Too many therapists are directing couples to divorce instead of help that could save their marriages and families. On the Today Show, Dr. Gail Saltz delivered advice that’s led many couples in crisis to end their marriages.
Dr. Saltz tells NBC’s Kelly Morales when divorce is necessary:
“When it is toxic, when you are disdainful, when you are contemptuous of your partner, and therefore you are constantly criticizing each other and this is the kind of environment, it really is better to move on. Better for the children. If this is the environment, this is the worst of all cases. You really don’t want to do it for the sake of the children.”
What Dr. Saltz portrays is a picture of what many couples in the throes of crisis experience before deeper, more powerful feelings of love emerge after working through their differences. Following Dr. Saltz’s advice, similar to that of many other misinformed therapists, is a recipe for millions of youngsters to grow up in homes without their parents and a society that continues to absorb the multi-generational cost of family breakdown.
The answer isn’t to tell couples displaying typical signs of anger, fear and sadness that regularly accompanies marital crisis to get divorced, it’s to guide them to educational approaches that have proven effective navigating the very normal challenges of love and intimacy.
In a 2009 study, researchers found that three out of four couples who began the nine-hour PAIRS Essentials class at a point of crisis were happily together 6 – 12 months later. Those who don’t stay together are often able to end their marriages more amicably, cooperatively co-parent their children, understand what went wrong without the need to blame others, and end the revolving door cycle in which misunderstood emotional experiences repeatedly lead to the end of vital relationships.
While Dr. Saltz and other similar-minded counselors’ experiences with marital therapy may have convinced them there is no hope for couples in crisis, educational programs founded on emotional and social learning have shown most couples – with good will and open to learning – can happily work it out.