relationship education, relationship distress, couple relationship


Couple relationship education (RE) usually is conceived of as relationship enhancement for currently satisfied couples, with a goal of helping couples sustain satisfaction. However, RE also might be useful as a brief, accessible intervention for couples with low satisfaction. Two studies were conducted that tested whether couples with low relationship satisfaction show meaningful gains after RE. Study 1 was a three-condition randomized controlled trial in which 182 couples were randomly assigned to RELATE with Couple CARE (RCC), a flexible delivery education program for couples, or one of two control conditions. Couples with initially low satisfaction receiving RCC showed a moderate increase in relationship satisfaction (d = 0.50) relative to the control. In contrast, couples initially high in satisfaction showed little change and there was no difference between RCC and the control conditions. Study 2 was an uncontrolled trial of the Couple Coping Enhancement Training (CCET) administered to 119 couples. Couples receiving CCET that had initially low satisfaction showed a moderate increase in satisfaction (g = .44), whereas initially highly satisfied couples showed no change. Brief relationship education can assist somewhat distressed couples to enhance satisfaction, and has potential as a cost-effective way of enhancing the reach of couple interventions.

Original Publication Citation

Halford, W. K., Pepping, C. A., Hilpert, P., Bodenmann, G., Wilson, K. L., Busby, D. M., Larson, J., & Holman, T. (2015). Immediate Effect of Couple Relationship Education on Low Satisfaction Couples: A Randomized Clinical Trial Plus an Uncontrolled Trial Replication. Behavior Therapy, 46, 409-421.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


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Behavior Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor