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Typological Shift Among Newly Married Couples Following Completion of a Marital Enrichment Program

Toomey, Amy Lynn
The purpose of this study is to summarize changes associated with a 14 week marital enrichment program on couples within the first year of marriage and to explore the shift in couple typological analysis across time. Ninety-three couples participated in a marital enrichment program at a small Midwestern university. All couples completed the ENRICH (ENriching Relationship Issues, Communication and Happiness) Inventory. The couple typologies used in this study were created by Olson and Fowers (1993) and are based on the couple's answers to the items in the inventory. This study sought to capture the complexity of newly married couples by examining the shift in couple typology across time. In evaluating couple typological shift, marital enrichment programs could then be altered to better address the needs of newly married couples. The findings of the study indicate that couple typologies shift after completion of a marital enrichment program. The most clearly observable pattern of change was a shift from a traditional to a vitalized relationship, demonstrating the couples' increased ability to resolve conflict and communicate more effectively with one another. Significant differences in the communication, conflict resolution and marital satisfaction categories of the ENRICH, as well as the items within these categories, further describe the changes which created the typology shifts. With the information regarding newly married couples, marital enrichment programs and typological analysis, professionals will be able to address the specific needs of the couple, providing more effective marital intervention. Finally, professionals will also be able to design and implement marital enrichment programs which focus on the needs of newly married couples.