Professor Kim Halford - UQ Researchers
Record - This article introduces the special section on international perspectives on couple relationship education. We first describe the theory and. This article examines couple relationship education (CRE), which aims to . Marriage at the Crossroads: Law, Policy, and the Brave New World of . with education: social policy and public health perspectives', Journal of. prediction of couple and family adjustment, couple relationship education, couple therapy, coping with major life changes (e.g. parenthood, major illness, work.
Healthy Marriage or Strange Bedfellows? Can marriage education mitigate the risks associated with premarital cohabitation? How dedication moderates the way constraints feel Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Marital relationship associations with spillover for deployed army soldiers Military Psychology. Exploring the role of ethnic identity in family functioning among low-income parents Journal of Community Psychology.
Meaningfulness of service and marital satisfaction in Army couples.Interracial Couples - Love & Relationship
Perceived criticism and marital adjustment predict depressive symptoms in a community sample. Partners' attributions for service members' symptoms of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder.
International perspectives on couple relationship education.
Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications for Improving Relationship Education. Relationship quality, commitment, and stability in long-distance relationships. A randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of premarital intervention: Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology: Predictors of extradyadic sexual involvement in unmarried opposite-sex relationships.
Journal of Sex Research. Journal of Family Issues. The impact of the transition to cohabitation on relationship functioning: Examining changes in relationship adjustment and life satisfaction in marriage. Understanding what works and why in relationship education. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. The effects of marriage education for army couples with a history of infidelity.
Marriage Education in the Army: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial. The Revised Commitment Inventory: Psychometrics and Use with Unmarried Couples. Distress in spouses of service members with symptoms of combat-related PTSD: On the home front: Breaking up is hard to do: The role of leaders' working alliance in premarital education. Viewing sexually-explicit materials alone or together: Physical aggression in unmarried relationships: Should I stay or should I go?
Predicting dating relationship stability from four aspects of commitment. The Timing of Cohabitation and Engagement: Impact on First and Second Marriages. Decreasing Divorce in Army Couples: The premarital communication roots of marital distress and divorce: Working with Cohabitation in Relationship Education and Therapy.
Couples' Reasons for Cohabitation: Differential use of premarital education in first and second marriages. The effect of the transition to parenthood on relationship quality: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The pre-engagement cohabitation effect: Marital therapy, retreats, and books: Effects of parental divorce on marital commitment and confidence. Strengthening couples' relationships with education: Premarital precursors of marital infidelity.
Women's weekly relationship functioning and depressive symptoms Personal Relationships. Depressive symptoms in early marriage: Mechanisms of change in a cognitive behavioral couples prevention program: If i help my partner, will it hurt me? Perceptions of sacrifice in romantic relationships Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Pre-engagement cohabitation and gender asymmetry in marital commitment. Sacrifice as a predictor of marital outcomes.
Premarital education, marital quality, and marital stability: Inertia and the premarital cohabitation effect Family Relations.
Distinctive and directions Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy. Dissemination and evaluation of marriage education in the Army. International perspectives on couple relationship education. The therapist added this had to be something he meant and was sincere about. On the couples next visit the therapist asked if he had managed to say something nice to his wife, he grunted back that it had not made any difference.
When asked what he had said, his wife replied that he had told her that he thought she was an excellent cook! Fortunately in retrospect, having an understanding of AS, allowed both his wife and therapist to see the funny side of the situation. This situation was solved by working together to provide him with a fool proof checklist on things he could say that would make her feel good.
He of course decided on the aspects of his wife that he found desirable and he was given help on how he might express them in a romantic way. Romance is often the very thing that can be lacking from the sexual side of the relationship and this can, in time, have a detrimental effect upon the quality, or willingness of either partner to participate in making love. Often it is not realised by the AS partner that sexual acts may need to be precipitated by emotional closeness and that a lack of this can result in their partner's reluctance to make love.
Consequently, love making becomes non-existent. In my Asperger Couples workbook Aston, I discuss using a 'wooing list'. This can be a fool proof list that can be used by the AS partner as a guide to help them to know what to say and do.
International perspectives on couple relationship education.
The list is something that is put together by the couple and will offer the AS partner the security of knowing they're unlikely to get it wrong. I am sometimes presented with couples where there is no sexual activity at all and it is often the male client with AS who has withdrawn totally from the physical side of the relationship. In some circumstances, the AS partner may have misunderstood the intentions of their partner leading them to feel like they have failed them sexually.
For example, taking a suggestion to try a new sexual position as personal criticism of their current technique. It is possible to avoid this sensitive reaction in therapy if the messages are delivered by the therapist rather than the non-AS partner, as this will allow the information to be received on a far less personal basis.
Making love can be very important for some of the male clients with AS, as they feel it is the one way they can truly express their love and affection for their partner. Making love is more about doing than talking and they will go to great lengths to get it right.
For some they will read up on techniques and strategies to please their partner, leading to a point where one partner may say that it was the best sex they have ever experienced. This is great at the time and the couple may find themselves in sexual bliss.
