Have you ever wondered what typed of relationship/marriage therapy is the best? Have you ever wanted to seek relationship help but don’t think you need intense relationship intervention? The Marriage Check-Up (MC) might be the perfect fit for you! In this article I’ll outline research on the MC and explain six important pieces of information that couples contemplating engaging in MC should know.

  1. The MC is helpful for couples not seeking intensive marital intervention:

Brief contact with a mental health professional, mimicking annual physical and dental checkups, makes the MC more accessible to couples and lowers barriers for couples seeking professional help (Trillingsgaard et al, 2016). Additionally, this intervention is not advertised as a therapy but, couples who need more intensive interventions will be referred to potential effective interventions by a professional.

  1. The MC assesses a relationship and provides input on how to work on relationship concerns:

The Marriage Check-Up is a form of behavioral couple therapy that typically lasts two years, with initial assessment and feedback sessions and booster visits. During the assessment session, a therapist collects information about why a couple sought an MC, a history of their relationship, partner’s strengths and areas of concerns and the couple’s support and problem-solving skills. In the feedback session two weeks later, a therapist gives an overview of the what the assessment session determined about a couple’s relationship and provides options for how a couple might effectively address areas of concern. (Cordova et al., 2014)

  1. The type of interviewing used in the MC is motivational interviewing:

According to Gee et al. (2002), this form of interviewing motivates couples towards positive change by providing them with information about how their current behavior will affect future health.

  1. Individuals attitude going into the MC predicts future marriage satisfaction:

It’s also been shown that the way that partners react to the Marriage Check-Up predicts long-term marital satisfaction. Gee et al. (2002) found that the more pessimistic husbands responded to a MC, the less satisfied they were in their marriage 2 years later and the more positively wives responded to MC, the more satisfied they were in their marriages 2 years later.

  1. Research on MC has shown many different positive benefits for couples:

Studies have found that couples who engage in The Marriage Check-Up benefit positively in a number of ways. Cordova et al. (2014) found that the MC significantly improves intimacy, acceptance and satisfaction. Gee et al. (2002) found that the therapy recommendation aspect of the MC has the potential to get couples at risk for relationship deterioration into treatment sooner than they normally would.

  1. Researchers are starting to move the MC from a lab setting to a real-world therapeutic setting:

The work of Trillingsgaard et al. (2016) investigates the effectiveness of moving the MC in the direction of use in Private Practice. They found that when the MC was adapted for Private Practice, small to medium intervention effects were found. These results show that the MC will be most likely to be used more frequently in therapeutic practice.


Cordova, J. V. et al. (2014). The Marriage Checkup: A randomized Controlled Trial of Annual Relationship Health Checkups. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 82(4). 592-604.

Gee, C. B., Scott, R. L., Castellani, A. M., Cordova, J. V. (2002). Predicting 2-Year Marital Satisfaction From Partners’ Discussion Of Their Marriage Checkup. Journal of Martial and Family Therapy. 28(4). 399-407.

Trillingsgaard, T., Fentz, H. N., Hawrilenko, M., & Cordova, J. V. (2016). A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Marriage Checkup Adapted for Private Practice. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(12), 1145-1152.

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