Military Couples, Infidelity, and Marriage Education Programs

By Rachel Dorman, M.S.

Man and woman working on project
[Flickr, Working on changing the world of BAHAMAS conference by alesecgermany, CC BY-ND 2.0] Retrieved on September 23, 2015
Infidelity can be an extremely difficult event for couples to overcome. The painful effects of infidelity can go beyond a couple, having a lasting impact on children and other family members. With frequent absence, deployment, and relational strain military members are more vulnerable to infidelity. Allen, Rhoades, Stanley, Loew, and Markman (2012) examined how marriage education can impact military couples who have experienced infidelity.

The researchers conducted a study that included 662 married Army couples to evaluate whether marriage education would impact marital satisfaction and communication skills in couples who had experienced infidelity in their relationship. Researchers reported that just over 23% of the couples that participated in the study had reported a history of infidelity in their relationship. The couples were randomly assigned to the Prevention and Relationship Education Program, PREP, or to the control group that received no treatment. The PREP intervention consisted of a 1 – day training and a weekend retreat, with over 14 hours of training. The content of the trainings included communication, problem solving, relationship dynamics and commitment, forgiveness, core beliefs, and the deployment cycle. Each spouse was separately evaluated prior to the intervention, after the intervention, and a year later for a follow-up. The researchers found that couples who had experienced infidelity had lower levels of marital satisfaction than couples who had not experienced infidelity at the pre-, post-, and follow-up evaluations. Couples who had experienced infidelity and received the PREP training showed significantly higher marital satisfaction at the post-evaluation than the control group couples who had experienced infidelity. Also, couples who had experienced infidelity and received PREP training showed significantly higher communication skills at the post-evaluation than the control group couples who had experienced infidelity.

Couple Fighting
[Flickr, BABYYYY… by Katheirne Hitt, CC BY-ND 2.0] Retrieved on September 23, 2015
The researchers highlighted the need for improvements in the PREP curriculum to include divorce prevention. Allen, et al. (2012) call for future studies to take couples current stage of dealing with the infidelity into consideration. The researchers stated that every couple in this study was labeled as faithful or unfaithful, without giving consideration to the intensity or trauma of the event, the length of time that has passed since the event, or the current state of the marriage as a result of the event. In all, education was found to be a powerful tool that can be used to help couples seeking treatment. To learn more about working with military couples struggling with infidelity check out previous blogs, here and here.

References

[1] Allen, E., Rhoades, G., Stanley, S., Loew, B., & Markman, H. (2012). The effects of marriage education for Army couples with a history of infidelity. Journal of Family Psychology, 26(1), p. 26-35. DOI: 10.1037/a0026742

This post was written by Rachel Dorman, M.S., a member of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.

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