Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 251–261 | Cite as

Strengthening Connections in Interracial Marriages Through Pre-Marital Inventories: A Critical Literature Review

  • Monica K. B. G. Wong
Original Paper


The importance of preparing for marriage is apparent when one considers the consequences of marital distress and the high rate of divorce. Pre-marital inventories help couples’ prepare for marriage by identifying their personal risks and resilience profiles as well as other factors that may influence their marriage. Research demonstrates the benefits of pre-marital inventories; however, there is little research on their effectiveness for interracial couples. In this review challenges facing interracial couples are identified, the benefits of using eco-systems theory in the creation of pre-marital inventories are discussed, and suggestions on how pre-marital inventories can become more applicable to interracial couples are offered.


Interracial couples Pre-marital inventories Pre-marital education Eco-systems theory 



I would like to acknowledge Dr. Christine Walsh for her thorough feedback and guidance on the manuscript. I would also like to acknowledge and thank my husband, Felix, whose support helped make this article possible.


  1. Abela, A., Frosh, S., & Dowling, E. (2005). Uncovering beliefs embedded in the culture and its implications for practice: The case of Maltese married couples. Journal of Family Therapy, 27(1), 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Administration for Children and Families. (2008). The healthy marriage initiative. Retrieved October 20, 2008, from
  3. Asai, S. G., & Olson, D. H. (2004). Culturally sensitive adaptation of PREPARE with Japanese premarital couples. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 30(4), 411–426.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnacle, R. E. S., & Abbott, D. A. (2009). The development and evaluation of a Gottman-based premarital education program: A pilot study. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 8(1), 64–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bhugra, D., & De Silva, P. (2000). Couple therapy across cultures. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 15(2), 183–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Biever, J. L., Bobele, M., & North, M. W. (1998). Therapy with intercultural couples: A post-modern approach. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 11(2), 181–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Busby, D. M., Gardner, B. C., & Taniguchi, N. (2005). The family of origin parachute model: Landing safely in adult romantic relationships. Family Relations, 54(2), 254–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chung, H., & Gale, J. (2009). Family functioning and self-differentiation: A cross- cultural examination. Contemporary Family Therapy Journal, 31(1), 19–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Costigan, C., & Su, T. F. (2008). Cultural predictors of the parenting cognitions of immigrant Chinese mothers and fathers in Canada. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32(5), 432–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duncan, S. F., Holman, T. B., & Yang, C. (2007). Factors associated with involvement in marriage preparation programs. Family Relations, 56(3), 270–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fiese, B. H., & Tomcho, T. J. (2001). Finding meaning in religious practices: The relation between religious holiday rituals and marital satisfaction. Journal of Family Psychology, 15(4), 597–609.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Finchman, F. D. (2003). Marital conflict: Correlates, structure, and context. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(1), 23–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fowers, B. J., Montel, K. H., & Olson, D. H. (1996). Predicting marital success for premarital couple types based on PREPARE. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 22(1), 103–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gallagher, M. (2004). Can government strengthen marriage? Evidence from the social sciences. Retrieved October 10, 2008, from Can%20 Government%20 Strengthen%20 Marriage.pdf.
  15. Greenstein, D., Carlson, J., & Howell, C. W. (1993). Counseling with interfaith couples. Individual Psychology, 49(3/4), 428–437.Google Scholar
  16. Grimes, M. E., & McElwain, A. D. (2008). Marriage and family therapy with low-income clients: Professional, ethical, and clinical issues. Contemporary Family Therapy, 30(4), 220–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Halford, W. K., & Simons, M. (2005). Couple relationship education in Australia. Family Process, 44(2), 147–159.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haque, A., & Davenport, B. (2009). The assessment of marital adjustment with Muslim populations: A reliability study of the Locke-Wallace marital adjustment test. Contemporary Family Therapy Journal, 31(2), 160–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hewitt, B. (2008). Marriage breakdown in Australia: Social correlates, gender and initiator status. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved October 12, 2008 from
