FAIRBORN, Ohio — Researchers at Wright State University in southwestern Ohio have received nearly $900,000 to observe about 250 U.S. Air Force couples who have been in a committed relationship for at least six months.

University psychology researchers are trying to determine the effectiveness of intervening in marriages early on in order to preserve more of them, The Dayton Daily News reported.

Jeffrey Cigrang, associate professor of psychology at the university, said military couples face long periods of separation and highly stressful situations, which can distract active duty soldiers.

"They present with, 'My partner is seeing someone else. My partner is expressing some doubts about whether our relationship will continue. I'm here in Iraq. My world is coming apart, but I'm here for another six months and I can't do anything about it,' " Cigrang said.

Military marriages divorce slightly less often than civilian marriages and both groups are unlikely to utilize marriage counseling.

"Most couples wait a very long time, if ever, to seek out marriage counseling. Things got to be in pretty bad shape for any couple to even think about (counseling)," Cigrang said.

The researchers plan to have the couples meet with a behavioral health provider three times for 30 minutes. The sessions are supposed to evaluate their concerns history, and strengths. The couple would then receive feedback.

Cigrang said he wants the check-up to become a yearly routine for both civilians and military couples.

"This marriage checkup is intended to be the equivalent to an annual dental checkup or an annual physical. It would be preventative medicine for relationships," he said.

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