A Course on Romantic Relationships – for College Credit?

Monday, Mar. 1st 2010 6:19 PM

According to University of North Texas professor Jennifer Acker
marriage is very easy to get into. In fact in her home state one only needs a driver’s license to apply for a marriage license (could someone connect those dots for us?).

But, Professor Acker notes, marriage is not so easy to escape.

“Divorce ranks number two on the list of most stressful life events (with number one being the death of a spouse),” she explains. “Rarely do people walk away from divorce completely unscathed.”

Believing that if couples were better prepared for marriage fewer would seek divorce, Acker teaches one of the more unique courses to be offered on a college campus: Romantic Relationships: Theories, Research and Application. In simplest terms, it is a class that is designed to teach young people about love and romance.

iStock_000003849681XSmallAnd while the traditionalists may be cringing at the fact that students may actually earn three credits towards their college diploma discussing such a topic, we do understand that today’s fast paced and stressful life is much easier to handle if one is able to share their life as part of a successful relationship.

Legitimate Academic Study?

The description from the course catalog:

4343. Romantic Relationships: Theories, Research and Application. 3 hours. An in-depth, comprehensive exploration of the theories, research and applications thought to promote relationship success in a wide variety of romantic relationships, including dating and marital relationships.

Professor Acker offers her Romantic Relationships senior level course to a growing number of students each year. About half of the 60 students enrolled this year are taking the class as part of the Development and Family Studies program in the College of Education.

But the other half apparently spans a wide variety of majors, with each student offering a variety of personal reasons for taking a course that seeks to help students understand what constitutes a healthy romantic relationship.

Professor Acker, a self-proclaimed Star Wars fan, told the Dallas Morning News that her course at the college in Denton focuses on educating students in areas such as dating, attraction and friendship. Even more importantly, she insists it does so outside of those traditional keg parties or casual hook-ups.

As one might expect, recent news reports did little to enhance the course as legitimate academic inquiry. Instead, newspaper accounts highlighted the class as part of its Valentine’s Day reporting.

So the focus was on the real way to tell if he loves you (it’s not in his kiss – it’s in his eyes) and that the relevant info was being delivered by the students “Love Lecturer” who guided the students through the “twists and turns of Cupid’s arrow.”
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Pertinent Nonetheless

While so much of the reporting focus was on the famous men and women the students found attractive, from James Franco to Carrie Underwood, it was nice to hear some intelligent individuals focus in on the real substance of the course.

One such senior, Zuleyma Rogel, who just so happens to be pursuing a double major in social science and political science, told the Dallas News that “she has noticed a strong shift in marriage dynamics as more women have pursued careers outside the home.” The paper went on to note:

Rogel says that academics and a good career are important to her, but that she believes that true success in life will come from becoming a wife and a mother, so she wants to learn how to balance those two segments of life.


While many reveal that they are taking the class to fulfill requirements for their majors, another group believes that the course will help them in their future careers as counselors. Professor Acker also insisted that college was a particularly good time to learn about creating healthy partnerships.

And as for the demise of the American family, Acker believes a good portion comes from today’s hectic lifestyles.

“I think people become so engrossed in their busy lives and day to day activities that they forget to make time for one another, explains Acker. “They either rarely communicate or do so ineffectively and with an undertone of stress. This lack of communication just compounds any issues that may already be present.”

Of course, as we noted the class has its critics. There are those that insist the course is precisely what is wrong with higher education in America, that the class is neither “a legitimate academic pursuit nor a useful intellectual exercise.”

Those naysayers certainly have not gotten the attention of a student body that is lining up in droves to learn how to make a relationship work. And given the clear importance of two parent households for children, a course that seeks to help young people establish long lasting relationships just might be the most important one a student takes while in school.


Posted by Thomas | in News | 9 Comments »

9 Comments on “A Course on Romantic Relationships – for College Credit?”

  1. L.A. Hunter Says:

    Relationships are a major part of life and so is divorce. I think it’s a great idea to offer this course.

    If couples learn a little more about communication and how to take time for one another, it can really make the difference between a happy and fulfilling relationship and one that could end up in divorce or just existing together.

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  3. Rebecca Says:

    What could be more sensible than educating college age people about romantic relations. So many marriages end in divorce, we can’t just sit idly while this happens.

    Nobody will be naturally good at the communication relationships require. It’s a skill that has to be learned.

    We need to show people how to manage relationships. There are enough broken hearts out there, believe me!

  4. Gaye Says:

    I commend Professor Acker for this brilliant idea. With the divorce rate that is increasing every day, I believe universities should not only look into the academic side of the students but look into the emotional sides of the students. Not all of our students today have any clue on dating and relationships. It’s time we teach them and help save their future marriages to not fall into divorce.

  5. Joey Says:

    I do believe that divorce is one of the worst that could ever happen to a marriage and it is indeed very stressful. What I went through with my divorce was something that I would rather forget, but it’s not that easy. If only there were advices about how to have healthy relationships like what Prof. Acker did, maybe my marriage wouldn’t end in divorce.

  6. Mary Says:

    I saw this video on the internet. It was a reality tv show which features people who are being cheated by their partner. One episode went too far that the wife ended up killing his husband, while they were taping the episode.

    Maybe if those partners had a course on how to handle relationships, the husband wouldn’t end up cheating on his wife. And maybe, he wouldn’t be dead.

  7. Mick Says:

    I agree with most of the comments above…divorce is worst when kids are involved, so an education on relationships may be a good idea to give young people a foothold when it comes to making relationships strong and work! I’d love to see the divorce rate decline dramatically!

  8. Yvette Paige Says:

    Offering three credits for discussing divorce is a brilliant ploy to get this painful subject out into the open discussion forum.

    In making the students actually think about what relationships mean and what can cause them to breakdown will surely lead to a more level headed approach to marriage by all involved.

    Well done Prof Acker.

  9. Luriana Edwards Says:

    My friends parents got divorced and I saw what it did to her. It was a very upsetting time and anything that could be do for these situations would be a great help to everyone, especially children as they grow up. Thanks, Luriana x

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