Nathan M. Tanner and Dr. Tom Holman, Marriage, Family, and Human Development
Families are the foundation of society and the relationship of a couple is central to the strength of each family. In a world with ever increasing problems with morality and violence, we must come to realize the importance of each family’s role in changing these trends. This is one of the many reasons that so much research is being done in the field of marriage and families. As we continue to learn, much more will be able to be done to help strengthen families in our communities.
The present research was originally designed to study how personal characteristics and a couple’s communication can affect their marital satisfaction. Our participants were chosen from among the 8,000 people that have already completed the questionnaire in the past. The initial survey was taken before they were married and the follow-up is designed to be taken two to three years later. We began by sending out follow-up questionnaires to the 700 couples who represented the United States population in both religion and ethnicity. The design of the study created a lot of anticipation for the results of the study, as a study of its kind has yet to be completed.
While we planned on collecting all of the RELATE (The RELATionship Evaluation) questionnaires and the Break-up questionnaires by the end of November, we lacked the cooperation of many chosen to participate. We were still sending out mailings during the month of December. This experience brought the difficulties of doing family research into clear view. Despite our relentless efforts to stay on track with our time-line, we fell behind schedule and continued our efforts.
The nuts and bolts of a research project were experienced as we made phone calls to participants, sent questionnaires, and other mailings. I learned that there is much that can happen that is beyond the researchers control and this makes his or her preparation all the more crucial. In our efforts to obtain as much data as possible we tried to contact more possible participants. We finally ended up with 108 complete couples who had responded to the questionnaires. This is far from our desired response, but we felt satisfied that every step had been taken on our part.
Most people rated their families as being positive and healthy. For example, the overall evaluation of family processes scale had an average score of 4.2045 for the men and 4.2029 for the women. This was done on a Likert 5 point scale, which ranges from 1, being the lowest, to a 5, being the highest.
This is a very positive response from the participants. However, this does not ring true with the fate of half of the families in America; about half of the families in America are divorcing or separating. This is not represented by our results. In rating their families, they probably compared themselves to others they were familiar with. As families deteriorate, many think they are healthy because they are not significantly different than others around them. This is very dangerous and something needs to be done to help people realize the importance of changing the direction we are going as a society.