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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology

Department of Psychology

Howard Markman

Areas of expertise/Research interests

  • couples and relationships
  • relationship education and couples therapy
  • effects of divorce, break-up and relationship distress
  • prevention science
  • program evaluation research
  • military psychology
  • dissemination of empirically-informed interventions for couples in the U.S. and internationally
  • aging couples
  • diverse couples (e.g., prison couples, foster parents, family transitions)
  • training couples therapists in PACT (The PREP Approach to Couples Therapy)
  • the effects of relationship discord and divorce on mental illness
  • the effects of love and a great relationship on mental health
  • Current research and projects

The Army Marital Project (AMP)

The AMP is a long-term study of the effectiveness of a version of PREP we developed for the ARMY (PREP for Strong Bonds). The study is a randomized clinical trial comparing PREP with a no-intervention control group.

We are collecting annual online follow-up data. The study is one of the largest of its kind with more than 600 couples participating. We plan to follow up with couples at least 10 years after the intervention.

The Family Stability Project (FSP)

The FSP is a long-term study of the effectiveness of a premarital version of PREP. It's delivered by clergy trained in PREP, compared to naturally occurring (NO) premarital counseling.

Religious organizations (RO's) were randomly assigned to three groups:

  1. RO PREP—clergy trained to deliver in PREP in their own RO
  2. NO PREP—clergy delivered whatever premarital intervention they typically offered in the church
  3. DU PREP—RO sent couples to the University to receive the PREP program.

The study started in 1996, and we enrolled 301 couples by 2001. We plan to follow up couples at least through their 15th year of marriage.

The Relationship Development Project (RDS)

The RDS is a long-term study of relationship development that started when participants were dating or otherwise early in their relationship. We have followed these couples through key relationship transitions, including living together, marriage, having children, breaking, divorce, forming new relationships, etc.

The study is a representative sample of the United States that started with more than 1,500 participants. A key focus of the study is to examine the role of commitment dynamics in relationship development in general, and in the short and long-term effects of cohabitation on subsequent relationship quality in particular.

We plan to follow participants for at least 6 years from the start of the study. We are seeking funds to continuing the RDS and meanwhile, students will have access to the data set.

The Fatherhood, Relationship and Marriage Education Project (FRAME)

This long-term study evaluates two programs: "Within Our Reach"—a new version of PREP for low-income couples—and Dr. Martha Wadsworth's programs for helping low income parents, improving parenting skills and skills for coping with stress.

The program teaches couples skills for creating and maintaining healthy relationships and for promoting investment in parenting. To be eligible for the study, couples had to meet economic hardship/income criteria, be in a committed relationship, live together, and together be raising at least one child younger than 18.

Couples were randomly assigned to one of four groups: a couples group; a fathers group; a mothers group; and a no-intervention control group.

We plan to follow up with families for at least 5 years after the intervention. See the FRAME website[VS24] for more details.

We also have a Spanish version of FRAME (called FUERTE) that we have successfully piloted and hope to evaluate once we secure funding. We're seeking funds to continuing FRAME. Meanwhile, students will have access to the data set.

In addition to these core projects and projects of my students and post-docs, I consult on a number of research grants and give talks on our research on national and international conferences.

I also offer workshops on the clinical implications of our research, and on our marriage education program to couples and professionals around the country, and in other countries (See loveyourrelationship.com[VS25]).

I've had the opportunity to talk about our work with media outlets such as Oprah, The Today Show, 20/20, CBS Morning News, NPR, CNN, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, Washington Post and USA Today.

Visit the pages of fellow faculty members Dr. Scott Stanley [VS26]and Dr. Galena Rhoades [VS27]to learn about the work they do with students in our lab.

Professional work synopsis

I am a professor of psychology and the co-director (along with Dr. Scott Stanley) of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver.

At DU, I teach undergraduate courses in marital and family interaction and therapy, and one of DU's core courses in the social sciences, on the psychology of love. At the graduate level I teach courses such as Couples Intervention, Advanced Issues in Marital Therapy, and Community Psychology.

