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Maintaining the Relationship: Relational Schemas and Women’s Intent to Seek Couple Therapy

Women face more negative health outcomes than men due to relationship distress, but little is understood about why heterosexual women do or do not seek couple therapy. The present study addressed this gap by using the theory of planned behavior within an alternative structural equation modeling framework to examine the links between relational schemas and intention to seek couple therapy in a sample of heterosexual women ( N = 302) who were unhappy in their romantic relationships. Women who suppressed their own needs (i.e., self-silence), defined themselves in the context of important relationships (i.e., relational-interdependent self-construal), valued not asking for help (i.e., self-reliance), and preferred not to disclose their feelings (i.e., emotional control) were both less and more likely to intend to seek couple therapy. Results illustrate how relational schemas create conflicting messages for women about seeking couple therapy.

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