Relationship Education Helps Couples, Families

February 1, 2017, 8:59 am | David Brown, Laura Sternweis

AMES, Iowa -- When a couple has a healthy relationship, their family is more likely to be stable and their children have a greater opportunity to flourish, says David Brown, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“Children growing up in a home where there is a healthy, stable couple relationship have fewer behavioral and emotional problems, and perform better in school,” said Brown, who specializes in family life issues.

“There is this amazing connection between relationship quality, positive parenting practices and healthy outcomes for children. This really reinforces the notion that a strong adult couple relationship is the foundation for a healthy family,” he said.

But maintaining a stable couple relationship takes effort. Sometimes individuals and couples can benefit from additional support.

ISU Extension and Outreach offers program to professionals

Relationship EducationMany professionals in Iowa, such as child welfare professionals, therapists and social workers, have direct access to couples and families who could benefit from healthy relationship education. When trained and equipped with practical skills and resources, these professionals can integrate healthy relationship education into their work and promote healthy relationships in these families, Brown said.

ISU Extension and Outreach offers a day-long training just for such professionals, Brown said. The “Healthy Relationship Education” program teaches skills and principles that research indicates can build and sustain healthy relationships. The program follows the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Model.

For more information on relationship education offerings from ISU Extension and Outreach, contact Anthony Santiago, college projects specialist, at 515-294-7042 or Additional information on healthy relationship education can be found at

Relationship education works

It is much easier for couples with no distress or mild distress to enhance their relationship than those with severe relationship problems. But couples who are having difficulty and already are working with professionals can benefit from access to educational resources on how to build and sustain a healthy relationship, Brown said.

“Research tells us that relationship education can help individuals and couples to improve their relationships. Unmarried adults were more satisfied with their relationship and were better able to manage conflict after participating in relationship education," Brown said. "Married couples also showed improvements in how they interacted with each other and in the overall quality of their marriage. Plus they had more positive parenting practices and better parent-child relationships."

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