Couples on the Fault Line: New Directions for Therapists

Couples on the Fault Line: New Directions for Therapists

Couples on the Fault Line: New Directions for Therapists

Couples on the Fault Line: New Directions for Therapists


Couple therapy is no longer simply a matter of helping couples adjust to the different stages of the life cycle: the life cycle itself has changed. Advances in reproductive technology, the rise of electronic communication, increasing time pressures of daily life, the continuing transformation of gender roles, and the loosening of constraints on same-sex and cross-cultural partnerships are just some of the developments reshaping couple relationships today. This cutting-edge book brings together prominent marital and family therapists to explore the new challenges--and opportunities for growth--facing diverse couples and the clinicians who work with them. Illustrated with vivid case material, the volume presents a range of approaches to helping couples reorder and reconsider their life priorities around such central issues as love, marriage, parenting, commitment, intimacy, and aging. Representing many different outlooks and areas of expertise, contributors offer vital therapeutic perspectives that connect the private world of couples to the changing contexts in which they live.


“I used to know what it was to be a man, but I don't know
any more. At work I'm expected to be aggressive, take
charge, have all the answers, and always be in control of my
feelings. At home, I'm supposed to be nurturing, loving,
sensitive, express all my feelings, and cry a lot. I don't know
who I'm supposed to be anymore.”

“Love? I don't have time for love! Between being a mother at
home, a supervisor at work, a nurse to my sick mother,
managing our social life—holidays, vacations, wedding,
funerals—I don't have time for myself, let alone my husband.”

These words were spoken, respectively, by a confused husband and a harassed wife in answer to the question “What do you find most difficult about being a man or a woman in today's world?” The question was raised in a weekend couples group lead by Peter Fraenkel and myself at the Ackerman Family Institute. Over and over we heard the couples expressing feelings of being overwhelmed, exhausted, and confused by the onerous demands, changing roles, and unprecedented pressure of our times.

For many years therapists have been primarily concerned with the interpersonal world of couples and helping them “improve their relationship,” “learn to communicate,” or “change dysfunctional patterns” through the use of a particular set of techniques or models of therapy.

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