Clark U. Prof.'s 'Marriage Checkup' helps couples improve intimacy, marital satisfaction

February 10, 2015
Psychology Professor James Córdova Psychology Professor James Córdova

Clark University Professor of Psychology James V. Córdova and the researchers at Clark University's Center for Couples and Family Research, have determined that the Marriage Checkup, an innovative, two-session relationship health checkup designed by Professor Córdova, and described in a book by the same name, is effective at helping couples increase relationship health and happiness.

Specifically, the Marriage Checkup was found to significantly improve crucial aspects of relationship health including intimacy, acceptance, and marital satisfaction. Increased emotional intimacy and acceptance between partners persisted for over two years after couples received a Marriage Checkup. Couples who received an additional Checkup one year after participating in their initial Marriage Checkup continued to report increased marital satisfaction through the two-year follow-up period.

"These results are promising and, if implemented broadly, the Marriage Checkup has significant potential to make a meaningful public health impact on marital relationship health," said Professor Córdova.

Building on these findings, researchers at Clark have already developed partnerships to make the Marriage Checkup more accessible to others.

In 2013, Cordova received funding from the Department of Defense's Defense Health Program to disseminate the marriage checkup in Air Force primary care settings. He recently introduced the Marriage Checkup to a community based integrative health-care facility in Tennessee, primarily targeting underserved couples. Researchers are also working to incorporate the Marriage Checkup into obstetric settings and adapting it for expectant couples as a means to reduce the risk of postpartum depression. A version of the Marriage Checkup addressing the unique needs of same-sex couples is also under development.

Professor Córdova is working on web-based program that will provide community clinicians the materials to offer Marriage Checkups (his recently published "The Marriage Checkup Practitioner's Guide: Promoting Lifelong Relationship Health" (APA Press 2013) presently serves as a resource for clinicians). A public website is also being developed to make the Marriage Checkup more readily available for individuals, couples, and therapists. Professor Córdova predicts the public website will be live by August 2015.

"The Marriage Checkup Practitioner's Guide" (2013) "The Marriage Checkup Practitioner's Guide" (2013)


The longitudinal results of Professor Córdova's study are published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

The Marriage Checkup is designed to keep intimate relationships healthy and happy by enhancing intimacy and acceptance between partners while also providing specific solutions to relationship concerns. Funded by the National Institute for Child and Human Development (NICHD), the method capitalizes on couples' strengths and decrease relationship distress. It can be useful to all couples, from very healthy couples who want to maintain and maximize their relationship health, to couples who might already be struggling with significant problems in their marriage. To learn more about the Marriage Checkup, or to see how you can participate, visit

The Center for Couples and Family Research is a team-based clinical research effort consisting of faculty, doctoral and undergraduate students. The Center's goal is to produce cutting-edge research on intimate relationships and on the development of focused interventions to promote relationship and marital health.

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark's pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark's faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to complex challenges in the natural sciences, psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University's motto: Challenge convention.

Related links:"Why Couples Fight About Money," US News, June 17, 2014

CNN interviews Prof. Cordova about Marriage Checkup book, July 12, 2010

Angela Bazydlo - Marketing and Communications - Clark University