I'm back/ Evaluations & Impressions of the Conference - 7/27/10
smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Tue Jul 27 11:45:47 EDT 2010
BACK FROM ORLANDO IT WAS MAGNIFICENT
I want to thank all of you who attended, exhibited, or presented at the
Orlando Smart Marriages Conference. It was truly magnificent. All the
evaluations are over-the-top with everyone saying it was the best conference
ever life-changing, marriage-affirming, practice-boosting. We ended up
with 1519 attendees the lowest total since 2001, but a great turn-out
given this miserable economy.
You probably wondered why you hadn¹t heard from me.....some of you thought I
might have fallen and couldn¹t get up and have been emailing to check on me.
Others know about my post-conference tradition and my slow, circuitous route
home from conferences. I always spend time with my mother. Five days
catching up with her. Then had my grandkids, here, for 5 days. Then just as
the kids left we got hit by a super storm here in DC and I¹ve been without
power until an hour ago. You can imagine that I¹m thrilled to have electric
and am ready to get back to work....but will only be here this week. I head
off next week for several site visits to try to finalize the 2011 dates. I
am holding June 21 28 and July 6 13 dates in several cities. You will
know here on this list as soon as I sign a contract. - diane
ONLINE EVALUATION AND CEU CERTIFICATES
I apologize to those who had problems with the Online Evaluation form. I
thought it was working before I left for Orlando but there have been a few
maddening snafus. I am assured that the kinks are straightened out and I
encourage you to complete your evaluations and print your certificates,
http://www.academeca.com/SMART2010/evals.html Let us know via email if you
have a problem.
SPEAKING OF EVALUATIONS:
Send me your reports on attending the conference and I will share them with
the list. Some of you also sent great photos which I will get posted as
soon as I get a minute. I love them all, reports and photos keep them
12 TIPS FROM THE RELATIONSHIP EXPERTS AT SMART MARRIAGES
Attendee/Exhibitor Melanie Gorman of YourTango/ProConnect published an
article ³12 Tips from the Relationship Experts at Smart Marriages² on
Huffington Post on July 19th. I know many of you have seen it it made the
rounds all over the internet. Here is the link.
YourTango/ProConnect announced in Orlando that they will extend their
discount to join ProConnect (only $4.95 for the first month) until the end
of July to all members of the Smart Marriages e-list. Contact Melodie Tucker
with questions (melodie at yourtango.com or 321-459-1399). Website is
A DAY IN THE LIFE AND A FEW IMPRESSIONS FROM CONFERENCE ATTENDEE
July 11, 2010: ³Busy day today at Smart Marriages! Listened to author
Marshall Howard, "Let's Have Lunch"; found a new DVD to share w/our board
members; trained in "Why Knot" (a marriage ed. program for men); and we'll
be meeting with Rozario Slack in a little while! Shew!² - Marriage Resource
Center of Carroll County (Maryland)
³Diane, I have heard SOOOOO many positive things about Smart Marriages this
year. This was my 13th Smart Marriages Conference, and I really think this
one was the best ever. LOVED the Comedy Club for the last night. I think
people¹s brains are so fried by that time that it is hard to take in
anything else that is serious, but people were just going nuts where we were
sitting. They loved it. Laughed hard the entire time. Brilliant!!!!!² -
³Hi Diane, I recently attended your conference from NYC. I am not in the
business and currently work on wall street but am looking to start a career
as a layperson in relationship education. I wanted to tell you how much I
loved the conference. It was very well organized and you had excellent
speakers throughout the week. As a first time attendee I was very
impressed! I made some great connections and got some terrific information
as well. I came away feeling very inspired. ³ - MF
LAURIE PUHN DOES SMART MARRIAGES
Yesterday, I returned from an amazing three day Smart Marriages conference
in Orlando. (Check out their perspective on the Number 1 Predictor of
Divorce and their Relationship IQ Quiz). While I was there to speak on a
panel, I also had the unique opportunity to listen to the leading
researchers in the field of relationship education. I was stunned by the
strength of the empirical data showing the harm of divorce and the benefit
of lasting marriages. The California Healthy Marriages Coalition collected
some of the new research and organized it into pamphlets (with sourced
footnotes) here. Some of the highlights are: http://tinyurl.com/2upugqh
GARY CHAPMAN¹S NEW BOOK
I loved the whole conference but Gary Chapman¹s reading of excerpts from the
galley of his latest book was a special highlight for me. I think he
announced when it would be available, but I missed it and I also missed the
title. Can you let the list know how to get the book? Someone said there
were advance copies available. I hope you will invite him to do another
keynote in 2011.
