UT doctoral candidates Nate Evans and Taylor Krcek have dated for two and half years, and now live together.
Krcek and Evans are familiar with research within their own studies, and volunteered for the Relationship Rx project.
During their first session, the couple discussed their history, strengths and weaknesses
A new study underway at UT seeks to help couples open better lines of communication at any stage of their relationship.
In April, UT Professor Dr. Kristi Gordon launched "Relationship Rx," a program that uses surveys and interviews with committed couples as a "check-up" for their relationships.
Gordon explains, it is important to take relationship health seriously.
"We go into get our physical check-ups, we get our teeth checked out, we get our car tuned out, but we don't get our relationships tuned out," she said.
Partnering with Cherokee Health Systems, the program is free for interested couples. During their first session, volunteers meet with a psychologist to discuss relationship history, as well as the couple's strengths and weaknesses.
Gordon, who has an extensive background on relationship studies and marriage counseling, insists this project is not about therapy. Instead, she says the goal is to establish good patterns and communication within a relationship.
"If you can get people to pay attention to their relationships way early in process, then they're not even going to need therapy. Usually people can kind of do better on their own with just a little bit of help," she said.
UT doctoral candidates Nate Evans and Taylor Krcek have dated for two and half years, and now live together. Both are familiar with research within their own studies, and were willing to volunteer for the Relationship Rx project.
They also had issues to address in their relationship.
"As academics, we will be moving in a year when we graduate to hopefully another institution that will hire us," Krcek said. "That's kind of a stressful project, trying to think about getting a job together, somewhere, and moving," she explained.
During their first session, the couple also discussed reoccurring arguments.
"Every time there's going to be a fight, or we have a disagreement, there's always something that leads up to it and it's always the same communication pattern for both of us," said Evans.
It's a common habit within relationships, said Gordon.
"Couples who have been together for a while sort of develop a pattern, or a way that they talk about relationships. They stop listening to each other sometimes," she said.
Through the study, Evans and Krcek realized they also had a pattern, and are now working to fix it.
"I think we've gotten less aggravated with each other," laughed Evans. "We were able to identify it, stop, and then move on."
Gordon's project will span three years. With dozens of couples already signed up, she hopes to work with several hundred.
The program is actively recruiting for volunteers in committed relationships, preferably couples who cohabitate.