I have been fortunate to be the adviser to many impressive graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Our research program on the prediction and prevention of relationship discord and divorce, and the effects of destructive conflict and relationship distress prevention on mental health, has been funded for the past 30 years from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institutes' of Child Health and Development, and the Administration of Children and Families.

I am proud to say that our research team has written more than 120 journal articles, books and papers based on our research. We have also been fortunate to have received funding from the National Science Foundation and the Hunt Foundation.

We have been developing and evaluating a research-based marriage education program PREP (Prevention and Relationship Education Program; see prepinc.com), and have been using and testing the program in a number of settings in the United States and in other countries.

For example we have been fortunate to have been able to work with colleagues in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, the state of Oklahoma, and Norway, Germany, Israel, Estonia, Sweden, Chile, Korea, South Africa, Denmark, and Australia.

Education

  • PhD, Indiana University, 1977
  • MA, Indiana University, clinical psychology, 1976
    Thesis: "A Description of Verbal and Non-verbal Communication in Distressed and Non-distressed Couples"
  • BA, Rutgers University, 1972

Selected Publications

General

Markman, H., Stanley, S., & Blumberg, S. (2001). Fighting for Your Marriage (Revised and updated edition). San Francisco, Jossey Bass, Inc.

Markman, H., Stanley, S., Blumberg, S., Jenkins, N. & Whaley, C. (2004). Twelve Hours to a Great Marriage. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.

Markman, H. J., Whitton, S. W., Kline, G. H., Thompson, H., St. Peters, M., Stanley, S. M., Leber, B. D., Olmos-Gallo, P. A., Prado, L. M., Williams, T., Gilbert, K., Tonelli, L., Bobulinski, M., & Cordova, A. (2004). "Use of an empirically-based marriage education program by religious organizations: Results of a dissemination trial." Family Relations. 53, 504-512.

Markman, H.J., & Halford, K. (2005). "International perspectives on couple relationship education." Family Process, 44, 139-146.

Markman, H. J. (2005). "The prevention of extramarital involvement: Steps toward 'affair proofing' marriage." Clinical Psychology, 12(2), 134-138.

Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., Markman, H. J., Saiz, C. C., Bloomstrom, G., Thomas, R., Schumm, W. R., & Baily, A. E. (2005). "Dissemination and evaluation of marriage education in the Army." Family Process, 44, 187-201.

Markman, H, Myrick, J. & Pregulman, M. (2006) "Marriage education in the workplace." Journal of Employee Assistance, 3rd Quarter, 12-15.

Stanley, S. M., Whitton, S. W., Low, S. M., Clements, M. L., & Markman, H. J. (2006). "Sacrifice as a predictor of marital outcomes." Family Process, 45, 289-303.

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, 117-126.

Whitton, S. W., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2007). "If I help my partner, will it hurt me? Perceptions of sacrifice in romantic relationships." Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26 (1), 64 - 92.

Einhorn, L., Williams, T., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., & Eason, J. (2008). "PREP Inside and Out: Marriage education for inmates." Family Process, 47, 341 - 356.

Halford, W.K., Markman, H.J., & Stanley, S.M. (2008). "Strengthening couple relationships with education: Social policy and public health perspectives." Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 497-505.

Whitton, S. W., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2008). "Effects of parental divorce on marital commitment and confidence." Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 789-793.

Markman, H, Rienks, S. & Stanley, S. M. (2009). "The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP)." In H. T. Reis & S. Sprecher (Eds.), Encyclopedia of human relationships. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Markman, H.J., Stanley, S.M., & Blumberg, S.L. (2010). Fighting for your marriage (3rd Edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

Army Study

Allen, E., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2010). "Hitting home: Relationships between recent deployment, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and marital functioning for Army couples." Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 280-288.

Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., Markman, H. J., Rhoades, G. K., & Prentice, D. (2010). Decreasing divorce in Army couples: Results from a randomized clinical trial of PREP for Strong Bonds. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 9, 149-160.

Allen, E.S., Rhoades, G, Stanley, S, & Markman, H. (2011). On the Home Front: Stress for Recently Deployed Army Couples. Family Process, 50, 235-247.

Allen, E., Stanley, S., Markman, H., & Rhoades, G. (in press). "The stress of deployment for Army husbands and their wives." Family Process.

