Marital Interventions: Participation, Helpfulness, and Change in a Nationally Representative Sample


couple education, marriage interventions, national study


Objective: To examine how often early‐married couples have participated in marital interventions and how helpful and change‐producing these interventions are perceived to be in a national probability sample.

Background: Past research provides an unclear view of frequency of participation in marital interventions yet suggests that participation is both helpful and change‐producing. However, these studies are limited by their demographics, regions, and samples. A nationally representative, population‐level study of newlywed couples would help overcome these limitations and provide generalizable answers to the field.

Method: A sample of 1,562 individuals who indicated participation in a marriage intervention either before or after marriage was drawn from a nationally representative sample known as the Couple Relationships and Transition Experiences (CREATE) survey. Multilevel models were used to address the research questions.

Results: Just under 2 in 5 (38.3%) early‐married individuals participated in an intervention designed to prepare for or strengthen their marriage. Counseling was perceived to be the most helpful and change‐producing intervention, with religiosity, education, and gender moderating this association.

Conclusion: This study provides a first‐of‐its‐kind national picture of participation rates and perceptions of the effectiveness of marriage interventions among early‐married couples.

Implications: Findings may help energize marketing and outreach efforts and may encourage varied strategies to increase participation rates.

Original Publication Citation

White, T.J.E., Duncan, S.F., Yorgason, J.B., James, S.L. and Holmes, E.K. (2020), Marital Interventions: Participation, Helpfulness, and Change in a Nationally Representative Sample. Fam Relat, 69: 125-137.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Family Relations




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor