Refresh, Repair, Renew Your Relationship - Illinois Farm Bureau Partners Refresh, Repair, Renew Your Relationship - Illinois Farm Bureau Partners

Refresh, Repair, Renew Your Relationship

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Photo credit: University of Illinois Extension

Bugged by your spouse’s messy habits? Irritated by your partner’s penchant for passion toward anything but you? University of Illinois Extension just might have the right program to deal with the mundane or more serious matters that can throw a relationship off track or a couple’s desire to make a good one even greater.

Allen Barton, Ph.D., helps lead the Illinois Strong Couples project. “It’s important to note this program has been scientifically shown to improve relationships in multiple studies,” Barton says. “The developers of this program have been conducting research and developing programming in this area for decades and arguably are the gold standard for relationship education.” Photo credit: University of Illinois Extension

“Anybody that’s in a relationship knows, when things aren’t going well, they’re not going well in a lot of other areas,” says Allen Barton, Ph.D., University of Illinois assistant professor and Extension educator who helps lead the program. “If you’re married or in a close relationship, it touches so many other areas of your life.”

The Illinois Strong Couples project, launched in 2020, consists of three simple components:

  • Six internet-based modules that couples can watch at home
  • Five brief video conference calls with a program coach
  • Three brief surveys to examine the effect of the program on couples

“What better time to just jump in and start taking those steps to invest in your own relationship,” says Karla Belzer, Extension family life educator, who serves a three-county area in northwest Illinois and as an Illinois Strong Couples coach. “I had one couple say when I asked them, ‘Why did you enroll?’ and the female partner said, ‘Because I want to make it last with him.’”

Program leaders note it’s not couples’ therapy but a free relationship education program focused on challenging and changing individuals’ recognitions and behaviors related to aspects of their relationships.

“Sometimes people just need a little extra support to get back on track,” says Tessa Hobbs-Curley, Extension family life educator who serves a four-county area in western Illinois and as an Illinois Strong Couples coach. “Life happens and we can get into some poor habits. They want to have that healthy relationship and they want to be back communicating effectively and happily.”

To hear more about the program, what leaders and coaches have found thus far, and how you and your partner can participate, listen to This episode of the Partners podcast.

Photo credit: University of Illinois Extension

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