We believe that marriage is an important personal, professional, and social value. We believe in helping couples restore their marriages to health if that is possible. Most couples assume this is what all therapists believe. But it’s not so. Because of their professional training, many therapists hold a “neutral” value orientation towards whether a marriage survives or whether the couple divorces. In fact, this is the most common stance even among therapists who identify themselves as marriage and family therapists. In a national survey of over 1,000 marriage and family therapists, over 60 percent indicated that they are “neutral” on marriage versus divorce for their clients. Only one-third said they “I am committed to preserving marriage and avoiding divorce whenever possible.” Disturbingly, 2.4% said they frequently recommend divorce. Often individual therapy can undermine more marriages than even poor couples therapy. Because relationship problems are often a main problem people bring to individual therapists, individual therapists are treating marriages whether or not they realize it. Unless the therapist has values that support marriage and is careful not to turn the non-present partner into a villain, individual therapy can undermine a marriage.
Life is filled with tragedy. Not all marriages can survive, and some marriages are so destructive to health and human dignity that they should be dissolved. Sometimes couples come to therapy when one spouse has made an irrevocable decision to divorce. In other words, there are times when every experienced therapist knows that the cause has been lost and that the best approach is to help minimize the damage of an inevitable divorce. There are responsible divorces, and therapists can assist in that process.