 AM

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Mar 10th, 10:00 AM Mar 10th, 11:30 AM

The Strengthening Marriage and Relationships Training (SMART) Florida Project: Year 2 Impacts and Outcomes.

Tiger I

The SMART Florida project was implemented in five strategically identified counties across Florida (i.e., Santa Rosa, Duval, Manatee, Citrus, Palm Beach). These counties are representative of the breadth and depth of Florida’s rural and urban residents geographically, ethnically, and socioeconomically. A broad array of comprehensive research- and evidence-informed SMART and community partner (CP) programs, services, and resources that address the social, emotional, and economic stability needs and well-being of low-income individuals, couples, and at-risk youth in the identified geographic locations is being provided at two levels of integration (Level I: Information Dissemination; Level II: Training) during the duration of the grant to assist highly supported, trained, and networked County UF/IFAS Extension Agents and their community partners to strengthen marriages, relationships, and families among Florida residents across ethnicities and income levels in four statutory activity areas: 1) Education in High Schools (Activity I); 2) Premarital Education (Activity II); 3) Marriage and Relationship Education/Skills (MRES) (Activity III); and, 4) Marriage Enhancement (Marriage and Remarriage) (Activity IV). At-risk youth, those preparing for marriage, married and remarried couples, parents, and active military and veteran couples with a particular focus on participants who are vulnerable to low-income, low-resource, substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence and child abuse issues are some of the special interest target populations served through the SMART Florida project. Implications and outcomes from Year 2 of the grant cycle will be discussed.

Relationship quality and satisfaction among couples has been a topic of interest for decades, with the 1970s marking the initiation of a dramatic expansion of research in this area. The 1970’s also saw the beginning of what was to become a continuing decline in marital quality and satisfaction among first-time married couples (Amato, Johnson, Booth, & Rogers, 2003; Schramm & Harris, 2010). This interest in dyadic couple relationship quality was likely driven by the expanding awareness that quality of marital relationships influences a broad range of positive and negative outcomes; healthy, satisfying marriages provide numerous benefits important to individuals and society, while marital dissolution has a profoundly negative effect (Amato, 2010; Cowan & Cowan, 2005; Harris, Schramm, Marshall, & Lee, 2012; Schramm & Harris, 2010). Furthermore, subjective levels of marital quality and satisfaction are predictive of both marital stability and marital dissolution (Gottman, 1994; Gottman & Notarius, 2000).

Family fragmentation costs state and local taxpayers in Florida almost two billion dollars per year in forgone tax revenues, justice system expenses, TANF, Medicaid, SCHIP, and Child Welfare program expenditures. The purpose of this study was to assess associations between relationship quality and satisfaction, intimate partner consensus, and relevant contextual factors among married and unmarried cohabiting couples in a general sample of Floridians (n=1002). This study constitutes an initial baseline study of dyadic couple trends in Florida’s Northwest, North, West Coast, East Coast, and South regions and is the precursor to research currently being conducted over the next five years through a federal healthy marriages and relationships grant. Results indicate that variability in relationship quality is best explained by patterns of negative interaction, consensus, and context respectively. Specific implications for use of relationship education as an intervention in Florida are proposed.