From Dr. Jane's Notebook

What Does It Take to Maintain A Happy Marriage These Days?

My personal quest over the past three and a half years has been my effort to earn my Ph.D. through UNC Greensboro’s Counseling and Educational Development. It turns out that UNCG has an internationally known program for Counselor Education. Counselor Education is the fine art and science of teaching counselors how to be counselors. While I had always intended to go back to school for my doctorate, I had decided to wait until my kids were older before taking the leap into graduate school. It turned out to be the perfect channel for my 40-year old mid-life crisis, and a new adventure in living.

Here are a few things I've learned along the way. . .

Yet, while marriage appears to be a highly desirable relationship, statistics indicate that marital satisfaction is not easily achieved. One has only to consider the chronically high rates of divorce in order to appreciate the magnitude of this problem. Statistics during the 1980's and 1990's have indicated that half to two-thirds of all first marriages are likely to end in divorce.

A second explanation for the high rate of divorce suggests that some spouses may unconsciously subscribe to the myth of "the perfect family". According to this myth, perfect families don't have problems; so if problems do exist, they should be ignored or relationships should be discontinued. A related explanation is based upon the acceptability of divorce in one's family of origin, wherein children whose parents are divorced may be predisposed to consider the option of divorce more readily. In these scenarios, marital dissatisfaction often leads spouses to search for a "quick fix" through divorce and remarriage to someone else, only to find the same lack of marital satisfaction in subsequent marriages.

From a professional counseling perspective, many divorces are thought to result from a lack of marital skills, such as the ability to resolve conflicts, talk rationally, make decisions equitably, communicate accurately, express affection, and exercise problem-solving skills. For this reason, counseling sessions are somewhat educational, as couples develop skills to prevent or resolve marital problems as they arise. While the goal of counseling is not to help couples maintain an unhealthy marriage at all costs, counselors are concerned with the impact of marital choices on all members of the family.

ęCopyright, 1998, 1999, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated February 27, 1999 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.