Utah Marriage Commission Celebrates Silver Anniversary

By Julene Reese | October 26, 2023


utah marriage commission

The Utah Marriage Commission, formed in 1998 by former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, celebrated 25 years of helping Utahns sustain healthy relationships and stronger marriages. A celebration event held this week at the Utah State Capitol highlighted successes and plans for the future.

As part of its mission, the Utah Marriage Commission provides free, accessible, educational resources including podcasts, webinars, blogs, videos, online programs, and downloadable guidebooks to help strengthen marriages. Resources can be can be found at StrongerMarriage.org.

Alan Hawkins, manager for the commission, estimates its resources have been used by hundreds of thousands of Utahns over the past 25 years. 

“We anticipate the next five years will be our best, with many valuable new educational resources being developed to serve Utah couples and families in many different circumstances,” he said.

The Utah State Legislature moved oversight and hosting of the commission to Utah State University in 2021, where it is administered through USU Extension. General functions of the commission include: providing and promoting coalitions, programs, and collaborative efforts to strengthen the culture of healthy, lasting marriages and stable families; providing support for the relationships between spouses and parents and children; increasing awareness of the importance of marriage to help reduce divorce and unwed parenthood; and advocating for public policies, resources, and educational programs that support strong, lasting marriages.

At the commission celebration, former First Lady Jackie Leavitt, who was instrumental in forming the commission, and Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson welcomed state leaders, past and present commission members, key state policy makers, researchers, and practitioners.

Leavitt, honorary chair of the commission, said, “Mike and I began the Utah Marriage Commission as we became aware of the many statistics that demonstrated that strengthening marriages helped make stronger families and stronger communities. Over the past few months, the news has reported that Utah has the highest percentage in the nation for positive health factors for children. That fact was correlated with Utah’s highest percentage of children living with two biological parents.”

Other speakers at the event highlighted the importance of stable, healthy marriages as a crucial element of strong communities and societies and the value of educational resources to help couples form and sustain strong marriages.

Rep. Melissa Ballard (R-North Salt Lake) spoke of her gratitude to USU for its dedicated support of the commission’s work.

“We are reaching many more people now with high-quality, research-based resources to strengthen marriages and families,” she said. “I’m grateful to the Utah legislature for its ongoing support of the Utah Marriage Commission’s work.”

Ballard highlighted future plans of the commission, including a virtual statewide marriage celebration held during National Marriage Week Feb. 7 to 14.

David Schramm, USU faculty liaison with the commission and co-host of the Stronger Marriage Connection podcast, explained the need for couples to invest regularly in their relationship.

“Relationships, just like all physical systems, naturally fall apart over time unless we put smart energy into them on a regular basis,” he said. “We need a learning and growth mindset for vital marriages; passive coasting just doesn’t cut it these days. Resources available through the Utah Marriage Commission are designed to support these personal efforts to keep marriages strong.” 

Details about upcoming events and further information about the commission can be found at StrongerMarriage.org.