Your home requires proper maintenance. Your car requires regular oil changes and tuneups. If you want to improve your chances of living a long life, you need to eat well and get regular exercise. Most of us are aware that these all are things which deserve our attention in order to avoid expensive repair bills or worse yet, serious medical issues. However, one of the most important aspects of many individuals' lives is often overlooked — relationships. For the third consecutive year, the UK Family Center is offering free "relationship checkups" during the period just before and after Valentine's Day.

For the third consecutive year in conjunction with Valentine's Day on Feb. 14, the University of Kentucky Family Center is offering free Relationship Checkups to the greater Lexington community. These checkups are available for married couples and couples who are dating, engaged and/or living together, including gay and lesbian couples. 

The UK Family Center, which first opened in 1988, is a part of the Department of Family Sciences within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.  

The checkups, which are free of charge, will be offered every day beginning Feb. 9 and continuing through Feb. 17, with the exception of Sunday, Feb. 12.  Appointments can be scheduled by calling the center at 859-257-7755, by visiting their website at, or via email at The center is located on the second floor of Scovell Hall on UK's campus.

Tracey Werner-Wilson is director of the UK Family Center.

“The Relationship Checkup seeks to strengthen the relationship by finding out what you are doing right and helping the couple become even stronger by building on that,” said Werner-Wilson. “It can also help to get a conversation started about areas that may not be as satisfying in the relationship."

It's not just couples who are struggling in their relationships who can attend. The UK Family Center suggests everyone in a relationship take advantage of these services. 

"Just like everyone needs a regular checkup at the doctor’s office, so too everyone in a romantic relationship benefits from a relationship checkup," said Werner-Wilson. 

Appointments generally last one hour. Couples fill out a questionnaire, which is reviewed by an intern therapist. The answers, in conjunction with conversation with the couple, allow the intern to coach the couple on what they are doing well and help them figure out areas of disagreement. 

Intern therapists are graduate students, working to become licensed marriage and family therapists through UK's fully accredited couple and family therapy program. Within 16 months, these interns must log 500 hours in client sessions. Interns are supervised and instructed three to four hours a week by a licensed marriage and family therapist. 

To meet this demand for clients, the Family Center offers low-cost services to UK, Lexington, and surrounding communities. Utilizing a sliding scale fee, the Family Center works with clients to make therapy affordable for those who need it. 

"Not only does it help our students attain the practice hours they need, but we see it as the service arm of UK's mission statement. We are helping all Kentuckians create a better life for themselves. We are improving the lives of Kentuckians which creates an attractive place for people to live," said Werner-Wilson.

The UK Family Center serves families, couples and individuals alike. In addition to relationship issues, common needs addressed by the center include stress, parent-child conflict, behavioral issues in children, anxiety and depression. Additionally, play therapy is offered to families with young children. 

The focus of family science is to help understand and improve the lives of individuals, working with the roles that family and interpersonal relationships perform in shaping one's experiences.

"Research shows that lasting change happens within relationships. As humans, we do not live in a vacuum. We are constantly in a relationship with someone, not always a romantic relationship. Sometimes these relationships try to sabotage us when we try to change. If we include those relationships within the therapy sessions, they can become a support for change instead of fighting against change," said Werner-Wilson. 

This Valentine's Day, couples can do more than buy flowers and candy for their sweetheart — they can check up on their relationship and help make it last for many, many years to come. 

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue

Author: Carl Nathe
Contact: CARL NATHE 859-257-3200