This report assesses the impact of marital counselling on more than 600 new clients who attended a service in Ireland between 2000 and 2002. The relationships in question are found to be very stressful and unsatisfactory for those involved, entailing a lack of affection and doing things together. They are also associated with considerable mutual criticism, insulting, domestic violence and ignoring the partner. A substantial proportion of women are dissatisfied with the way in which childcare and housework are shared. The results stress the importance of how the partner's behaviour is perceived and how conflicts are resolved. These two variables have a much greater direct impact on the happiness of a marriage than socio-economic variables. About a quarter of men and a fifth of women moved from a state of dissatisfaction to marital satisfaction following their experience of counselling, and three quarters of women and two-thirds of men showed reduced stress levels. The changes which follow from counselling can occur fairly quickly, with an average of roughly 10 sessions. The very act of attending counselling appears to restore hope that relationship difficulties can be overcome.