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Creating a network of 'Marital First Responders'

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Couple gets married
Douglas Brown slips a ring on the finger of his wife, Karen Brown, as they are wed during a group Valentine's day wedding at the National Croquet Center on February 14, 2013 in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When couples are having trouble with their relationships, professional counseling usually isn't the first course of action. According to William Doherty of the University of Minnesota's Marriage and Family Therapy program, we reach out to a trusted group of friends and family first.

It's this group that Doherty is targeting with the new program Marital First Responders. Doherty wants to give these groups a little training so they can better help those in need. 

His "dream is to make Marital First Responders training so universal that every married couple will have someone in their natural network who knows how to support them and, when appropriate, steer them to professional help," according to the program's site.

More from USA Today:

A new online survey commissioned by the University of Minnesota and provided exclusively to USA TODAY supports those findings. The survey, conducted last summer on 1,000 U.S. adults ages 25-70, shows that 73% of participants have been a confidant about problems in someone's marriage or long-term relationship and 63% say they've confided in someone other than a professional about similar relationship issues. More women (78%) than men (69%) say they have been a confidant.

Among the most common problems people in the survey cited as topics were growing apart, 68%; not getting enough attention, 63%; money, 60%; a spouse or partner's personal habits, 59%, and infidelity, 51%.

Doherty joins The Daily Circuit to talk about how he got the idea and what he plans to teach through the program.