Volume 25, Issue 4 (Winter 2020)                   IJPCP 2020, 25(4): 384-395 | Back to browse issues page


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Rajabi G, Abbasi G. The Effectiveness of Premarital Counseling Based on a Relationship Education Program on the Idealistic Expectations of Single Young Adults. IJPCP 2020; 25 (4) :384-395
URL: http://ijpcp.iums.ac.ir/article-1-2284-en.html
1- Department of Counseling, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran. , Rajabireza@scu.ac.ir
2- Department of Psychology, Sari Branch, Islamic Azad University, Sari, Iran.
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1.Introduction
Today, expectations are an extremely important issue for marriage research. Couples have expectations from marriage that result from interactions between them and a number of factors, such as family, beliefs, traditions, and etc. When people meet each other to create a relationship, they consciously or unconsciously discuss about their expectations for making a coherent story [1]. Studies have shown that one of the most dangerous factors that ruins marital satisfaction and its stability is the irrational, idealistic and romantic expectations and beliefs of people from marriage [2, 3]. Most scholars conceptualize the marital expectation as a rational and cognitive process [6]. Azzopardi believes that marital expectations are the conscious and unconscious senses, concepts, ideals, illusions, desires, hopes and dreams that a person has about marriage [1]. People who begin their marriage with an extreme idealistic image of their partner and relationship are more prone to experiencing acute frustration than those with less idealistic expectations. Their relationships begin with a debilitating decline, ignorance of problems, and being superficial, which pushing couples towards frustration and potentially divorce [8].
The review of literature on premarital counseling showed that it is one way to change or reduce idealistic expectations and beliefs about marriage [14, 15]. Premarital counseling is an important prevention strategy for families and individuals to avoid the negative consequences of getting divorce [16, 17]. Findings suggest that premarital counseling can lead to improved and increased realistic expectations, reduced pessimistic expectations [11] reduced idealistic expectations [3], individual growth of single girls [20], improved social skills and self-efficacy of girls on the brink of marriage.
One of the programs that is used in premarital counseling is the relationship education program. The target of relationship education program is young people who may be engaged in an intimate relationship. These programs can play an important role in promoting the realistic marital expectations, having appropriate attitude towards marriage, and increasing the optimism about healthy relations and communication skills in young people, especially those who may have a negative attitude towards marriage due to personal experience or history of parental divorce [24].
Relationship education program has been developed in various forms for different age groups such as school students, soldiers, university students and young people who are about to get married in order to develop their skills for having healthy relationships with others. This program can be taught in a classroom as part of a seminar in weekly workshops or by individual [25]. Gardner et al. showed that a relationship education program can positively affect people’s knowledge, behavior, and attitudes towards marriage [27]. Adler-Baeder et al. also found that participants of relationship education programs have a more rational or realistic attitude towards marriage and relationships [23]. Grimm indicated that this program leads to significant changes in the attitudes and beliefs of students [5]. Johnson indicated that the young adults who participated in marriage education classes have more optimism about relationships and more realistic attitudes about marriage [29]. The study aimed to examine the effectiveness of premarital counseling based on a relationship education program on reducing the idealistic marital expectation of single young adults.

2.Method
The is a quasi-experimental study with pretest, posttest, and extended follow-up design using the control group. Participants were 32 single young adults in Ahvaz, Iran whose scores of the idealistic expectation dimension in Jones and Nelson’s Marital Expectation Scale (MES) [31] were higher than the median value and had met inclusion and exclusion criteria. They were assigned randomly into two groups of intervention (n=16) and control (n=16). All relationship education sessions were conducted from October to February, 2018 in Ravan Asa Consulting Center (affiliated to the Psychology and Counseling Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran) in Ahvaz city. The intervention group received relationship education program in 9 sessions, twice a week for 90 minutes, and the control group received one session of premarital counseling only. All groups were assessed before test, after test, and at 60-day follow-up period.
The MES instrument has 40 items and three realistic, idealistic, and pessimistic dimensions. The items are rated on a 5-point Likert scale from 1= Strongly disagree to 5= Strongly agree. In this study, we used only the idealistic dimension which has 14 item [30]. The Cronbach’s alpha coefficient for MES has been reported 0.80 [30] and 0.79 [12]; and it has a significant correlation with romanticism and love styles [30]. Nilforushan et al. using confirmatory factor analysis, confirmed that the MES has three factors (realistic, idealistic, and pessimistic expectations). The Cronbach’s alpha of this scale was reported 0.83 in males, 0.82 in females and 0.83 in the whole sample [31]. Collected data were analyzed using ANOVA with repeated measures in SPSS v. 21.
3.Results
As shown in Table 1, the F ratio for the group effect was significant on idealistic expectation (F=113.17, P<0.001) which indicates that the intervention with relationship education program was effective in reducing the idealistic expectation of marriage in the intervention group compared to the control group (43.53 vs. 55.58).



The F ratio for the measurement stage effect was also significant on idealistic expectation (F=11.47, P<0.001). This indicates a significant difference between
the three stages of pre-test, post-test, and follow-up in the idealistic marital expectation (Table 2)


Moreover, the F ratio for measurement stage effect in the intervention group was also significant [F=17.48, P<0.001]. Benfroni follow-up test was used to determine exactly in which of the three stages in the intervention group, the reduction in idealistic expectation was significantly different. Comparisons showed a significant difference between pre-test and post-test stages (12.12) and between pre-test and follow-up stages (8.62) in reduced idealistic expectation of marriage. However, there was no significant difference between post-test and follow-up stages (-3.50). Furthermore, there was a significant interaction effect of group and stages on the reduction of idealistic expectation (P<0.001).
4.Conclusion
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of premarital counseling along with a relationship education program in reducing the idealistic expectations of marriage in single young people. The results revealed that the education program was able to somewhat reduce the idealistic marital expectations of participants. This is consistent with the results of other similar studies [3, 11, 23, 25, 27, 28]. It can be said that the relationship education program including five components of self-knowledge, knowledge of love and dating, knowledge of happy marriage, knowledge of sexual differences, and knowledge of intimacy was effective which, in turn, can lead to the reduction of idealistic marital expectations [23].
The first step in choosing a life partner is self-knowledge and self-awareness. The answer to the question ‘whom should I marry?’ depends on knowing himself/herself. People who are getting married usually emphasize on knowing the partner. Since they cannot know themselves, they cannot find out who they want or do not want [2]. In this regard, one of the components of relationship education program is self-knowledge which can be a possible reason for reducing the idealistic expectations of subjects in the intervention group compared to the control group. In this component, people get to know their family of origin including attachment styles. Based on the attachment theory, parent’s influence and attachment to the primary caregiver or attachment styles can play an important role in the expectations of individuals towards marriage [24]. Another possible reason for reduced idealistic expectations of marriage in the intervention group can be the knowledge of sexual differences. Gender and related issues are one of the factors that influence the development of attitudes, beliefs and expectations in a marriage [24]. Lin and Raghubir [34] showed that when realistic attitudes towards marriage are taught, people are more willing to modify their own unrealistic expectations. In our study, the given animated presentations of sexual differences and its impact on the lifestyle could lead to a reduction in the idealistic expectations of subjects.
Ethical Considerations
Compliance with ethical guidelines
All participants signed an informed consent form, after explaining the study objectives and methods to them.
Funding
This study did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Authors contributions
All authors contributed equally in preparing all parts of the research.
Conflicts of interest
The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

 
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Type of Study: Original Research | Subject: Psychiatry and Psychology
Received: 2019/05/10 | Accepted: 2019/09/18 | Published: 2020/04/18

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