Marital issues are becoming important in America, as divorce rates are excessively high. Given this issue and the social problems it creates to children and young adults they are recognized by several states in America. This may be due to inadequate marital skills couples have and it may also due to lack of commitment and intimacy between couples as well as cope with conflict, positive attitudes towards one another and degree of forgiveness between couples and other factors such as socio-economic situation of the couples.
These intimacy skills can be taught or learned by couples in martial enrichment programs. There is evident in some circumstances if the program is designed effectively and the counseling is professionally undertaken may enhance the quality of life of married couples on developing intimacy skills and other skills. However there is also evidence that some programs can be not effective and may be counter productive in enhancing intimacy and other skills and qualities, which are important for lasting marriages. However intimacy is one factor in martial relationship and importantly for lasting relationship. Other skills and factors are also important to be developed in conjunction to intimacy skills in these enrichment or marital programs to produce the desired outcome of lasting relationship. However it is also important these skills may be learnt by some couples in a short-time and some will take longer time and these programs also are not panacea for the martial issues of intimacy or in general to resolve many
Marital issues. However some marital programs according to certain theories and empirical studies and pilot studies highlight that these skills can be leant and taught and they may enhance intimacy and lasting relationship in particular groups and in particular circumstance.
For example Burchard.G.A et.el (2003) in an article “A Study of Two marital Enrichment programs, and Couples quality of Life” has highlighted that the factors identified through research as being influential in the stability of marriage are intimacy, positive behaviors, social support, good communication and conflict management. This high lights the importance of intimacy in marital life of couples and its contribution to or a factor with other factors according to research have been found to enhance the lasting marital life of couples. In addition “A Study of Two marital Enrichment programs, and Couples quality of Life” also has identified many marital enrichment programs and considers two programs such as Hope-focused and Forgiveness and Reconciliation through Experiencing Empathy. These two programs in a study highlighted in this article after the enrichment programs have found that the participants who have participated in the Hope-focused program significantly improved their quality of life measured by Quality of Life Inventory (QOLI[R]). It also found the Quality of Life approached significance after the participants have participated in the forgiveness enrichment program. As well in this article it has highlighted several empirically supported key components as influences on relational integrity. They are intimacy, positive and negative behaviors and the reality of human fallibility. This suggests the marital intimacy and training programs may improve intimacy and other skills however it do not guarantee success because of many factors other than intimacy and including positive behavior and the reality of human fallibility.
There it can be argued that there is a possibility these programs may not improve intimacy skills and other marital skills in some couples because of complex factors determine martial integrity including intimacy and they may not learn the intimacy skills because of relational factors and constrains. However it also highlights the marital skills can be learnt and there fore taught and they may be successful in improving intimacy and other vital marital skills to improve quality of life.
Burchard.G.A et.el (2003) in an article “A Study of Two marital Enrichment programs, and Couples quality of Life” the authors highlight that some programs are designed to improve or enrich problem-solving and intimacy skills some involve providing diversity of information and some focus on behavioral change in the couples. The format of these programs differs. Some times couples meet together with the consultant or with other groups and they may emphasize on the needs of the individual couples communication skills, an education for problem resolution or positive perception of their marriages. Often in these marriage enrichment programs they learn and rehearse the skills of problem solving and intimacy. These high light the programs vary in there content and flexible regarding couples needs and depends on specific circumstances and offers a variety of skills including skills, which enhances intimacy.
Role of forgiveness in marriage enrichment programs.
Burchard.G.A et.el (2003) in an article “A Study of Two marital Enrichment programs, and Couples quality of Life” the authors of this article has suggested that the psychological community has neglected the role of forgiveness in healing and religion has promoted forgiveness as a desirable act which can in their view and can lead to mental, emotional and spiritual freedom for the giver. This article also has highlighted that forgiveness is emphasized in religious context from theoretical stance but not as a focus of empirical research topic or area. However currently according to this article it highlights that the available research on the therapeutic value of forgiveness is increasing and the researchers agree that this behavior can be taught and strengthen in psycho educational or in therapeutic settings as empathy is encouraged. As well in this article the researchers hope that choosing to not to pursue revenge either behaviorally, cognitively or emotionally can be learned or adapted in to a persons nature as it is repeatedly performed under different circumstances. In this article it also suggests that under optimal situations after forgiveness reconciliation can be sought except in physically unsafe situation to reconcile or due to the circumstances such as death or loss of contact.
