Mindfulness-Based Relationship Education For Couples Expecting Their First Child—Part 1: A Randomized Mixed-Methods Program Evaluation


  • This project was funded in part by a Graduate Student Research Grant from the Department of Human Development at Virginia Tech and the 2011 Family Process Institute Dissertation Grant.
  • Portions of this research were presented at the 2012 International Symposia for Contemplative Studies and the 2013 International Family Therapy Association World Congress.
  • This article was part of the dissertation research by the first author. We wish to thank additional committee members Drs. Cynthia Smith, Jyoti Savla, and Isabel Bradburn for their contributions. We also acknowledge the research assistants who were instrumental in the completions of this project: Emily Brown, Cassie Jackson, and Ashleigh Kinch.


This article is Part 1 of a two-part series, in which we report on our evaluation of a mindfulness-based relationship enhancement program for couples who are expecting their first child. In this mixed-methods randomized clinical trial, we assigned 33 couples to the 4-week Mindful Transition to Parenthood Program treatment group (= 16 couples) or to a waitlist control condition (= 17 couples). Men in the treatment group significantly improved in relationship satisfaction, mindfulness, and negative affect; women had no significant treatment effects. Small to large effect sizes were present for treatment group men and women in multiple areas. Mixed-methods analyses demonstrated that this intervention may be especially helpful for men because of differences in social support needs, effects of program enrollment, and relational processes in the prenatal period.

Video Abstract