Expectant couples experience emotional highs and lows. The anticipation of becoming parents can cause excitement and joy. It can also lead people to worry about their new responsibilities. Financial stress and emotional strain can create conflict in marriages as couples face the challenge of entering into parenthood. After the birth of the child, new parents experience an overwhelming surge of emotions. The thrill of finally meeting the child, combined with the anxiety of caring for the newborn, lack of sleep, and tattered nerves, can cause tension between parents. Marriage and relationship education (MRE) programs focus on addressing all these issues in couples. New and expectant parents can learn new coping strategies and develop the tools necessary to manage the ups and downs of becoming parents. MRE helps these parents learn how to communicate in healthy ways amidst the stress of this significant life transition.
But very few new parents have the time to attend MRE classes. Therefore, Christina J. Kalinka of the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Colorado in Denver led a study to determine whether internet MRE would be a viable option for new and expectant parents. Because the added stress of parenthood has been shown to increase conflict, aggression, and divorce among married couples, finding an acceptable and effective tool for new parents is vital. Kalinka assessed 79 expectant parents after they completed an 8-week internet MRE or a control course. She found that the MRE internet participants were better able to handle conflicts than the control group. In addition, the MRE internet parents reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction than the control parents. Kalinka believes that the results demonstrate the usefulness and appropriateness of internet interventions for this segment of the population. With the demands on new parents’ time, more individuals rely on the internet because of its portability and 24-hour-a-day accessibility. Kalinka added, “This study provides a hopeful chord in the search for a way to make primary prevention MRE available to all interested individuals and couples.”
Kalinka, C. J., Fincham, F. D., Hirsch, A. H. (2012). A randomized clinical trial of online-biblio relationship education for expectant couples. Journal of Family Psychology 26.1, 159-164.
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