An Australian study has found that couples who try to work out their relationship on their own are only half as likely to make improvements than those who enter therapy.
According to an extensive review of Australian and international relationship therapy research, couples that try to sort out their relationship problems with a therapist have a 65 per cent chance of achieving a mutually satisfactory improvement in their relationship.
"If they don't receive help their chance of a good outcome is only 35 per cent," Stuff.co.nz quoted Dr Matthew Bambling, a psychologist and relationship therapist at Queensland University of Technology, as saying.
According to the research, success rates weren't much better if only one person underwent therapy.
"It takes two to tango, so if only one person takes responsibility for the relationship and goes for counselling they might sort out some of their own problems but it won't necessarily sort out the relationship," Dr Bambling said.
"The solution to relationship problems nearly always requires both partners' committed work in therapy," he added.
The review has found that about half of Australians' first marriages fail, with half of these ending in the first seven years.
Dr Bambling said one of the major factors responsible for relationship stress was impracticable expectation and then disillusionment with what the marriage or relationship would bring.
"Some people expect their partner to make them blissfully happy all the time; others expect to be madly in love or have a high standard of living or great sex," he said.
Another major reason is lack of communication in the relationship, which according to the therapist works against developing emotional intimacy and creates resentment through misunderstandings.
"Then there are the usual suspects of disagreement over money, time and children. Sometimes it is just boredom and people are not clear how to keep the spark alive," Dr Bambling said
The review is published in the journal Couple Therapy in Australia.