- David G
Wish I had $10 for everyone that has asked about this book. Things I Wish
I¹d Known Before We Got Married is scheduled to be released Sept 10th. I
know nothing about advance copies. I¹m sure he has yet another best seller
with this one. As so many of you said, his honesty was amazing. - diane
LET¹S NOT GIVE UP ON THE IDEA OF MARRIAGE ED
July 5, 2010
This week, the nation's largest "marriage movement" conference gets under
way in Orlando, Fla. As always, marriage education will be a hot topic at
the "Smart Marriages, Happy Families" conference.
But a cloud has been forming on the horizon for the marriage-ed movement.
A massive federal study of eight programs aimed at improving relationships
among low-income unmarried couples offers bleak new findings. Only one of
the Building Strong Families (BSF) programs had a positive outcome; the
others had no impact or made things worse for the participants.
Two California psychologists now suggest that marriage interventions like
these are the wrong way to go.
The BSF programs targeted low-income couples (virtually all with newborns)
and asked them to attend months of meetings, Benjamin Karney and Thomas
Bradbury, psychology professors at the University of California at Los
Angeles, wrote in a recent essay.
"Asking couples who are already spread thin to take on new tasks, even to
improve their relationships and parenting, may be unreasonable," they
Moreover, it's even questionable that the "basic idea" of
relationship-skills training will help these couples improve their intimate
relationships, they said.
"Emerging evidence suggests that the quality of couples' intimate
relationships is powerfully constrained by the environments in which couples
live," the professors wrote. Thus, it might be better to devote
multimillion-dollar resources toward "improving living conditions in
I am sure Mr. Karney and Mr. Bradvury speak for many observers. Marriage
education in low-income communities is not popular.
But in my 30-odd years of reporting, I have written about dozens of
anti-poverty programs. They covered virtually all conceivable problems
housing, food, education, jobs, health, crime, drugs, sanitation,
playgrounds, graffiti, even dog waste. And despite them all, poverty grinds
Hence, my abiding interest in relationship skills and marriage education for
individuals and couples. This was and is a truly unexplored anti-poverty
The recently released BSF study, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research,
has indeed been a crushing blow for marriage education, but there was a very
bright spot in it: The Oklahoma City BSF did exceptionally well on several
The Oklahoma BSF was unique in several ways, Mary Myrick, founder of Public
Strategies Inc., which ran the program, told me.
It was the only site to use the Becoming Parents curriculum, based on the
highly respected Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP).
The couples were asked to attend longer but fewer sessions, and 45
percent came to most of the sessions.
Becoming Parents was also presented as fun and easy, as well as educational;
it offered many incentives (gifts) for couples; and it held its meetings in
pleasant settings, with comfortable chairs for the pregnant women. It was
like going to the house of someone "who really cares about you,² said Ms.
In addition, the Oklahoma program included a few married couples, and it may
have been that the "peer modeling" of those married couples helped the
unmarried ones succeed too, she said.
And succeed they did: Fifteen months after attending the program, compared
with similar couples in a control group, the Oklahoma BSF couples were more
likely to still be together; more likely to be happy, supportive and
affectionate; more likely to be faithful; and more likely to use
"constructive conflict behaviors."
BSF fathers were also more likely to live with their families and provide
"substantial" financial support than men not participating in the program.
I maintain that offering disadvantaged people high-quality training in
interpersonal skills, such as marriage education, is a missing piece in the
poverty puzzle. I hope it is not abandoned in its infancy.
Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein at washingtontimes.com.
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