Time to check in for a marriage tune-up?

BURBANK, Calif. A wedding ring is a symbol of love and an everlasting union. The experts are saying that with half of all marriages ending in divorce, an annual checkup can go a long way.

Everything from our smiles to our bodies, even our cars, gets yearly checkups to stay in tip-top shape. But with 50 percent of all marriages ending in divorce, how about a yearly tune-up for your marriage?

Southern California couple Karen and Cesar Villalpondo have been married for 15 years and they agree that yearly counseling is prevention that can make a marriage last.

"Their marital health doesn't catch their attention until it starts to hurt and often times if you wait until your marriage starts to hurt, you've waited too long," said psychologist Dr. James Cordova.

A two-year study by the National Institutes of Health is following dozens of couples. Half are given a marriage checkup -- therapy once a year -- the other half receive no therapy at all.

"People that have been through the marriage checkup are improving in all kinds of ways in comparison to couples that haven't. They feel more intimate in their relationship -- they feel more accepting of each other, more able to accept each other's warts and all," said Dr. Cordova.

David and Kim Bayer who are part of the study say they're happy but therapy taught them to improve on their biggest problem: communication.

"For me, it was probably learning how to speak more clearly to him so he could understand where I was coming from," said study participant Kim Bayer.

The study suggests that if more couples had an annual marriage checkup it might lower the divorce rate and lengthen the honeymoon phase.

The good doctor says that an estimated 12 million married couples are experiencing some type of distress. He hopes they find out exactly what's working for them and then to build on it.

- Get more L.A. breaking news, weather, traffic and sports
- Have a news tip? Send your tips, video, or pictures

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.