This highlights the value of forgiveness in martial enrichment programs and its value to individuals for their well being it. In addition in this article it also suggests that forgiveness makes a person recover from small and large hurts and there fore forgiveness is a worthy goal recognized by some writers in therapeutic settings. As well researchers suggests that the forgiver experiences a unique sense of peace and also less stress. In addition some writers argue that who ever forgive frequently view the decision to do so as life changing and also the repentant will benefit experiencing emotion and psychological benefit. However in the above article tit also suggests therapists are hesitant to implement forgiveness as a treatment because of the lack of an empirical strategy or model, limitations of research regarding ability to support religious tenets and the wariness the professionals may feel due to ehical guidelines regarding religious influences in therapy. This is one hurdle to include forgiveness by many professionals in their programs even forgiveness may pay a crucial role in marital issues such as intimacy and repair relationships and go forward by repairing the past and forgive and reconcile with each other and accept the mistakes of one another. As well the forgiveness will replace anger and revenge and promote healing and relationship. It is certain in my view that from the above discussion forgiveness in marital enrichment program definitely in most circumstances may be beneficial in enhancing marital skills and the well-being of couples and to have a closer relationship and also bridge past hurts and promote empathy as discussed above and the research and theory as exposed above demonstrate this fact.
Burchard.G.A et.el (2003) in an article “A Study of Two marital Enrichment programs, and Couples quality of Life” a pilot study is detailed to study how hope-focus program and forgiveness program impact on the quality of life of the participants in the study as well to study how the religious commitment of participants affects their quality of life in general compared to a control group. As well to study how forgiveness affects the quality of life of the participants of this study. They wanted to test the following hypotheses. They are that individuals who have higher disposition to forgive may score higher in the quality of life measurement. The second hypothesis is that the individuals who have high religious commitment may have higher quality of life than who have less religious commitment and the intervention programs have produced more quality of life post testing. the results of the testing which is published in the above article may be not correct due to small sample, However it proves the theoretical and other research findings to some degree. For example this study has validated the hypothesis that the programs or interventions in the hope-based and forgiveness program will increase the quality of life of couples have been to some extent proven. However it did not support the hypothesis that religious commitment affects the quality of life of the couples. It may be due to the sample size. Based on this study and the theoretical and other research findings mentioned in this article as discussed above suggests to a significant level that marital intimacy with other important marital skills will certainly will have some value because it enhances the quality of life after these interventions as well these may improve their health and psychological well being.
Ripley J.S. (2002) in an article “ Hope-focused and forgiveness-based interventions to marital interventions” has highlighted the group intervention programs has produced mean treatment effects. However in this article it also have highlighted some couples have negative effects of some popular marital enrichment group programs. For example in this article it has mentioned that in the Marriage encounter program some couples rated negatively after intervention than before. This suggests that the marital program whether it is intimacy skills or other skills all couples may not enhance their skills or martial programs will not be able to enhance their marital skills because of the nature of the programs or the programs are ineffective for these couples particularly the group programs.
In the above article the authors wanted to test the following hypothesis by conducting a Hope-based enrichment group study and its effect on marital enrichment and forgiveness- based group study and its effectiveness on marital enrichment. The hypothesizes are that both group programs will enhance dyadic satisfaction compared to the wait-list control group and hope-based martial enrichment will have higher scores in communication compared to wait-list control group or the forgiveness-based enrichment as well in the
Forgiveness-based program promote more forgiveness of a pre-identified hurt than either in the hope-focus enrichment or the wait-list control group. However the study results were not that conclusive of the effectiveness of either group programs, which is significant. As well it contradicted previous research findings of these programs.
This may be due the modifications adopted in this study to the previous studies and highlight that group programs if not designed properly and the leaders are not trained may produce unanticipated results. This article also suggested further research is necessary to improve the structure and design and the duration of such programs and to determine what target groups it is most effective and the impact of leader training on such programs. It also shows the limitations of group programs as well to some extent. However there is a possibility such programs may become empirically substantiated because of better training of leaders and research can find the group program better structured and to identify the structural features, which will increase the effectiveness of these programs and also determine the couples or specific marital groups it is most applicable.
This discussion also suggests that all popular marital programs will not enhance for all couples their skills even they are well structured and have a protocol. As well some individual programs may be effective for some couples than group programs. However some group programs can enhance the marital skills of participants particularly hope- based group programs according to the above study compared to the forgiveness-based group programs.
