Building Healthy Relationships: Pre-empting Marital Strife

This past week’s Science Times section of the NY Times had an article -“Seeking to Pre-empt Marital Strife”.  There were three interesting  aspects of the article –

1.  Nearly two-thirds of divorcing couples never sought couple therapy.

2.  Yearly check-ups of one’s marital state are important for building healthy relationships.

3.  “Acceptance therapy” consists of better understanding a partner’s flaws.

I will focus on failure to seek couple therapy in this blog and address the other two issues in future blogs.  Some couples do not wish to avail themselves of couple therapy because that means they have failed in their relationship.   In my practice, I state in the first session that my goal for the couple is to build a healthier relationship and subsequently to decide whether they wish to remain married.  It has seemed to me that the couples find this a reasonable goal and are more willing to work toward that outcome.  They can be successful and still get divorced. The divorce will be more amicable and life after divorce will be much healthier emotionally.  Although I believe that gender of the therapist is a preference and is not one of the major variables related to outcome in any form of psychotherapy, some men can be reluctant to engage in couple therapy with a female counselor (that makes it two against one). They are more agreeable to work with me, a gray-haired non-threatening male.  Thus, building healthy relationships via marital therapy can serve to pre-empt divorce.

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