Premarital counseling and culture: A narrative inquiry of couples' insights

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Stutzman, Sonja
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Megan Murphy
Susan Maude
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Human Development and Family Studies

Premarital counseling programs have emerged as a way to lower the chances of divorce and also to increase couple satisfaction after marriage. Premarital programs provide couples with necessary skills to enhance communication, problem solving, and decrease conflict by addressing expectations within marriage. Although these programs have been shown to be helpful to couples, they often present a "one size fits all" approach to assisting couples. This is particularly true in relation to culture and premarital counseling programs. To date, there has been a lack of attention in the literature to cultural differences within premarital programs; therefore, this study aimed to explore couples' and therapists' perceptions of ways Latino/a culture can be addressed within premarital counseling.

In this study, six married couples in which at least one person considered himself/herself Latino/a and three therapists that had extensive experience working with the Latino/a population were interviewed. Through a narrative approach, couples' stories around Latino/a culture and Latino marriage were analyzed. Three major themes emerged, which were; unique aspects of Latino/a culture, Latino marriage, and premarital counseling with Latino couples. Subthemes for Latino/a culture included: dress, language, religion, tradition, and extended family. Subthemes for Latino marriage included: extended family, birth order, parenting skills, roles, communication, respect and trust, sex, and immigration. Subthemes for the premarital counseling with Latino couples included: delivery of religious influence, delivery, cost, and therapist training. The discussion addresses how themes and past literature related directly to the research questions of the current study and provides suggestions for therapists working with premarital Latino couples. Suggestions for future research include additional research with particular ethnic groups, particular immigration groups, intercultural couples, and the structure of premarital counseling.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2011