Previous research on marital help-seeking has often focused on formal approaches such as marital therapy or relationship education and there is a greater need to understand married individual's informal help-seeking behaviors. This study explores both formal and informal help-seeking behavior using a national sample of 745 participants who have thought about divorce within the past 6-months. Findings indicate these participants more often engaged in informal help-seeking approaches to repair their marriage. Of those sampled, only 25% engaged in marital therapy together and only 9% engaged in a marriage strengthening class while over 30% read a relationship themed self-help book or visited a website as a form of repair-behavior. A series of logistic regressions indicate there are no statistically significant differences in help-seeking behavior by gender while those that were highly religious and had more serious thoughts of divorce were more likely to engage in all forms of help-seeking. A latent class analysis was conducted to determine if there are common patterns in help-seeking behavior. Results indicate there are 4 distinct types of help-seekers: Highly Engaged (5%), Private Information Gatherers (7%), Private Seekers (43%), and Minimally Engaged (45%). Follow up analyses indicate having higher levels of religiosity or having more serious thoughts of divorce were both associated with a greater likelihood of being in one of the three more engaged classes compared to the minimally engaged class. Results demonstrate the need to place more emphasis on informal help-seeking approaches, private repair-behaviors, and to consider common patterns in help-seeking behavior.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Marriage, Family, and Human Development



Date Submitted


Document Type





help-seeking, divorce ideation, latent class analysis