087: Marriage and Relationship Check-ups 

Podcast Guest: James Cordova

086: Marriage and Relationship Check-ups

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In this Episode

In today’s episode of Stronger Marriage Connection, hosts Dr. Dave Schramm and Dr. Liz Hale welcome Dr. James Cordova to discuss the concept of relationship checkups. Just like regular doctor or dental checkups, Dr. Cordova advocates for regular relationship checkups to prevent relationship deterioration and enhance mental and physical health. They explore the importance of proactive relationship health care and the development of Arammu, The Relationship Checkup Inc., aimed at improving relationship health in both military and civilian populations.

Time Markers

00:00 - Introduction of Dr. James Cordova and the concept of relationship checkups. 
02:01 - The current state of relationship health care and its importance. 
02:04 - Discussion on why proactive health care is behind other fields of health care and how it impacts mental and physical health. 
04:43 - The vision for the future of relationship health care and its integration into the healthcare system. 
06:36 - The Harvard study on relationships and the impact of relationship quality on longevity and well-being. 
07:44 - Introduction to Arammu and its mission to provide regular relationship health checkups. 
09:23 - Challenges couples face in maintaining regular relationship health and overcoming the stigma. 
11:26 - The porcupine's dilemma metaphor and its relation to intimacy in relationships. 
15:35 - The importance of vulnerability in intimate relationships and maintaining a balance. 
21:02 - Strategies for relationship educators and professionals to address the relationship health care crisis. 
25:00 - Tips on how to stay within a "quills distance" in relationships and manage conflicts effectively. 
27:55 - Viewing intimate relationships as a spiritual practice and the importance of selflessness. 
29:03 - Resources available at Arammu.com and their work with military families. 
30:39 – Dr. Cordova’s key to a stronger marriage connection. 
31:35 – Dr. Cordova’s takeaway of the day. 
32:17- Liz's takeaway of the day. 
33:09- Dave's takeaway of the day.  


Dr. Cordova’s 

We need to shift our perspective on relationships to view them as a form of health care that requires regular checkups. Just like physical health, regular preventative relationship checkups are crucial for maintaining long-term relationship health. 


Investing in relationships through regular checkups is one of the most important investments one can make. It’s comparable to maintaining physical health through good nutrition, exercise, and regular doctor visits. Without intentional and planned efforts, relationships can naturally drift apart, so there is a necessity of consistent investment in maintaining strong relationships. 


Love the porcupine analogy in marriage, it’s important to recognizing that both partners can unintentionally cause pain. Focus on addressing the impact of our actions rather than the intent, and remember the need to respond with care and healing when hurt occurs, as both partners are vulnerable to causing and feeling pain. 

About Dr. James Cordova:

Dr. James Cordova is Department Chair and Professor of Psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Dr. Cordova is a leading figure in the field of Couples Research and Therapy. He is the developer of The Relationship Checkup, a preventative relationship healthcare intervention designed to prevent relationship deterioration through the relationship health equivalent of the annual physical health checkup.  

Dr. Cordova was co-PI, with retired Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Cigrang, and their Air Force team, on a recently completed $1.3M DoD-funded grant to conduct a full-scale randomized control trial of the Relationship Checkup in the Air Force’s integrated behavioral healthcare settings. The study demonstrated that the Checkup is easily adapted to primary care settings in the Air Force and has a significant positive effect on the relationship health and depression of Airmen and their spouses.  

Dr. Cordova is the founder and President of Arammu: The Relationship Checkup, Inc., a university-based startup company created to disseminate the Checkup throughout both military and civilian populations and improve the overall relationship health of the country as a whole. Arammu Inc. currently partners with the Office of the Secretary of Defense to train over one thousand Military and Family Life Counselors serving all branches of the military.  

Dr. James Cordova's Resources: 


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