Research Summaries

Military service and divorce

Military service couples are more likely to get divorced, a recent prevention program offers help.  Scott Stanley and his colleagues have designed  a marital relationship program called, Strong Bonds, that is designed to teach military couples important communication and conflict management skills.  Married U.S. Army couples recently participated in a test of whether this program would reduce divorce.  One-half the group participated in the program and the other half did not.  The results showed that about 2% of the couples who participated in the program were divorced one year later and 6% of the couples were divorced who did not participate in the program.  These findings suggest that couple education can reduce the risk of divorce.

  •  Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., Markman, H. J., Rhoades, G. K., & Prentice, D. L. (2010). Decreasing divorce in U.S. army couples: Results from a randomized controlled trial using PREP for strong bonds. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 9(2), 149-160. doi:10.1080/15332691003694901

New evidence that indicates the effectiveness of mediation programs for divorcing couples

There are numerous horror reports about divorcing couples and their court room battles.  For the past 20 years courts and divorcing couples have been trying out alternative ways of reducing the conflict and animosity that is often associated with litigation.  The primary alternative has been mediation which involves couples working with a professional who helps the couples find common ground.  There have been several evaluation studies of these efforts that suggests this method reduces couple’s conflict and leads to more enduring resolutions of custody and parenting plans.  A recent report in Conflict Resolution Quarterly by Lori Shaw provides the most promising evidence to date about the effectiveness of these programs.  Shaw combined the results of the five most rigorous evaluation studies to compare multiple methods across diverse settings and circumstances.  She  reports that compared to litigation, divorcing couples using mediation are more satisfied with the process, the outcomes, their spousal relationship and their understanding of children’s needs.  These results have important implications for court systems and divorcing couples.


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