Relationship Education for Modern Orthodox Jewish Adolescents as a Factor of Marital Satisfaction: A Quantitative Study
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Research on the influence of relationship education on marital satisfaction over the last decade has demonstrated positive outcomes for both high school and premarital programs within the general American population. Yet few studies have examined relationship education as a factor of marital satisfaction specifically within the North American Modern Orthodox Jewish community. This study explored the extent to which premarital preparation in high school and in premarital classes correlates with and predicts marital satisfaction. The sample consisted of 580 married, divorced or widowed Orthodox Jewish recent high school graduates. The content of relationship education that was learned was measured using the Jewish Relationship Education Scale (JRES), developed originally for this study together with mental health professionals, rabbis and educators in the field. Marital satisfaction was measured using Spanier's Dyadic Adjustment Scale (1976). Results indicated that while no correlation exists between high school relationship education and marital satisfaction, a significant positive correlation exists between premarital classes and marital satisfaction (p<.01). The 15 relationship education areas identified within the JRES model were found to jointly predict marital satisfaction (p<.01), with education about the sexual relationship being the strongest individual predictor. Out of these 15 areas, participants identified five areas they perceived as most likely to influence marital satisfaction: (1) communicating expectations, (2) conflict resolution, (3) setting personal, couple and family goals, (4) emotional aspect of the sexual relationship, and (5) determining roles and responsibilities. The findings indicate that there is a gap between what is currently learned and what relationship education topics participants perceive would influence marital satisfaction. Future research is needed to develop research-based relationship education within the Orthodox Jewish community geared towards different developmental stages and to examine its impact on marital satisfaction.;Keywords: marital satisfaction, premarital education, marriage education, relationship education, adolescent relationship education.