  20. Holman, T. B., Larson, J. H., & Harmer, S. I. (1994). The development and predictive validity of a new premarital assessment instrument: The preparation for marriage questionnaire. Family Relations, 43(1), 46–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kareny, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (2005). Contextual influences on marriage. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(4), 171–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Larson, J. L., Holman, T. B., Klein, D. M., Busby, D. M., Stahmann, R. F., & Peterson, D. (1995). A review of comprehensive questionnaires used in premarital education and counseling. Family Relations, 44, 245–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Larson, J. H., Newell, K., Topham, G., & Nichols, S. (2002). A review of three comprehensive assessment questionnaires. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 28(2), 233–239.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Larson, J. H., Vatter, R. S., Galbraith, R. C., Holman, T. B., & Stahmann, R. F. (2007). The relationship evaluation (RELATE) with therapist-assisted interpretation: Short-term effects on premarital relationships. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33(3), 364–374.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Leslie, L. A., & Letiecq, B. L. (2004). Marital quality of African American and white partners in interracial couples. Personal Relationships, 11(4), 559–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lundbald, A., & Hansson, K. (2005). Outcomes in couple therapy: Reduced psychiatric symptoms and improved sense of coherence. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 59(5), 374–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Markman, H. J., Renick, M., Floyd, F. J., Stanley, S. M., & Clements, M. (1993). Preventing marital distress through communication and conflict management training: A four and five year follow-up. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 1–8.Google Scholar
  28. Olson, D. H. (2000). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. St. Albert: Life Innovations Inc.Google Scholar
  29. Ooms, T., & Wilson, P. (2004). The challenges of offering relationship and marriage education to low-income populations. Family Relations, 53(5), 440–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Parker, R. (1999). A framework for future research in premarriage education. Retrieved October 12, 2008, from
  31. Pihet, S., Bodenmann, G., Cina, A., Widmer, K., & Shantinath, S. (2007). Can prevention of marital distress improve well-being? A 1 year longitudinal study. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 14(2), 79–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Poulsen, S. S., & Thomas, V. (2007). Cultural issues in couple therapy. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 6(1/2), 141–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rothery, M. (2008). Critical ecological systems theory. In N. Coady & P. Lehmann (Eds.), Theoretical perspectives in direct social work practice: An eclectic generalist approach (2nd ed., pp. 89–118). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  34. Russell, M. N., & Lyster, R. F. (1992). Marriage preparation: Factors associated with consumer satisfaction. Family Relations, 41(4), 446–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shellenberger, S., Dent, M. M., Davis-Smith, M., Seale, J. P., Weintraut, R., & Wright, T. (2007). Cultural genogram: A tool for teaching and practice. Families. Systems & Health: The Journal of Collaborative Family Healthcare, 25(4), 367–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Silliman, B. (2003). Building healthy marriages through early and extended outreach with youth. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 31(3), 270–282.Google Scholar
  37. Silliman, B., & Schumm, W. R. (1999). Improving practice in marriage preparation. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 25(1), 23–43.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Stahmann, R. F. (2000). Premarital counseling: A focus for family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 22(1), 104–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stanley, S. M. (2001). Making a case for premarital education. Family Relations, 50(3), 272–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stanley, S. M., Amato, P. R., Johnson, C. A., & Markman, H. J. (2006). Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability: Findings from a large, random household survey. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(1), 117–126.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sullivan, K. T., Pasch, L. A., Cornelius, T., & Cirigliano, E. (2004). Predicting participation in premarital prevention programs: The health belief model and social norms. Family Process, 43(2), 175–193.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sussman, L. M., & Alexander, C. M. (1999). How religiosity and ethnicity affect marital satisfaction for Jewish-Christian couples. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 21(2), 73–185.Google Scholar
  43. Waldman, K., & Rubalcava, L. (2005). Psychotherapy with intercultural couples: A contemporary psychodynamic approach. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 59(3), 227–245.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Whelan, C. B. (2007). Close encounters of the engaged kind. Wall Street Journal Eastern Edition. Retrieved January 11, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database.Google Scholar
  45. Williams, M., Bradshaw, C., Fourneir, B., Tachble, A., Bray, R., & Hodson, F. (2005). The call centre: A child welfare liaison program with immigrant serving agencies. Child Welfare, 84(5), 725–746.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Wilson, S. M., Larson, J. H., McCulloch, B. J., & Stone, K. L. (1997). Dyadic adjustment: An ecosystems examination. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 25(4), 291–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Catholic Family ServiceCalgaryCanada

Personalised recommendations