Who's dragging their feet? Husbands and wives seeking marital therapy

Brian D. Doss, David C. Atkins, Andrew Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Despite its demonstrated efficacy, marital therapy's impact has been limited by couples' general reluctance to seek help until their problems become severe. To understand this delay, 147 married couples (294 individuals) in the process of seeking marital therapy were surveyed. Using multilevel confirmatory factor analysis, three relatively independent steps (problem recognition, treatment consideration, and treatment seeking) were identified. On average, wives were rated as completing all three steps before their husbands. Gender-role orientation, demographics, relationship satisfaction, and specific relationship problems (especially husbands' dissatisfaction with sex) were also predictive of the steps toward therapy. Implications for marital therapy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-177
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Marital and Family Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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