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Getting Married? Get Counseling, NOW

So Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux just announced their split after two and a half years of marriage. As a couples therapist, what I always think when I hear of a short duration like that is that the seeds of discontent were already present by the time of the engagement,

8 thoughts on “Getting Married? Get Counseling, NOW

  • February 16, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    What I find odd about them, is that they were together for like five years before they got married, so one would think by that time, if they had issues, they would have broken up. But I have seen this a lot. So many couples that are together for a really long time, then get married and divorce, why is that? Barring maybe being in college during the first four years, and maybe not ready to marry, don’t you think if you were with someone that long you would know their quirks? Or is it maybe that one member of the couple does not want to truly get married, and is pushed down the aisle?

    • February 16, 2018 at 8:55 pm

      And they had a long engagement, too. It’s so hard to say about the particulars of their relationship, since there were so many strange variables (like I read that she didn’t like living in NY because of all the paparazzi waiting outside their building. Not exactly the most relatable of issues.) But I do think that sometimes marriage begins to feel like an inevitability, and people stop looking at their relationship to evaluate what’s really going on between them and what might only worsen with time.

  • February 17, 2018 at 10:33 am

    I would add to this…LISTEN to what your counselor tells you!! My best friend from high school/college went thru premarital counseling with her then-fiancé. The counselor raised some serious concerns about their relationship. They pushed ahead and got married anyway without really dealing with these issues. She filed for divorce 10 months later. Not the end of the world, as they had no children and not a huge amount of assets to divide up. But still. So much pain and heartache could have been avoided if they’d just LISTENED to their counselor.

    • February 17, 2018 at 6:17 pm

      Sometimes people want premarital counseling to be some sort of seal of approval, rather than insight into the work that you still need to do. So you’re making a great point. You have to be ready to learn from the process, and put that learning to use.

  • February 18, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    I think that too many people look at marriage as something to ACQUIRE – “get married” – instead of what it is supposed to be — a life-long commitment to putting your RELATIONSHIP before your own individual needs/wants. I don’t like that either, because I think it warps the Marriage/Divorce statistics in a negative way – people who didn’t ever take their marriage seriously shouldn’t be counted in that stat of how many marriages end in divorce! And as I’ve progressed through life, watching myself and others in relationships, I’m shocked that ANYONE stays married at all — there is SO MUCH working against love-relationships! And the chance that two people, who are truly committed to caring for eachother, and working through challenges without giving up and chasing after something easier or more exciting (in that moment), will find eachother and fall in love, seems extremely remote!!! When considered that way, the number of actual successful, long-lasting marriages is super-positive and hopeful! 🙂

    • February 18, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      I know what you mean about how focusing on the divorce rate instead of the rate of staying married is pretty skewed. It is an amazing and wonderful thing that so many marriages do go the distance when you have to see each other through so many challenges, both external and internal. In all my work with couples, what I’ve noticed is that it’s not the obstacle that really determines the outcome of the therapy; it’s the level of commitment and continued investment. I’ve seen people break up whose problems seemed relatively minor, and other couples stay together despite extreme issues. That’s why a key variable is increasing each partner’s level of motivation as much as I can. You’ve got to know what you’re working for.

      • February 19, 2018 at 1:40 pm

        I find relationships to be FASCINATING! “Increasing motivation…”, such a terrific concept!! The thing that I try to impress upon my now-adult children and nieces, is REALITY, and adjusting EXPECTATIONS….usually, the issues that they are coming up against in their current relationships are things that they would face again if they chose a new partner – you just have to decide who will be the one you pick to stay with and actually DO the work with…and if you have a committed partner who loves you and wants to work things out, then your chances of happiness are greater than if you find someone new who may or may not be as committed. And in everything I’ve seen, it seems like COMMUNICATION is the single most important tool for creating loving relationships, yet is the hardest to master!!

      • February 19, 2018 at 9:38 pm

        I agree–relationships fascinate me, too! That’s why I got into the therapy field, and it’s still true after 15+ years. And yes, working on your communication is pretty crucial. It’s easy to fall back into bad patterns and cycles in times of stress, for example. Gotta keep on top of that (or at least, rein it back in from time to time!)


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