The Perfect Marriage

The New Yorker’s Jill Lapore ponders the rise of marriage therapy in America as well as other dreams of human betterment in a culture that says “Why settle for less than perfection?”

"Marriage in America is in disarray, or so they say. Americans, among the marryingest people in the world, are also the divorcingest. Even during the downturn, business is up at eHarmony, which has taken credit for one out of every fifty weddings in the United States, but ‘The State of Our Unions,’ an annual report issued jointly by the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values, warns of a ‘mancession’: in a lousy economy, more men than usual are working fewer hours than their wives, making for unhappier husbands and angrier rows. A spike in the divorce rate is anticipated, although this may be mitigated by the fact that divorce isn’t cheap and people are broke. You might think that the mancession would also foretell a falloff in couples counselling, which isn’t cheap, either, but there’s no sign of a, ah, therapycession. ‘I have a pretty good marriage,’ Elizabeth Weil wrote in a December cover story in the Times Magazine, but ‘it could be better.’ This is America. Why settle for pretty good? Weil and her husband have sought the services of half a dozen therapists; her memoir about ‘marriage improvement’ is under way."

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(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
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