To investigate the long-term effects of a child's chronic illness or severe physical or intellectual disability on parents and their marital relationship, the parents of 89 children, aged 14-17, years were interviewed. The parents returned a questionnaire and a social worker interviewed them. One-fifth of the respondents had experienced the child's disability as contributing positively to the marital relationship, 25% reported impairment in some areas of the marital relationship, while only 7% felt that they had drawn apart from each other. A higher level of occupational education, insecurity at onset, heavy daily demands for care of the child, unequal distribution of tasks between the spouses and a lack of time for leisure activities were found to be risk factors for impaired marital satisfaction. Adequate information, a realistic notion of the illness or disability and practical advice for everyday life seemed to be the protective factors for the marital relationship.