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According to a study by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, approximately 8.1 percent of households consist of unmarried heterosexual partners, with census numbers showing that, between 19, the number of unmarried partners increased tenfold.
Generation Y-ers ages 18–29 represent a mere 8.9 percent of the married population of the U. In years past, couples might have been married before quarrels developed, but as an increasingly higher premium is put on one’s capacity for personal growth, along with fear that marriage can lead so quickly to divorce, some younger couples try to sort through their issues of compatibility for years before heading to the altar.
“The problem is, the patterns that you develop ultimately are based on, ‘Well, heck, if it doesn’t work out, we’re not married,’ ” says Julie Nise, a relationship trainer and therapist based near Houston. Essentially, this is what I tell my dating couples: if he’s not good enough to be married to, then you don’t need to be living with him.
Because all you’re doing is burning daylight.”She says she believes that effective therapy is targeted, rather than habitual.
“Where you get past that point where everything happens automatically.”In the case of unmarried couples in longterm relationships, therapy serves as it has done traditionally, as the tipping point for bringing ambivalent partners closer together.
But increasingly, it also functions as a tool to ease them more comfortably apart.
“Increasingly I see couples who are entirely committed but not married,” she says.
“People who are ‘just dating’ rarely come to see a couples therapist.”When unmarried couples consult Ziff, she does not view them as any less serious than couples a generation or so earlier, who were quicker to marry and less likely to cohabit or date for long periods of time without marrying.
Instead, she views these unwed monogamists as a population hyperaware of the risks of tying the knot.
See all of the in these slideshows With divorce so routine and pedestrian, and the longterm success of marriage precarious—and of such coin-toss odds—often relationship coaches may offer what parents cannot.
“Both of us have divorced parents,” said Meredith, a 29-year-old law-school graduate living in New York, who finally married her longterm boyfriend after years of indecision and six months of weekly therapy.
“Let’s say the average marriage is lasting roughly seven and a half years,” she says, “and roughly 40 percent of first marriages, and 60 percent of second marriages, end in divorce.