Mccabe M.P (1999) in an article “ The interrelationship between intimacy, Relationship functioning, and Sexuality among Men Women in Committed Relationship” tested many hypotheses regarding these interrelationships in a Study. The hypothesis they tested is that there would be no difference in males and females on three dimensions of relationship quality (general relationship quality, level of conflict, relationship communication), there would be no differences between males and females in five dimensions of intimacy such as emotional, intellectual social recreational, sexual or on level of sexual satisfaction, males would evidence higher levels of sexual behavior than females and more positive attitude towards sex and both intimacy and sexual experiences and attitudes would predict relationship quality and sexual satisfaction The out come of the study reveals in this study as mentioned in this article are as follows.
a) In this study it is found that female’s self-reported intimacy in terms of sexual intimacy is more than females. However in other dimensions of intimacy the both sexes self-reported intimacy are the same. However previous studies as suggested by this article female’s value interpersonal relationship more than males.
b) In this study in the above article the relationship scores did not vary from females to males. It was same for levels of conflict, communication. General gender functioning. However it does not mean males and females value these variables in the same manner. It may differ and further research necessary to investigate satisfaction with intimacy and with satisfaction with relationships and importance of these variables to determine the relative emphasis males and females.
c) This study did not find any differences in the occurrences in sexual behavior. However the finding showed that men has higher levels of sexual satisfaction than females, to desire higher levels of sexual experience, to talk with their partners more often about sex, to report more positive attitude to sex, to rate their partners sexual attitude lower than theirs, and assign a higher level of dysfunction of their partners. As well this article mentions that these findings are congruent with past findings.
d) Overall sexual behavior predicted of communication in the relationship for males and females. Desire to change levels of sexual behavior also is a predictor for males. Levels of sexual dysfunctions also are predictors of sexual satisfaction for both females and males and with levels of intimacy was an additional predictor for females.
e) Intimacy and sexual attitudes and experiences had less effect on the quality of relationships However the past research as identified association between intimacy and quality relationship and sexual attitudes and experiences and quality
e) Relationship. In this study as reported in the article mentioned in page 10 also highlight other than intimacy and sexual attitudes and experience such as stress, work, children, major life events, daily hassles fatigue and other positive and negative emotional states may affect or impact other than intimacy and sexual attitudes and experiences on relationship functioning.
This study suggests that sexual variables are important in marital relationship and knowledge how it playas apart in marital relationship and skills in this area is vital to have a lasting marital relationship from the above studies and discussions.
Dimer.M.A. et.el (2000) In an article “ Psychological Intimacy in the Lasting Relationship of Heterosexual and Same-Gender Couples” by exploring the meaning of Intimacy the authors have found that intimacy is a complex phenomenon and it can be defined in many perspectives. In this article the author’s definition after a study 216 partners in 108 relationships they define intimacy as the sense the couples had on their relationship as a place in which they could share personal thoughts and feelings about themselves and their relationships not expressed customarily with others. In this definition positive communication is the quintessential component of psychological intimacy. This study suggests the factors within relationship are more important than socioeconomic and demographic factors shaping psychological intimacy between partner’s relationships. In addition it is also found in the above article by Dimier et, el found that several factors contributed to psychological intimacy. They are quality of communication between partners, minimal relational conflict, conflict management style of partners, couple decision-making, relational equity, quality of sexual relations, importance of sexual relations and physical affection particularly in lasting marital relationships of heterosexual, lesbian and Same-sex relationship.
It is obvious from this that intimacy develops over time and if the quality of relationships can be enhanced they may have an impact on the duration of marital relationship and the importance of enhancing In psychological intimacy, emotionally, intellectually socially, recreationally and sexually may enhance psychological intimacy and well-being and there fore contribute to lasting relationships of couples irrespective of demographic, socioeconomic factors as the quality of relationship within the couples are more important than the socioeconomic and demographic factors according to the Dimer. M.A et. el article as discussed in this page. In addition if these skills can be acquired by the newly wedded couples and this information is used then they may be able to enhance their psychological intimacy and there fore their quality of relationships and there fore marital relationships can last for a longer time.
Intimacy can have a profound impact on the health of the relationship in marital life. (Mosier.W.2006). This is because intimacy reaches the deepest levels of human consciousness. (Mosier.W.2006). As well intimacy as discussed above is all about openness, sharing respect, shared internal awareness and exhibiting sincere responsiveness to each other. being with other person emotionally and feeling sense of being fully with other person is fundamental experience of intimacy. (Mosier.W.2006). In other wards intimacy is a mutual openness to sharing the experiences of ones inner selves. (Mosier.W.2006). The essence of intimacy there fore in my view is emotional closeness a shared empathetic understanding and experiences a trust of each other in a reciprocal manner. (Mosier.W.2006).
In addition intimacy does not occur easily for many couples and it takes a long time and for some it is still illusive. (Mosier.W.2006). Intimacy is not an active proves but a spontaneous and dynamic process a two-way flow of caring and being cared for, loving and being loved in return of being unconditionally accepting and accepted. (Mosier.W.2006). This is intimacy in the true sense of the word in the context of marital relationships. When intimacy arrives it is accompanied with a profound sense of gratitude. (Mosier.W.2006). The joys of intimacy are ding together without expecting to do things together and not dependent on each other. (Mosier.W.2006). Intimate closeness with another person gives a sense of wholeness, a focus and an integrated purpose that go beyond individuality yet do not limit individuality. (Mosier.W.2006). Without empathy a relationship has little chance of evolving in a healthy direction as empathy facilitate and intensifies each individual’s self-identity. (Mosier.W.2006). The important thing is for intimacy one must be self aware of his own feelings and thoughts and actions. (Mosier.W.2006). If a person cannot feel his own feelings fully then the empathy the intimacy requires will be limited. (Mosier.W.2006).
This will prevent intimacy to evolve. (Mosier.W.2006). That is people who has difficulty to be in close to themselves have difficulty being close to others. (Mosier.W.2006). In addition if partners use deceptive and manipulative behaviors and have a lack of self-disclosure their relationship is less intimate. (Mosier.W.2006). As well if one partner constant monitor the relationship and inhibits self-direction of the other then intimacy will decrease. (Mosier.W.2006). Intimate partners will fight but fair as in any intimate relationship there will be conflict and if one avoids such conflicts may affect negatively the intimacy. (Mosier.W.2006). If confronts such conflicts honestly and directly fight openly without manipulative ploys then conflicts will enhance intimacy rather than decrease intimacy. (Mosier.W.2006).
As discussed above marital skills in general can be taught. However the effectiveness of such education may vary to one group to another and it depends on the quality of the programs and how the leaders are conducting such programs. The forgiveness in these programs can be beneficial even though it is a religious idea in enhancing marriage relationship as some empirical studies as discussed above has shown to be beneficial not only to enhance the quality of marital relationships but also the individuals well being even his health. In addition it is clear from the above discussion conflict management skills and the way they resolve conflicts in an open and honest manner is important information to couples to improve their intimacy. In addition there seams sexual variables
may have an impact on the relationship or the quality of relationship between couples and there fore sexual knowledge and information can be an assistance to couples in marital relationship. In addition communication skills can be crucial to develop intimacy in marital enrichment programs as some research suggest the relationship between communication skills in such programs and its impact on the quality of life. It is also important because of the nature of intimacy it is difficult to teach these skills as intimacy is a spontaneous and dynamic process and it takes time for many couples and they must develop to know their true self of their feeing, thought and action as well as to mutually respect each other and have sense of doing together and not demanding and overbearing and aware of the importance of equity to have a lasting intimate relationship. However
conflict management skills and to develop their team skills and decision-making skills may have a positive effect on the quality of relationship and there fore it assists in developing a sense of empathy between couples and there fore contribute indirectly enhancing or being a catalyst to increase intimacy and self discovery by some marital programs if conducted professionally by trained leaders. In my view all intimacy skills cannot be taught because of its nature in marital relationships. However some skills can enhance the possibility at least in some point for some couples to develop intimacy with varying degrees of success if the programs are targeted to the appropriate groups and it has some empirical and theoretical validity and conducted in a professional manner by trained leaders at lest in one to one basis or in some group programs.
Burchard.A.G.et.el (2003). A Study of Two Marital Enrichment Programs and Couples’ Quality of Life. Journal of Psychology and Theology.31, 3, Retrieved March 5, 2007 from http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5002556530
Dimer. M.A. et, el ( 2000). Psychological Intimacy in the Lasting Relationships of Heterosexual and Same-Gender Couples. A Journal of Research. 201, Retrieved 5, 2007, from http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5001169558
Mccabe. M.B ( 1999). The interrelationship between Intimacy, Relationship functioning and Sexuality among Men and Women in Committed Relationships. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. 8, 1, Retrieved March 5, 2007, from http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5001276135
Mosier. W. (2006). Intimacy: The Key to a Healthy Relationship. Annals of American Psychotherapy Association. Retrieved march, 5,2007, from http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5017754664
Ripley. J.S & Worthington.E.L (2002). Hope-Focused and Forgiveness-Based Interventions to promote Marital Enrichment. Journal of Counseling and Development. Retrieved March 5, 2007, from http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000660194