REFOCUSING FROM CHILD TO MARITAL PROBLEMS USING THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT GAME

Claire Rabin, Elaine A. Blechman*, Dalia Kahn, Cynthia A. Carel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Couples experiencing marital distress often request treatment for child behavior problems. These families have been found to respond poorly to behavioral parent‐training programs and to reject offers of marital therapy. The Marriage Contract Game (MCG) structures and teaches problem‐solving and communication skills; the game can be used to improve the skills of distressed couples and to refocus their attention away from their children and toward their own marriages. A multiple‐baseline design was applied to four distressed couples who requested treatment for a target child. Results showed that game play improved couple's problem‐solving and positive feeling statements in home discussions of problems, parents' ratings of target children's problems, and, in three cases, couples' perceptions of the difficulty of resolving their problems. Therapists untrained in behavioral methods were able to use the game with success and comfort. While four sessions of the MCG were not sufficient treatment for this population, intervention improved couples' skills and shifted their focus away from child problems and toward their own.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-85
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Marital and Family Therapy
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1985

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