June 16, 2005
New trends in therapy
It used to be that couples therapy was for married people whose relationship had run out of steam, but who were trying to hold it together. Lately, couples therapists have noticed an increase in clients who are still just dating each other, and the NYT Times did a piece on it. Yes, it used to be that if it wasn't working out with your boy/girlfriend, you would just break up. But now people hire someone else to help them figure out if they should break up or not.
Erica is a screenwriter who has been in couples therapy with her boyfriend since last fall. In the NYT article, she "likens couples therapy to picking out paint colors for the living room. 'In our generation, we don't have to be experts at everything anymore. You don't have to be the decorator. You can get a fabulous decorator and still have a lovely home that's yours. And you can have someone help you with the communication problems in your relationship, and it's still your relationship.'"
Couples who are just dating tend to have the same problems--money, sex, religion--as married couples. And going to therapy is surely a helpful process for many couples, regardless of the stage their relationship is in. But what I find strange is that they seem to enter into therapy as a preventive measure against difficulties in a hypothetical future marriage. Like, "well, my boyfriend is a porn addict [as one 35 year-old film producer in the article says her boyfriend is] but if we just go get some therapy, that will solve all our problems and our marriage will be smooth and trouble-free!"
Anyone who has spent any time around married people, or watched any mid-80's sitcoms, knows it doesn't work that way. Does anyone really know what they're getting into when they decide to marry someone, regardless of the issues they've hashed out in front of a therapist? The article states, "Rather than enter into a marriage fraught with problems, young couples want to work through the angst before the stakes get too high, experts say. It is a form of preventive medicine."
But ultimately, going to couples therapy doesn't work like getting a decorator to redo your kitchen, since the kitchen more or less stays redone after the decorator leaves. Getting a professional to help you sort through your relationship difficulties can certainly be helpful, but at some point you're going to have to figure this stuff out on your own.
Since Mormons seem to have happy marriages figured out, we as ever endorse Hot Saints Latter Day Saints onling dating service.
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