Marital therapy, retreats, and books: the who, what, when, and why of relationship help-seeking

J Marital Fam Ther. 2009 Jan;35(1):18-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2008.00093.x.


When doubts creep in and marriages begin to falter, where do couples turn for assistance? In a longitudinal study of 213 couples over the first 5 years of marriage, results indicated relationship help-seeking was relatively common, with 36% of couples seeking some form of outside help during this period. Individual and relationship difficulties predicted increased use of relationship books and marital therapy in the following year; therefore, these behaviors appear to be important outlets for relationship assistance. In contrast, attending marriage retreats/workshops was related only to demographic variables. Results of the present study suggest that the most common types of relationship help-seeking by community couples are understudied and likely underutilized in the dissemination of empirically based marital interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marital Therapy / methods*
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouses / psychology*