We all accept that it’s a good idea to have preventive care like an annual physical or a dental exam. But what about a yearly checkup for your marriage? An American study is tracking 217 couples to see if there’s any merit to this idea.
Psychologists say in most marriages, one or both partners resist the idea of counseling. Some can’t afford it, or find it inconvenient. And many view therapy as a last resort — something only desperate couples need. Only 19 percent of currently married couples have taken part in marriage counseling; a recent study of divorcing couples found that nearly two-thirds never sought counseling before deciding to end the relationship.
Of course marriage counseling doesn’t always work, perhaps because it is so often delayed past the point of no return.
The theory behind the marriage checkup is that by working with couples before they are unhappy, the checkup identifies potentially corrosive behaviors and helps couples make small changes in communication style before their problems spiral out of control.
Researchers are still tallying the data, but preliminary findings show that couples who take part in the program have improved their marriages.