Oklahoma Marriage Initiative: An Overview of the Longest-Running Statewide Marriage Initiative in the U.S.: Research Brief. Developing a Philosophy of Change


Once consensus was reached on the need for action, the OMI had to identify a mechanism for creating change. Around that time, other states were considering ways to strengthen marriage through legislative reforms, incentives for marriage in public policies, or appointed commissions to study the problem. Oklahoma considered two main approaches. First, it discussed using media campaigns to promote the value of marriage and educate the public on its benefits for society, adults, and children. Second, the OMI considered services that could be provided to couples and individuals to provide them with the information, knowledge, and skills needed to develop and maintain healthy relationships and marriage.

The OMI chose to put the highest priority on building capacity to deliver services aimed at improving relationship and marital quality before building demand, for two reasons. First, the OMI expected that focused services would be necessary in order to create not just attitude change, but behavior change. Second, OMI leaders were concerned that media campaigns stressing the importance of healthy marriage could stimulate demand for services that could not be met until capacity was developed. Over time, the OMI has begun to stimulate demand as well. For example, the OMI offers abbreviated versions of services to large numbers of individuals drawn to widely marketed public events, thus stimulating demand, and, at the same time, providing at least some services in response.

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