Holiday Greetings and Wishes for a robust Coupledom in 2015 – a relationship between two consenting adults that flourishes and bares healthy fruit, whether that means children, pets or simply a fulfilling shared life.
I’d like to share some of my thoughts on how to approach your relationship in 2015.
A couple of weeks ago The New York Times published an article The Divorce Surge Is Over But the Myth Lives On that summarized recent data on divorce in our country. The good news is that the divorce rate that peaked in the seventies during the feminist movement and sexual revolution has come down to levels previously attained before the historic upending of the mores of the nineteen fifties. The reasons for this trend are postulated as the following: the older age of the marrying pair; living together prior to signing up for the license; and that women and men today share breadwinning responsibilities. In short less female dependent brides, more love based relationships amongst older/more mature peer adults and previous experience being domestic together appear to be some of the ingredients in a better marital cocktail.
Unfortunately this positive trend has a class caveat. Middle and working class individuals with less education are more likely to remain single because they cannot afford marriage – jobs are fewer so the financial foundation that marriage depends upon is missing. Sadly these statistics also show the trend in that economic strata to more single-parent households.
These are trends with interesting implications for the couples therapist in me. What I read between the lines and care to share with you is the notion of respect for the other: admittedly an elusive quality to measure, the equality of partnership of any relationship that is anchored in interdependency. In other words, setting aside the very sad news that our economy is not providing sufficient employment for lower middle and working class citizens (a very big deal), those who are lucky enough to be amongst the educated and employed are apparently marrying folks they like, and with whom they share the burdens and joys of providing for their household. No one is the boss of anyone!
Another possible positive influence from my observation of the trends of recent decades is that couples who hit minor or major roadblocks to a healthy Coupledom are more inclined to seek help from others; are less ashamed to reveal the sore festering in their relationship; and both genders are more willing to go into couples therapy, a support group, AA, pastoral counseling or other relationship aiding resources. Less shame, more gain.
To handle the complexities that abound in couples relationships – parenting, bills, sexual needs, in-laws and economic vicissitudes – optimally requires two evolved and self-reliant individuals. So the data makes clear. The evolution of the individual into a mature adult who believes that they are worthy and able makes the peer-based interaction of a Coupledom more likely. First depend on yourself. Next interdepend with another. What does that mean? Look at the data and have a great New Year.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2015
Thanks for pointing out the class caveat, which rounds out the data that comes across the internet or in our newspapers. I am glad as we all are that therapy for individuals and couples is less of a stigma than in the past.
I’m amazed to report that sometimes in our office, I see more male patients walk through the door than I see women. Yes, some may have serious psychiatric problems that warrant attention and they are in a more desperate state, but I don’t think so–not for all of them. A friends of mine said, you must just see women. I was happy to report that this was not the case. I see a good number of men and I see many at our office going to other therapists. We don’t have a large staff, but there are many men coming in. And I see a good number of men in their 20’s.
It’s a deviation, but speaks to one of your points about availability and receptivity to therapy in our society.
Jill Edelman M.S.W., L.C.S.W says
Thanks Karen for your observations. As clinicians over several decades we have witnessed an increase in men participating in couples and individual therapy – a strong resource for marital health.