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10th Annual Smart Marriages/Happy Families Conference
June 22-25, 2006 • Atlanta, Georgia

Contact: 202-966-5376

The annual Smart Marriages Conference is the "Who's Who" and the "What's What"
of the marriage-strengthening,
marriage education field featuring 200 of the nation's
top marriage experts. In
addition to the leading clinicians, researchers and program
developers like Howard Markman, Pat Love, Michele Weiner-Davis,
Scott Stanley,
David Olson, John Covey, Steven Stosny, Harville Hendrix, Sherod Miller, Barry McCarthy,
Emerson Eggrichs and Lori Gordon, the presenters also
include activists and policy makers
like Wade Horn, David Popenoe, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Diann Dawson, Mike McManus
and Bill Doherty.  More than 2,000 marriage educators and educators will attend. 

A New Optimistic View of Marriage
Until very recently, we've been so discouraged by decades of family breakdown that we
accepted our 50% divorce rate as inevitable. That's changing. It turns out couples have been operating
with good intentions but terrible information. We are entering a new era -  a Marriage "Renaissance" -
fueled by powerful new research and the realization that we can teach couples how to get smart about marriage -
how to make it work.

The Renaissance
We have new information about what distinguishes successful marriages from those that fail.
We can teach couples how to do more of what works and less of what doesn't.

We have new information about why marriage matters. No wonder we’ve divorced like lemmings!
For years we've all - experts included - hoped and taught that marriage made no difference,
that all family forms were equally beneficial for children. It turns out that children that live in intact
first marriages with their own two parents, are on average happier, healthier, wealthier and more successful
on all measures than those that don't. So are the adults -- both men and women.

We have new information about what to expect in marriage. Equipped with accurate maps of the terrain
 - the predictible peaks and valleys -  it's easier for couples to navigate.  It helps when our expectations match
our reality.

Marriage Education
The new information is packaged in a wide range of easy-to-teach courses with applications to a full range of
settings - in communities, congregations, schools, colleges, childbirth clinics, welfare, refugee, head start and
fatherhood programs, on military bases, in court houses, prisons - and with all classes and races. Marriage Education
works with couples at any stage from dating to cohabiting to empty-nesters and from ga-ga newlyweds to deeply troubled
couples on the brink of divorce.  It's a grass roots, community-based, public-health-education approach to marriage
that is sweeping the country.  It's the model that undergirds the administration's Healthy Marriage Initiative. But it will
continue at the community level no matter what the government does or doesn't do. People are sick of family breakdown
and aren't going to take it anymore.

To add to the optimism:
- Research shows that trained lay leaders can teach the skills as well as, or better than, counselors or therapists.
- Leader training takes only 2 - 3 days.
- The great variety of programs and providers means there's something for everyone.
- The classroom format and the ease of training and implementation means the courses are extremely cost-effective
and can be made widely accessible in diverse communities across the country.

Some highlights:

"What's Math Got to Do With It?" -- John Gottman (as featured in the
bestseller, "Blink") presents the latest from his Love Lab. And, what could
be more romantic than understanding what makes love tick and HOW to keep it
all 'adding up'?  - Keynote, Fri, June 24

"Just around the bend, about to hit us in the face." -- Terry Hargrave
outlines the #1 challenge facing marriages in the coming decade. Don't say
we didn't warn you.  - Keynote, Thurs, June 23, 6:30pm

"If -- IF -- we can make it work, it's very GOOD for us." -- 5 years later,
Linda Waite presents updates on the "Case for Marriage" evidence including
her latest data on surprising, long-term, slow-burn effects of divorce on chronic
illness -- health effects that don't show up till years later.  And, she'll present
 new data on the importance of the QUALITY of marriage -- of first marriages
(of course), but, especially, of remarriages.  And, she'll explain new findings
on the effects on health/mental health/quality of marriage that are correlated
with "who lives in the house WITH the married couple".  This last will provide
a perfect segue to Terry Hargrave's keynote on "THE CHALLENGE OF THE
DECADE".  All of which will also prime you for the sessions that will follow
that focus on creating collaborations between physical health care providers
and marriage educators.  - Keynote, Thurs, June 23, 6:30pm

"$1.5 Billion of marriage-strengthening money. How can we help the feds get
the biggest bang for the new marriage bucks?" We'll explore the programs
likely to have the greatest reach. In Prisons -- "Doing Time" by Howard
Markman. On Campus -- "The Next Marrying Generation" by Linda Malone-Colon.
In Welfare Programs -- "Love, Poverty and Marriage" by Scott Stanley, Kathy
Edin, George Young, and Marline Pearson.  In Congregations -- "Let's Talk
About Weddings" by Bill Doherty.  Strengthening Marriage in the Workplace
and in Health Care -- by Jana Staton and Tim Gardner.  With so many focused
on this challenge there will be a long list of solutions.

We'll also explore the latest wisdom and research on the heart-and-soul
issues like Commitment, Money, Monogamy, New Babies, Laughter and Play --
even, Diet.

