“Then it’s an excellent idea,” she says, “but as an informational, assessment tool, not just to bitch about each other,” Nise says she also has noticed that people may think of therapy for the wrong reasons.
“It’s a chi-chi, fun thing to do, to have a therapist,” she says.
Broder says he sees couples coming to therapy to reevaluate whether a stagnating relationship is one they should continue, after the initial passion, the lovestruck honeymoon period of the early months, has worn off.
“I define a longterm relationship as one that survives the dopamine high,” he says.
According to a study by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, approximately 8.1 percent of households consist of unmarried heterosexual partners, with census numbers showing that, between 19, the number of unmarried partners increased tenfold.
Generation Y-ers ages 18–29 represent a mere 8.9 percent of the married population of the U. In years past, couples might have been married before quarrels developed, but as an increasingly higher premium is put on one’s capacity for personal growth, along with fear that marriage can lead so quickly to divorce, some younger couples try to sort through their issues of compatibility for years before heading to the altar.
“Let’s say the average marriage is lasting roughly seven and a half years,” she says, “and roughly 40 percent of first marriages, and 60 percent of second marriages, end in divorce.
“Both of us have divorced parents,” said Meredith, a 29-year-old law-school graduate living in New York, who finally married her longterm boyfriend after years of indecision and six months of weekly therapy.
Anne Ziff describes her work as “divorce prevention.” As a marriage and family therapist, she has been in practice since the late 1980s, and works in Westport, Conn., and New York City.
“Increasingly I see couples who are entirely committed but not married,” she says.
Much more frequently than is discussed or written about, says Broder, one partner in therapy is more invested in the longterm success of the relationship.
For the person in the couple who may feel significantly more ambivalent, therapy may be a good-faith attempt at appeasement, even when, ultimately, that partner feels the relationship should end.