Can seeing a therapist actually destroy your marriage rather than repair it? The 1950s is about the time that people really started addressing marital issues and discord in any kind of systematic or institutional way. That’s not to say that pastors and ministers didn’t offer family counseling and moral support, but as an industry – marriage counseling didn’t really exist.
The 1950s really focused on traditional marriage with a focus on gender roles. This was the decade after World War II and woman had a taste of working and being more independent. They left the workforce in droves as soldiers returned home. In the 50s, when a woman divorced, she was usually a divorcee for the rest of her life.
Celebrities divorced in the 50s and remarried (think Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and more), but those were great scandals. Divorce was considered the ultimate personal failure and there was a great deal of social stigma associated with getting a divorce. Marriage counseling often focused on the personality problems of one partner or the other. Sadly to say, that in the 1950s marital violence wasn’t really treated or viewed as a problem by marriage counselors.
During the 70s, ideas of liberation and independence became more popular and marriage therapists began to court the fine line between saving a marriage and saving the individuals in the marriage. In the 80s and 90s, American culture and marriage therapy intertwined. In other words, therapy for marriage became a business and patients became clients.
Described by one psychologist as a time when material greed made this the age of taking care of yourself and not anyone else. That means advice for seeking divorce seemed to climb. Couples whose personal issues impacted their marital issues were encouraged to address their personal issues in lieu of those marriage issues – in other words, if you marriage made you miserable, maybe you needed to separate to determine if the marriage is really what you wanted.
Marriage therapy has come full circle and now it addresses all sides of the issue, but the idea of therapy assisted marital suicide is where marriage counseling got a bad reputation. Be sure to always investigate your marriage counselor and if they are encouraging you to think only of yourself and not of your marriage.
Have you ever known of a marriage that ended because of therapy?