- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Tea Party Patriots call key GOP firing a declaration of war
WETZSTEIN: Save marriage with ‘friendly’ aid
Question of the Day
For decades, we’ve heard the advice. “Marriage in trouble? Go see a counselor.”
But did you know that more than a few mental health professionals think marriage counseling may be hazardous to your marital health?
“The counseling profession is trying to help you through the divorce, not help you repair the marriage,” says James D. Wright, a sociologist at the University of Central Florida. In that sense, he says, “marriage counseling is more like divorce counseling.”
Mr. Wright recently saw his views unexpectedly upheld in a long-term study of 600 couples in Louisiana, half of whom were in divorce-resistant “covenant marriages” and half in “standard,” easy-to-end marriages. “Covenant couples” are legally required to get premarital counseling before the wedding and get marital counseling if the marriage falters.
As expected, premarital counseling was a boon to couples, as it prepared them for marriage, says Mr. Wright, who details the study’s findings in a new book, “Covenant Marriage: The Movement to Reclaim Tradition in Marriage.” But when struggling spouses went for marital counseling, many ended up in Splitsville.
“Our results suggest that couples who receive marital counseling [during marriage] are substantially more likely to divorce than couples who forgo this option,” Mr. Wright and his colleagues wrote. In fact, getting marital counseling raised the chances for divorce by two or three times.
Thus, until there’s evidence that marital counseling actually helps couples strengthen their marriages, “our research strongly cautions against such counseling, much less making it mandatory,” they wrote.
So what are desperate housewives (and their husbands) to do if they want to save their marriages? One solution may be to see a “marriage-friendly” therapist.
“Hang in there. Help is on the way. Your marriage is worth the effort,” William J. Doherty says in a video on the Web site for the National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists (www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com), which he co-founded in 2005 with Pepperdine University psychology professor Kathleen S. Wenger.
To join the registry, therapists must agree with a “values” statement that affirms “the unique value of marriage and the importance of lifelong commitment in marriage.”
Being marriage-friendly doesn’t mean a therapist must “blindly” try to save a marriage that is “toxic and dangerous,” or disregard a couple’s decision to divorce, should that be their ultimate choice, the statement says. But it means the therapist agrees that “many and maybe even most marriages can be restored to health, even when the spouses are unhappy, conflicted, or demoralized.”
The registry has about 225 therapists and is growing gradually, says Mr. Doherty, a prominent psychologist and marriage and family therapist. This is a small roster, compared to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, which has 24,000 members.
AAMFT doesn’t address the “marriage friendliness” of its therapists, but says they care deeply about the “overall, long-term well-being of individuals and their families.” Moreover, marriage and family therapy is proven effective in treating many kinds of mental, emotional and health problems, it adds on its Web site (www.aamft.org).
The marriage-friendly registry doesn’t mean to imply that other therapists are “unfriendly” to marriage, Mr. Doherty says. But it’s a fact that most therapists are “neutral” about whether a marriage lives or dies, whereas the therapists on the registry “will fight for your marriage,” he says. “This is a big difference, and it’s why we use the term ‘marriage friendly.’”
Joanne Irving, a Bethesda therapist, was one of the first to join the marriage-friendly registry. She believes it has helped many of her clients find her, and that husbands who are searching for help are especially attracted to the “marriage-friendly” identification.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Study IDs reasons for late-term abortions
- Panel seeks 'surveillance' system for gay blood donors
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Embryonic stem cell research falls out of favor as scientists go ethical
- With new HIV research, FDA may let gay men donate blood
Latest Blog Entries
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
- House votes to reject Obama welfare shift
- Report: Two out of three Democrats support gay marriage
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- White House improvises again on patchy Obamacare rollout
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- GOP Rep. Tim Murphy rolls out mental health legislation
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Does it take over 25 years in public service to really know what goes on in Washington?
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow