How Can Public Policy Promote Healthy Marriage?: The Couples' Perspective

Lina Guzman, Child Trends
Kristin Moore, Child Trends
Gregory Matthews, Child Trends
Zakia Redd, Child Trends
Susan Jekielek, Child Trends
Jacinta M.H. Bronte-Tinkew, Child Trends
Suzanne Ryan, Child Trends

Recent policy initiatives have focused on promoting healthy marriage with the goal of improving adult and child well-being. Building on an extensive review of research studies and measures used in databases, a conceptual model for healthy marriage was developed and a protocol was designed and tested using semi-structured cognitive interviews with low-income couples in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. This paper explores couples’ thoughts about what is a healthy marriage and how policies efforts to promote healthy marriage can best serve couples and families. Initial interviews indicate a preference for programs that focus on communication, conflict resolution, parenting and financial management skills, as well as elements of family planning. Preliminary interviews also suggest a need for programs to incorporate both couple and individual counseling sessions. While initial interviews indicate that couples would most benefit from such programs prior to marriage, couples seem open to programs at all family stages.

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Presented in Session 136: Should Public Policy Promote Marriage? How Can It?