John Gray will present the Mars/Venus Makeover that tweaks our brains to
better 'synch-up'. - Keynote, Sun, June 25

Pat Love offers strategies for making Monogamy -- Hot!- and the power of
Passion as divorce prevention.  - Keynote, Sat, June 25.

Frank Pittman offers provocative notions to outflank the #1 conflict issue
in "Love and Money" in a Sat keynote followed with a 90-minute workshop on
"Affairproofing Marriage" and sex, he goes where angels fear to

Scott Stanley will decode the mystery about why men "do" Commitment so
differently than women.  This could also be described as a guide for single
women: "Gaining Power through Finally Understanding Men and Commitment."  He
also applies this knowledge in a two-day intensive for Low Income
Individuals -- teaches single mothers on welfare how to create solid,
stable, safe relationships (or end them) with the men in their lives.

We'll explore programs designed to get men involved including
"Secrets of Happily Married Men", "Power Love", Mars/Venus: Get
Your Mojo Working",
"Divorce Busting"...and targeted, highly-rated
program for reaching men: "The #1 Key to Incredible Sex" that talks
turkey about masturbation and porn, internet sex and affairs, and gets the
highest approval ratings from males.

We'll look at programs for stepfamilies, singles, African Americans,
soldiers, Latinos, substance abusers, "Lazy Husbands", domestic violence,
alternative couples, in-laws, mixed matches, mentors, internet sex, the
unforgiven, children of divorce, humility, legislators, money 'habitudes',
empty nesters and marriage at the movies.....

Marriage Rally, Next Steps - The challenge is how to best get this vital information to the people.
We'll explore marriage and family strengthening initiatives from the courthouse to the
state house, across denominations, ideologies and party lines, on military bases, in high schools, prisons,
childbirth and community centers.  And, we'll  create action plans for the next stage.

Smart Steps for Stepfamilies - The failure rate for remarriage is even higher than for first marriages, and worse, yet,
if there are stepchildren.  You don't improve your marital happiness by changing partners.  Instead, you need to change
how you understand and "do"  marriage.  And, you need special knowledge and a special set of skills to make a stepfamily - the most
difficult kind of marriage - work.

LoveU2  - For too long we've emphasized plumbing and horror stories about disease and
unwanted pregnancies.  It's time to talk about relationships and joy - give kids a North Star and get them focused on their goals.
Dozens of programs focused on teaching marriage skills to kids in high school and college.

The Black Marriage Curriculum - How African Americans can take back their
marriages and give their children true equality - secure marriage and families to relax into.

Rekindling Desire, Marital Sex As It Ought To Be - As we all know, sex is only 5% of
a relationship - when it's working, but takes on huge dimensions - when it's not.  How
to help couples get their mojo working.

Ready or Not? - We'll stand some of our most cherished principles on their heads -  like "know yourself
before you dare to try to fall in love" -  and strip them naked. The better to examine them, my dear.

Marriage and the Movies  -  One more time, with feeling and through the movies, we'll
explore marriage, expectations, gender roles and  their usefulness.

200 experts will cover the challenges: Money, Love, Public Policy, Infidelity, Stepfamilies, Children of Divorce,
Family Structure, Marriage Myths, Domestic Violence, Hot Monogamy, Strengthening
Black Marriages, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marriages, IMAGO, Gay/Lesbian and Alternative
Relationship Education, Premarital Inventories, Marriage Saver Congregations, Learning Sobriety
Together, Divorce Reform.

We'll have plenty of opportunities for training.  Attendees leave the conference certified to teach
dozens of different marriage and family strengthening courses.

And, there will be plenty of opportunities for the public to sample the programs.

• 2000+ people are expected to attend.  There are registrants from all 50 states and from more than a dozen countries.

• Sponsored by the Washington, DC-based Coalition for Marriage, Couples and Family Education (CMFCE). The conference
is co-hosted by 20 national and international organizations, foundations and university programs.

• CMFCE is a non-partisan, non-sectarian, independent organization focused on strengthening marriage
and reducing family breakdown. More information is available on the website,

• The conference features 150 different workshops and training sessions presented by more than 200
leading marriage and family experts.

• Speakers include John Gottman, author or Why Marriages Succeed or Fail,
John Gray, author of Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus,Pat Love author of Hot Monogamy,Steven Stosny
author of  Compassion Power, Howard Markman & Scott Stanley authors of 12 Hours to a Great Marriage,
Bill Doherty author of Take Back Your Marriage,and Michele Weiner-Davis, author of  Divorce  Remedy.

While the conference is primarily attended by mental health professionals, clergy, lay leaders, government employees
and policy makers, the entire conference, including the pre and post  conference training institutes, is open to the public.
The Seminars on Sunday, from 4-5pm are specifically designed with the public in mind - a chance to sample the
program in 90 min sessions for only $15 per person. There are also three FREE sessions for the public: two full-day
overviews of marriage education programs for schools and youth groups, Thursday, June 22 and Monday June 26,

Accredited journalists are admitted to all sessions.

Who should cover this conference?

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