Carter, S., Loew, B., Allen, E., Stanley, S., Rhoades, G., Markman, H. (in press).  "Relationships between Soldiers' PTSD Symptoms and Spousal Communication during Deployment." Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Family Stability Project
Stanley , S. M., Rhoades, G. K., Olmos-Gallo, P. A., & Markman, H. J. (2007). "Mechanisms of change in a cognitive behavioral couples prevention program: Does being naughty or nice matter?" Prevention Science, 8, 227-239.

Baucom, B., Eldridge, K., Jones, J., Sevier, M., Clements, M., Markman, H., Stanley, S., Sayers, S., Sher, T., & Christensen, A. (2007). "Relative contributions of relationship distress and depression to communication patterns in couples." Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26, 689 – 707.

Allen, E. S., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., Williams, T., Melton, J., & Clements, M. L. (2008). "Premarital precursors of marital infidelity." Family Process, 47, 243-259.

Doss, B. D., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2008). "Marital therapy, retreats, and books: The who, what, when and why of relationship help-seeking behaviors." Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 34, 527-538.

Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2009). "The pre-engagement cohabitation effect: A replication and extension of previous findings." Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 107-111.

Doss, B. D., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2009). "The effect of the transition to parenthood on relationship quality: An 8-year prospective study." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 601-619.

Markman, H. J., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Ragan, E., & Whitton, S. (2010). "The premarital communication roots of marital distress: The first five years of marriage." Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 289-298.

Owen, J. J., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2011). "The role of leaders' working alliance in premarital education." Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 49-57.
Markman, H. & Rhoades, G. (in press). Relationship Education Research: Current status and future directions. Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy.

Relationship Development Study
Stanley, S. M., Rhoades, G. K., Amato, P. R., Markman, H. J., & Johnson, C. A. (2010). "The timing of cohabitation and engagement: Impact on first and second marriages." Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 906-918.

Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Kelmer, G., & Markman, H. J. (2010). "Physical aggression in unmarried relationships: The roles of commitment and constraints." Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 678-687.

Rhoades, G. K., Kamp Dush, C. M., Atkins, D. C., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (in press). "Breaking up is hard to do: The impact of unmarried relationship dissolution on mental health and life satisfaction." Journal of Family Psychology.

Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (in press). "A longitudinal investigation of commitment dynamics in cohabiting relationships." Journal of Family Issues.

Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Kelmer, G., & Markman, H. J. (in press). "Physical aggression in unmarried relationships: The roles of commitment and constraints." Journal of Family Psychology.

Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (in press). "Should I stay or should I go? Predicting dating relationship stability from four aspects of commitment." Journal of Family Psychology.

FRAME

Markman, H., Rienks, S., Wadsworth, M., Markman, M., Einhorn, L., Moran, E., Mead Glojek, N., Pregulman, M., & Gentry, L. (2009). "Adaptation: Fatherhood, Individual, and Islamic Versions of PREP." In H. Benson and S. Callan (Eds.), What works in relationship education: Lessons from academics and service deliverers in the United States and Europe. (pp. 67 - 74). Doha, Qatar: Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development.

Pregulman, M., Rienks, S., Markman, H. J., Wadsworth, M., Einhorn, L., & Moran, E. (2011). "Lessons learned from recruiting diverse couples for clinical research on relationship education." In D. K. Carson & M. Casado-Kehoe (Eds.) Case Studies in Couple Therapy: Theory-Based Approaches. New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis.

Rienks, S., Wadsworth, M., Markman, H., Einhorn, L., & Etter, E. M. (2011). "Father involvement in urban low-income fathers: Baseline associations and changes resulting from preventive intervention." Family Relations, 60, 191-204.

Wadsworth, M. E. & Markman, H. J. (2011). "Where's the action? Understanding what works and why in relationship education." Behavior Therapy. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2011.01.006.

Wadsworth, M. E., Santiago, C. D., Einhorn, L., Moran, E. G., Rienks, S., & Markman, H. J. (2011). "Preliminary efficacy of an intervention to reduce psychosocial stress and improve coping in low-income families." American Journal of Community Psychology. doi:10.1007/s10464-101-9384-z.