A Review of Marital Intimacy-Enhancing Interventions among Married Individuals

  •  Maryam Kardan-Souraki    
  •  Zeinab Hamzehgardeshi    
  •  Ismail Asadpour    
  •  Reza Mohammadpour    
  •  Soghra Khani    


BACKGROUND: Lack of intimacy is currently the main concern rather than main concern of the experts in psychology and counseling. It is considered as one of the most important causes for divorce and as such to improve marital intimacy a great number of interventions have been proposed in the literature. Intimacy training and counseling make the couples take effective and successful steps to increase marital intimacy. No study has reviewed the interventions promoting marital intimacy after marriage. Thus, this review study aimed to classify the articles investigating the impact of interventional programs on marital intimacy after marriage.

SEARCH METHODS: In April 2015, we performed a general search in Google Scholar search engines, and then we did an advanced search the databases of Science Direct, ProQuest, SID, Magiran, Irandoc, Pubmed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and Psych info; Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL). Also, lists of the references of the relevant articles were reviewed for additional citations. Using Medical Subject Headings (MESH) keywords: Intervention (Clinical Trials, Non-Randomized Controlled Trials, Randomized Controlled Trials, Education), intimacy, marital (Marriage) and selected related articles to the study objective were from 1995 to April 2015. Clinical trials that evaluated one or more behavioral interventions to improve marital intimacy were reviewed in the study.

MAIN RESULTS: 39 trials met the inclusion criteria. Eleven interventions had follow-up, and 28 interventions lacked follow-up. The quality evidence for 22 interventions was low, for 15 interventions moderate, and for one intervention was considered high. Findings from studies were categorized in 11 categories as the intimacy promoting interventions in dimensions of emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, temporal, communicational, social and recreational, aesthetic, spiritual, intellectual intimacy, and total intimacy.

AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS: Improving and promoting communication, problem solving, self-disclosure and empathic response skills and sexual education and counseling in the form of cognitive-behavioral techniques and based on religious and cultural context of each society, an effective step can be taken to enhance marital intimacy and strengthen family bonds and stability. Health care providers should consider which interventions are appropriate to the couple characteristics and their relationships.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.