However, the non-AS partner may find from this point onwards that the love making process does not change and the same pattern is repeated over and over again, until eventually non-AS partners will say they would like to try something different. In response to this they may find themselves being accused of being critical and their initial honesty questioned. A strategy I have found to overcome this and refresh the lovemaking between a couple, is an exercise where each will say exactly what they want their partner to do during love making.
This would involve the couple finding a safe and undisturbed place to make love.
Starting fully clothed, each would take turns to say what they would like from the other. Some of the requests made often come as quite a surprise to the other partner. For example, one person always assumed that their partner with AS liked to be touched on the breasts and it came as quite a surprise when the partner with AS did not make this request, which leads us to another very important area that a sex therapist needs to be aware of, when working with a couple in which one or both partners are affected by AS.
Sensory sensitivity was first highlighted by Hans Asperger in Asperger,and is being increasingly recognised as an area that can be very problematic for an AS individual. Sensory sensitivity can cause an over- or under-reaction to stimuli affecting any of the five senses, which include hearing, touch, taste, smell and sight.
The senses play a key role in the sexual act and are likely to be heightened during this time. The senses play a key role in arousal and orgasm, stimulating a partner by caressing and tactile expression, forms the basis of sensate focus in sex therapy. This is often a strategy employed by a therapist to allow the couple to get to know each other's bodies as well as their own, while taking the focus away from penetration.
Touch or a specific type of touch, such as soft tickling, can feel very unpleasant or indeed painful for someone with AS.
This can affect any area of their body.
For some it may be the arms, for others it could be the breasts, clitoris or penis. Some clients I have worked with find it very hard to tell their partner how being touched by them makes them feel and as a result will find ways to avoid being touched. This can cause misunderstandings as the non- AS partner will feel rejected or rebuffed, when their partner backs off from them or is reluctant to take their clothes off.
Sensory sensitivity, in this way, seems to affect more of the women I see than the men and it is often areas such as the nipples or clitoris that are most affected. They are often aware that these are the areas that their partner likes to touch and have been made to feel frigid or inadequate by their lack of arousal or refusal to be touched in these areas.
Howard J. Markman - Publications
One client with AS had been told in love making that she was a freak and was then accused of not being a 'real woman' because she had moved her partners hand away from her breasts.
Such insensitive and cruel remarks can be very damaging and can leave someone with AS feeling inadequate and low in confidence. When I saw this client with her present partner, the sexual side of the relationship had become non-existent as she had felt unable to tell her partner how painful it felt to have her nipples touched during lovemaking. She was afraid that her partner would react or judge her as had been her previous experience.
For the partner to understand that this was due to AS and not because she did not desire or want to be with the partner, completely changed the relationship. Both were able to move forward and have a satisfactory sexual relationship that worked for both of them. As well as being oversensitive, there can also be an under-sensitivity and this can cause difficulty in orgasm for both men and women with AS.
For some men this can be the penis and it may be that he finds penetration not tight or firm enough for him to reach an orgasm and his preference will become masturbation, which will allow him to add as much pressure as required. One strategy I found helpful in males with AS and under-sensitivity of the penis, who have a female partner, is if the female partner places her hand or hands outside the entrance to her vagina. This is best achieved in the missionary position. The partner can clasp his penis by forming a circle with her fingers during penetration to give him the extra pressure he needs.
Supporting couples for which sensory sensitivity is an issue, can be quite a challenge for the sex therapist but certainly not one, if the couple are willing to try, that cannot be worked through and overcome.
Other areas that the AS partner can react strongly is with taste and smell, two senses that are linked. I have found that women with AS in particular are often over sensitive in this area. This sensitivity can present itself in different forms, it might be an absolute repulsion to the taste of bodily fluids and this can include saliva. This type of repulsion can result in the refusal to participate in kissing and once again result in the non-AS partner feeling very rejected.
It may be the smell of the other person's body, that results from lovemaking, that the AS partner finds unpleasant and only by exploring openly and safely will the reasons be discovered. These reactions will be difficult to change; they are very real for the person with AS, as it may feel abusive for them, to be coerced into having to experience the taste or smell of something that is repulsive to them.
This need for their partner's cleanliness before intimate contact can become an obsession in the partner with AS. One lady explained how she was questioned when she went to bed by her AS partner as to whether she had showered and cleaned her teeth. After they had made love she was requested to immediately get out of bed and wash.
The whole love making experience became totally clinical and when her partner with AS came to bed wearing latex gloves to keep their hands clean she finally drew the line and insisted they sought psychosexual therapy together.
Marriage and Relationship Education
She did not know at the time her partner had AS and they were fortunate enough to see a therapist that recognised the causes and recommended they look up Asperger syndrome to see if they recognised the effects of it. They did and have since sought an assessment for AS and are now working on their relationship.
For many couples finding out about Asperger syndrome can be the difference between staying together and separating. I receive more and more reports from couples who have been fortunate enough to have chosen a therapist who had an awareness and understanding of AS and was able to signpost the couple in the right direction.
If a therapist suspects their client was depressed or affected by dyslexia they would hopefully signpost their client in the right direction, there is no reason why Asperger syndrome should be seen as any different. As therapists, we are there to benefit our clients and offer them the best possible chance they can have to make improvements to their relationships.