Exploring Relationships and Marriage with Fragile Families
Joe Jones, Julia Hayman Hamilton MSW, MPH, Andrew Lyke, Terri Lyke
Two Day Institute

This institute is for anyone looking for a unique opportunity to support and
enhance healthy relationships and marriage with low-income, urban couples --
a segment of the population that is often looked over.  This institute will prepare
you to facilitate a curriculum that connects African tradition with today’s
hip-hip culture to promote healthy relationships within fragile families. It will
teach you how to engage couples that have had a child out-of-wedlock in a
meaningful exploration of their relationship and the benefits of marriage.
The Exploring Relationships and Marriage with Fragile Families – A Program for Couples
was designed to help romantically-involved parents gain the knowledge and skills that can
strengthen their relationships and provide a practical way for them to explore a healthy marriage. 
The eight-session curriculum brings together basic concepts from marriage education with
a frank and open exploration of issues and challenges present in the relationships of many
among low-income parents.  The curriculum is designed for small groups: ideally 6 – 10 couples (12 – 20 people). 
The program, best taught by male and female co-facilitators, also encourages the use of
mentor couples to assist the facilitators and to serve as role models for the participants.  

Overview of the Eight-Sessions of the Curriculum:
Session 1 – Advanced Relationships Today – introduces couples to the program and
begins the process of advancing men and women into the more mature stages of creating stable families.
Session 2:  Healthy Relationships – introduces the set of qualities, values and skills
couples need to know in order to do the work of maintaining a healthy and committed relationship.
Session 3:  Mind on Marriage Mountain – introduces the practical realties of marriage
and helps individuals start the process of understanding their unique perspectives and differences
regarding key relationship and marriage issues.
Session 4:  Conflict Control Room – builds skills couples will need in order to avoid the
relationship disasters created when conflict gets out of control.
Session 5:  Weather Storm Safe-Station – introduces skills needed to handle the big
issues and manage the significant conflicts that are bound to arise in any committed relationship.
Session 6:  Sweet Truth Talk Shop – offers opportunity for couples to practice communicating
in ways that allow both partners to feel respected and heard.
Session 7:  Real Thing Spa – provides basic concepts, skills and tips for keeping the love
alive as the relationship progresses.
Session 8:  Rings, Wings and Reasons to Wait Center - provides individual couples the
opportunity to reflect on their current level of commitment and their outlook for the future.

In this two-day training, Joe Jones and Julia Hayman Hamilton, the authors of the curriculum,
with Andrew and Terri Lyke, a co-facilitator couple, will provide participants with background
information on fragile families, hip-hop culture and its influence on the target population, and
the curriculum content but most importantly with the opportunity to develop the skills necessary
to implement the curriculum in their organization or community.  Participants will observe trained
facilitators implementing the curriculum modules while they role play couples in the group.  Participants
will have an opportunity to practice facilitating the workshop themselves with feedback and support
from the presenters.  Andrew and Terri Lyke, who are pioneers in the marriage and family ministry
field will share their experiences implementing the curriculum in Chicago, Illinois and will share their
strategies for recruiting and retaining couples.  Joe Jones, a national expert in the fatherhood field, will
lead a discussion on engaging low-income fathers/men in the healthy relationship and marriage work.

Upon completion of this institute, participants will be qualified to facilitate the Exploring Relationships
and Marriage with Fragile Families – Program for Couples.  The curriculum contains two additional
components, A Program for Mothers and A Program for Fathers, which will not be covered in this institute.

Participants will receive a copy of the Exploring Relationship and Marriage with Fragile Families
Training Manual, the Exploring Relationships and Marriage with Fragile Families Program for
Couples – Facilitator Guide plus articles and support material related to the target population, hip-hop culture
and African-American marriage.

Thank you for bringing this program to this location.  You’ve given  me hope in our relationship.
It’s the first step on the road to success.
It is the first time I’ve smiled with him in a long time.
This is showing positiveness in African-American relationships.
The group gets better every week.
I want to get married!
I love your chemistry and openness.  Great modeling
When it’s over, I will be sad.
I have a better understanding of what it takes to have a good relationship and marriage.
You’ve given us the tools to make our relationship better.
Seeing you two work together during the workshop gives me hope.
We love teaching this curriculum! It is flexible and culturally relevant. What we
learned in this program has also improved our work in general. It's the
best work we've done in our 25 years as marriage educators.

For additional information:
Joe Jones
Kristin: kjacobsen@cfwd.org

For REGISTRATION and Information contact Smart Marriages.

Group Pushes Healthy Marriages
By Cheryl Wetzstein
February 17, 2006

BALTIMORE -- A welfare-to-work program yesterday announced plans to teach 16
community groups how to provide marriage and relationship skills to
low-income couples.

"We want to change the way people in the African-American community think
about marriage," said Joseph T. Jones, president of the Center for Fathers,
Families and Workforce Development (CFWD), which won $1 million in grants to
lead the training.

Traditionally, welfare and social services focused on the needs of mothers
and children and offered little or no help for fathers, Mr. Jones said.

"Now, we have social welfare programs that are working with moms and dads as
a couple," he said, adding that research shows that children benefit when
parents have good relationships.

The initiative uses funds from the Department of Health and Human Services'
Administration for Children and Families, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and
Maryland agencies for community service and child support.

The CFWD's five-month training session will use a new curriculum designed
for low-income black neighborhoods.

The "Exploring Healthy Relationships and Marriage with Fragile Families"
curriculum, developed by Mr. Jones and others, uses African proverbs and
upbeat elements of the hip-hop culture to teach marriage skills. Men and
women, for instance, will be taught how to avoid "bad mouthin' " (putdowns)
and "usual suspectin' " (distrust) in their relationships.

After training, the 16 groups will be encouraged to apply for "healthy
relationships" funding from the CFWD or the federal government's new
$150-million-a-year marriage and responsible-fatherhood grant programs.

The CFWD also is involved in the federal government's Building Strong
Families (BSF) study. In seven cities, including Baltimore, study workers
are recruiting hundreds of young couples who are expecting a baby or have a
new baby.

Randomly selected couples will undergo the "Loving Couples, Loving Children"
marriage-skills training course developed by Seattle marriage specialist
Julie Gottman.

The BSF study will show how marriage-skills courses affect young parents'
relationships, said Cassandra Codes-Johnson, director of the Baltimore BSF

At the press conference yesterday, Duane and Laneisha Drafts, who are newly
married and expecting a baby this year, said the BSF classes have improved
their relationship.

In the past, when they got into an argument, "I just shut down," said Mr.
Drafts, 19. Now, he said, they've both learned how to take a break, calm
down and talk again with patience and respect.

The course also has opened their eyes to the ups and downs of parenting,
said Mrs. Drafts, 18. "Without the training, I would be very stressed by
now," she said.

Back to Institutes Page.

Conference Details Page to download a complete conference brochure, hotel information, etc

Smart Marriages Home Page