In the previous episode of The Shrink & The Pundit, Dr. Keith and Jeff talk about the history of marriage, what questions to ask as you consider marriage, and above all the challenge of supporting each other’s mutual development—what Dr. Keith calls the marital love affair.

But for half of all couples the love affair will end, and so will the marriage. A higher divorce rate doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with our society. It more likely indicates our changing expectations of a primary partnership, says Dr. Keith. “We’re living twice as long as we did a hundred years ago,” he tells Jeff, “Women have more power, and the standard of marriage is a fulfillment standard now more than a stability standard.”

A fulfillment standard is much more demanding, and people are likely to adopt it without a commitment to the practices that maintain it (see The practice of the marital love affair).

“People feel a moral responsibility to be great parents without the same responsibility to be a great spouse. I think that’s backward and crazy.” ~Dr. Keith Witt

When one person makes the decision “I don’t want to live with you anymore,” from that point on everything is different. For the couple sitting in Dr. Keith’s office, the therapy is no longer about resolving marital issues; instead, it’s about helping the couple separate with as little pain and expense as possible, says Dr. Keith.

Divorce, like marriage, has evolved. No fault divorce is a relatively new option and quite a leap forward from the ritual humiliation of earlier versions of legal separation, when one partner had to prove the other was inadequate or defective in some way. And recently the phrase “conscious uncoupling” entered the popular lexicon when Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, Chris Martin of Coldplay, decided to separate earlier this year.

Despite how far we’ve come, it’s still generally painful and expensive, and it’s a huge life transition. But with some work and a little help from an integral therapist, it can be less painful and less expensive.

Here are some of the things that Dr. Keith and Jeff talk about in the podcast:

  • The very real difference in the psychology of the person leaving and the person being left
  • Divorce as a signature event in a child’s life. Should you consider staying together for your kids?
  • Is there such a thing as an integral divorce, and what would it look like?
  • The archetype for intimate relationships that was created in our infancy and the lessons it teaches us about how to stay connected to another person
  • How to use divorce to help your own development and be ready for your next relationship

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