Review: Helping Couples by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott/Dr. David Olson

I was super excited about this book — actually so excited that I reached out to them to see if they’d send me a free copy for my review and they did! Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott have a marriage assessment test called SYMBIS, based on their book “Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts”; and Dr. David Olson is the designer of the marriage assessment called Prepare-Enrich. They also have a website,, associated with this book. First, I think it’s totally cool that even though most people would see these as competing assessments, these professionals just see that the world needs MORE marriage help than ever, and we can’t be competing in this endeavor. I personally am certified to do both Prepare-Enrich and SYMBIS with couples. I can never decide which I like better, so I usually end up just having people take both! And most of my couples love taking both, because they are a little different and there’s so much value in each one.

If you’re familiar with either of these assessments or these authors, you might note that they are technically Christian authors. However, there is nothing inherently Christian about this particular book. In addition, the assessments are geared somewhat towards a religious audience, but I use them with all kinds of couples, and the fact that there are some spiritual questions has never been an issue. You can find the SYMBIS at, and Prepare-Enrich at I highly recommend getting certified in these assessments if you are a counselor.

Now to this book. My only complaint is that I wanted more, but to be fair, they did say in the introduction that this was not an exhaustive book on marriage; but they hit all the high points. And in fact, I think this is a great book to have around as kind of a “top-level” reference guide for therapists and counselors. My favorite thing about the book is all the science and statistics, because I find that statistics resonate particularly well for men. Couples like to know we are not just guessing but that we have some science to back up our thoughts and interventions. And people are much more likely to do things or stop doing things if they know the cost. For example, if I tell a couple that “the odds of divorce for couples who have monthly date nights is 30% lower than those who hardly ever go out” (page 98), I think they are more likely to actually do it than if I just say “date nights are good for you”.

This little book (I read it in two hours) covers all of the basics, gives a ton of good statistics, and is just a great reminder of some of the most important points to helping couples. If you help couples you know that it’s so easy to get lost in the weeds – there’s so much going on! But if you make sure you hit the points in this book, you will be on your way for sure. And you can always delve much deeper into any of the topics with these authors’ other books. I would definitely recommend having this on your shelf for quick reference if you are a therapist or coach working with couples.

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