Marriage guidance counselling sessions are sometimes tense affairs with estranged partners quick to blame and slow to accept responsibility for a relationship that has soured.
While two-thirds of couples report progress, the others say counselling failed to budge entrenched positions.
An Australian psychologist is experimenting with the so-called love drug oxytocin to see if it can shift blockages and improve the success rate.
Oxytocin is the hormone the brain releases during sex and at childbirth. It helps sexual partners build intimacy and seals the bond between mother and child. There is also a generic drug by the same name.
University of New South Wales (NSW) psychologist Adam Guastella is administering oxytocin through a nasal spray during some marriage guidance counselling sessions.
"We think oxytocin may offer a new method to enhance treatment rates," Guastella told The Australian newspaper. "If couples get their points across more effectively in the therapy room it could lead to long-term benefits."