Being in a bad relationship can cause distress to individuals (including thoughts of suicide), poorer perceived health and problems with one's work and social life. Marital dysfunction also takes a toll on children leading to bad behaviour, depression and anxiety, poor academic achievement and health problems. Approximately a fifth of marriages are distressed at any one time and 40% of marriages end in divorce so the cumulative toll of marital dysfunction is enormous. However, most distressed couples do not seek marital therapy. Only 37% of divorcing couples report seeking any type of counselling or therapy and only 19% of currently-married couples have. People that seek marital therapy tend to be upper-middle-class, White and college-educated. A study of 213 couples over the first five years of their marriage by U.S. researchers found that 36% of couples sought some form of outside help during this period. Individual and relationship difficulties led to an increased use of relationship books and marital therapy in the following year. Attending a marriage retreat or workshop was more closely linked to being religious.
Doss, Brian D. ... [et al] - Marital therapy, retreats, and books: the who, what, when and why of relationship help-seeking Journal of Marital and Family Therapy January 2009, 35(1), 18-29