Learn more about Relationship Education
The formal organization of relationship education was begun in the mid-1990s by a diverse number of professionals concerned that the results of social science intervention resulted in no appreciable reduction in the elevated rate of divorce and "fatherless" births. The motivation for relationship education was found in the school drop-out rate, the prison population, drug addiction numbers, unemployment statistics, and other negative social factors. In all categories mentioned, obvious statistical over-representation of adults whose childhood did not involve both of their parents was present.
Initial planning involved the participation of clergy from various faith traditions, clinical pschologists, psychiatrists, social workers, marriage and family counselors, university department heads in the fields of social science, attorneys and lay persons. The narrow and single goal was to seek the broadest possible dispersal of research which could improve interpersonal relationship functioning, especially with married and pre-marital couples.
The relationship education movement came together under that name of "The Coalition for Marriage, Family, and Couples Education." Their first national conference was held in 1997, near their office in Washington, D.C. Their organization is widely known as the smart marriages movement, as their internet site, which is wholly assigned to disseminate information useful to promoting healthy marriages and families, is smartmarriages  Annual conferences now include as many as 2,500 persons from all fifty states and all English language primary countries. Participants universally find that the instruction of relationship skills will not only reduce the divorce rate but will provide for other social benefits, as well. The plans and methods to teach relationship skills are varied and are often modified specifically to various individual and cultural milieu. The majority of clinical practitioners who participate in the Coalition find within it a positive means to directly and quickly effect positive change for individuals and couples in circumstances where the DSM-IV may not be an appropriate tool.
Early contributors who remain active in the Coalition are Howard Markman and Scott Stanley of the University of Denver, Bill Doherty from the University of Minnesota, and John Gottman from the University of Washington.